Leo’s Answers #299 – September 6, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

What is Adobe AIR?

I recently downloaded Adobe Acrobat Reader and apparently along with it came something called Adobe AIR. What is it? Do I want it? If I don't, how do I get rid of it?

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I don't believe that Acrobat Reader is installing it anymore, but Adobe AIR is a runtime support library that is used by other programs. (It's often referred to as a "common" runtime support library because its use is common to a number of other programs.)

If that definition sounds familiar, that's because it is. Adobe AIR is by no means the first common runtime library. In fact, you probably already have several.

I'll discuss what's going on.

Continue reading: What is Adobe AIR?
http://ask-leo.com/C4921

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Is it safe to share my internet connection with my neighbor?

I have a next door neighbor who has a different internet provider than mine. When her service goes down, she asks me for the password to my router so that she can connect to the internet. I have no problem providing her with the password, but I wonder if anyone in her house can access my computer now through the router. I trust her but I am concerned that others might try to hack into my system. Should I be worried?

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Worried? That might seem a bit strong, but some worry could certainly be reasonable.

I'd at least be somewhat concerned.

The short answer to your question is that yes, it's quite possible that someone on her computer with less than honorable intent could cause you grief in several ways.

Let's look at how.

Continue reading: Is it safe to share my internet connection with my neighbor?
http://ask-leo.com/C4920

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Can encrypted e-mail be sniffed?

Can sniffers be used with encrypted email like Gmail? Aren't https connections secure even for public/ wireless connections? Someone told me Gmail was hacked by China. Can they do this?

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There's a misconception here that I want to clear up: Gmail is not encrypted mail.

In fact, encrypted mail is very rare.

I want to cover what encrypted mail means and how it relates to https.

And then I'll talk about getting hacked.

Continue reading: Can encrypted e-mail be sniffed?
http://ask-leo.com/C4919

* * *

How should I protect my computer from natural disasters?

With the passing of Hurricane Irene where I live (my home was spared any damage), what do you suggest is a good plan to protect your data and your hardware from these storms?

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That's actually a scenario that many people overlook until it's much too late. I'm not talking about hurricanes specifically, but any disaster that could take out all of your computer equipment at home.

There are a few things that we can do to protect the hardware, but in all honesty, that's not the most important thing.

It's not the most important by far.

Let's face it: hardware can be replaced.

Continue reading: How should I protect my computer from natural disasters?
http://ask-leo.com/C4918

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Encrypting Using LockNote

LockNote is kind of a fun little application that's really good at doing what it was designed to do: encrypt and decrypt a text 'note' and make it easy to share with other Windows users.

In this video excerpt from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll walk through using LockNote.

Continue reading: Encrypting Using LockNote
http://ask-leo.com/C4917

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

Encrypting using Zip files

Barcillo Barsiniestro writes:

One important thing to remember: When you open a file from a zip (or rar) archive, it is copied to the temp folder before opening. And sometimes it remains there after you close the file. Unencrypted, unproctected, and ready for anyone to read it. And even if it is deleted, it still can be recovered as Leo says.
So be carefull where and how you use zip files to encrypt. PS: I don't know about 7zip, but in winrar there is an option to encrypt file names

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Kindle - Much more than an electronic portable book reader

Peter Ballantyne writes:

As an avid reader all my life (my parents made sure I grew up in love with reading), I was a "buy a book every week" guy for most of my working life. After retiring on the pension I can live reasonably comfortably, but a new book a week was no longer affordable. After re-reading most of the thousands I have accumulated over the years, I used ebooks on my Palm for a while. Then I saved like mad for months to buy my first Kindle 3! I am in New Zealand and it had to come all the way from the USA as there were no resellers here then (there's one now hurray!). For me the pricing is one of the main advantages. I am now reading about a book a week once more, and head over heels in love with my Kindle and its ecosystem. My Kindle literally goes everywhere with me, even (whisper) into the toilet. Being able to carry my library around with me is something I once dreamed of - now I am living the dream!

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Kindle - Much more than an electronic portable book reader

Steve Loyola writes:

I don't use my Kindle nearly as much as you Leo, but for me the best use of a Kindle is reading in bed. I can read until I fall asleep and the Kindle goes to sleep shortly after I do, and (unlike a print book) it remembers the page I was on when I fell asleep!

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Is deleting a file and emptying my recycle bin enough?

Mike writes:

I'm not worried enought about it to check it further, but even securely deleting a file often is insufficient. In some cases, there are MULTIPLE copies of the file in various subdirectories of your hard drive; some of them being Recent Files, or Temporary Internet Files, and more files. Some are buried so deeply and named so archaically that you have to be Indiana Jones to find them.

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From where can I legally download mp3 files?

Sue writes:

Hi Leo, I legally download from my public library. It mentioned on my public library site that they assume you are going to rip off the CD, so now there is a link called "freegal" that I click into from my library card. I am allowed 3 free downloads a week and it puts the music right into my Itunes account. Granted, not all the popular music is in there, but there is plenty for me to chose. I doubt my library would allow something illegal.

*** Leo Recommends

RSS and Google Reader - Subscribe to information feeds and read it all for free

If you've not heard of RSS, or don't know exactly what it is, that's ok; you're not alone. It still suffers from a fairly high geek factor.

But I'd strongly recommend getting at least a few of the basics down because it's a very powerful technology that allows you to get the information you want delivered to your virtual doorstep.

And I recommend using Google's free Reader to view the RSS feeds you've subscribed to.

Continue reading: RSS and Google Reader - Subscribe to information feeds and read it all for free
http://ask-leo.com/C3424

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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

This article always stirs some debate. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall on, it's important to at least be aware of the issue.

Is an outbound firewall needed?

Isn't an outbound firewall really important in many situations? I deliberately installed a free version of a key logger on my system and ran thorough scans through my anti virus and anti spyware programs. But the running key logger wasn't detected even though the key logger icon was right there in the system tray.

You have said that when an outbound firewall stops something it is already too late. But don't you think outbound firewall might stop a key logger from at least sending logs to an email or remote computer? Or would it not?

A firewall with outbound detection can have a place, I suppose, but you've captured my thoughts already: if it finds something to detect, then it's too late.

Let's review what it means to be an outbound firewall, why I don't value them all that much, and perhaps why your key logger wasn't detected.

Continue reading...
Is an outbound firewall needed?
http://ask-leo.com/C3484

*** Thoughts and Comments

Just a quickie after returning from a very nice labor day bar-b-que at our neighbors.

I'm in a quandary about the topic for this month's coming webinar.

It's currently planned as an Acronis 2012 demo/walk through. My initial reactions to 2012 have been pretty positive. However, in preparation for the webinar I spent some time looking at the Acronis True Image 2012 Forum - I'm not sure I'm ready to implicitly endorse the update yet. It might need more time to "bake".

So, I might elect to wait just a tad longer to dive into Acronis' latest offering. Instead I might examine some other backup alternatives.

Or perhaps I'll just make something else up entirely. Smile

'till next week...

Leo
Leo A. Notenboom
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