Leo's Answers #127 – May 13, 2008

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom


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*** Contents

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

I've lost the password to my Windows Administrator account, how do I get it back?

When I set up my machine I did set a password for the Administrator account, and then I promptly forgot it, since I never use that account. Now I need it. What can I do?

Do you have physical access to the machine?


You can reset any Windows password on that machine that you like.

And if that doesn't scare you, I really need to drive home a point.

Continue reading: "I've lost the password to my Windows Administrator account, how do I get it back?"

* * *

The Plight of the Average User

Over the course of the last four years of doing Ask Leo! I've also learned a lot about computer and technology myself. The old adage about learning something by teaching it is very, very true.

But I've also learned a thing or two about you, the people trying to use computers, too.

And these are things I wish a lot more people would realize and understand. People from the executives at my former employer, to some of the people that comment on my answers.

The "average computer user" is not who you think.

Continue reading: "The Plight of the Average User"

* * *

How do I post a long link in email?

I tried to email a web page link to a group of my friends, but none of them could click on it and have it work ... it always said "page not found" or something like that. And yet the link works for me.

The link is a little lengthy, so I certainly can't expect them to type it all in. Why can't they just click to open that link, and what can I do to make it work for them?

The link broke.

No, seriously, the link was literally broken - either by your email program, or the recipients.

Here's what I mean:

Continue reading: "How do I post a long link in email?"

* * *

Can my company read the email I send via Hotmail on my work computer?

If I send an email on my work computer through Hotmail, will it be picked up on the server that has been set up in the office to hold all emails sent through on our "actual office computer emails' via a paying service provider?

In other words can the email I've sent be read afterwards on the office server or at the office's service provider if it has been sent through Hotmail?

The specific answer to the specific question you're asking is: No.

But that doesn't mean your email couldn't be read by your company in other ways.

In which case the answer the question you're really asking is: yes, they might be able to read the mail you sent.

Continue reading: "Can my company read the email I send via Hotmail on my work computer?"

* * *

How do I get Windows XP SP3 on CD?

I'm on dialup and downloading Windows XP SP3 will take hours, if it even manages to complete without dropping the connection. I was able to get a CD for SP2, but I can't see that option for SP3. What can I do?


As I write this, while there are reports that XP SP3 is starting to appear in Windows Automatic Updates, the Microsoft web site has almost no information on it.

Here's what I expect will happen, and what I think you should wait for, with updated links now available:

Continue reading: "How do I get Windows XP SP3 on CD?"

* * *

Who should I believe?

I was researching a question on the internet, and I find it very strange that what one expert recommends another advises against. I refer to various posts on discussion forums and advice sites such as yours, all of which are most helpful not often contradictory. One finds those who swear by a product and others who don't reckon much to it. That leaves novices like me rather bewildered to who to heed and who not.

Who do I believe?

I understand the frustration. When all you're looking for is an answer, it's puzzling to come up with various differing opinions.

I'll try to explain why I think that is, and what I do when faced with it myself.

Continue reading: "Who should I believe?"

* * *

How do I fix bad sectors on a flash drive?

I have a flash drive and I found that some files on it were corrupted. When I recopied them from a backup, these files were corrupted again, sometimes immediately, but sometimes only after a few days or weeks.

Some folks have suggested I simply "buy a new one". But I think that this might be more or less the nature of flash memory, similar to dead pixels on an LCD display. So I'm thinking that a better way might be to mark bad clusters and keep using the drive.

I tried "chkdsk /R" and the result is "Windows has checked the file system and found no problems". Then I tried the old Windows 98 scandisk, and tried Write/Read test. I know that I shortened the flash memory's life by doing this? Again no error was detected.

I filled the disk with files exactly 32768 bytes long - the size of a FAT cluster on this drive - with random data content. I then checked the CRC for these files. I also overwrite these files with inverted data a few times and checked the CRC again. I found a few files where this failed from time to time, so I changed the attributes of these files to read-only and hidden. As long as no mechanism moves these files, this then prevents those bad clusters from being used again.

Is this a reasonable approach?

Let me put it this way: "buy a new one".

Your approach might be reasonable, sort of, but I don't agree with some of the assumptions you've made that lead you down this path.

