Leo's Answers #197 – September 22, 2009

A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom


Do you have a question for me? Don’t hit reply! Head instead for the Ask Leo! home page and search the site first – seriously, around half the questions people ask are already answered there. You can also browse the archives, past newsletters and more. If you still can’t find the answer you’re looking for then by all means ask your question here (it’s the fastest way).

*** New Articles

Can I be traced by my email address?

I was on craigslist & posted an ad about possibly meeting up with someone. So some guy & I chatted back & forth about meeting up. But than a day or 2 later when I never got back to him to hang out. I basically blew him off because I rethought the idea on meeting someone over the web because he wouldn’t send a photo of himself also his wife was out of town, so he could possibly hook up with people while she was around. He was calling me out saying I’m a fraud for not showing up to hang out and that he wants to report me to the police for messing up his day off. But the only way of contact he has is my email, is there anyway I can be tracked just from my email? When my email doesn’t have any info on what my home address or phone number is? Also I was thinking what if i just delete that email address? If it’s deleted he won’t be able to keep sending messages to me threatening to be reported?


I’m glad you rethought what you were doing.

The short answer is that yes, it’s quite possible you could be found by just your email address. It could be very easy, or it could be nearly impossible. Exactly how difficult it might be depends on how you’ve used your email address and what information you’ve put in public places.

Oh, and whether or not you’ve broken the law.

Continue reading: Can I be traced by my email address?

* * *

Can I repartition my hard disk to remove CRC errors?

I’ve got a 500 GB slave HD which was partitioned 2 partitions and a 160GB HD as a master HD. I use Utorrent as a torrents client. Weeks ago I started getting this error message by utorrent: “Error: data error ( cyclic redundancy check )” when downloading to my slave HD ( my master HD works fine). Chkdsk started to report bad sectors so I’ve deleted the partition with partition magic and created it again and bad sectors were gone. But this error keeps coming back; I even partitioned it to 6 partitions but no use. The system file is ntfs.


Unfortunately, while changing the partitioning on your hard drive can make it seem like a bad sector has disappeared, it hasn’t. All it has done is rearranged things so that if you don’t run across the error soon, you’ll almost certainly run across it later.

Put more bluntly: repartitioning will not fix bad sectors.

Continue reading: Can I repartition my hard disk to remove CRC errors?

* * *

How do I stop QuickTime from playing audio files in my browser?

Why does it seem that quick time takes over playback of MP3s in Internet explorer? This phenomenon appeared after I installed iTunes. instead of my default media player, quick time seems to want to play my MP3s instead of my default. The only way the default works is if I right-click and download first.


This is one of the Most Annoying Things Ever.

Can you tell I’ve experienced this?

Let’s look at what’s happening, and what to do.

Continue reading: How do I stop QuickTime from playing audio files in my browser?

* * *

How do I make system tray icons go away permanently?

How can I permanently get rid of Systray Icons that get put there when software is installed? MSCONFIG sometimes gets rid of them until the first time you run the software, then it’s back again. Just takes up room in the background.


Oh how I wish I had an easy answer for you.

Well, I do. The easy answer is: you can’t.

Not easily.

However, you can make things better, but it’s a somewhat complicated process.

Continue reading: How do I make system tray icons go away permanently?

* * *

What’s the difference between a recovery disk and an installation disk?

My hard drive crashed and I tried to use my recovery disk to recover my system. It didn’t work. Why not?

I’ve heard you say that a recovery disk isn’t enough, that I need an “installation” disk. Why, and what’s the difference?

My recovery disk worked just great to restore my system, I don’t see what you’re going on about?


Those are actually a synthesis of comments and questions I see fairly often.

A recovery disk or CD is most definitely not the same as an installation disk, and the difference becomes quickly apparent when it comes time to recover from certain types of failures.

Note the phrase “certain types” of failures. For some failures a recovery disk is just peachy, yet for others with only a recovery disk you might be in deep trouble.

And of course, it also depends on the exact recovery disk as well. Naturally, this couldn’t be simple.

Continue reading: What’s the difference between a recovery disk and an installation disk?

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*** Comments

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

* * *

No comments this week. Still catching up after last week’s few days off.

*** Leo Recommends

This Is True
Weekly Weird News, Humor and Insightful Commentary

This is True is a weekly syndicated newspaper column by Colorado humorist Randy Cassingham. Each week Randy reports on several bizarre, but absolutely true news stories from around the world, ending each with his own unique humorous comment. The stories are often odd, frequently head shaking, and occasionally very thought provoking.

But they’re always funny.

Continue Reading…
This Is True – Weekly Weird News, Humor and Insightful Commentary


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

It’s tempting, but a very, very bad idea…

Why is using Paypal to purchase at a conference or open market such a bad idea?

I recently attended a conference and trade show, and made a purchase. The vendor takes Paypal, so to make my payment she turned her laptop to me, and suggested I login to my Paypal account and make the payment right then and there. I did so, and it was very convenient.` Later, I told my spouse and was told that it’s some kind of incredibly dangerous thing to do. Is it really that bad? If so, why? And what should I have done instead?

Yes, it really is that bad.

Why? Pretty simple really: you may have just given that vendor total access to your Paypal account.

Continue reading…
Why is using Paypal to purchase at a conference or open market such a bad idea?

*** Thoughts and Comments

I had someone ask:

“I am usually sat at my machine when your newsletter arrives. I always open it straight away only to find that people have already posted comments re the articles. I am in the UK. Why does the newsletter take that much longer to arrive here?”

Actually, it takes just about as long for the electrons to arrive in the UK as it does anywhere else.

The newsletter is actually a summary of articles that have been posted throughout the week out at http://ask-leo.com. I typically post 5 times a week, throughout the week, leading up to sending the newsletter on Tuesday. So some of the articles may well have been on the site and available for comment for up to 6 or 7 days prior to the newsletter’s creation and arrival.

If you want daily updates, the RSS Feed, placed into the appropriate RSS reader, gets updated within a couple of hours of each new article’s being published.


Sorry that the next installment of the backing up video series isn’t ready yet. After last week’s delays I then ran into a couple of issues getting things to work properly in the virtual machine setup I use to be able to record these things. I think things are ironed out now, so I hope to record that video this week. (It’ll be the video that shows restoring a backup image to an otherwise empty hard drive.)

’till next time…

Leo A. Notenboom

Excellent advice and so simple … works great
– Frank

Newsletter Contents

Posted: September 22, 2009 in: 2009
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/3875
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I'm Leo Notenboom and I've been playing with computers since I took a required programming class in 1976. I spent over 18 years as a software engineer at Microsoft, and after "retiring" in 2001 I started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place to help you find answers and become more confident using this amazing technology at our fingertips. More about Leo.