Leo’s Answers #303 – October 4, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

What can someone tell from my email address?

I was on a dating site & I received a message from a lady & she gave me her email address so we could talk privately in which I emailed her back. Now that she knows my email address can anything bad or dangerous happen? Like a virus or having my account cleaned out? My email is with google.


Ultimately, it really depends on your own level of security savvy, as well as how you've used that email address in the past.

For example, you could just have given your email address to a spammer.

Unfortunately, that's not the worst that could happen.

Continue reading: What can someone tell from my email address?

* * *

How do I run an anti-virus scan if I can't boot?

Most of the self-help books that have been written about XP say the same thing - if you can't start XP in safe mode, you might have a virus so run an anti-virus program. Well, all of my anti-virus packages were downloaded, so I have no install disks. But even if I had an install disk, if I can't boot Windows, or I can't connect to the internet, a disk won't do me any good. So how do I run an anti-virus scan under these conditions? And if I reformat and reinstall XP, isn't there a possibility that a virus could attach itself to the new install if I haven't eliminated it beforehand?


You're experiencing a definite chicken-and-egg situation. You need to run an anti-virus program to possibly fix Windows, but you need to be able to run Windows in order to run the anti-virus program.

Seems like a no-win situation.

There are approaches and they all begin with booting something else.

Continue reading: How do I run an anti-virus scan if I can't boot?

* * *

What's a "super cookie"?

I just read an article where Congress is asking the FCC to look into sites that use “super cookies” without the computer user's permission or even knowledge. What are “super cookies”? And how can I protect my computer from them?


I'll start out by saying that protection options are currently relatively limited, if even possible.

Super cookies are the result of website owner's desire (or more often, that of the advertising networks) to accumulate data about computer users and the sites that they visit - even those users that disable or clear cookies in their browser regularly.

And then, there are "ever-cookies".

Continue reading: What's a "super cookie"?

* * *

How do I repair a corrupt .pst file?

I am running Windows 7 and my Outlook has stopped working. It states that the folder that the .pst is in is damaged. I was hoping that you could provide me with a fix please and thanks. Error Message: Cannot start MS Outlook. Cannot open the Outlook window. The set of Folders cannot be opened. Errors have been detected in the file C:UsersAveryAppDataLocalMicrosoftOutlookOutlook.pst


".pst" files are the container files used by Microsoft Office's Outlook email program to store all of your data. (Note that this is not Outlook Express, which is a different, unrelated program that I recommend that people stop using.)

When that file becomes corrupt for whatever reason, the potential for data loss is high. Fortunately, it doesn't happen often and being a single file makes it almost trivial to backup regularly.

But because it can happen, Microsoft includes a tool with Office to help repair your Outlook .pst file: scanpst.

Continue reading: How do I repair a corrupt .pst file?

* * *

A brief overview of Windows 7 Backup

Backups are an often-discussed topic on Ask Leo!, but options for how best to perform backups and what tools to use can be both confusing and difficult to find.

In this video excerpt from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll provide a brief overview (not an in-depth review) of one of the options: Windows 7's own backup utility.

It might do what I want, but it's not at all obvious how it does in an brief overview of the product. At a minimum, it's potentially useful for system images that can be restored in total.

Continue reading: A brief overview of Windows 7 Backup

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

Why do I get "There is another user logged onto your computer" when I shut down?

mobby writes:

How can I tell if someone has tried to use my computer? winxp

Quite often you cannot. It's difficult to come up with a set of rules of things to look for because many of the signs of tresspass can also be signs of normal use.



How can I prevent a Word document from being copied or printed?

Ken B writes:

My wife used to work at the IT department of a local college. Numerous times, she ran into a similar issue. The trial version of MS Office would expire just before term papers were due, and it would lock the students out of their documents. (Well, it would let them display the documents, but not modify, print, or even select/copy the text to paste it elsewhere.)

Her solution? Get a free copy of OpenOffice.org, open both side-by-side, and re-type the document. Certainly not ideal, but it got the job done.


How can I prevent a Word document from being copied or printed?

