Ask Leo! #442 – Security Software Recommendations, My Surface Pro Thoughts, Longer Passwords, Microsoft Messenger and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

What Security Software do you recommend?

What security software should I use? How about a firewall? And what about spyware? Should I use one of the all-in-one packages that claim to do everything? Is there anything else I need?

As you might imagine, I get these questions like this all the time. As a result, I do have recommendations for security software and techniques to stay safe in various articles all over Ask Leo!.

To make your life a little easier, here’s a short version that sums it all up.

Continue Reading: What Security Software do you recommend?

Microsoft Surface Pro: the Good, the Bad and the Awkward

I was very intrigued when the Microsoft Surface Pro came out. The size and shape and the combination of it being both a PC and a tablet had me very interested in understanding whether or not this was something that was going to succeed.

Rather than being some kind of in-depth review (there are plenty of those elsewhere, I’m sure), these are simply my impressions after two months of having my Microsoft Surface Pro.

My emotions are mixed. I really want this device to succeed because it represents what to me is an incredibly interesting hybrid device – both tablet and PC. With that hybridization comes a tremendous amount of potential and power, and I’ll explain why I say that momentarily.

Unfortunately by trying to be both it’s possible that the Surface Pro fails to do either exceptionally well.

Good, perhaps, but not exceptional.

That may or may not be enough.

Continue Reading: Microsoft Surface Pro: the Good, the Bad and the Awkward

*** Answercast

Answercast #105 - Longer passwords, keeping Messenger, bounced emails, wrong websites and more...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could always keep your favorite old versions of software, or always have a super long password. Would you like an easier way to manage recovery discs? Have you heard the scare about Geotagging? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

Listen Now!
(Includes the raw transcript on which the articles below were based.)

How do I find the IP address of the person who created a Gmail account in my name?
It's not going to be easy. Only law enforcement has the ability to get full IP address information. The curious thing is, how do you have access to the email?

Continue reading: How do I find the IP address of the person who created a Gmail account in my name?

How do I remove myself from a website I didn't ask to be on?
What you did in this situation is exactly what I would have done: start by contacting the website and asking to be removed.

Continue reading: How do I remove myself from a website I didn't ask to be on?

How do I change the default install drive?
In this scenario, the real issue is that your C: drive is full. What I recommend you do is clean it up.

Continue reading: How do I change the default install drive?

Why am I getting bounced notices to messages I didn't send?
Spammers want to send email that looks like it’s coming from someone who may be trusted. They want it to look like it’s coming from you - and you end up getting the bounce notifications.

Continue reading: Why am I getting bounced notices to messages I didn't send?

Is geotagging my photos a bad thing?
When you take a picture, your camera saves “metadata”, or data about the picture. Geodata can be used to place an image in a geographical location.

Continue reading: Is geotagging my photos a bad thing?

Do I need to make a new rescue disc every time my backup software updates?
If you don’t have a rescue disc, just find another machine and make one. You don’t need to make one every single time you update the software.

Continue reading: Do I need to make a new rescue disc every time my backup software updates?

Is there some way I can keep Windows Live Messenger?
The most important thing is to determine which messaging program the people you want to talk to will use.

Continue reading: Is there some way I can keep Windows Live Messenger?

What if a password is limited to only 8 characters?
Some devices, sites and software use passwords that are limited to 8 characters. Today that's often insufficient, but I'll look at what steps you can take to increase security.

Continue reading: What if a password is limited to only 8 characters?

So is a long password of repeating characters good or not?
The problem is that we don’t know what approach hackers are using to break your password. So, to be safe, the best password is both long and complex.

Continue reading: So is a long password of repeating characters good or not?

How do I detect web beacons in email?
A web “beacon” or “bug” is simply something in an email that reports back to the sender that you’ve opened the mail.

Continue reading: How do I detect web beacons in email?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week

Form factor refers to the size, shape and perhaps other physical characteristics of an object.

