Ask Leo! #399 – When a gigabyte isn’t a gigabyte, stopping spam, snooping technicians and more…


The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

Why doesn't my new, empty hard drive show all the advertised space?

I just purchased a new computer with a 1TB (terabyte) hard drive. Windows is telling me it has 976,760,000KB of disk space. I don't get it. Shouldn't it be 1,000,000,000KB? Is there anything I can do to recover the other space? If I go to Windows Explorer and click on the hard drive symbol, it will show me the space on the hard drive. It said the total available space is 931 GB! What happened to the other 69 gigabytes?

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They were never there.

Believe it or not, there's no real, agreed upon definition of what a gigabytes is.

Let me clarify: there are definitions. Plural. And which one gets used depends on ... well, it depends on how you think.

Continue reading: Why doesn't my new, empty hard drive show all the advertised space?
http://ask-leo.com/C2304

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*** Answercast

Answercast #62 - Harassing emails, embarrassing faxes, snoopy technicians, slow machines and more...

What do you do when extra pages print to a pdf or you keep getting harassing emails? Need to see the services running on your machine or find out if your browser is tracking you? Do you think that maybe you can stop spam? Find out in this Answercast from Ask Leo.

Listen

Continue reading: Answercast #62 - Harassing emails, embarrassing faxes, snoopy technicians, slow machines and more...
http://ask-leo.com/C5924

How do I find out who's sending me this harassing email?
I am sorry that the resources for this kind of thing are so limited... because unfortunately, online harassment and cyber bullying are very common.
Continue reading: How do I find out who's sending me this harassing email?
http://ask-leo.com/C5925

Why did my PDF print with two additional pages of pornography?
One of the very first things that I would be concerned about is your print-to-PDF technology. I'd be concerned that it was downloaded from a questionable site.
Continue reading: Why did my PDF print with two additional pages of pornography?
http://ask-leo.com/C5926

Can you recommend an anti-virus tool that will work in a 256MB system?
The fact is 256 MB is not sufficient to run any of the current operating systems. That means that you're in a difficult place.
Continue reading: Can you recommend an anti-virus tool that will work in a 256MB system?
http://ask-leo.com/C5927

My machine is slow and unstable. What do I do?
Depending on the age of this machine, it is possible that your machine is simply trying to run too much software.
Continue reading: My machine is slow and unstable. What do I do?
http://ask-leo.com/C5928

Is my browser tracking me?
Yes, and no. Logging into Chrome allows you to use your settings on other computers. Your browsing history is another matter.
Continue reading: Is my browser tracking me?
http://ask-leo.com/C5929

How do I get my browser to download where I want it to by default?
This is a very common setting, so there should be good information in the browser's help guides to assist you in changing the download default.
Continue reading: How do I get my browser to download where I want it to by default?
http://ask-leo.com/C5930

My machine won't finish booting. What do I do?
Ultimately, I'm concerned that you may end up needing to see a technician who can take a look at the machine hands on.
Continue reading: My machine won't finish booting. What do I do?
http://ask-leo.com/C5931

Could a technician discover my browsing history from seven years ago?
A technician certainly could stumble across this. But if they're looking at deleted files and that's not part of what they're trying to recover? To me, that's unethical.
Continue reading: Could a technician discover my browsing history from seven years ago?
http://ask-leo.com/C5932

Is there a reference of what services I need running on my machine?
Microsoft isn't trying to run a bunch of software on your machine that you don't need. If anything, it's the applications that come along later that do so.
Continue reading: Is there a reference of what services I need running on my machine?
http://ask-leo.com/C5933

How do I stop spam?
The practical reality is that you can't stop spam. The best that you can do is deal with it as efficiently as possible using the technologies that you have in your hands today.
Continue reading: How do I stop spam?
http://ask-leo.com/C5934

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Comments

Will using an on screen keyboard stop keyboard loggers and hackers?

random person writes:

Well, your theory of 'mouse key(?) stroke logger' sounds scary, but there is no known software to do that correctly. Mouse's motion is far more complicated than key board.

It's easier than you think. You don't need to record the mouse movement, only the position it is at when clicked, and a screen capture at the same time. All very, very easy.

-Leo

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Why I bought my wife a Mac

Linda writes:

You have just purchased the Ultimate anti-virus machine on the planet. I've owned a Mac laptop for 6 years now. It is still going strong and fast, and the best part is...I've never had a virus. Ever.

Neither has my wife, who's used PC's exclusively - for years - until now. I don't want to minimize your pride, but I am concerned that the Mac community in general has become too used to this myth that Macs don't get viruses. They can and do. They're not as big a target as Windows, but it has begun to happen. Even Apple was forced to remove the "it doesn't get viruses" from their marketing materials this year.

-Leo

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Why do some ISPs disallow special characters in passwords?

PC Resolver writes:

The worrying thing is that if they restrict the types of character or the length then it implies they are storing your password "in the clear". I.e. they are storing a copy of your password in their database in a human readable format. If their database is compromised then so is your password. If you happen to use that password on other systems then that has also been compromised. They should 'hash' the password. 'Hashing' is applying a transformation to the password to turn it into a very very long string of characters and store that string in their database. When you subsequently log in with your password the same transformation is applied and compared to the answer. If the database is compromised the 'bad guys' only have your hash - if they use that as your password it will always fail.
Even this isn't totally secure so the best system includes adding 'salt' to the hash. This prevents 'rainbow' attacks. The first step is to stop storing passwords in the clear and it is really disappointing that Microsoft have not upgraded Hotmail's security since they bought it years ago. To answer the question (and to re-enforce Leo's answer) the ISPs don't allow these characters because their security is lapse!

I don't believe that these limitations imply that the system is storing the password in plain text. There may be other limitations in their architecture - between password acceptance and eventual storage - that impose these length and character set limitations. You're correct that salted hashes are the proper way to do this, but I believe that the only way to determine whether a password is kept in plain text is to perform a password retrieval - if they can tell you your password, then they have it in plain text. If they don't (i.e. they only allow you to set a new password) then no assumptions can or should be made.

-Leo

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Is there a way to ask people to let me know they've seen my message?

Mark Watkins writes:

The problem is, sending me an email may be an imposition. Certainly I may see it as such. Asking for me to confirm that I have seen it, is a further imposition.

On a personal level, if we're friends, I will confirm that I've seen it or be prepared to cause an issue.

On a business level I would *NEVER* confirm receipt, if I didn't in any case wish to reply.

If your communication is such that you feel you're owed a reply, then call me. Don't send me an email and dump the communication care responsibility on me.

*** Leo Recommends

Seagate FreeAgent Go - Portable USB External Harddrive

I currently own five of these.

If that isn't a recommendation I don't know what is.

One of the problems with recommending a specific disk drive is that drives change, capacities increase and what I might tell you about today may not even be available next year. The external drive I recommended some years ago is no longer even being made.

With that having been said, today the FreeAgent Go is an incredibly handy and valuable device.

The version I use has a capacity of 500 Gigabytes, all in a package that's smaller than a paperback book.

Continue reading: Seagate FreeAgent Go - Portable USB External Harddrive
http://ask-leo.com/C3834

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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Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.
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