Leo's Answers #134 – July 1, 2008

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom


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*** Contents

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

Can I tell when my Hotmail account was created?

I want to know the year I signed in with my e-mail address: ****@hotmail.com.

I'm going to assume you mean what year you first signed in. The history of other sign-ins, including the most recent, is to the best of my knowledge not available.

However, the date you created your account may well be.

Continue reading: "Can I tell when my Hotmail account was created?"

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What's the difference between RAM and a Memory Module?

I see text talking about RAM but it also talks about a "memory module". I know what RAM is,but what is a memory module?

RAM is, of course, the Random Access Memory in your computer; the memory in which programs and data reside when they're actually in use and running.

Memory modules are typically ... the memory in which programs and data reside when they're actually in use and running.

OK, so they're the same thing, only different. And since that doesn't help at all, let me explain with a picture or two.

Continue reading: "What's the difference between RAM and a Memory Module?"

* * *

Is DHCP safe?

In a recent article you said that using DHCP, IP addresses are assigned by broadcasting a request to the network and having the DHCP server responsible respond.

Apparently, my computer occasionally receives a wrong IP address because another device on my network is the first one to provide a response to a DHCP request. Instead of the 10.x.x.x address I normally get from my ISP, I get a 192.168.x.x address. That means that there's probably a misconfigured device somewhere on the network. Is there any way to protect me from those unauthorized attempts?

Is there a danger involved in auto assigning an IP address via DHCP? How do I know the issuing device is trustworthy at all, if ANY device on the network can actually do this?

And how come DHCP negotiations are so easy?

The last question is perhaps the easiest to answer: because TCP/IP wasn't really designed to do and be everything we currently rely on it to do. In particular, it wasn't really designed to protect us from malicious folk.

But it is what it is, and what it is is the backbone of our internet infrastructure.

Let's review the situation and see what, if anything, you can do to protect yourself.

Continue reading: "Is DHCP safe?"

* * *

Why am I suddenly getting spam?

I guess I've been living a charmed life but for the longest time I had absolutely no spam in my Web mail. I use Earthlink for my ISP. Well, that bubble has burst and lately I've been getting all these freaky addresses with the dumbest subject lines and from some of the subject lines it seems some of this spam is R-rated. I'm confused as I'm a Senior Citizen and I DON'T surf adult sites so why, all of a sudden, am I getting this junk? Earthlink has an option that I can click on the name and report it as spam the only drawback is this list is limited to 500 names and the rate this is going I might reach that goal, then what do I do??

Yes, you have been leading a charmed life. Getting no spam at all is by far the exception, rather than the rule. The fact that you're getting spam now is no surprise at all. The surprise is that it took as long as it did.

Why and How? We'll look at some possibilities.

What to do? I'll touch on a few options here as well. (But one hint: the "report this address as spammer" is kinda pointless.)

Continue reading: "Why am I suddenly getting spam?"

* * *

Can I recover data after I accidentally formatted my hard disk?

I formatted by hard disk yesterday and forgot to back to a very crucial folder with crucial files for our operation. How do I recover these files?

By definition, the act of formatting a hard disk erases everything on the disk, so the knee jerk reaction is of course to say no.

However, sometimes you can get lucky. Stop using the drive immediately, to increase your chances of luck.

But first we have to review the basics.

Continue reading: "Can I recover data after I accidentally formatted my hard disk?"

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*** Featured Comments

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

* * *

What's your background? Did your University education help?

SWB writes:

From a teacher's perspective, I think many people overlook one of the most important aspects of higher education: learning HOW to learn. I remember paging through my physics and math books at the start of each semester and thinking "This doesn't mean anything now, but in a few months I'll (hopefully) know what this stuff means!". And it didn't just apply those technical courses that comprised my major and minor. Even the required humanities classes -- many of them anyway -- evoked that same anticipation. Maybe it's because I enjoy learning so much that I switched from research physics into physics education.

