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Leo's Answers #252 – October 12, 2010

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A Weekly Newsletter From
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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

How do I convert an audio file to a midi file?

I would like to convert a .wmv file to a .mid file. All I want is the sound not the picture. I can’t find any software to do this. Any ideas?

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Ideas, yes. But not answers.

The problem is that there’s a fundamental difference between .wmv files and .mid files – and I’m not even taking the video content into account.

They’re so different that the conversion you’re asking for is darned near impossible.

At least for today’s computers.

Continue reading: How do I convert an audio file to a midi file?
http://ask-leo.com/C4484

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How do I backup Windows Live Hotmail?

How do I backup my hotmail (safely) plus the contacts.

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With all the theft and hacks into Hotmail accounts that I hear about every day, I do wish that it were easier to backup your Hotmail account – particularly your contacts.

Not that it’s particularly difficult, it’s just not particularly easy either.

And it’s certainly not particularly obvious.

I’ll cover a couple of alternative approaches.

Continue reading: How do I backup Windows Live Hotmail?
http://ask-leo.com/C4483

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How do I know if these update notifications are legitimate?

I am constantly being asked to download updates from the likes of HP, ADOBE, QUICKTIME, in fact just about any software on my machine. Question, how do i know if these are genuine or not somebody with mal intent.

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A very good question. We see people being infected with malware regularly because they get a pop-up notice that they’re infected, when they’re not. What’s to say that the same scenario won’t work when it comes to software updates?

In short: well, nothing really.

Nothing, that is, except understanding what to expect, what looks fishy, and what is clearly and obviously bogus.

Continue reading: How do I know if these update notifications are legitimate?
http://ask-leo.com/C4482

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Will write-protecting my USB device keep me safe at public computers?

I came across a USB flash drive with a write-protect switch on a website and placed an order. How does write protect in a flash drive work anyway? Does this not solve the problem of spyware on public computers, especially if you could run Roboform and portable Firefox off the flash drive? However because I have not yet received the thumb drive, I tried running portable Firefox off my hard disk with the folder’s attributes changed to read only, and it doesn’t seem to work.

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No, it won’t keep you safe. Not at all.

I’ll explain just what that “write protect” means, why it’s useful, and why it still doesn’t help you at public computers at all.

Continue reading: Will write-protecting my USB device keep me safe at public computers?
http://ask-leo.com/C4481

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How do I turn off this new “conversations view” in Hotmail?

The new Hotmail is grouping my messages funny and I hate it. I wish they’d just leave it alone. How can I get the old way back?

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Well, if you continue to use Hotmail get used to change. In fact, if you continue to use any on-line service, particularly the free ones, just accept that it will change from time to time.

They have to change to stay competitive.

The only way to avoid change is to avoid the service, or use a desktop email program that you then never update or change.

The good news is that in this particular case you can turn off the new “conversations view” of messages that’s causing the grouping you dislike so intensely.

Continue reading: How do I turn off this new “conversations view” in Hotmail?
http://ask-leo.com/C4480

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*** Comments

How do I convert an audio file to a midi file?

Ken B writes:

Actually, I think it’s closer to taking a picture of the Mona Lisa, and having the program generate the instructions for painting it. (Remember, the MIDI file doesn’t describe the sounds, but rather gives instructions to produce it.)

Consider, too, the fact that the .wmv file may not even be music, but might be animal sounds, or human speech, or any other sounds for that matter.

Well, vector graphics are, kind of, the instructions for generating a particular graphic image, but yes, your point is very well taken.

-Leo

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How do I print my email with the latest Windows Live Hotmail?

Suzanne writes:

Check your popup blocker. I had mine on “HIGH” and when I moved it to “MEDIUM” security the print function worked perfectly.

I figured this out on my own. Microsoft couldn’t figure out the problem.

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Will write-protecting my USB device keep me safe at public computers?

Bob writes:

I’ve seen a new ‘security’ feature on some USB sticks nowadays – a fingerprint reader (or more accurately, ‘thumbprint’, as that’s usually where the reader is placed). I’ve not bought one, but I’m guessing the USB stick requires the right fingerprint as you plug it in? Or can you set it to require the fingerprint on read/write?

You’d have to check the specific models, but I believe the general idea is that the USB device isn’t “active” until you’ve provided a valid fingerprint – meaning no reads or writes.

-Leo

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How do I print my email with the latest Windows Live Hotmail?

Charlotte writes:

When I was trying to find a solution to printing my emails someone sent me an email saying to go to “All Programs” then click on “Windows Live” then down to “Windows Live Mail”. Go to the emails you want to print and it works just like Windows Hotmail used to. It’s more time consuming but no stress like trying to get Hotmail to work. It would just print the header on first page then first page of email on second page and if more pages – nothing. Also miss the “sort” where one could bring up emails alphabetically. Don’t see any improvements since the “upgrade”.

You may have to install it, but Windows Live Mail is one approach to not only printing, but also simply accessing and backing up your Hotmail.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

NoScript – A Firefox addin that makes browsing safer.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I run FireFox most of the time instead of Internet Explorer. One of the reasons I run Firefox is the wealth of addins that are available for it.

If, like me, you run FireFox, I strongly recommend that you consider the NoScript plugin.

Continue reading: NoScript – A Firefox addin that makes browsing safer.
http://ask-leo.com/C3718

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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

I continue to get this one frequently:

How can I tell if my email has been blocked?

How can I tell if my email address has been blocked? The email address I send to is good and working, the only problem is, it’s not working for me; have I been blocked? Is there any way of knowing if my emails ever get opened or deleted? And if I’m blocked, it is my email address that’s blocked or my IP address??

The ultra-short answer is: there’s just no way to know for sure.

Let’s look at why I say that.

Continue reading…
How can I tell if my email has been blocked?
http://ask-leo.com/C3177

*** Thoughts and Comments

Oh man.

Just about the time you think that things are settling down and you can get something done assorted fires flare up once again.

Last week Google Mail decided that my assistants were sending too much mail through the administrative email account they use, and blocked them.

Only, they weren’t sending that much email. Not even close.

One of the things we used that account for is processing your comments and questions – which means that processing your comments and questions came to a dead halt.

Not good.

And yes, please, insert here my mini-rant about relying on free email services for anything important. Smile

Fortunately there’s no data loss in this scenario, just a temporary stop in the flow of questions and answers.

But that’s still unacceptable.

This is one of those cases where it absolutely rocks to be a computer programmer. Over the weekend I created a new database-driven repository for your comments and questions, and a web-based interface for my assistants and myself to process them. No email, other than the response you might get from one of us.

And no reliance on outside services, free or otherwise.

You shouldn’t see any change to the way your comments and questions are handled, but if you see a problem (like perhaps an oddly formed email response) definitely let me know.

Newsletter subscribers still get priority by using the URL in the “Newsletter Subscriber Benefits” section below.

Maybe this week I’ll get something done…

’till next week…

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom

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