Leo’s Answers #282 – May 10, 2011

This week: media players, Intel processors, changing ISPs and a question for you.

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

What media players do I need?

I am confused about media players. I looked at your other answers on them and I am still confused. I used to have a Real Player and QuickTime. I deleted them because Windows Media Player seems to play all videos and audio that I have. I noticed that there is a Windows 7 codec and I am still confused as to what this has to do with anything. Why should I need any player other than Windows?

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You have every right to be confused: it's a confusing mess.

It pretty much boils down to the fact that there are many different ways to encode video and audio and not all of the players play all of the formats. Some play more than others, but by and large, it's rare that you'll find a single player that will play them all.

When we look at the major formats, one reason why things are the way that they are becomes clear.

It's all about competition.

Continue reading: What media players do I need?
http://ask-leo.com/C4813

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How do I correct my Windows Live Hotmail time zone?

The time on my outgoing mail is wrong and I can't find the time zone setting after the latest round of Windows Live Hotmail changes. Where do I change it?

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The location of the time zone setting has moved, again.

I'll walk you through resetting it.

Continue reading: How do I correct my Windows Live Hotmail time zone?
http://ask-leo.com/C3631

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What's the difference between i3, i5 and i7 processors?

I was looking at some ads for various computers and noticed some confusing CPU info. For example:

  • Acer desktop with i5-650 @ 3.2GHz
  • SYX Gamer desktop with i7-950 @ 3.06GHz
  • Sony Vaio laptop with i7-740QM @ 1.73GHz

I always thought an i7 was better than an i5, which was better than an i3. Based on the above, is the Acer CPU better (as in more powerful, efficient, and faster) than either of the i7s? And why would one i7 (the SYX) be about 75% faster and more powerful than the Sony i7?

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To call it confusing only scratches the surface of the processor nomenclature and configuration. In my opinion, it's more complex than mere mortals can comprehend.

Sadly, I am but a mere mortal.

However, I will share my priorities, which the average consumer may also have when selecting a computer. In so doing, I'm sure that I'll annoy some of the geekier members of my audience. Smile

I'll also look at a few more things that enter into the processor configuration mix and then compare the three processors that you list.

Continue reading: What's the difference between i3, i5 and i7 processors?
http://ask-leo.com/C4812

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How do I keep my business account when I change ISPs?

I currently have a PacBell account (which is now AT&T, I believe). I also purchased a personalized business email account, which is tied to this PacBell account. I want to change to Comcast, so I know that I will lose the PacBell account, but can I transfer the business email account to a new Comcast account? Both the PacBell and the business account are owned by AT&T.

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I don't know what it means for a personalized business email account to be "tied to" your PacBell account, so I'm going to have to make some broad generalizations.

It really boils down to what it means to have an email address provided by your ISP and which domain is being used for that email address.

That determines what happens when you change ISPs.

Continue reading: How do I keep my business account when I change ISPs?
http://ask-leo.com/C4811

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How do I keep my email address when I switch ISPs?

I'm moving and my new home will have a new ISP. I've had my @att.net email address for years, but AT&T doesn't serve my new location. My new ISP will be Comcast. How do I keep my @att.net email address? I really don't want to have to change.

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You're probably going to have to change.

I'll throw out one idea that might let you avoid it if your old ISP allows it, but a) most probably don't and b) you're not going to like it either.

Instead, I'll describe what's going on and what you should do to make this the first and last time that you need to change your email address.

Continue reading: How do I keep my email address when I switch ISPs?
http://ask-leo.com/C4810

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

Does leaving tabs open in my browser eat up bandwidth?

Ken B writes:

Jeff,

Yes, all software is susceptible to memory leaks. And, with browsers including plugins from multiple sources, the odds increase that _some_ plugin will have a leak. (Some years back, the browser I was using at the time had some memory leak that caused it to "grow" by a few K every few seconds. Not usually a big deal, but since my machine would be up for days at a time, I actually had it crash my system more than once, when it grew to 2GB.) Whether or not the Flash plugin has any, I can't say for sure.

I can tell you that even today, with FireFox 4.0, it appears that something has a memory leak. After running for a few days, Process Explorer (www.sysinternals.com) will show that FireFox's "virtual size" may grow to over 1.5GB. Exiting and restarting (including restoring all open tabs) will show it back down to "only" a few hundred MB. (Which will, of course, grow over time.) I see similar results in Safari 5.

Note, too, that Flash is used all over the place. Many banner ads are Flash-based. Even my kids' middle-school website uses Flash to put "cute" little animations om the page. In fact, my daughter's teacher's homework page has three(!) Flash animations running on it. I don't know how the plugin handles having possibly dozens of references across many tabs.

