Leo's Answers #190 – August 4, 2009

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A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom

Hello!

Do you have a question for Ask Leo!? Don’t hit reply! Head for the Ask Leo! home page and start by searching the site – around half the questions people ask are already answered there. Browse the archive, past newsletters and more. Still can’t find it? Then by all means ask your question here.

*** New Articles

I reinstalled Windows and now my sound doesn’t work – how do I fix it?

Recently I purchased an HP laptop loaded with Vista Home Premium. Since I’m more comfortable with Windows XP I did a clean install with windows XP, but now the sound system in the laptop does not work. It says no audio device, but it use to work with Vista.

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I get variations on this question a lot. I suspect I get it so often these days because of people who’re doing exactly what you describe: reinstalling Windows XP from scratch on a machine that came with Windows Vista.

It’s a fairly simple issue that most people overlook that boil down to this: not all Windows installation CDs are created equal.

The good news is that there’s probably a simple solution out on the internet.

Continue reading: I reinstalled Windows and now my sound doesn’t work – how do I fix it?
http://ask-leo.com/C3826

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How do I deal with email sent from a deceased’s apparently hacked account?

I am very upset this morning!! Someway – somehow I got an e-mail from a dear-friend who recently passed. the message was sent today, from his e-mail, his family also received the same e-mail, and they assure the rest of us (friends) they do not have access to his password and they want to know how this happened. Is this legal, is somebody tapping into his account, is it a hacker? Can you please shed some light on this? Also, does his family need to take any sort of actions to somehow delete his account so this doesn’t happen again in the future? There are a lot of confused people over this, needless to say quite upset also. This one action has stirred up very deep feelings of the recent passing of our loved one.

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I can totally understand that this would be a deeply disturbing event – regardless of the cause.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much good news. There are things to try, and things to understand.

And, sadly, some things to prepare for.

Continue reading: How do I deal with email sent from a deceased’s apparently hacked account?
http://ask-leo.com/C3825

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How do I get un-banned from a site?

My son plays an online game where many teens ask each other “a/s/l” (Age/Sex/Location).

According to my son, he was unaware that this was against the game’s rules. He asked a player that and ended up getting a “perm ban”.

I am extremely frustrated because the game does not allow my son to even make new accounts on the game. I’m frustrated as well because I spent money on this game for my son buying him credits towards purchasing things on the game.

With that being said, is it possible to get my computer un-banned so that he is able to make a new account and continue to play? I’ve tried renewing the IP for him, uninstalling shockwave and reinstalling it, deleting registry keys, etc.

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What you’ve outlined should serve as a reminder to all to be familiar with the terms of service, or “the rules”, for any online service you happen to use. Ultimately if you violate those rules – to which you had to agree in order to begin using the service – the service has every right to kick you off, permanently even, if you violate them.

We’ll look at things to try, both technical and practical.

Continue reading: How do I get un-banned from a site?
http://ask-leo.com/C3824

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Should I switch to Windows 7?

My computer is an Acer PC Model Aspire M3201; Processor AMD Phenom(tm) 9100e Quad-Core (x4) 1.80 GHz; 3.00 GB RAM; 32-bit Operating System. At the present time I run Windows Vista Home Premium with Internet Explorer 8, but it crashes quite a lot. I have been thinking of trying out Windows 7. Would you recommend this and how would i go about it?

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Early reports on Windows 7 are very promising. Some have even gone so far as to call Windows 7 the best “service pack” for Windows Vista ever.

After having played with it some myself, I have to agree: Windows 7 looks very promising.

But as I write this, it has not yet been released. That means that there are serious issues using anything you might have downloaded.

Continue reading: Should I switch to Windows 7?
http://ask-leo.com/C3823

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Is leaving a website open on my computer dangerous?

If I leave a website open on my computer, am I susceptible to hacking?

I have 128bit WEP security on a single machine home wireless network.

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It’s not at all uncommon to have browsers and websites open for lengthy periods of time, even when we walk away from our computers. I know I certainly leave several open for hours, if not days.

This may, or may not, be a security risk, depending on several factors.

Continue reading: Is leaving a website open on my computer dangerous?
http://ask-leo.com/C3822

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*** Comments

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

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“(Not Responding)” – What does it mean, and what do I do about it?

Bill writes:

I have the same problem and now cannot access anything on the computer. In looking for a fix I discovered that this is an ongoing problem since approx. 2004 on tens of thousands of computers, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, who knows. This is unbelievable. I cannot believe anyone including Microsoft has not been able to or willing to fix this problem. If anyone has a fix he/she could probably make a couple million dollars.

