Leo's Answers #120 – March 21, 2008

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


*** Contents

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

Is the WiFi connection provided by my landlord safe, and if not, how should I protect myself?

I'm a cable internet user now, but I'm moving into a new apartment where the landlord provides free wireless internet to me and two other tenants in the house. I just have to supply a wireless adapter/card for my PC. How do I take advantage of my new landlord's offer and at the same time protect my personal electronic information from the other tenants--and my landlord--when I cannot control the router?

I almost said, "just turn on your firewall and you'll be fine".

And then it dawned on me that no, you wouldn't be fine. Far from it, in fact. And that's the reason I'm touching on this scenario again, even though we've really discussed this exact problem a couple of times before, albeit with slight differences.

Continue reading: "Is the WiFi connection provided by my landlord safe, and if not, how should I protect myself?"

* * *

How can we protect ourselves from botnets?

The "Money Section" in USA Today recently had a cover story about the exploding negative influence (attacks, whatever) of Botnet scams and related evil-doings. The thrust in part seems to be that our current malware and virus protections may be woefully inadequate. Do you have an opinion about this expanding threat that you'd like to share with your faithful readers? How might we give ourselves greater protection from what is clearly an insidious attack by those who wish to use the Internet for their own gains - illicit in the extreme?

The article in question, "Botnet scams are exploding" gives a fairly broad overview of how botnets operate, and the massive amounts of illicit activities that occur because of them.

My opinion? Simple:

Computer users don't take security seriously enough.

Continue reading: "How can we protect ourselves from botnets?"

* * *

Is this an email hoax? Will forwarding an email help a dying child?

I received a chain letter containing a poem allegedly written to a dying child, and with the claim that AOL and ZDnet would donate 32 cents (Zimbabwean) towards the cost of an operation every time the letter was forwarded. My first reaction was to ask if it is technically possible for someone to keep track of a chain in this way. Perhaps you might discuss this. My 2nd reaction was to check it out on Snopes, which confirmed the hoax, but didn't actually discuss whether it is possible to trace a chain.

It's been a while since I've touched on this topic, so it's overdue.

Forwarding an email will not help anyone. Forwarded email cannot be tracked.

Let me say that again: forwarded email cannot be tracked. So don't forward it. Please.

It's an email hoax.

Continue reading: "Is this an email hoax? Will forwarding an email help a dying child?"

* * *

Does my router have a firewall or not?

I purchased and installed a broadband router. Specifically, a wireless Linksys WRT54G. I thought this provided a firewall and I had planned to uninstall Norton Systemworks which is giving me problems. However, the router does not appear to include a firewall. It does not need any sort of configuration like Norton, such as sites to let through or to block. I have looked all through the documentation and no mention of a firewall.

Did I buy a model without a firewall or was I mistaken about a router including a firewall?

Your router does, and does not have a firewall.

And I totally understand that this is confusing.

I'll try to clear it up...

Continue reading: "Does my router have a firewall or not?"

* * *

What is the System Idle Process and why is it using most of the CPU?

What is the System Idle Process and why is it using 96 to 99% of the CPU?

This is a great example of things we geeks probably take for granted, that's not always obvious to the rest of the world.

I mean, really, a process that regularly takes up 99% of your CPU's time must be a bad thing, right?

Nope, not at all. Just the opposite, in this case.

Continue reading: "What is the System Idle Process and why is it using most of the CPU?"

* * *

What do normal people do?

What's the average non-technical computer user to do when faced with incompetent technical support?

Continue reading: "What do normal people do?" Article Includes Audio

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

*** Popular Articles from the Archives

This week's article on botnets reminded me of this podcast from three years ago:

Why are so many infected?

I recently heard that some study showed that over 80% of Windows computers on the internet were infected with some form of spyware or virus. That's 4 out of every 5 computers. That's both amazing and scary.

Continue reading...
Why are so many infected?

*** Thoughts and Comments

I noted a quiet little "milestone" of sorts for Ask Leo! this week.

On the right side of the home page of ask-leo.com, down a little, you'll see a section labeled "archives", where you can click through to a list of every article posted on Ask Leo! since day one.

The counter displayed there quietly crossed the 1500 mark this week.

Now, that includes everything; not just answers, but the archived newsletters, podcasts, and even an administrative post or two. Still. 1500 ain't bad.


Several people commented, both on the site and privately, on my experiences with Microsoft customer support. Most commiserated and appreciated my posting the experience.

I had cause to call a different customer support this week: that of the delivery service UPS - I was having problems installing the shipping software that my wife's business uses on ... well, it turns out on the very same computer on which I had my earlier activation issue. While I do have issues with their software's design and configuration, the technical support was prompt, clear and very helpful. With a little investigation and with their help I was able to quickly figure out where I'd screwed up.

As much as we like to bash bad service, I think it's just as important that we also recognize when things work. UPS WorldShip tech support did just fine by me.


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...


* * *

Some of Leo's other sites: The Ask Leo! Store, Leo's Online Business Card, Forwarded Funnies, Taming Email, MovableType Tips, Leo's Blog, Buy Leo a Latte (or a Beer), A Letter To Myself, Dolls and Friends, Corgwn.com

*** Newsletter Administration

Do you have a question? A comment, perhaps? Visit http://ask-leo.com/ask to submit your questions.

I'll be honest: I'll try to respond, but I get a lot of questions every day - I just can't answer everyone. Rest assured, though, that even if you don't hear from me directly, every email gets read.

Leo's Answers Newsletter is a weekly publication of Ask Leo! and Leo A. Notenboom. It's also available as an RSS feed at this URL: http://ask-leo.com/newsletter.xml. Archives of previous newsletter issues can be found on the Ask Leo! web site, http://ask-leo.com/newsletter.html.

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Newsletter contents Copyright © 2008, Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.

Posted: March 21, 2008 in: 2008
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3327
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