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Leo's Answers #119 – March 14, 2008

Leo's Answers
A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom

Hello!

*** Contents

*** This Week's New Articles on Ask Leo!

I found a USB thumbdrive, plugged it in and now my system won't work. What happened?

One day I found a USB thumbdrive and I plugged into my computer. After that I couldn't do most of the stuff on my computer, I couldn't open Help and support center, run MSN, Yahoo messenger, other installed programs, system restore, Internet Explorer. Do I have malware or something of that sort?

Yes, I'll bet you do.

I wanted to address this question because it's not all that obvious to most people that plugging in an unknown USB device can be dangerous, to say the least.

And it's one of the reasons I almost always turn off "autoplay".

Continue reading: "I found a USB thumbdrive, plugged it in and now my system won't work. What happened?"
http://ask-leo.com/i_found_a_usb_thumbdrive_plugged_it_in_and_now_my_system_wont_work_what_happened.html

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Why can't I activate Windows XP?

I'm trying to activate Windows XP Home. I've just performed a clean setup, and Windows now won't let me even login until I activate. The network card has apparently not yet been configured, so I can't activate over the 'net. When I do the phone activation, the "installation ID" I'm supposed to give the Microsoft representative is blank. What do I do?

That question wasn't posed by just any reader. This time it was me.

And after an hour and a half on the phone, I was no further along.

And yet, left to my own devices I had the machine activated in about 10 minutes.

This is not good. Not at all. In fact, it's downright depressing.

Continue reading: "Why can't I activate Windows XP?"
http://ask-leo.com/why_cant_i_activate_windows_xp.html

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What's a T1 line, and how do I connect to it?

We are going on vacation and the condo where we are staying says they have a T1 line. What, if anything is needed to connect my laptop to the T1 line?

A T1 line (also known as a DS1 line) is just a specific kind of communications technology. It differs from DSL and Cable in a few respects, which I'll go over.

A T1 is nice, but it's not nearly as impressive as it was in years past.

Continue reading: "What's a T1 line, and how do I connect to it?"
http://ask-leo.com/whats_a_t1_line_and_how_do_i_connect_to_it.html

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Can I delete old versions of software?

I wondered why space on my hard disk seemed to be disappearing so quickly and then discovered that programs such as Java and Adobe leave older/parallel versions of themselves behind when they update. I must have at least 500MB of Java versions at the time of writing. My question is can I delete these older versions and why doesn't Java do that automatically when it updates?

The second part is easy: why? Who knows? There are so many possibilities, and in general it'll vary from vendor to vendor. And of course knowing why probably won't help us answer the first part of the question.

But I do have a suggested approach to cleaning up...

Continue reading: "Can I delete old versions of software?"
http://ask-leo.com/can_i_delete_old_versions_of_software.html

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How do I synchronize Outlook 2003 between a desktop PC and laptop?

How do I synchronize Outlook 2003 between a desktop PC and laptop?

For all its faults, Outlook in its various flavors has many strengths as well.

And then there are those features that are either strengths or faults, depending on who you talk to.

I've synchronized Outlook 2003 (and predecessors) between machines much like what I think you're asking about, and I did it by using one of those slightly controversial features that made what I was doing very easy.

Continue reading: "How do I synchronize Outlook 2003 between a desktop PC and laptop?"
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_synchronize_outlook_2003_between_a_desktop_pc_and_laptop.html

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Anonymous Comments - Good or Bad?

Is making anonymous comments illegal going to stop on-line harassment? I don't think so.

Continue reading: "Anonymous Comments - Good or Bad?" Article Includes Audio
http://ask-leo.com/anonymous_comments_good_or_bad.html

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How do I get rid of unused network icons in my taskbar notification area?

Is there any way that I can get rid of unused network icons that show up next to the clock? Namely, wireless network and some other?

Yes, there are at least two ways that I can think of: disable the network card, or turn off the "show icon" option. It's probably the later one that you really want, but most people don't even know it exists.

Continue reading: "How do I get rid of unused network icons in my taskbar notification area?"
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_get_rid_of_unused_network_icons_in_my_taskbar_notification_area.html

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*** This Week's Most Popular

The ten most popular articles in the last 7 days on Ask Leo!

  1. How do I put a picture in a comment on myspace.com?
  2. How do I put a picture into the caption of a picture on myspace.com?
  3. How do I make a new MSN Hotmail account?
  4. How do I delete history items from my Google tool bar?
  5. How do I change my MSN Hotmail password?
  6. Svchost and Svchost.exe - Crashs, CPU maximization, viruses, exploits and more.
  7. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  8. What are the POP3 and SMTP settings for Hotmail?
  9. What are MSN HotMail's POP3 and SMTP settings for Outlook Express?
  10. Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it?

*** Popular Articles from the Archives

A gigabyte is a gigabyte, right? Not really. It all depends on how you think, and if you have a choice, which way of thinking sounds better for your purposes:

Why isn't there 80 gigabytes of free space on my empty 80 gigabyte drive?

I have just purchased a new computer with an 80 GB hard drive, and When I was installing Windows XP Home edition it said I had 76,000 MB of disk space. I don't get it. Shouldn't it be 80,000 MB? Is there anything I can do to recover the other space? If I go to My Computer in windows XP and Click on the Hard drive symbol it will show me the space on the hard drive. It said the total available space is 74 Gigabytes. What happened to the other six gigabytes?

They were never there.

Believe it or not, there's no real agreed upon definition of what a gigabytes is.

Let me clarify: there are definitions. Plural. And which one gets used depends on ... well, it depends on how you think.

Continue reading...
Why isn't there 80 gigabytes of free space on my empty 80 gigabyte drive?
http://ask-leo.com/why_isnt_there_80_gigabytes_of_free_space_on_my_empty_80_gigabyte_drive.html

*** Thoughts and Comments

I feel your pain.

No, really.

As recounted in "Why can't I activate Windows XP?", this week I decided to let Microsoft customer service help me resolve an issue activating a copy of Microsoft Windows XP Home. It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least.

I've always advised people having activation issues that activating by phone is no big deal, really. I certainly hope that's the case for most people, but it certainly wasn't for me. An hour and a half on the phone is a big deal. Particularly when a) that didn't fix it, and b) after I gave up I had it fixed in 10 minutes myself.

I certainly get that phone support and remote debugging is incredibly difficult. I know, I try to do pretty much the same thing here at Ask Leo! every day answering questions. But that's exactly what we expect technical support specialists for specific product from a specific company to be good at: resolving issues with that product.

Oh well. It was definitely a learning experience for me.

And while I certainly don't have any "do this instead" kind of recommendations, I can at least honestly say that I've been there and I've experienced the pain.

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As always, if you appreciate this newsletter or the site, one of the best ways you can say "Thank You!" is to link to Ask Leo! or simply to tell a friend or colleague. Just send folks to askleo.net.

'till next time...

Leo

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