Leo's Answers #16 – March 10, 2006

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


(You're receiving this newsletter because you subscribed, and then confirmed your subscription. Simple instructions for unsubscribing are at the end of every newsletter.)

*** Contents

*** New Articles of Note on Ask Leo!

Tech Site: TweakXP.com


Windows has a lot of configuration options, a lot of undocumented settings, and even a lot of ways you can tweak things that weren't really meant to to be tweaked. TweakXP is a repository of all of the above. Hate finding "thumbs.db" all over your hard drive (I do)? The setting to change it is here. Need to disable search from searching inside of ZIPs? Steps to unregister the DLL are here. Want to change the boot screen logo? The DLL to fiddle with is detailed here. (And, no, I do not recommend fiddling with DLLs, but there are several tweaks here for the adventurous.)

TweakXP is part of "Tweaks.com", which includes sites for Windows XP, Vista and the Media Center Edition. There's an active discussion forum for getting questions answered and problems solved. And naturally there's a newsletter and an RSS feed.

If you've wondered that "there must be a way to...", TweakXP.com is worth a look.

Continue reading: "TweakXP.com"

* * *

Email Encryption - Failure to Launch?

Email Encryption - it should be easier. Much easier.

Continue reading: "Email Encryption - Failure to Launch?" Article Includes Audio

* * *

Why is attaching a Word document to email such a bad idea?

At my organization we regularly email Microsoft Word documents to one another as attachments. Meeting minutes, agendas, summaries, pretty much anything other than really short messages get written in Word, and then sent as an attachment.

I recently had someone from outside the organization claim that this was a really bad idea. He was quite adamant that we should be doing that as little as possible. He claimed that there were so many reasons he couldn't list them all.

Can you?

Yes. Yes I can. It's something I feel fairly strongly about. So strongly, that I'm often that "someone from outside the organization".

Don't get me wrong, Microsoft Word has it's place. But 9 times out of 10 that place is not as an attachment to email.

Continue reading: "Why is attaching a Word document to email such a bad idea?"

* * *

How do I send encrypted email?

I need to have a client send me some very sensitive information. Really really sensitive. I know that email is fundamentally insecure, so I want the email to be encrypted. What's the best way to do that. Did I mention it's sensitive?

You are correct in noting the email is, at it's very core, insecure. An administrator on any of the systems between sender and recipient can quite easily look at any email that traverses their server. Similarly, networks can be sniffed, and email passing by can be easily read.

I'm not trying to scare you, because that kind of reading is very rare, and typically very benign. Let's face it, most people don't really care about your email, I'm sorry to say.

But what if even that small risk is unacceptable?

Then we encrypt.

Continue reading: "How do I send encrypted email?"

* * *

How do I bypass my school or employer's block on instant messaging?

I regularly get several variations on this question:

I've tried every MSN Messenger on web and they are all blocked! Can someone please tell me one that the school hasn't blocked yet?

At my job they've blocked instant messenger, even if though it's a good tool for my work. I used to connected using one of the web services, but that's been blocked as well. Are there other sites that I can use without downloading an IM client?

My school won't let me IM and I'm gonna die! Help me!!!

You might think that last one is a bit extreme, but let me tell you, it's not that uncommon. And I've had to heavily correct the grammar, spelling and even the general tone of all of them.

But you get the idea. Instant Messaging has become a critical component of social and occasionally even business life.

So what do you do if your school or business cuts you off?

Continue reading: "How do I bypass my school or employer's block on instant messaging?"

* * *

Why don't I have an on-screen volume indicator?

I am running Windows XP home edition on a new Gateway notebook (Model MX7515). My Gateway desktop and older laptop both indicate the volume on the screen by showing green vertical bars (the same as on most TVs). My new notebook changes the volume while pressing the increase and decrease buttons on the keyboard, but there are no green vertical bars on my screen, so I don't know how high or low the volume is.

Those on-screen displays are kinda handy. I have something similar on my desktop, including the volume up/down controls on my keyboard. Quite nice.

But on my laptop? No such luck. I'm in the same boat you are.

Continue reading: "Why don't I have an on-screen volume indicator?"

* * *

How can on-line forum members realize it's me using two different accounts?

I logged in to a forum on two separate instances with a different ID each time. Someone actually was able to find out that this was me logging in with different IDs. My question is, how can any forum participant know my IP? I know that the forum logs the IPs, but am surprised that a member was able to identify my IP. My IP is not visible on the forum.

There's a lot that's not specified here, so I'll have to make a few assumptions. My first assumption, of course, is that you had a good intentions using different IDs on the same forum, and that you you're not trying to deceive someone. (See my rant on ethics if you wonder why I care.)

Depending on things, I can hypothesize several different ways to tell it's you, and not all involve IP addresses.

Continue reading: "How can on-line forum members realize it's me using two different accounts?"

* * *

What are those strange folders in my Temporary Internet Files?

My Temporary Internet Files show a lock and cannot be deleted, I'm thinking this is a problem. There are 23 files; eg. 8XE96F4H, ALFCPSNU, DUXEMEN9 etc. I have Googled some of them and they show a website in Japan but some show nothing. Norton AV doesn't catch(see) them, neither does Spybot. So far I don't see them causing problems but I don't like this at all.

First, let me put your mind at ease. There's no problem.

They're definitely oddly named directories, but it's just Internet Explorer being ... well, being Internet Explorer.

Here's what's going on ...

Continue reading: "What are those strange folders in my Temporary Internet Files?"

* * *

How do I remove Windows XP SP2?

