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Webinar #7 – Your Questions

Webinar #7 – Your Questions – was Sunday, December 11th, 2011



This month we tried something different.

I spent the entire hour taking and answering questions in real time.

It is “Ask Leo!” after all. Smile


View in HD (1280×720)


Welcome to the December webinar! I hope everybody is having a good day! Today’s agenda is ‘no agenda’; I’m just going to basically take questions and ‘wing it’ and hopefully answer them and hopefully this won’t turn into a game of ‘stump Leo’.

I want to, I’m going to start by reviewing one article that I posted last week because I got a little bit more information on it that looks kind of interesting. So if you have technical questions, I hope you’ve brought some; go ahead and type them into the question box and I will take them, hopefully, in order, but hopefully in some kind of way that makes sense.

What I wanted to start with is a question that I answered about a week and a half ago where somebody was looking at Google and seeing this black bar across the top. They were calling it a toolbar. In a sense, it is a toolbar but it’s not a toolbar in the sense that it’s a browser add-on. It’s actually just something that’s on Google’s websites. It’s across most of their websites if I’m not mistaken. What I came across -they were also actually asking about what didn’t show up for me today was this blue advertisement for Google+. But basically this is what they were seeing and it was taking up real estate and they were concerned that … they wanted to get rid of it, basically. They only way that I knew of to get rid of the blue bar was to go ahead and sign in but apparently Google has, perhaps, heard enough complaints on it that they’ve removed it on their own.

They are apparently also going to be changing this black bar. If you go out to the ‘official’ Google blog which is at, one of the items that they posted about, gosh, late last month before I even posted my article was talking about what they are calling introducing the new Google bar. I’m not going to play the video for you but what it boils down to is they are taking away the black bar; many people are already seeing this, they’re taking away the black bar and replacing it with a dropdown on the logo so you will maybe hover over or click on the Google logo and you will get the same items that are currently being displayed in the black toolbar. The problem as I see it if I understand the video properly, is that they are replacing the narrow black bar with perhaps something that is perhaps more visually appealing but is also permanent across all sites and slightly larger. So it will be interesting to see what people’s reactions to that are when it comes out. As I understand it, it is rolling out as we speak but obviously it hasn’t rolled out to me yet.

So, with that as kind of a bit of a ‘kick-off’ let’s go ahead and if you’ve got questions, please start typing them in and I will have a whack at them.

So, let’s see, ‘If you make a Windows recovery CD after you’ve used your computer for a year, what will be the result? Will you get a CD that will bring you back to your original setup, or a copy of your machine like it is now?’

My belief (as you know, I’m not a big believer in Windows Recovery CDs; I much prefer true, system backups) my belief is it’s somewhere between the two extremes that you live. I believe the recovery CD will include system updates, patches and so forth that you’ve taken since, over that year but it will not, for example, include all of your installed applications or anything like that. That’s not necessarily what a recovery CD is intended to be. A recovery CD, and again, this is one of those things that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, a recovery CD will sometimes simply reinstall the operating system that’s on a hidden partition on your disc; it installs a fresh image perhaps from the CD itself but I believe if you make a recovery CD from Windows specifically, it will actually include the latest versions of the various pieces of Windows itself but only those pieces of Windows itself.

‘I have a difficult time using Ultrasurf; whenever it’s on I can’t surf webpages. What should I do? Should I use another program?’ Well … to start with, I’m going to find out what Ultrasurf is because in all honesty, I have no idea. Ultrasurf…I’m assuming that this is the Ultrasurf that you are referring to. It appears to be an anonymizer of some sort. So you can’t surf webpages? Well it seems like the intent of this is that you in fact can in surf webpages – that’s the intent. Obviously it’s not working for you. What I would suggest you do is have a look at their support site. Make sure that you include the actual error messages that you are seeing. In other words, what happens when you try. Certainly I would double-check the configuration of the application to make sure that you set it up according to their instructions. Typically, anonymization tools like this, anonymous proxies, either require that you make some specific configuration options in your browser or they install an application that more or less does that for you.

