Leo's Answers #234 – June 8, 2010

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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

Would you please reopen my Hotmail account?!

My 2 accounts are blocked: *****@hotmail.com and ***@hotmail.com. I already asked to unblock them. I couldn’t send any e-mail. The only “improvement” is that now I even can’t sign into my hotmail accounts and open my mail box. So I cant see e-mails I received. And I need these two accounts – I applied for jobs, sending my CV to companies and gave my e-mail address to be able to receive reply. Which i cant now!!!!!

Yes, I sent maybe too many e-mails. When we apply for job, we don’t send only 5 emails, do we?? I’m not sending any junk mails.

Please don’t send me any advice by email as I cant see it. Tell me how to unblock it or send me some number where I can call to solve it. My address: ****@****.cz

I’m really upset. How can you block it without letting me know, as now I’m like blind and may loose a chance to get a job.

So be that kind and let me use my accounts again.


(My apologies in advance to those of you who tire of this type of question, but honestly – I’m just reacting to the frequency with which I see it in my own inbox, and my own resulting frustration.)

I get questions worded like this all the time. I have no idea why.

I did not close your account. I cannot open it.

I am not Hotmail: I don’t work for them, I have no special access to their servers. Ten years ago I worked for Microsoft, but never even came close to Hotmail.

Today I just have this website where I answer tech questions – many of which happen to be about Hotmail.

So with that in mind, let me advise you on what I think you should do in the situation you’re in.

Continue reading: Would you please reopen my Hotmail account?!

* * *

Why does installing from scratch take so long? Isn’t there a better way?

I recently reformatted my laptop. Reinstalling Microsoft XP updates was interminable! Can’t Microsoft find a better way?


I’m not exactly sure what better way you might have in mind. It’s a difficult problem to solve. The older your initial copy of Windows, the more updates that need to be applied to make it current – there’s not really a way to avoid that.

I’ll look at one of the things you can do to skirt the problem, though.

I’ll also look at some of the things that Microsoft does to mitigate the problem as well.

Continue reading: Why does installing from scratch take so long? Isn’t there a better way?

* * *

Do I need to protect my computer from lightning?

I use a surge suppressor and an uninterruptible power supply (battery backup). I live in the southeastern US, and we’re prone to summer thunder storms. My wife works for the State, and they never unplug their computers. I shut down and unplug everything from the wall socket when we have a close storm. What would your recommendation be? Or is that an unanswerable question unless you’re here?


Oh, it may be unanswerable, but I won’t let that stop me from taking a whack at it Smile.

I certainly can’t give you a blanket yes/no answer, as the specifics of the situation really do play a large role in the solution. But I can tell you what I look at when I decide how far to take it.

Let me start by describing what I do – my situation is different than yours, but I think the process that leads me to my solution is a good example of the kinds of things that need to be taken into account.

Continue reading: Do I need to protect my computer from lightning?

* * *

How do I transfer information such as contacts and mail from one Windows Live Hotmail account to another?

I am unable to enter my e-mail acct *****@hotmail.com. I guess I have forgotten some of the information it requests. Therefore, I opened a NEW hotmail account (*****@hotmail.com). I need to know how to transfer my contacts from the first e-mail account into the present e-mail account. I have not been able to locate the information to help me.


I’m actually not surprised that you can’t find the information. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn’t exist.

You’re running into at least two limitations. I’ll look at them both, and give you my (rather bleak) outlook on what you might be able to do or not do.

Continue reading: How do I transfer information such as contacts and mail from one Windows Live Hotmail account to another?

* * *

What happens if I let my email account expire?

I have an email account on which I have not signed in for a long period of time. Under the terms of some free email services, the account will automatically be deleted, and the account’s email address can be used by someone else after a specific period of time. I know that.

However, if I used that email addresses in the past for getting updates about my Paypal account, what about that? Does Paypal or any other similar web site detect this situation, or just send the confidential information to that email address instead?


This is not good.

Seriously, the best advice I can give you is to never, ever, EVER let that happen.

I don’t even know whether or not Paypal detects the situation, but even not knowing I can tell you that this is an extremely dangerous situation.

You may have just given your Paypal account (and everything in it) away.

Now that I have your attention, let me explain why.

Continue reading: What happens if I let my email account expire?

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*** Comments

Is my computer secure now that I’m running anti-virus and anti-spyware software?

MmeMoxie writes:

Leo, excellent article. Bottom line, it is the PC users that determine how ‘secure’ your PC really is. As I try to explain to family and friends, that are not computer savvy, maintaining your PC is as important as maintenance on your car. Would you drive your car without ever checking the oil or gas or tires? NO!!! Then why do you treat your PC without regard for securing or maintaining it, in the best way possible?

It takes work, time and energy to keep your PC as secure as possible. Now, this doesn’t mean that you must do this 4 times a day, but at least once a week. Make it a habit, once a week, take the time to do what is necessary to keep your PC in ‘top’ condition.

