Ask Leo! #447 – Windows Update, Change (again), upgrading an older machine and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

Managing Windows Update

Windows Update is one of those more-or-less magical components of Windows that we all know should be turned on and that we all hope never causes us a problem. When it’s working properly, it’s something that we can usually just take for granted.

There’s actually more to Windows Update (or “Microsoft Update,” if you have it configured to update all your Microsoft products) than simply downloading and installing the latest security patches for us. For example, you may want some updates but you’re not aware of them.

And there may be updates that Windows Update offers that simply annoy you.

Let’s look at managing Windows Update a little more proactively.

Continue Reading: Managing Windows Update

Embracing the Most Important Attitude

Today, a couple of major online applications released user interface changes. Some of the changes are major, some are minor, but the bottom line is that what people were using yesterday is no longer available today.

I don’t have to tell you what applications those might be. Whatever they are today, there will almost certainly be other commonly used applications that change when you read this article in the future.

I get frustrated when this type of change happens.

But not for the reasons that you might think.

Continue Reading: Embracing the Most Important Attitude

*** Answercast

Answercast #110 - Secure Content errors, nagging Update Assistant, clicking Paypal links, older computers and more...

Ever wonder what's the easiest way to upgrade a computer or if you should get a new hard drive? Wonder why Paypal still sends email with clickable links or where certificate errors come from? Need to know if data on the cloud is deleted when you cancel a service? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

Why does legitimate email from PayPal instruct me to click a link?
The rule is never click on links unless you are 100% certain that they are from who you think they are. The question is, how can you be certain?

Continue reading: Why does legitimate email from PayPal instruct me to click a link?

Does my information get deleted from the cloud if I delete the associated software?
Make sure you understand how any software you use keeps personal data in the cloud and the steps necessary to delete, or secure, that data.

Continue reading: Does my information get deleted from the cloud if I delete the associated software?

Why does my browser warn me that "Only secure content is displayed?"
Often, when a secure https site is fetching images from its unsecure http counterpart your browser will flash a security warning. It's common, but is it something to worry about?

Continue reading: Why does my browser warn me that "Only secure content is displayed?"

Why am I getting security certificate errors?
If you are seeing this across a family of sites or just one site, it's possible (in fact it's even most likely) that it's a problem on the server's side. It may be a designer error. It may even be a malicious site.

Continue reading: Why am I getting security certificate errors?

Will it cause a problem if Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant warns me that a program is incompatible, but it works?
It's hard to know what the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant is looking for when it gives an upgrade warning. It may be a serious problem, it may only be flagging incompatibility with other Windows 8 programs.

Continue reading: Will it cause a problem if Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant warns me that a program is incompatible, but it works?

What's the easiest way to upgrade an older machine?
Upgrading a computer can be a lot of work, it is going to cost some money, and depends on your needs. I'll show you where to start.

Continue reading: What's the easiest way to upgrade an older machine?

Do I need to have a separate data backup if I backup my system regularly?
If you are doing regular image backups of your computer, and incremental backups of new data you're good. But what about the files you are working on today?

Continue reading: Do I need to have a separate data backup if I backup my system regularly?

Should I update my hard drive?
I like to follow the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." But there are some considerations here where replacing the hard drive would make sense.

Continue reading: Should I update my hard drive?

Why does the size of my Office file grow excessively after I make simple changes?
Microsoft Office documents can sometimes grow larger as you save them. There are a few options to explore to reduce the likelihood, and the space used.

Continue reading: Why does the size of my Office file grow excessively after I make simple changes?

Can I use a backup image to wipe free space?
There's an app for that! An easy combination of programs can help you clean a computer before you sell it or give it away.

Continue reading: Can I use a backup image to wipe free space?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


A motherboard is the primary circuit board in a computer. It typically has on it sockets for the machine’s CPU, RAM, and keyboard, mouse and disk controllers and the circuitry to interconnect them all. It’s also common for motherboards to now also contain additional circuitry for external connection,s such as USB, eSATA. Many motherboards also include video adapter circuitry as well.

Many motherboards, particularly those in desktop PCs, include slots into which expansion cards can be inserted to provide additional hardware functionality. Occasionally, those expansion cards or other cards that can be attached to a motherboard may be referred to as daughterboards.

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

Why can't I see the files on a CD I created?

