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Any online aficionado will tell you Windows 95 and NT are far from perfect when it comes to communications. Although communications may be the biggest gap to plug, it's also probably the biggest product category in the shareware marketplace. Among the available programs is software to monitor your network and Internet connections and tell you what's really going on behind the scenes.
NetMedic is a must-have for anyone who loves to Web surf but hates to wait. It offers one of the best test-and-tune Internet monitors around. Even better, it costs only $39.95. The program installs easily, checks your online connections for problems and can even auto-repair many of the troubles it finds. On our test machine it immediately detected incorrect modem settings and reset them. It also sensed an overloaded system and suggested closing some applications to increase performance. Tool tips exist for just about every meter, graph and dial jam-packed into NetMedic's display.
NetMedic's easy-to-read screen displays connection speed, overall throughput, download transfer rates and the number of hops you make to reach a specified Web site. A scrolling marquee at the top gives you up-to-the-minute reports on the health of your system, your current connection and the Web site you're visiting. $49.95, VitalSigns, Download netmed.zip, 985KB. (formerly NM11.EXE)
It says 56Kbps, but how fast are you really going? AnySpeed measures the data-transfer rate between you and your ISP, your PC and another system on your LAN, or even from a CD-ROM to your hard drive. The program will automatically notify you of predefined data-rate changes, and you can set it to launch or shut down applications when parameters are exceeded. $9, PY Software, Download ANYSPD11.ZIP, 565KB.
Buzof periodically checks your system for open dialog boxes, matches them to predetermined parameters and gets them off your screen. For example, it can dismiss the "Do you want to reconnect?" question Windows 95 asks during a Dial-Up Networking session, or enter No automatically when Internet Explorer asks if you want to accept a cookie during your Web browsing. Simply wait for a pesky dialog box to appear, drag Buzof's Add icon to the button you'd normally click, and let Buzof do the rest. $15, Basta Computing, Download SETUPBUZOF.ZIP, 272KB. (formerly SETUPBUZOF.EXE)
Cookie Pal 1.0
Unlike the cookies that leave crumbs in your bed, Web cookies leave crumbs on your hard drive. These pieces of data can tell a Web server who you are, what you ordered on your last visit or the password you need to return to the site. For some people it's an annoying invasion of privacy; others see it as downright dangerous. Cookie Pal manages cookie traffic transparently. It maintains a list of all cookies you've accepted and rejected, and lets you view and delete them individually. Milk sold separately. $15, Kookaburra Software, Download cpal.zip, 174KB. (formerly CP1SETUP.EXE)
DUNce may be the Cadillac of Dial-Up Networking utilities. The app automates your connection to the Internet, your company server or MSN. You can schedule connections for the most cost-effective telephone or network access rates, auto-enter passwords, bypass dialog boxes and reconnect when accidentally disconnected. DUNce Gold also lets you disconnect when your connection's been idle too long, build automation sequences for multiple connections and periodically ping network servers to keep connections alive. $20, Vector Development, Download DUNCE.ZIP, 216KB.
Downloading files can be a real pain in the firmware, but FileDog 1.2 provides automated relief. Unlike other download utilities, this one works with proxy servers. It lets you schedule regular downloads, try and retry downloads from busy servers, automatically unzip incoming files, and build queues of files you can download at night. $39, Edge Publishing, Download FILEDOG_13_PR.ZIP, 2.83MB.
NetBar 2.2 is a Windows 95 Internet Dialing utility for Internet addicts who want to trace their monthly online bills and surfing time. In addition to recording your online minutes and calculating a bill based on the data you enter, NetBar allows you to launch selected browsers, e-mail utilities and so on upon connection. $15, Ltd. Embramic, Download NBDEMOE.ZIP, 169KB.
Windows Magazine, September 1997, page 200.
[ Go to September 1997 Table of Contents ]