Leo’s Answers #291 – July 12, 2011

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Leo Notenboom


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*** New Articles

How do I get a 64-bit Flash Player?

I have a one-and-half year old HP Pavillion dv7 laptop, running Windows 7 Home Premium on a 64-bit processor. More and more sites are requiring the latest Adobe Flash Player, version 10, which is only available for 32-bit processors. Is there any way that the new Flash player can be installed on my Devil's instrument? Will it become available for 64-bit within my lifetime?


To be honest, I have no idea if it'll be available in either of our lifetimes. As I write this, it certainly is not.

These days, my guess is that Adobe is (rightfully) prioritizing improving the security of not only Flash, but of other vulnerable technologies as well. They've suffered from a rash of exploited vulnerabilities in recent months.

I suppose that 64-bit Flash will be available someday. Eventually. Probably.

But it doesn't really matter today.

You can start using the Flash player on your system right now.

I too have a 64-bit system and I run it all the time.

Continue reading: How do I get a 64-bit Flash Player?

* * *

Installing Microsoft Security Essentials

Over the years, I've had various recommendations for anti-virus and anti-spyware tools. Last year, Microsoft released Microsoft Security Essentials, which I now recommend as a viable option for most of the average computer users out there.

In this video excerpt from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll walk through installing Microsoft Security Essentials and point out a few of the settings that I think are important.

Continue reading: Installing Microsoft Security Essentials

* * *

Is it safe to get receipts and statements in email?

From a security-wise perspective, should I get my receipts (i.e. from my insurance, ISP, or cellphone provider) by email or snail mail? I use https, but I don't know what kind of security goes on the sender's side. To my understanding, I cannot use PGP as corporations don't use it.


As I've discussed before, email is basically an unsecure medium.

Even if you use https to connect to your webmail provider or the equivalent ssl connections for the POP3, SMTP, or IMAP connections to your desktop email program, that's only securing the last leg of your email's journey to you. Most email remains "in the clear" as it travels from email server to email server on the internet.

From a practical perspective, that's typically good enough. Considering that most people don't use https or ssl when they should, however, it's important for you to think about ways to transfer important and sensitive information more securely.

Continue reading: Is it safe to get receipts and statements in email?

* * *

How and where can I get a copy of Windows XP?

I never got a Windows XP setup CD and now I want to reformat and reinstall it. My machine can't handle Windows 7, so how do I go about getting a Windows XP disk?


There's no doubt that the sun is setting on Windows XP, but that doesn't mean that it's dead. At the beginning of this year, there were still more machines running XP than all other operating system combined!

If you find yourself in a situation where you absolutely need a Windows installation disc and your computer didn't come with one, your options are very limited indeed.

Well, your legitimate and legal options are, that is.

Continue reading: How and where can I get a copy of Windows XP?

* * *

How do I contact my network administrator for my home computer?

Windows XP often advises that you "contact your network administrator" or it has a feature that has been disabled by the network administrator. But on a home network, one is the network administrator! How does one login as the "network administrator" (as opposed to a normal administrator account) or override these settings?


You're quite right. On your own network, you are the network administrator.

Whether you realize it or not. Smile

In many ways, it's a nod to the fact that Windows is designed for larger businesses where there's a great deal of network configuration and control in place.

Configuration and control managed by real, honest-to-goodness network administrators.

At home, you have no one to contact but yourself.

Continue reading: How do I contact my network administrator for my home computer?

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

How do I figure out what kind of file I have - without the file extension?

HmS-PA writes:

Why not set the Windows Explorer (not IExplorer -web browser) to show extensions? Many virus may come looking like Foobar.txt and actually be Foobar.txt.exe making it a executable that you get zinged with. It doesn't click that the .txt is showing and no other extensions show. Setting Explorer to show those could save a lot of grief.

The questioner actually had a file with no extension at all. But yes, Windows Explorer should be set to always show extensions for safety's sake as you describe.



Do I need these Microsoft Visual C++ redistributables?

Michael Horowitz writes:

I have been burned by removing the Visual C++ Redistributables along with other "crapware" on a new Windows computer. It turns out it was needed by two different CD/DVD burning programs. There was NO warning when the software was removed that it was needed by another application. Each application failed to startup with an initialization error that was totally useless in terms of pinpointing the problem.

I like the previous idea of renaming the folder where the software that you are considering resides. After a while, if this doesn't break anything, then rename the folder back and uninstall the software normally. BUT, in my case, this would not have helped as I very rarely use the software that broke.


What is contextual advertising, and how does it affect my privacy?