And I can pretty much guarantee that it simply won't work on many newer flash drives.

Continue reading: "How do I fix bad sectors on a flash drive?"

* * *

What does it mean when you recommend something?

I frequently get asked "what ___ do you recommend", and I often don't have an answer. It's not because I don't have some ideas, I almost always do. It's just that the word "recommend" carries an implied endorsement, and I don't take that lightly.

So what does it mean when I actually take the plunge and say I recommend something?

Continue reading: "What does it mean when you recommend something?"

* * *

How do I protect users on my network from each other?

In reference to your article " Is the WiFi connection provided by my landlord safe, and if not, how should I protect myself?", while I am not *that* landlord, I am *a* landlord. I don't know how to look at my tenant's data, but how do I protect myself from my tenant and for that matter someone in another apartment or someone just driving by the apartment building? According to my tenant, there are 8 different networks registering on his laptop (including mine). Because my tenant shares the cost of the connection with me, I feel I have to protect the both of us from "problems."

I have wireless broadband router I am wired directly to the router and my tenant uses the wireless connection. The router itself has a password on it and you need to enter an encryption key to gain access to the network to which my router is attached.

There are a few issues here, some of which are common and have standard solutions, which it sounds like you've already implemented.

However protecting you from your tenant, your tenant from you, and for that matter all your tenants from each other gets ... well, things get interesting.

Continue reading: "How do I protect users on my network from each other?"

* * *

How do spammers send email that looks like it comes from me?

OK, I know that spammers can send email spoofing the "From:" address to make it look like it came from me. But how? How do they gain access to my account to do that?

First let me be very clear: they don't have to have access to your account. In fact, 99.99% of the time they don't. 99.99% of the time it has nothing at all to do with your account, and your account is quite safe.

They only need your email address.

And this is the concept that's fairly difficult for most folks to grasp: while your email account and your email address are related, they are not necessarily the same thing.

Continue reading: "How do spammers send email that looks like it comes from me?"

* * *

Some Other Podcasts

As I discontinue my weekly podcast, a few recommendations on other podcasts that I listen to.

Continue reading: "Some Other Podcasts" Article Includes Audio

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*** Featured Comments

A sampling of some of the comments that have been posted recently on Ask Leo!

* * *

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

Eric Goodman writes:

I am the "landlord" (NOT the one in the article above). I don't know how to look at my "tenant's" data, but how do I protect myself from my tenant and for that matter someone in another apartment or someone just driving by the apartment building? According to my tenant, there are 8 different networks registering on his laptop (including mine).

Because my tenant shares the cost of the connection with me, I feel I have to protect the both of us from "problems."

I have a Linksys Wireless-G 2.4 MHz Broadband Router. I am wired directly to the router and my tenant uses the wireless connection. The router itself has a password on it and you need to enter an encryption key to gain access to the network to which my router is attached.

Excellent question, and good on you for wanting to do things right. Here's a new article that describes what I'd do: http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_protect_users_on_my_network_from_each_other.html



How can I make my computer run faster?.

Ulises writes:

What really helps your pc work faster is installing the whole operating system. That may sound rude, but I have noticed that after 6 month of using my pc It gets slow and I have to format it and there we go again. It really works, try it.

Ulises: Yes, in fact that's so common there's a term for it: "software rot". 6 months seems a little extreme, but ultimately it depends on how you use your machine and how often you install or uninstall software. If you do it a lot then sometimes the best thing is to reformat and reinstall.

I find I do it about every year or two on my primary machines.



How do I protect users on my network from each other?

John writes:

I really disagree with you on this one Leo. Buying an additional router for each connected computer is an extremely expensive solution when good firewall software will suffice and do exactly the same thing. Routers provide an incoming firewall by the intrinsic nature of using NAT (as you've pointed out in other articles), but you don't need to buy a router if all you need is a firewall--that can be accomplished with good firewall software, and some decent firewall programs are available even for free. Of course it could be argued that a hardware-based firewall could be considered more bullet-proof than software-based firewalls since they are virtually impervious to malware, but if you have good firewall software that hasn't been compromised by malware that all ready exists your computer, then a software-based fireall is JUST AS GOOD as being behind a router for all practical purposes.

