Leo's Answers #183 – June 16, 2009

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


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*** Contents

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

I let a stranger send email from my computer, what could that have done?

I was working on my computer at Atlanta air port. A young girl approached me and asked if she can send email to her home in Bulgaria as she doesn't have telephone card. I stupidly allowed her. She sent email for maybe 3 minutes. Could she have stolen information from my computer? I am afraid to open it.

Opening it isn't going to be a problem. Whatever's happened has happened.

I get the sense that you didn't watch what she was doing on your computer, which of course means she could have done anything.

And yes, that includes all manner of nastiness.

Continue reading: "I let a stranger send email from my computer, what could that have done?"

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Why am I getting a network attack from China?

On June 12th my Kaspersky reported a network worm attack on my computer from a specific IP address. I tried to find who they are and found their web address as being what appears to be a government domain in China. Why would they want to attack my computer? How do I prevent such attacks?

It's unfortunate, but China - both its government and not - is getting a fairly bad reputation on the internet. A large majority of spam is now originating in China, and I frequently have to filter out comments on Ask Leo! which are clearly spam or scam attempts that also originate there.

China has an incredibly large number of people connected to the internet, but apparently with that comes both the bad and the good.

Continue reading: "Why am I getting a network attack from China?"

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How do I move my Windows Live Hotmail account from one computer to another?

I am selling a computer and I need to delete our Hotmail accounts from it. We have a laptop we need to activate them on. How do we do this?

This surprisingly common question is an example of a misunderstanding of exactly just how services like Hotmail work.

In short: it's not on your computer.

But there are still things you'll want to erase before selling it.

Continue reading: "How do I move my Windows Live Hotmail account from one computer to another?"

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What's the best thing to do when my hard drive fills up?

My son's computer is full - there's hardly any room on the drive. So what's the best thing to do? I have heard that buying another hard drive would cure the problem (an external one).

I can't tell you what the right solution is for you, because this really, really, REALLY depends on your computer and how you use it.

That being said, in many cases a full hard disk can be addressed in several ways, many of which do not involve getting an additional one.

Continue reading: "What's the best thing to do when my hard drive fills up?"

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Why does my email program think that this message might be a scam?

My email client, Thunderbird, thinks that your newsletters are a scam. I get an overall message with the email, plus a warning whenever I click on a link. This doesn't bother me, and no doubt I could fix it by setting something in the client, but it must be happening to others, and I thought you might want to know so you can fix whatever is triggering it.

Unfortunately, this happens to a lot of newsletters and other mailings. Needless to say my newsletter's no scam, but seeing as how I do run Thunderbird myself, and how I do occasionally get this report from folks, I thought it worthwhile to explain exactly what Thunderbird is doing, especially since other email programs may be doing something similar.

And it's a good education on how some scams try to fool you.

The scam warning has always thrown too many false positives for my taste, so I'll also show you how to turn it off in Thunderbird.

Continue reading: "Why does my email program think that this message might be a scam?"

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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 the best thing to do when my hard drive fills up?

Vincent writes:

I would like to "add" that this is probably a good time to figure out what files are residing on your harddrive. Not just the ones that take up large amounts of space. It's easy to just keep on storing stuff on a HD (especially today's hugeass ones), but ask yourself this: do you know everything that's on yer HD? Probably not.

It's like a filing cabinet and personally I like to know what's in it and how to quickly find it (and yes there is windows search, but that's just an excuse for leaving your mess the way it is ;-)

Take the time to properly organize it and not alone will you save space, you might also find some hidden treasures (ok, maybe not ;-)

In any case, just buying an extra HD to store more stuff on (like many people do) is, in my opinion, not the best way to start...

*** Leo Recommends

Microsoft Support

Microsoft Support, sometimes known as The Knowledgebase, is one of the most overlooked resources on the internet for users of Microsoft software. There's a ton of information out here that addresses hundreds of thousands of issues from the simple, to the complex to the obscure.