Another example of the value of an education is my sister's unexpected career. She studied audiology in college (at the same school I attended) and fully expected to find a job in that area when she graduated. However, there were no good jobs in her region and she was not willing to move to another part of the country. As a temporary measure, she took a relatively menial job at a large corporation, fully expecting to return to speech and hearing when an opportunity presented itself. As time went on, however, she was promoted upward through the company, based on the fact that she had a college degree and was thus able to learn new skills. She eventually moved into upper management as head of the Personnel Department! She has never used the audiology degree, but she has continually used her ability to learn new things.

We are told (by people who study such things) that today's high school and college students should expect to have at least 3 or 4 distinct careers during their working lives. As technology evolves faster and faster and influences society more and more, many jobs will simply disappear, many will change drastically, and some will be created with astonishing speed. Their education doesn't end with a diploma or degree, but will likely continue throughout their lives. That means the ability to learn is every bit as important as the material being learned. To me, a lifelong teacher, that prospect would be daunting. I've been doing the same thing my entire working life, and it's exactly what I prepared for in school. My students, on the other hand, have grown up in such a changing world, so it doesn't seem to bother them.

There are exceptions, of course, but one of the things that a college degree indicates is the demonstrated ability to learn a variety of topics reasonably well. The better schools are preparing their graduates for this new world by emphasizing life-long learning skills more than ever before.


Is it possible for a hacker to get my Hotmail password without access to my computer?

Eli Coten writes:

Someone demonstrated recently that in fact if you save your password in Windows Live Messenger (certainly on Windows XP, not sure about Vista) the password can be easily found by simple software that reveals the contents of the Windows Password Stores. Same is true for browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera. I know Firefox can be protected by a master password but by default it's not so anyone who can access your browsers' profile location has access to all password's you've saved in it as well.

Eli: you're absolutely right. In fact, I've got an article on the topic:


*** This Week's Most Popular

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

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

*** Leo Recommends

Foxit Reader
A Faster Free PDF Reader

As you might expect, Adobe's free Acrobat PDF reader is the definitive tool for reading Adobe's own PDF format. However it's certainly not the only tool, nor is it necessarily the best.

One of the frequent complaints about Acrobat Reader is that it can be quite slow to load as it loads and processes modules that 99% of users never need to read a simple PDF file.

Enter Foxit Reader, a free alternative to reading PDF files that capitalizes that complaint by being a very fast alternative.

In addition to its speed, Foxit is also a much smaller download, at nearly 1/10th the size of the Adobe Acrobat reader.

There are a couple of small caveats...

Continue reading: "Foxit Reader - A Faster Free PDF Reader"

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

If you're looking to see if SP3 is installed on your machine, this article discusses checking for SP2. The technique still applies today when looking for SP3.

How do I check the version of XP Service Pack 2 installed on my PC?

Well, first, let's be clear: there is no version of SP2. It's either there, or it's not.

There are several ways to find out, and find out what other patches post SP2 have been installed as well.

Continue reading...
How do I check the version of XP Service Pack 2 installed on my PC?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Microsoft stops shipping Windows XP today, so if you need a copy best to go get it now. I'm sure some savvy retailers will stock up and keep it available for a while, but ultimately Windows XP is on the way out. It's a Vista future, whether you agree with that or not.

Me? Yes, I have a couple of copies in reserve, but in all honesty Vista no longer scares me. I've been using it on my laptop for some time and it's fine. People who fear change might have a tough time since many changes are difficult to justify. But so far, for me, it's been solid.

OK, ok ... there's one exception: Accessing my Vista machine via remote desktop will eventually cause networking issues; DNS will start to fail, and internet access dies. For a while. Then things start working again. Until they don't. And yes, I've tried all the solutions that are out on the net relating to Vista plus remote desktop plus networking, and no they haven't helped.

What has helped is switching to TightVNC for my remote access.

The problem was frustrating but as is so often the case, there are workarounds. Yes, you shouldn't need them, but still ... it's good to know.


As always, thanks for subscribing, reading, and for your feedback.

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...


* * *

A selection of Leo's articles are available for free re-use at EzineArticles.

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: July 1, 2008 in: 2008
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3432
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