Leo's Answers #161 – January 13, 2009

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom

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*** Contents

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

How do all these options for connecting to the internet differ?

I am so confused about all the different options for connecting to the internet - broadband, wireless, dialup. Can you please explain how each works and what the differences are among them.

It's even worse than you list; broadband, wireless and dialup only scratch the surface. Each can breakdown into additional variations, and there are a couple of options you haven't listed.

I'll see if I can clarify some of it for you.

Continue reading: "How do all these options for connecting to the internet differ?"

* * *

Why won't this "Your Computer Is Infected" warning go away?

My desktop background has disappeared and been replace with some kind of warning, and I'm getting some kind of message that my computer is infected. I recall some kind of earlier message from Microsoft about "anti-virus" which I told it to go ahead and do, and now I can't get rid of these. What do I do?

The above question is actually a distillation of a friends phone call, followed what I discovered after a fair amount of research once he brought his computer to my home.

Yes, my friends computer was infected by one of the latest nasty viruses to make the rounds.

Let's see what we can learn from the experience.

Continue reading: "Why won't this "Your Computer Is Infected" warning go away?"

* * *

Will using an on screen keyboard stop keyboard loggers and hackers?

Will using the on screen keyboard in Vista stop keyboard loggers/hackers?

The short answer is very simple: no.

It might stop some, but it's certainly nothing that you can count on.

Let's look at the path of keystrokes from your finger to your computer and see all the various places that your keystrokes can be intercepted and logged.

Continue reading: "Will using an on screen keyboard stop keyboard loggers and hackers?"

* * *

How do I clear history from my Google search?

I've done everything mentioned in your article to clear my search history, and yet when I visit Google and start typing something to search for I still get a history list underneath what I'm typing. How do I make that stop once and for all?

You're not a alone, I get this a lot. The problem isn't so much about clearing history, as it is a misunderstanding.

I'm guessing that you're not seeing history at all. What you're seeing instead is Google trying to be helpful.

Continue reading: "How do I clear history from my Google search?"

* * *

If my Windows XP is not genuine, can I download an older version for free?

My copy of Windows XP is not genuine according to the messages I keep getting when I log on. I think it affects setting up Outlook because it asks for info I don't have, such as account name, server names etc.. Is it possible to get a free download of a Windows version like 98 or older while there is a windows xp (not genuine) on my laptop?

There are a few points of confusion here: for example the fact that you can't setup Outlook actually has nothing to do with Windows being genuine or not. The fact that you don't have account and server names is kind of an issue if you're trying to set up an email program like Outlook.

And you can probably guess what I'll say about getting any version of Windows for free.

Continue reading: "If my Windows XP is not genuine, can I download an older version for free?"

* * *

How do I replace my laptop keyboard?

I get a lot of questions about stuck or broken keys in keyboards. Occasionally, it's a software issue, but more often than not it's a physically broken key. On desktop machines that's not an issue; replacement keyboards are readily available, and easy to replace.

Laptops, however, are a different matter.

Sure enough, over the past few months my wife's laptop started having issues with the space bar and no amount of compressed air or other cleaning techniques would fix it. It was time to replace it.

I brought my camera along so I could show you what it took to replace it.

Continue reading: "How do I replace my laptop keyboard?"

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*** Featured Comments

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

* * *

What's the risk of connecting to the internet without protection?

Bradley writes:

Funny, my original intent was to just say I disagree, I ended up writing a novel, :)

Leo, I enjoy your mailing list, thank you!

"...if antivirus software worked, I would be out of a job..."

I do agree with you about getting patches and updates for your OS, but I must respectfully disagree with the majority of your post.

Sure, there are uncountable amounts of viruses out there but the vast majority of them are unable to infect your computer even when using the basic "out of the box" windows security features. People just need to be educated about viruses. If I send to you an e-mail full of viruses, and you open that email, read it, view the photos, etc. you will not be virused, if you visit a website full of viruses, you will not be harmed. 99.99% of the time you have to CLICK and ALLOW a program to run. viruses infect a computer when someone wants that free "click here for free mp3, screen saver, ring tone, game or 100th customer laptop" and the plethora of other garbage the site promises. Also they can get through when a site tricks you into fake updates, "you need the new flash player or video codec to watch/listen/download this, click here to get it". NEVER click them, if a video site tells you you need the newest flash player, go to flash.com, if a game site tells you that you need the newest java, go to java.com, if a site pops up a window saying you need the newest internet explorer, windows updates or whatever, go to microsoft.com. NEVER click the link they offer you because they may have garbage attached.

If a popup appears asking if you want to download a virus, the yes button means yes, and the no button.... well that could mean yes also, do not click them, just open the task manager (CONTROL ALT DEL) and shut that program down. When antivirus companies spend millions advertising how dangerous the web is, it makes me sick, a little education and people would be much safer. Who do you think makes the majority of viruses? ANTI VIRUS companies.

