Ask Leo! #463 – A Skill Everyone Needs, Customer Service, the Cost of Supporting XP and more…

*** Featured

The Most Important Skill

I'm often asked what it takes to become a computer programmer.

I'm also often asked questions about computers in general – everything from broken hardware to lost Hotmail passwords.

The answer to the first, and the chances of getting an answer to the rest, have something exceptionally important in common.

Something that most people don't even consider. And I'm willing to bet it's not at all what you think.

I'll give you one hint: today's topic is off-topic, since it actually has nothing to do with computers or technology.

And yet, it kinda has everything to do with it.

Continue Reading: The Most Important Skill

How do I contact customer service for

I get questions like this a lot. And what's interesting is that the answer keeps changing.

Things are getting better, but it still feels like we're dealing with variations on the theme of "no".

Of late, however, there's a little hope.

Continue Reading: How do I contact customer service for

Why didn't my firewall stop this malware?

The other day, my wife was looking at a website when suddenly she was hit with the System Progressive Protection virus. She never even clicked on a link! We shut her machine down, and I went on the internet and found what seemed to be a reasonable site describing how to get rid of it. After many steps, I think I did.

My wife then asked me how did this virus get through? We have a firewall through the router and she had Microsoft Security Essentials running.

Firewalls only protect you from internet-initiated connections – the kind that other computers out on the internet try to make to yours.

That protection's important. Some malware constantly tries to connect to random IP addresses on the internet. Once connected, the malware attempts to exploit vulnerabilities. A firewall prevents that connection from happening.

If your router has a log, it's interesting to see how many random connections are attempted from the outside.

What happened to you wasn't that kind of malware.

Continue Reading: Why didn't my firewall stop this malware?

*** Answercast

Answercast #126 - XP costs, improving images, historical data, ensuring you are malware free and more...

Are you worried that all this digital data will be lost for future generations or how long Google tracks you? Do you want to improve images or be sure you are malware free? Wonder what it would cost Microsoft to keep XP going? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

How costly would it be for Microsoft to keep supporting XP?
Microsoft does a lot of work behind the scenes to keep an operating system going. At some point, the cost of maintaining an old operating system simply becomes too great.

Continue reading: How costly would it be for Microsoft to keep supporting XP?

Why is a message stuck in my outbox?
There are several reasons why an email might get stuck in an outbox. I'll look at some of the more common ones.

Continue reading: Why is a message stuck in my outbox?

Can I be sure my machine is malware free?
Believe it or not... you can't prove that you don't have malware. But when your computer slows down, it doesn't necessarily mean malware.

Continue reading: Can I be sure my machine is malware free?

Can a flash drive that has a Linux install on it become infected?
Depending on the format of the drive, how the malware finds you, and how you access Windows, you may or may not have a problem! Does that sound vague enough for you?

Continue reading: Can a flash drive that has a Linux install on it become infected?

If it's all digital, won't you lose it anyway?
Backing up is actually easier with digital information. One copy of an old photograph is not backed up!

Continue reading: If it's all digital, won't you lose it anyway?

Is there software that will transform poor quality images and videos?
You can't add data to an image to make it better. But there are some tricks that can make it visually more appealing.

Continue reading: Is there software that will transform poor quality images and videos?

How long does Google keep my account information?

Once you delete your account, your information will be gone... but there may be backups. Ultimately, anything online or shared is completely out of your hands.

Continue reading: How long does Google keep my account information?

What do I do if SFC detects but cannot fix a problem?

Unfortunately, the full solution to this problem can be quite painful. We'll start with some easier fixes.

Continue reading: What do I do if SFC detects but cannot fix a problem?

*** Our Sponsor

Get the Most From Your Mac!
Check out MacMost, the World's largest collection of Mac tutorials.
MacMost has 1000+ free video tutorials to help you use your Mac,
iPhone, iPad and other Apple devices. Also tips, recommendations,
news, and a questions & answers forum.


Advertisement. Ask Leo about advertising here.

*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


IMAP is an acronym for Internet Message Access Procotol.

