Ask Leo! #453 – Gmail tabs, IP address tracking, ads that know where you live and more…

The Ask Leo! Newsletter

*** Featured

How do those ads know where I live?

I live in Baltimore. When I go to a website, the content will often say things like, “Find sexy singles in Baltimore,” and stuff like that. I use spyware software religiously. So, how do they know where I live? And how do I get rid of it? These aren’t local websites that I’m visiting by the way.

Spooky, isn’t it? I see the same thing when I visit certain websites. It’s not always about “sexy singles,” but they frequently nail me down to the Seattle area.

There are a couple of ways this can happen.

Continue Reading: How do those ads know where I live?

Can I get someone's name and address from their IP address?

I have the IP address from someone who’s causing me some problems. Can I get their name and location from that?

Yes and no. But mostly no.

This is perhaps one of the most common questions or comments that I get. Unfortunately, people’s expectations have been colored – often dramatically – by popular television shows and movies.

Unfortunately, this is real life – which isn’t nearly as easy or exciting.

Continue Reading: Can I get someone's name and address from their IP address?

How do I get rid of Gmail tabs?

Gmail just turned on some kind of tabbed inbox feature. It’s randomly putting mail into different “categories.” How do I turn that off?

Full disclosure: that was me asking the question.

While I was out on a trip, Google enabled their new “tabbed” inbox. My first reaction?

How do I turn this thing off?

Continue Reading: How do I get rid of Gmail tabs?

My Taskbar is missing and I have no Start button. What do I do?

All of a sudden my taskbar is gone. I can’t find it, so I have no Start button to click on, no quick launch to start programs from – I can’t even see what time it is! How do I get it back?

There are a couple of different ways that the taskbar can disappear or appear to disappear. Naturally, the solutions are different as are the workarounds.

(By the way, I’ll assume that you’re not running Windows 8. That’s a whole ‘nother ball game when it comes to the task bar. :-) )

Continue Reading: My Taskbar is missing and I have no Start button. What do I do?

*** Answercast

Answercast #116 - Managing auto-start, XP updates, Google hacks, infected websites and more...

Are you wondering how to burn DVD's faster or how to check a website for viruses? Worried that someone logged into your Google account or concerned about double logins in Skype? Is AVG sending warnings - are images not showing in emails? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

Will a new computer burn DVDs faster?
A new computer might burn DVDs faster depending on what's limiting your burning speed now. It could be the CPU, but it could also be something else.

Continue reading: Will a new computer burn DVDs faster?

Why is AVG telling me IE has high memory usage?
High memory usage by Internet Explorer can result from several different things. I'll review the most common.

Continue reading: Why is AVG telling me IE has high memory usage?

How do I add a program to auto-start in Windows 8?
Under the hood, Windows 8 is the same as Windows 7. All you need to do is locate the Startup folder and put a shortcut to your program in there. I'll show you how.

Continue reading: How do I add a program to auto-start in Windows 8?

Why can't I forward an image in email?
Sending and receiving images in email is incredibly complex, sometimes I'm amazed it works at all! But we'll look at some common reasons why email images may fail to forward.

Continue reading: Why can't I forward an image in email?

How can people be signed into both Skype and Microsoft Messenger at the same time?
Until the migration from IM to Skype is complete, I think it's likely to see both accounts for many friends. It's simply that Skype, the program, is logging into the both Skype and Microsoft Messenger at the same time.

Continue reading: How can people be signed into both Skype and Microsoft Messenger at the same time?

Will existing updates still be available after Windows XP support ends?
Someday, Windows XP critical update files will cease to be available. You can continue to use them as long as they are available, and I'll show you a permanent solution.

Continue reading: Will existing updates still be available after Windows XP support ends?

Did someone login to Google with my password?
It's frightening, on the server side, to watch the constant attempts being made to slowly brute force a way into email accounts. So it's safe to assume that if Google notified you - someone got in!

Continue reading: Did someone login to Google with my password?

How do I check a website for malware without infecting my own machine?

