Ask Leo! #513 –, tracking cookies, Hotmail recovery, constant change and more…


How do I get the old homepage back?

The page has changed again and there seems to be no way to revert back to the original. Why does Microsoft impose this on people without giving a choice? Everyone just HATES the new version of Is there a way to revert to the page as it was before?

As I update this article for the latest round of changes, I'll show you what's happening. I'll also make some guesses as to why the changes were made, and what your options might be. The answer might very well be "not many".

Continue Reading: How do I get the old homepage back?

What are tracking cookies and should they concern me?

In two other questions, What can a website I visit tell about me? and What are browser cookies and how are they used? I discussed some of the information that websites get, and techniques that they can use to collect and remember more.

What I didn't talk about in much detail is that through clever use of cookies most typically associated with advertising, it is possible for some services (not sites) to gather a little more information about you. Or a lot.

And thus we have "tracking" and "third party" cookies to talk about.

Continue Reading: What are tracking cookies and should they concern me?

How do I get into my Hotmail/ account if I don't have the recovery phone or email any more?

I've forgotten my Hotmail password, and I no longer have access to the phone number I set up on the account when I created it years ago. What do I do?

I've received many variations of this question in recent weeks. In particular it appears that when you're traveling to different countries, Microsoft is now often requiring that even when you know your password you also must be able to provide a code that is sent to your phone or an alternate email address associated with the account.

I cannot stress this enough: it is critical that you keep your recovery information up to date. Not doing so is, by far, the fastest way to lose access to your account forever should something go wrong. It's also a way to end up unable to access your account until you return home after traveling.

While many feel that the approach is somewhat ham-handed on Microsoft's part, the reality is they're fighting an incredibly difficult problem: account theft.

I'll review the steps I believe you'll need to take, and explain why this is happening.

Continue Reading: How do I get into my Hotmail/ account if I don't have the recovery phone or email any more?


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Glossary Term


A cookie is a collection of data – typically small – that is provided by a web page and downloaded by your browser and stored on your machine. The next time your browser requests a page from that same domain, all cookies that were last provided by that domain are included with the page request.

For example, you visit for the first time. When the initial page is downloaded, included with that page might be some data in a cookie that says "SeenFirstPage=1." That data – the domain and its cookie "SeenFirstPage=1″ – is stored by your browser somewhere on your machine. The next time that you visit any page on, your browser includes the "SeenFirstPage=1″ cookie with the request. In this example, the site may then elect to perhaps present a different page, knowing that you've seen the first page.

The actual contents and usage of cookies is not defined and may be anything as defined by the website that uses them.

In practice, cookies are frequently used to store information that prevents people from needing to login over and over for every single page on a site that requires login (such as an email service), to maintain the state of a shopping cart when shopping in an online store, and just generally to provide more seamless experiences on feature-rich web sites.

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Featured Comments

Why Spammers Love ZIP Files and How You Need to Stay Safe

Greg Trobaugh writes:

IF an agency OR someone you know NEEDS to send you a ZIP file, FOR ANY REASON, they should password protect the ZIP file and provide you with the KEY over the phone, NEVER provide KEYS by email! With 7zip the following key/password examples (in quotes) are all stronge, legit and acceptable: "SweeT cHerry w1ne t01let w@teR", "porcupineapples", "Paperclip 0n 1c3" etc they really don't need to be all that complicated to be secure. Do Not Use any of these examples lol.

Working in the medical and other sensitive fields I've set up keys that are changed monthly, at minimum, or weekly to provide the best security. No password, it's deleted!

Leo writes:

I like your approach, though I might not necessarily insist on phone key exchange only. What's important is that the password be sent by a different channel - IM, text message, Dropbox and so on.

Security: It's a Spectrum, Not a State

K.Vee.Shanker. writes:

As I see, Security and Comfort are inversely related. That an action / inaction might promote or demote your security level. And, it is all a trade off - I mean when an action eliminates some risks, may times it makes you vulnerable in new ways! You might lose some of the existing benefits and convenience. Since, there is no such a state as 'Absolutely Secure Position', we must respect the fact that any solution/advice given has inherent risks, and we should never demand any guarantee. Asking guarantees only keeps you in problem, and prevents others from helping you.

Thank You Leo!

How do I get the old homepage back?

Diane writes:

(Waaah, I like blue better, I can't cope with anything new,) is the theme of this thread. No one has said this or that facility was removed or no longer operates and I need it. If these comments had been made on a Microsoft website, (which they weren't,) Microsoft could not identify a problem. Adjust. Build a bridge. Cope. Life, it goes on. You'll never make it to a ripe old age if you don't accept new and different. Inside institutions are the only place you'll find a sheltered existence where people are protected from change so as not to cause upset.

Leo's Blog

Why do things that aren't broken keep changing?

You may know that Google in their wisdom have changed their Google mail to a new format. To some, it may be great, but to us "old fogies," we are pissed off BIG TIME!! Why must Google change something that is NOT broke? Why also don't they give those of us who want to remain on the old format the option to do just that? Do you know why they may have changed? Do you also possibly know if there is a way I can revert back to their "old" format?? Your help would be GREATLY appreciated.

I'm afraid you're not going to like my answer.

When this post originally appeared, Google had just changed the layout of the Gmail interface. As it turns out, I actually get this question periodically about almost every major online service. Google, Hotmail, Yahoo! and others all go through periodic major updates, and some set of existing users get quite upset. At the time I'm making this last update to the post, it's that's going through a fairly major facelift.

Just about any site online or even software that we use goes through periodic changes. When they take on a major update, it's going to upset some of its user base. It's a cost of doing business.

And that, really, is what it all comes down to: services and software you use are, first and foremost, businesses in a highly competitive environment.

Continue Reading: Why do things that aren't broken keep changing?

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