Mr. Modem: Displaying Windows 8 apps

I’m using Windows 8 and I have so many apps installed, I can’t see them all on my Home screen without scrolling around the screen. Is there any way to change that Windows Desktop so I can see all my apps?

The Windows 8 Start Screen is full of nice, big, chunky-clunky tiles that represent all your apps. The tiles are easy to see in small groups, but if you have zillions of apps installed, most will be hidden from view, unless you want to do a lot of scrolling. Windows 8 includes what is called the “semantic zoom feature” or SZF (pronounced “ssszzzf”) that can help resolve this issue.

If you’re using a touch-screen display, squeeze the Start screen with your thumb and index finger to receive a bird’s-eye view of your entire screen contents. This feature is also accessible to mouse and keyboard users: Simply hold down the CTRL key and the + or - keys, or use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out. To learn more about the use of the semantic zoom feature, visit

Can you please explain “pretexting”? I think it has something to do with online scams.

Pretexting is the act of creating and using an invented scenario (a pretext) to persuade a targeted victim to provide personal information. While it typically occurs via telephone, scamming data brokers also obtain confidential information online.

Pretexting is more than a simple ruse, however, because it involves some prior research to establish legitimacy in the mind of the targeted individual (such as knowing the last four digits of a Social Security number in advance of contact). This technique is often used to trick a business into disclosing customer information, and it is used by private investigators to obtain telephone records, utility records, bank records, medical records, places of employment and other information.

Pretexting can also be used to impersonate co-workers, police, bank, tax authorities, insurance investigators, or any other individual who might have authority in the mind of the targeted victim.

Historical perspective: In 2006, Hewlett-Packard hired private investigators to find the source of corporate information leaks. They used legal tactics such as digging through trash, sending fake emails loaded with hidden tracking software and tailing journalists who were communicating with HP employees.

They crossed the legal boundary line, however, when they used pretexting — posing as someone else in order to obtain phone records. Patricia Dunn, then-chairman of HP, and half a dozen board members resigned or were fired as a result.

Mr. Modem publishes “Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks and plain-English answers to your questions by e-mail. For more information, visit

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