Alternatives are Anonymizer; it is a relatively well-known one. I actually don’t have another one off the top of my head; the ultimate in anonymization is called the Onion Router, the Tor Project, what that does is that uses a fair amount of encryption and routing to bounce your requests through some number of Tor routers. Each step along the way is individually and separately encrypted. That’s one of the reasons they call it an ‘onion’ because your packet of data is encrypted each step of the way so if you were running it through say, 4 Tor proxies, then it would have 4 layers of encryption on it and nobody in the middle could stand a chance of decrypting the data. The downside of Tor is that it does slow down your internet browsing experience but it is as far as I understand, it’s kind of like the gold standard if there is such a thing when it comes to trying to stay anonymous in your browsing and as you can see it’s open source and it runs on just about every platform you can think of. Question: ‘Any other options. I don’t want my PC to slow down to a great degree.’ Unfortunately, the very nature of most anonymization services almost requires that the PC slow down. And it’s not necessarily the PC itself that is slowing down, understand, it’s not your computer that’s the bottleneck here. When you end up sending your data through a proxy, that’s an extra step and then the quality of the proxy, the speed of the proxy itself, and in the case of Tor, the number of hops you elect to use because you can configure your Tor to use anywhere from 1 to any number of hops to route your data around around the planet before it actually gets to a destination. The more hops that you include, the slower it’s going to be. So with Tor, the minimum number of hops with the other services; I mean there’s going to be some impact, there just is. That’s kind of the way things just work.

‘This question might not be your area of expertise but what would you recommend a small business use to provide FTP to clients? Each client should be able to have their own separate area that is protected from being viewed by other clients.’ If I were to set something like that up, I would actually go to either a shared hosting site like bluehost or dreamhost or where I host AskLeo! is on stormondemand where you actually end up on a virtual dedicated server. The reason I’m pointing those out is because the default installation you get of a website supports FTP and that FTP support can be configured on a per account basis. You would have to manage the individual accounts that would be given access to the FTP but that’s the approach that I would take any rate. Typically, especially for businesses and certainly for homes, if you are trying to run an FTP site from your own home, or out of your home business is typically a lot more trouble than its worth and with hosting being relatively inexpensive these days, I mean you can get a dreamhost account for like 7 bucks a month or something like that. That would potentially be a fairly quick and easy way to set something up. You’ll have to become FTP literate and understand what it means to configure FTP accounts and just set up a minimal website but that would be the direction I’d head off, for sure.

‘Using XP Professional Service Pack 3 I must have inadvertently changed something. My Del key now has a period after each delete and I can’t find how to stop this. Can you help?’ Probably not; not directly anyway. It actually surprises me the number of times questions like this comes up. My gut reaction, my very first reaction whenever you start getting two keystrokes per key, is to try a different keyboard. Chances are you have a hardware problem of some sort in the keyboard itself. Hopefully we’re not talking about a laptop here but even then you can still test it by getting an external USB keyboard and plugging it in and seeing if you end up with the same symptom. I’m betting 90-95% chance that you won’t; the external keyboard will work just fine. If it does replicate the problem then you know that you have some sort of software problem at that point. I’d probably start looking at installed applications that are trying to do things with the keyboard; maybe you have a keyboard macro software installed of some sort that you weren’t aware of. I’d start looking at what was there. It’s worth, I suppose, playing with the drivers but keyboard drives these days are so very simple; it’s something to do but it’s not a very high probability that it’s going to solve the problem. The other option that I would recommend is that if this is a wireless keyboard then make sure that the transmitter, the keyboard itself is as close as possible to the receiver; that there’s not a lot of electrical interference physically in the line of sight and finally that the battery in the keyboard itself is fully charged because sometimes that can cause spurious keystrokes although more often than not it ends up causing a complete lack of keystrokes.

