Why can’t the poor just pirate software?

We all admire your moral stance regarding finding subscriber’s passwords etc. and for your belief that we should pay for software and not use pirated versions. But how do you feel about folks who are desperately poor with no chance in their lifetime of ever reaching even American poverty level income?

A reader posed this question some time ago.

As you may know, I do take a fairly hard line against piracy and theft, but this reader wants to know if poverty might qualify for an “exemption” of sorts.

His note continues…

Read moreWhy can’t the poor just pirate software?

Resist Those Dancing Bunnies

There are those who believe that anti-malware applications actually aren’t needed. While I disagree with that as an absolute statement, the fact is that if you really know what you’re doing – deeply – then it may be possible to be relatively safe on your own.

It’s just not something I advise, since it relies on being 100% right 100% of the time when it comes to identifying and avoiding potential threats. Things have become much too complex to rely on that kind of accuracy.

Not only do I advise running anti-malware tools, I run them myself.

The real problem is something else entirely.

Read moreResist Those Dancing Bunnies

What’s the Technology Behind Ask Leo!?


I was just curious about your site and news letter. What type of hosting do you use? Did you “hand craft” your site or use a CMS like WordPress or SquareSpace? How do you create your news letter, such as what application do you use?

Can you give us some background information on “What goes on in Leo-ville?”

Keep up the good work. Always look forward to the Friday Facebooks and news letters.

Well, we have to start with being careful when you say “Leo-ville”. “leoville.com” is actually the website of the “other” Leo, Leo Laporte of twit.tv and other netcasting fame. We’re both in tech, we both try to help people with technology and we’re both named Leo, but we’re definitely not the same person.

With that out of the way, sure, let me give you a peek behind the curtains of Ask Leo! world headquarters.

Read moreWhat’s the Technology Behind Ask Leo!?

Are Silent Background Updates a Good Thing?

I have a little philosophical question: what’s the difference between Google Chrome silently updating in the background without me ever giving it explicit permission to do so, and malware updating itself in much the same way and getting new commands to wreak havoc? In fact, I believe Google Earth also updates itself with no explicit permission. At some point, it suddenly showed up in my frequently used programs as a new program even though I already had it. If there’s a clause in the User Agreement that says they can, it becomes a legal issue where the question is whether they can just change the Agreement after a user agrees to a different version of it.

Well, I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not going to address legal issues. But I bet the agreement probably contains terminology to give them permission to do silent updates.

It’s one of those things about legalese: lawyers can always interpret it in a way that allows them to say you agreed.

The concern I have with your question is that you seem to be very distrustful of these silent updates and consider them akin to malware.

I strongly disagree.

Read moreAre Silent Background Updates a Good Thing?

What’s an exploit?

I recently ran Microsoft Safety Scan, which identified a Java exploit. Are Java exploits a dangerous threat or do they merely function as a tool allowing hackers to infect your computer with malicious software? If the computer is otherwise clean, there’s no reason to worry that the computer has been compromised, right?

The issue here is that the term “exploit” really isn’t clear. In the industry, it ends up being used somewhat ambiguously to mean a couple of things. That can be frustratingly vague.

So, I’ll throw out two definitions of exploit for you.

Read moreWhat’s an exploit?