Leo’s Answers #269 – February 8, 2011

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*** New Articles

How do I stop someone from sending spam to my closed Hotmail account's contacts?

I deleted my email address on Hotmail, because it was used by somebody else in my name. That person used all my contacts and is still sending emails in my name to everybody. How can I stop him from doing it after I canceled my Hotmail account?


You can't.

There are many reasons why this could be happening, and there's simply no approach that will allow you to take control and guarantee that you can stop it.

Once your account has been compromised, there's very little you can do.

Let me explain why I paint such a grim picture.

Continue reading: How do I stop someone from sending spam to my closed Hotmail account's contacts?

* * *

How do I monitor internet activity and see who's using it?

My wife and I share a laptop, using Windows XP and connected to a satellite. The ISP limits our bandwidth. Recently, we received a message that we were using too much: about 150 MB during one recent hour. We do not run any videos, such as YouTube. We just browse (eBay) and email (Mozilla Thunderbird). I have checked all the places that I can think. If I turn off the automatic updates, for example, it still recurs. When I am logged in, the problem goes away, so it is some program which my wife is inadvertently running in the background, I suppose. Looking at Processes with Task Manager does not help much. It jumps around too much. I ran a scan with Norton and found nothing. I took it in to the computer geek store here, and they ran a more extensive scan, but found nothing. Is there any program which could monitor Internet activity and let me know what's running?


Yes, there is.

It's a free tool, called Process Monitor, that I suspect will be perfect for this problem. While it's a little geeky, this extremely powerful tool can be used to diagnose many issues.

I'll walk you through how to set it up for this scenario.

Continue reading: How do I monitor internet activity and see who's using it?

* * *

How do I print a list of what's on my USB drive?

Windows 7 Starter: How can I print directories of the various USB Drives showing folders and files? My old program of PowerDesk was a beauty but not for Windows 7.


You know, after all this time I'm actually surprised that a better solution for this isn't already part of Windows. It's a common request that predates Windows 7.

As you've seen a solution is often to use some third party program to do it.

And that may still be perhaps the best solution.

But I'll also show you what you can do without any additional software in Windows.

Continue reading: How do I print a list of what's on my USB drive?

* * *

Why can't I block this email sender?

How can I block addresses that come repeatedly to my junk email box? It says I am blocking but it does not work.


Blocking is overrated.

It promises to prevent a sender's email from reaching you. But if that sender is determined enough, the block is easily bypassed.

And spammers are determined ... boy, are they determined! So much so that blocking senders is pretty much useless in the war against spam.

I'll explain why and what I'd do instead.

Continue reading: Why can't I block this email sender?

* * *

How do I really get rid of all of Bing?

In a previous article, How do I get rid of Bing??, I covered getting rid of the most annoying and most frequently complained about problem: the Bing toolbar. It's often installed by other applications without warning and it may even come pre-installed.

Aside from that, Bing is a website. If you don't like Bing, don't use Bing.

But it turns out there's one other little corner where Bing likes to hide out. I'll show you how to change search providers.

Continue reading: How do I really get rid of all of Bing?

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*** Comments

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

Andy writes:

After recently parting ways with my employer, I had to return my laptop which I must admit included a fair bit of extra -unrelated- junk from my weird techie side habits. I went through most of what Leo said, but not the part including turning off sys files etc. There were things I didn't want potential snoopers to find, so I downloaded a program called Eraser which does exactly what SDelete does. It wiped a lot of stuff away in a systematic and straight forward way. All in all, I am comfortable believing I left very little traces behind, but as Leo says, it really depends on how paranoid one is about the data on the machine. Alternatively, if I were selling my machine, there is no question I would have nuked it, as I did with a previous-previous job's laptop as well. I have no qualms about doing that at all to satisfactorily cover all traces.


Why don't anti-malware tools work better?

Bob writes:

There is always one thing that EVERY anti-malware cannot protect against. The User. The malicious few have been getting better and better at disguising their true intentions, while the average User has gotten less and less savvy about what their PC 'should' be doing. If we were all as thorough and as careful as Leo, viruses would become a thing of the past - and these huge companies couldn't charge us for their 'protection'.


What's the difference between memory and hard disk space?

The Sorcerer writes:

I usually explain it using the analogy of a kitchen, which also explains why adding extra RAM is one of the most effective upgrades you can do.

The computer stores all its programs and data on the hard drive but can't work with it there; it has to move it out into RAM to be able to work with it.

In the kitchen, the food is stored in the refrigerator or a cupboard but, like the computer's hard drive, you can't work with it while it's in there. You have to take it out and work with it on the counter or worktop - the kitchen equivalent of RAM.

If you only have a small counter you can only work with a small amount of food at any one time. You then have to put that back in the refrigerator while you get something else out to work on. However, if you have a bigger counter you can work on more things at once, becoming more efficient and productive, just as adding more RAM into your computer makes that more efficient.


How do I change my Hotmail alternate email address?

Willie writes:

I used to have a mobile phone number "confirmed" for my Live account. I no longer have that phone number. I realized that I hadn't updated my account. So, I go and try to add my new one. As Leo points out, the confirmation will go to an existing confirmed number. This just won't work. So I try and remove my old phone number.

The problem is: It wants to confirm the renewal by sending a text to the phone number I am trying to remove! I just don't see how that is ever going to work. As is stated in the original article, "if you no longer have access to your alternate [method] then it's just as bad as, perhaps even worse than, not having set up an alternate [method] at all."

If anyone has a work around, let me know.

*** Leo Recommends

Word Tips - Microsoft Word Tips, Tricks and Answers

I don't know everything. I know that's a shock to maybe one or two of you, but it's the truth. One of the techniques I use to make it look like I know more than I really do is to know where to look for information.

Allen Wyatt's Word Tips is one of these places. Yes, I've used Microsoft Word for many, many years and know it very well ... but Word Tips has more answers and more suggestions than I could ever hope to have.

Continue reading...

Word Tips - Microsoft Word Tips, Tricks and Answers


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

Adding RAM can be a great upgrade, but it might not solve all your computer's problems...

Will adding RAM to my system solve my problems?

Can you tell me if it would be worth my while upgrading the RAM on my machine? I have 512 RAM at the moment, Win XP, Inspiron 510m. I mostly use my system for browsing the net and chatting on-line. Sometimes web pages take a long time to open or video chat freezes. Would extra RAM help this?

It's impossible to say whether additional RAM would help the specific symptoms you're experiencing. It could, but there are probably hundreds of other possible explanations for those symptoms as well that don't involve the amount of RAM on your system.

So let's look at what some of the more likely problems are, and whether more RAM might be something to try.

Continue reading...
Will adding RAM to my system solve my problems?

*** Thoughts and Comments

I was in an email discussion with some folks this week, talking about email and how best to manage it all. (If you haven't been there, have a peek out at Taming Email, a site of mine that has several essays on email management.)

The topics of backups came up, and I made this statement:

If you have only one copy, then it's not backed up.

Someone commented that that was the most important thing I said in that particular email.

I'll go one step further.

It might be the most important thing I've ever said. Period.

Seriously, if you take away only one thing from visiting my site or reading my newsletter, let it be that.

If you have only one copy, then it's not backed up.

This came up in a discussion about cloud services and I'll emphasize that I don't care where that one copy is, how trustworthy the service is, or if you have it yourself what media it is or isn't on, or what format it's in.

None of that matters if there's only one copy.

When that one copy gets lost or becomes inaccessible it's gone.


Review your important stuff and make sure it's backed up somehow. OK?

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom

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Posted: February 8, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4736
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