How can I remove Windows XP SP2 when the "run" command can't find the hidden file? It was installed by a computer place and not through Windows Update. I can't find it in "add/remove" through Control Panel, nor System Restore.

There are two ways to get Windows XP SP2. One of them can be removed, and the other cannot.

I'll bet you can see where this is headed, can't you?

And, as you'll see in a moment, you really don't want to remove it anyway.

Continue reading: "How do I remove Windows XP SP2?"

*** Popular Articles from the Archives

One of the common themes I see in questions I get is, for lack of a better term, "paranoia". Sometimes it pays to be paranoid, but sometimes the risk you fear just isn't there in any practical sense. This article from last year looks at email:

Just how secure is email, anyway?

My business requires the emailing of some sensitive information on a regular basis. I have spoken with my boss and co-workers about all of us using an encrypted email system but no one seems to think there is a significant threat or danger out there to require these extra steps in security. Can you offer any data to help me to convince them that this is a good idea?

Actually I don't have hard data to say one way or the other. The risk varies too much on too many factors to really present data that'll apply in a specific situation.

But we can definitely look at some of the specific factors.

Continue reading...

*** Thoughts and Comments

I get hundreds of questions every week. Sometimes that many in a day, even. Yet only a few, maybe six or seven, actually get posted on Ask Leo! each week.

As they say in the infomercials, "But wait! There's more!"

The Ask Leo! Mailbag at http://mailbag.ask-leo.com. I answer some questions with a direct reply in email. I dawned on me that, like the rest of Ask Leo!, those questions and answers, while less polished, and often somewhat terse, it can still often also help others. So, I created a setup that made it easy for me to reply via email, and have that reply show up on the web, in the mailbag.

So while there are around 750 articles currently posted on Ask Leo!, there are now over 1,100 quick answers posted in the mailbag, and maybe 20 to 50 added each week.

The mailbag is also one of the reasons I push using the Google search engine so heavily; the mailbag's included. If you use the Search form that's on just about every page of Ask Leo!, you're searching both Ask Leo!'s formally published articles, as well as the quickie responses in the mailbag.

* * *

It's back up to rural Whatcom County this weekend in the RV. I've mentioned it here before, but for new subscribers, one of my challenges has always been different approaches to staying connected while on the road. My wife and I often travel up to Whatcom County, which is the part of Washington State due north of Seattle that borders Canada, to visit her mother. It's mostly rural farmland, so more than one article on Ask Leo! has resulted from making the best of the connectivity available - including my "pizza-pantenna".

Unfortunately, given our recent wet weather, I have yet to find a good solution for the mud in the RV park. It wouldn't normally be a problem, except for our three dogs. Our three short, drag-belly-through-the-mud Pembroke Welsh Corgis.

I'm looking forward to Summer. OK, Summer, and a trip to Phoenix in a few weeks. I hear that rain hasn't been seen there for a little while, and right now that sounds awfully good.

* * *

No new essay this week at Taming Email, life just got too far ahead of me.

The latest entry out at Forwarded Funnies: "Sign after Sign"

*** Newsletter Administration

Do you have a question? A comment, perhaps? Newsletter subscribers can drop me a line at leo <at> ask-leo.com. (I only give that email address to newsletter subscribers, so I'll know it's from one of my loyal readers.) If you like, you can make sure you get past any spam filters by simply posting your question or comment using the Ask Leo! question form: http://ask-leo.com/askleo.html.

I'll be honest: I'll try to respond, but I get a lot of questions every day - I'm currently quite backlogged. I simply cannot answer absolutely every one. Rest assured, though, that even if you don't hear from me directly, I read every email I get.

Leo's Answers Newsletter is a weekly publication of Ask Leo! and Leo A. Notenboom. It's also available as an RSS feed at this URL: http://ask-leo.com/newsletter.xml?UD=nl. Archives of previous newsletter issues can be found on the Ask Leo! web site, http://ask-leo.com/newsletter.html.

You're quite welcome to forward this email in its entirety, but you should probably delete your unsubscribe link below, so your friends don't unsubscribe you by accident. You may forward individual articles from this newsletter only if you include all and only the text of that article as found in this newsletter, including any links therein. You may not copy full articles from the Ask Leo! website - more on that in my section on copyright: http://ask-leo.com/terms.html#copyright.

I'd sure appreciate it if regular readers got a subscription of their own. You can sign up at http://newsletter.ask-leo.com.

Till next week!

Leo Notenboom

Posted: March 10, 2006 in: 2006
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/2589
« Previous post:
Next post: »

New Here?

Let me suggest my collection of best and most important articles to get you started.

Of course I strongly recommend you search the site -- there's a ton of information just waiting for you.

Finally, if you just can't find what you're looking for, ask me!

Confident Computing

Confident Computing is the weekly newsletter from Ask Leo!. Each week I give you tools, tips, tricks, answers, and solutions to help you navigate today’s complex world of technology and do so in a way that protects your privacy, your time, and your money, and even help you better connect with the people around you.

The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition

Subscribe for FREE today and claim your copy of The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet – FREE Edition. Culled from the articles published on Ask Leo! this FREE downloadable PDF will help you identify the most important steps you can take to keep your computer, and yourself, safe as you navigate today’s digital landscape.

My Privacy Pledge

Leo Who?

I'm Leo Notenboom and I've been playing with computers since I took a required programming class in 1976. I spent over 18 years as a software engineer at Microsoft, and after "retiring" in 2001 I started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place to help you find answers and become more confident using this amazing technology at our fingertips. More about Leo.