Finally, note that there is a Safari extension "ClickToFlash" which disables all Flash on a page until you actually click on it, or whitelist the page/site. It's a real timesaver for me. I see similar extensions available for FireFox (such as "Flashblock"), though I haven't used any of them.

Can I backup files to another partition on the same hard disk?

biograaf writes:

I had my vital data such as family pictures backed up on an external hard drive. Guess what: it crashed. With Recuva I could recover half of them (about 6,000), the other half was gone. But that was not over yet: I could not open about half of the recovered ones anymore, though they looked perfectly normal on the drive (name, extension, volume, date). I tried every possible free graphic prog, but to no avail. Not much of trust in drives whatsoever anymore.

I actually had a similar experience, except it was my CD collection. I now have *two* external drives and automatically backup one to the other. That way either can die.

-Leo

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

Charlie writes:

Thank you so much, it really helped me a lot. Just a quick question, I have a 2TB external HDD, my friend suggested that I partition it into smaller drives so if 1 partition gets a virus on it I can just reformat the 1 and not the entire 2TB, do you have similar opinions on the matter?

There's some sense to it, but I don't typically partition anything unless I really have to for some reason. I'd leave it as one big drive. One problem is that a virus can infect your *computer* not just a drive - meaning that the virus could appear on all connected drives and reformatting just one would not necessarily get rid of it. MUCH better to focus on doing all the right steps to prevent getting infected in the first place.

-Leo

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How do I make a new Windows Live Hotmail account?

tahirih writes:

okay so im trying to create a new account O_O but no matter what email address i type it, its rejecting it and saying i must change it and use a different one, i already typed in over 15 diff names. stuff like punk_1 peace_it all with the "@hotmail.com" at the end. ughh what to do now?! it wont accept it -.-

If someone else is using the names you're selecting there's no way around it - you have to keep trying till you come up with a name that nobody is using.

-Leo

*** Leo Recommends

Process Explorer - A Free Powerful Replacement for Windows Task Manager

OK, I admit it, I'm a geek. And part of the reason I say that is because I actually have Process Explorer as an auto-start entry on my two primary machines. It runs automatically whenever I boot up. Not only do I find that I refer to it that often, but I'm just the kind of person who likes to know what's going on inside his computer. You know, a geek.

Now, you may not need or even want to know what's going on under the hood. Let's face it, for most computer users you shouldn't have to. Computers are supposed to "just work", and you should never need to be bothered with things like processes or resource utilization or what not.

And we all know how well that's working. Smile

This is where process explorer comes in. Process Explorer - or frequently just "procexp" - provides a window into the world of all the programs running on your computer, and offers up a level of detailed information that Task Manager could never hope to approach.

Continue reading...

Process Explorer - A Free Powerful Replacement for Windows Task Manager
http://ask-leo.com/C3480

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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

I wish, wish, wish that more people would use this technique for lengthy URLs:

How do I post a long link in email?

I tried to email a web page link to a group of my friends, but none of them could click on it and have it work ... it always said "page not found" or something like that. And yet the link works for me.

The link is a little lengthy, so I certainly can't expect them to type it all in. Why can't they just click to open that link, and what can I do to make it work for them?

The link broke.

No, seriously, the link was literally broken - either by your email program, or the recipients.

Here's what I mean:

Continue reading...
How do I post a long link in email?
http://ask-leo.com/C3377

*** Thoughts and Comments

Last December I held my first-ever webinar - an on-line version of a seminar where I get to speak and demonstrate things while attendees can view my computer and listen in over the internet. I was very pleased with the way it went, and intended to do more, and more often.

Life, of course, had other plans and here we are 5 months later. Smile

I do plan to do a regularly scheduled webinar, (probably monthly, at least initially) but before I figure out what that regular schedule should be, I'd like to ask a couple of questions about the timing and what will work the best for the most people. I can't accommodate everyone, but I'd like to make it as convenient as possible for the most I can.

So, if you could click here and answer a couple of quick questions I'd appreciate it. If you missed it a link to the recording of last December's Webinar is there as well.

Hope you had a great Mother's Day.

If, however, you spent most of your visit helping mom with her computer, and that computer happens to be a Mac, I have a suggestion for you: Mac Help for Mom.

Steve's a friend of mine, and over the last several months he found himself helping his mom with her Mac questions. Steve started a web site, not unlike Ask Leo!, but he's been recording videos of his questions and answers.

Hop on over to Mac Help for Mom and let Steve's mom (yep, she's real - it's not a gimmick) tell you more.

And then maybe you can let Mac Help for Mom take on some of your familial technical support duties. Smile

By request, I've added a "This week:" line as the very first text above with a few of the major topics in the newsletter. This can help readers with various email programs quickly see what's in this week's issue without even opening it. Let me know what you think if you find it useful or not. (Don't hit reply, please use that link to the "ask a question" form so your comment isn't lost.)

'till next week...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom
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