Leo’s Answers #267 – January 25, 2011

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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

How do I convert a ".tif" file to a Word ".doc" file?

Is there a way to convert a file received as a .tif file back to a .doc file? That's what it was originally.


Yes and no.

The problem is that your ".tif" file may have started out as a Word document, but it's not a Word document any more.

Not even close.

Continue reading: How do I convert a ".tif" file to a Word ".doc" file?

* * *

Should I include the "www" when linking to my web site?

You refer to your site as "http://ask-leo.com" without the "www" in front. But most other sites almost always include the "www". And "http://www.ask-leo.com" works, but sends me to "http://ask-leo.com".

I'm confused - when I talk about my own site do I use "www" or don't I? Why don't you? In fact, why and how do you force it not to even when people use "www"?


I've mentioned it before: when entering a URL into a browser in most cases the www is optional. Unless a site has something instead of "www", most sites work either way. As you note, both http://ask-leo.com and http://www.ask-leo.com work and send you to the same place.

But when you create links to and within your web site you want to choose one style and stick with it.

In fact, if you can you want to force the style you picked as much as possible.

I'll explain why that is, and why I picked what I did.

Continue reading: Should I include the "www" when linking to my web site?

* * *

Does having lots of email slow down my computer?

Can my email slow down my computer? I mean in my case Windows Live Mail, because I use space and memory to store received mails and very often sent mail remains for long periods of time before I delete them, so basically all I want to know is does the Windows Live Mail or Outlook Express or Windows Mail slow down a computer in any way at all or not?


No, not really.

At least if I understand your question correctly - accumulating a lot of email on your PC doesn't necessarily slow it down.

However... there are scenarios that might affect a few specific things.

Continue reading: Does having lots of email slow down my computer?

* * *

How can I securely delete everything except the operating system on a machine?

I'm about to give away my machine, but I want to leave Windows installed. How can I delete permanently everything except the OS?


Ultimately, you really can't.

It depends a lot on how paranoid you are about the various and sundry traces left on a machine that you've been using a while.

I'll describe a few things steps that will delete a lot - perhaps even enough for your concerns.

But everything? There's only one way to do that.

Continue reading: How can I securely delete everything except the operating system on a machine?

* * *

What's wrong with scanning email in real time?

You've said you're not a big fan of real time email scanning ... can you tell me why? Is there another way to scan it?


I base that mostly on the problems I see reported here that are solved by turning real-time email scanning off and using alternatives instead.

The tools have certainly gotten better over time, and it does feel like I'm seeing fewer problems, but fewer isn't the same as none at all.

I'll describe what I mean by real time scanning, the problems that it's known to I've seen it introduce, and the alternatives I prefer.

Continue reading: What's wrong with scanning email in real time?

* * *

Why I (still) don't like challenge/response spam blockers

Due to an error on my end, my newsletter came "From:" the wrong email address.

As a result, in addition to the usual annoying flood of "I'm not in the office right now, but I'll get back to you..." messages (nearly 100 by now), I also continue to receive an equal number of challenge/response email messages.

You know the messages I mean - message that often begin with: "I'm protecting myself from receiving junk mail. Please click the link below to complete the verification process."

Uh ... no. I can't. I'm afraid I just don't have the resources to click through or jump through additional hoops for 100+ messages like this.

But, honestly, it's not really about me - I'm very concerned about you...

... and what else you might be missing.

Continue reading: Why I (still) don't like challenge/response spam blockers

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*** Comments

The First 8 Things You Should Do With Your New Computer

Jim H writes:

