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Leo's Answers #217 – February 9, 2010

A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom

Hello!

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" page is temporarily disabled while I'm on vacation.)

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*** New Articles

Down Under Version!

No new articles this week - I'm still on vacation! (Yep, it's a real vacation!) See the Thoughts and Comments section, below, for more.

*** Comments

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

* * *

Why, or how, do files become corrupt?

Frank Golden writes:

I believe that if gamma radiation (very high energy x-rays) can cause data corruption on a HDD you have a more serious problem. Your exposure to the same radiation.
As it is gamma should have no effect on a HDD.

Moving a drive while it is in use or dropping it can an most likely will cause problems as Leo suggested.

Again if you have a gamma source near enough that you think it could be causing your data corruption then you yourself are in some danger.

I've actually had a respected electrical engineer I know comment that "cosmic rays" (no idea if that's gamma or not) can, in fact cause problems. It's very rare, but the same cosmic rays that we simply live in by virtue of living on planet earth can, apparently and very rarely, interfere with the micro-electronics we now rely on every day. Just one bit "knocked out of place", so to speak, can be completely benign, or if it's the wrong one, cause a system crash. It's extremely rare as I understand it, so I wouldn't run around blaming all your system crashes on cosmic rays, I just thought it was fascinating because it's so counter-intuitive.

-Leo

*

How can I know that emails I sent were received and opened?

Linn writes:

For those people who "blame" email for being so untrackable, remember that most paper mail doesn't have reliable proof of reading, either. Yes you posted it, yes it was delivered, yes it was even signed for (by some illegible name) and even yes it was handed to the addressee. And she threw it straight in the bin because she didn't realize how important it was, or it looked like junk mail. So the sender has "proof of delivery" but no-one read it! It's not an email-specific problem.

And just like paper mail, you can REASONABLY rely on the fact that IN MOST NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES email IS delivered, and IS read. If it's not deliverable you will be told. Yes, that system is probably not 100% good enough for military or even some business cases where it is really important but for most of our email it works. If you aren't told anything to the contrary, it's been delivered, and probably been read.

One big exception is when you've sent an email to someone for the first time, and you're not in their contacts/address book, and their over-zealous (IMO) email system has intercepted it. BT/Yahoo does that. And many of their customers don't know that the intercepted email is put in a junkmail or bulk mail folder that can only be seen via Webmail access, and these same customers don't remember being told about that (they were) and/or don't know how to get into webmail, or where to look find out how.

If Leo doesn't agree with my general perceptions, I'm sure he'll explain, below :o)

And if he says I'm wrong, I'll believe him. :o)

About the only tweak I'd make to your thoughts is simply that it's (sadly) not always safe to assume that email's been delivered if you hear nothing. Many failures are silent these days, as are some of the many accidentally deliveries into the spam/junk folder. The vast majority of mail is delivered, yes, but it's actually no longer safe to trust that "silence implies receipt". If important, I'll add to the message "let me know that you got this" for a manual confirmation that the email made it and was actually read.

-Leo

*

How do I know what programs are safe to uninstall?

Frank D writes:

I observe the following rule of thumb. When in doubt about whether to uninstall a program or not, find the program's folder in Windows' Program Files folder and rename it by adding this to it".del" (for example, rename C:Program FilesTyping Tutor to C:Program FilesTyping Tutor.del). If, after six weeks or so of normal computer operation, you haven't received an error message or other dire warnings concerning that program, you can consider it safe to uninstall.

Make sure you reboot at least once in that six weeks. Smile The impact of some renames doesn't become apparent until the machine has been rebooted. But overall it's a good technique that I've also recommended.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

ForwardedFunnies.com
Sooner or later, the jokes stop here.

This is a "just for fun" recommendation, because we all need a break from time to time. Smile

And I'll also be honest: Forwarded Funnies is one of my sites.

Like I'm sure you do, I get a lot of email forwarded to me. There's a lot of stuff that shouldn't be forwarded at all, but of course there's also humor. Jokes and stories and pictures and other things that people forward and forward and forward.

Several years ago, I started collecting those that made me laugh and that I found entertaining. I created Forwarded Funnies as a repository for all that humor, and have been posting a new item from my backlog roughly every day.

At this writing, Forwarded Funnies has over 1700 2000 items.

Continue reading...

ForwardedFunnies.com - Sooner or later, the jokes stop here.
http://ask-leo.com/C2494

*

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

"Read Only" is one of the more confusing concepts that can be attributed to a file. Well, the concept is simple, but it can manifest in surprising places, and with misleading error messages. This is one of the very common scenarios:

Why can't I open a certain file that's on a CD?

I made a CD of my address book & when I tried open it I got the following message. "The address book has been locked by another application. Please close the other application & try again later" I Googled the problem & I did as Microsoft suggested & made sure the "Read only" box was unchecked In all address book files. It was. Still no luck. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

The problem, I suspect, is that there are two types of read-only.

And a program that requires that files NOT be read-only wants it both ways.

Continue reading...
Why can't I open a certain file that's on a CD?
http://ask-leo.com/C2923

*

BCC is misunderstood, and under-utilized. Here's one reason to use it liberally:

How does using BCC help reduce spam?

Is it true that if I use BCC to email attachments, it will mean less danger of spam? How's that?

It's not so much about attachments, as it is any email you receive and then forward.

And it's not so much about saving yourself from getting more spam, but saving the people that sent you the email you're about to forward.

It's all about keeping their email addresses private and un-harvestable.

Continue reading...
How does using BCC help reduce spam?
http://ask-leo.com/C3643

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*** Thoughts and Comments

If it's Tuesday, this must be Auckland.

Actually, today we're scheduled to travel from New Zealand's Rotorua to Auckland, the last stop on our three week down-under tour.

All you Kiwi's in the area, be sure to check out TravelsWithLeo.com for specifics on a possible meetup while I'm in town. As I write this some weeks before the trip I don't know when or where, specifically, we'll do it, but I'll try to keep that blog up to date.

As has been the case for the last two newsletters, this one has no new content; instead I've pulled some of the more interesting and provocative comments and "best of" content to keep things rolling while I'm on the road. Sending you something every week on schedule seemed like the least disturbing approach to my absence. I hope you'll understand.

I expect to resume regular newsletters on February 23rd, issue #219.

If you're interested at all in following the trip, check out Travels with Leo. Once again, if things are going as planned, and time and technology are cooperating, I'm planning to keep that updated as we travel.

In advance, and from down-under,

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

*** Administration

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