Leo's Answers #145 – September 23, 2008

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom

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*** Contents

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

What can a website I visit tell about me?

When I visit a web site that collects visitor statistics - I understand they can see my IP which will tell them I am a Verizon customer with a Mac/Intel operating system, the area where I may live, what browser I use, if I'm new to the site, and click information on the site- but can the site collect the following information:

- My computer name (the name I assigned to my computer)?

- Profile information???

- My browsing history (any/all sites I've visited and when) or can they just tell the number of items in my history?

- Email addresses associated with my computer?

I've reviewed similar questions but I'm not sure I truly understand what information a web-server can collect from my connection/browser.

This turns into a fairly complex answer pretty quickly. It's both more, and a lot less, than you might think.

This article will start by covering what every website sees.

Continue reading: "What can a website I visit tell about me?"

* * *

Where's the Recycle Bin on my USB Drive?

I had a file on a USB pen drive I accidentally deleted. I went to the Recycle Bin folder to recover it. But the file was not there. Luckily the file was not very important. I have experimented with deleting files on the USB pen drive and it appears the deleted files do not go to the Recycle Bin. Where do the files go? Is it possible to undo a delete from a USB pen drive?

As you've found out, there's not always a recycle bin. In fact, in my experience, occasionally there is, but it's not used.

It's quite confusing, and somewhat surprising, but the recycle bin seems to be used inconsistently across versions of Windows, at least when it comes to what Windows considers to be a "removable" device.

Continue reading: "Where's the Recycle Bin on my USB Drive?"

* * *

Why am I getting spam on this email address I use only for one newsletter?

I'm confident you won't spam me Leo, however the fact is that I still get spam addressed to this disposable email address that I set up solely for your newsletter. What I don't understand is, since you are the only one I've told the address, and you don't pass it on, how come I'm getting spam?

In all honesty, this is a legitimate newsletter publisher's worst nightmare. You go through all the effort of playing by all the rules, not selling or sharing your subscribers' email addresses with anyone, anywhere, any time, and by making sure to use only industry leading and trusted service providers ...

Only to find out a subscriber of yours is getting spam on an email address they use only to subscribe to your newsletter, and nowhere else.

I know, because as you can see it's happened to me.

Continue reading: "Why am I getting spam on this email address I use only for one newsletter?"

* * *

How do I protect myself from my children?

We're a family where the adults use the Internet for serious reasons but we can't take a chance on having our children screw things up - intentionally or by accident. How should we set up our home network?

Normally, we think of threats as being "out there" on the internet. The problem is that not all of them are. As much as we might know and do to protect ourselves, sometimes the threat is nearby, right in our own home.

In the children's bedroom.

The good news is that you can protect yourself from the kids. You just have to look at your network a tad differently.

Continue reading: "How do I protect myself from my children?"

* * *

How do I know if I have WPA or WEP I can use when traveling?

I've read all of your various articles on wireless security, WEP, WPA, etc., but can find no definitive guidance on exactly how to determine if my wireless network card in my Dell Inspiron Laptop supports any secure connection methods. I'm certain it does, but how can I tell? Also, some of the Microsoft articles I've read today and earlier about setting up a WPA-secure machine are not entirely intuitive (or understandable, for that matter).

Without WPA engaged, I shall simply continue avoiding hotels with wireless-only service and rely on MS Firewall and Zone Alarm when dealing with hotel wired access. But, if I could learn to trust WiFi, my traveling Internet vistas would be expanded greatly.

The question is very simple: how do I know if my computer supports WEP or WPA?

The problem is that the follow-on paragraph shows some common misconceptions about using WEP or WPA when traveling.

I'll put it this way: your hardware support is the least of your issues.

Continue reading: "How do I know if I have WPA or WEP I can use when traveling?"

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*** Featured Comments

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

* * *

Do icons on my desktop mean programs are running or will they otherwise slow down my system?

Sandy writes:

Thanks for your answer, Leo. It makes perfect sense to me and I'm glad to have been proven right at 58 and the Mom of 3 grown children who were SURE they knew better! Your suggestion to access shortcuts from the quick-launch area is a great idea. Can you enlighten this less than savvy Mom on how to clean my desktop by moving shortcuts from the desktop to quick-launch? Thanks a million!

Make sure that the taskbar is unlocked (right click on an empty area on it to see in the popup menu), and then just drag-and-drop shortcuts into the quick launch area.

