Leo's Answers #257 – November 16, 2010

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*** New Articles

How do I backup games I've downloaded and installed?

I play games from bigfish and gamehouse. I'm sorta worried that if this old PC tears up I wont have my games that I've downloaded. How can I backup those files? I didn't save - I chose to run instead. I run XP Pro.


Well, you've kind of identified the real problem in your question: choosing to run what you've downloaded instead of saving it.

I'll throw out a few idea on what you might do, both now, and in the future, to make sure you'll have copies of what you've downloaded.

Continue reading: How do I backup games I've downloaded and installed?

* * *

How do I determine my IP address in Windows Vista?

I need to know my IP address - how do I find it out? I'm running Windows Vista.


For something this simple I still get to pull out my most common answer: it depends.

The good news is that it's actually pretty similar for all versions of Windows.

The question I have to ask, though, is this:

Which IP address do you want?

Continue reading: How do I determine my IP address in Windows Vista?

* * *

Is there a quick way to find a particular file out of many without having to open each one?

Recently, I needed to recover an email that had been permanently deleted from Windows Mail and managed to do so from a C: drive backup. However, because of the obscure nature of the email file names (e.g. 61712BF9-00000413.eml), I had to open them, one by one, until I found the wanted one. Is there a quicker way and can these file names be decoded then to make them more understandable?


Yes, there is a quicker way.

No, there's no way that I know of to make those filenames more meaningful.

What we need is a quick way to scan inside of those files. Fortunately, Windows has a way.

Continue reading: Is there a quick way to find a particular file out of many without having to open each one?

* * *

Can someone break encryption just by knowing the encryption algorithm?

Encryption requires algorithms, right? When is it decided what algorithm would be followed when I make payments online? Is it when I login or is it predetermined? Is it the same algorithm always or changes every time I login? If some one knows the algorithm being used; Can they break/over-ride the encryption?


The encryption algorithm you might use when connecting to your bank is typically the same each time.

And everyone in the world knows (or could know) what the algorithm is.

Obviously, it's not the algorithm alone that defines how secure your connection is; there's something else just as, if not more, important.

Continue reading: Can someone break encryption just by knowing the encryption algorithm?

* * *

How can I tell what program is crashing my machine at night?

For the past week, something starts running after midnight and it causes the blue "screen of death" - is there a way of trying to find out what is starting up at that time?


A couple of approaches come to mind.

We can certainly look at the Task Scheduler to see if there's something specific that has been configured to run at the time you're concerned about.

But that's limited to scheduled tasks.

So I'll describe an approach that will log all the software starting on your machine - at least, as long as you have a Windows edition better than "Home".

Continue reading: How can I tell what program is crashing my machine at night?

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*** Comments

What free anti-phishing scam program do you recommend?

Glenn P. writes:

Further comment on Nigerian schemes (and Spam) from a different writer --

Even if they were legal, they would be immoral.

And even if they were moral, they would be unethical.

I mean, "Ack!" What more is there to say...!?

Before you fall for Spam, consider what it is asking you to do.

And then, don't do it. Just delete it.

(Sheesh. Did I really need to say that?)


Why isn't there 80 gigabytes of free space on my empty 80 gigabyte drive?

Feliciano writes:

@Steve: Leo's math is correct, and so is his logic.

You're right, 'kilo' means 1000, etc. But in computer terms, (and if you read his post carefully you'll find out), 'kilobyte' doesn't mean 1000 bytes, it means 1024, even though they use the prefix 'kilo'.

So when he says we humans says 'kilobyte' to mean 'around 1000 bytes', he's right - because 1024 bytes is very close to 1000, so in layman's language, we round it off to 1000 to make it easier for us to understand. But to a computer, a kilobyte is 1024 bytes. And a gigabyte is 1,073,741,824 bytes.

