Leo's Answers #166 – February 17, 2009

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


I sincerely appreciate the knowledge and acumen you possess ...
-Chuck

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*** Contents

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

How do I get an arbitrary email address?

How do I get an email address that is anything@anything.anything, and be able to send emails?

This is actually a fairly common question, but unfortunately it indicates a slight lack of understanding of exactly how email addresses are assigned.

No problem: I'll walk you through the pieces.

Whether or not you can get what you want depends on ... "anything".

Continue reading: "How do I get an arbitrary email address?"

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Why would installing Beta software cause problems?

I recently downloaded and installed a Beta version of a popular application. It slowed everything on my computer down so I uninstalled it and reloaded the prior version. I then tried to do a disk cleanup and it wiped out everything on my laptop including the drive partitions and all programs including the operating system. Since I did not have the disk to reinstall Windows XP I had to take it to a computer shop to get it fixed. What happened?

(The original question was about a specific product, but I get this so often about many different applications, I'm going to address the general case.)

What happened?

You're not going to like my answer.

The good news, if there is such a thing in this scenario, is that you're not alone. Many people simply can't resist doing exactly the same as you.

I'll look at what happened, and what you could have done instead to avoid the mess you experienced.

Continue reading: "Why would installing Beta software cause problems?"

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Is autorun really that evil, and if so, how do I turn autorun off?

There's been a rash of infections in recent months that can be traced back to infected USB or other removable devices being used to transmit malware from one machine to another. The culprit is autorun. Even if you think you have it turned off, I'm betting you don't have it turned off - not completely anyway.

Autorun (or autoplay, as it's sometimes known as or confused with), is a very convenient feature of Windows that, as its name implies, allows things to happen "automatically" when you insert a removable device such as a CD-ROM, USB Memory stick or attach a device like a digital camera.

And yes, absolutely, it's evil, and should be turned off completely as soon as you possibly can do so.

The reason is very, very simple: autorun can be seriously abused by viruses and other forms of malware.

Continue reading: "Is autorun really that evil, and if so, how do I turn autorun off?"

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What are Windows Live Hotmail's POP3 and SMTP settings?

One of the most requested items here at Ask Leo! are the POP3 and SMTP settings for Hotmail, so that arbitrary mail clients and portable devices could be used to access Windows Live Hotmail.

Until now the answer has been "there aren't any officially supported".

That's changed.

And it's about time.

Continue reading: "What are Windows Live Hotmail's POP3 and SMTP settings?"

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What do I do about all the leftovers after an uninstall?

When I use MS uninstall for an app deletion, such as, Mozilla Firefox I run a search scan only to find a plethora of remaining folders, and registry keys. What does uninstall really uninstall? And how do I safely purge the remaining clutter?

What we have here in front of us is a can of worms.

Uninstallers do uninstall most things, but not everything. Sometimes they could uninstall more, sometimes they should uninstall more, but sometimes you don't want them to uninstall more, and sometimes they can't uninstall more.

Confused yet? Well, that's how the uninstaller would feel, if it had feelings.

Continue reading: "What do I do about all the leftovers after an uninstall?"

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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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How does using BCC help reduce spam?

Jim Lorenz writes:

I have been telling people this for years. I am going to forward this page to all those people today. Your explanation is concise and to the point with easy to understand why and how to. Thanks!

If you do it in one mailing, be sure to ... BCC them. :-)

-Leo

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How long should I keep my backups?

Robert King writes:

Hello, Leo. I'm a 75-year old computer newbie ...not really a "newbie" at my age, but a novice computer user nonetheless. I use a system called "Registry Booster" to "clean up" my registry .... I don't know why I need to do this, but do it anyway. I only use this laptop for emailing to my kids and friends, for my Blockbuster account, to order online crap I don't really need, to research stuff for crossword puzzles, "streaming" music sites and for online banking purposes. So, nothing really complicated or technical involved. So my comment is .....do I really need "backups" and a registry cleaner? If I don't need backups and they're taking up space, how can I delete same to allow more computer space?

My thoughts on registry cleaners are here: What's the best registry cleaner?
If your computer's hard disk was suddenly blank and everything on it were permanently lost, would that be a problem? If so, then you definitely need backups. And as that statement implies backups should never be to the same hard disk; they should be to another hard disk. These days that's typically an external USB drive.

-Leo

*** This Week's Most Popular

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

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

*** Leo Recommends

Dell - PC Desktops, Laptops and Accessories

I'm taking a bit of a risk with today's recommendation because I know that Dell has its detractors and horror stories. The question as a friend put it is "do they have more, on average, as compared to other computer manufacturers?"

My opinion is they do not.

But I do have a few suggestions to make your Dell experience more like mine, and less like the ones getting all the negative publicity.

I own, or have owned, probably a dozen Dell computers over the years. Each has served me well, and each has lasted longer than the ever-increasing system requirements of operating systems like Windows. My Dells don't leave because they've irreparably failed; they're more likely to fall out of use because they can no longer be expanded to support the latest version of Windows, or handle newer and more demanding applications. My Dells have all lasted for years.

Continue reading: "Dell - PC Desktops, Laptops and Accessories"

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

It continues...

Where are the ethics?

Some days I could just cry.

I get a LOT of questions submitted to Ask Leo either in the form of comments on specific articles, or as questions submitted using the ask-a-question form. Many more questions every day than I could ever hope to answer. But I do read them all.

And reading them all is getting really depressing.

Continue reading...
Where are the ethics?
http://ask-leo.com/where_are_the_ethics.html

*** Thoughts and Comments

Well, my laptop's back and happy, and as you saw above, Dell did right by me. Not that my MacBook Pro isn't a fine machine (it was my interim portable solution), but I'm still a PC at heart.

One thing I did do during that interim was replace my Verizon wireless PC-Card (PCMCIA) modem with a USB modem. When not at home I use Verizon as my connectivity. The problem, of course, is that the MacBook doesn't have a PC-Card slot. Kudos again to Verizon Wireless for a quick and easy upgrade, and for a tool that works on both platforms.

I guess the really big news for many Ask Leo! readers is the appearance of POP3 and SMTP options for Windows Live Hotmail. That's a question I've been getting quite literally for years, and I'm glad to see Microsoft finally (finally!) noticed. It's a feature that been long overdue, and one that's been present in many competitors offerings, most notably GMail, for quite a while. Maybe there's some hope for Hotmail after all (once again, if used properly).

And in case you're wondering, yes, I still love my Kindle, even if it's a version 1 device. In fact, after reviewing articles on the new 2.0 Kindle, I'm happy sticking with what I have. Don't get me wrong, the Kindle 2.0 is great and I'd snap it up in a heartbeat if I didn't already have one. I'm just not finding the improvements all that compelling.

'till next time...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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