Angel Honey writes:

There is another possible fix / reason for this problem. I used to work in an office that used a combination of Mac / Apple and PC's computers. And we saved our client files on CD's and sometimes they would come in in a panic because their files had disappeared when they tried to open them at home. The fix was as simple as putting the CD into the same type of computer it had been formatted on. If it had been burned on a Mac putting back into a Mac showed all the files and vice versa. This comment doesn't negate any of the reasons/ solutions offered by LEO.

Are records better than CDs?

Dan Horvat writes:

You said it right, Leo, it depends on your ability to hear the difference.

The issue here is not compression, but the fact that CDs (as an audio format, not as a physical disc) cut off the frequency after a certain threshold. CDs play sounds up to 22.05 KHz, whereas the average human can hear sounds with frequency up to 20.00 KHz.

Any sound with a frequency above 22.05 KHz will not be played by the CD. It will be cut off.

Some people, not a large percentage, are able to otherwise hear the frequencies which are cut off by the CD, and for them the experience is very unpleasant, especially if they invested a lot of money in the speaker system. It's depressing, really. You know how the chimes sound like but the CD sound is different because it cuts off a portion of the sound's frequency. On an expensive speaker system the difference is more noticeable. A drum is not a drum, a guitar is not a guitar.

These people just have to set up a vinyl record system if they want to enjoy music. And then they have to deal with the imperfections of that system (scratches and the like).

I haven't yet heard of a person older than 25-30 who can still hear frequencies above 22.05 KHz though. Hearing declines with age. I, for one, could have heard the difference between vinyl and a CD clearly at age 21 - and was the only one in class who could do so - but can no longer hear it at age 32.

I can still detect sound masking easily and have therefore went through my entire life without really enjoying a recording.

All in all, I'd say the CD audio is a system which revolutionized music as it's the first format which eliminated noise. It's good enough for the vast majority of people. There is a small number of people who can not be satisfied by the 22.05 KHz cut-off because they hear the frequencies above that range.

And then there are "audiophiles", who are by default never satisfied. Their number is much, much greater than the number of people who can really tell a difference between vinyl and a CD.

If an IP address doesn't do it, then how does Google know my location?

Bob writes:

Most of the 'big' players in this game have been proven to collect more than they should, often without seeking permission beforehand. So what they can do with the information we actually provide them is a chilling concept.

These days you are bombarded with requests for e-mail addresses, phone (text) numbers, 'real' names - often being denied services if you do not provide them.

Some people don't have the information, some don't want to give it - but the so-called 'anonymity' of the internet is rapidly dwindling.

*** Thoughts and Comments

The new look is here. Still a few tweaks and twiddles to work out, but I hope that you find Ask Leo! easier to read and navigate. As always your feedback is very much appreciated - just use the ask-a-question form.

If you've followed me at all you can guess that I'm not panicking about the recent "revelations" about NSA (National Security Agency) supposedly having access to all sorts of our personal data courtesy of most of the major internet providers.

But that doesn't mean that I'm not concerned.

I'm not panicking for a couple of reasons. The first is my old mantra "You and I are just aren't that interesting" - if (and I want to stress if) data is being collected at the level that the original claims set out - it's unlikely to actually affect most people.

The other reason I'm not panicking is that I'm very skeptical. Not only are the claims and counter-claims contradictory, but like most conspiracies, it's impossible to imagine that something this massive across this many companies wouldn't have leaked out earlier and with significantly more concrete proof.

Nonetheless I am concerned.

I'll certainly be paying attention as more facts come to light. The hard part is understanding which are and are not actual facts.

Certainly the conspiracy crowd is taking every sliver of rumor that's ever been brought to light in the past, treating it as fact and yelling "See, we told you so!". At the other end of the spectrum are those with a vested interest in keeping whatever the details of the truth is under wraps, ostensibly for security reasons saying, in effect, "there's nothing to worry about".

There's no doubt that some amount of data collection and analysis is warranted to fight not just terror but crime in general. The concern as we watch this story unfold is where to draw the line between privacy and security, and exactly who it is we allow to make those decisions.

I encourage you to be informed, but please, please, please look for objective data, if you can find it. Rely on verifiable facts, not just the rantings and rumors of one side of the argument or another.

I guess that's my biggest concern of all: that with a loss of objectivity will come ill conceived actions that will either do absolutely nothing to address whatever issues there may actually be, or it'll all act as a diversion to allow whatever is happening to only get worse.

Leo A. Notenboom
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Posted: June 11, 2013 in: 2013
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