Stu writes:

Because I'm fairly competent regarding computer software -- OK, I'm a geek -- I am often asked by friends to help them with some problem or other on their computer. It has been my experience over these many years that the organization of the icons on the desktop is a pretty good predictor of how much work I will be doing. A messy, disorganized desktop usually indicates a messy, disorganized approach to using the computer. Those folks tend to download every program they see, and they download them to the desktop. They don't run AV, backup, or any other utilities. And they just tend to view the computer as some "magic box" that will take care of itself (possibly too many Star Trek episodes). Most of them are very intelligent, but have unrealistic expectations regarding their silicon friends. On the other hand, people who take the time to organize their icons in some way, any way, tend to have fewer problems. When they do have problems, they tend to be less severe. Whether their organization consists of grouping icons on the screen, or using folders, or by using the Quick Launch tool bar, they just seem to understand the need for some care and maintenance when it comes to their computer. I do believe there is a lot of that right brain/left brain concept in this. The folks who are more creative and artistic seem to have a less-organized computer than those logical, objective types. I know it's dangerous to generalize, but when I see a monitor that is covered from top to bottom with dozens (hundreds?) of icons, I just know I'm in for a long session.


How do I know if I have WPA or WEP I can use when traveling?

Rahul writes:

One question - if the hot-spot turns on the encryption but openly announce the password would it still protect my computer from snooping by others connected to the same hot-spot?

Interestingly enough, the answer appears to be no - anyone sharing that hotspot by virtue of having the encryption password would be able to sniff your traffic.
I have heard that there are potential improvements in the works, but that's a ways off.

*** This Week's Most Popular

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

  1. How do I make a new MSN Hotmail account?
  2. How do I delete history items from my Google tool bar?
  3. How do I put a picture in a comment on myspace.com?
  4. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  5. Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it?
  6. Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone?
  7. What are the POP3 and SMTP settings for Hotmail?
  8. How do I change my MSN Hotmail password?
  9. What are MSN HotMail's POP3 and SMTP settings for Outlook Express?
  10. I accidentally deleted my Recycle Bin in Vista - how do I get it back?

*** Leo Recommends

Make FTP connections appear as virtual drives.

If you do anything on the web, particularly things like web development or other types of website maintenance, you're probably aware of "FTP" or File Transfer Protocol. The FTP protocol, and its sibling SFTP (Secure FTP), are two of the quiet workhorses of pushing bits around the internet.

The current traditional approach to dealing with file transfers via FTP is to use a graphical utility such as FileZilla, CuteFTP, WinSCP or others, and then drag-and-drop files to and from the remote site. The previous approach was to use the "ftp" program to perform the same operations at the command line.

I've become addicted to WebDrive which allows you to do both and much, much more, by simply making a FTP connection appear as a virtual disk drive on your machine.

That's an incredibly simple approach that enables a world of flexibility.

Continue reading: "WebDrive - Make FTP connections appear as virtual drives."

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

Passwords are hard to steal ... but all too often easy to guess.

Is it really that easy to get someone's password?

It appears that someone has figured out the password to my myspace account and has logged in and sent e-mails from the account as well. I have two questions, first is there any possible way to track down the person who is doing this (mind you they did not change my password). Is it really that easy to obtain someone's password on a site like this? I do not use a public computer and change my password regularly.

There are a couple of things going on here. Yes, it's possible that you got hacked, but it's also possible that you didn't.

Continue reading...
Is it really that easy to get someone's password?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Sticker News!

Once again thanks to everyone who made suggestions - it was all very helpful, and absolutely helped me to come up with some options that might not have happened otherwise.

Yep, options, as in more than one. Here's the deal:

  • You can now buy 'em direct from Sticker Giant.
  • I'll send you some if you happen to buy me a latte (or a beer) and have an address associated with your Paypal or Amazon account.
  • You can download and print your own.

Rather than get into all the details, you'll find all the details on the Ask Leo! Stickers page.

Get Stick'in!

Once again much of last week's Ask Leo! articles were published on auto-pilot. Smile OK, technically the last half of last week, and the first half of this week.

I was at my semi-annual internet entrepreneurs conference, this time in Denver, CO. Great trip, great friends and a lot of stimulating ideas and discussion.

My normal approach is to actually write and publish a new article every day. In order to prepare for a trip like this, though, I end up "doubling up" - writing two, publishing one and scheduling the other to automatically post the next week while I'm out and about. The only thing I actually "published" in real time while I traveled last week is the newsletter itself.

I expect there may be more of that in the future, as I'm hopeful my wife and I will be doing a little more traveling next year.

If you notice any hiccups on the site this week, it might be because of a fairly massive upgrade that happened over the weekend. You may or may not know that Ask Leo! is published using the MovableType blogging/content management system. On Saturday night I upgraded from version 3.2 to 4.21. Everything went relatively smoothly, though I do have a punch list of some relatively minor issues - even encountering one as I assembled this newsletter.

The latest version of MT is pretty cool, and hopefully I'll be able to use it in some ways to make Ask Leo! even more useful.

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

* * *

A selection of Leo's articles are available for free re-use at http://articlesbyleo.com.

You can also subscribe to Ask Leo! on your Kindle.

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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

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

Posted: September 23, 2008 in: 2008
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3510
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