Leo's Answers #164 – February 3, 2009

Leo's Answers
A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom


You are helping so many people who are not computer pros ...
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*** Contents

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

How do I set up an e-mail address for my son on my computer?

How do I set up an e-mail address for my son on my computer?

This seems like such a simple question, but it actually demonstrates, I think, one of the fundamental confusions that many people have about email and how it's set up.

Exactly how a new email address is created and set up involves much more than just your computer.

Continue reading: "How do I set up an e-mail address for my son on my computer?"

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My work and home computers have the same IP address, how do I fix that?

My Home network and my work network computers, have the same IP addresses. I want to remote to my work network with my laptop that is networked at home.

Do I have to manually change the IP addresses at home? If I do, do I also change the router stetting?.

Yes, "The Rule" is that no two computers can have the same IP address.

Except that the rule is incomplete. It's actually very common for two computers to have the same IP address. In fact, I'll bet that thousands of computers around the world have the same IP address as the very computer I'm typing on.

I'll explain how.

Continue reading: "My work and home computers have the same IP address, how do I fix that?"

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How do I recover my lost photos on my hard disk?

My 16 year old son did a restore and all my photos are gone never to be seen again. It was mostly my daughters trip with her graduating class. What can I do?

Stop Using The Machine

I'll get into why in a moment, but depending on exactly how the files were lost, the more you use your machine the lower your chances of recovery.

What happens next depends on just how important those files were to you.

Continue reading: "How do I recover my lost photos on my hard disk?"

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How do I secure the information on my hard drive before sending it in for repair?

How does one secure their hard drive while sending the computer to a repair facility? I have personal financial information on my hard drive and will just a password provide sufficient protection while the computer is in the shop?

What you've presented is actually quite a dilemma. The problem is that there's really no fool-proof solution to your scenario. In fact, I've heard of companies occasionally not repairing hard drives because it might mean that sensitive data might be visible to the repair technicians.

Your options are limited, but if you can plan ahead for it there's a chance.

Continue reading: "How do I secure the information on my hard drive before sending it in for repair?"

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My anti-virus cleared something off my machine. Should I change my passwords?

When I opened Internet Explorer, a message popped up from my anti-virus program (AVG Free) advising that Trojan Horse PSW.Lineage.BKG was detected in a .dll file of a bin file of the Ask Toolbar in Program Files. Two options were offered: "heal" or "move to virus vault." Unclear of what the difference is, I chose "heal" and the Ask file along with a restore point were moved to the AVG virus vault. Several follow up scans in safe and regular mode as well as an online Kaspersky scan showed no malware.

Research yielded no info about PSW.Lineage.BKG, even on the AVG site, but other PSW.Lineage Trojans are mentioned online. It seems that this Trojan attempts to steal passwords, and BKG "may" be an abbreviation for "banking". I do not do online banking but do use my credit card on the Internet. I use Windows firewall and an Actiontek modem/router.

Is it necessary now to change all my online passwords, or can I feel reasonably sure that this has been taken care of?

The short answer is probably not ... but.

The problem is that we don't actually know exactly what happened, and the not knowing means that there's some risk.

Continue reading: "My anti-virus cleared something off my machine. Should I change my passwords?"

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*** Featured Comments

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

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Are there any legitimate uses for peer-to-peer file sharing programs?

O.A. Orcan writes:

One has to be careful when using bittorrents. Every search includes infected files, usually with different names, but similar sizes. After some experience a careful user can tell which ones are suspicious. My antivirus and firewall software have very good P2P shields and so far haven't let one infected file pass through. P2P programs have to be configured to access only a dedicated folder otherwise private information can also be accessed by others. Copyrighted contents should also be avoided to be included. Legal action has been taken in some P2P sharing instances. Bandwidth U/D load limits, number of simultaneous uploaders permitted, chat options, search permits for other sharers should all be configured. Some of the P2P software programs can be still active even after exiting. Ctrl+Alt+Del window will usually indicate such a process in the process window, if not, in the network window. I have tried almost all of the bittorrent software and observed malicious behavior in one or two. If a user selects a good P2P software and configures it wisely, with P2P shields included, P2P file sharing is safe and sometimes invaluable.

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Is it safe to delete duplicate files?

Charley writes:

Wish I had read this like 3 days ago. Downloaded a duplicate file finder, one highly rated by all review sites and consumer reviews. I did some duplicate file removing for a couple of days without a hitch. As confidence grew I decided to give it a real workout and check Windows and all it's subfolders for duplicates. As you can imagine there were over a thousand duplicates listed, some with five duplicates of the same file, or so I thought. Diligently began checking file against file, tried to get an answer as to which would be safest to delete, ie oldest, newest, longest, shortest, but found no information. Remembered that a program from Toni Arts suggested keeping oldest files, but I have been messing with this computer for so long it didn't help much. I told program to keep all hard links from being scanned and thought now I could go to it. Well here I sit 3 days and a gazillion hours later and am just now able to use the computer again. The questioer asking about couldn't I see operating system and stuff was being taken, of course not. I wasn't even deleting the files just sending them to recycle bin temporarily keeping location information with each file. Guess what, started the process and about three minutes into it the screen went black, computer tried to reboot and repeatedly tried to reboot until I stopped it. Could not run any of the boot options like safe boot or last good startup, nothing. Just kept saying starting Windows than shutdown and restart. Had to use Windows CD to try and start computer, but it couldn't repair my Windows installed on computer and had to load a new copy of Windows to the computer. Three days later I am happy to say everything is back to where it was prior to my trying to get rid of some stupid duplicate files. Guess Stupid is really what Stupid does, eh? Word to the wise, unless you are single, jobless, and bored; live with the duplicates and buy an external hard drive if you want quick extra disk space. Worth the money, but more importantly worth not having to go through the frustration and time of all the above.

