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Ask Leo! #365 – Surface thoughts, laptop keyboards, Documents and Settings in Windows 7 and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

So ... what about Microsoft Surface?

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced their new "Microsoft Surface" tablet. While many of the details of the device remain under wraps, enough is known that speculation on almost every aspect of the device is at a fever pitch.

Not one to shy away from speculation based on partial information, I'll look a little at Microsoft's history with hardware, why I think Microsoft is entering this market, how good a device this might be, and ultimately whether or not it'll be successful.

This much is certain: Microsoft continues its frustrating tradition of choosing absolutely awful product names.

Continue reading: So ... what about Microsoft Surface?
http://ask-leo.com/C5496

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Will laptops ever have traditional keyboards again?

Do you think laptop manufacturers will ever use traditional keyboards again or are chicklets here to stay?

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Laptop keyboards run the range from cheap chicklets to more robust keys, but few if any match the quality of a desktop PC's keyboard. Fortunately, there are alternatives, if it's important.

In this audio segment from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll discuss laptop keyboards and your alternatives.

Continue reading: Will laptops ever have traditional keyboards again?
http://ask-leo.com/C5476

* * *

Can I read PDFs using my Kindle Reader application on my tablet or phone?

I actually use my Kindle more for PDFs that I physically put into my Kindle's document folder and I've not found a way to get the PDFs to open anywhere but on my Kindle. Do you know of any way to open my personal PDFs in my Kindle Reader on my phone or the online Kindle Reader?

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Personally, I use my Kindle Reader application on my Android-based table and Android-based phone to read PDFs. It works well and I don't feel like I need an additional application for PDFs.

In this audio segment from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll discuss how I get PDFs to open up in Kindle Reader on those devices.

Continue reading: Can I read PDFs using my Kindle Reader application on my tablet or phone?
http://ask-leo.com/C5475

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*** Answercast

Answercast #28 - Annoying auto plays, backup drives, slow Bluetooth, saving programs, GoBack and more...

Think your email has a virus? Want to keep programs when you reinstall? Ever want to GoBack, get more internet speed, or wonder what a programmer earns? That and more in this Ask Leo! Answercast.

Listen

Continue reading: Answercast #28 - Annoying auto plays, backup drives, slow Bluetooth, saving programs, GoBack and more...
http://ask-leo.com/C5489

Why does IE's stop button not always work?
Hitting the "Stop" button often does not stop everything. I look at why that happens,and some alternatives.
Continue reading: Why does IE's stop button not always work?
http://ask-leo.com/C5490

Why can't I access Documents and Settings in my Windows 7 backup image?
Documents and Settings folder has moved in Windows 7. Knowing where to look and how to setup Macrium Reflect will help you find your data.
Continue reading: Why can't I access Documents and Settings in my Windows 7 backup image?
http://ask-leo.com/C5491

If I reinstall Windows will I lose Microsoft Office?
A full reinstall wipes everything from the disk and starts the operating system over from scratch. As always, planning ahead will save you a lot of grief!
Continue reading: If I reinstall Windows will I lose Microsoft Office?
http://ask-leo.com/C5492

Is there a Windows 7 alternative to the program GoBack?
Setting your computer back in time can be done with image backups, or perhaps, readers may have an idea for a substitute for GoBack?
Continue reading: Is there a Windows 7 alternative to the program GoBack?
http://ask-leo.com/C5493

How do I get music to auto-play when email is opened?
Do you really want to? I strongly offer an alternative to auto-play in an email.
Continue reading: How do I get music to auto-play when email is opened?
http://ask-leo.com/C5494

How do I fix things on my computer left over from a virus?
If you computer is not completely restored... then you haven't removed the virus! I suggest a thorough course of action.
Continue reading: How do I fix things on my computer left over from a virus?
http://ask-leo.com/C5495

Why is my download speed not what it should be?
Your download speed might not be the culprit that is slowing down your internet connection. We'll take a look at several possibilities.
Continue reading: Why is my download speed not what it should be?
http://ask-leo.com/C5497

How do I get my Bluetooth driver to stop slowing my system startup?
Is it a driver problem? Or hardware? Or what? I go through a few troubleshooting steps to see.
Continue reading: How do I get my Bluetooth driver to stop slowing my system startup?
http://ask-leo.com/C5498

How much does a computer programmer earn?
Of course, you can guess my answer to this one: It depends...
Continue reading: How much does a computer programmer earn?
http://ask-leo.com/C5499

Are you sure email accounts don't get infected with viruses?
Email accounts don't get infected with viruses... but they can be the delivery mechanism for viruses that then infect machines. Learn the difference.
Continue reading: Are you sure email accounts don't get infected with viruses?
http://ask-leo.com/C5500

Should I use the backup software that comes with an external hard drive?
It's best to use a backup program that you are sure will do the job – that has a good reputation and recommendations.
Continue reading: Should I use the backup software that comes with an external hard drive?
http://ask-leo.com/C5501

*** Our Sponsor

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Maintaining Windows XP - A Practical Guide
Downloadable PDF or CD-ROM. Also available in paperback.
- An Ask Leo! book.

