Leo’s Answers #275 – March 22, 2011

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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

Can I connect to Hotmail with https?

I keep hearing I should use https when connecting to sites at Starbucks and so on. How do I do that with Hotmail?


Hotmail's https support is a mixed bag. I have to say that I'm not very pleased with its limitations.

That being said, if you use Hotmail, and you're planning on using it at an open WiFi hotspot like those at your local coffee house, then I suppose that some support is better than none.

But not much better.

I'll show you how.

Continue reading: Can I connect to Hotmail with https?

* * *

Is it safe to have other browser tabs or windows open while I do my online banking?

While using my bank's secure site, I realized that an unsecured site (Hotmail) was still running in the background. Would this compromise the data on the secure bank site?



OK, there are no absolutes when it comes to computing, so a more accurate answer is actually it shouldn't: It should be perfectly safe to have your bank open in one window or tab, and an unsecured site, such as Hotmail, open in another.

Let me explain why I have to say "should".

Continue reading: Is it safe to have other browser tabs or windows open while I do my online banking?

* * *

Can I use the internal hard drives from an old machine as an external drive on a new one?

I am currently using an E-machine using Windows Vista. I bought the machine used and have added external hard drives from WD (120GB) and Seagate (350GB). My wife and I play a lot of games from Big Fish and other providers, which I download to my external hard drives. Her machine uses Windows XP. I have a Dell using Windows 2000 and a Panasonic laptop running Windows XP, which have died. Can I remove the hard drives from these two old/broken machines and make them external hard drives so I can use the information and games on my E-machine? How do I find out what size enclosure to use for this job?


You can certainly take the drives out of old machines and use them as external drives on other systems. It's actually a common and fairly easy way to perform some data recovery. As long as those drives aren't the cause of the system failure in the first place, the data on them should still be accessible.

There's a catch for running software from those drives, however, that I'll speak to in a moment.

More to the point is getting the right external enclosure. Not only do you have size to worry about, but interface as well.

Continue reading: Can I use the internal hard drives from an old machine as an external drive on a new one?

* * *

What's on your machine?

I've read you got a new machine... it'd be interesting to see what you put on it and why.


Yep, about a month ago, I got a new Dell Latitude E6410 laptop.

This machine is to be my primary machine when I travel and the primary repository for my email, regardless of where I am.

My approach to installing software is one that I've developed over the years of having done this many, many times. Essentially, I don't try to predict what I need; I simply start using the machine and install what's missing as I need it.

Continue reading: What's on your machine?

* * *

How do I log in to Hotmail automatically?

How do I avoid having to put in my password every time I log into Hotmail?


Usually, I get variations on the opposite question, how to stop logging in to Hotmail automatically.

I'll describe the most common way to avoid having to specify a password each time you go to Hotmail.

But first, I want you to think long and hard about whether you really want to do this. I'd hazard a guess that many accounts are hacked and permanently lost due to using these techniques inappropriately.

Continue reading: How do I log in to Hotmail automatically?

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*** Comments

How do I protect myself from my IT consultant?

codejockey writes:


You make a number of excellent points. As a consultant, I would add that at the conclusion of an assignment, I always advise my clients to change passwords and to remove any access I may have been granted to their systems, web sites, data, etc. This protects both of us -- and in my experience, my clients appreciate it.


How do I uninstall this program from a used machine?

Mark Magill writes:

Having spent the last couple decades or so repairing computers, I have to agree with the wipe-the-drive or replace it sentiment. After all, on a used system you never really know what all is on it, how old it is, and how close to failure its hard drive might be. As cheap as they are, a new hard drive brings a lot of peace of mind and is not a bad idea unless one just can not possibly afford one.


How do I setup Acronis True Image Home 2011?

MK writes:

Acronis only supports so many previous versions. I think the number is two prior releases, but check the web site to be sure. I always keep a copy of previous versions' rescue disks around in case I'm trying to restore an old backup from an Acronis that's "too new".

That's actually very good advice. I recommend keeping not only the rescue disk, but also the original install software for any backup programs you use.



Can I protect my data from deletion?

Tom R. writes:

All my machines have BIOS password enabled. This eliminates many potential attack scenarios. No adversary can do anything to the files on my machines, short of smashing them to bits with a big fat hammer ala Gallagher, because there's just no way to prevent all possible mayhem.

The major issue that a BIOS password does not protect against is a thief removing the hard drive and reading it on another machine.



Should I Install Windows 7 Service Pack 1?

PeterM42 writes:

Do as Leo says - WAIT!! and read this: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/14/microsoft_windows_7_sp1_fatal_error/

Perhaps more importantly that underscores the need to back up first, if you do feel the desire to try SP1.


*** Leo Recommends

What are some other popular tech newsletters?

I recently asked the readers of the Ask Leo! newsletter this question:

What other tech, email newsletters do you subscribe to, or find valuable?

Here are the most popular responses, as mentioned by my readers.

Continue reading...

What are some other popular tech newsletters?


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 few articles one which I've had to close comments. The System Idle Process isn't evil, and it's not the cause of your machine's problems. Really.

What is the System Idle Process and why is it using most of the CPU?

What is the System Idle Process and why is it using 96 to 99% of the CPU?

This is a great example of things we geeks probably take for granted, that's not always obvious to the rest of the world.

I mean, really, a process that regularly takes up 99% of your CPU's time must be a bad thing, right?

Nope, not at all. Just the opposite, in this case.

Continue reading...
What is the System Idle Process and why is it using most of the CPU?

*** Thoughts and Comments

If my writing seems to have improved a tad in recent weeks, I cannot take the credit. Welcome Kate to "team Leo" - she's a writer/editor and is primarily in charge of editing my writing for clarity, grammar and my ultimate nemesis - spelling (for the life of me I will never, ever get that whole "i" before "e" except, except, except rule right).

BUT, if you happen to catch my new articles as they're posted on the web throughout the week and happen to spot issues, that's still my fault. I operate on a "ready, fire, aim" publishing model - I write the articles and publish them almost immediately, and then sometime before the weekly newsletter is published on Tuesday mornings Kate comes along cleans up all my mistakes.

The only thing new content each week that's not edited is this weekly "Thoughts and Comments" section of the newsletter. For better or worse, this is pure Leo.

I've been playing a bit with IE9 this week. It's too soon for a full report, but my initial feeling is that it may give other browsers at least a run for it. I'll probably wait until FireFox 4 comes out before making any final determinations, but IE9 "feels" pretty good to me.

I'm curious - if you've taken IE9 what's your experience been? (Please use the "ask a question form" to let me know. I get hundreds of "out of office" messages every Tuesday in response to the newsletter. That means actual replies to the newsletter just get lost in the mess. Newsletter subscribers have a special "ask a question" form mentioned below that puts you at the head of the line.)


'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom

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Posted: March 22, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4771
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