Leo's Answers #178 – May 12, 2009

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom


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- Nimesh

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*** Contents

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

Can I prevent phishing attacks by using a bookmark?

Let's say I know the correct address of my bank and I log in the first time I use my account. Once logged in, I click on a random link within the bank's web site, and make sure that the next page is an https page and the security lock is present. If I bookmark this page, and use only the bookmark as my means of accessing the web site, is there any possibility I can be phished?

"Any possibility" is kind of a strong statement, but in general the approach you describe is sound and something I'd feel safe doing myself. In fact, by virtue of using a password safe such as Roboform, it's pretty much exactly what I am doing.

There are still ways you can be compromised, though, so we need to look at just what a phishing attack is, and how you can prevent phishing, and more.

Continue reading: "Can I prevent phishing attacks by using a bookmark?"

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Is it safe to use hibernate all the time?

I have XP on my laptop. Hibernate is enabled with option enabled to Hibernate when I close lid. Is there any downside to using this routinely to power down or should I Shut Down or Restart periodically?

From your description of Shut Down it seems that "all" that happens is that Windows closes down everything (which I want up and running anyway when I start) without any other maintenance tasks which may be essential for "good health". Correct?

This is one of those theory versus practice situations.

In theory, you should be able to use hibernate all the time. In fact, I know some people who pretty much do.

In practice, however, things aren't always quite that easy.

Continue reading: "Is it safe to use hibernate all the time?"

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What do I need to set up using my Windows XP virtual machine software?

I'm checking out the trial version of Parallels to run Windows XP on my Windows Vista system. So far like it a lot. Yet concerned about viruses and surfing the net using my XP-"guest" virtual machine. I've searched online and can't seem to get an answer on if I need to install antivirus software on my guest machine as well? Also do I need to reinstall all applications on my guest machine? I see that I can share folders but can I also share apps?

Virtual machines are, to me at least, incredibly amazing pieces of technology. They're powerful in that they let you run multiple different operating systems on the same machine at the same time, as well as really being able to protect that machine from whatever happens within a virtual machine.

The problem, of course, is that it's very difficult to conceptualize what a virtual machine is.

The short version is consider your VM as if it were a completely separate physical machine, and make your decisions accordingly.

Let's see why that is.

Continue reading: "What do I need to set up using my Windows XP virtual machine software?"

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How do I save email when using Yahoo, GMail or Hotmail webmail?

At my Yahoo email account box i have more than 3000 messages already read. I would like to keep some of them "forever". How could I transfer them to a safer place, like a pendrive? I know that some email accounts (Yahoo, gmail...) say they will keep them, but...things change, we all know that.

It's not just that things change, things break. Passwords get forgotten. Email accounts get lost.

Depending on exactly what you want to do I can think of two general approaches to save email for posterity. One, at least, will work with any email service. The other will depend on exactly what features the service provides.

Continue reading: "How do I save email when using Yahoo, GMail or Hotmail webmail?"

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How do I remove the latest IE update - Internet Explorer 8?

I recently updated to Internet Explorer 8. I would like to change it back to Internet Explorer 7. Can this be done? If so, how?

I'm hearing this question a lot. Over and over. From many people. All the time.

Apparently that latest IE update isn't working for some many people.

Including my own test machine.

And uninstalling it can also be a bit of a problem.

Continue reading: "How do I remove the latest IE update - Internet Explorer 8?"

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

Stuart writes:

One thing I've noticed is that startup takes longer after an "emergency" shutdown (i.e. holding the power button for a few seconds until shutdown occurs). In the Midwest we have powerful thunderstorms that can cause nasty power surges if lightning hits a power line or blows up a transformer. I lost one computer that way, even though it was plugged into a good surge protector. So when storms suddenly start forming we often need perform emergency shutdowns on our computers. In just a few seconds, Windows (XP or Vista) obviously does not have enough time to complete its usual orderly closeout and shutdown. So when the computers are restarted, they almost always take additional time to boot up completely. It can sometimes be 2 or 3 times as long as a reboot following a normal shutdown. It's a small price to pay for complete electrical protection, and we now know the computers need that extra time before they are useful.

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Should I get a dual core or a quad core processor?

Rahul writes:

I have a follow up set of questions on this topic:

Which part of the software decides which processor to use? Does the OS need to be configured to be able to handle process scheduling for multi core processors? Can XP do this? Vista? How about Linux? Does the OS need to be upgraded too?

How does one test this? I have been using a dual core processor for quite some time but never perceived any difference the same way increasing the memory made a perceivable difference. Sometimes I find my single core desktop working faster than my dual core laptop while doing the same task.

It is indeed the operating system that determines which processor to use. Most current OS's - XP, Vista, Mac OSX, Linux - all pretty much handle this already, particularly with the current popularity of multi-core processors.

The best way to test it, in my experience, is to fire up process explorer and watch CPU usage. On a dual-core machine if a process is consistently using 50%, then it's likely single-threaded and using only one core. Yes, single threaded software will run faster on a CPU with faster clock speed than on a dual core with slower. Where the dual core helps is that the system is usable when a process is "pegged" using all of it's core - if there's a second core available for other things, those other things are more responsive.

-Leo

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Troubleshooting computer monitor problems: the sideways stretch

Bill writes:

Just an amplification about "If you can, set the Screen resolution to the maximum native resolution your LCD monitor supports by adjusting the slider."

