Leo's Answers #44 – September 22, 2006

Leo's Answers
A Weekly Newsletter From
Ask Leo!
Leo Notenboom

Hello!

*** Contents

*** New Articles of Note on Ask Leo!

Why did my home network stop working?

I'm not able to reach some websites, and the list seems to be growing. I've checked your other articles on the topic, but nothing seems to help. Now, all of a sudden, I can't reach anything. Even my email doesn't work. What's going on?

There are so many reasons that things can go wrong, sometimes it's a wonder things work at all. However, once configured properly LANs tend to be fairly stable.

That is, until they're not.

This might be a problem that I keep forgetting about myself. If it is, it has a trivially simple solution. Until it happens again.

Continue reading: "Why did my home network stop working?"
http://ask-leo.com/why_did_my_home_network_stop_working.html

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How do I choose plain text in Hotmail?

I regularly send emails to a mailing list from my Hotmail account, but several folks on the list are upset because my mails are coming through as "rich text" or HTML. How do I get Hotmail to send my message as plain text?

Interestingly enough, the default for Hotmail appears to be plain text. But regardless, we'll look at where that option is hidden - and why in some cases it's not available at all.

Continue reading: "How do I choose plain text in Hotmail?"
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_choose_plain_text_in_hotmail.html

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Is anonymous web surfing possible? If so, can't the 'bad guys' use it too?

I heard about TORPARK today. Does it work, if so what are the implications for abuse, terrorism etc? Does this software make us completely unanswerable? Puzzled and bemused!

Torpark is one of several freely available approaches to surfing the internet anonymously.

Sort of.

Anonymous surfing might not be everything you think, and it's important to understand what it does, and does not, do to protect you.

Continue reading: "Is anonymous web surfing possible? If so, can't the 'bad guys' use it too?"
http://ask-leo.com/is_anonymous_web_surfing_possible_if_so_cant_the_bad_guys_use_it_too.html

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Why does my network not work after resuming from standby?

I have a Dell running Windows XP Home addition. When I put my computer in standby or sleep or if it has been inactive for several hrs , when I resume use I find I cannot connect to the internet - or the browser says "website cannot be found" like it's not connected. I use DSL and the connection works fine on my other computer with no problems. I restart the problem goes away for a short time - till it is inactive again. What gives? I have 2 hard drives on this computer. My other drive never has this problem. I have even deleted, reformatted and reinstalled windows XP and the problem is still there.

I wouldn't expect the hard drives to be a factor at all.

What you're describing isn't terribly uncommon, and points to either of a couple of places.

Continue reading: "Why does my network not work after resuming from standby?"
http://ask-leo.com/why_does_my_network_not_work_after_resuming_from_standby.html

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Why is using Paypal to purchase at a conference or open market such a bad idea?

I recently attended a conference and trade show, and made a purchase. The vendor takes Paypal, so to make my payment she turned her laptop to me, and suggested I login to my Paypal account and make the payment right then and there. I did so, and it was very convenient.` Later, I told my spouse and was told that it's some kind of incredibly dangerous thing to do. Is it really that bad? If so, why? And what should I have done instead?

Yes, it really is that bad.

Why? Pretty simple really: you may have just given that vendor total access to your Paypal account.

Continue reading: "Why is using Paypal to purchase at a conference or open market such a bad idea?"
http://ask-leo.com/why_is_using_paypal_to_purchase_at_a_conference_or_open_market_such_a_bad_idea.html

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*** Popular Articles from the Archives

Last up in the spam thread - what do we do? My podcast (with transcript) from earlier this year.

So what do we do about spam?

Last week I discussed Blue Security's going out of business. I got several comments in support of their methods, mostly born out of people's frustration with spam, and that even if unethical, Blue Security had been doing something about it.

So what are the ethical ways to stop spam?

Read more... So what do we do about spam?
http://ask-leo.com/so_what_do_we_do_about_spam.html

*** Thoughts and Comments

As I mentioned, last week I was attending a conference with my wife for her business. Little did I know that the return trip would turn into a minor adventure.

Most notably the 1/2 hour flight from Austin to Dallas/Fort Worth took closer to 3 hours, including an hour waiting on the tarmac in Austin (where they set up an aircraft parking lot), 20 minutes in a holding pattern over DFW, and then another hour on the tarmac waiting for an available gate. It was the longest short trip I think I've ever been on.

Then in Dallas, of course, it was pandemonium. We'd not only missed our flight to Seattle, but just missed the next one as well. Fortunately we were able to get the one after that, but after all was said and done we arrived in Seattle at 1AM, rather than the expected 7:30PM.

We weren't alone, since so many flights were affected. Many people were upset and took their frustrations out on the airport staff. It was sad to see actually - as one of them put it "we can't change the weather". Nor can they manufacture more seats on a full aircraft. How does getting angry at them help?

We tried to take it all in stride. People probably thought we were goofballs as we were joking and laughing in line. "Lemons out of lemonade" sounds like a platitude, but once we realized everything was out of our control, we relaxed, did what we could and made the best of it. I don't mean to minimize the issues that others were facing, but I just don't understand how getting angry at the gate attendant helps - especially when you want something from them.

As a side note, we almost made the earlier flight, but there was only room for two, and halfway down the jetway our party of three ("we travel together or not at all!") was turned back. The young man behind us in line was 'celebrating' his 30th birthday on his way home waiting on standby at the airport, so we got to yell "hey birthday boy! get on the plane!" as we reappeared. Hopefully he got home in time to enjoy what was left of the day.

And to put a final tech-related spin on it all - while waiting on the tarmac while others were using their cell phones to try and make alternate arrangements, I was using it as my modem - surfing the net for updated flight and weather status from within the airplane on the ground. For some reason I thought that was kinda cool.

I travel again next month - hopefully it'll be smoother.

Leo

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