Tips on Wi-Fi passwords, folder icons, more

Ask Mr. Modem

Q. Is there a way to create custom folder icons or pictures associated with folders? I don’t necessarily like the ones that appear by default and wondered if I could change them?

A. Right-click a folder that displays an icon you find repulsive and choose Properties > Customize tab. Under Folder Pictures, select Choose File or Choose Pictures, depending on the version of Windows.

Browse to a location on your hard drive that has a picture or icon (.ICO file) you want to use, click to select it and choose Open, followed by OK. Presto! Your folder will display your selected picture and life, as you know it, can continue.

Q. I forgot my Wi-Fi network password and I’m in a panic. Is there any way to recover it? I’m using Windows 7 and I’m afraid if I shut down that I won’t be able to get back online. Help!

A. If you are still able to use your Wi-Fi, you can view your saved password by clicking the wireless connection icon on the Taskbar, right-clicking the network you are connected to, then click Properties.

On the Security tab, one field will display the Network Security Key as a series of dots or asterisks. Below that will be a little check box to “Show Characters,” which will then display the Network Security Key and your saved password.

If you cannot access it in this manner, most routers have a Reset button on the bottom or back of the router which will reset it to factory settings. You would then need to follow your router’s setup instructions from the manufacturer (which will either be in the printed material that came with your router, on the accompanying CD, or on the manufacturer’s website) to configure the router as if it were brand new, and assign it a new password in the process.

Q. How can I confirm it so multiple start pages display in Firefox?

A. If you would like more than one Web page to display when you open Firefox, go to Tools > Options > General. In the field where you have your Home page entered, type in as many additional Web addresses as you wish, each one separated with a pipe (|) mark, which you can create by pressing the SHIFT + \ keys. Click OK when finished. Close then reopen Firefox and your multiple pages will display, each page in its own tab.

Q. Other than for security purposes, does shredding files reclaim hard drive space? If so, how does that work?

A. When you delete a file from your Recycle Bin, the file is still there and can be recovered. When you shred a file, the computer overwrites the saved information with random data. Although the file is still physically present, and still taking up the same amount of space, the information contained in the file is obliterated and cannot be recovered.

The primary reason for shredding is security. If you delete something and you don’t want anyone to ever be able to access it again (think subpoena), shred it. Most free shredder programs, such as Eraser (, will make one pass, writing ones and zeros over the information. Industrial-strength, professional, no-fooling-around shredder programs will

make one pass writing ones and zeros, then additional passes writing different characters in order

to obfuscate (wow!) previously written information.

Government-level file-shredding standards generally mandate eight (8) passes over file data to be certain it is not recoverable.

Mr. Modem’s DME (Don’t Miss ’Em) sites of the month

Launched by a physician in 2008, here you can access a database of patient opinions, comments and ratings as they relate to the effectiveness of various medications and contribute your own experiences and opinions. It also includes weekly consumer opinion polls on health care topics. The multiple-choice poll question I was asked when I visited the site was, “By what percentage has the taking of antidepressants increased in the past ten years?” I was too depressed to participate. Perhaps next time.

Ask Numbers

Measurement conversion charts and converters for metric, Imperial and U.S. systems. In addition to conversion calculators, scientific calculators, definitions, abbreviations and formulae, the site also provides printable metric conversion tables and unit converters for commonly used items such as feet to hectometers, meters to perch, and the always useful kilometers to dekameters.

In Search of Myths and Heroes

This site, which is based on the PBS program of the same name, focuses on four myths: The Queen of Sheba, Shangri-la, King Arthur and “The harder you swing, the farther the golf ball will go.” Just kidding. The fourth myth is Jason and the Argonauts. (One of my favorite ‘50s rock groups.) This site has lots of interesting features and I particularly enjoyed the Living Legends Quiz, so you won’t want to myth that.

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