How can you make your readers believe they need a router for every single computer on their LAN, in addition to their router that connects them to the internet? That is an extremely expensive solution that is unnecessary. Would you mind explaining why you think spending all that money on additional routers is justified over using good firewall software? I think protecting yourself with decent firewall software is adequate for 99.9% of the average computer users out there. I think you are way out-of-line on your advice this time, Leo.

As Jeffrey pointed out, I'm not suggesting this for a home scenario, or for any scenario where you have control over all the computers. This is specifically for distribution of an internet connection to users/computers/whomever over which you have little or no control.

In *some cases* it might be appropriate for the home: particularly if you have children or house guests whose usage you cannot trust.

But if you can trust all the computers behind your single router, then absolutely a single router is the way to go. It's how I run here.

But I'm no landlord :-).



I accidentally deleted my Recycle Bin in Vista - how do I get it back?

Brett writes:

oh my gosh thank you! i was just being careless and hit delete instead of empty and it was gone! i freaked out and was like oh my gosh what am i gonna do now? if i delete something where will it go? so of course i followed my instincts and googled it and found this site. it was really helpful and really eay, and i doubt i would have ever found it if it werent for this site!

*** This Week's Most Popular

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

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

*** Leo Recommends

"Web Search Garage"
a book by Tara Calishain.

If there were one computer-related skill I would recommend that everyone invest more in, it's simply the ability to use search engines such as Google more effectively.

Think about how you use the web; I'll bet a lot of it is "looking for stuff". Searching.

Now, anyone can throw terms at Google and press "Search". Web Search Garage takes you beyond just throwing words on the virtual wall and seeing what sticks. Web Search Garage gives you real tools and techniques for actually getting the results you're looking for. What to search for, how to narrow down results, how to evaluate the results you get, and much, much more.

I'm pretty good at this stuff, and even so, I picked up a trick or two from Web Search Garage.

Read my full review: "Web Search Garage", or just order it from Amazon.com.

I recommend it.

Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I've found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

*** Popular Articles from the Archives

There's often a lot of information hidden in your email that you don't normally see. This article from three years ago lifts the veil a little ..

How can I trace where email came from?

I frequently get questions that boil down to How can I trace where this email came from? or Can I determine the IP address of the sender of an email?.

The answer is both yes and maybe, and it may not do you any good. However there is a lot of interesting information in your email that you normally don't see, and the trail of mail servers is part of that.

So let's interpret some email headers.

Continue reading...
How can I trace where email came from?

*** Thoughts and Comments

This turns out to be a fairly long newsletter! I hope you don't mind. Next week we should be back to our more traditional size. Since the newsletter is now published on Tuesday mornings, this week week we're actually covering a week and a half of new articles instead of our normal one week's worth. And it was a busy week!

You might notice a new section above, Leo Recommends. Along with all the normal technical questions, I get a fairly steady stream of "What ____ do you recommend?". I decided not only to collect my recommendations, but start featuring them here each week. You'll see me recommend specific software packages, books, web sites and things I probably haven't even thought of yet in the coming weeks. Much will be driven by what you're asking for, but occasionally I'll throw in some things that I think are worthwhile that you might not have thought about. Today's recommendation, Web Search Garage, a book by Tara Calishain, is a good example.

As always, if you're looking for a recommendation, let me know. I don't take making a recommendation lightly, so I might not have one for every case, but if I get a lot of requests for something specific, I'll dig in and do some research for you.

(And slightly related: this weeks paid advertiser, IAC Professionals, also merits a recommendation: they provide me with virtual assistant services throughout the week as I manage Ask Leo!.)

Speaking of busy weeks, I started getting questions about Windows XP SP3 mid week, posted an article, and updated it the very next day with newly available download links for various forms of the service pack. Initial reports are that for most people it's installing and working just fine, though of course I have at least one report of disastrous failure. Sadly, that's not terribly unexpected. It'll work for most people, I'm certain, but there are always issues that crop up. That's the reason I recommend both waiting a while, and performing a full backup prior to installing SP3. So far I've installed it on one machine, the desktop machine I use every day, and the installation was problem-free.


Thanks for subscribing, reading, and as always, for your feedback. I hope the coming week is a good one for you!

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

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Posted: May 13, 2008 in: 2008
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3380
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