GRATIS - a guide to free software and services


Subject: GRATIS - a guide to free software and services of value -

Dedicated to the proposition that
Everybody deserves something for
Nothing every once-in-a-while.

         -FWIW * From the Editor
         -HIND SITE
           Feds Lead To Gutenberg

         -BYTE SIGHS * Software
           Wipeout - Replacement For DOS' DEL
           Virus Killer - Mac Disinfectant
           X File - DOS File Compressor   
           Fetch Boy! - Windows Software Gets Web Pages

         -VARIOUS & SUNDRY * All The Stuff That Fits
           To The STARs - Shareware CD For MS OS
           Hot Stuff! - Free E-Mail For Every Platform
           Getting Connected - Free OS/2 Newsletter
           Disabled Talk List - Mail List For Macs
           MS N.G., MAC O.K., OS/2 TOO! - For Discriminating People

    FWIW -- by Bob Collister

"How do I unzip a file?"

I am instantly inclined to respond with the punch line of an old joke that asks: How do porcupines make love? Answer: Carefully, VERY carefully!

But instead, I respond to this e-mail from a GRATIS reader by telling him what utility to download, pointing him to a site where I know it is available (in self-extracting, zipped form), and requesting, somewhat tersely, that he educate himself by reading the instructions in the documentation supplied with the utility. But, as I respond to him, I am annoyed by him (briefly) for not doing his homework.

I try then to recall what it was like for me when I was dumped first, into the world of computers, with all of its strange words, symbols, and machines. Then, into the online world of Bulletin Board Systems with downloads, uploads, and fidonets ("probably a dog- catchers user group"). Finally, after a brief stop at an online service ('Net prep), arriving here, on the Internet with some small degree of experience and netpertise (another new word!).

Having recalled these things, I determined that I would pass this thought along: New to computers or new to the 'Net, you still have to do your own homework.

Read the manuals (aka RTFM), connect with user groups, a great source of help. Log onto your local BBS and read the discussions going on there (called "lurking"). If you have a question, ask it in one of these forums. If you belong to a major online service there are PLENTY of user groups and forums, and most of the major software publishers and hardware manufacturers are represented there or someplace on the Internet. There are hundreds, if not thousands of information sources available online.

GRATIS, in fact, will from time to time feature free sources of information or services directed towards helping the newbie, whether it is computer or Internet specific.

The best resource of all is a guru, a friend or relative who is computer literate and has some online experience and netpertise. But be true to yourself while at the same time being considerate of your guru: Exhaust every other legitimate resource available to you BEFORE you call on this friend. In other words, learn how to help yourself!

Does this mean, then, that after my writing this, you should never ask me a question like "how do I unzip a file?"? No, of course not. Just don't be surprised by my answer. 8-)

Thanks for being here.



Several readers sent feedback about the Federalist Papers (GRATIS - No. 5, No.6). Specifically, Brian Davis wrote:

"I write for two reasons. First, you (GRATIS) are correct that the _Federalist Papers_ are available free on the net. Along with hundreds of other books and documents, it is available from Project Gutenberg , which has volunteers that scan in books that have entered the public domain. Since all the materials are available in (ASCII) text format, it doesn't matter what kind of computer you have to access them."

Davis continues, "Rob Knautz has also used the Project Gutenberg texts and turned the Federalist Papers into web pages at

He also has the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Amendments to the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence

Note: We already have plans (and notes) to feature Project Gutenberg in an upcoming issue of GRATIS, but we encourage you to visit the Gutenberg Web site and learn more on your own about this fascinating and worthwhile endeavor. You'll find the Gutenberg Project on the Web at Me, I'm gonna curl up in front of the computer with a good book. --Bob Collister

    Software Stuff
TDELl256I.ZIP Power Replacement For DOS' DEL command

TDel is a freeware replacement for the DEL command of MS-DOS and 4DOS. TDel is fast, reliable, easy-to-use, and safer than DEL. Options include: Percentage and bar-graph indicator; advanced confirmation methods; deletes empty directories after file(s) deletion; deletes with sub-directories; supports script files; protects specific files from being deleted by mistake; wipe; quiet mode; pauses each full screen; file-attributes selection; and more. Four colorful pages of online help explains clearly all the options; examples are included. TDel can automatically install itself to run directly when calling the DEL command. The ZIP file is 29,355 bytes and is available at:

Author: Tsahi Chitin,

DISINFECTANT 3.6 Mac Virus Detector & Disinfectant

Reader Rob Slade, author of "Robert Slade's Guide to Computer Viruses" (0-387-94663-2) writes "I am a member of the computer virus research community, specializing in reviews of antiviral systems. For your Mac devotees, Disinfectant is probably the premier antiviral, and has always been free."

According to its publicity, Disinfectant will detect the majority of the known Mac viruses and when possible, repair the infected files. Disinfectant also contains a virus protection extension (INIT) that when properly installed, will protect an uninfected system from infection by any of the known non-Hypercard Mac viruses.

