Leo’s Answers #264 – January 4, 2011

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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

Why is some email to me delayed by days?

Why does some of my email arrive late? For example, on Saturday afternoon I received about 10 emails, some spam, others legitimate, but dated Thursday. I have my own website hosted by 1&1 UK and this includes my email account. Single emails, for example if I send my send myself a test email, arrive immediately. It seems that bulk mailings are being held up. For example, your own newsletter, currency updates, PayPal notifications. A friend with a Telefonica (Spain) email account has had the same problem, but his mail is sometimes up to a week late. What's happening?


It's hard to know for sure exactly what's happening, as there are many possible causes.

I'll review some of those causes, and then also show you how to examine your email headers to perhaps determine where the problem might be happening so you or your email provider can investigate further.

Continue reading: Why is some email to me delayed by days?

* * *

How do I make the taskbar smaller? Or larger?

How reduce size of strip at bottom of XP desktop window?


I'll assume that "strip", as you call it, is the Windows Taskbar.

Most folks don't realize that it's really just a special window, of sorts. And as a window you can resize it and even move it.

Sometimes people are surprised when that happens by accident.

Continue reading: How do I make the taskbar smaller? Or larger?

* * *

2010 Most Popular Questions

A year end look at the most popular questions at Ask Leo! is always an interesting exercise, at least to me. It exposes trends and global issues that just looking at the questions and answers in isolation wouldn't reveal.

Malware? Not as high on the list as you might expect.

Privacy? That's a whole 'nother story.

Especially when you consider that it's a huge component of this years new top trend.

Continue reading: 2010 Most Popular Questions

* * *

What is the difference between high color and true color?

What is the difference between high color and true color and which setting should I use?


Describing the difference will require that we look at how images and color are turned from a collection of nothing but numbers to actual colored pixels on your screen.

Which you should use, I'm afraid, depends on you. I'll give you some guidelines.

Continue reading: What is the difference between high color and true color?

* * *

How do I safely copy files from my old PC to my new one?

I just bought a new PC. I want to transfer (download?) files from the old PC I am using to write this eMail to the new one. However,I'm afraid I may inadvertently be transferring malware as well. My present OS is Windows XP. I have 2 anti-malware programs installed on the old PC: AdAware and Reimage. My question - can I download files from the old PC onto CD's and then safely upload the data to the new PC? I believe my question is worth posting as the answer may help other novices like me.


Once again, I get to haul out my most common answer: it depends.

In general moving files from machine to machine is essentially what computers are all about, so certainly it must be safe to do so.

The trick, of course, is knowing how do it safely. I think you're on the right track, but I want to clarify the scenario a little and correct a little terminology along the way as well.

Continue reading: How do I safely copy files from my old PC to my new one?

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*** Comments

The First 8 Things You Should Do With Your New Computer

Mary writes:

Re: System Imaging. Making an immediate system image is a good idea. But I'd suggest making a second system image (not just scheduling backups) right after installing security software, Windows/Microsoft updates, specific programs, apps, utilities, and configuring the machine with personal settings like themes, etc.

The original system image will return the machine to the exact state it was in when it left the factory. But that second system image will preserve the hours of personalization that everyone does. Then depending on how much the machine changes through use, other system images would be called for ... maybe once a month, or even once a week.


Frank D writes:

Leo, regarding your statement: "If you don't have installation disks, now's the time to get in touch with the vendor and insist on them - even if they cost a little extra."

A friend of mine buying a new HP desktop online on my advice asked for, requested, pleaded for, offered to pay for, a Windows installation disc and was turned down, refused, etc. with no options. He still bought the machine because it was the one he wanted.

What do you do in a case like this? Are you certain that your recommendation isn't outdated? Would you please comment?

Frank D

My recommendation stands - manufacturers need to hear that customers want (need) real installation disks. Ideally they would lose sales over it and that would motivate them to provide them somehow.

If you can't get them, then as soon as you can possibly do it - take an image backup of the machine. Then save that (heck, make two copies for safety). If you need to reinstall just restore to this backup image to get the machine back to the state it was in when you got it.



Michael Horowitz writes:

@Frank - there should be an application on the computer that can burn rescue CDs or DVDs from a hidden partition on the hard drive. These rescue discs, that you make yourself, can return the computer to the factory fresh state. They may be called recovery discs.

That said, I wouldn't bother.

Returning to factory fresh state will become useless after a few months. Far better to invest time/effort into learning how to make image backups and then making them every month or two. Image backups are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

DriveImage XML has many advantages but it does not, out of the box, offer a bare metal restore.


How do I remove a virus if it prevents me from download or installing anything?

Terry Hollett writes:

I had to clean out a computer that would not bot up into safe mode. It would stop at a certain driver. I discovered online that it could be because of a 0kb driver in the "c:windowssystem32drivers" folder, planted by the virus. Used a boot cd to find and delete it and then was able to start up in "Safe Mode With Networking" to run a few scanners to clean it out.

Just recently, someone bought a laptop to me, it was getting a BSOD. I suspected a corrupted hard drive (my experience with BSOD tells me so). I had to run a scan off a boot cd to check the drive. There where a lot of corrupted files.

But it still didn't help. It wouldn't get pass the BIOS boot logo. I still suspected hardware issues and decided to run a memory tester cd.

No problems detected. Then I ran a AGV antivirus boot cd. It was severally infected and I now believe that the crap on the system, corrupted the hard drive making it almost impossible to get any control.

The cleaning did give me a little bit more control. Using a few more utilities on a few more cds I was able to finally get the system running again.

As usual this person had lots of pictures not backed up. Her main concern. I burned of her pics, 5 GB, to two DVDs.

*** Leo Recommends

FastStone Image Viewer - An easy to use tool to view, organize and manipulate images

After the demise of Firehand Ember, my previous favorite image viewing program, I began searching for a suitable replacement. Window's built in "Picture and Fax Viewer" just doesn't cut it for me.

After much experimentation with various products in this class, I've settled on FastStone Image Viewer.

FastStone includes not only basic display and print ability, but also a number of simple modification tools, a slideshow creator, a contact sheet creator and more.

At it's heart, FastStone, like many similar products, is much like a Windows Explorer tailored for viewing photos. Fire it up and you'll get the familiar navigation tree on the left, and images on the right:

Continue reading...

FastStone Image Viewer - An easy to use tool to view, organize and manipulate images


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

One of the persistent topics of questions to Ask Leo! is privacy. This is my 2008 podcast on one aspect that many folks are concerned about (transcript included).

Is Privacy A Thing of the Past?

There's privacy and privacy. Are you being tracked? Probably. Is it something to worry about? Probably not.

I'm a regular listener to the excellent and highly recommended podcast Security Now with Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte. In a recent episode (#121) entitled "Is Privacy Dead?" they touch on an issue that I get questions about all the time. They touch on important topics, and I do recommend listening to that podcast or reading the transcript.

But I also want to add my own two cents.

Continue reading...
Is Privacy A Thing of the Past?

*** Thoughts and Comments

2011? When did that happen?

Last week I had my first ever webinar. The response has been great, even with my mistakes and all.

Folks who are on the "help me with my book" list have access to the full 1-hour recording. I plan to make segments of the recording more generally available in the coming weeks.

And yes, it went well enough that I'm pretty certain that I'll be doing more.

A couple of things have to happen first, though - the Maintaining XP book needs to get finished, and ...

The Consumer Electronics Show.

Hopefully this coming week if I can pull it off you'll see a few additional articles relating to what I might find at CES. Amid the hype and wonderfully geeky new products I'll be trying to find things that might be of value to real & ordinary people.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom

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Posted: January 4, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4702
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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.