Leo’s Answers #287 – June 14, 2011

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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

How long should a password be?

For a long time the common thinking was that the best practical passwords consist of a random combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, a special character or two, and if so composed needed to be only 8 characters in length.

Randomness remains important, but as it turns out - size matters more.

A password today should be a minimum of 10 characters, and ideally 12.

Continue reading: How long should a password be?

* * *

How do I ignore a Windows Update item?

The Windows Update notification INSISTS that I must install Internet Explorer 9. Sure, I can ignore it, but the notification just won't go away.


Actually, it can.

In fact, you can tell Windows Update to ignore any of the updates that it offers you.

Naturally, it's not obvious, but the option is there. I'll show you how.

Continue reading: How do I ignore a Windows Update item?

* * *

Spyware: How do I remove and avoid spyware?

Spyware is a modern scourge. It's certainly on the list of top five topics that I deal with on a daily basis.

Some forms actually live up to the name and spy on you by monitoring and recording what you do. Others are worse: acting almost like viruses, hijacking your web browser, popping up ads, or wreaking just general havoc.

Like viruses, spyware isn't going to go away any time soon. It requires vigilance on your part to avoid spyware.

There are three important steps to avoiding spyware:

Continue reading: Spyware: How do I remove and avoid spyware?

* * *

Should I install IE9 (Internet Explorer version 9)?

I just received an email from Windows Update to install IE9 because of a security issues. Do you recommend installing IE9? I am very comfortable with IE8.


If you actually got an email, I wouldn't click on any links in it and I'd delete that email.

Windows Update doesn't distribute updates or information via email.

However, you do raise an important question that I've been seeing a lot lately.

Is it time to upgrade to IE9?

In some circumstances, I'd say sure. But in others ... well, you might not want to - at least not without some additional precautions.

Continue reading: Should I install IE9 (Internet Explorer version 9)?

* * *

How do I turn off keyboard repeat?

I recently introduced my 86-year-old father to computing. He uses Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. He keeps asking me to turn the keyboard repeat off. I have set it to the slowest setting possible. Still, with arthritic hands, he keeps getting repeat letters where he doesn't want them and has a hard time editing his mail. Is there a feasible way to TURN OFF KEYBOARD REPEAT COMPLETELY? Your help is really appreciated as all of the computer 'experts' that I have asked do not have a solution and I haven't been able to find an answer on the internet.


This took a little head-scratching on my part.

In fact, I'd almost written it off completely as not being possible and had written up a response to that effect.

Then, a word popped into my head that sent me looking in a much more productive place.

That word? "Accessibility".

Continue reading: How do I turn off keyboard repeat?

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

Fujitsu ScanSnap - A Fast, Sheet-fed Document Scanner

Mark J writes:

For us less intense users, I recommend a normal flatbed scanner for under $100. The few times it gets frustrating are not enough to make up for the price difference. I'm writing this not to disagree with Leo, but to let all you home users know that a scanner is a useful addition to any home. I send out an average of only 2 faxes a month and use an online fax service. The time savings alone of not having to run out to a shop has easily paid for the machine.

Actually, the resolution of many digital cameras allow you to also "take a picture" of a page with sufficient clarity to suffice as a scan. With proper lighting it can do in a pinch.



Viruses: How do I keep myself safe from viruses?

Leigh writes:

Leo, You missed one huge component to a comprehensive security strategy. It's not only important to make sure your Windows gets updated but it's critically important to keep Adobe Flash/Reader and Java up to date as well. A very large percentage of today's Malware attacks take advantage of unpatched versions of these products. Check out: http://www.techjournalsouth.com/2011/02/two-top-malware-attacks-exploiting-holes-in-adobe/


Is it safe to run as administrator now that Windows 7 has UAC?

Terry Hollett writes:

I disabled UAC completely and use Winpatrol instead. Been using it for awhile now. It just warns you when programs are trying to change your startup entries.

I've actually got a recommendation for WinPatrol coming up soon.



What's that "+1" thing I'm seeing on lots of sites?

Rosie Perera writes:

Some readers might have also liked to see a "+1 in lore" section in the response. The +1 "thingamajig" didn't start out life as a Google widget. It's a convention that people have been using in online forums for some time. A person will type +1 in their post if they are adding themselves as yet another person who agrees with or votes for the thing being discussed in the thread. It kind of functions like a "thumbs up" smiley/emoticon, which is another way of giving affirmation to someone's suggestion or comment. Google is just taking it a step further. And they'll probably try to patent the idea as if it was theirs.

*** 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

There are many ways your password can be compromised. In fact, in this article I even missed one: you could be using the same password everywhere, and it's somewhere else that your password was stolen.

Is it possible for a hacker to get my Hotmail password without access to my computer?

Is it possible for a hacker to get my Hotmail password without access to my computer?


There are several ways a hacker can get your password. The good news is that there is something you can do to prevent that from happening.

The bad news is that most people don't.

Continue reading...
Is it possible for a hacker to get my Hotmail password without access to my computer?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Thanks to everyone who attended and participated in my first monthly webinar this last Sunday.

Since a couple of people have asked: no, I don't plan to make the entire webinar available online, but I do plan to make segments of it available. That way you'll get the meat without all the random stuff. (If you want the random stuff ... well, you'll just have to attend live Smile.)

I started playing with exactly how the video segments will work almost immediately after the webinar was completed.

I'll hold publicly at once a month for now: the second Sunday of each month. If I can get the mechanics down a little better, which I expect to with experimentation and practice, I enjoy it enough that I'd love to do it more frequently. I'll keep you posted here.

Next webinar is July 10th.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
Twitter - Facebook

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Posted: June 14, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4845
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