Gerard writes:

Leo, hello,

I do like your writing!

For me, I think all of the advertisements on the internet, contextual or not, are very annoying because they're distracting from the subject that you want to find.

So, I use IE7Pro trying to block the majority, although this doesn't help 100%. My computer still runs under XP Home, SP3, and IE8. It has the latest updates and an up-to-date Anti-Virus Avast 6.0. A few weeks ago, I found out that you can easily block websites in Avast that you don't want to appear and have entered some sites like *yieldmanager*, *googleads* and *googlesyndication*. (It is very unlikely that I would ever like to enter the related websites; and if I would, I can easily temporarily remove these words.) This really helps blocking!

I don't use any Google-software besides Gmail, Google Earth and the search engine. I have to tell you that I also disabled the hourly Google-update (why should I want to be in contact with Google -especially Google!- every hour); both of the updaters are now started by the task manager once a week for 10 minutes.

After blocking with Avast, the Google-Earth program is moving very slowly: after starting, it will take Google Earth about half an hour to turn from the starting point to anywhere near my country, taking about 100% of the CPU.

Question now is: am I really facing something like the "revenge" of Google?

No, but you are hurting the sites that you visit. For example, by blocking ads on Ask Leo! (which you've done by blocking the Google domains), you're affecting my ability to continue to provide this free service. The "cost" of this site is the ads that you see. If a site has too many ads or the ads are too obnoxious, vote with your feet - don't visit the site.



How do I figure out what kind of file I have - without the file extension?

Bob writes:

Regarding: "... complex maze of twisty passages, all alike." I imagine most people won't catch this, but it immediately took me back to the original Adventure game and the moment in the 1970s when I finally understood what was going on in the maze of twisty passages, all alike. Thanks for including the (implicit) reference.

I figured a couple of people might recognize it. For those that don't it's a reference to Colossal Cave Adventure which I played years ago on a CDC mainframe in school, and then later on my first home computer, an Apple ][.



*** Leo Recommends

WinPatrol - Get alerts to important changes to your computer

WinPatrol is a difficult utility to classify, yet it's an exceedingly helpful one.

Win Patrol's Scotty the watchdog

At its core, WinPatrol is a watch dog (hence, the Scotty icon), alerting you to changes made to your computer that might otherwise happen without your knowledge.

Bundled with that are a number of utilities to explore more of what's happening on your machine.

All of that is free.

Upgrade to Pro (which is a great value and has a generous license) and you'll also get access to something that solves one of the most annoying problems that I encounter almost daily on the web.

Continue reading: WinPatrol - Get alerts to important changes to your computer


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 possible, but it's something that, ideally, you would never need or want to do.

Is it safe to uninstall updates?

Is it safe to uninstall or delete updates to programs after one has installed them? My add/remove is chock full of updates and I'm thinking if they've been installed or superseded by later updates, I should be able to uninstall them.

Is it safe? Kinda, sorta, but not really.

Do I think you should do it? Nope.

The updates are there for a reason.

Continue reading...
Is it safe to uninstall updates?

*** Thoughts and Comments


Thanks to all who attended Sunday's webinar. I have one more video segment to post from last month's webinar and then I'll be posting three videos for the three segments that we covered this month. This month focused specifically on password security and covered what I felt was some interesting and important ground.

I'm definitely happy to hear of ideas for future webinar topics - just drop me a line at http://ask-leo.com/feedback.

This last week's buzz (if you'll pardon a very obscure pun) has been all about Google+: Google's more formal entry into the social media space currently owned by Facebook, Twitter and a number of other services.

It's a tad soon to say whether Google+ will be anything - certainly initial reaction among the technorati early adopter crowd has been positive. It's definitely still a Beta product, but it's clear that the folks at Google have learned a thing or two from Facebook's mistakes. (In a word: privacy.)

Anyway, yes, I'm on Google+, and you're welcome to follow me there. In fact, here's my current social media world:

  • Google Plus - not sure what I'm doing here yet Smile

  • Twitter - automated post each time a new article is published, as well as occasional news, comments and retweets of items I think are valuable.

  • Facebook - new article publish notifications, as well as thoughts and comments that exceed 140 characters.

Hope to see you there, wherever "there" may be.

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
Twitter - Facebook

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Posted: July 12, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4872
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I'm Leo Notenboom and I've been playing with computers since I took a required programming class in 1976. I spent over 18 years as a software engineer at Microsoft, and after "retiring" in 2001 I started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place to help you find answers and become more confident using this amazing technology at our fingertips. More about Leo.