Leo’s Answers #288 – June 21, 2011

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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper - Clean malware from your machine

Microsoft recently released into Beta a new malware recovery tool called the Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper. It addresses one of the fundamental problems encountered when attempting to clean up a seriously compromised machine.

It's too new for me to give it a formal recommendation, but I definitely encourage you to have a look at it and consider adding it to your toolkit.

I'll walk through how to get it and how to use it.

Continue reading: Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper - Clean malware from your machine

* * *

Is my information safe in the cloud?

This is a short question that opens up a veritable Pandora's box of issues and considerations.

I believe that there's a lot of misunderstanding about just what information safety means and how secure your data is and is not when you use cloud-based services.

Of course, there's also a lot of misunderstanding about just what "cloud-based services" even means, so we'll need to define that a little first.

Continue reading: Is my information safe in the cloud?

* * *

Why is my paste of web content into Word underlined?

Quite often, I find a piece of information via a newsletter or on the Internet that I want to keep. My normal routine is to select the text/graphic that I want, press Control>C, open a new Document, and press Control>V. Depending on the source of the text/graphic, I will get exactly what I want -- a nice clean paste of ONLY text and/or graphic. However, when copying and pasting from some websites and/or newsletters (yours included), I get the text and graphics, but all of the text is 'underscored' and I can't get rid of the underscores. If I select 'Paste Special' and save as .rtf, I will get text without underscore but no graphic. What's with this and how can I avoid the underscores?


I was able to reproduce something that sounds like what you're seeing. I'm not sure that it's exactly the same, but I'll describe what I think is happening (hint #1: it shouldn't) and what you can do.

And Hint #2? They might look like underlines, but they're not.

Continue reading: Why is my paste of web content into Word underlined?

* * *

Making Your Own Taskbar Toolbar in Windows 7

I very much miss Windows XP's Quick Launch bar in Windows 7.

As soon as I switched to Windows 7, I set about looking for a suitable alternative. I found that you could add your own toolbars to the Windows 7 taskbar and then I discovered an unexpected way to use them that made them even better than the old Quick Launch bar.

In this video excerpt from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll show you what I discovered.

Continue reading: Making Your Own Taskbar Toolbar in Windows 7

* * *

What's the fastest safe way to abort a malware download?

What is the quickest method to turn off your computer or kill a download? Just curious, in case I need to stop a possible virus web download without damaging the computer processes. I use Vista on laptops. The other day when I was surfing, I went to a "legitimate" web site and saw an instant notification of a virus: bars growing in a strange display - that kind of thing. It did not look like any display that my regular firewall and antivirus ever shows. As quick as I could, I clicked all the quit X corners and did a "normal" shutdown. Afterwards, I ran all my scanners in Safe Mode and nothing odd showed up. But, it pointed out that we all need a very rapid way to shut down the CPU to kill the download. If I had been close to my wireless router, I could have pulled the power cord or if I was connected by ethernet cable, I could have removed that transmission line.


You're right in that the fastest way is to pull the network cable, if you have access to it. That's what I generally recommend when possible. It's fast and absolute.

One thing that folks often do, but should not, is to pull the power cord, or otherwise force an immediate power-off of their machine.

I'll explain why that's a bad idea and give you a couple of alternatives when disconnecting the networking cable isn't a realistic option.

Continue reading: What's the fastest safe way to abort a malware download?

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

How do I turn off User Account Control (UAC) in Windows 7?

Kerry writes:

I always run UAC at the default level. There have been times where I want to install software, but the lack of a "run as administrator" has prevented this. What to do?

Open a Windows Command Processor window "run as administrator"

Enter: net user administrator /active:yes

Reboot, and now administrator will be visible for login; login & install away

When finished, log out of admin, log into your own account, Open a Windows Command Processor window "run as administrator"

Enter: net user administrator /active:no

Reboot & admin will no longer be visible.

I would say this is for advanced users only. Care to comment further?


What's a firewall, and how do I set one up?


I've been using ZoneAlarm (free version) for several months now. At first it's somewhat annoying as it learns (configured by your input) but a few weeks later it hunkers down and warns of new or unusual traffic--- stops it--- provides info for you to decide. It does what its supposed to do so I like it. I enjoy looking into the log to just to see what its been doing. Sometimes it seems to know what to do, like a deleted program in the recycle bin trying to connect to the outside. Blocked, w/o my input. Pretty cool.

Valid and useful, for sure. The problem I often see, though, is that the average computer user is confused by those annoying warnings, and often have no idea how to answer.



