Leo's Answers #176 – April 28, 2009

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


You said it in terms that i could understand. Thank you.
- Barbara

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*** Contents

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

Why does so much spam have a part of some other email or document in it?

Do you happen to know what the gibberish writing at the bottom of spam is? I periodically get spam in my regular mail with a normal enough header, but at the bottom of these emails (not all) have like a history story, or some funky strung together writing about a person or event or who knows what.

Yep.

It's spammers being spammy.

It's one of many techniques spammers use to try and slide by automated spam filters.

Let's look at how that works.

Continue reading: "Why does so much spam have a part of some other email or document in it?"

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How do I install a pre-installed Microsoft Office on another machine?

I just bought a computer with Microsoft Office 2007 installed so I do not have the installation disc. I recently wanted to install Office 2007 into my the other computer but how can I do it when I do not have the installation disc?

You may not be able to.

In part, it depends on if you're moving the installation from one machine to another, versus copying to make a second installation.

It also depends on the manufacturer you purchased your computer from, and their willingness to help.

Continue reading: "How do I install a pre-installed Microsoft Office on another machine?"

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Why do I suddenly have another toolbar in my browser?

Where did this new toolbar in my browser? I didn't ask for it.

Actually it's likely that you did.

Before you protest that you most certainly did not, I need to point out one of the most annoying techniques being used to deploy more and more and more toolbars.

It all counts on your not paying close attention.

Continue reading: "Why do I suddenly have another toolbar in my browser?"

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What is the Recovery Console, and how do I get at it?

The recovery console is a diagnostic and repair tool that's included on your Windows installation CD. It allows you to boot from that CD and run a command-line "console" from within which you can examine your hard disk, copy files and fix certain classes of problems.

It's fairly geeky, and not something most people know about.

It can be an occasional lifesaver.

Let's look at it a little.

Continue reading: "What is the Recovery Console, and how do I get at it?"

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What's hogging my machine for so long on startup?

When I power on my laptop, it takes about 14 seconds to go from splash screen to desktop. But then it takes about 3 minutes before I can do anything. By that I mean the "hard drive status light" stays solid green or flickers very rapidly as to appear almost a solid green. This usually means that something is reading or writing data, no? As long as the status light is lit, I can move my cursor around the screen but I can't access any of the shortcuts, start button, etc. I can't even access task manager or process explorer to find out what's using up my CPU. I suspect it's my antivirus and/or antispyware checking for automatic updates but by the time I CAN access TM or PE, the offending program has completed whatever it was doing and System Idle Process is showing 99%.

Any ideas on how I can force open TM or PE under those circumstances to verify what that resource hog really is?

You're facing a common problem.

So common, it's something that my wife also sees from time to time on her laptop.

There are several reasons, and as you've seen it can be a little tricky to determine what the problem might be. I'll throw out a few things to try.

Continue reading: "What's hogging my machine for so long on startup?"

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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 do I get a new IP address?

Geraint writes:

Extreme measure:

Use a proxy.

Though in most cases most websites that ban ip addresses will already have banned most ip addresses that you'd get from any proxy server anyway.

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Are free email services worth it?

Mark Recktenwald writes:

In regard to a recent posting by a different Mark, he recommended not closing a free email account for at least a year so that you could notify any people you might have missed in announcing your change of address.

In addition to simply checking the old account periodically, you can set up an autoresponder (Vacation Response on Yahoo) to tell them of the change immediately after they send a message to that old account. On Yahoo, look for Vacation Response on the Mail Options page. On Gmail it is called Vacation responder and it is on the Settings page.

Windows Live Hotmail now has a similar feature, I believe.

-Leo

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What's hogging my machine for so long on startup?

Al Simons writes:

Leo's comment about not being able to have Process Explorer respond to a sort-on-this-column click in a timely manner is true on loaded systems. Fortunately, there is an easy workaround. Process Explorer starts with the same sort column that it exited with. So if you click on the CPU usage column before you exit Process Explorer, it will start out sorted by CPU usage the next time around.

