Ask Leo! #464 – Free Speech, Securing web sites, Internet speed, intercepting video chat and more…

*** Featured

How do I secure my website?

If you have your own website, how do you keep it from being infected with viruses that get passed on to viewers? Two of our sites are just ISP-provided personal web space to which we publish Front Page pages. The other is a hosted site and the pages are just HTML that I edit with FrontPage and upload via FTP.

If you have a static website (meaning it's just .html) that you've uploaded via FrontPage, FTP, or whatnot, the single most important thing to do is choose a good password and keep it secure.

One class of site hacks is simply people getting the password, ftping in, and monkeying about with files on the site.

While that does happen, it's actually not the most common cause for a good number of site hacks these days.

That gets a little more technical.

Continue Reading: How do I secure my website?

What are the internet's rules about free speech?

Can you advise me on the "rules" of the internet regarding free speech? I've had comments on some sites and posts on a discussion group deleted by the owner. Doesn't that violate my right to free speech?

No, it doesn't.

Free speech is an interesting concept in general; it's even more so when you take it to the internet. There are rules and even laws.

But it's a very complex issue.

And it all begins with realizing that there's no such entity as "The Internet."

Continue Reading: What are the internet's rules about free speech?

*** Answercast

Answercast #127 - Internet speed, broken IE, protecting your reputation, backing up a sleeping computer and more...

Are you worried about protecting your reputation from things you did as a teenager? Want to back up a sleeping computer or keep crashing when you try? Wonder how to fix Internet Explorer? 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 my computer crash when I try to back up?
Backing up shouldn't crash a computer, and neither should attaching a hard disk.

Continue reading: Why does my computer crash when I try to back up?

Why doesn't my internet speed match what I'm paying for?
In general, more speed is better than less, but exactly what you are getting (and whether or not you need it) is going to be a personal matter.

Continue reading: Why doesn't my internet speed match what I'm paying for?

Can an ISP remotely access my computer without my knowledge?
Knowing who you are dealing with is the key to safe remote access. It's not the technology that's a problem. It's the person on the other end of the remote access!

Continue reading: Can an ISP remotely access my computer without my knowledge?

Can video chat be intercepted and recorded?
Video chat is probably not monitored, but there's no way to prove that. If that's a little too vague for you, then be careful what you do on your computer.

Continue reading: Can video chat be intercepted and recorded?

How do I fix Internet Explorer if it won't open?

The error message actually leads us down the path that we need to repair your installation of Internet Explorer.

Continue reading: How do I fix Internet Explorer if it won't open?

Why does this email message ask me to enable HTML when it already is enabled?
Viewing an email in HTML seems to be the default in the new There is no easy way to change it. So why are you seeing this message?

Continue reading: Why does this email message ask me to enable HTML when it already is enabled?

Will my internet activities of years ago come back to haunt me?
We just don't know how long information will stay public on the internet, so it's best to assume that it will be forever.

Continue reading: Will my internet activities of years ago come back to haunt me?

Will backups run if my PC asks for a password?
Scheduling regular backups is an important step in your overall backup strategy. But they do have to run when your computer is on and accessible.

Continue reading: Will backups run if my PC asks for a password?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week

volume (disk)

A volume is a logical unit of disk storage, most commonly (in Windows, at least) associated with a single drive letter.

The most important difference between the terms "volume" and "partition" is that volume is a logical construct and does not imply any physical attributes, whereas a partition refers specifically to physical layout. A single volume (perhaps a C: drive) could:

  • take up an entire disk.
  • take up only a portion of a disk.
  • be spread across several disks.

Volumes contain folders which in turn contain files, which in turn contain data.

While it's exceptionally common to refer to a volume as a "disk", (e.g. the "C:" disk), very technically that's inaccurate as "disk" more properly refers to the physical media. Since the majority of volumes are contained on a single disk, and most commonly a single disk contains only one volume, the terms are often used synonymously.

See also: partition.

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

The Most Important Skill

Bernard W writes:

In the words of Pope, you convey "what oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed". Clarity is of the essence. If the questioner expects you to spend your valuable time on his question, he should phrase it properly, and not expect you to untangle a jumble of lower case, text speak, unpunctuated gobbledy-gook.

