Leo’s Answers #70 – March 23, 2007

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


*** Contents

*** This Week's New Articles on Ask Leo!

I've been accused of sending random emails - could I have a virus?

I have been accused of sending random emails through someone else's account. I don't even know the email address of this person. The IP address happens to be mine, but I did not send these emails. I was told by my ISP that my computer could have been compromised or have a virus. Could this be true? If so how do I try to clear my computer and fix this problem. It has been running very slow and also freezes up quite often. Secondly, how is someone able to steal your information and take over your computer?

Not only is it possible, it's an epidemic. It's likely that you are an unwitting participant in the spam war.

And you're playing for the wrong side.

Your machine may very well be a spam sending zombie.

Continue reading: "I've been accused of sending random emails - could I have a virus?"

* * *

Will reinstalling Windows too often trip up Windows Product Activation?

A Microsoft page discussing Product Activation includes the following statement: "Product Activation works by verifying that a software program's product key has not been used on more personal computers than intended by the software's license."

How does activation of, say, WinXP differentiate between multiple installations on one PC (legitimate), compared to single installations on many PC's (pirating)? If I periodically reinstall WinXP on my PC from my legitimate install CD, will the activation process at some point think I'm pirating the software because of multiple re-installations?.

Actually Windows Product Activation is a tad more complex than that text from Microsoft would lead you to believe. There was a lot of concern when WPA was first announced that people wouldn't be able to activate, or re-activate, legitimate copies of Windows. So far that actually hasn't seemed to be the case.

Now, there are cases where WPA might wonder what you're up to ... but even then the process that follows is supposed to handle that case cleanly.

Continue reading: "Will reinstalling Windows too often trip up Windows Product Activation?"

* * *

Can people get my phone number from my web page?

I read in a novel that it is possible to track a telephone number via your webpage. Is that possible? I would like to know because it is somewhat disturbing.

It really depends on what you mean by "your webpage". There are definitely scenarios where you need and/or want to be particular careful about what information you provide. But most people don't need to worry.

Continue reading: "Can people get my phone number from my web page?"

* * *

Should I turn my computer off at night?

A friend of mine told me it is better to not turn off my desktop computer every night, instead to turn it off every few nights and just put it on standby every night. I work from home and I use my computer religiously. Is it really better to not turn it off every night? I have a 4-year old dell Desktop (Dimension 2350) with one of those old clunky monitors. Is putting it on stand-by saving as much power as turning it off? Also, does turning the computer on and off affect it negatively?

This is one of those areas where there's some significant difference of opinion. Not "PC versus Mac" differences, but nonetheless.

Depending on who you ask, the answer is yes, or no.

My answer, naturally, is "it depends".

Continue reading: "Should I turn my computer off at night?"

* * *

Should I Send Error Reports to Microsoft?

When you get a fatal error, you're often prompted to send the information to Microsoft. Then what?

Continue reading: "Should I Send Error Reports to Microsoft?" Article Includes Audio

* * *

How do I scan a document into Excel?

Can you recommend a good software program for scanning (I have an Epson 1650) and converting documents to Excel 2007? My Epson software will not do this.

No, I can't. And it's not because I don't want to. What you're asking for is very very difficult to do well, if at all. It all has to do with exactly what it means to scan something, and what it means to be an Excel spreadsheet.

Continue reading: "How do I scan a document into Excel?"

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*** Popular Articles from the Archives

Auto-Play. Cool feature, in theory, but it never quite works the way I want it to. Apparently I'm not alone:

How do I *really* disable auto-play in Windows XP?

The auto-play feature in Windows was significantly beefed up when Windows XP was introduced. For CD and DVD drives specifically, Windows will first attempt to determine what type of media you've inserted and then perform an appropriate action. If it doesn't know what action is appropriate, it asks along with providing the option to remember that action for next time.

Seems fair enough, except that when I encountered it for the first time it kept forgetting the settings and would always ask. From my perspective that's worse that not having auto-play at all. And then I couldn't turn it off.

If that sounds familiar, then you know my frustration.

Read more... How do I *really* disable auto-play in Windows XP?

*** Thoughts and Comments

For some time there was a web site operated by someone known as "Black Viper" that had one of the most complete lists of Windows XP Services around. Its real value is that it included not only descriptions, but recommendations for whether you wanted that service running, and under what conditions.

About 2 years ago Black Viper disappeared. Completely and without a trace.

I changed my links to his information to point at the archive.org version of his pages, and then later to a copy posted out at MajorGeeks.com.

I'm happy to report that three weeks ago Black Viper returned. In fact, as I write this I notice that he's already begun updating his site with Windows Vista information.

Check out BV's XP Services list - yes, it's a little dated, but it's still one of the best references out there.

And welcome back Black Viper!

'till next time...


* * *

The Latest:
Forwarded Funnies: "Pinocchio"
Taming Email: "Email is never urgent. Really."
Leo's MovableType Tips: "Leaving Breadcrumbs in Movable Type"

*** Newsletter Administration

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I'll be honest: I'll try to respond, but I get a lot of questions every day - I just can't answer everyone. Rest assured, though, that even if you don't hear from me directly, I read every email I get.

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Newsletter contents Copyright © 2007, Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.

Posted: March 23, 2007 in: 2007
Shortlink: https://newsletter.askleo.com/2972
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