Leo’s Answers #309 – November 15, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

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*** New Articles

Where did my volume icon go?

On my taskbar, I had a volume icon, which disappeared when I clicked on it. How do I get it back? The volume is at 100.


Actually, taskbar icons - or more correctly, notification area icons - are by default managed by Windows in such a way that what it thinks are less frequently used icons are sometimes hidden.

We'll look both at how to get at the icons, how to take control of the icons, and perhaps most important of all, tell Windows to stop messing with the icons.

Continue reading: Where did my volume icon go?

* * *

A brief overview of Snagit screen capture utility

There are many screen capture utilities, but I've used Snagit for years and continue to be impressed with its functionality and ease of use.

In this video for an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll walk through installing Snagit, and show off a few of its features.

Continue reading: A brief overview of Snagit screen capture utility

* * *

Will you help fix my account? My username and password are ...

I've been fighting a problem with my email it seems for weeks now. [Further details removed.]

My username is [removed] and my password is 'tires4you'. Can you help?


I've removed the details of what is basically a composite question, because this isn't about the question.

It's about what's horribly, horribly wrong with the question.

And it's something that I see so often that it's time that I said something.

And no, it's not that the password is horrifically unsecure (although it is).

Continue reading: Will you help fix my account? My username and password are ...

* * *

Can I remove Internet Explorer if I never use it?

Because I use Firefox 100% of the time, what do I do with Internet Explorer? You indicated earlier that it's best not to actually delete it because it's still needed in a minimal way (Windows updates use it). For security and privacy reasons, what can be done to render it more safe? Should browser helpers be deleted, security settings set to a level higher than Medium, or ActiveX items and JavaScript functions deleted? I no longer tend to IE (out of sight, out of mind). Any comments on minimizing exposure to malware and viruses while keeping the simplest function of receiving Windows updates would be appreciated. IE seems to always be the target for miscreants and I would love not to fall prey to them.


It's needed in more than a "minimal way", so not only is it best not to delete it, it's critical that you do not.

Portions of what you and I consider Internet Explorer are actually part of Windows itself and would cause portions of Windows to fail (more than just the Windows Update website). In fact, it could quite possibly cause other applications that depend on the functionality that those parts of IE-in-Windows provides to fail as well.

Continue reading: Can I remove Internet Explorer if I never use it?

* * *

How do I tell what program is slowing down my machine?

I suspect that I have some software running in the background that is unwanted, because when I scroll, my webpages move in chunks instead of moving smoothly, and the PC sounds busy almost all the time. My pages freeze and some web pages are very slow to fill - and I'm using DSL. How can I identify this nuisance?


"Unwanted" is perhaps a bit premature. We might very well find out that the program at fault (if indeed there is a single program at fault) might be something important and that its impact on your system might need to be addressed by some way other than deleting it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

What you describe, particularly with respect to scrolling, and even more so with respect to the PC sounding busy all of the time, does imply that there's something on your system that's using too many resources.

We can't say, yet, which program or what resources, but we can certainly gather more information.

Continue reading: How do I tell what program is slowing down my machine?

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

Why are internet petitions a bad idea?

Fred Nerd writes:

There are SOME good uses. Mainly as feedback. For instance: if a facebook petition to save whales has 1 millon signatures, you can tell that the issue has public opinion. Now, the petition might do nothing, BUT some politician might be able to leverage this and will do something to get votes.

(Just like I KNOW that not many people care to Save the Woolly Mammoth)

In Australia we have the 'Get Up' organisation which often does online petitions. They can take it to whatever level of government and say 'there are a lot of VOTING people who want logging stopped, is this a good hint?'

But they're the exceptions to the rule.

Anyone with even a hint of internet familiarity should never pay attention to internet petitions because they are trivial to manipulate and falsify. So, no, you cannot and should not assume that any internet petition with 1,000,000 "signatures" means that 1,000,000 people care. Get 1,000,000 people to write a letter instead and you'll get someone's attention.



Why didn't Microsoft fix this horrible bug?

Bob Booth writes:

I found the article very informative, particularly for those who haven't stopped to think about what a "bug" truly is and how difficult it is to fix one. All in all, "bug" fixes are all about the time and money it takes to even consider them, let alone, fix them. Unfortunately (or foutunately depending on which side of the coin you look at) money is what our economy is based on.


Why is it so bad to leave the email addresses in an email I forward?

Darryl Kenney writes:

I always do a check on Snopes.com before I forward anything along. If it is fake, etc, I reply back to the sender and send them a link to the page and ask them to check out the information before sending it along. Almost all thank me for the information. And I notice that I do not get any more of these forwarded emails. Either they dropped me from their list (bonus for me) or they do research and stop sending out these long emails (bonus for me and others).

Sometimes, polite corrections can help in a large way.

My experience has been the other way - I've received some very angry replies when I politely pointed out that what was being forwarded wasn't true. As a result I no longer reply, I simply mark that sender's email as spam.



Why didn't Microsoft fix this horrible bug?

Dorothy Reilly writes:

I started as a software developer in 1962 for large custom systems for the military. You gave an excellent summary of what goes into developing, testing a release, and deciding when it should be released. Bravo!

*** Leo Recommends

NoScript - A Firefox addin that makes browsing safer.

I think I've mentioned before that I run FireFox most of the time instead of Internet Explorer. One of the reasons I run Firefox is the wealth of addins that are available for it.

If, like me, you run FireFox, I strongly recommend that you consider the NoScript plugin.

Continue reading: NoScript - A Firefox addin that makes browsing safer.


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

Best not touch .NET as it may have unintended consequences ...

What is the .NET Framework, and do I need all these versions?

Do i need Microsoft .net framework 1.1 and 2.0 service pack 1 and 3.0 service pack 1 on my desk top computer? I don't develop new software.

The fact that you don't develop software actually has nothing to do with anything here.

.NET is most likely used by other software you have installed on your machine.

.NET versioning, unfortunately, is apparently a mess.

Continue reading...
What is the .NET Framework, and do I need all these versions?

*** Thoughts and Comments

My thanks to everyone who attended last Sunday's webinar. We covered several more of the tools I install first when I setup a new machine, and videos for those segments should be posted in the coming weeks.

I've decided to do something a little different for the December webinar: no agenda, just questions and answers. Attend and I'll do my best to answer your questions live and on-the-spot. I'm hoping it won't turn into a "stump Leo" session, but when the site's called "Ask Leo!" it seems only natural to take questions.

That'll be the next webinar, December 11th, 1PM US Pacific Standard time. Attendance is limited, but you can reserve your space now.

And bring questions. Smile

Enough about me!

A few weeks ago I asked you to participate in a couple of surveys related to this newsletter; I'll share those results in a couple of weeks after I've had a chance to process them more completely.

In the mean time I thought it might be interesting to find out more about you. To that end, I have a short survey entitled "How do you like to read?". I think the results will be quite interesting. I'll collect responses through Sunday and I'll share the results in the next newsletter.

Please click here to take a moment for this very quick survey.

'till next week...

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

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Posted: November 15, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/4983
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