Leo's Answers #173 – April 7, 2009

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom

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*** Contents

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

Do I need to install software for my monitor?

I recently purchased a refurbished Samsung monitor. it came without a manual, which I in turn downloaded, but read that I also need a CD to complete installation? I have it up and running on my PC, so do I in fact need the CD?

This is one of those things that, in all honesty, frustrates me from time to time. Many hardware vendors have taken to including CDs with their equipment that is supposedly required prior to attaching the hardware.

The problem is that sometimes it's not.

And sometimes it is.

So how's the average user supposed to know the difference?

Continue reading: "Do I need to install software for my monitor?"

* * *

How do I gain administrative access to a secondhand computer?

My dad bought a computer from a yard sale. The problem is that they forgot to take off the password. I'm logged in as a user but not an administrator so I don't have admin privileges. How do I become an administrator.

This is frightening for a couple of reasons.

It's not you who should be scared, though, and we'll get you into the computer quite easily.

It's the previous owner that should be concerned, since it's clear they didn't take a few important steps prior to giving away their computer.

Continue reading: "How do I gain administrative access to a secondhand computer?"

* * *

Should I Install Internet Explorer 8?

Incoming questions on Internet Explorer version 8 have been falling into two buckets:

  • Should I install IE8? What do you think of it?

  • I installed IE8 and it broke _____ - how do I fix it or revert back to what I had before?

My reaction? As they say on the legal TV dramas "asked and answered". The second class of question kinda leads to an answer for the first, don't you think?

Continue reading: "Should I Install Internet Explorer 8?"

* * *

Does archiving compressed files increase the chance of corruption?

You've mentioned CD-Rs and DVD-Rs more than once as excellent ways to back up data. Now I have about ten gigabytes of data to backup. If I compress the files to ZIP format, I can reduce them down to under four gigabytes--small enough to burn to a DVD-R. But I am scared to do this, because I fear my important files might eventually get corrupted or damaged if compressed. I've had many bad experiences using compressed file formats (ZIP, RAR, 7z, etc). It seems that any compressed file I leave alone for too long ends up damaged or corrupted at some point. My question is, will burning my compressed files to a finalized, non-rewriteable DVD prevent them from getting corrupted? (I would assume that data on a finalized DVD cannot be changed?)

There's nothing about compression that increases the likelihood of corruption. It doesn't matter what format you pick, or how well the compression is performed, the actual chances of corruption are completely, and totally unrelated.

The impact of corruption, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

Continue reading: "Does archiving compressed files increase the chance of corruption?"

* * *

Are password safes secure?

Leo, do programs (I'm thinking of browser helpers in particular) which memorize and play back passwords/personal information really provide added security along with the their obvious convenience? Will a key logging program just record mouse clicks if I use the program to input my credit card info? Are there programs that will sniff (the credit card info) as it put into the order form? Does having the stored password personal information on my computer put me at risk (even though I assume it is encrypted)?

There is risk in everything, even getting out of bed in the morning.

The challenge is to choose those tools, techniques and habits that minimize your exposure to risk.

Using a password safe, using it in the right way, and using it in conjunction with habits you should already have to stay safe, is in my opinion much, much more secure than the alternatives.

Continue reading: "Are password safes secure?"

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*** Featured Comments

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

* * *

How do I keep using a program past its free trial period?

Daniel O writes:

I'm pretty sure that people who want to know how to continue using software for free, even after the trial period expires, would throw a fit if their employer asked them to work without pay.

And yet they'll claim on reading this that "It's Not The Same Thing!" - when of course, it is.



How do I keep using a program past its free trial period?

Stuart writes:

The question itself indicates the decline of ethics in just about every facet of life today. While I appreciate the ease with which purchases can be made over the internet, I long for the face-to-face transactions of past generations. I'm no Luddite, but can you imagine trying to buy provisions at a market without paying for them?

As a teacher, I have experienced that feeling of "I wish I could afford this for my classroom." And several times I have written to the developer to explain my limited budget. In a surprising number of cases, I was offered a reduced rate. So it never hurts to ask -- the worst that can happen is the vendor says no. After all, the programmers have already finished their work, so any money is better than no money!

