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*** New Articles
Do I need a firewall, and if so, what kind?
I keep hearing about "firewalls" for my computer and that there are
different types. Do I need one? If I do, what kind of firewall do I need?
The very short, very easy answer is: hell yes! Absolutely,
positively you need a firewall.
With all that happens on the internet these days it's simply too risky to
let your computer sit "naked" on the internet unless you really know
what you're doing.
The real question is then: what do you need?
Heck, it's even possible you already are behind a firewall and don't need
Continue reading: Do I need a
firewall, and if so, what kind?
* * *
Why, or how, do files become corrupt?
How are files "corrupted" and why do they go "missing"? I had this happen
recently and was told that it was not a virus that caused it: that it "Just
happens". Whatever! Windows had to be re-loaded.
Yes, it does "just happen".
That should make you a little nervous, and perhaps motivate you to invest in
that backup strategy you've been putting off.
The fact is, things occasionally break, and when they break the failure can
be catastrophic - as in suddenly your machine won't turn on - or much more
subtle, not showing up for weeks or months or sometimes never.
Continue reading: Why, or how, do
files become corrupt?
* * *
Is it safe to let my browser remember passwords?
If I consider my computer to be physically secure, am I reasonably safe
letting Firefox remember my passwords (without using a master password), or am
I being incredibly stupid to do that? What if I do use a master password?
I certainly wouldn't say incredibly stupid at all. But it's definitely an
additional risk, and one that needs to be understood.
But you're correct in considering physical security first. The problem is
that people often assume they have more physical security than they actually
And master passwords? Well, they're nice, but they too have their
Continue reading: Is it
safe to let my browser remember passwords?
* * *
How do I know what programs are safe to uninstall?
I use Windows XP and am wanting to rid my computer of programs that I never
use or rarely use. I know about using the removal function in the control
panel. My question has to do with "How do I know that it's okay to remove these
For example, I have a program that's called "Java2 Runtime Environment SE
v1.4.2_03" This program takes up 135.00MB and it's used "Rarely." I have
several programs like this that are used "Rarely." It is okay to remove
It's my experience that "rarely" is rarely accurate. I have no idea how that
moniker is created, but for the most part my sense is - it ain't right. I just
checked, and a program that I use quite literally every day (the HTML
editor in which I write these articles) is listed as being used "rarely", and
last used about 5 months ago.
That's so wrong as to completely remove any trust I have in any of the other
tags of "rarely" in the Add/Remove entries.
Unfortunately that kind of limits the information we have at hand in order
to make our decisions.
Continue reading: How
do I know what programs are safe to uninstall?
* * *
2009 Most Popular Questions
It's interesting to watch for what changes in popularity from year to year,
and also what's new.
In 2009 we saw a couple of new Top 10 entries and of course some old
standby's continue to make a strong showing. I think there are some interesting
observations to be made about the industry based on what kinds of questions
people ask most often.
Continue reading: 2009 Most Popular
* * *
How can I know that email's I sent were received and
In my business, it is critical I know that emails I have sent were received
& opened. The emails are time sensitive and contain deadline dates for the
I have searched & asked questions... but all that has been futile.
I am certain I am not the only person unable to find an answer to this
That's because there is no answer to this problem.
And you're quite right, you're not the only person wishing otherwise.
But wishing - or even the statements of some companies that claim to be able
to do it - doesn't make it so.
I'll explain why.
How can I know that email's I sent were received and opened?
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A sampling of some of the comments that have been posted recently on Ask
* * *
does Hotmail keep email?
Carl G. writes:
Can we PLEASE stop seeing Hotmail questions (pretty please!!!)? If people
can't figure out WHAT Hotmail is all about by now, is there ANY help for them?
Hotmail is a free (you get what you pay for) front for Microsoft to sell ad
space - that's all. ;)
Sorry, but it's unlikely that Hotmail questions will stop. There are real
people with real problems that need help. That's what I'm all about. I agree
that they're often using Hotmail improperly and should be doing something
different, but the fact is a large number of questions I get are all Hotmail
related. I'd be doing a lot of people a huge disservice if I ignored the tide.
