Ask Leo! #402 – IMAP, .dat files, upside down photos, Microsoft Office alternatives and more…


The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

What is IMAP? And how can it help me manage my email?

IMAP stands for "Internet Message Access Protocol," a fancy name for a protocol used by email programs like Outlook, Thunderbird, and others to access your email.

IMAP is an alternative to POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) and works in some fundamentally different ways and makes a few fundamentally different assumptions.

I'll examine IMAP, how it compares to POP3, and when you might want to consider using it.

Continue reading: What is IMAP? And how can it help me manage my email?
http://ask-leo.com/C5965

* * *

What's a '.dat' file?

I have a ".dat" file on my computer and I'd like to open it up and see what's inside. What is a .dat file, and what application do I use to look at it?

*

Bottom line: there's really no way to tell from just the filename.

The problem is that many applications use the file extension .dat to indicate a file that contains data.

But that's exactly all it tells us. It doesn't tell us what kind of data or how that data is formatted and represented.

In other words, it doesn't give us a single clue as to what the file is or what program we should use to open it.

We need more information and there may be one way to get some.

Continue reading: What's a '.dat' file?
http://ask-leo.com/C2140

* * *

*** Answercast

Answercast #65 - Open source office, upside-down smart phones, bad sectors, swapping mouse buttons and more...

Is it worth it to fix a DVD player or use an Office starter pack? Want to swap buttons on your mouse or find missing email? Is your firewall not working or your smartphone photos upside-down? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

Listen

Continue reading: Answercast #65 - Open source office, upside-down smart phones, bad sectors, swapping mouse buttons and more...
http://ask-leo.com/C5961

What's a good alternative to Microsoft Office?
If all you want to do is create and view some simple office documents, open source software is a great tool to use.
Continue reading: What's a good alternative to Microsoft Office?
http://ask-leo.com/C5962

I'm told my firewall isn't working, but it is turned on. Do I have a problem?
I agree with you that this is somewhat unsettling. One of the things malware does is corrupt the firewall on your system in order to allow other malware to get on board.
Continue reading: I'm told my firewall isn't working, but it is turned on, do I have a problem?
http://ask-leo.com/C5963

Why do some smartphone photos come out upside down?
When we use a phone to take a picture, often there is no obvious right side up, especially if you're holding it sideways in landscape mode.
Continue reading: Why do some smartphone photos come out upside down?
http://ask-leo.com/C5964

How can I tell if my external drive is SATA or IDE?
Today, in 2012, most external drives are created using SATA interfaces. But ultimately, there isn't a good way to know which you have, other than opening up the box.
Continue reading: How can I tell if my external drive is SATA or IDE?
http://ask-leo.com/C5966

Why is all my email not getting downloaded in Outlook?
The first thing that comes to mind is that one of the devices you're accessing your email account with is set to downloaded the mail, thereby removing it from the server.
Continue reading: Why is all my email not getting downloaded in Outlook?
http://ask-leo.com/C5967

Will a bad sector cause my backup image to become invalid?
Sectors can go bad on hard drives, but that should have no impact on your ability to restore a successfully created backup image to another hard drive.
Continue reading: Will a bad sector cause my backup image to become invalid?
http://ask-leo.com/C5968

My laptop's sound card doesn't work in Windows XP, but did in Windows Vista. How do I fix it?
It's possible that the drivers required for that Vista-era sound card haven't been written for Windows XP.
Continue reading: My laptop's sound card doesn't work in Windows XP, but did in Windows Vista. How do I fix it?
http://ask-leo.com/C5969

Can I swap my third mouse button for the left button?
The problem is that if the drivers for your mouse don't support that kind of button swapping, it may not be possible.
Continue reading: Can I swap my third mouse button for the left button?
http://ask-leo.com/C5970

My credit card has been compromised three times recently due to fraud. How can I avoid this happening again?
Most of the card theft that I am aware of are things that are typically out of our control. However, there are some practices to help you ratchet down the security on your card and avoid this problem again in the future.
Continue reading: My credit card has been compromised three times recently due to fraud. How can I avoid this happening again?
http://ask-leo.com/C5971

Where can I purchase a replacement DVD laser?
I'm not sure that replacing the laser is going to solve the problem, or that you'll end up with a working DVD drive after installing and aligning it.
Continue reading: Where can I purchase a replacement DVD laser?
http://ask-leo.com/C5972

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week

Solid State Disks

A Solid State Disk, or SSD, is some amount of non-volatile memory designed to mimic the behavior of a normal Hard Disk Drive (HDD).

SSDs are becoming more popular as the underlying technology - flash memory - is becoming both less expensive and more reliable. SSDs are typically significantly faster, particularly when data is being read, than traditional hard disk drives.

Flash memory is used because it's "non-volatile", meaning that it does not lose what's stored in it when power is removed, much like a traditional magnetic-material based hard disk.

The flash memory used in SSDs is typically of higher quality and thus longer lifespan than the flash memory used in inexpensive USB thumb drives. While flash memory does wear out the more that it's written to, SSDs are now at a point where the technology lasts long enough in traditional usage to be a suitable replacement for mechanical media.

SSDs not only mimic the behavior of traditional hard disks, but are also typically packaged in physically equivalent forms so that they can be connected in place of traditional disks.

Word o' the Week features a computer term or acronym taken from the Ask Leo! Glossary. If there's a word you're not sure of and would like to see defined, click here to let me know.

*** Thoughts and Comments

Yes, I've ordered my copies of Windows 8.

I've not been in a hurry to play with it for several reasons, the primary being that I want to focus on helping people with the system that they have today, rather than the system they're thinking about getting in the future.

With the release of Windows 8, of course, the number of people who'll have it is now going to grow, so it's time.

I expect to run it, but should you?

My take is actually very simple: unless you already know that the answer is yes, for some reason, then the answer is no.

Windows 7 will do just fine for a long time to come. Right now I've yet to hear of a compelling reason to upgrade, unless perhaps you have an x86-compatible table PC with a touchscreen.

And by all means make sure you understand the difference between Windows RT and Windows 8. Windows RT, made for the currently released version of the Microsoft Surface, does not run Windows programs. It runs Windows RT programs, and apparently those are available only through the Microsoft Store.

The issue is very simple: Windows RT is designed to run on a different and incompatible processor. It's the processor type that's used in most popular tablets these days, but that processor is incapable of running all your old Windows programs.

With Windows RT you have to start over.

With Windows 8, you don't. It's a true version of Windows that runs on the venerable "x86 compatible" processors that have been running Windows (and DOS before it) for years.

My understanding is that many salesmen have not been educated on the difference, and the result may well be some very disappointed customers.

I do plan on a series of Windows 8 articles in the near future that will hopefully help clear up this, and many other issues and misconceptions about Windows 8.

But for now, unless you have a specific need - I'd stick with Windows 7.

As I write this Monday afternoon, hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the east coast of the United States.

If that's something that's impacting you as this newsletter comes out there's not a lot I can really say other than I hope you and yours remain safe.

Take care,

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom (aka N7LEO)
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