When applied to computers and related devices it typically refers to a “class” of device, such as a tablet, a laptop, a desktop and so on. You might see a device described as having a “tablet form-factor”, or having the “form-factor of a desktop”, in each case referring to its overall physical characteristics.

There are no absolute definitions of specific computer-related form factors which can lead to some confusion. For example the terms “notebook” and “laptop” might, or might not refer to the same general overall size and shape depending on who’s using the term and in what context.

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.

*** Featured Reader Comments

There's Just No Need to Hate Windows 8

James Morris writes:

My complaint about Windows 8 is really about the entire direction Microsoft is going.

I am running a business. I need a "Business Class" operating system. When I purchase an operating system labeled "Pro", I expect to get Business Class.

That is not what Microsoft is delivering. Every now release adds more time to the process of preparing a PC for my users. Stripping out the games, turning on "real" networking, etc., and now I have to provide 3rd party tools so my desktop users can have a desktop readily available to reach their desktop applications.

Sure, Windows 8 can be coaxed into being business desktop friendly, but why should professional users have to waste time doing that? Why can't Microsoft actually deliver a "Professional" grade opsystem right out of the box?

By the way, have you noticed the Windows 8 ads? They are all about your 10 year old child painting pictures of flowers, and other very unbusinesslike activities.

Where are the examples of running MRP, Accounting, Engineering, or serious 3D CAD applications?

It seems like business users, who are really the backbone of Microsoft's income, have been relegated to unwanted stepchild status.


There's Just No Need to Hate Windows 8

James writes:

Nothing in the first half of your article made me think I should switch. In fact if running Classic Shell makes it work and act the same as Windows 7, I just couldn't see the point of anyone upgrading unless they had touch/tablet hardware.

After reading the first half of the article, I was glad to see your number one recommendation was to not do anything, unless you have a reason to switch.

I've never been one to run out and get the latest and greatest. In fact my Windows 98 PC is still sitting on the floor here collecting dust (much to my wife's dismay). I think I used that until just prior to the Vista launch, when I got a Boxing Day special on a XP PC. XP is still doing fine and I have no plans of leaving XP. I would probably need a hardware upgrade if I did.


There's Just No Need to Hate Windows 8

Lester writes:

FINALLY! A sensible and reasonable article on Windows 8. I upgraded both of my machines before low priced upgrade vanished. I've had very little problem and I like it. I also installed an SSD on my laptop and it really sizzles now. I didn't even bother turning it into Windows 7 with a start button replacement. I just use the start screen for a few things and switch to the desktop for the rest.

Honestly, the anti- Win 8 vendetta is disturbing to me. Something is bad is happening to our nations when people can't accept the challenge of something new and learn to thrive with it. We need people who can take up challenges like this and enjoy them. Otherwise the Chinese will walk all over us. THEY know how to accept a challenge. We're too lazy for it.

*** Thoughts and Comments

I had someone ask if my security software recommendations article was still accurate, since it was dated a couple of years ago. The short answer is yes, but I took that as a reminder that it's an article worth updating every couple of years even if nothing substantive changes. That's this week's What Security Software do you recommend? I did take the opportunity to add a few thoughts about what to do when you can't download, and of course my ever present reminder to back up.

Also this week: I bought myself a Microsoft Surface Pro while on my sabbatical. I've been playing with it and using it off-and-on ever since. I finally took the time this weekend to write down my thoughts about the device. You can see those at Microsoft Surface Pro: the Good, the Bad and the Awkward.

Be sure and tell your friends about Ask Leo! and have them subscribe to the newsletter. It's your word-of-mouth, shares and links to the site that are an incredibly important, and highly appreciated, part of what keeps it going.

See you next week,

Leo A. Notenboom
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Posted: May 7, 2013 in: 2013
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I'm Leo Notenboom and I've been playing with computers since I took a required programming class in 1976. I spent over 18 years as a software engineer at Microsoft, and after "retiring" in 2001 I started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place to help you find answers and become more confident using this amazing technology at our fingertips. More about Leo.