Ask Leo! #478 – Tracking what programs are starting, new year course corrections and more…

*** Featured

How can I track what programs come and go on my machine?

Recently, an entry keeps appearing on my taskbar. It appears for less than a second before disappearing again. I once managed to click it, but no window popped up. The icon is a blank rectangular box and there is no description. It's driving me nuts trying to work out what it is! How can I identify this process?

Programs do seem to come and go at times. When you're diagnosing performance or security issues, understanding what's coming and going can be important. Sometimes, it can just explain a flashing item in the task bar.

Fortunately, there is a fairly simple way to trace what's happening.

Continue Reading: How can I track what programs come and go on my machine?

*** Answercast

Answercast #139 - Malware from pictures, failing external drives, erasing files, slow Youtube and more...

Does it seem like Youtube is running slower? Are unknown people emailing you? Ever hear that you can get malware from a picture, or that external drives can fail? All that and more in this Answercast from Ask Leo!

Listen Now!
(Includes the raw transcript on which the articles below were based.)

Why do Youtube videos start and stop when they didn't used to?
Fast really isn't what it used to be, but there are ways that you may be able to keep from upgrading all your equipment just to enjoy online video.

Continue reading: Why do Youtube videos start and stop when they didn't used to?

If external hard drives can fail, should I bother with one?
Certainly any hard drive can fail. Failure is a fact of life - data loss does not need to be.

Continue reading: If external hard drives can fail, should I bother with one?

How do I erase traces of a file I moved to an external disk?
Moving a file almost always leaves traces behind. So deleting any file securely is only the first step.

Continue reading: How do I erase traces of a file I moved to an external disk?

Why do people I don't know email me?
Of course it might be spam, but sometimes things like this are just bad luck.

Continue reading: Why do people I don't know email me?

Can I get malware from a picture?
Typically there's no need to be terrified of clicking on images... as long as you know what to look for and how to manage your protection.

Continue reading: Can I get malware from a picture?

Is the internet just full of scams?
Many advertisements of computer products include promises that they can't keep, or know that they won't keep. By making things seem much worse than they actually are they attempt to entice - or even scare - you into purchase tools you simply don't need.

Continue reading: Is the internet just full of scams?

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*** Last Issue's Articles

*** Featured Reader Comments

Three tips to make Windows 8 less annoying

Mark Jacobs writes:

I've found that it my case it worked out to be the opposite. I've been using Classic Shell for many years as I preferred the Win 98 Start Menu to the one with XP. After using Classic Shell for a few months with Win 8, I decided to take off the training wheels and disable Classic Shell from starting with Windows. I find the "Just start typing" option in Windows 8 to be far superior to anything that has come before, including Classic Shell. I still think MS should have included the training wheels, as it all comes down to taste and it seems to me, the more people they make happy the better.

Embracing the Most Important Attitude

Laurie writes:

This is an excellent article! As an IT pro, I completely agree with you. I see everything you mention every day. I have people who try to turn down a new computer (and/or OS) because it's "different", and people who can't WAIT to get one. Guess which one gets the most out of their new machine?

I am impressed with all the technology-savvy seniors commenting on this article. My dad's first home computer was a TRS-80, one of the first ones to be sold where he lived. I was in college then (which makes me not quite a senior...) He used to be quite dismissive of anyone who called that computer a "Trash 80" or whatever - he would simply smile and say, "Garbage in, garbage out", implying that the problem was not the computer, but the user. He learned to program in Basic and COBOL and never looked back, though he was already retired at the time. He died in 1985, but I have no doubt that if he were still here, he would be buying the very latest devices and immersing himself in them.

I talk to many people who make all kinds of assumptions and judgments about Windows 8, whether or not they've really used it. I agree that the touchscreen UI isn't practical for most business users. But I have not found ONE application or tool that I use in my job that doesn't work in Windows 8. Everything is there; it just may be in a different place. Once you find it, you're good to go. In fact, I have downloaded and installed Start Menu 8, but usually use the new interface, to get myself used to it. The Windows 8 search is probably my favorite feature, but there are several things about it that I really like.

I have always looked forward to changes in the areas of my life that I can control, and I realize some people don't do that. But I see the difference in productivity every day between people who can't wait to jump into something new and use new features to make their jobs easier, and people who refuse to accept any change as a matter of course.

Thanks for all your articles and advice, Leo!


THANK YOU: For the awesome article on accepting the new changes that keep us up to date, and totally in command of our own destiny in the computer world. Oh yes we all have those moments of frustration, but getting with the changes excites me, it keeps me fired up, to roll with the flow. At 79 years of age I love new changes, I correct my self made mistakes and keep great people like you busy. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.==FRANK

Why haven't you mentioned CryptoPrevent?

Sandy Coulter writes:

I have used cryptoprevent successfully on all my machines and all the client machines I work on are immunized routinely. All it does is change system policies that prevent cryptolocker from executing. So far it has not interfered with anything, but if it does, it is easy to re-run the utility and revert to an unprotected state. Because the malware is constantly evolving, antivirus programs may not always be able to catch it. Cryptoprevent is another layer of protection for this most devastating type of malware. I strongly recommend it in addition to all other best practices.

*** Leo's Blog

Changes for the New Year

And… we're back.

Today's newsletter is really the first of the year as the one from last week – The Top 10 of 2013 – was put together before the holidays.

It's somewhat ironic. I chose Embracing the Most Important Attitude, the article on change, as the one to run on New Year's Eve not because I was planning anything, but because I know it was generally well received last year around the same time. Ultimately, it generated a lot of thoughtful commentary on both sides of the issue.

I just didn't expect that it might be slightly prophetic.

As I sometimes do, I took the time off over the holidays to get a little reflective and introspective. I also read a couple of good books that (because of the synchronicity) really made me wonder if the universe was trying to tell me something.

Whenever I have that feeling, I try to listen.

Continue Reading: Changes for the New Year

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Leo A. Notenboom & Puget Sound Software, LLC.
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Posted: January 14, 2014 in: 2014
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