This is a difficult problem to solve. Steps to protect yourself from a malicious website could mask the problem so you never see it. I can give you a few suggestions.

Continue reading: How do I check a website for malware without infecting my own machine?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


A driver, short for “device driver”, is software that’s installed into Windows (or any operating system) that handles the operating details of using a particular hardware device.

For example, a mouse can be connected to your computer any of several ways: via a wired PS2 connector, a wired USB connector, a wireless USB connector or a Bluetooth. Each hardware interface has its own unique way of getting the information from the mouse. The mouse driver for each different interface translates that hardware-specific information into generic information like “the right mouse button is pressed” that Windows then uses.

Many drivers are included with Windows by default and these can be overwritten by drivers that you install or download from device manufacturers. This allows Windows to take advantage of more of the hardware capabilities of the specific devices. For example, Windows includes a fairly generic mouse driver, but downloading updated drivers from the mouse manufacturer may enable additional buttons and capabilities that the default drivers ignore.

Drivers can be simple or complex, and like any software drivers can have bugs. Quite often the advice when diagnosing suspected hardware related issues is to download the latest drivers directly from the hardware manufacturer in the hopes that bugs present in earlier versions, including the default drivers included with Windows, have been fixed.

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 does my wireless mouse stop responding?

Art Yaffe writes:

Leo, you didn't mention Windows' USB power saving feature, which sometimes drives USB devices nutso. Deep in the Advanced Power settings, under USB settings->USB selective suspend setting the user gets to select whether this feature is enabled or not. I have had to disable the feature to keep some of my USB devices alive and healthy.

Three tips to make Windows 8 less annoying

Sandy Coulter writes:

I think that under the hood, Windows 8 is Windows 7 perfected. However, the extremely awkward interface just does not work well for business people using traditional computers. Rather than offering 3 tips to make it easier, I simply put classic shell on for my clients and it gets them up and running instantly. They even get the start button back in addition to solving all the other interface issues. I also tach them about Alt+f4 to close any full screen programs or apps and how to get back to the desktop if classic shell fails to kick in upon startup.

Steve writes:

I think you have just answered the question as to why Windows 8 will go down as a marketing disaster. Namely that it requires a guru like yourself with 18 years experience at Microsoft and who spends his days in computers, to explain how to get the thing working to do even simple tasks such as closing a window of finding the program you want. What hope is there for the ordinary (non-touch) user who just wants to get on with his day job?

It could be a triumph for the touch / tablet market, but it could cause Microsoft to loose its grip on the regular mouse'n'keyboard desktop market.

Daniel Lauber writes:

With just two inexpensive add-ons you can make Windows 8 behave more like Windows 7, but on steroids. We've found Windows 8 Pro to be faster, more stable, and more forgiving than Windows 7. But since we use our computers for work, not play, we rarely have any interest in the Modern User Interface. So with Start8 and ModernMix from we get our Windows 8 computers to behave more like WIndows 7 (these utilities sell for $4.99 each and Stardock often offers them as a pair for $7.99). Start8 enables you to boot directly to the desktop, restores the Start button AND the Start Menu. ModernMix enables Modern UI apps to open on the desktop in conventional resizeable windows with the minimize, maximize, and close buttons restored. With them you get the best of both worlds.

*** Thoughts and Comments

As several have noted, last week I typoed: it's the Irish & Celtic Music Podcast I was listening to, not "Cletic". Smile

Garbled Characters

Something else I've been trying to track down lately involves reports of garbled characters in the newsletter. Not everyone has been seeing this, but definitely a few. I totally understand that it's annoying when it happens, and makes the newsletter that much more difficult to read.

With the help of some reader feedback, and a little research on my own I think I have it figured out. Well ... I've at least changed something this week, so if you are still seeing "funny characters" where things like quotes or other characters might make sense drop me a line and let me know what email service and/or program you're using.

What I changed this week was the moral equivalent of telling your email program when displaying the newsletter to go both right and left at the same time. Some choose left, some choose right.

Hopefully my directions are clearer now.

Leo A. Notenboom
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