It is important to have the most current version of Disinfectant because it is changed every time a new virus is found. The program requires system 6.0.7 and 347K of disk space. Download size is 227K, and it's waiting for you at:

XPACK145.ZIP DOS Freeware EXE/COM/SYS File Compressor

XPACK is a EXE/COM/SYS executable file compressor that makes smaller, encrypted, CRC-verified .EXE files, and includes the ability to compress overlay programs compiled by Turbo/Borland Pascal. XPACK also makes smaller .COM & .SYS files, does default extension searches with filename wildcard support, generally gives a better compression than other freeware programs (diet, lzexe), and the compressed EXE is unextractable by some "smart" unpacker (unp, cup).

Special requirements: 386+ to run the compressor.

Changes: XPACK no longer determines the executable type (EXE or COM) from the file extension, but looks instead, at the signature (as DOS does). Some files are distributed with the extension COM, although they're EXE (for historical reasons - e.g. 4DOS.COM).

XPACK weighs only 45,671 bytes and can be found at:

Author: JauMing Tseng, Dep. of Computer Science and Info. Mgt, Providence Univ.

ARF22.ZIP Searches Alta Vista, Others, Puts Web Pages On Disk

Arf is a free Windows client program for web databases such as Alta Vista, Lycos, and Deja News. You type in a search term and tell Arf which database to contact. Arf contacts that database and tells it to do a search. The database sends back a list of Web pages (or Usenet posts in the case of Deja News). Arf goes out on the Internet, gets those web pages, and copies them to your hard disk. The ZIP file is 91,503 bytes and can be found at:

Larry Landwehr, Bitsafe Computer Services

    All The Stuff That Fits

Stan Spielbusch of Cottonwood Software has begun a weekly drawing at his Web site at: The prize is a "STAR Shareware Collection" CD-ROM. This CD-ROM has over 60 shareware programs on it by professional shareware authors who are STAR (Shareware Trade And Resource) members.

There is no cost or obligation in order to enter. Just fill out a simple form at the Web site. If you are a GRATIS reader without access to the Web, Stan will register you if you send your name and USPS address in an e-mail to: You should also include your e-mail address if it differs from the one you are entering from. Drawings are held every Saturday, and participants are allowed one entry each, per week.


The August issue of the OS/2 CONNECT newsletter has just been released. It is said by the publishers that OS/2 CONNECT is "THE authoritative source for contact information in the universe of IBM's OS/2 32-bit operating system". The Monthly freeware newsletter is implemented as an INF file for use with VIEW.EXE, which is built into OS/2 2.x or higher.

This issue is released as CON0896.ZIP, and includes a README.TXT file describing the newsletter and how to install it. It is being distributed at the following Internet addresses. You can find OS/2 CONNECT at:

In HTML format at
And, INF format at

. If you need further information, you may contact the Editor, Tim Bryce, by e-mail at


Last week (GRATIS - No.6) we spoke about TALKER, software used in generating speech from a Macintosh computer. It was pointed out that sound applications for the computer could be of benefit to vision impaired users. Other ways of interacting with and using a Mac are discussed in a new, free mail list, DISABLED-TALK. The list will concentrate on discussion of techniques and technologies available specifically to enable the Mac to help people with disabilities. The possibilities are quite intriguing.

You can sign up by mail at Put SUBSCRIBE in the body of the message. There are some related links at the Web site, You can also sign-up there.


This weeks entry into the free (advertising-supported) e-mail arena is a bit of a different animal. While HotMail is not free e-mail for the masses, as is Juno and Freemark, HotMail IS free e-mail for the mass of computer operating systems.

In order to use HotMail, you'll first have to have access to the World Wide Web. According to the latest statistics, that eliminates the majority of Internet users. So much for the masses. If you have Web access, read on. If you're just curious, you may also read on.

Once you have registered at the HotMail Web site, you'll have free e-mail service that you can access from any part of the world, from any computer. To paraphrase GRATIS reader Robin Arnaud, HotMail is a must for coffeehouse and library "surfers" who have free access to a computer with Web access to

Generally, the HotMail software is much the same as other mail software. The biggest difference is that the software, along with your address book, etc., lies on the HotMail Web site.

You can find an informative review of HotMail at the CNET Web site,

There is also a link there to the HotMail home page.

MS N.G., MAC O.K., OS/2 TOO!

And then there's Lewin A.R.W. Edwards who climbed to the top of the rigging and announced to the world that he wanted to give away "something free for Mac and OS/2 lovers". Actually, it was the news group comp.sys.mac.advocacy, not the top of the rigging.

Edwards has "opened a web site which is dedicated to providing free exposure for authors, vendors, system integrators and ordinary Joes who support non-Microsoft platforms. If you'd like your own page on my site or a link to your own site, plus an email address at my domain (if you want one) forwarded to your 'real' address, aim your WWW browser

He goes on to say, "you could call my site comp.!ms.advocacy. Please let me know what you think. The site is very new (only a couple of days old) and so does not contain much material YET but of course I hope to change that 8-)".

Perhaps some GRATIS readers...hmmm.


->> The Collister Group, Inc * Information Management Systems <<- Digital imaging, OCR, ICR, & database applications improve your productivity & increase profitability. Workflow, record archiving, customer service, accts. payable are just some areas where we can help. FREE demo disk or consultation. E-mail to

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GRATIS (c) Copyright 1996, Bob Collister * All rights reserved

You may freely distribute GRATIS to your friends. Permission is required for any other form of distribution or display.

Send this issue to your friends and tell them it's GRATIS.
If it's not free, it costs too much! (TM)

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