But it is so sad that someone even asked the question in this forum. Even sadder that a few respondents expressed disappointment that Leo didn't help circumvent the eminently fair try-then-buy system. Thank you, Leo, for standing up for the right way.


Someone has stolen my email address can you help?

Lin writes:

To keep my email accounts secure, I answer the security questions with something that only I would know (because the answer makes absolutely no sense to the question).

For example:
Q: What is your favorite flower?
A: cat

This way, someone cannot guess a series of flowers and hit upon the right one.

Of course, you must make sure that YOU remember your wacky answer or you will be in trouble!

*** 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 delete history items from my Google tool bar?
  3. How do I change my MSN Hotmail password?
  4. Can I send text messages between a computer and a cell phone?
  5. How do I make a new MSN Hotmail account?
  6. How do I delete my Hotmail account?
  7. Someone has stolen my email address can you help?
  8. How do I uninstall Windows Messenger?
  9. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  10. Where is my Outlook "PST" file located?

*** Leo Recommends

Skeptic.com - Tools, information and education for skeptical thinkers

This recommendation ventures into a little personal philosophy. Follow along, as I do believe - strongly - that the concepts here apply to the internet and how we use it, nowadays more than ever.

I am a skeptic.

For many people that implies that I believe nothing (not so), believe in nothing (also wrong), and that I somehow take delight in pointing out the flawed thinking of others (wrong again).

I view healthy skepticism as simply understanding the difference between belief and knowledge, not promoting belief as knowledge and understanding that knowledge is backed by independently verifiable facts. Ultimately skepticism is about discovering what is true.

The Skeptic web site is a great source of information for those wanting to understand and gain better tools to help cut trough so much of the misinformation in the world, and on the internet.

And that's why I'm bringing it to you.

Continue reading: "Skeptic.com - Tools, information and education for skeptical thinkers"

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

Keeping information private on your computer is harder than you might think. Some obvious solutions aren't as secure as we might like.

How can I password protect my documents?

I keep a daily journal in Microsoft Works on Windows XP. Is there a way to put a password on it, or lock it up somehow, so only I have access to it?

There are several approaches to keeping your private data private. Some good, some bad, and many in-between.

Let's look at the list, from least to most secure.

Continue reading...
How can I password protect my documents?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Last week I ran Allen Wyatt's Word Tips as the weekly recommendation (don't forget his Excel Tips too!), but as it turns out that's just the "tip" of the iceberg!

As just one example, go have a look at Cleaning Tips. It's something we all struggle with from time to time - how get that stain out of that carpet, or what to do about that scratch, or how to get things that shiny. Cleaning Tips (cleaning.tips.net) has all that and more.

With the weather having finally improved here, I might just review Washing Your Dog (much to the Corgis dismay, I'm sure). Though hopefully Allen will forgive me if I skip Washing Your Cat ("If you've done your job right, your cat will never even suspect what is coming." Uh huh. Right. Smile)

More to our purpose, perhaps, articles like Cleaning Your Laptop Computer (with video) or the always important Removing Soft Drink Stains.

Anyway, give Cleaning Tips a look-see.

I've started stumbling onto sites and getting referrals for things that, while not directly computer and technology related, are - like Cleaning Tips above - pretty interesting. I'm considering adding an "Interesting Site" feature to this newsletter. Look for that to start in a couple of weeks.

I had a subscriber ask this week about the Top 10 list you see in each newsletter, and how little it seems to change each week.

I use some custom software to count "popularity". I simply count each time someone visits a page on Ask Leo!, and I keep a separate count per page per day. At the end of the week I just tally up the weeks numbers, sort 'em, and that tells me what pages have had the most visitors. This is the same data that generates the "Popular & Hot" list on the side of every page on Ask Leo!.

Some articles definitely continue to be extremely popular for a long, long time, but I do see shifts over time. If you take a look at the list in the newsletter from a year ago you'll see some remain the same, and other have changed fairly dramatically.

'till next time...

Leo A. Notenboom

* * *

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

Posted: April 7, 2009 in: 2009
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3703
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