Leo’s Answers #313 – December 13, 2011

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Leo Notenboom

Reminder: the newsletter goes to twice-a-week beginning in 2012!
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*** New Articles

How do I avoid trojans like Win 7 Home Security 2012?

Twice now, in as many months, I've been hit with the Win 7 Home Security 2012 trojan. First time, I was able to kill it with Malwarebytes in Safe Mode. This time, it even showed up in Safe Mode and my system now won't boot. I had to take my desktop to Best Buy to get it cleaned and fixed. Do you have any recommendations for preventing trojans like this for infecting my system in the first place? I have a PC running Windows 7. Personally, I think these sociopathic oxygen thieves that create this digital fecal matter should ....


I can understand your frustration.

Right up there with spammers, the folks that create this kind of stuff deserve severe punishment. When you tally up the overall cost in wasted time, data loss, and who knows what else, the impact of malware like this is significant.

From what I've seen, "Win 7 Home Security 2012" propagates through pretty traditional means.

Which means prevention is, as well, fairly traditional.

Let's review what that means.

Continue reading: How do I avoid trojans like Win 7 Home Security 2012?

* * *

Why does my screen have a black border all around it?

I have this nice new laptop, but the display is smaller than the screen. What I would normal see across the entire screen is smaller than it should be, and it's surrounded by a black border. How do I get rid of the border and use my whole screen?


Most flat displays, like the LCD screen in your laptop or an LCD monitor for your PC, have what's called a "native" resolution. That's the resolution at which they give you the best display.

If Windows is configured to use something other than the native resolution, things get ugly.

Often quite literally.

Continue reading: Why does my screen have a black border all around it?

* * *

How should I erase my hard drive before I give it away?

I would like to clear off/erase all of the programs on my hard drive and clean it up before I donate my computer to a worthy cause. What's the best/simplest way to do this?


To begin with, good on you not only for your donation, but for thinking to do this. All too frequently we hear of computers being donated by banks, hospitals, or other institutions and then turning up with all sorts of private information that should have been erased first.

The best way? Well ... how paranoid are you?

Continue reading: How should I erase my hard drive before I give it away?

* * *

A brief overview of VLC

There are many media players in addition to the ubiquitous Windows Media or Quicktime players. I use and often recommend VLC Player as a one-stop tool to play just about any format.

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

Continue reading: A brief overview of VLC

* * *

Why can't I send mail unless I'm at home?

Leo, I am a Charter Cable customer and as a result, I have a charter.net email address. I travel every week, and when I am away from home, Charter's email will not let me SEND email when I use Outlook. I can receive email all day long using Outlook when I'm off the Charter ISP, I just can't send any email. Now, using my iPad, it works just fine! But using my laptop? It's a no-go! I have questioned Charter about this several times and each time, I get a “canned” response from them and they want me to jump through hoops. They know doggone good and well that it isn't going to work, regardless of what I do. I have a sneaky suspicion that it has something to do with their nasty, ugly, user-unfriendly web-based email system! I downloaded Thunderbird after reading your newsletter, but that didn't work either. Have you got any idea of a setting or something of that nature that I can adjust/change that might make my Outlook work with my Charter email address when I am away from my home base?


First, don't blame Charter.

Well, blame them for not being able to help you perhaps, but don't blame them for the situation. It actually has a perfectly logical explanation.

Instead, blame spammers.

I'll look at the common solution and then explain a little about why this might be.

Continue reading: Why can't I send mail unless I'm at home?

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*** Last Week's Articles

*** Comments

Why do system cleanup utilities report many errors on a supposedly clean system?

Yeppers writes:

A recent article in PCWorld magazine took a look at cleanup utilities from another angle: PC speed improvement. In an article entitled, "Cleanup Utilities: Can They Speed Up Your PC" (August 2011 issue), the conclusion reached after testing was that in most cases the cleanup utilities scarcely made a difference in overall system performance. After running a utility, your PC's overall performance is unlikely to change much. The magazine's advice was to uninstall old programs and save your money for hardware upgrade instead. The magazine tested four popular cleanup utilities (Ashampoo WinOptimizer 7, Iolo System Mechanic 10, Piriform CCleaner, and 360Amigo System Speedup) on five well-used PCs of various specs and generations. The test results surprised even the magazine. Perhaps another reason, in addition to those stated by Leo, for PC users not to be so eager to use system cleanup utilities.


Microsoft Standalone System Sweeper - Clean malware from your machine

Theo writes:

How do I "Make sure that the computer's boot sequence includes the CD or USB before it attempts to boot from the hard drive."

That varies from computer to computer - you'll need to check the documentation for your specific machine. You'll typically need to access your BIOS settings and look for things like "BOOT Sequence" or "BOOT Order"



Where did my volume icon go?

Duane Ferguson writes:

This 'feature' often causes problems for Help Desk staff, as users are unable to locate icons needed to activate some remote desktop connections (as well as volume controls and other useful tools). I make a habit of clicking the 'always show all icons...' option. It makes no sense to provide user tools - and then hide them.


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

Andrew Keir writes:

and yet - older readers will understand that some arrangement has to be made for executors. I have a list of passwords, account details, etc in a safe place (no I'm not saying where) and the same lawyers who wrote my will have a 'to be opened in the event of my death' letter saying where the family should go to get access to my money. That letter won't be handed over without seeing my death certificate. Otherwise, how on earth will my kids access - or even know about - the various online accounts I have? I trust the lawyer - especially as they don't know what's in the letter. If everyone is too cautious about online banking there's going to be a whole lot of unclaimed money in a decade or two...

A very important consideration indeed. I have this article on the topic: What happens when I die?


*** Leo Recommends

Amazon Kindle Fire - More than a great reading device

As I write this, I've been using my Kindle Fire for a couple of weeks.

I'm impressed. For many reasons.

In fact, I'll go so far as to say it's the best Kindle ever.

But, of course, it's much, much more.

I'll look at why I'm so enthralled with the device and cover a little of what it is - and what it is not.

Continue reading: Amazon Kindle Fire - More than a great reading device


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

Hey! It's bad enough I get my own spam, but...

Why do I get spam that's not addressed to me?

Why do I receive junk emails that are not addressed to my specific email address but to several subtle variations of my address? Why do these emails get delivered to my address when they are not addressed specifically to my address? And how should I most properly dispose of them?

Spammers are doing everything they can to get their garbage in front of you. And that means using and abusing every tool at their disposal.

One of those tools is something that's available to you and me when we send messages as well.

Continue reading...
Why do I get spam that's not addressed to me?

*** Thoughts and Comments

Thanks everyone who attended Sunday's webinar. It was fun to just answer questions for an hour. I think I was stumped only once. OK maybe twice. Smile

I suspect I'll do this type of webinar a little more often.

And yes, we're working on getting the video posted for those that didn't attend.

Webinar attendees also got a sneak peek at a new Ask Leo! feature that I'll be announcing here next week. (That won't be in the video - you'll have to wait until next week's newsletter.)

And finally, just a reminder that starting with the January 3, 2012 issue there'll be some changes to the newsletter, most notably that it'll be published twice a week. You can read more about the 2012 newsletter changes right here.

'till next week...

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

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Posted: December 13, 2011 in: 2011
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/5010
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