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Leo's Answers #214 – January 19, 2010

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. (The "ask a question" form is temporarily disabled while I'm on vacation. More on that below.)

Newsletter questions? Check the newsletter administration page. You can also unsubscribe using the link at the bottom of this email.

*** New Articles

What are some other popular tech newsletters?

I recently asked the readers of the Ask Leo! newsletter this question:

What other tech, email newsletters do you subscribe to, or find valuable?

Here are the most popular responses, as mentioned by my readers.

Continue reading: What are some other popular tech newsletters?

* * *

How do I see what's happening on my machine's network connection?

I have noticed that when I log on the Wireless Network Connection Status Window shows that the packets leaving my computer almost equal the packets entering the computer, even though I am not uploading any files. Is this an indication that a keystroke logger or similar malware is exporting files from my computer, also is there any way that I can monitor the actual data content that is leaving my machine?


The network is a busy place, even when you're doing nothing at all. It's not necessarily the sign of something bad, and not something most people even notice.

Depending on just how detailed - and geeky - you want to get, there are tools that will let you monitor what's happening to varying degrees - all free.

Continue reading: How do I see what's happening on my machine's network connection?

* * *

Will I need to install drivers after reinstalling Windows?

I am running on Windows XP Pro and want to install Vista premium after wiping my hard drive. Will I need to install system drivers or will this be done when I install vista from disk?


Probably, but not necessarily.

I know, that's not very helpful, but the problem is that once again this is a question with a hundred different answers, or more.

It depends on your machine, the specific installation of Windows you're using, and your own needs and preferences.

I'll walk through the what, why and how of drivers you might need after a reinstall.

Continue reading: Will I need to install drivers after reinstalling Windows?

* * *

How do I keep MSN Messenger / Windows Live Messenger from starting up?

I have Windows XP Pro. I do not utilize MSN Messenger for messaging, however every time that i start or restart my computer; MSN Messenger starts up. I understand that if I had a login for MSN Messenger I could disable it from starting. However, I do not have a login and don't want to setup on for this purpose.


At the risk of stating perhaps too strong an opinion, this falls into the category of really annoying stuff that Microsoft did with Messenger, and with other programs on your machine.

The good news is you don't need a login at all.

Here's a hint at the unexpected: I'll bet you're running Outlook Express.

Continue reading: How do I keep MSN Messenger / Windows Live Messenger from starting up?

* * *

How do I move an off-screen Window in Windows 7?

My Windows Media Center suddenly popped up too high so can't get to controls to pull it down to close/max/minimize screen. Your answer about alt+space, m doesn't work with media center. Desperate to get it back under control!


You didn't indicate whether or not you were using Windows 7, but given that Windows Media Center is part of it, and it does indeed not pay attention to ALT+SPACE like it should, I'll show you "the other way".

The problem is that "the other way" changed from Windows XP to Windows 7, and many people that used to use it are also somewhat lost searching for it.

What's called the "System Menu" used to be accessible in a single click from the task bar. In Windows 7, there's an additional step.

Continue reading: How do I move an off-screen Window in Windows 7?

* * *

Hotmail says my password is incorrect, but I know it's right. What do I do?



I get this often enough that I want to use this question as an example and provide a summary article for the situation.

This has nothing to do with Hotmail's "nonsense" at all.

It's pretty clear what's happened here, so I'll point you to a number of my previous articles that all might apply in your situation.

Continue reading: Hotmail says my password is incorrect, but I know it's right. What do I do?

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*** Comments

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

* * *

Does locking my computer keep it safe?

Pedro writes:

I think that is a little overkill. If someone did that the user would notice that the PC had been hacked because it would no longer be logged in to his account when he arrives to his PC...

I think that for a normal working situation, like an office or college locking your PC with a good password is safe enough. I believe there is no way to get into someone's account (without knowing his pwd or an admin pwd) and leave it un-noticeable...

