Leo's Answers #186 – July 7, 2009

Leo's Answers
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Leo Notenboom

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*** Contents

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

What's the difference between an upgrade and an upgrade?

I recently read that when released Windows 7 will be offered by Microsoft as an upgrade to Windows XP users, but that they won't be able to actually upgrade their systems. I don't get it how can you not upgrade with an upgrade?

Put another way, when is an upgrade not an upgrade?

In reality we're talking two different things here, and the same word is being used for both: upgrade.

Let's review what that term means, and then exactly how that maps to exactly what Microsoft may or may not do for Windows XP users.

Continue reading: What's the difference between an upgrade and an upgrade?

* * *

How do I access my email remotely, from more than one place?

My brother-in-law asks me "if I buy a laptop for use at the cottage, can I access my computer at home to read my email?" Not having a cottage or a laptop, I'm not sure.

Your brother-in-law is asking an increasingly common question. With connectivity nearly ubiquitous, and people relying heavily on email it's not at all uncommon to want to access your email from someplace other than your desktop at home.

The question is: how?

The answer depends on the email solution you use, and the tradeoff's you're willing to accept.

Continue reading: How do I access my email remotely, from more than one place?

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What does it mean if you get a warning that your hard drive is about to fail?

What does it mean when your computer tells you that it is imminent that your hard drive is going to need to be replaced? What will happen? I have made all the required recovery discs (I hope). Why would this happen? I bought my computer recently and don't do that much with it yet. Basically, I just getting up-to-speed and doing some e-mails, also a little surfing. I'm very careful going on websites. Both the McAfee and Microsoft tell me I'm protected. All diagnostic tests show things are A-ok.

I'm going to resist the urge dwell on what most would consider the obvious: your hard drive is failing, and it may need to be replaced.

In part I'm not going to dwell on the because it might not be true (though it probably is).

Let's look at the source of this message, and what you should do.

Continue reading: What does it mean if you get a warning that your hard drive is about to fail?

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Why do vertical bars appear on the left of some emails I send?

We use Outlook (not express, regular Outlook)for our e-mail. My daughter uses Gmail where she lives.

She says every time she receives an e-mail reply from me there is a vertical line down the left side of it, and if she "removes format" (or something like that), the line goes away, but then she then gets all those "carrot" signs and has to go in and remove those!

Yet, when she sends an e-mail to me, it looks fine. I don't think I ever remember seeing that vertical line or carrots from her e-mails.

I have received e-mail from others that look like that though.

What's the story on this! How and why does this happen to some and not others?

In a word: reply. You said it yourself Smile.

What you're seeing is common among email programs, and is an indicator that you're replying to a message.

It's useful, if you understand how it works. And even better, it's configurable.

Continue reading: Why do vertical bars appear on the left of some emails I send?

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How do I install programs on a drive other than C:?

How can I install applications to the D: drive in Windows Vista? The C: drive is full and every program wants to load itself into it. I tried saving the application on the D: drive and running it from there, hoping I would get a prompt saying "setup will install this program in C:Program Files..... if you want to install it elsewhere browse for the location" but the application just automatically installs itself in the C: drive without giving me another option. It then gives an error message saying not enough disc space in C:. How can I do this?

You may not be able to.

But then again, depending on the application, you may.

And that phrase is kind of what it boils down to: "depending on the application".

Continue reading: How do I install programs on a drive other than C:?

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*** Featured Comments

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

* * *

Did I really get a critical update notification for Outlook Express in my email?

margaret luck writes:

HI, if I suspect an address I've been asked to click on, I just hover the mouse above it and see what appears in the line at the bottom of the screen. If it is not the same as was given in the email I know there is something wrong so I don't click on it.

That's excellent advice, and something I recommend everyone get into the habit of doing. However, it's not foolproof. Depending on the email program being used, and the sophistication of the scam it's possible for the displayed link at the bottom to still not display the actual target. In other words it's possible for your technique to be fooled as well. Caution, caution, caution. Much better to copy/paste the link you see into a browser, or avoid that all together and visit the site yourself by typing in the address or using a bookmark of your own.

- Leo


I don't have an installation CD for Windows XP - what if I need one?

Andy writes:

Hi, my hard drive completely went so i bought a new one. however, i cant get XP back though because it was saved on the hard drive and i didnt get a CD! is there any other way to get it? would microsoft send me a hard copy? i have the CD key..

This is exactly the scenario that I've been warning people about. I know of no way to get you a CD, other than contacting the place you purchased your computer from and hoping they make one available. Microsoft does not make CDs available for this scenario, for many reasons. Your only other Windows alternative is to go out and buy one.

- Leo


Is cellular broadband more secure than WiFi?

Paul writes:

Leo, How about a little help. What if your cell phone was the broadband connection instead of your laptop. Then you wouldn't care whether you were in a WiFi spot or not. Hopefully the cell phone would provide a secure connection. That's what Bizzirk Mobile (Parent company - Unified Technologies Group)is touting. So what's the true story? They claim to have an unlimited everything wireless service that gives the subscriber internet access, unlimited, voice, text, and true unlimited data cellular in the 2100 Mhz broadband range. Is this real? Any light you can shed on the subject would be appreciated. Thanks.

I can't comment on the specific product offering, as I'm not familiar with it, however: yes, in general cellular is more secure than an open WiFi hotspot. While theoretically sniff-able, it takes expertise and equipment most folks don't have, so with WiFi being cheap and easy to sniff they focus on that. The catch is cost - depending on your cell provider there may be additional costs involved - and speed - cell typically isn't as fast as a WiFi hotspot, though it can be. Truth is I travel with a cellular modem and typically use it.

- Leo

*** Leo Recommends

7-zip file archiving utility

Most of you are probably familiar with "ZIP" files, which are compressed archives that pack one or more files into a single file. ZIP files are often a convenient way to distribute large numbers of files and folder structures in a single container.

You're probably also familiar with Windows somewhat cumbersome built-in support for ZIP files, as well as WinZIP, the shareware file compression utility that lets you create and extract files from ZIP formatted archives.

7-zip is a free, open-source utility roughly equivalent to WinZIP, that includes support for multiple file formats as well as a command-line interface.

I highly recommend 7-zip.

Continue reading...
7-zip file archiving utility


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 article's slightly controversial. I've had to close comments due to people trying to push products, but the article, and the comments, are worth a read:

What's the best registry cleaner?

What would be the best software to buy to fix and clean the registry for Windows XP Professional?

There's a wide variety of opinions on registry cleaners. Many people believe that they're important tools to keep your system running smoothly.

My opinion's a little different.

Continue reading...
What's the best registry cleaner?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Wanna help?

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And it's appreciated.

(If you're not sure of what to post, of course I have ideas. Smile)


Speaking of helping, the survey a couple of weeks ago was a huge help. Thanks again to all who responded. I've been tackling individual issues, and have one more I'll talk about here next week.

It was so helpful, that I'll probably do it again in the very near future.

'till next time...

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".

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits
by Leslie Crutchfield, Heather McLeod Grant

Non profits have an opportunity to more than just address symptoms, but actually address the root cause.

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

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

Posted: July 7, 2009 in: 2009
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3808
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