Ask Leo! #319 – Is the internet really that dangerous? Taskbar previews, Hotmail passwords (again), and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** New Articles

Just how dangerous is it out there?

My grandparents are paranoid about viruses. I have successfully convinced them not to install a couple dozen anti-viruses on their computer by showing them one of your articles, but I cannot convince them that, on a clean, updated, and anti-virus protected computer: (a) the risk of getting a virus is absolutely minimal (if not downright impossible) if you leave your laptop on (at home and with your front door locked) while you go to the restroom; (b) that computer viruses do not fly through the air, latching themselves onto the first computer that they see; (c) that typing in your SSN on a valid, SSL-encrypted official government site that requires your SSN for an official, valid reason over a wired Ethernet connection is pretty safe; (d) that the number of computer hackers trying to break into their (non-state secret containing) computers at any given moment is at least much, much less than ten and possibly even nil. The worse part is that I can't find any articles online about computer malware myths that are non-technical enough for my grandparents to understand, and they don't trust me when I say that one antivirus, a clean updated computer, and a dose of caution (don't open attachments from strangers, don't believe everything that's said on the internet, don't download files from unofficial sources) is more than sufficient to avoid the leagues of hackers that are out to get them. Sincerely yours, Tired of Memorizing 19-Digit, [A-Z,a-z,0-9] Random Passwords.


Your grandparents are not alone. Perhaps an extreme case, but certainly not alone.

With all of the admonitions that you might hear from various sources - including Ask Leo! - to keep your computer safe, you might think that even just taking your eyes off of your computer for a second would spell certain doom.

It's nowhere near that bad.

If you heed all of those admonitions and have basic security and common-sense in place, your internet experience will be a safe one.

Let's look at their concerns one by one.

Continue reading: Just how dangerous is it out there?

* * *

How do I disable live taskbar previews in Windows 7?

My question is about the annoying (in my opinion) pop-ups that come up whenever you hover your mouse over any open icon on the task bar (they show a thumbnail of the open page). I would really like to know how to safely disable this feature. I have searched Google, but the solutions given seem a bit scary. From my searches, I know that this is a problem for many users.


I did some looking around (as you did) and I found that you're definitely not alone.

Personally, I find it handy and appreciate it.

But as we've seen time and time again, one person's feature is another person's annoyance.

Unfortunately for this particular feature, there's no simple switch to throw to turn it on or off (Which I can also understand, because there's no way that Microsoft could possibly introduce a UI setting for every possible feature or tweak).

So, we have to improvise.

Continue reading: How do I disable live taskbar previews in Windows 7?

* * *

A (very) brief look at ZoomIt

During my webinars, you may notice an unfamiliar small icon in the notification of the taskbar. That's ZoomIt, a small utility created by the authors of tools like Process Explorer specifically for use during presentations.

In this video from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll present a very quick peek at ZoomIt.

Continue reading: A (very) brief look at ZoomIt

* * *

How do I get a Hotmail password reset if my alternate email address is invalid?

I can't login to my Hotmail account. I think it's been hacked. I tried to do a password reset using my alternate email address, but it turns out that it's an old email address that hasn't worked for years!

How do I get my password reset if I can't access the alternate email account? How do I get my account back?


You may not be able to.

We're going to try, but I want to be very clear that in cases like this, it's not uncommon for the account to be lost forever.

This is why I so strongly recommend backing up email, making sure your account is properly secured, using it securely, and not sharing your account login information with anyone, ever.

So with that dire warning and admonition out of the way, let's see what we can do.

Continue reading: How do I get a Hotmail password reset if my alternate email address is invalid?

*** Our Sponsor

Can you read this? Help someone who can't:
This message sponsored by Ask Leo!.

Advertisement. Ask Leo about advertising here.

*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Comments

How should I erase my hard drive before I give it away?

Ken B writes:

It goes without saying (okay, it _should_ go without saying, but I'll say it anyway), but...

If you don't have original install media, see if you can make an install/recovery set of media _before_ you nuke the drive. In fact, even if you _do_ have media, see if there is a way to make an additional set.

Also, if it's not printed on the side of the computer (and sometimes Windows has been upgraded to a version other than the one on the sticker), you should use a utility such as Belarc Advisor -- -- which can tell you the key for not only Windows itself, but most applications you have installed. Again, once you've nuked the drive, this information is gone.

Finally, make sure you have backups of anything you might want to keep and/or move to a new computer.


