Ask Leo! #460 – Archiving, making small text larger, checking short urls, Google+ and more…

*** Featured

How can I make the text on my screen larger?

I am "old" … so I need to use a magnifying glass to read a lot of the screen words. I suppose that they are in a six or eight-point font. Can I make the screen text larger? Say to a 10- or 12-point font?

I know how you feel. My eyes aren't all that they used to be either.

The good news is that it's actually easy to make the fonts bigger, but the setting is hidden well.

The bad news is that it's also easy to do the wrong thing and end up with something that seems better, but often isn't.

Continue Reading: How can I make the text on my screen larger?

Archiving - What it is and why you need to start

As we use digital technology, we're continually accumulating digital "stuff": we take pictures, write documents, record videos, purchase music, acquire software, and much much more.

All of this digital data is either accumulating on our systems, or worse: getting lost.

In the past, we've had a very clear concept of how we could store the physical counterparts to today's data. They were visible and we could move them about as our needs dictated: place them on a shelf next to the TV or store them in a box in the attic.

Digital data requires that we think a little differently about storage.

I want to introduce you to archiving.

To begin with, it's important to realize that archiving is not the same as backing up. Not at all.

Continue Reading: Archiving - What it is and why you need to start

*** Answercast

AnswerCast #123 - Browser redirects, crashed computer, broken websites, hackers, Google + and more...

Are you wondering what a hacker can get from your email account or worried about Google asking for personal information? Would you like to track where links will take you, or trying to find a missing website? Has your computer crashed? Get answers to all that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

Will locking my computer prevent scheduled and autorun programs from running?
Macrium will run just fine as long as your computer is still turned on. Other automatic programs may have trouble, depending on their configuration.

Continue reading: Will locking my computer prevent scheduled and autorun programs from running?

Can a hacker get away with only my address book?
If you've been hacked... you've been hacked. That means the hacker had access to everything on your computer or in (and linked to) your email account. In either case, you need to review your security.

Continue reading: Can a hacker get away with only my address book?

Do I need to have a Google+ profile to use Picasa?
These days, most online service providers offer linked services. Getting an account with one automatically opens accounts for you with the others.

Continue reading: Do I need to have a Google+ profile to use Picasa?

Can I rely on the URL shown in the browser's status bar being accurate?

There are both legitimate and malicious reasons why a link author may send you to a place that is different from the link showing in the status bar. Let's look at why that may happen.

Continue reading: Can I rely on the URL shown in the browser's status bar being accurate?

How do I recover my data from a crashed computer?

As long as the problem isn't a damaged hard drive, you may be able to access your data with a Linux CD, or even better, a backup recovery CD.

Continue reading: How do I recover my data from a crashed computer?

What does error 500 from a website mean?
The 500 series are errors on the server; the remote computer that is "serving" that website to the internet. There are only a few things you can do to try to resolve it.

Continue reading: What does error 500 from a website mean?

How do I print Hotmail messages without the ads?
The trick is to print the email itself and not the page showing in your browser. I'll show you how.

Continue reading: How do I print Hotmail messages without the ads?

Is there a way to know where a URL-shortened URL is going to take me?
Link shortening services make it hard to tell what a link's final destination is. When you receive one in an email, you may want to do some detective work to see where it's going. I'll show you how.

Continue reading: Is there a way to know where a URL-shortened URL is going to take me?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


DPI is an acronym for Dots Per Inch.

Whether printed or viewed on some form of a screen, all computer output is printed as a matrix of nothing more than dots. On a black and white printer there would be only black dots. On a color printer or display the spectrum might be represented by unique combinations of three colors – red, green and blue typically – that combine into a single visible dot of color.

Dots per inch is nothing more than a measure of how closely those dots are placed to each other – in other words, how many there would be in one inch of display media.

The number of dots per inch that a device is capable of supporting defines among other things, its sharpness and clarity at presenting what is displayed – a higher DPI means that more dots are used to display a specific area, and thus more dots can be used to represent fine visual characteristics.

Typically items are rendered "best" (a completely subjective term) when the computer presents information at the native DPI resolution of the device being used. However it's not at all uncommon to treat a device as having greater, or fewer, dots per inch to adjust the resulting size of what is being rendered.

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

Shouldn't everyone have internet access?

Old Man writes:


As you pointed out, there are two aspects: desire and availability.

There are those who have access to high-speed Internet, but don't want to use it for various reasons. That's their choice, and they should be aware of the possible consequences - just like everything else in life.

