Leo's Answers #157 – December 16, 2008

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom

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*** Contents

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

How can I be sure my actions aren't being logged on this computer I'm using?

How would I know if someone installed key logger or some other kind of recording program on a PC I might use? Sometimes I use a public computer and I just want to feel secure while working or chatting or doing any private things.

I hate to burst your bubble, but you can't.

Things are bad enough on your own computer, where you have some semblance of control, but when you use someone else's computer - especially a public computer - all bets are off.

Continue reading: "How can I be sure my actions aren't being logged on this computer I'm using?"

* * *

Do people really still fall for this stuff?

We all get dozens of rubbish e-mails about drugs, watches and, of even more concern, bank and building society information/account renewals. Is anyone still caught out by these spammers/villains? Surely they only keep going because gullible people respond. Or am I wrong?

You're right, and you're wrong.

Like you, for a long time I too believed that people just wouldn't be naive enough to fall for 99% of what shows up as spam.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Continue reading: "Do people really still fall for this stuff?"

* * *

Why do I get spam that's not addressed to me?

Why do I receive junk emails that are not addressed to my specific email address but to several subtle variations of my address? Why do these emails get delivered to my address when they are not addressed specifically to my address? And how should I most properly dispose of them?

Spammers are doing everything the can to get their garbage in front of you. And that means using and abusing every tool at their disposal.

One of those tools is something that's available to you and me when we send messages as well.

Continue reading: "Why do I get spam that's not addressed to me?"

* * *

Why isn't my wireless operating at full speed?

I use a 10/100Mbps wireless router at home and I share files between my laptop (wireless at 54Mbps) and my desktop (hardwired at 100Mbps). Why is it when I transfer files from my laptop to my desktop or visa versa, I only get about 2MB/s (16Mbps) and not the full 54Mbps? This has been bugging me for the longest time so any info would be appreciated!

Wireless connectivity can be affected by many, many things.

The first thing to realize is that while your equipment may claim 54 megabits per second, that's only its maximum speed. In my opinion you'd be quite lucky to actually see it.

Continue reading: "Why isn't my wireless operating at full speed?"

* * *

What's a Volume Name?

I have an external drive (FAT) that's been on the shelf, new in the box, for a couple of years. I wanted to start using it but I wanted to convert to NTFS before anything was put on it. I tried your steps but the first thing I was asked, was to type in the volume name. What's that?

The volume name, or "label", is a name you can assign to each drive on your system. The conversion (and some other utilities) will ask you for it as a way to confirm that you're really asking them to operate on the drive you think you are.

We'll look at how to see, and set, the volume name on your drives.

Continue reading: "What's a Volume Name?"

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*** Featured Comments

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

* * *

Why am I getting spam from myself?

Rathi writes:

So, i get that there isnt anything that anyone can do about this, but let me get this straight, i'm sending a bunch of people mail from my address, right? can't i ask my mail provider to monitor my account activity or something? I'm a little more concerned that i'm sending a bunch of people dumb stuff.

No. You are not sending anything. Spammers are sending things from wherever they send things that look like you, but are not you.


What does "There is a problem with this website's security certificate" mean, and what should I do?

Glenn P. writes:

I have another question regarding security certificates. It concerns a button that I see (when I view it in MSIE6.0) on the certificate, labelled "Install Certificate". Why is this button there? I mean, clearly, the certificate works just fine without having been installed (else the web page would fail). Is there any value to installing a web certificate? Is there any case where this would be appropriate???

There are cases, but they're typically very geeky in nature, and not something that the average user ever needs to consider. Essentially it's saying "permanantely trust this certificate", but you should not do this unless you really, absolutely, positively know what you're doing. Cert warnings exist for a reason, and the underlying issues that cause them should be investigated and resolved, not worked around.


Why is using Hotmail for my business such a bad idea?

Bill Chubb writes:

I agree wholeheartedly with everything above but I'm surprised no one has cautioned another, and equally important reason, for giving a wide berth to Hotmail and Yahoo! They are responsible, without doubt, for the vast majority of spam and, even worse, fraudulent activity via e-mail.