I do try to expand the Hotmail questions in to more general purpose questions
(i.e. the lessons, including this article's, often apply to "all free email
Can someone I'm IM'ing with see my machine or hard disk?
An important side note...I fell for this one...it's quite possible to be
spammed through IM's...please read on.
I'm an IT guy and my friend is also an IT guy. While chatting about
something technical in Google Talk, we were sending each other links. We also
routinely make fun of very bad English (aka "Engrish"). This particular day, in
the midst of our tech chat, I get a message through Google Talk from him, it's
written in very bad "Engrish" and it has a link. Thinking my friend is just
being goofy, I clicked the link and it took me to a very strange web page. I
looked around on that page and then replied in Google Talk to my friend, "What
is this?" At that point, he was completely confused how that message was sent
to me because he DID NOT SEND IT. This is a close friend and I trust he was
just as confused as I was. Our conversation was somehow hijacked and this
simple spam message and link were inserted into it. I got off lucky because it
did not ask me to "log in". If it had been a Google-style login, I very
possibly would have tried logging in because again, it was a perceived good
link from a trusted friend. He and I both reported this too Google on a message
board along with many others...so apparently I'm not the only victim of this
sort of thing.
Scary. Every link in IM needs to be viewed with skepticism.
Dell - PC
Desktops, Laptops and Accessories
PJ Salvatore writes:
A couple years ago I purchased our 7th Dell. All 7 are still in service and
I can even say going strong. My son's laptop for college was our first in 1999.
Like any technology of that age it has outlived its usefulness... OUTLIVED
being the operative word!! It is still running and still in use, though we've
since gifted our son a new one. My desktop is going on 8 years old, has been
expanded to capacity, (fortunately external hard drives make expansion of
storage limitless) this one has taken 7 years of nearly constant use. I won't
bore you with more details, but all of our computers, except one
Vista-encumbered desktop that we call our evil step-child, have been a delight
to own (the computer actually behaves quite nicely, Vista seems to be a bit
ADHD). As for service, we couldn't have asked for better! In the middle of a
major project, tech support even saved my bacon by walking me through the
recovery of files in safe mode, for THREE HOURS!. (the wireless mouse, not the
computer, proved to be the issue in that case) We've gotten a wonky laptop
replaced when the warranty clearly stated that they would only repair. And a
monitor that was months out of warranty was replaced as well with no argument.
I have of course heard all the horror stories but you couldn't prove them by
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everyone on the planet should know what it means?
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Each week I recommend a specific
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does my recommendation mean?
*** Popular Articles
We should all run fully protected on the
internet, right? I mean, anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewalls and who knows what
else are all pretty important. Right? What, then, about those brave folks who
Running Without a Net
Every so often I hear of people who run Windows without anti-virus or
anti-spyware software. A good friend of mine runs this way, and the other day I
happened to hear that a couple of high profile tech industry folks do the
Now, while it might be OK for them, I'm concerned that it sets a misleading
example, and might cause others to think that they can get away with doing the
Here's the deal.
Running Without a
*** Thoughts and Comments
I hope you're all having a great holiday season! It's been the usual
alternating states of relaxation and frenzy out here at Ask Leo! world
It's hard to believe we're wrapping up another year too! This is the last
newsletter of 2009. I remember as a child thinking how cool it'd be in the year
2000, and here we are 10 years past! Time flies - whether or not you're having
It's also hard for me to believe that we're approaching 100,000 subscribers
to this newsletter. I'm at once surprised, awed and humbled that I get to share
a small place in your inbox every week. It's something I try not to take for
granted. I want you all to know how very grateful I am for you, your attention,
your feedback and your subscription. I hope I can continue to live up to your
expectations and provide something useful every week.
Here's to a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2010!
Leo A. Notenboom
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Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.