Can I switch back to Windows XP from Windows 7?

warp4dennis writes:

Leo: You haven't been very honest with your readers. You make it sound as tho using Win 7 is a peace of cake, but my experience has shown me that you are at the mercy of MS when a new OS comes out. A good example is Vista. I personally consider my time worth something. I should be getting at least $70/hr. for doing their QC work. Instead they want the users to do it for free. I'm sorry your advice is false because Win 7 brings other problems along with it, guaranteed. And this will cause me to take time away from my work to figure out what went wrong with the installation of Win 7 or why this program or that program won't work, or what's even worse, system crashes. No thanks!


Can I switch back to Windows XP from Windows 7?

Beth Harris writes:

I see this kind of thing EVERYDAY! And I do sympathize... up to a point.

I own a small computer store that deals with new and pre-loved PC's. We see all manner of PC's and computers users. I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with wanting what is comfortable and familiar as long as it works. Different people have different learning and communication styles, and some respond to change quite negatively. It's neither good nor bad... it just IS. Change is not evil (par se)... but it is inevitable. Learn to deal with it in a way that works for you.

I use Vista, XP, and Windows 7 (and Android) and like/dislike things about all of them. I tend to think of an OS these days like a car. As long as it gets me where I want to go, I'm not too fussed about what's under the Hood.

When we get a batch of ex-lease computers in to refurbish, I usually get stuck with the task of reinstalling the operating systems, and of course finding the drivers and putting on the 'goodies'. I dread the computers that have XP license keys because I know I'm in for more work than if the same PC had Vista or Windows 7 on it.

I love XP. It is like a comfortable pair of jeans I'm loathe to retire ? but those jeans are getting a bit tatty and worn and will eventually be relegated to the recycle bin. Sadly, it is getting increasingly harder to find drivers for some XP computers. Some days when I have spent hours looking for that one elusive driver, I simply throw in the towel and grab a Vista or Windows & License and 'wear' the extra cost involved. (My sanity is worth more than the time and frustration involved to stick with maintaining XP.) When installing Vista and Windows 7 it is (usually) just a matter of running the Windows updates and the missing drivers are installed with the optional updates. I rarely have to hunt them down.

I DO get customers whinging about wanting XP on their brand new PC (all the time), and I still occasionally downgrade a new desktop PC... but it is getting increasingly difficult to retrograde some notebooks, because the drivers are not readily available. For the really Vista or Win7 phobic customer, I often throw in a free 1 hour one-on-one tailored lesson to help them find their way around the new system. This usually clinches the sale and eases the customer into the unfamiliar. Problem solved.

Windows 8 is around the corner... and even THAT is not enough to drive me into the Linux or Apple cult. (yet)

*** Leo Recommends

Security Now

"TechTV's Leo Laporte and [Steve Gibson] take 30 to 60 minutes near the end of each week to discuss important issues of personal computer security. Sometimes we'll discuss something that just happened. Sometimes we'll talk about long-standing problems, concerns, or solutions. Either way, every week we endeavor to produce something interesting and important for every personal computer user. "

I subscribe to a number of podcasts, as you might imagine. There are few - very few - that get my attention nearly 100% of the time.

Security Now with Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte is one of those podcasts.

And it's not because the co-host's name is also "Leo".

Continue reading: Security Now


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

It's sad that this article even has to exist...

What do I do if I'm being harassed, bullied or stalked online?

Normally, this is where I'd quote the original question.

This topic appears in so many different guises and in so many different ways that quoting a single question would represent only a slice of a much larger issue.

Call it what you will, cyber-bullying or online harassment, is a frighteningly common occurrence. Those most at risk appear to be children, and individuals who've been in abusive domestic relationships.

The questions I get most often are:

  • Isn't it illegal?

  • How do I find out who's responsible?

  • How do I make them stop?

  • How can I get back at them?

I'll tackle each one of those, and a couple more.

Continue reading...
What do I do if I'm being harassed, bullied or stalked online?

*** Thoughts and Comments

A tentative agenda has been set, and registration is open for next month's webinar. A bit of a theme in the topics selected so far: password selection and management.

You can see in this week's new articles that I've uploaded the first segment extracted from the webinar: Making Your Own Taskbar Toolbar in Windows 7. It covers how you can create a new toolbar on your taskbar in Windows 7, but then also shows how I abuse it in a way that makes it more useful to me.

If you have ideas for topics that would be helpful to see demonstrated, drop me a line.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
Twitter - Facebook

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Posted: June 21, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4852
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