Leo's Answers #12 – February 10, 2006

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Leo Notenboom


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*** Contents

*** New Articles of Note on Ask Leo!

How do those ads know where I live?

I live in Baltimore. When I go to a website the site will often say things like "find sexy singles in Baltimore," and stuff like that. I use spyware software religiously. So how do they know where I live? And how do I get rid of it. These aren't local websites I'm visiting by the way.

Spooky, isn't it? I see the same thing when I visit certain websites. It's not always about "sexy singles", but they frequently nail me down to the Seattle area.

There are a couple of ways this can happen.

Continue reading: "How do those ads know where I live?"

* * *

What's this "Validation Scan" all about?

My computer is running Win XP Pro SP2. I purchased it last year via eBay, no install CD, etc. It's been working fine. Up until just a few days ago, I had it configured to do almost everything automatically, including Windows Updates (Control Panel -> Security Center.) On a lark, I began playing with "Help and Support" -> Updates. Make a long story short, when I tried to check for updates, I had to run a validation scan and I got a message saying I did not have a valid copy of Windows - that it had been installed with a Volume License Key reported stolen or leaked. I was given an opportunity to download something from Microsoft called "legitcheck" which supposedly will make my copy of XP Pro "genuine" and qualify me for "full" Microsoft support. I guess I'm missing something here.

The whole validation and activation thing (WPA, or Windows Product Activation) is pretty confusing. Most folks were very concerned with it when WPA was first introduced, but we rarely hear much about it these days. In general it kinda, sorta works. We're just not always sure why or how.

The original question was actually several, which I'll address in moment. But first, what's it mean when it reports your install as invalid?

Continue reading: "What's this "Validation Scan" all about?"

* * *

Will programs just use all the memory in my computer?

Is it true that the more memory your computer has, the more memory some programs use? I've read several forums where people mention that they have a gigabyte or more of memory and that Firefox, or Quicken, or some other program is using, say, 900 MB. They call those programs memory hogs and say their computers slow down. My 4 1/2 year old WIN XP computer has 394 MB and when I use those programs (the most current versions), they only use a fraction of that amount of memory. For example, I frequently have 10, 20, or even 30 tabs open in Firefox and it remains in a well-behaved 50-70 MB, maybe up to 90 MB range. When and why do you need 1 GB of ram? Is it mostly for games?

There are lots of reasons one might want a gigabyte of memory, but it shouldn't be for something as simple as FireFox. I'd have to agree that someone's a memory hog in that situation, but it might not be FireFox.

Your situation is actually much more common.

Continue reading: "Will programs just use all the memory in my computer?"

* * *

Recommendation: Hamachi - Simple Remote Access VPN

One of the very frequent questions I get is about connecting two or more machines, or even networks, across the internet. The most common scenario is when traveling ... you're on the road, and you need to get at that one file that you left at home or at work, on a different computer.

Enter "VPN"s, or Virtual Private Networks.

Continue reading: "Recommendation: Hamachi - Simple Remote Access VPN"

* * *

Why is my Windows screen sometimes stretched beyond my monitor's borders?

When I boot my HP Pavilion with Windows XP, my opening screen and welcome screen is stretched and distorted. When I do a scandisk I have to manually adjust the monitor to read the screen, as the left margin is lost and can not be read. It's like stretching an image in an editor for desktop wallpaper. My resolution is 1024X768. When my desktop finally appears, the wallpaper and icons are perfect.

The opening and welcome screens are displayed in Windows lowest supported resolution - in all likelihood 640x480 - so that no matter what the capabilities of monitor connected, those screens can be seen.

As you've seen, sometimes it's not always shown well. But this is most commonly a monitor issue, that should be easy to adjust.

Continue reading: "Why is my Windows screen sometimes stretched beyond my monitor's borders?"

* * *

How do I uninstall Hotmail?

I am not a Hotmail subscriber but my daughter is. She downloaded it on my computer when she was home this summer. Now every time I go online it opens that account and her friends want to start chatting thinking I am her. Is there any way I can get Hotmail off of my computer and not mess up her account?

This actually illustrates a very surprising confusion I see regularly on Ask Leo!.

Many people don't realize that Hotmail, MSN Instant Messenger, and even MSN itself are all very different things. They use the terms for one when talking about the other, or use a generic term like "MSN" which could be many different things.

The question above is a good example: the behavior sounds like MSN Instant Messenger, yet the question references Hotmail.

So which is it, really?

Let's start by defining each of those.

Continue reading: "How do I uninstall Hotmail?"

* * *

Can I be certain that my message history isn't being saved somewhere?

If I disable MSN messenger's history is it guaranteed that the conversation are not stored somewhere else?

Guaranteed? Certainly not. Unlikely, perhaps, but there are definitely ways that the conversation could still be around, though likely only for a short time.

Continue reading: "Can I be certain that my message history isn't being saved somewhere?"

* * *

Can Internet Explorer's History be undeleted?

I was wondering if IE's "History" (using CTRL-H) can be retrieved on my computer somewhere once it's been deleted. Or once it's deleted is it gone? Can you please let me know if I can retrieve the deleted history?

In short - probably not. There are a couple of approaches that might work, if you're lucky, and perhaps desperate enough.

First, we need to locate where the history is kept.

Continue reading: "Can Internet Explorer's History be undeleted?"

*** Popular Articles from the Ask Leo! Archives

Last week it was Anti-Spyware software, the week before it was Anti-Virus software, so to complete the trifecta, this week it's my article on Firewalls:

Do I need a firewall, and if so, what kind?

The very short, very easy answer is: hell yes! With all that's hapenning on the internet these days, it's simply too risky to sit "naked" on the internet unless you really know what you're doing.

The real question is: what do you need? It's even possible you already ARE behind a firewall, and don't need anything additional.

Continue reading...

*** Interesting Sites and Useful Resources


WindowsNetworking.com covers a lot more than networking, and is a great general resource for articles on Windows, Windows networking and networking in general. In short, there's a lot of information here. Links to discussion groups take you to http://www.security-forums.com, a very active community dealing with a lot more than just security issues.

These sites aren't really for the newbies, but if you've already gotten your toes wet and want to spend a little time browsing for some intermediate to advanced information, WindowsNetworking.com is worth some of your time.

* * *

The latest essay out at Taming Email: "How many email addresses do you need?"

The latest entry out at Forwarded Funnies: "Doctors"

*** Leo's Thoughts and Comments

Hamachi - Last week I mentioned that I'd be giving Hamachi "The Test" while I was on the road. You can see the result above, as I posted a formal recommendation this week: "Recommendation: Hamachi - Simple Remote Access VPN" - http://ask-leo.com/recommendation_hamachi_simple_remote_access_vpn.html.

It worked perfectly, with one exception - one of the computers I wanted to connect to went into standby shortly after we left home. Whoops. Even Hamachi can't push the power button remotely :-).

Sneak Peek - My friend Randy Cassingham of This Is True (http://thisistrue.com) had a soft launch of a new venture last week: Cranky Customer (http://www.crankycustomer.com). "True Tales of Customer Service Incompetance". No shortage of material for that site, I'm certain. :-). Think of the site as being in "Beta" - but it's already off to a great start.

No Podcast? - You may have noticed there was no podcast this week. Life conspired against me, and I simply ran out of time. I'm coming to realize that time, more than anything else, is perhaps our most precious commodity.

*** Newsletter Administration Department

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Till next week!

Leo Notenboom

Posted: February 10, 2006 in: 2006
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/2551
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