I own a small computer repair business, www.cheapestPCrepair.com and I have been running the same personal computer for about 5 years now. That's 5 years of myspace, youtube, bittorrents, music and video downloads, online gaming, inserting all types of strangers drives into my system, etc. In that 5 years I have not had trojans, spyware, viruses, or anything similar affect or infect my computer. What antivirus do I use? NOTHING, I do not even have my windows firewall turned on. I am going through a router and that is my suggestion for any readers, and I certainly am NOT suggesting that you go without antivirus software, I am just saying that I have not needed it. Here is another thing; if antivirus software worked, I would be out of a job. I hear every day "how could I have viruses? I just paid $80 for Norton's." Well, that's my thoughts on it as well, if antivirus software actually worked, we wouldn't have so much problem. We need to rely on common sense, we need to stop taking the convenient way and do a little research (spend 5 minutes typing a program or link into google and see other opinions about it before you install/run it).

Another problem with most antivirus programs, is the massively slow your system down and give you tons of popup security warnings and cripple your ability to do some things or get some things to work..... kind of like a virus in the first place.

NOTE: if you do decide to use antivirus software, get the FREE version of Norton and PC Doctor from www.pack.google.com (do not get the google desktop, it's another program that slows your system down) and get the following other tools to keep your system running smooth. free malwarebytes, eusing free registry cleaner and ccleaner. Google them.

"An educated computer user has less chance of getting "virused" then a misinformed computer user with the best antivirus protection."

An excellent comment, thank you for your "novel". I do want to clarify a couple of things.

I flat out disagree with this statement: "Who do you think makes the majority of viruses? ANTI VIRUS companies." The majority of viruses these days are actually from spammers and the like attempting to set up botnets. I simply don't buy into the conspiracy theory that anti-virus companies need to "manufacture" a need for their products. There's plenty without 'em.

But by and large I agree with your overall sentiment: user education is required. Heck, it's what Ask Leo! is all about in many ways. The best technology in the world can't save you from yourself. Everyone has a responsibility to use the internet wisely and safely.

That being said, the likelihood of that actually happening across the board is very, very low. Your job is safe. As a result, I believe that the average user does need protection in the form of firewalls (a router is my choice as well), anti-spyware and anti-virus tools. Yes, some of us with sufficient savvy and experience may not need such tools (I use them anyway), but the average user can't always be expected to understand and stay on top of every new form of threat. Basic rules like "don't open attachments from people you don't trust", and "don't click on links" only go so far, particularly when phishing and virus attacks become more and more sophisticated.

But ultimately I totally agree with your closing comment: "An educated computer user has less chance of getting 'virused' then a misinformed computer user with the best antivirus protection."


*** This Week's Most Popular

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

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

*** Leo Recommends

Belarc Advisor
Detailed information about your computer's hardware and software

Is there a way or a tool to tell me what the computer's specs are?

Indeed there is.

There are various tools, including Windows itself, that will report on various aspects of your computers configuration. Most focus on one or two specific aspects, though, and make it difficult to form a picture of your computer as a whole.

Belarc Advisor is a PC auditing program that examines your computer and produces a one-page report of all the hardware and software installed on it.

A very comprehensive report.

Here's an image of just a portion of the report on my desktop machine:

Continue reading: Belarc Advisor - Detailed information about your computer's hardware and software

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

Too many choices? Here's one way to get rid of some.

How do I remove boot choices that I no longer want?

I have a annoying problem on my PC. I have 2 partitions on my computer. On the main partition I have Windows XP Pro and I tried to install Windows XP Media Center on my second partition.

All went well until my installation froze, so I had to reboot.

Now every time I boot my PC, I keep having the choose to start with my original Windows XP Pro or Windows XP Pro Setup. And if I choose for the setup, my computer crashes.

Is there a way to remove that choose and all the other installation files from Windows Media Center? I've already formatted the second partition.

It sounds like you've already gotten rid of the installation files by reformatting, so all that's really left is getting rid of your boot choice. If the installer worked as I expect it did, it should be easy to fix.

Continue reading...
How do I remove boot choices that I no longer want?

*** Thoughts and Comments

This week's featured comment is rather lengthy, but a good somewhat opposing view to my own. It's very timely, since I spent time this weekend working on a friend's machine, a friend who in all likelihood innocently click on something he probably shouldn't have - exactly the commentor's point. (BTW, this weeks new article "Why won't this "Your Computer Is Infected" warning go away?" is the first of a couple of articles to result from the experience.)

Not much more today. It's been a rough weekend for personal reasons, but those of you who care to follow my Twitter stream know why. Hug your pets, is all I'll say here.

'till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom

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Newsletter contents Copyright © 2009, Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.

Posted: January 13, 2009 in: 2009
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3620
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