Leo's Answers #10 – January 27, 2006

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom

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*** Contents

*** New Articles of Note on Ask Leo!

Why is there so much spam?

In between bouts of frustration with my inbox, I've been reading your various articles on spam. I think I'm slowly getting a handle on it all, but it sure seems crazy. And it really got me to wondering... why is there so much spam in the first place?

I feel your pain.

I recently did some research for another project of mine, Taming Email, and looked at all my email for last year. Not only do I get a lot of email, but my calculations show that 87% of it was junk. Wow.

Why is there so much spam?

It's very simple, really.

Spam works.

Continue reading: "Why is there so much spam?"
http://ask-leo.com/why_is_there_so_much_spam.html

* * *

How do I maximize my battery life?

When I first got my laptop (8 mos. ago) my battery life was about 2 hours 45. Now after daily use (mostly with plug but using battery as well) it is down to 1.5 hrs which is basically useless. I have tried draining totally recharging etc and still only 1.5 hours. SO I am buying a new one. My question is how do I make my battery keep its charge so I can have it when I need it?

I originally wanted to title this article "Why does my battery life suck?", because I know that's exactly what it feels like when the battery life gets shorter and shorter. My oldest laptop has about a 20 minute lifespan, so in many ways the battery is really nothing more than a glorified UPS. Not that that's bad, but it does limit the laptop's portability.

I turned to a friend, Jerry Foutz, for some help on this one. Do a Google search for Power Supply Design, and Jerry's site, SMPS Technology, is the top result. Jerry knows power supplies.

Continue reading: "How do I maximize my battery life?"
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_maximize_my_battery_life.html

* * *

Watch the Cockroaches Scurry

I discuss a new effort to publicize spyware and its creators.

Continue reading: "Watch the Cockroaches Scurry" Article Includes Audio
http://ask-leo.com/watch_the_cockroaches_scurry.html

* * *

How do I get at System Restore in Windows XP?

After installing some software that totally messed up parts of my system, someone recommended I use System Restore to restore the machine to it's previous settings. Sounds wonderful ... except I can't find it. How do I get at System Restore?

I honestly don't know why System Restore is as hard to find as it seems to be. It'd definitely not obvious.

Oh, and I hope you have it turned on. Otherwise even finding it may be of no help.

Continue reading: "How do I get at System Restore in Windows XP?" Article Includes Video
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_get_at_system_restore_in_windows_xp.html

* * *

Why does my screen go black after the Windows screen when I boot?

My system will only boot correctly if I enable VGA mode. On a regular boot the OEM logo comes up, then the Windows logo, but after that I only get a black screen.

Windows tries to set the display to its configured settings right after displaying the Windows logo, and just before displaying the login screen or desktop.

Nine times out of ten if that's when your display stops, it's simply because your display settings are set to something that your monitor can't handle. Depending on what it's not supporting, some monitors respond by going black ... others just go "crazy" displaying unintelligible gibberish.

If that's the problem, it's fairly easy to fix.

Continue reading: "Why does my screen go black after the Windows screen when I boot?"
http://ask-leo.com/why_does_my_screen_go_black_after_the_windows_screen_when_i_boot.html

* * *

My Taskbar is missing and I have no Start button - what do I do?

All of a sudden my taskbar is gone. I can't find it, so I have no Start button to click on, no quick launch start programs from - I can't even see what time it is! How do I get it back?

There are a couple of different ways that the task bar can disappear, or appear to disappear. Naturally the solutions are different, as are the workarounds.

Continue reading: "My Taskbar is missing and I have no Start button - what do I do?"
http://ask-leo.com/my_taskbar_is_missing_and_i_have_no_start_button_what_do_i_do.html

*** Popular Articles from the Ask Leo! Archives

I've heard a few reports of at least one internet security package causing folks grief when they updated to its 2006 version. Hopefully that manufacturer will address the problem soon. In the mean time, I thought I'd use that as an opportunity to present this article from the archives:

Viruses: How do I keep myself safe from Viruses?

Computer viruses are a fact of modern, internet-connected life. At best, they're annoying performance sucking beasts, but at worst ... kiss all your data good bye.

We all need to take steps to make sure that our computers are safe, or we risk infection. Complacency is not an option.

And yet, even after all the news, and all the warnings, and after all this time ...

complacency remains all too common.

Continue reading...
http://ask-leo.com/viruses_how_do_i_keep_myself_safe_from_viruses.html

*** Interesting Sites and Useful Resources

M.I.C.E. - Metafile Image Code Execution
http://grc.com/wmf/wmf.htm

Normally I wouldn't feature a site this quickly again, but this is rather timely.

In a recent issue I pointed at Steve Gibson's http://grc.com as a good, if somewhat sensationally written, site. His "Shield's Up" tool is a great resource for determining how vulnerable you might be on the internet.

Steve's at it again - a good tool, backed by sensationalism and even some controversy. "M.I.C.E." is his acronym for the Windows Metafile Vulnerability that everyone was talking about a couple of weeks ago. "MouseTrap" is a very simple vulnerability detection tool. Download this tool and you'll quickly see if you are, in fact, still at risk due to the WMF Exploit.

The controversy? Steve has come to the conclusion that the vulnerability was put into place intentionally.

Personally, I'm a firm believer in Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity." Not that I believe Microsoft engineers are stupid (I was one, you know :-), but a coding error or bug is, to me, much more believable than something intentional.

But, as always, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

* * *

The latest essay out at Taming Email: "Save Everything so you can Delete More"
http://www.tamingemail.com/save_everything_so_you_can_delete_more.html
.

The latest entry out at Forwarded Funnies: "Girls and Boys"
http://www.forwardedfunnies.com/girls_and_boys_009724.html
.

*** Leo's Thoughts and Comments

Seattle has a reputation for rain, but one of its better kept secrets is that it's actually not that wet here. Usually. I've been told that on average Miami gets more rain annually. The difference is that they get it all at once. Here we spread it out over days and weeks. This year, however, you know it's bad when our recent streak of rainy days made news headlines. It's been enough to make even die-hard natives like myself dream of warmer climates.

Personally I'm looking forward to a conference I'll be attending in Phoenix in a couple of months. I need sunshine to be something more than a distant memory.

Sadly, I'm not much of a football fan, so I can't even take solace in our Seattle Seahawks first trip to the Super Bowl.

But, for the record, "Go 'Hawks!" anyway :-)

*** Newsletter Administration Department

Do you have a question? A comment, perhaps? Newsletter subscribers can drop me a line at leo <at> ask-leo.com. (I only give that email address to newsletter subscribers, so I'll know it's from one of my loyal readers.) If you like, you can make sure you get past any spam filters by simply posting your question or comment using the Ask Leo! question form: http://ask-leo.com/askleo.html.

I'll be honest: I'll try to respond, but I get a lot of questions every day - I'm currently quite backlogged. I simply cannot answer absolutely every one. Rest assured, though, that even if you don't hear from me directly, I read every email I get.

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Till next week!

Leo Notenboom

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