Leo's Answers #172 – March 31, 2009

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


You da man! Thank you.
- Oz

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*** Contents

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

What's a Batch File?

I've seen you mention a "batch file" a couple of times in articles. What is that? What's it good for?

A batch file, or command file, is a very simple text file that contains a list of programs and commands that Windows can then execute when you "run" the batch file.

The "problem" is that batch files date back to the days of MS-DOS, and are designed to contain commands that you would run within a Windows Command prompt.

I'll show you what I mean with a simple example.

Continue reading: "What's a Batch File?"

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Someone has stolen my email address can you help?

Dear Mr. Mrs.

To home is my concern from couple months ago some one has my e mail address stolen and I dont know haw I can report for this till some one till me about this web Sid and my email address was ******@hotmail.com and my password is 123456 please give me an answer as soon as you can you can call me ###-###-####

Thank you
Email owner
(name redacted)

With the exception of the obviously removed information, this is a question exactly as I recently received it, sent to my personal email address.

Now, set aside the fact that this email is clearly written by a non-English speaker; that's very common, as the site is visited by people from all over the planet.

There are several very serious problems with this email that I want to make sure you never, ever duplicate.

Can you see them? One of them is absolutely frightening.

Continue reading: "Someone has stolen my email address can you help?"

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What will happen when Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP?

When Microsoft discontinues support for XP, what will happen if I need to reformat? Will I still be able to get all the updates?

It depend on exactly when you're thinking of. Microsoft won't just stop supporting XP, they'll phase out support. Where in that phase out you happen to be will make a lot of difference.

Fortunately, we have examples of what they've done in the past to make some guesses as to how they'll handle XP.

Continue reading: "What will happen when Microsoft stops supporting Windows XP?"

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Is online banking safe?

I would think that no PC would be immune from malicious threats if they landed on some corrupt site that then installed malware or key-capture software. Is there any reasonable way to continue to safely do online banking?

Sure.

Avoid getting infected.

That sounds trite and flippant, and I don't mean it to be so. Ultimately, though, all the advice boils down to exactly that: do what it takes so that you don't get infected, and you'll be safe.

I regularly bank online. In fact, I much prefer it over the alternatives.

Continue reading: "Is online banking safe?"

* * *

How do I contact Windows Live Hotmail customer service?

This is a question I get a lot. And what's interesting is that the answer keeps changing.

Things are getting better, but it still feels like we're dealing with variations on the theme of "no".

Of late, however, there's a little hope.

Continue reading: "How do I contact Windows Live Hotmail customer service?"

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*** Featured Comments

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

* * *

How do I set up an Out Of Office (OOF) message?

Mary writes:

Not to mention the possibility (probability?) of alerting spammers they have a live email address which will generate even more spam.

Indeed. Just another reason that Out of Office Replies are Evil. Smile

-Leo

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Someone has stolen my Windows Live / MSN Hotmail Account and is scamming my contacts. What can I do?

Novice writes:

Last month my GMail and Hotmail accounts were stolen when I checked mail from my cousin's zombie / hacked PC. I was able to recover both the same day. I want to share what helped.

1. thanks to Leo's suggestions, I had been using Outlook and Thunderbird, so there was no loss of any important emails.

2. since I had my emails, I had accurate information to fill out the detailed account recovery form of Gmail. Plus, my data backup habit and memory helped in filling out some information.

3. Gmail is such a great service that in a few minutes (10-15 minutes) they verified all the information and emailed me a reset link. The Gmail was also the alternate account for my hotmail, so I recovered hotmail by sending a reset link to the alternate account.

4. My cousin used hotmail's recovery form, and they took several hours to send her the account reset email. I don't know whether hotmail took the time or she didn't provide enough information.

With all the stories of lost accounts and failure that I hear all the time, it's good to hear not only of a scenario that worked, but the steps that lead it to work. Thank you.

-Leo

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How do I stop my computer from being a zombie?

Bob Greene writes:

In prescribing recovery for a machine already infected with malware, Leo counsels a backup for the infected machine before a complete format of its boot drive and reinstallation of Windows.

However, the logic of this escapes me, since the malware almost certainly will be imaged to the backup, and if the image is ever restored, so will be the malware.

The only possible defense of this approach is when the user has NO backup of any kind of system data, and must make one before the format, or lose the data. In that case, the user should restore selectively only the data required, but not the whole image.

Anyone contemplating this process should understand the difference between restoring a full image and a restoring selectively.

You're absolutely correct. The sad truth is that most people don't backup. And they should. It's scary. So I counsel a full image backup prior to a reformat/reinstall to capture any and all files and data that might be required later for individual, and careful, recovery.

-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. Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone?
  3. How do I change my MSN Hotmail password?
  4. How do I make a new MSN Hotmail account?
  5. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  6. How do I delete my Hotmail account?
  7. How do I uninstall Windows Messenger?
  8. How do I delete history items from my Google tool bar?
  9. Svchost and Svchost.exe - Crashs, CPU maximization, viruses, exploits and more.
  10. Why is my Task Manager disabled, and how do I fix it?

*** 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
http://ask-leo.com/word_tips_microsoft_word_tips_tricks_and_answers.html

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

Here's something that many people don't realize until it's too late ... much too late.

Will I lose my email if I don't check it for a while?

I just moved and was not able to check my email for 3-4 weeks. Will I still receive emails sent in that time period?

Probably, but it depends on a couple of things: the rules that your email provider might impose and just how popular you are.

But it is definitely something worth planning ahead for.

Continue reading...
Can Will I lose my email if I don't check it for a while?
http://ask-leo.com/will_i_lose_my_email_if_i_dont_check_it_for_a_while.html

*** Thoughts and Comments

I stumbled across a free newsletter the other day, and discovered only after deciding to subscribe that it belonged to my friends Audri and Jim Lanford, of ScamBusters fame! I love coincidence. Smile

Your Inspirational Quote is a weekday morning email that'll help you kickstart your day with a bit of inspiration and a smile. I'm a "good news" kinda guy, and in the current environment where the only thing we seem to hear is bad, it's refreshing to start the day with a thought provoking, inspirational and always positive message.

And, as they've said, "All in just 12 seconds a day."

Give Your Inspirational Quote a try. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

By the time you see this my wife and I should be on our way back home from a short vacation in Los Angeles, visiting friends and of course a certain cartoon mouse. After our trip to Orlando in January (where I lost my cell phone, my computer died, and we got drenched in rain - twice) we decided that we needed to head south for some sunshine and R&R.

Again.

And if this was sent on time, it means that this time my computer survived the trip. (Can't predict what might happen to my cell phone this time, or the likelihood of any rain.)

'till next time...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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