I know several companies who filter out all mail originating from a Hotmail or Yahoo! account. I don't go that far but scrutinise all such mail very carefully. I've also noticed, increasingly, e-mail originating from a bogus address but with a Hotmail or Yahoo! ReplyTo: address. Without exception, these are all engaged in some form of scam.

Finally, a business using a free e-mail service, particularly Hotmail or Yahoo!, is not conveying a professional image.


How should I erase my hard drive before I give it away?

Tim Carter writes:

To erase the data on my old hard drives, I strip out the hard drive from the computer and then use a screwdriver to open the hard-drive case. I then light up my acetylene torch and cook the actual platter.

Within a few moments, it's melted and virtually destroyed. I can't believe for a second that any data is still there.

I also have a giant magnet that weighs about 20 pounds. I've often wondered what might happen if I put it in contact with the platter.

Yep, like I said in this article, I'm partial to a drill press myself. (Though I recently posted a new article recommending DBAN - Darik's Boot And Nuke, a tool for securely erasing hard drive contents without actually destroying the drive).
(BTW: Tim's a friend, and posts less destructive home-improvement tips over at Ask The Builder.)

*** 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 change my MSN Hotmail password?
  4. I accidentally deleted my Recycle Bin in Vista - how do I get it back?
  5. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  6. Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone?
  7. How do I delete my Hotmail account?
  8. What are MSN HotMail's POP3 and SMTP settings for Outlook Express?
  9. Svchost and Svchost.exe - Crashs, CPU maximization, viruses, exploits and more.
  10. How do I put a picture into the caption of a picture on myspace.com?

*** Leo Recommends

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There are reference sites, and then there's refdesk.com.

I was always fascinated by the reference desk at my school or local library. There were always hundreds of books, encyclopedias and other materials that you could find in that one special place.

Refdesk.com is the internet version of exactly that. Just like the library version, I could spend hours browsing the various materials that refdesk.com points to.

Continue reading: "refdesk.com - A Comprehensive, Free and Family-friendly Internet Reference Portal"

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

You have a Windows CD, and you want to install it on your computer, but the product key is missing. It'd be natural to think that the product key is somewhere on the disk itself, and that you could find it there. It'd also be wrong.

How do I find the Windows CD Key from the CD?

How do you find the CD Key of the Windows CD you have? I have a Windows XP Pro SP2 installation disk but I don't know the CD Key. Can you locate it on the CD? I do not have this installed on any other computers so I can't search the registry for it either.

There's a lot of confusion about CD, or more properly "Product Keys", those long strings of numbers and letters you need to type in when you install Microsoft Windows.

One source of confusion is where the CD Key comes from.

One hint: it's not on the CD.

Continue reading...
How do I find the Windows CD Key from the CD?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Ah, sigh... major milestone at the Notenboom household this week. I've mentioned it before here, but if you go visit http://dollsandfriends.com you'll see what I mean. After 14 years my wife's business is closed. (Minor related milestone: I just removed that from my list of "Leo's other sites" that appears below these notes each week.)

14 years ago I was the development lead on Microsoft Money version 3, Windows 95 hadn't been released yet, and we decided to open a retail collectible doll store. Being who and what I was, the "cash register" was a PC running a program I wrote in Visual Basic (still being used today), all of the bookkeeping was in that program, Microsoft Excel, or - as you might expect - Microsoft Money. The business evolved over time: the whole internet thing really caught on, we changed locations once, fads came and went (remember Beanie Babies anyone?), we identified market cycles, and managed to play them pretty well. We had a grand total of 8 employees over that period of time, which as I understand it, is pretty darned good for consumer retail.

I also ended up learning more about dolls than I ever would have expected, or cared to. Smile

And now we focus on cleaning what remains of the business our of our living room and garage.

I've mentioned to people that Ask Leo! is portable - anywhere I can take my laptop and have an internet connection, well, that's Ask Leo! world headquarters for the moment. Not so with a retail business, so we've been kinda tied down for a while. Now we're looking forward to seeing a little more of the country and even the world, starting with Orlando in January (ok, it's for a doll show - my wife can't stay away).

To paraphrase the old TV commercial: We've just closed our doll shop; what are we going to do next? Yep ... we're going to Disney World. (among other things Smile).

'till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom

* * *

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

Posted: December 16, 2008 in: 2008
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3593
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