As its name implies, IMAP is a protocol for accessing email messages. This differs from POP3 which is primarily a protocol for transferring or moving messages.

When IMAP is used by email programs to access messages stored on an email server they are left on that server unless explicitly deleted or moved by the user. Copies of email messages may be downloaded, but fundamentally IMAP provides what can best be termed a window or a view on a collection of email stored on the server.

While copies of email may be downloaded, enabling offline access, the IMAP protocol works best when continuously connected to the email server. Changes on that server – such as new mail arriving, or email being deleted or altered by a web interface or another email program – are quickly reflected in programs accessing that email server via IMAP.

Multiple-simultaneous access – meaning more than one computer or device accessing the same collection of email at the same time – is one of IMAP's strengths, and it's often the technology used by mobile devices and even web interfaces to manage email that might be accessed from multiple locations. The down side is the more or less constant connection that's best used, as well as the fact that email accumulates on the email server unless deleted, which can sometimes cause email accounts to exceed storage quotas.

For more, see What is IMAP? And how can it help me manage my email? on Ask Leo!.

See also: SMTP, the protocol for sending email, and POP3, the protocol for downloading mail.

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 is my new computer flooded with pop-ups and ads?

Alex writes:

What a great recommendation PC Decrapifier is. I recently purchased an HP machine that stood at about 70 GB after installation. Some of the rubbish doesn't show up in the Uninstall a Program list so I had a great need of a program like Decrapifier. Thank you Leo !

Will Windows XP keep working after support ends?

B. E. Smith writes:

Like many other people, I think Windows XP is as close to perfect as Microsoft can get. I'm also quite fond of the old dinosaur Office 2000. I am slowly learning Windows 7 (and Office 2010, with the help of a free "Menu" tab for the ribbon). The bottom line on why Microsoft and Apple insist on forcing new operating systems/software, is MONEY! If we buy a product, like it, and stick with it indefinitely, their opportunity for profit is minimized. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. It takes money to run a company, and profit is the name of the game in American business. But it is what it is, and all our belly-aching won't change a thing! I'm buying my wife a new ChromeBook for Christmas. Maybe that will be my ticket out of the Microsoft abyss!

How do I use and clear contacts and auto-complete suggestions?

Bobbie writes:

My remark is I have windows 8 now, since the change from 7. I am so very unhappy with it.

I bought windows 8 computer awhile back, and sometimes I want to throw it out the window.

It is the most confusing computer I have ever owned. I wish now I had kept 7 but I know that will be gone soon.

I would like to know if anyone else is feeling the way I am, and has some suggestions on how

I can deal with this?

Leo writes:

You can make Windows 8 behave very much like Windows 7 by installing Classic Shell:

*** Thoughts and Comments

If you've been a subscriber for more than a year today's first article is probably a familiar one. I first ran it last December and it generated a lot of feedback.

This week as I was processing questions I ran into several that, fundamentally, I just couldn't understand. Sometimes it's so bad that there's clearly no point in asking for clarification - it'll only result in more confusion. All I can do, sadly, is ignore those questions and move on to those I can understand.

As I point out in that article this isn't an "English as second language" thing. That presents its own challenges, but I've actually become pretty good over the years at making sense out of some of the more common ways that English can be broken when its not your native tongue.

No, this is borne out of people that are clearly native English speakers that simply can't express themselves in a clear and understandable way. In part it's frustrating, but more than that it's sad. I really do want to help, but if I can't understand the question, there's no way I can.

Till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom
Facebook - Google+
YouTube - Twitter

*** Administration

If you have a question don't reply to this email. Instead, head over here:

and submit your question there.

That form is the best way to get an answer. (This article explains why.)

Need more help with or have questions about the newsletter? Check out the newsletter administration page.

Help Ask Leo! Just forward this message, in its entirety (but without your unsubscribe link below) to your friends. Or, just point them at for their own FREE subscription!

Newsletter contents Copyright © 2013,
Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.
Ask Leo! is a registered trademark ® of Puget Sound Software, LLC