Newsletter: ‘I love your newsletter (thank you) the one thing I find annoying is that my email program, Thunderbird, always adds a warning to your email saying this message may be a scam. When I click on ‘Ignore Warning’ then I can access all the links to the AskLeo! Website. If I don’t click on the ‘Ignore Warning’ button it asks me to confirm my action every time I click on the link which is annoying. Is there any way you can configure your email so Thunderbird knows they are genuine, and not a scam? Or how I can configure Thunderbird to know your emails are legit? Ok. I run Thunderbird and I don’t see this because I’ve configured it not to tell me. What Thunderbird is doing is (let’s see if I can come up with a good example of this because it’s actually an interesting one for us to talk about). Let’s go to the latest newsletter. So somewhere here I probably have … here’s a good example, this sponsor link. This is the web archive of the most recent newsletter. In the actual emailed version of the newsletter, what I’m about to describe actually applies to every link in the newsletter but because this is a web archive, the same thing isn’t happening. So if I hover over the Kindle Fire link here, you can see down in the lower left corner of the browser the actual link that it goes to is go.; in other words it says Kindle Fire but it’s going to something that is labeled AskLeo!. If there are any links that actually look like http links (I don’t see any here) the same problem can occur. What Thunderbird is doing is it’s taking a look at the links on that page and saying ‘Does what this page is going to match what it says it’s going to?’ And if it’s not, it calls that a scam. It’s an interesting thing to look at in Thunderbird but the problem is that while scammers do in fact use this, they also, this technique is also very valuable for other reasons. Obviously, when you click on Kindle Fire, you are not expecting to land on an AskLeo! page and in fact, you don’t. This happens to be a redirection that takes you to the Amazon page. This kind of redirection is very, very common in email newsletters, on websites and so forth because what it allows me to do is it allows me to figure out how many people bothered to click on that link. It tells me in the case of an advertisement how effective that ad is; in the case of all these other items it tells me which articles most people are interested in; if people are ignoring an article completely, I know that it’s not probably a topic I want to talk more about but if I get a lot of click-throughs on an article then I know that’s something of interest.

So Thunderbird is doing its best to protect you but unfortunately the collateral damage is email newsletters. And yes, I do use my own ‘search’ a lot. Let’s see … so … ‘Why does my email program think that this message might be a scam?’ I actually wrote an article about this some time ago that describes exactly what is happening. This is the message that you are seeing; that the person who is asking the question is seeing and in this particular case here is a very firm example of where the link says it’s going to but in fact if you take a look at the destination down in the lower left-hand corner you’ll see that it’s not going to at all; it’s like the classic definition of a scam link. In this particular case, it’s benign but the other case is the case where somebody says ‘Hey, here’s a link to Paypal’ but it’s not. So that’s what Thunderbird is trying to protect you from.

When I use the newsletter, like I said, all of the links in the newsletter get changed to be these kind of ‘click counting’ redirections so that I can see what parts of my newsletter are effective and understand what people are truly interested in. Now to go back to Thunderbird, unfortunately, I had hoped that Thunderbird would allow me to turn this off on a ‘per sender’ basis but they do not. It’s an ‘all or nothing’ kind of a thing. So if you go into the Tools, Options, Privacy, the Email Scams tab, you can turn this option off completely so that Thunderbird doesn’t check emails for this kind of scam. As I said it’s very common; you’ve probably seen it in other legitimate emails as well. I will leave to you as to whether this is something you want to turn on or off. The risk of turning it off of course is that you inadvertently click on a scam link and didn’t realize that it was one because nobody told you. The upside of turning it off of course is that you don’t have to deal with it in legitimate emails; you don’t have to worry about emails from me or from other senders who are using this technique that is obviously being confused with a scam. So, I’ll leave it up to you; it’s a matter of how confident you are in your own ability to identify potentially scam links in email. As you might imagine, I have mine turned off completely. It’s just not, to me it’s not worth the annoyance of having that thing pop up all of the time.