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Why do I suddenly have another toolbar in my browser?

Jim writes:

I never clicked on this sneaky option, ever. Why? Perhaps because when I first started using the web I was so unsure about what I was doing I really did read all the screens. Doing this is so deceptive, the people that do it should be ashamed. Sadly, I see it more and more. And like Leo says doing it in updates??? Sadly, one of my favorite programs, CCleaner-and I think Leo has mentioned it-does it every time you update.

You may be right about CCleaner - it's been a while since I looked. Regardless, it seems to be fairly common for a once in dependant program that gets purchased by a larger corporation to suddenly start doing this.

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

*** Leo Recommends

refdesk.com
A Comprehensive, Free and Family-friendly Internet Reference Portal

There are reference sites, and then there's refdesk.com.

I was always fascinated by the reference desk at my school or local library. There were always hundreds of books, encyclopedias and other materials that you could find in that one special place.

Refdesk.com is the internet version of exactly that. Just like the library version, I could spend hours browsing the various materials that refdesk.com points to.

Continue reading...
refdesk.com - A Comprehensive, Free and Family-friendly Internet Reference Portal

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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

Are you dependant on the internet? A business perhaps? What happens when it breaks?

Will you care if you lose your connectivity?

Last week, in a moment of apparent prescience, I wrote an article titled What's a "single point of failure", and why do I need to know? That article discussed how I'd come to identify several unexpected places my connectivity could fail when it did fail, and what I'd done to mitigate such failures in the future. Given my line of work, internet connectivity is obviously crucial to what I do. My contingency plans now include things from some key redundant components, to my unlimited cellular data plan and a table at the local coffee house.

Apparently, at almost the same time I was writing that, a local social service agency was discovering the very same topic, and also discovering it the hard way. In this case it wasn't a technical issue, but the results were the same: they lost their internet connectivity. As I write this a week later, they're still struggling to reconnect.

Continue reading...
Will you care if you lose your connectivity?

*** Sites of Interest

BargainTravel.com

A couple of months ago as I was booking my recent trip to Ridgway, Colorado, I found myself somewhat frustrated by the prices I was seeing. Airline pricing's always been a bit of a mysterious bit of black magic, it seems, and I was really getting frustrated.

And this frustration coming from someone who worked on Expedia, back in the day. I typically cut the airline industry a bit of slack - perhaps more than they deserve at times.

I'd been meaning to try BarginTravel for a while, as it's run by some folks that I know and trust. I plugged in my departure, destination and other options, and poof, prices that were roughly half of what I'd been seeing at the airline websites. I had heard of "consolidator fares", mostly in the periphery at Expedia, but this was my first direct experience.

I have no idea if that kind of saving is always the case, but I personally had such a good experience that I figured BargainTravel was worth a mention here.

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Sites of Interest are just that: sites I find interesting and just want to share. (Not an endorsement or guarantee.) If you have a suggestion or a website of your own that you think might be interesting use the regular ask a question form to suggest it. (Of course I can't guarantee I'll use your suggestion, I simply get too many.)

*** Thoughts and Comments

Speaking of my trip to Ridgway, this is the view we had while we were there. Beautiful, but cloudy most of the time. The locals kept telling us "you need to come back in summer!"

Perhaps, but you can check this page for the 18 inches of snow that arrived after we left. We dodged a bullet. And further down the page you'll also see a better idea of what we missed due to the clouds.

Apparently we need to go back.

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For the record, I finally did try Internet Explorer 8, and I have to say that I was underwhelmed.

For safety, I actually created a brand new install of Microsoft Windows XP Pro in a virtual machine. (I use Parallels Workstation.) Brand new install, completely up to date with SP3 and other recommended updates, but without any other software installed.

"IExplorer.exe has generated an error and must close"

Not a good sign. Not at all. And it was repeatable, visiting a couple of different web sites.

As you might expect, I'm not updating my Internet Explorer any time soon, and at this point I can't recommend that you do either.

'till next time...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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