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Originally published December 19, 2014 at 5:03 PM | Page modified December 19, 2014 at 5:21 PM

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Google searches won’t trigger spam emails, but Gmail might

can’t type any information into any program; attempts at remedy so far have been futile.

Special to The Seattle Times


Q: I find that soon after I do a Google search on some product, I start getting spam emails promoting it. Sometimes there are three per day. Is Google releasing my personal information, including my email address?

— Tom Davis

A: As far as I can tell, Google doesn’t release your email address to vendors. And it should not be able to determine your email when you use Google to search the Internet.

However, if your email is a Gmail account, you might be seeing online ads targeted at you based on the content of your messages.

In a court case related to that practice, a Google attorney said, “All users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”

Q: I have a Dell computer with Microsoft Office 2010. I recently encountered a problem in that I could not type info into any program — email, Word, Excel. I couldn’t type search info into Google to try to find an answer. The hourglass is always on and blinks every 2 to 3 seconds. The blinking also happens on any dialogue boxes that open up.

I ran Malwarebytes and it found nothing wrong. I finally found that I could enter one letter after getting the cursor in place, then the cursor is gone, I can bring it back by getting the cursor in place and clicking the space and typing another letter. So I could enter a letter about every 2 to 3 seconds, but that wasn’t very useful.

I then tried going to the Control Panel and using the restore utility. I selected to restore to most recent date, which was Nov. 11. The system worked normally again. What a relief ... until Dec. 10, when the problem showed up again.

I ended up using the restore utility to the most recent date but that didn’t solve the problem this time. So I tried going back to the next most recent restore date and it worked. I am hoping you can figure out how to solve this problem.

— Hugh Jennings, Bellevue

A: It would seem that something keeps getting installed that tends to hang up your system. And it may not be something that you are even aware of installing.

For example, almost every time I OK an update of Adobe Flash, I forget to uncheck the box that causes McAfee anti-virus to be installed along with it. Then I have to go back and uninstall McAfee.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy built-in way to generate a log of what drivers and applications have been installed and when. But you can enable Windows Installer logging to generate such a record. If you want to try that, you’ll find instructions at .

Alternatively, you might want to check two places for applications and drivers that are installed but which you don’t need. One such utility is the Programs and Features utility, which can be found in the Control Panel. Unfortunately, this utility doesn’t do a very good job of letting you know what some of the applications and drivers are needed for. For example, if you install iTunes, Bonjour will also be installed. Bonjour is a utility that Apple applications use to discover services on a local-area network.

You can also check Task Manager to see what applications and services are running when you encounter the problem. That will give you clues as to what programs or drivers you might want to get rid of. You can summon Task Manager by right-clicking in the system bar and clicking on Task Manager.

Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by email to or, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at

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