‘I know you’re not a fan of Outlook Express’. Well, I wouldn’t say that; Outlook Express got a lot of people on to email. It has some serious problems and it’s not being supported anymore so I’m certainly not a fan of continuing to use Outlook Express but Outlook Express is one of those programs that I think made a significant dent on the internet. ‘Is there a way of recovering a forgotten password. I am using and Windows 7. It will not let me reload Outlook Express. The message I get is that the software is no longer supported.’ That is correct; Outlook Express is not available in Windows 7. ‘Where is Windows Mail or Outlook Express in Windows 7?’ So this is the article that discusses the fundamental problem that you are seeing. Outlook Express has been removed from both Windows Vista and Windows 7. In Windows Vista, there was an email program called Windows Mail that was made available instead. In Windows 7 there is no email program made available. The assumption is that you’ll either bring your own or you’ll download the Windows Live Mail which is the ‘now’ replacement for Outlook Express. Outlook Express itself will not run in Windows 7; the only approach close to getting it to even close to run in Windows 7 is to run a virtual machine to run Windows XP within Windows 7 or to get XP mode. If you have Windows 7 Pro or better, you can download something called ‘XP mode’ which is nothing more than a pre-configured virtual machine that allows you to run Windows XP inside of a window in Windows 7. There’s an article about that too if you actually wan to consider going down that route. Recovering your password – so recovering a forgotten password – I wouldn’t relate that to Outlook Express. If you are using for your email services, it’s where you want to go to get your forgotten password. Typically if you try to go to login to your webmail and follow the ‘I forgot my password’ links and/or instructions that follow, that’s the way to get the password back. The password – if you’ve still got your Outlook Express machine running, your Windows XP machine that used to run…if you’ve got your Windows XP machine around that used to run Outlook Express and it’s still available, it is possible (let’s see if I can remember the URL for this) has some really interesting tools and it is possible to…right, they have something called MailPassView, this recovers the passwords of a bunch of different email programs including, it appear, Outlook Express. So what you would do on the machine that is currently running Outlook Express, you should be able to run MailPassView and it will probably display the password for you. So two things here: one, nirsoft is totally legit; I’ve used lots of tools from them before. Make sure you are getting them from and not some other kind of shady download site. Let me make sure this actually goes to a legitimate page – there’s the description, there’s the system requirements, where’s the download link? So there it is down at the bottom and those are both coming form itself. Make sure you’re getting it from that location. As I said they are totally legitimate. They actually have lots of nifty tools for password recovery and such. I’ve got a couple of articles that talk about how you can recover passwords if you’ve forgotten them but had Windows Internet Explorer remember them for you tools here can usually pick that up as well. So, lesson one, nirsoft is legit; these tools are legit and safe. Lesson two is, oh my gosh, anybody who can walk up to your computer and can grab a tool like this and see your password. And you saw on this list that it was a lot more than just Outlook Express; it was Outlook, and I didn’t notice if Thunderbird was on the list but it wouldn’t surprise me. This is a case where I want to reinforce to everybody who is not currently having a problem who understands and they remember their password and are not trying to recover it that’s something I’ve said for a long time: if it’s not physically secure, it’s not secure. If somebody can walk up to your computer, they can have this utility on a thumb drive and stick it in, run it and find out your password. It’s actually worse than that when it comes to physical security but I’ll leave that as a word of warning; call it frightening enough for the moment. A lot of people don’t realize just how easy some of these kinds of recoveries are. So that is one way to potentially get your Outlook Express password back. Otherwise, I’m sorry, your Yahoo password back from having Outlook’s remembered password to be recovered for you. The other approach is to go to and use the ‘I forgot my password’ approach. Let’s see, Mark reminds me that the nirsoft utilities are great but you might get a warning from your anti-virus program. That happens from time-to-time but like I said, as long as you’re certain that you’re getting it from, directly from Then you can be assured that what you’re getting is not a virus; it is a tool that can be used legitimately to do some interesting things on your system. There are a lot of nifty tools here.

