Ask Leo: Can Hackers See My Data?

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By Leo Notenboom

I’ve heard that instant messages through AOL/Yahoo/MSN can be read by hackers that “sniff” the messages leaving my network. Is this true?

Yes.

It’s actually true for all the data that comes and goes on your internet connection: web pages, emails, instant messaging conversations and more.

Most of the time it simply doesn’t matter. Honest.

On the other hand, there are definitely times and situations when you really do need to be careful.

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Technologizer: The State of Windows 7 Satisfaction

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By Harry McCracken

Windows 7 is scarcely more than a month old. Most of the people who will eventually use it haven’t gotten around to trying it yet; those that have are still settling in. And the Win 7 experience will change rapidly as remaining bugs are squashed, missing drivers arrive, and compatibility glitches are ironed out. Even so, it’s not too early to start gauging what real people think of Windows Vista’s replacement.

So to riff on Ronald Reagan’s famous question from his 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter, Are Windows users better off today than they were a few weeks ago, back in the Vista era? We decided to ask the Technologizer community, a group of tech enthusiasts with a high propensity to acquire new operating systems quickly and push them to their limits. Starting on November 16th, we surveyed our readers (and Twitter followers) about their experiences with Windows 7. Our goal: to do a reality check on the mostly favorable initial reviews of the new OS (as well as our own survey of largely enthusiastic Windows 7 beta testers back in March).

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Bits from Bill Pytlovany: How Apple Failed the Macintosh

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By Bill Pytlovany

Yea, I know may get slammed with hate mail for this one but I am open to alternate opinions. The market has been ripe for Apple to pick up a sizable portion of the computer share but it has failed. According to market researchers IDC and Gartner, Macintosh sales are up but their share is still way below 10%. That compares to PC sales by Acer and Toshiba. Why doesn’t the Mac have a larger market share?

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Ask Leo: Your computer was stolen. What should you do?

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By Leo Notenboom

My computer was stolen. It’s password protected, what files can the thieves see?

A reader asks: “My mid-tower computer was recently stolen in
a burglary. The Windows Vista home ultimate system was
password protected at start-up. What files can be accessed
by those trying to enter the system?”

It’ll take a computer savvy thief about 5 minutes to gain
access to everything on your computer.

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PC Pitstop Community Offers $ Saving Tips

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So far, over 20,000 of you have responded to our current survey about the economy. Along with the responses have come some great money saving ideas – that we have decided to share.

We will continue to add to this list as we receive more responses.

If you have yet to complete the survey for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Certificate – you still have time (the survey ends on February 28, 2009). Please keep in mind all responses selected to be shared on this site are done so anonymously.

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A Close Look at Broadband Technology

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Broadband Genie, a new PC Pitstop partner in the UK, takes a closer look at the current state of broadband technology. Broadband used to be the cutting edge, final frontier of home and business internet access, but over the past five years or so broadband has gone from being accessible only to the wealthiest homes and clients to something which is cheap or sometimes free when bundled with other telecommunications packages. With increasing speeds and new technology constantly improving the application of broadband around the home, it can be a confusing and jargon-filled world, but hopefully this guide will help you to understand some of the more widely used terms and where broadband is headed in the future.

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XP Service Pack 3 – Adoption Rates Could be Worse

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Since its release in early May 2008, there has been plenty of press concerning the issues with Microsoft’s XP Service Pack 3. Common sense would tell us that such negative press would drastically slow the rate that folks would update to the release. PC Pitstop analyzed the percentage of XP users that have updated their systems to SP3 during the first three months since its release and compared them to the adoption rates of SP2 during its roll out.

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Battle Of The Sexes

Through our world renowned OverDrive diagnostic test, PC Pitstop has accumulated a unique view of trends in the PC industry. In this report, we take a look at several million computers to analyze the computing differences between males and females.

Surprisingly, there are some very large and real differences between male and female computers. We take a light hearted look at the battle of the sexes for computing supremacy. Roll your mouse over each chart to learn more about each and every tasty difference.


Men Are Faster than Women

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WinPatrol 2008 – New Version!

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The 2008 version of WinPatrol is now available. BillP studios have added a great new feature, ActiveX Component Management.

WinPatrol will now monitor your system and let you know when new ActiveX components try to make their home on your system. If it’s not something you wanted WinPatrol will kill the new component before it can do any damage.

Download and Try Now!

Make sure to upgrade to WinPatrol Plus 2008 to get all the benefits.

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New Box Blues

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All Brand New and Ready to Roll

Yep, when I plunk down $500.00 to $1200.00 or more, I’d like to think I’m getting the latest and greatest. We all know electronics become outdated faster than potato salad at a Texas picnic, but I would at least expect to get the darned thing out of the box before having to update it. Our recent comparisons found just the opposite.

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Firewire Ready PCs

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FireWire origins date back to the mid-1980’s when Apple Computer devised a high-speed data transfer technology for Macintosh internal hard drives. In 1995, the IEEE announced the IEEE 1394 spec which is sometimes called the FireWire400. In 2002, the IEEE came out with a updated standard called IEEE 1394b which allowed for a theoretical maximum transfer rate of 3.2 Gbps. Apple soon released a subset of the new standard under the title of FireWire 800. In December 2007, the 1394 Trade Association announced the FireWire S3200 that will soon be available and that will support the full 3.2 Gbps transfer rate.

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Vista Trends

Microsoft launched Vista Business in late 2006 and Vista Home in early 2007. Our research shows that in July 2007, Vista was found on 12% of the PCs running the PC Pitstop online tests. Our research also shows that Vista is significantly lagging the historical XP launch ramp by almost 57%. In the six months following the XP launch in 2001, the operating system had grown to be found on over 28% of all PCs. Vista’s prevalence, after six months from its consumer Vista Home launch, sits at 12%.

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P2P Programs: Popular and Perilous

It’s time for a confession. Many of us have peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software on our home PCs. Teenagers most often use P2P to search for and download the latest songs from their favorite artists and adults can find the songs of their youth. PC Pitstop research has shown that many of us have P2P programs such as Kazaa, Grokster, and Morpheus.

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The Illusions of Vista

I was talking to an old friend the other day and he confided that he was once a magician. Wow! And of course, I asked him to share some of the cool secrets of the trade. Although we’ve known each other for over a decade, he was not forthcoming. In fact quite the opposite. Apparently, there is a secret code among magicians that they can only share with each other. That said, we all know that there really is no magic, just slights of hand that make things seem different than they might appear. Which brings us to Microsoft’s latest operating system – Vista.

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OpenOffice.org Office Productivity Suite

OpenOffice.org 2.0 was released in October 2005 and is proving to be a formidable contender in the office productivity suite arena. The fully featured open-source suite is freely distributed and is a direct competitor of Microsoft Office. The suite contains word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, graphic and database modules. It can read and write most of the of the file formats found in Microsoft Office and many other applications.

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What is spyware?

Over the past few years, a new class of software has emerged that’s up to no good. It goes by many names: spyware, adware, foistware, malware, eulaware, or even crapware. For simplicity we’ll just call them all spyware. Here are some of the “features” you get from spyware. Some spyware may only use one or two of these tactics, while others do quite a bit more.

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