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Comments

Should I set up two partitions on my hard disk?

John McCurdy writes:

As a computer consultant I couldn't disagree more with Michael Horowitz's comment. It was a good idea in the "old" days when backup drives were small, and it _might_ be a good idea if you have many hundreds of gigabytes of data files, or if you are technically skilled and have a special need. But for the average user who has less than a few hundred gigabytes of data it is a completely unnecessary complication that creates a lot more problems than it solves.

I've made quite a lot of money cleaning up the messes (lost files, duplicated files, incomplete backups, and lots of other problems) that can result from trying to keep your data on a separate partition and not having the knowledge or skill to know when something is going wrong with the process, such as when a poorly written program writes to the old default location instead of where it should be writing. So unless you truly understand what you are doing, I strongly recommend sticking to a single partition as Leo said. Just get a terabyte or larger external hard drive ($80) and a good imaging backup program (I use Macrium), and you'll have a far more reliable and easier to maintain system than if you try to use multiple partitions.

And, as Leo said, there is absolutely no practical speed advantage in using multiple partitions. Sometimes (and only sometimes) you can gain a little speed by putting the Windows swap file on a separate drive, but that is something that should only be undertaken if you have the knowledge and skill to fully understand what you are doing. And putting it on a separate partition of the system drive actually slows things down.

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How often should I defragment my hard disk?

Mike Bluett writes:

I am a professional (I have been in this industry for 35 years) and I know for a fact that defragging has very little effect on improving performance on today's computers. I am writing this to try and get people to ignore this BAD information that seems to be floating around the Internet.

If you are experiencing performance issues it is most probably caused by one or more programs (processes) doing excessive disk accesses at the time when you try and initiate a process yourself, one or more processes hogging the CPU or a faulty hard disk. These are the three most common reasons and there are tools available to help in determining which of these is the issue.

Look at "Process Monitor" (from Microsoft, actually created by Mark Russinovich before he was employed by Microsoft), the built in "Task Manager" for CPU utilization (or better still "Process Explorer" (also written by Mark) and "chkdsk /r" which comes as part of the operating system.

"Process Monitor" will show you disk accesses. "Process Explorer" will show you CPU Utilization and "chkdsk /r" will indicate if your hard disk is faulty (among other things).

Again, forget the defragging: It's not worth the time nor the effort and if your computer happens to crash or loose power at the time a defrag is occurring you may end up re-installing corrupt software.

While I don't agree with the "forget defragmenting" (I've definitely had cases where it's improved performance), the other items to look at are also well worth it. (In fact I actually cover those topics in my Maintaining XP book, but they apply equally well to other versions. Oh, and I'm also a professional, and have also been in the industry for over 35 years. :-))

-Leo

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Should I let my son just focus on coding in school?

Mark J writes:

When I applied for my first job as a programmer, one of the questions I was asked during the interview was, "What kind of stuff can you program." I answered, "Anything as long as you give me the specs." His comment stuck with me for the rest of my life. He said "Anybody can do that, the problem is, you don't usually get the specs. You have to get those from users who usually doesn't know what they want.". In other words, in order to be a good programmer, you need to be able to communicate with users who doesn't necessarily know much about computers and determine what they need. Those communication skills paid off, as I was supplied with the specs on only on project I've ever worked on.

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How do I restore my passwords after replacing my motherboard?

Bill Landau writes:

99% correct - a motherboard (or, I suppose technically one of its components, the BIOS) does remember one or two passwords. The boot password (some BIOSes have a user boot password and an admin password). The password will be gone when the new motherboard is installed; of course, none will be needed ;-)

*** Thoughts and Comments

Not much to say this week. I'll admit to being completely distracted by the sounds of the ocean off to my right - we're on a camping trip to the Washington coast.

It's an annual event and we're here along with the owners of something like 40 other Corgis. We kind of "take over" one corner of the state park.

Besides just seeing lots of Corgis it's been interesting to walk on the beach and find random items that have floated across the Pacific Ocean. How do we know? They're marked in Japanese and are part of the debris washed out to sea in last year's earthquake and tsunami. It's a reminder of how small - and powerful - this planet we live on.

(And a quick side note: kudos to Verizon Wireless - 5 bars here in the park, and an improvement over last year. I'm hearing from others using other mobile providers who aren't quite so lucky.)

'till next week...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom
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