Marvin Fretwell writes:

It is not unlike the situation pre-computers. Books, letters, and manuscripts could be copied by anyone who had enough incentive. Computers have just made it easier.

The best protection is to copyright the material and go after violators.

For many things it simply isn't worth the bother, but if it really matters, then the copyright gives strong legal recourse.


Should I try Windows 8?

Glenn P. writes:

I have to echo Dutch; in fact, I'm astonished that Leo didn't think of using a VM himself, as it seems the (almost) ideal solution.

You'll notice I did say "almost", though.

Why the caveat?

Well, because the VM (and thus, Win8) has full access to all of your peripherals. It also has access to the Internet, if your modem is on while the VM is active. Both of these merit some degree of caution.

All of that said, with due care, a Virtual Machine should render Windows 8 reasonably safe to run -- and reasonably safe to crash and burn -- without seriously affecting the rest of your system.

Just the same...

Backup first! :)

To address why I didn't mention it - this article's really targetted at the "average" computer user who might be curious and tempted. For them the answer is no. For the more advanced users, absolutely a VM (or dedicated sacrificial machine) is the way to go.


*** Leo Recommends

Kindle - Much more than an electronic portable book reader

Not quite three years ago (has it been that long?) I received my original Kindle as a Christmas gift from my wife.

I wrote an article back then So, what do you think about Kindle? and discussed some of its more immediately striking features. I ended that article with the statement "...I think Kindle might end up changing the way I read books."

2.5+ years later, I'm here to tell you that it has. And in some ways that, in retrospect, I never would have predicted.

Kindle's not about the device as much as you might think.

Continue reading: Kindle - Much more than an electronic portable book reader


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

Sandboxes, VM's and even dedicated computers are one approach to minimizing some forms of threats. Unfortunately there's a cost in convenience, and not all threats are covered.

Does a sandbox or virtual machine help protect your privacy?

I've been very interested in your articles on what a website can learn about you when browsing, cookies, and passwords etc. I wonder if you would like to comment on the pros and cons of using a sandbox (I use Sandboxie). Does using one overcome some of the issues you have discussed?

I'm going to add virtual machines to the mix that this question opens up, since the answer is (roughly) the same.

And the answer is that age old trio: yes, maybe and no.

The problem is that while sandboxes and VM's can help, they can help only in some ways, and that help comes at a cost.

Continue reading...
Does a sandbox or virtual machine help protect your privacy?

*** Thoughts and Comments

A reminder that the next webinar is coming up on Sunday. Be sure to register if you want to attend live. As I write this I honestly don't know what the topic will be - as you'll see below a few things have conspired against me Smile.

I'll at least share the plans on Facebook when I figure it out.

Now, on to the excuses for my lack of preparedness...

Leo & pals at the beach

We just got back from a very lovely camping trip on the Pacific coast (Washington's Pacific Beach State Park). While I did have connectivity, and even managed to stay on top of email and write this week's articles from within our trailer, things to take on different priorities when you're out camping.

In the days leading up to my trip, and almost immediately on my return, my primary desktop machine - the one that I use the most, and most importantly the one I use for webinars - started to freeze up randomly. Facebook fans will have seen me comment on this, first blaming the video driver, then the mouse drivers, and then ... well, and then not sure what to blame.

I suspect that it's a driver issue of some sort, but with precious little to go on, I'm taking my own advice. The machine has been around for a while, it's had lots of stuff added and removed from it over the past couple of years, so after doing a couple of things to grease the skids ... I'm reformatting and reinstalling Windows, and all the applications I use.


The good news is that I'll have a leaner, cleaner machine when I'm done.

And if I'm really lucky, it won't randomly freeze on me.

Until then, my trusty laptop will be doing major Ask Leo! duty.

If worst comes to worst, it'll host this month's webinar.

Finally - I ran the Kindle recommendation this week because of Amazon's recent announcement of its new Kindle models. I'm pretty intrigued, and yes - I have the new Kindle Fire on pre-order already. Smile

'till next week...

Leo A. Notenboom
Twitter - Facebook - Google+ - YouTube

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Posted: October 4, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4945
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