Why can't I send mail unless I'm at home?

Aaron Eidinger writes:

I provide computer services in an area served by Charter. I can tell you that they have a way of allowing you to send through a different server when you are out of their network.

However, you can't use this same server when you are ON their network. For the user with a portable computer, this can be very frustrating. I normally recommend that my clients use an e-mail service (e.g. Gmail) other than Charter's for this very reason. I also recommend it so they aren't tied to the ISP for e-mail since people do change ISPs from time to time for various reasons.


How do I tell what program is slowing down my machine?

john neeting writes:

I know why my PC takes a full 2 minutes to boot from cold. When you have 11 USB mirror drives attached to it, it takes time for windows to 're-map' every drive with correct info. I watch each drive initialise in turn with a blank screen and the 'C' boot drive thrashing away. When the last device is mapped on the USB port, the windows logo appears. Again the PC re-maps every device to be sure it's OK. then I'm ready to rock and roll.


How do I delete my Facebook Account?

John writes:

Reading articles such as yours has really opened my eyes! I was once (foolishly) very active on the internet and have started limiting what is readily available to others. I left a number of groups on Facebook a while ago, not realizing that my posts would remain. If I delete my account, will that also delete my posts on group walls? Furthermore, will it completely remove my information from Facebook's servers? If not, what is the easiest way to go about doing these things?

I believe the comments you make elsewhere all disappear, but as to whether your information disappears completely from Facebook's servers I have no idea. I would guess not, at least not for a long while, and I have no idea how to make it happen.



Why I don't like System Restore

Bob writes:

I have, in the past, used System Restore to undo some catastrophic screw-up, or to 'get around' a virus infection in order for me to do something about it. Things I don't like: If a specific file has changed, it stays changed. SR doesn't do anything about that. If a program ~updated~ itself, it forgets - and has to be updated again, regardless if you have the new files or not. The System Restore file system seems to be the hiding place for a lot of viruses - more often than not, if I get a virus alert, it's in one of the system restore files or directories.

*** Thoughts and Comments

You might note that this Friday and last our "Sponsor" has been ... well, it's been me, running an ad for ProLiteracy.

Some of you may recall that in 2010 I identified literacy as an important cause that I wanted to support. Since then that desire has only increased. Literacy - specifically adult English literacy - is something that I've come to recognize as what I'll call a "foundation skill" - a skill that is fundamental to learning other skills and enabling other life-changing opportunities.

Particularly when it comes to the internet.

I'll have more to say in the coming weeks and months, but for now take the ad at face value: if you can read and write English clearly consider helping someone who can't. It doesn't have to be ProLiteracy specifically - look to more local organizations if you like - but do look, and see how you might help.

In the meantime, if you have thoughts on how I might best support English literacy, beyond just yakking about it here or running the occasional ad, I'm all ears. Don't hit reply (replies to the newsletter often get lost in the flood of out-of-office replies I get every time); instead hit the newsletter ask-a-question link mentioned at the top of this email and just use that to let me know what you think.

My thanks to all who attended last Sunday's webinar on image manipulation. I hope it was helpful. I expect to get the video segments up in the next couple of weeks. (Without my errors, that is. Accidentally closing the window you're working on just doesn't make for a very instructive video. Smile)

I don't have the links set up yet, but Webinar #9 will be February the 12th at 1 PM U.S. Pacific time (which if my math serves me right is 21:00 UTC). Topic hasn't been decided yet.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
Facebook - YouTube
Twitter - Google+

*** Administration

If you have a question don't reply to this email. Instead, head over here:

and submit your question there. That's for newsletter subscribers only, and puts all newsletter subscriber questions at the head of the line.

That form is the best way to get an answer. (This article explains why.)

Help Ask Leo! Just forward this message, in its entirety (but without your unsubscribe link below) to your friends. Or, just point them at for their own FREE subscription!

Newsletter Subscriber Benefits (only mentioned here)

  • Visit to submit your comments and questions and get to the top of the question queue.
  • Coupon code NEWS20 gets you 20% off everything in the Puget Sound Software Store, where you'll find my ebooks and other Ask Leo! related merchandise. That coupon code changes from time to time, so be sure to check here each week.

Need more help with or have questions about the newsletter? Check out the newsletter administration page.

Newsletter contents Copyright © 2012,
Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.
Ask Leo! is a registered trademark ® of Puget Sound Software, LLC