On the other hand, there are many who want high-speed Internet, but it's not available. Most of the commenters here seem to think everyone can easily get access, or readily drive someplace where it is available. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are large, less inhabited areas in the USA that do not have broadband access. Many, such as the mountain areas in Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana can't get WiFi, and satellite is unreliable at best. Many other areas now don't even have access to TV, let alone broadband. According to a report I read a couple of years ago, some areas are still using party-line phone service. These people would be willing to pay for the service - if it were available. Then there are pockets in metropolitan areas that don't get decent broadband - such as where you live. Cable broadband was all around my area for more than two years before it was available where I live.

In today's economy there are many people whose income is just above poverty level. They don't qualify for any sort of aid, but can't afford more than simple shelter and basic food. They would have to walk to the library - which could be several miles away - to try to access a computer.

As you mentioned, the problem is very complex, and there is no single quick-fix. Since we don't live in a moneyless world, there is always the problem of who pays for any possible solution. If providers raise their prices, they risk losing customers. If the government pays, there will be an increase in taxes. If the users pay for it, there will be some who can't afford it. Add to that all the technical problems associated with our varied geographic layout.

Identifying the problem is much easier than trying to find viable solutions.

David L. Hagan writes:

Come on people. Someone struggling to get out of poverty needs two things, food and education. The Internet provides one of those. Subsidized Internet is so inexpensive I cannot imagine why we should begrudge it. The Internet itself started with a government subsidy. I did not have to invent anything. I just plugged in, and it made my life better. Give more, judge less, be grateful.

lostnsavd writes:

Wow Leo! After reading your post and reading some of the answers, looks to me like a huge can of unexpected 'worms' came out. Hahahaha

There is no doubt that the Internet should be made available for everyone. And it is up to each individual as to whether they want to venture into the world of cyberspace.

Unfortunately, people are peculiar creatures. You may have stumbled on a delicious food that you're dying to share with others, only to find their reluctance to trying But, once they taste it there will always be some that like it and others that don't. Regardless, the availability should be provided just in case someone should change their mind and decide to take that leap of 'tasting' something they may actually find advantageous in their life. :)

To live in fear of the unknown however, is non-productive.

There is good and bad in 'everything.' You just have to be careful of where you step. :)

Thank you for being a very caring man. You are very much appreciated.

John writes:

Great article - and a fascinating array of comments.

Access to the adequate internet across the USA has 2 issues. First, availability is spotty. Both you and those who have sent comments address this well. Second, high speed access is incredibly overpriced - for what is offered.

The overpricing of Internet access has been widely discussed, and reported in the press. We pay multiples of the amount that residents of most other countries pay for equivalent service. (See NY Times articles and OpEd pieces on this during the past summer.) While most utility services in USA are regulated, somehow data services seem to be unregulated. In many areas, there is little or no real competition, and hence high prices with relatively poor service. Meanwhile, the service providers are enjoying record profit levels.

For example - in my North East US metro-suburban area the least expensive cable data service is over $500 per year, supposedly 4Mhz, except the rate is a teaser only good for 6 months. They don't publish what the rate will be after 6 months. $500 a year is a big hit for someone on Social Security, etc. And, cable goes down several time each month. The least expensive service delivered by phone is about $150/year but is dial up. But, telephone land lines almost never go down here. In much of Europe, one can get high speed service but for the lower cost

I generally believe less government is better government, but I don't believe our profit driven internet services ever will provide reasonable rates and good service unless government intervenes. Competition will not drive prices down because there are no real competitors. Competition alone will certainly not provide widespread access. But I also do not believe we should give support or subsidies or tax credits to users, as that only incentivizes the providers to keep their prices high, and service low.

Unfortunately, that means government regulation. There is historical precedent for this - providing electricity throughout the USA. Through government action, satisfactory electric service was made available to all (they don't have to use it), and prices were kept in check. And the electric providers have been a safe and profitable business/investment for decades.

Maybe this should be al Gore's next challenge.

*** Thoughts and Comments

Because of my schedule this week I'm writing these notes a little earlier than I normally do, so I don't have the winner of my 10th Anniversary contest to announce here, though that person will have been chosen and notified. Two winners to go. Visit 10th Anniversary Drawing if you haven't already entered.

Last week's editorial, Shouldn't everyone have internet access?, generated a lot of fantastic discussion. Remember how I mentioned a few weeks ago that you should read the comments? I picked a few for inclusion in today's newsletter, but it's only a small representation of a much more varied and deeper discussion.

The issues behind internet connectivity, need and desire are all very complex. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I believe strongly that discussions like the one happening in the comments to Shouldn't everyone have internet access? are an important part of the process to lead us to solutions.

As you read this, if things have been going to plan I'll be spending today, my birthday, relaxing on a beach somewhere.

I hope you'll have a great week as well...

Leo A. Notenboom
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