Ask Leo! #379 – Happy Anniversary! Learning from a massive hack, ads that stalk you and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

Start with this article on How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking.

It's a tale of a series of account hacks, lax security on both the authors part and by major services – all of whom ought to know better – that lead to the compromise of several accounts and ultimately, the irretrievable destruction of precious data (including photos of the author's infant daughter) as well as other documents and email.

And the author was watching it all as it happened and was ultimately nearly powerless to stop it.

It makes for some chilling reading and I strongly recommend that you review it to see how horribly things can go wrong.

I don't want to dwell on what went wrong. Instead, let's focus on some lessons learned, and some of the steps you and I (yes, I've been lax as well) can take to avoid ever experiencing something similar, or at least minimize the risk and potential for damage.

Continue reading: What can we learn from Mat Honan?

* * *

*** Answercast

Answercast #42 - Troublesome advertising, Android docs, memory fragmentation, Skydrive, gadgets and more...

Have you ever felt that advertisements are following you around the net, or that gadgets aren't safe? Wonder how to read docs on an Android or limit the time you spend on the internet? Does memory fragmentation still worry you? Find the answers to that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!


Continue reading: Answercast #42 - Troublesome advertising, Android docs, memory fragmentation, Skydrive, gadgets and more...

Why do these ads keep following me around the internet?
Advertising networks are quite sophisticated and use cookies to track your movements through the internet. But don't worry. It's an attempt to help you find the products you are looking for, not spyware!
Continue reading: Why do these ads keep following me around the internet?

Will my backup work if I replace my motherboard?
Replacing a motherboard may require a reinstall, a repair install, or you might get lucky and it'll just work.
Continue reading: Will my backup work if I replace my motherboard?

How do I remove SkyDrive?
SkyDrive is one of numerous programs offered by Microsoft in its Hotmail account package. Understanding how it works will help you deal with it.
Continue reading: How do I remove SkyDrive?

Do I need a router if my modem has a firewall?
Routers and modems perform different functions and often come combined in one unit. I walk through the functions of a router and how you can tell which one you have.
Continue reading: Do I need a router if my modem has a firewall?

Should I disable gadgets for security?
There is some truth to rumors about security vulnerabilities in Windows gadgets. Perhaps it's time to start looking for something else.
Continue reading: Should I disable gadgets for security?

Do I need to worry about memory fragmentation?
Memory fragmentation is a thing of the past. It's best to avoid sites that want to sell you a cure!
Continue reading: Do I need to worry about memory fragmentation?

How much memory does this particular CPU need?
It is not the processor that determines how much memory you will need in a computer, but what kinds of software you will run and how you will use the machine.
Continue reading: How much memory does this particular CPU need?

Does index.dat mean someone is spying on me?
Internet Explorer uses index.dat as part of its operation. It is not spying on you, or growing without bound!
Continue reading: Does index.dat mean someone is spying on me?

Can I read Open Office documents on my Android?
There are applications available for Android in the Google play store that will allow you to use Microsoft docs. You may need to save them properly on your computer.
Continue reading: Can I read Open Office documents on my Android?

How can I limit the time I spend on the internet?
There are several tools for managing online time, including hardware timers, parental controls, and personal control.
Continue reading: How can I limit the time I spend on the internet?

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- An Ask Leo! book.

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Comments


Should I upgrade to Windows 8?

James writes:

I don't think I've ever seen anything in Windows that says I have to have the new version now. It's an operating system!

I ran my Windows 3.1 machine all through the Windows 95 era and half of 98 because my computer did exactly what I wanted it to do at the time.

My Windows 98 machine allowed me to skip ME and 2000 and half of the XP era, again, because the computer was doing what I wanted it to do at the time.

My XP machine is still going and we're on the verge of Windows 8 and even when that does happen, Microsoft is still going to be doing security updates. So since my computer is still doing what I need it to do, I see no reason to switch.

Who cares that it's $40? That's what Microsoft wants you to think ... "It's only $40; I should get it."

In my opinion, if your computer does what you need it to do and Microsoft is still providing security updates, that $40 is a waste of money.


How do I keep my machine working after Windows XP support completely stops?

JB writes:

Although I am a regular user of Linux Mint and have phased out my use of Windows XP day-to-day, those current XP users who haven't had the motivation to move to Windows 7 (at its relatively nominal cost) are unlikely to take to Linux either. Reluctance to move on from what is familiar would seem to be the real factor. Hardware bought over the last five to seven years is easily capable of running Windows 7 (except perhaps for some low-end laptops).

Users hanging on to older hardware that is comfortable running XP will increasingly find that the future demands of browsers, multimedia software, even banking applications, will continue to hasten the retirement of their old machines regardless of the operating system they run, making arguments for using XP after its support ends rather moot.


My email program won't receive after I dismissed a malicious pop-up. What do I do?

Snert writes:

I always download the latest updates for my malware scanners then reboot into Safe Mode to run the scans. Maybe I'm erring on the side of caution but maybe not.


Can I stop or 'un-send' an email I sent by mistake?

Ron writes:

When I write a new email I leave the "To" box empty until I have finished typing and checked the contents. Less chance of accidentally sending it by mistake.

That's actually what I do as well. I'll even go so far as to remove it from a Reply.


*** Leo Recommends

Revo Uninstaller - Uninstall Things That Won't

One of the more common scenarios I hear about frequently are incomplete or failed uninstalls. People attempt to uninstall a program and that process fails, leaving some data around, and leaving the program itself in a kind of in-between state. The program remains, but the uninstaller is either missing or non-functional.

This is where Revo Uninstaller comes in.

Continue reading: Revo Uninstaller - Uninstall Things That Won't

Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I've found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

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*** Thoughts and Comments

Happy Anniversary!

To Ask Leo!

Today is Ask Leo!'s ninth anniversary! It was on this day in 2003 that I posted my first answer.

There've been thousands and thousands of questions since then. It's truly amazing.

As always I owe it all to you - I thank you deeply for your being here through the years. Quite literally I would not be doing what I do without your support.

As I do every year, I've posted a collection of some of the questions that you didn't see out on my personal blog: The Ninth Year of "What the ... ???". Enjoy. Smile

'till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom
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