Continue reading...
Microsoft Support

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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

This is an issue that I first wrote about three years ago, but continues to plague people to this day:

Windows Installer runs on every reboot - why?

On my 2004 HPa430n (Win XP SP2), "Windows Installer" launches at start up, trying to install a Fax. When it can find the installation file it wants, the next window requests you insert the Fax disk in the CD drive. The Source box has the numeral 1 in it. When you click Browse the filename box contains "fax.msi".

In Task Manager > Processes two instances of msiexec.exe are running. One belongs to SYSTEM, the other to Owner. When I try to "Cancel" out of the installer, msiexec chews up all my CPU time. When I use Task Manager > Applications > "End Task" the task named Fax, the installer is killed (msiexec.exe Owner) until the next time you boot or re-boot.

Neither HP nor MS offer a solution. Ad-aware, RegCure, Xoftspy and eTrust haven't helped. No other weirdness obvious to me.

It's deja vu all over again for me. I had a very similar problem - whenever I tried to scan something, upon completion, Windows Installer would run attempting to install some additional HP software component. Cancelling that worked ok, but it was an annoyance I had to face with every scan.

And it's an annoyance many people face with every reboot.

The good news is that there's a free tool that might help.

Continue reading...
Windows Installer runs on every reboot - why?

*** Sites of Interest

Reader Steve sends in:

Like [puters4u, last weeks site], I pride myself in offering fair support and advice at a fair price. I don't advertise no fix no fee because that is a recipe to receive all the 'impossible' problems but I only charge for what I achieve.

My company is PC Resolver!

Like you, I provide a monthly newsletter. As it happens, a client of mine criticised my first efforts and suggested that I subscribe to yours - that's how I found you! I also Moderate a Computer Problems forum for The Inland Magazine.

My site is unfinished in parts (well, all parts really!) but I would appreciate it if you could consider including it as a future 'site of interest'?

You bet.

What Steve fails to mention is that he's apparently located in Spain.

Don't let that stop our English speaking readers from checking out both the newsletter and the support forum - it's all in English, and looks to be pretty helpful and interesting.

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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

Thanks to everyone who responded to the survey I ran for the last two weeks. My assistant is tabulating the results as you read this, and I'll report back on some of the common themes in future newsletters.

For those who didn't check it out, I simply asked what could be done to help make this newsletter more helpful to you.

While I don't have th exact numbers yet, I was able to tell what the most common response was simply by browsing the survey results as they came in ...

Nothing. No suggestions.

Not quite what I was expecting, but apparently many of you like things exactly the way they are. That's gratifying, and I very much appreciate that feedback.

As for all the other ideas that came in, I'll be seriously considering them all.

Well, OK, except maybe for the request for "more cowbell". Smile

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If you happened to visit Ask Leo! on Sunday there's a good chance you encountered my "Closed for Maintenance" page. It was time to upgrade from the dedicated server where it's been living (out at Rackspace) for the past 4.5 years. Bigger, faster, etc., but I also took this as an opportunity to clean up a few things along the way. All in all it was a pretty massive effort.

And other than the site hopefully being a tad snappier - particularly on Tuesday mornings - hopefully you won't notice a thing. (If you do notice a problem I'd appreciate hearing about it of course.)

Now that it's been upgraded, cleaned up and a couple of under-the-hood problems have been fixed, it also should help me to respond to some of your suggestions.

'till next time...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

What I'm Reading

How We Decide

How We Decide
by Jonah Lehrer

A great companion to "Brain Rules", this book give lots of insight on how irrational, or rather emotional, our decision making process really is, and why it often is exactly the right thing to "trust your gut".

Midshipman's Hope

Midshipman's Hope
by David Feintuch

This was on my pre-Kindle reading stack, and I started it recently and quickly became engaged. I'm a little over half way through, and enjoying this spacefaring science fiction. It's the first of a several-book series.

More of what I've been reading in
Leo's Reading List

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