Leo's Answers #229 – May 4, 2010

[raw]
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. If none of that leads to an answer you can ask your question here.

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

*** New Articles

Is it OK to use this random wireless network that I just found?

My internet connection went down on a Friday, and the service rep gave me a service call time for Monday, maybe. My HP notebook has wireless capability so I turned it on and checked what wireless networks were available. There are 3 secured and 1 unsecured wireless networks. I am able to logon to the unsecured wireless network, a NETGEAR network. The signal is low and only about 500K but works. Am I breaking the law by using someone else’s wireless network? Is there a way to find out where this wireless network is and who owns it, hopefully it is a free public wireless network? Am I in any danger from using this wireless network? I am not doing anything that requires a password, and I have Windows Firewall, Norton antivirus, and Windows Defender running on my computer.

*

What you’re doing is very common. With so many open wireless hotspots around it’s a temptation that’s frequently too hard to resist, particularly when you’re in need.

And yet, resist it you should.

There are a number of problems that arise from connecting to an unknown but open hotspot.

Continue reading: Is it OK to use this random wireless network that I just found?
http://ask-leo.com/C4290

* * *

My computer logs out immediately on login, what do I do?

My PC cannot go past the Log in screen. As soon as I log in, the pc accepts the password and then immediately logs off again. There is no way for me to also run any diagnostic program as well to determine the cause.

*

This actually happens frighteningly often. I’ve encountered it at least once, and will describe what caused it and what I did to recover.

However…

There are potentially several reasons that this might happen. My specific example might be an interesting example that’ll help you diagnose your problem … or it might not help at all.

In which case, I have a different suggestion which is what I really recommend anyway.

Continue reading: My computer logs out immediately on login, what do I do?
http://ask-leo.com/C4289

* * *

How do I remove a document stuck in my printer’s queue?

I’m trying to delete a document in the queue of my printer, but I can’t. It writes “deleting”, but it never finishes, I’ve tried to cancel the same from the field of my printer but it doesn’t disappear, restarting my computer, restarting the document, turning off the printer, unplugging the cables, still I can’t. What else can I do? It doesn’t allow other documents to print!

*

When you print a document, say from your word processing program, that document is not sent directly to your printer. Instead it gets placed in a queue. The idea is that then once placed into the queue, the printer software will come along notice that there’s something in the queue that needs to be printed, and print it.

Sometimes the queue gets “stuck”, for lack of a better word.

And it can be really, really frustrating.

Continue reading: How do I remove a document stuck in my printer’s queue?
http://ask-leo.com/C4288

* * *

How do I get the password for a computer I purchased at a garage sale?

I purchased a comp at garage sale but they did not know main password is there a way I can get this free. Hope I did not throw my money away.

*

I’ll assume you mean the Windows login password.

I’ll show you how you can bypass that and set your own – it’s really not that hard.

And then I’ll tell you why you really, REALLY, REALLY don’t want to do what I suspect you’re planning to do.

Continue reading: How do I get the password for a computer I purchased at a garage sale?
http://ask-leo.com/C4287

* * *

If I get this particular backup device, can I then use it to restore my entire system?

If I get [some specific backup device], does that mean that I can then somehow use it to restore my entire machine if it crashes completely?

*

Yes, but…

The device alone is not enough. In fact any device, alone, is not enough.

There’s more – much more – to restoring a complete system than just having backups. Besides the device, you need to have taken the right backups, and have the right tools with which to restore.

Continue reading: If I get this particular backup device, can I then use it to restore my entire system?
http://ask-leo.com/C4286

* * *

How many failed product key attempts do I get before I have to call Microsoft to install Windows?

How many attempts are allowed to Activate a new Windows OS before it forces a phone call to MS? Over the years, I’ve owned many computers with XP, and like a fool, I just put the CD’s into a case with little description. I did write down the Product Keys but failed to keep them with the CD’s. Dumb, I know, but it happened. I want to format one laptop and install fresh, but when the Windows installation prompts for the Product Key, I have eight legitimate keys, but not certain which one fits this CD. I could try all eight to see which one works, but I’ve heard that after “X” number of attempts, Windows will allow no more, and I have to call MS. Do you know what is “X”?

*

No, I don’t.

But the good news it that it probably doesn’t matter, because I think you’re comparing Apples and Oranges.

Having the right product key to go along with your CD isn’t quite what you think it is, and on top of that, while it’s a part of activation it’s not the part you think it is.

Good and confused?

Let’s fix that.

Continue reading: How many failed product key attempts do I get before I have to call Microsoft to install Windows?
http://ask-leo.com/C4285

*** Our Sponsor

Free PC Matic – Performance & Security Scan PC Matic is a collection of award winning
PC Pitstop technologies in one
integrated architecture. No other product on the
market today will do as much to improve the overall
performance, security & stability of your PC. Run a Free PC Matic Scan Now!
https://cart.pcpitstop.com/go.asp?id=500140

Advertisement. Ask Leo about advertising here.

*** Comments

Why should I use a different computer to send anonymous email?

Vincent writes:

Shall I ask the obvious then…?
Why on earth would you want to send an email to someone, going out of your way to make sure the person on the other end can’t find out who the email comes from?
I wonder…

Aside from illegitimate uses like harassment, the most common scenario for a completely legitimate need to send anonymous email are things like whistle-blowers – folks we need to be able to report information without fear of it adversely affecting their jobs, or worse.

-Leo

*

My Windows Live Hotmail account was closed for a “Terms of Use Violation” – I did nothing wrong, what do I do?

Saul Mcleod writes:

MY account too has been closed for weeks and no response, months of job applications and years of contacts lost, can I sue?

Of course you can sue. The question is, will you win? I’m no lawyer, but I’m guessing you won’t. Hotmail is a free service, and the terms of service that you agreed to when setting up the account I’m sure hold Hotmail free from any responsibility for data loss. This is why I so strongly recommend against free email accounts as the only place to keep important information. Those job applications and contacts should have been regularly backed up somewhere else, preferably on your own PC.

-Leo

*

Does leaving my external hard drive connected put its contents at risk from malware?

Dsu writes:

I disagree here Leo.