The issue here is that it’s not one problem. “Not Responding” is a symptom that can be caused by any of thousands of different types of problems. As a result it’s not possible to come up with a single fix for this symptom. Each problem must be fixed individually.

-Leo

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How do I stop my neighbor from using my IP address?

Ken B writes:

It still amazes me (though to a lesser degree) how many people simply plug in a wireless router and go. At the moment, my laptop sees three SSIDs of “linksys”, all unsecured. Out of curiosity, I have on occasion, connected to one of them, brought 192.168.1.1 up in my browser, and logged into the administrator control panel using the out-of-the-box login and password. Good thing my morals prevent me from doing anything malicious.

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I have constant disk activity, and I don’t know why. How can I tell what program is doing it?

Paul Hayes writes:

I know I’m a dummy, but once I know what’s running and hogging my computer… what do I do with the information? What action do I take to resolve this activity?

Unfortunately there’s no single answer to that since it depends on what you find. It could be a program you no longer need, or it could be more data that you would take to research on the internet, or it could be an “ah ha” moment where it turns out to be correct behavior.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

Gibson Research
Security, Disk Maintenance and Other Useful Tools

Did you ever wonder how you’d know if your firewall is doing the job? (You are using a firewall, right? No? Go here. Now.) In most cases you wouldn’t know you didn’t until it was too late – after an infection or compromise of some sort.

Steve Gibson’s an internet security guru, and his site Gibson Research is coming to be known as the place for security tests and related utilities. His popular “Shield’s Up” is an online test that will tell you exactly what your firewall may, or may not be protecting you from. He’s also the author of what is arguably the best disk maintenance and recovery tool available: SpinRite.

Continue reading…
Gibson Research – Security, Disk Maintenance and Other Useful Tools
http://ask-leo.com/C2479

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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

Online harassment is often frighteningly easy. Here’s yet another scenario:

Someone’s created an account in my name, what are my options to stop them?

I don’t know what to do but someone has taken my name, set up a new e-mail account and is sending very nasty e-mails to family members. I’ve contacted Yahoo! but I don’t know the personal information to get into the account since I didn’t set it up and they still haven’t contacted me back. I don’t know if this is a punishable offense and I don’t know how to get Yahoo! to take me seriously. What should I do?

It’s trivial to set up accounts on the free services in which you can be anonymous – using entirely fake information – or in which you can impersonate someone else.

I’m not sure I’d expect much help from the provider – Yahoo, in your case. To be honest, even if they did bother to reply, they wouldn’t know who to believe. You and I know that you’re not, but how’s Yahoo to know that you’re not the impersonator, or just someone trying to hassle someone else?

Here’s what I would do…

Continue reading…
Someone’s created an account in my name, what are my options to stop them?
http://ask-leo.com/C2738

*** Thoughts and Comments

The hottest temperature I’ve ever personally experienced was 105F in Las Vegas some years ago. That was hot enough that our visit to the city mostly involved staying indoors as much as possible. I’m fairly certain that the casinos didn’t complain.

I got to relive that experience, minus the casinos and crowds, in my own back yard last week as the Seattle area had a record setting heat wave. Woodinville clocked in at 105F, and I’m fairly certain that my back yard reached even higher.

I’m fortunate in that our house has air conditioning (not a given in Pacific Northwest construction).

Some things I’ve been playing with as I watched the heat outside:

  • I’m getting fairly excited about Windows 7. Even though this weeks article is about not installing it yet, I’m of a mind to give it a chance once the final RTM bits are available. (Thinking about it as the Best Vista Service Pack ever helps Smile.)

  • After addressing a small glitch attempting to boot the Acronis recovery disk into a Virtual Machine, I’m ready to start a series of “How to back up” videos walking you through the process. From Acronis install to bare-metal recovery, I know it’s a commonly requested topic.

  • I’ve also been playing with my little ASUS Eee PC 900 – a small form factor netbook. Things got even better when my friend Chuck Eglinton posted How do I install free eeeBuntu or Ubuntu Linux on a Netbook? – now I’m running it with an Ubuntu Linux derivative and it’s quite interesting. It’s a little pokey at times, and they keyboard’s not quite attuned to my fat fingers, but still… it has possibilities.

All that, a little World of Warcraft, and other random things.

Sometimes it’s good to be a geek … there’s never a shortage of things to do inside.

’till next time…

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

You’re the man and your site rocks, that’s pretty much all I wanted to say.
– Rob

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