It is more important than just getting the aspect ratio right. If you set it to anything other than the native resolution or an integer multiple or division of it, your image will be "fuzzy" compared to the native resolution. The other is you want to get every bit of resolution that you paid for.

The computer will output pixels in the locations set by what you told it to in the properties page. If that doesn't line up with the number of pixels on the monitor, the monitor will average part of up to 9 pixels from the computer to make one on the screen. That averaging softens the edges of lines or may loose part of a thin line.

This doesn't apply to CRT monitors because they can adjust the number and position of the pixels on the monitor. The pixel locations on an LCD or Plasma screen is locked in when it is made.

There is one more adjustment to add to do when you get a new LCD screen. In Windows XP, it is in the Appearance tab of the Display Properties box. It is called ClearType. Each pixel on your LCD monitor is made up of three colored pixels that get turned on individually. Clear type uses this to turn on the sub pixels individually to improve the sharpness of the monitor. After turning ClearType on, it is best if you use the tuner that adjusts it for the sub pixel positions on your specific monitor. For Windows XP, the instructions are at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/306527 I am sure that there are similar instructions for other operating systems.

*** 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 put a picture into the caption of a picture on myspace.com?
  4. How do I delete my Hotmail account?
  5. How do I change my MSN Hotmail password?
  6. How do I delete history items from my Google tool bar?
  7. How do I make a new MSN Hotmail account?
  8. My desktop Recycle Bin has disappeared - why, and how do I get it back?
  9. How do I uninstall Windows Messenger?
  10. Where is my Outlook "PST" file located?

*** Leo Recommends

PDFCreator - Create PDFs from any application that can print.

About 6 months ago, perhaps more, I decided to go as paperless as I could. My prior recommendation of the ScanSnap document scanner was a big part of that and allowed me to empty three drawers of my four-drawer file cabinet, saving documents digitally instead.

Once you're in the habit of creating PDFs from paper documents, the ease with which PDFs can be used, saved and perhaps most importantly - backed up - becomes readily apparent.

As a result I've also cut down on the amount of actual printing I do by changing my default printer to the free PDF Creator virtual printer.

It's not at all uncommon to want to save something, say a sales receipt from an on-line purchase, by printing it. But it's rare that you actually need save it on paper. Instead I print to the PDF Creator printer which creates a PDF of the printed output that I save on my computer. If need to actually print it to paper, either now or sometime in the future, I can simply load up that PDF in a viewer such as Acrobat or Foxit, and print to my real printer from there.

Continue reading: "PDFCreator - Create PDFs from any application that can print."

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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

We've become spoiled, as simple as that.

Why does email take so long to be delivered sometimes?

When someone sends me an email I don't get it right away - sometimes it takes hours. It is time stamped hours before I actually get the message. Could it be because my inbox is too full?

We've all gotten so used to email being an almost instantaneous communications medium that we really notice when there's a delay. The fact is email delivery can be delayed for many reasons, and counting on it to be nearly-instant is just a bad idea.

Couple that with the fact that the timestamps on email often lie, and it can be really difficult to understand exactly what happens when email takes a little too long.

Continue reading...
Why does email take so long to be delivered sometimes?

*** Sites of Interest

I don't have kids but if you have you, or perhaps you work with kids, my friend Barbara Feldman has a terrific educational website: Surfing the Net with Kids. She's got a huge collection of educational website reviews and online games for kids of all ages. Topics range from academic subjects like Pre-Calculus (Pre-calculus? for kids? Youbetcha!) and the U.S. Constitution (which I could have used to brush up for my citizenship test some years ago Smile), to fun stuff such as Easy Origami and Dot to Dot Puzzles.

Like me, she also has a free weekly newsletter. She sends it every Wednesday morning and features a single topic (like, say, Cleopatra or the ever popular "How to Make Slime") and is full of recommended online resources and games. I suggest you give it a test drive and sign up here.

Because of the many questions I get I know that the internet is a scary place for both parents and kids. Surfing the Net with Kids is a great place with great content that you know is not only educational, but safe.

Tell Barbara I said "Hi!".

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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

So today's comments are being written from beautiful Sequim (pronounced 'skwim') Washington. Where is Sequim, you ask? Let Google maps show you. (Or, for you Twilight fans, about halfway between Seattle and Forks. In fact, we had dinner at the Bella Italia restaurant in Port Angeles Sunday night, which I've been told has some significance in the novel.) We're here to visit a friend and relax a little, but as it turns out our visit coincided with the local Irrigation Festival. Who knew?

So in the space of two weeks I've pretty much gone from one top most corner of the contiguous 48 to the other.

By the time you read this I either will have, or will soon, upload photos to LeoOnFlickr.com if you're curious. (But I did skip the Irrigation Festival parade. Smile)

I continue to hear very mixed reviews on Internet Explorer 8. As I mentioned a week or two ago it failed my very simple tests - crashing after being installed on a clean system. Reports keep coming in from people who are experiencing a random variety of issues after installing it. I will say that I've also heard from people who've installed it and are quite happy with it. Unfortunately I've not yet seen enough of a pattern to predict for whom it will work and fail, so my advice for now is simply to avoid it. There's no need to install it at this time.

I've also heard of mixed results uninstalling it. This week's How do I remove the latest IE update - Internet Explorer 8? may work for you if you're experiencing IE8 problems.

'till next time...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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