Another thing, that newbies or computer illiterates do, is never Defrag! I can’t tell you how many PCs that I have ‘repaired’ for family and friends, that were simply running slowly, because the hard drive was so fragmented, that it took forever to ‘find’ any of the data. It wasn’t viruses or Worms or Trojan Horses or spyware or malware that caused the slowness, just the hard drive simply being fragmented.

So, I advise that they do a maintenance on their PCs once a week. This means, updating all of their security programs BEFORE they scan, then do thorough scans with their anti-virus, spyware and malware programs. Then when they are finished doing all of that … Defrag. This will keep their PCs running as smoothly as possible.


How do I fix Windows after removing a virus?

Bob Strombeg writes:

I second Reid’s comment. I scratch my head about people who claim they can “clean” Windows PCs. How, o how do you KNOW when you are done? With malware that is polymorphic (changes shape) and stealthy (hides from the OS and from anti-malware programs), the best assurance of success is by a reinstall, preferably from a “known good” clone image. There are no guarantees but I think you can get to “high assurance” that the system is infection free. NOTE: I hardly ever use a Windows computer to do online shopping or banking.


Would you please reopen my Hotmail account?!

Jacob writes:

LOL, If people are contacting you Leo about getting Hotmail access than my guess is they are not tech savvy enough to figure out how to buy a domain, hosting service and setup their own e-mail.

I know you love helping people but having your inbox fill up with questions like the one you posted above is just a waist of your time.

When we had a brief discussion out on the wall of my Facebook fan page and someone raised the stupidity issue as well. While I don’t doubt that there are indeed stupid people out there, I choose to hope that this is an honest misunderstanding, either due to language or cultural issues, or due to the panic people in these situations are feeling.

Even if their technical skills are low I would hope they could at least opt for a service (paid or otherwise) that has real, honest, technical support. In fact, if their technical skills are low that becomes even more important.

My concern’s not so much about wasting my time – I mean if I’m getting the same question over and over again then it’s probably something I should answer. My concern’s more about their time. They are wasting their time if they contact me thinking I’m Hotmail.

Since I do get variants of this question so often it was time to address it. Now I have something that a) I hope more people will find, and b) I can point people to when they ask similar questions.


*** Leo Recommends

Skeptic.com – Tools, information and education for skeptical thinkers

This recommendation ventures into a little personal philosophy. Follow along, as I do believe – strongly – that the concepts here apply to the internet and how we use it, nowadays more than ever.

I am a skeptic.

For many people, that implies that I believe nothing (not so), believe in nothing (also wrong), and that I somehow take delight in pointing out the flawed thinking of others (wrong again).

I view healthy skepticism as simply understanding the difference between belief and knowledge, not promoting belief as knowledge and understanding that knowledge is backed by independently verifiable facts. Ultimately, skepticism is about discovering what is true.

The Skeptic web site is a great source of information for those wanting to understand and gain better tools to help cut trough so much of the misinformation in the world, and on the internet.

And that’s why I’m bringing it to you.

Continue reading: Skeptic.com – Tools, information and education for skeptical thinkers


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

As the article states, something so many of us take for granted, yet a very common question…

What’s the difference between “Run” and “Save” when downloading?

When downloading software or whatever, what is the difference between RUN and SAVE?

This is one of those things that I think a lot of people take for granted, but to many it’s just so much magic.

So, a quick look at what it means when you choose between “Run” and “Save” when you download a file.

Continue reading…
What’s the difference between “Run” and “Save” when downloading?

*** Thoughts and Comments

As I write this new features and goodies have been announced for the next version of the iPhone. All I can say is “that’s nice”. Smile (Honestly, I’d have had an iPhone long ago if it were available from my preferred provider: Verizon Wireless.)

So, after seeing a Droid in action, I left (a colleague said “sold out”) my Blackberry for an Android-powered HTC Incredible. While I don’t like the name, it is indeed incredible. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. My favorite app so far is Google Sky which uses the phone’s location and orientation to display a star map on the phone of what’s in the sky behind the phone. Move the phone, the map moves. I’m not a astronomer by any means, I just find it an incredible (whoops, there’s that word again) use of the technologies.

My wife has one now too. Though she did ask “But is it any good as a phone? You know, making phone calls?” Yep, it’s a fine phone. It’s also my mp3 player, pdf reader, email and web browser and a bunch more. Amazon even promised Kindle software for it, so I’ll always have those books with me as well.

Heck, that phone is more computer than phone and is probably more powerful that many of the computers I’ve used over the years.

And I’ll save you the “I remember when” statements that those of us past a certain age like to make at times like this. They always seem to degenerate after a few rounds of one-upsmanship into “well, in my day we didn’t have 1’s, only 0’s, and we liked it!”

Cool technology. That’s one reason I love what I do.

’till next week…

Leo A. Notenboom

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Posted: June 8, 2010 in: 2010
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4335
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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.