‘How can I use Facebook safely.’ Boy, there’s a great question. That’s something that I’ve actually considered spending a lot more time on in the form of articles. The problem that I have in doing that is that about the time I decide here’s how to use Facebook safely, Facebook goes in and changes all of their privacy settings and everything that I would have recommended has gone by the wayside and no longer applies. So, I’m not going to give a detailed response to this one because it is way more complex than just a simple answer can give you. I will say a couple of things: one, definitely spend some time looking at Facebook’s privacy options. Let’s see; let’s go have a look at my Facebook account. I don’t think there’s anything scary here. So here’s Facebook. Where you want to be spending some time is over here at the Privacy Settings. You really want to be careful about how things get shared. It is very easy for things to be shared more publicly than you think. In other words, the biggest mistake that people make is thinking that sharing only with Friends keeps things private. It does not. Friends, in turn, can reshare what you have shared and they can then share it publicly. That is one of the ways that mistakes happen. So without getting into all of the specific settings because there’s a bunch as you can see. How you connect and all of a sudden and you’ve got a long list of what people can see and who can do what ; whether you can be tagged or your are blocked. There’s a bunch of stuff there; spend a few minutes with that and go through those things and make sure you understand them and that they are not more permissive than you would want them to be. I will say, and I have to quote, and I’ll actually have to mangle the quote because it wasn’t ‘PG’ when he said it , my friend and tech pundit Chris Perillo posted some time ago, ‘If there’s stuff you don’t want people to see, don’t post it online.’ It’s actually very simple. It is simply much too easy for information posted online to be shared with or make it outside the circle you think you’ve shared it with. The safest thing to do is of course – don’t. The other piece of advice I will give you in respect to Facebook is to avoid apps – avoid them. Everytime an app comes up it asks me for permission to post on my wall or to see my friends or do any of those kinds of things I almost immediately turn them off because I just don’t have the time to vet every single app that’s out there. And each one is a potential place for leakage, data leakage or inadvertently having things happen that you don’t want to have happen. I actually follow a couple of interesting folks. Malwarebytes has a page and I recommend them. Let me go over to the AskLeo! page because I would recommend also Hoax-Slayer and Sophos. Both of those as being pages you want to favorite or ‘Like’, excuse me, or visit from time-to-time. The reason I point those out specifically is because those two, among others I’m sure, do a very good job of giving up-to-date information about the latest hoaxes and there are a ton of hoaxes on Facebook. If you don’t choose to follow these, then by all means remember the old adage ‘If it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably not true.’ But there just a bunch of hoaxes running around all the time typically the hoax turns out to be fake they promise something they don’t deliver but along the way they try to gather information about you; they try and get you to fill out some surveys they try to do all sorts of random stuff that’s not worth it. If you want to, I would recommend going over to those two pages and liking them. ‘It’s not about being seen, it’s about being tracked.’ It depends about your level of paranoia. Just using Facebook allows Facebook to see know what you’re doing; there’s no way around that. The websites that you use, you are exposing to them your information, your posts, everything you do with them. If you don’t want Facebook to track you; if you don’t want Facebook to have access to that information, don’t use Facebook. When it goes beyond Facebook, that basically, I reiterate my recommendation to avoid giving apps more permission than you are really comfortable giving to those apps. I don’t want Farmville, or Mafia Wars, I don’t want them to be able to paste on my wall – I just don’t. I don’t want to clutter people who are following me, I don’t want them to have to see this stuff that’s coming along because I happen to do something in an application. So that’s the kind of stuff that I typically recommend that people avoid. ‘Is the same applied to Twitter?’ Yes and no. With Twitter you don’t have quite the same amount of app integration so you’re not like giving a bunch of information to third parties but on the other hand, everything you post on Twitter is public – period. You have, with the exception of direct messages, which are available only between people who have followed each other, I believe, with the exception of that, everything you post on Twitter is completely public and you will find that it shows up in Google search results from time-to-time which is also kind of scary. So that brings us back to the original adage I just quoted from Chris Perillo that basically said if you don’t want people to see what you are doing, don’t post it online.