So if you have a computer that says '80GB' on the box, realize that this is 'human talk', so that companies can make it appear that they're giving away more memory than they actually are. In 'human talk', that's 80,000,000,000 bytes they're giving away. Which is correct. Want to find our how much you'll ACTUALLY get when the computer uses the disk? Simply divide 80,000,000,000 by 1,073,741,824, and you'll get the result = 74,5 GB, which is exactly how much the computer reports.

The reason you see less memory is NOT due to the operating system, as you stated. The above happens even if the disk is completely clean and has no operating system on it whatsoever (I know because I have one hard disk with no OS on it.)

The reason your old computers reported the exact amount of memory that was available to the computer, was because in THOSE DAYS (80's), the manufacturers used 1024 bytes to mean a kilobyte. Later when they started selling 8GB drives upward, they started using the 'layman's' definition of KB, GB etc.



How can my ISP tell that I'm downloading copyrighted files?

Slick writes:

The one thing that has always puzzled me about this subject is this: With all the information (the IP address of where content is being sent from, your IP address, etc.) passing through ISPs, why is it so difficult for ISPs and the police to track down websites that host illegal content and particularly child abuse pictures?

A) if they're hosted in the US, it's not hard. A court order and they're done. (Assuming that law enforcement takes it as a priority.) b) if it's overseas it's much harder, as many foreign governments are less than tech-savvy, and often less than cooperative. Most problem sites are in the later category.



Dropbox - Share files across machines, with friends and publicly for free

Mark Jacobs writes:

You mentioned that you were going to do more to eliminate spam on the comments to your articles. You might want to consider a flag button to report spam on comments. There is a spammer on this page selling some crappy solar watches.

Actually once a day, 7 days a week, my assistants scan all newly posted comments and remove spam. That means that spam could live for up to around 24 hours or so, but it should disappear. This technique allows legitimate comments to be posted immediately which I believe is a better experience for legitimate visitors. So if the spammy comment is still here in, say, 48 hours, then we missed it. (And for the record, spammers have been getting VERY agressive. As have I. You see only a small fraction of what they actually try to post.)


*** Leo Recommends

Dropbox - Share files across machines, with friends and publicly for free

I've been using Dropbox for a quite some time now and recently came across perhaps the most compelling reason to finally recommend it to you.

One of the common questions I get is "how do I share [files, photos, documents, whatever] with my [friends, business associates, contacts] without using email, and without having them show up on the public internet?

Dropbox solves that, and a lot more.

Continue reading: Dropbox - Share files across machines, with friends and publicly for free


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

Switched to an NTFS filesystem yet? What with more and more data on our machines all the time backup files are getting huge; you may run into this FAT32 filesystem limitation.

Why can I only back up a maximum of 4 gigabytes?

I have downloaded a backup program for Windows XP Home Edition. A differential backup of the C drive & System Settings to an external 250gb hard drive fails with a message that the drive is formatted as Fat 32 & the maximum backup is 4gb. There is plenty of space on the external drive. How do I backup 40 gigabytes?

Actually the clue is right there in the error message: the problem is FAT32.

Fortunately the solution is fairly straightforward.

Continue reading...
Why can I only back up a maximum of 4 gigabytes?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Leo's Answers #1 - November 18, 2005

Five years?

Five years.


Of the 1,140 that were subscribed at the time that newsletter #1 went out, 508 of you are still here with me five years later. That's pretty darned cool, and I thank you deeply - as well as the 120,000+ rest of you who've come along for the ride since then.

Seriously - Ask Leo! started out as almost a kind of hobby - I never really believed deep down that people would care much what I might have to say. Now, I'm not saying that's changed, but what has changed it that there's now a couple of stadium-fulls of people who get this little newsletter in their inbox each week. (And not just small stadiums either - we're talking big time sports venues! Smile)

Like I said. Wow.

So as we enter into what in the United States is our holiday of giving thanks I wanted to do just that.

Thank you for being here; thank you for your support.

It really means a lot to me.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom

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Posted: November 16, 2010 in: 2010
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4582
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