I didn't quite understand James Nell's comments. I am obsessive about keeping things updated, Microsoft and otherwise. I have been online since years before we had high speed Internet available and I have to chuckle when I remember the power and performance of my early PCs. Since getting away from dial-up I have left my PCs on 24/7/365 only turning them off when power went out and my UPS shut them down. I have never had any update related problems other than one minor issue with a bug in a MS update some years ago. It didn't really cause me any problems but apparently there was a bug which was fixed and the update was re-released best I recall. As to the comment about them sending you stuff you didn't need, only critical updates are automatically downloaded and installed. Anything to do with software or extra features is under the optional software section on the MS Update page and you have to specifically select them to download them. Those I will pick and choose. Your comment about the nVidia drivers would have me bet you just downloaded and installed new drivers without manually uninstalling the old ones first. 90% of the time you can get away with it but that 10% of the time when it causes problems can be quite maddening. This is the voice of experience here and it was a lesson I learned and took to heart. I upgrade video cards routinely and can assure you the same holds true for ATI. Video drivers are the one thing I will uninstall before upgrading to a new version. Most importantly, the reason for upgrades and patches to begin with is problems with software and applications is that not every situation and computing environment can be duplicated and remedied before it is released. Problems often don't become apparent until the product is in the field. With security patches. bad guys are always trying to figure out ways to exploit things and are sadly too often successful. Every MS security patch prevents an exploitable aspect of the operating system or other software from being exploited by bad guys. What you say is akin to the guy who preaches it isn't necessary to change the oil in a car's engine, just add it as needed and swears because he had 50,000 miles without a breakdown he's doing the right thing. The risk isn't going to be visible until something really bad happens and then the chap is going to blame the make/model or something other than his own failure to do proper maintenance. And that's exactly what patches and updates are: maintenance. On the most basic level patches and upgrades are often necessary for newer software to function. I'm probably 3 or 4 times the age of a typical PC gamer but I can tell you that the latest video card drivers are a must for gaming. I also do a lot of music and video editing so there again, the latest drivers are a necessity for my software to be the most current. It's your right to choose to ignore upgrades and patches and put your machine and your privacy at risk, but something tells me you take your example and encourage others to follow it. I hope not.


CES Day 2 - Buzzwords, Swag, Clouds and more Backup

PedroStephano writes:

Having a "personal cloud" is fine - until your house goes up in smoke (as happens to whole towns in Australia) or down the drain (like many peeps in the Queensland floods right now) so having an online (ie cloud = not-in-your-house-or-office) backup solution can be anti-catastrophic
Ed:- this post contains too many brackets
Pedro:- sorry about that


How do I format and partition my new external hard disk?

Shawn writes:

Ok, so say I have a 500gb h.d. and I don't have anywhere to back the data that already exists up to. Is there any way to create a partition without formatting and deleting my data that already exists on the disk?

There are tools (search for "partition management" tools) but backing up to the same drive is pointless - if the drive dies then it takes both your original and backup copies. I strongly recommend that you get an external USB drive and backup to that.


*** Leo Recommends


Several of you are going to think this is the stupidest, most obvious recommendation ever.

And I know that most of you already know, love and use Google as your primary search engine. In fact, that's how most people find Ask Leo! in the first place, and it's what powers the search you'll find on every page.

I probably don't need to convince you that it's useful.

The problem is that most people don't use it well.

Continue reading...



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

A lot of the time you don't get pictures in your email it's for a very simple reason: your privacy.

How does blocking pictures in an email protect my privacy?

In Windows Mail, I received an email from a known vender (not spam) with all the pictures withheld. At the top (below the header) there was a message which read:

"Some pictures have been blocked to help prevent the sender from identifying your computer. Click here to download pictures."

My question is: How can a sender identify my computer by me receiving pictures? And of course, how great is the risk?


"Identifying your computer" in that informational message is somewhat vague, as it's not exactly what can happen. But the concept is still important.

And in fact, if you've ever seen ads or services that claim "we can tell you if your email has been read" - images are how they do it.

Continue reading...
How does blocking pictures in an email protect my privacy?

*** Thoughts and Comments

You can check out the remaining video segments from last months webinar on my YouTube channel. Enjoy.


I know a lot of people are going to tell me it was my own fault that I got over one hundred challenge response messages to last weeks's newsletters - they'd already "allowed" leo at ask-leo.com, so of course my mistaken use of leo at pugetsoundsoftware.com as the sender would generate a new challenge.

My mistake, which I freely admit and hopefully will have fixed for this newsletter, isn't the point.

In fact, even though well over 100 of you missed it last week, whether you get my newsletter isn't the point at all.

My big concern, and the reason for my editorial/rant Why I (still) don't like challenge/response spam blockers is I can't help but be concerned what other emails you're missing that are way, way more important than my silly little newsletter.

I hope those of you using challenge/response will at least consider my concerns.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom

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Posted: January 25, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4720
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