How-To Geek

Ask HTG: White Noise Screen Savers, Efficient File Naming, and Recovering from a Password Compromise


Once a week we share three of the questions we’ve answered from the Ask HTG inbox with the greater readership; this week we’re looking at white noise screen savers, efficient file naming systems, and recovering from a password compromise.

Where Can I Find a White Noise Screen Saver?


Dear How-To Geek,

Years ago (back in the days of Windows 95) I had a screen saver that replicated the white noise/snow patterns of an early analog television set. You know the screen that appeared when the network went off the air for the night or the set was tuned to a channel that had no broadcast? I’m sure if I still had a copy it would be compatible with my new computer but I’ve lost it to the digital sands. Can you help me?


Screensaver Nostalgic in North Dakota

Dear Screensaver,

Now there’s something kids these days just wouldn’t understand—the soft hiss of a television channel with no broadcast signal. We’re suckers for system customization of all stripes and we have a bit of a soft spot for screen savers, so you certainly asked the right people to help you find your long lost screen saver.

In our travels we came across a few screen savers that may be of interest to you. TV Noise and TV Snow Screensaver both recreate the effect of television white noise. Mac users interested in the effect will want to check out Noise Screen Saver for OS X 10.6 and above. None of the screensavers include an audio component so if you want the full effect you’ll want to check out some of the many free white noise MP3s floating around the net.

What Is The Most Efficient File Naming System for NTFS Files?


Dear How-To Geek,

Just what is the most efficient naming convention for saving files?  There doesn’t seem to be any standards but one would suspect that the NTFS file system would be most effective using some sort of standard names.

I’ve seen ‘dotted’, ‘dashed’, ‘underscored’, etc. names and was wondering .. Which is the best to use with NTFS? (Microsoft give some very general guide lines but never says which is most efficient.)

As an example, which of the following is the most efficient / effective (if any) way to name a file being saved?



c. My Info Data File


I’ve been using the ‘c’ format just for the sake of easy reading, but now I wonder if this is what I should be doing. Any help / guidance would be appreciated.



Dear File Name,

You can actually use pretty much any naming convention you’d like in modern versions of Windows. The one we definitely wouldn’t recommend is using periods instead of spaces—that could possibly lead to confusion with file extensions. You also may have to wrap the path in quotes if you’re creating a shortcut to a file or something, but that’s a rare problem.

If you’re using Windows 7, 8, or Vista, you’ve got a built-in search system in the Start Menu that will work a lot better in locating your files if you simply use spaces in the file name, which is what Microsoft expects people to do. That’s the main reason to choose one over the other—easy file location. Spaces in place of other characters works best both for the human reader and for the way Windows searches for files (on the assumption that you’ve named files in a human-friendly format).

How Can I  Recover and Manage Your Passwords After an Account Compromise


Dear How-To Geek,

Just recently a forum I post to was compromised. This wouldn’t be a big deal but I use the same email/password combination for the forum that I use for my actual email. That was really stupid, I know, but until this security breach I didn’t really think much about it. Now I’m freaking out and changing my passwords. I figured you guys would have some advice to help me through this and maybe make using good passwords easier. I don’t want to fall into bad password habits but I also don’t want to have to memorize a bazillion different passwords. Help!


Freaking Out in Florida

Dear Freaking Out,

You’re not the first person to be in this position so while. Yes,  using the same email and password for a bunch of services wasn’t a good idea, but it’s not the end of the world. It sounds like the forum administrators were at least forthright enough to shoot you a quick email warning you to change your passwords. You’ve got your email password changed and now it’s time to triage the situation. The first thing you want to do is read our guide to recovering from a compromised email. The second thing you want to do is read our guide to using Last Pass to manage your passwords. Between the two articles you’ll have your passwords completely locked down in no time. 

Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/5/11

Comments (4)

  1. Michael

    For my Windows file name conventions, as i do a lot of work with files for the web, i use the two following rules:
    – I try to remember to include the date as part of the file name, and always in the yyyymmdd format, so that portion of the file name will alphabetize correctly. If the file content is more important than the date, the date may be at the end – if i usually want to access by date, it comes first. This may seem redundant, since date information is included in the file properties, but if you copy the file to another drive, another computer, or onto a web content management system (CMS), the date may change, so this way, i always no the time frame for the document content.
    – And speaking of CMS (as well as other applications), sometimes, some of the older or less-capable stuff can’t handle spaces any better than they can handle dots in the file name. And i hate the pain of hitting the shift key to type an underbar, “_”, so i just concatenate all the words together, capitalizing the first letter of each word. It’s quite legible that way. So, meeting minutes of the birthday committee might go: 20111205BirthdayMinutes.doc.

  2. Someone

    I say HTG to make a radio. Will be a big hip.;)

  3. BigT

    True dat about FIle Name conventions. It’s not like the old 8.3 format days when you really really had to be creative.

    I Personally prefer spaces and underscores to concatenation (ease of read) and I never use dots since it does cause issue when moving the file around various systems. Now granted when it comes to programing I’m all about concatenation and CamelCasing my variable and function names.

    Date and or Revision number is always a good thing to include in a file name as well. I personally gove for revision but that’s because in my field of media production a file can go through several drastic design iterations in a single day.

  4. Istvan Taleki

    Upon attempting download of white noise download……this message was on screen,,,,,,,,,
    “Download does not exist!”

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