‘Someone tried to get my IP address using file transfer via MSN Live Messenger, but blocked out by Norton 360. Did he establish direct connection successfully and manage to get my IP address in this way?’ So, IP address tracing is one of those questions that I get over, over, over and over again. Let me answer those questions backwards. Did he manage to get your IP address? Probably. Since I don’t know specifically how Yahoo in this particular case, MSN Messenger, since I don’t know how they specifically architect their protocol to establish a direct connection I can’t say for sure that he did or did not but I would assume that he did. That’s the safest assumption because it’s the one that has you the most concerned. Did he establish a direct connection successfully? Probably not. It sounds like Norton did the right thing and blocked that connection. So what that boils down to is that the individual at the other end of that connection doesn’t have a direct connection to your machine but may very well have your IP address to which I say ‘so what’. I mean the IP address, whatever; it doesn’t give people access to your machine or to your location or anything that people seem to get pretty worked up about. IP address, yes it identifies a specific machine connected to the internet. The location of the machine is actually only known to the ISP and it’s not something that the ISP will simply just tell you. You need to go to the ISP and tell them and ask them, ‘we’ve got this IP address, and we’ve been able to trace it so that we know you own this IP address; it’s one of your customers, please tell us where this customer is and the ISP is going to say ‘no, not without a warrant’. That’s where things can happen. When you see things on the police drama shows, 9 times out of 10; a) they never happen as fast as they do on TV but they come in with a warrant. They actually have the legal authority to request that the ISP turn over that information. Now, granted, that’s United States, U.S. centric answer there; the laws about how the information can or cannot be handed over will vary depending on what country you happen to be in but in the United States at least, it requires a court order. Now if they have your IP address can they get access to your machine? Well, no, at least not unless you are being very lax with your own security. As long as you’re behind a router, it’s the router they have the IP address of, not your computer and the router is going to protect you from unwarranted or unexpected connection or attempts to connect to your computer. So as long your behind a router, they can have your IP address; it’s just no big deal. It will let them identify what country you’re in; it will let them identify what ISP you use and in some cases it may get as close as your city. But my IP address depending on how you look it up will tell you either that it exists in Woodinville, which it does so you’ve got many square miles of and thousands and thousands of square miles if you’re trying to find me. Or, some will tell you that it’s in Seattle which is 10 miles away. Some will tell you that it’s in Portland which is 200 miles away and I’ve had at least one that said I was in California which just blew me away. So IP tracing is just not that big a deal; it’s not the kind of thing I worry about and it sounds like your firewall and Norton 360 did the right thing by blocking the attempt to connect directly.

‘I can connect to the internet through Win7 but not via Win XP machine. How can I get online using Win XP machine? I use 3G Surf, a kind of wireless connection.’ I’d have to understand more about 3G Surf. It’s not something that sounds familiar. Let’s see if it’s quite literally is this. You’ll have to tell me if this is the correct service. It appears you are using a dongle of some sort that is the wireless receiver for that type of connection. I would actually, I will make some guesses but the right answer I believe is right up here, the support link for the service that you are using. My guess is that you need one of these dongles for each of your machines which means you probably need to sign up for both; sign up for two accounts. Or if you’re switching the dongle back and forth between machines, then it’s very possible that it’s simply a matter of drivers required for the Windows XP machine. This is one of those cases that I’m also starting to wonder if Windows XP support is starting to fall off people’s radar, manufacturers’ radar. Windows XP, I mean it’s still like over 50% of the computers on the internet are in fact Windows XP. So it’s still out there but the problem is that manufacturers are moving forward and to the degree that it’s causing them a problem continuing to support XP it may be one of those choices that they decide to make not to do. In a case like that, you’re kinda sorta out of luck. It’s kind of one of those things where they need to explicitly support Windows XP for that thing to work. So, like I said, I really do think that the right answer in a case like this is to go to their support. Hopefully, it looks like they have a community as well. My assumption is that is a technical support forum for peer-to-peer support where you will find other people using the product asking questions and presumably getting answers. In general, I really find those kind of community based solutions to be very, very helpful in many cases. It will actually let you do two things: as you may stumble into a community and notice that there are lots of questions, there’s lots of problems, there are no answers and no support; nobody from the company is actually paying much attention to it. That tells you something about that particular product or company. On the flip side, if you go to a support forum like that, and see people asking questions but answering each other’s questions and being successful about getting people the help that they are looking for, that’s really good; that’s a sign of a healthy user community. It’s even better when you see representatives of the company participating in these kind of online forums because that tells you that you’ve got a company that cares about its community and cares about giving quality support. As a complete side note, that’s one of the reasons that I ended up deciding to use Macrium Reflect on the recent backup series because their community, their support forum was very well populated, very well answered, and the people from the company were doing a lot of the answering. So that’s about all I can point you at right now.