Betty Braden writes:

First of all, let me say THANK YOU for all the advice and expertise you have dispensed on this website. Between you, and some of the similar sites you've recommended, I've learned so much over the last few years. And I agree that the ability to communicate effectively (or lack, thereof) is a key component in the frustration level I feel each day. You see, I am in charge of computer repair and maintenance at a small K-12 school. The number one problem reported to me: "My computer doesn't work." That's it! No explanation, no detail, just "My computer doesn't work." You'd think TEACHERS could/would communicate more effectively. By the way, the number one problem I "fix" each day? Failure to respond to a dialog box, or unplugged equipment!

Tim Hadley writes:

I've been a regular reader of your column, Leo, for several years, and I've appreciated your clear and precise discussions of computer issues. I've learned a lot from your posts, which is why I keep reading them. Because I teach English, I naturally I agree 100% with your emphasis on good communication skills. I'm going to show your column to my students. I'm sure they'll benefit from seeing how much value you place on a high level of writing ability. Thank you for another excellent column.

Jacob writes:

Leo, this is an excellent commentary on a major problem that I have seen time and time. In my role as a programmer/report designer/database designer, poor communication is a primary reason for the failure of a project to meet requirements upon delivery. I will say, it is not only poor language use, but also, poor thinking, from the aspect of omissions - leaving unsaid what should have been communicated. When that happens, we may try, as you say, to infer or assume things, and we often get it wrong. Therefore, again, as you say, we have to ask questions about the questions asked of us.

In another role of mine, that of moderator of a very large community email list, I am often appalled at many of the poorly worded postings that come to our message queue. One thing I see repeatedly are postings that could be construed in either of two ways, because the subscriber simply never checked to see if what they wrote actually agreed with their intent. Since we can't tell what their intent was either, we delete or reject the postings.

A comment left about your article by another individual was that people will often write to a technical support staff member saying "My computer doesn't work", and no more. That tells us one of two things about the writer of such a vague statement: a)they are unwilling to take the time to fully explain a problem, and simply want somebody else to figure it out, or b)they don't understand that communicating more fully will give them a better end result. Either way, it is quite frustrating.

Ultimately, people have to see that their poor writing/communication skills are to their detriment in order to fix the problem. If it wastes your own time, or hits your own wallet, perhaps that is the incentive needed to communicate better.

Why is a message stuck in my outbox?

Chris Calvert writes:

Almost the only reason I have seen for messages getting stuck in the outbox is either because the message is too large eg a user trying to send 60MB of uncompressed photos (this happens more from home users than business users). Outlook has a default maximum size of 20MB which can be increased to 30MB. Or, almost the same reason, your ISP has a maximum size that can be sent through them. Through a series of takeovers the ISP I started off with has turned into Vodafone. They apparently are still using some very old software to run their email and this has a limit of either 5MB ot 10MB according to who you talk to there. So Outlook is happy but the ISP isn't. This is very frustrating because a lot of people, who know how to compress a picture file, still can't send a reasonable 12MB email containing a few photos.

*** Thoughts and Comments

Ah, Microsoft Security Essentials, aka Windows Defender, what am I to do with you?

There was a news report last week that was widely republished and "interpreted" that seemed to quote a Microsoft spokesperson as saying that Microsoft Security Essentials was somehow losing its priority at Microsoft and therefor might no longer be an appropriate anti-malware solution. As a result I made a statement (on my security software recommendations page, and my Facebook page) that I would review my recommendations for anti-malware tools.

Some folks took this out of context and seemed to imply that I was no longer recommending MSE.

Not true.

When a Microsoft person says something that brings the viability of the tool into question it's important that I review what was said, and the tool(s) involved. But until I find out more, I'm changing nothing.

Right now I suspect that there's a fair amount of missinformation floating around that needs to be clarified. If that means a changed recommendation, or if it means sticking with MSE (I suspect the later, but we'll see), I hope to have an answer by next week.

Till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom
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