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Why shouldn't I use the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button?

Rosie Perera writes:

I was under the impression that if you blocked a sender in Outlook, it would only block them locally on your machine, not on your ISP's servers. So it wouldn't make any difference to that sender's attempts to send their newsletter to other recipients. Am I right?

I've had problems with unsolicited email coming from legitimate companies that I've had dealings with (e.g., ordered one thing online from them) but never requested to get their newsletter. It turns out that they automatically subscribe you to their newsletter (without telling you) if you buy one thing from them. After a while of getting annoyed by the newsletter, if you made note of your login id and password which you had to create in order to order the item, you can log back into their website and go change your settings so you no longer receive the newsletter. But I find it annoying to have to create all these accounts to manage separate delivery options for all sorts of things. I wish all e-commerce companies would let you order things from them just as anonymously as if you walked into a bricks & mortar store and bought it with your credit card. The CC company gets your payment info, but the store you bought it from doesn't get your address and can't spam you with advertising for more products of theirs.

The final category of annoying email that I get is political junk mail. I have no idea how my email address got on some Democratic Party mailing list, but it did. I'm a Democrat so it's not entirely out of the question that I might have given my email address when registering for a dinner fundraiser for John Kerry or something. But I've asked repeatedly since then for them to take me off their mailing list. Problem is, there are a bunch of different Democrat organizations and they all share their mailing lists with each other. And if you get taken off one, they'll get it back again from some other that originally got their list from the parent organization when your name was on it. And on and on it goes. It seems to be impossible to completely eradicate my email address from all of their records. And some of them don't even include an "unsubscribe" link, which I consider unconscionable.

Correct: block sender is roughly equivalent to "any time I get email from this email address, move it to the junk mail folder, or delete it" - Outlook doesn't know how to tell your email provider that it should be blocked further upstream.

In all honesty, if you're getting email that you didn't request, including sales and marketing materials from someone you did business with, I say that's a valid use of the "This is Spam" button. It's unsolicited email. Especially in this day of spam overload you shouldn't get put on any email list without being asked, and without confirming (aka "confirmed opt-in").

I've become very aware of sales and other online forms that include checkboxes that sign you up for more email, and the boxes are automatically checked. I find that very slimy and if you're not paying attention it's easy to start getting email that you "asked for", when of course you did not.

-Leo

*** This Week's Most Popular

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

  1. How do I delete history items from my Google tool bar?
  2. How do I change my MSN Hotmail password?
  3. I accidentally deleted my Recycle Bin in Vista - how do I get it back?
  4. How do I make a new MSN Hotmail account?
  5. How do I delete my Hotmail account?
  6. Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone?
  7. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  8. Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it?
  9. Where is my Outlook "PST" file located?
  10. How do I put a picture into the caption of a picture on myspace.com?

*** Leo Recommends

Word Tips
Microsoft Word Tips, Tricks and Answers

I don't know everything. I know that's a shock to maybe one or two of you, but it's the truth. One of the techniques I use to make it look like I know more than I really do is to know where to look for information.

Allen Wyatt's Word Tips is one of these places. Yes, I've used Microsoft Word for many, many years and know it very well ... but Word Tips has more answers and more suggestions than I could ever hope to have.

Continue reading: Word Tips - Microsoft Word Tips, Tricks and Answers

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

Been here. Done this. Smile

I deleted a file by mistake - can I get it back?

I got carried away and mistakenly hit "Yes" when I was prompted about deleting a file - except it was the wrong file! Can I get it back? If so, how?

I think anyone who's used computers for any length of time has been where you are now. I know I've been there on more than one occasion.

The answer to your question is really, "maybe". It depends on a lot of things.

Continue reading...
I deleted a file by mistake - can I get it back?
http://ask-leo.com/i_deleted_a_file_by_mistake_can_i_get_it_back.html

*** Thoughts and Comments

I apologize for this newsletter being a day late.

It's a long-ish story, but the bottom line is that sometimes even backups aren't enough. Smile

Last Wednesday my wife and I left for much needed week-long vacation to Orlando, Florida. When I travel I take my laptop with me; I call it "Ask Leo! world headquarters", since with connectivity wherever it is, I can do pretty much anything I need to in order to run Ask Leo!. I also carry with me a USB thumbdrive so that I can backup nightly as well.

When traveling like this I pre-load all the articles that you may have seen on the site this week, and schedule them to be automatically published once a day while I'm away. That way, I can turn my attentions elsewhere. Like vacationing.

On Friday, my laptop decided to turn its attention elsewhere. Friday morning it decided that it had no hard drive, and no amount of rebooting, setting checking, cursing or praying would convince it otherwise.

It's great that I could backup my data, but with no laptop to use it on, I was still out of luck.

Besides the email backlog that awaited me on my return the only real problem is that the newsletter is still assembled by hand. By my hand. And that's something I had planned to do on Monday, as I normally do each week.

But without a laptop, there was no way.

And my Blackberry (which had its own little adventure on this trip that I'll share another day), can only do so much.

Tech blogger Michael Horowitz gave me a great suggestion that I plan to try: set up a bootable Linux partition on that thumbdrive I carry. That way, even without a hard drive I might be able to get a few more things done.

But the vacation was otherwise great, though much much rainier than we were expecting (who knew Disney would close down some rides due to rain?).

Have a great week everyone, and bear with me if it takes me a bit longer than usual to wade through the several hundred questions and comments that were posted while I was gone.

(PS: if you're ever curious, you can always check my Twitter feed for status. One thing I was able to do via my Blackberry was post via Twitter that the newsletter was going to be late. You'll find my three most recent Twitter posts on Ask Leo! as well.)

'till next time...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

* * *

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