Somebody asked me about hard drive prices and why they’ve gone up so dramatically in the last couple of months. He apparently went to Best Buy and found the $49 drive he bought a few years ago is now over 100 bucks. He guessed that it had something to do with the precious metals that are used on the inside, the gold and the platinum that are used as part of the circuitry and media. In fact, it’s not. While precious metal is definitely still precious, the reason you’re seeing a lot of hard drive prices go up and go up fairly dramatically is that a couple of months ago, Thailand had some fairly significant flooding in their industrial district. And many hard drive manufacturers were severely impacted by all of this water coming through their manufacturing facilities. So there’s been a classic case of market supply and demand the supply has gone down although the demand continues to increase. When that happens the prices have gone up. Now my understanding is that the global manufacturers of hard drives are in the process of rebuilding, retooling and in one or two cases they might be in the process of relocating, I’m not sure, but I believe for the most part they are in the process of rebuilding and getting their manufacturing facilities up and running again. So the expectation is that somethime within the next 6 to 18 months I guess? Just to pull a number out of the air. We should see hard drive prices start to come down but right now if you’re looking to buy a hard drive it’s very likely you’ll end up paying significantly more than perhaps you did just a year ago.

‘How long do companies like Earthlink keep track of the websites you’ve been on, or is there a certain amount of time before they get rid of that data to make way for new data or do they just keep it all?’ You know, there’s actually no way to answer this. There is, two things, one, there is certainly no standard; there’s no accepted common practice that says, we, the random ISP, we all keep data for this long and then we do ‘x’ with it. In reality, the answer varies dramatically from ISP to ISP and from web service to web service. And by that I mean, sites like, let’s say AskLeo!. There’s a log that shows what pages were accessed and by what IP address. I keep that as long as it’s convenient which will vary depending on how much hard disk space I have on my server and potentially just how I’m feeling that day. It’s also changed when I’ve moved servers because the base software that’s installed automatically cleans up the logs and purges things on a schedule that to be honest, I couldn’t tell you what it is. Some websites keep them for years; some don’t keep any at all others keep them for a day. There is legislation afoot at the national level in the United States to require ISPs and service providers to keep data for a specific amount of time; I believe that amount of time is two years. But, as you might imagine is fairly controversial legislation and it may not pass or it may not pass without some major modifications. So the short answer is ‘I don’t know; nobody does.’ Companies don’t make that information public but if you are concerned about what’s being kept then you might want to…these are actually some the answers that started this webinar like talking about things like anonymization and the like.


If you missed the webinar, keep coming back to this very page. The agenda items that I covered above will eventually become links to articles that contain the recorded video segments from the webinar. More on that here: How do I view your past webinars?

If you have technical questions, please ask them here on the ask-a-question page.

If you have general comments about the webinar, ideas for future topics or thoughts about what would work better, please visit and drop me you thoughts there. I can’t promise to respond to them all, but I definitely read them all.

Next Webinar

Future Webinars

Rather than hide them somewhere, here are some ideas that have been suggested for future webinars or things that might make the cut if we have enough time:

  • Google Reader and RSS RSS is not well understood, but it’s a powerful tool to manage information flow.

  • Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ – What are they, how do they work, and do you care?

  • Do you need a swap file? – It depends. I’ll review what it depends on.

  • Using search effectively – Many people don’t. It’s a skill that makes using the internet a heck of a lot more enjoyable.

  • Enlarging a photo received in email – How to do it when it’s possible and why it usually isn’t.

  • Document organization – My Documents, but then what? Using folders, naming conventions, and other techniques to keep track of what’s on your computer can be simple.

  • Setting a default mail program – How to change what happens when you click an email link or click “Send To”.

  • Master of your own domain – Domain purchase, website hosting, and setting up your own email address.

Feel free to suggest more!

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