Whether it's noticeable isn't the issue. Keeping your data safe most certainly is. You'll notice your wallet has been stolen eventually, but even so ... your wallet has been stolen, and all the information in it. Best to not have it stolen in the first place.



Why doesn't Windows show all 4gigabytes of memory I have installed?

James Mamakos writes:

So, if I've understood all this correctly, if I were to use more than 4Gb RAM (8Gb intended size) along with two 1Gb Video Cards, would I have to get a 64Bit OS?

I'm going to be getting a relatively high-powered PC (possibly custom built) running Windows 7 soon, and I'm just considering my options.

If you want to use more than 4GB, you need a 64bit OS, yes.



How can I keep the images I post on the web from being copied?

Jo writes:

I am a web developer. and was told by my boss to gather images to put on a blog for a site that we are getting ready make live. I was instructed to search google and as long as the images had no copyright ON them, it was ok. I feel like I'm stealing.

Look for public domain photos, and also research Creative Commons - many photos and other works are published with a creative commons license that allows reuse under various conditions. Best of all, I believe Google Image Search, as well as Flickr and perhaps other services often allow you to search within those CC restrictions.


*** Leo Recommends

What Security Software do you Recommend?

What anti-virus software should I use? How about a firewall? And what about spyware? Should I use one of the all-in-one packages that claim to do everything? Anything else I need?

As you might imagine, I get these questions in various forms all the time. As a result, I do have recommendations in various articles all over Ask Leo!.

Here's the short version that sums it all up.

Continue reading...

What Security Software do you Recommend?


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

With the recent events in Haiti, this article from 3 years ago is particularly relevant - more than just avoiding donation scams, malware authors often use current events to trick you into installing viruses, or worse.

Malware Using the News

This week millions of email users began receiving email with subject lines relating to current and breaking news, such as "230 dead as storm batters Europe" accompanied by an attachment with a promising name like "Full Clip.exe".

Regardless of the subject of the email or the name of the attached executable, it's a worm. Apparently it's become one of the larger outbreaks in recent years.

What's new about this particular worm is its use of social engineering and current events to entice you to open its attachment. More commonly in the past email borne malware has been fairly generic, with standard and often easily recognizable come-ons or fractured English. This new breed of malware takes some news event - often while it's happening, as in the case of the European storm - and relies on people's intense interest in the story to get them to forget about their normal caution regarding attachments.

Continue reading...
Malware Using the News

*** Thoughts and Comments

There's helping people, and then there's helping people.

My cousin's son and wife are planning a 6,000km (~4,000 miles) bike ride in April to raise funds for a Multiple Sclerosis research and support foundation. They're riding from Holland to Spain and back, but to put it in perspective for my U.S. readers, that's Seattle to Los Angeles, on bicycle, twice. Yikes!

The majority of the website is in Dutch, but if you'd like to learn more, or even make a donation (all funds donated go to the beneficiary organization), the website is (roughly: "Wheels On The Way"). Here's a summary page in English.


Speaking of "on the way" - tomorrow my wife Kathy and I are on our way to Australia and then New Zealand. We're really looking forward to it.

There will continue to be a newsletter each week, but as you'll see next week it won't be quite as "current". I'm also turning off the "ask a question" forms while I'm away.

Sydney Meetup: tentatively 10 AM, Friday, January 29th at the Circular Quay Starbucks. Check for updates and last minute confirmation - if anything changes, that's where you'll find it. I hope to see you there!

Auckland meetup: I won't have a specific location until I arrive in Auckland, but right now it looks like we'll be meeting up either the evening of February 10th, or the morning of February 11th, the day we head home.

Finally, the results are in! The results of the survey I asked you about two weeks ago. In case you didn't see it above, it's here: What are some other popular tech newsletters?

Thanks to everyone who participated, I hope you find the results interesting and useful.

See you ... next month!

Leo A. Notenboom

*** Administration

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Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.

Posted: January 19, 2010 in: 2010
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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.