Ask Leo! #470 – Not getting mail, hotel wireless, a checklist for sound and more…

*** Featured

Why can't I connect to my hotel's wireless network?

Leo, I can't connect to my hotel's wireless with my Win 7 laptop. It's happened twice at different places. I can with the iPad. After it connects, a browser page pops up, asking me to agree to the terms. After I check the box, the browser closes and I'm on wireless. But for some reason, using Win 7, that browser doesn't come up, but a bubble note says to click for browser; nothing happens. I tried disabling Norton's firewall with the same results.

Many providers of free, open hotspots force you to agree to terms of service before they allow you to access their internet. It's a legal issue: they need to cover themselves in case people misuse or abuse their service and somehow hold them liable for it.

Sometimes that can get in the way.

Continue Reading: Why can't I connect to my hotel's wireless network?

Why am I not getting any email?

That's the question I was asking myself as I got up one Saturday morning and noted that I'd not received any email since Friday evening.

That's highly unusual, particularly as some of those emails are automated notifications that happen on a schedule over night.

What I found was that a hacker had (inadvertently) caused me to DDOS myself.

I thought I'd share this peek into the complexities of email. While it might get a little geeky at times, here's what happened, why everything actually worked as it should, and how I fixed it.

Continue Reading: Why am I not getting any email?

Why don't I get sound from my computer? (A Checklist)

Try as I might, I can't get my computer to output sound. Nothing. I can't figure out what's wrong.

That's actually a composite of questions that I get very, very often.

The problem is that it's a single silent symptom that can come from several sources.

So, let's run down a bit of a checklist.

Continue Reading: Why don't I get sound from my computer? (A Checklist)

*** Answercast

Answercast #133 - Replacement machines, catching scammers, grinding noises, updates and more...

Are you worried about a noise your computer is making, or if you are leaking information on a WiFi network? Do you think we should be able to catch scammers or swap hard disks in computers? Wondering about updates? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

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

If I buy the same model replacement machine, can I just move the hard disk?
Replacing a hard drive on an identical model laptop might just work, but let's make sure there are no misunderstandings here.

Continue reading: If I buy the same model replacement machine, can I just move the hard disk?

How do I restore my backup to a new machine?
More than likely, you will want to keep the new operating system on your new machine. All that you need from your image backup is the data that has luckily been preserved.

Continue reading: How do I restore my backup to a new machine?

Why can't we catch scammers?
Scammers are an international problem and that makes it extremely difficult to stop. In the end, it's all about the money.

Continue reading: Why can't we catch scammers?

What information does a laptop leak on a wireless network?
There is very little about your computer that can be transmitted over a WiFi connection... provided you know how to keep yourself safe on the internet.

Continue reading: What information does a laptop leak on a wireless network?

Why does my computer make a grinding noise when starting up?
A grinding noise and slow computer probably indicate the worse. Stop everything right now and back up!

Continue reading: Why does my computer make a grinding noise when starting up?

Do I need all these Office 2007 updates if I also have Office 2010?
Even if you don't use all the software on your computer, malware might! So it's best to always accept updates when they are offered.

Continue reading: Do I need all these Office 2007 updates if I also have Office 2010?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Word o' the Week


Dongle is a generic term for a typically small device that attaches to your computer to provide some sort of functionality, sometimes specific to an application.

USB Dongle Examples of dongles include:

  • Copy protection devices that must be attached for an application to work
  • Mobile broadband "modems"
  • External network adapters, wired or wireless
  • Flash drives

Most dongles are USB devices these days, but the term doesn't actually imply a type of connector. Historically, communications ports, printer ports, and other types of external ports on a computer have all been used.

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 it so important to use a different password on every site?

Tony Jones writes:

I'm sure that for people with things to hide, secrets they don't want revealed and bank accounts with very healthy balances DO need high security. But most of us are not like that. Someone wants to die of boredom reading my emails - fine. They want to log on to the 'accounts' I have with online shops I buy stuff from on a regular basis and try to purchase stuff - they're welcome; it won't work. They want to see what hobby websites I've visited recently - OK. But I can't believe they are going to waste time on people like me when there are far, far juicier pickings out there.

Leo writes:

This is actually one of those scenarios where my usual admonition - "You're just not that interesting" - is backwards. You're right - they don't care about most of your email contents or your shopping accounts and the like. But the aggregate of information and accounts that they can gain access to once compromised can add up to a lot of information about you. Identity theft is a common result. They don't want or care about what you have, they want to set up false identities in your name from which to profit.

Will malware infect the backups on my connected backup drives as well?

Randy writes:

Hi Leo,

Are you saying that if the backup is in the [mrimg] compressed file format and on the attached external hard drive, and the PC becomes infected - the compressed file will be immune? That is if the virus wasn't backed up in the image in the first place.



Leo writes:

That's my understanding of the way things are today. It would take a LONG time to encrypt a backup - they're currently focussing on the low hanging fruit of documents and similar - more normal sized files. Things could change. They could delete or damage the backups instead. But right now, they do not, and to be honest I'm not sure I expect them to. To me it's much more important that the backups happen.

*** Thoughts and Comments

The New Book is Out

Just a reminder that my new book is officially out. The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance is available now.

The paperback version is now available via Amazon, and of course PDF and Kindle versions are there as well. Regardless of which format you purchase register the book using the link inside and you'll get immediate access to all digital formats: .pdf, .mobi (that you can send to your Kindle) and .epub (commonly used by other e-readers).

More here: The Ask Leo! Guide to Routine Maintenance.

This week's article Why am I not getting any email? is less of a question/answer as it is a peek behind the curtains of email. With spam being what it is, getting email from point A to point B has become amazingly complex. Add to that the constant attack that almost all internet servers are under, and it's easy for unexpected side consequences to arise.

My mail's working once again (technically it was never really broken), but I wanted to describe the adventure in the hopes that it might be somewhat interesting and educational, as well as reinforcing just how much goes on behind the scenes to make it all work for you.

Till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom
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