January 4, 2006
Expert Awards 2006
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Top Ten Tech Stories of 2005
In no particular order...
Google: It seems that not a week went by without some news (and it was really news) about the ubiquitous search company. The highlights: Free email, free satellite images, free Wi-Fi (if you live in the right neighborhood, but be patient), daily stock price highs, and a new deal with AOL. The lowlights: being sued by publishers and becoming a resource for hackers.
Katrina: The US was tested on the world wide stage in the weeks and months following the hurricane that hammered the Gulf Coast. Close to home, Page Editor gregoryyoung found himself evacuated and relocated a couple of times, and spent a month living in a motel in Georgia before finding a new house and a new job. The highlights: the Survival Blog that still amazes. The lowlights can be summed up in one word: FEMA.
Microsoft: No list of tech stories would be complete without the folks from Redmond. Highlights: beta versions of IE7 (which doesn't work on older operating systems) and Vista (AKA Longhorn, which had a virus written for it within 24 hours), the Xbox360 (which may or may not be buggy and doesn't have that much new software anyway), the settlement of most of the major lawsuits against it (but there's still that European Union thing out there), Bill Gates not only was knighted, but together with wife Melinda and singer Bono, was Time's Person of the Year. The lowlights: We can't think of a single thing, but we'll have patch for it a week from Tuesday.
Cisco: One big story dominated the news for a couple of weeks during the summer, when the company threatened legal action against Mike Lynn, a consultant who was scheduled to give a talk on flaws in Cisco's systems. Lynn gave the report anyway at the Black Hat conference in July, Cisco sued, and caught all kinds of grief. To make things worse, Lynn went to work for Cisco rival Juniper in November.
US national security: Between stories of long delays at airports, outdated computer systems and software, and domestic wiretaps without warrants, many of the public information officers in various departments and agencies in the US government earned their Christmas bonuses this year. One bright spot was that The Patriot Act was extended -- but only for five weeks.
Wikipedia: The online encyclopedia had a great year, becoming the second-highest ranked reference site on the Internet in April. But for all its successes, it took a real hit in the last month or so of the year when a former Robert Kennedy aide's biography was edited to include the allegation the aide was involved in Kennedy's assassination. That brought about changes to Wikipedia's original system of allowing anyone to anonymously edit articles -- which itself brought about new rules for creating and editing articles.
Oracle: Oracle's acquisition of PeopleSoft made for interesting reading in the financial pages at the end of last year, but that didn't slow the database giant; by the end of 2005, it had acquired several more companies, and finished the year by winning approval from the European Union to merge with Siebel, a transaction that still faces scrutiny from the US Department of Justice.
Sony BMG and the recording industry: So much to say, so little room. The recording industry kept suing 12-year-olds and soccer moms, losing in the court of public opinion, but winning in court rooms and the marketplace by shutting down Kazaa in Australia and the original version of Napster. But all of that paled compared to the scandal over Sony's copy-protection system built into its CDs, which created a huge security hole for anyone who dared make a backup copy of a disk. Last week, Sony settled a class action lawsuit over the matter, but still looming on the horizon: a big fight with Apple over the pricing of iTunes, and subpoenas from the New York Attorney General.
Apple and Intel: Still the subject of the best quote of the year, two weeks after Intel CEO Paul Otellini said people should buy a Macintosh, Apple announced it was switching to Intel processors. While both had some strange days during the year (Apple's botched search for the people who released "secret" product information, and Intel's slip into second place in the consumer computer processor battle with AMD), both went out with triumphs: Apple has the video iPod, and Intel has a new logo.
Open source: The open source movement got three huge boosts in 2005, as first IBM and then Sun Microsystems announced major initiatives into the field. But the biggest boost came in September, when the Commonwealth of Massachusetts became the first state to mandate open source documents for all state agencies.
Ten websites you should keep an eye on
These aren't the most popular, but they're among the sites we've found in our attempts to bring you news that's entertaining, pertinent, and even occasionally important.
Good Morning Silicon Valley -- Always irreverent, and always full of fascinating gossip about tech issues.
Information Week -- Another news site that focuses a little more on the people side of technology.
Earthcam -- We found this when they put up a list of the 25 most "compelling" cams that included Skellefteå, Sweden, one of our favorite cities anywhere.
SlashDot -- You never know what you're going to find, except there are some pretty funny people who post.
Wikipedia -- We don't care to get in the middle of the site's recent issues. But we will say that following the site's history pages and rules is fascinating stuff.
Snopes -- The Mikkelsons never cease to amaze me. Every time we get an email from some friend telling me something is true, Snopes is our first point of reference.
Who Would Buy That? -- There's something to be said for people who spend hours looking for stuff that someone, somewhere, probably wants.
EEQP -- ameba gets ink almost every issue of the EE Newsletter, but he keeps adding new things. The latest: SVG charts.
The Register -- Sometimes we take ourselves just a little too seriously. For better or worse, this British site is what most tech news sites would be if they had a sense of humor.
EE Stuff -- Okay, we're pulling a bit of a fast one, but this site -- brand new -- holds all the newsletters we have, plus will link to everything EE-related.
Thirteen Top X Lists
Making a list, checking it who knows how many times. Some of the lists are actually pretty entertaining.
Ten DotCom Flops -- A company we're very fond of sold a lot of equipment to WebVan. Somewhere, the Underpants Gnomes are smiling.
Ten Worst Products Of 2005 -- We actually had one of these on our Christmas list because the idea seems pretty good. We admit, though, that we didn't review it.
Ten Worst Products of the Decade -- Microsoft hits the daily double with Bob and me... ME. This is what can happen when the boss takes an interest in a project manager.
Six Least Safe New Cars -- At least three of these will surprise you. On the other hand, three of them won't come as any news at all.
Ten Most Fattening Cocktails -- We're still trying to figure out why tonic water has so many calories. The secret to staying somewhat slim while you're getting happy: avoid sweet stuff.
Ten Worst Television Shows -- Evidently they haven't watched the Sacramento Kings play defense, because their telecasts didn't make the list.
Twenty Internet Vulnerabilities -- The list is NOT all about Windows, though Redmond does hold down the first five spots and is certainly implicated in the many of the next ten. But the Mac OS?
Ten Virus Celebrities -- Or should this be celebrity viruses? In any case, "the blonde tennis player" is so 2001, and we haven't seen anything about Bill Clinton for a while.
Ten Tech Trends For 2006 -- Looking to change careers? Looking to spend a lot of money today for a product that will cost half as much in 18 months?
Ten Gadgets You Wish You Had Gotten For Christmas -- Of course the Xbox 360 is on the list (nobody ever said that Microsoft doesn't understand supply and demand).
Fifteen Tech Concepts -- We've mentioned a few of these over the last year or so, and we've even been on the receiving end -- on our cell phone, no less -- of SPIT already.
Fifteen Homes Of Billionaires -- When Bill Gates was building his house in Washington, we read that the property taxes alone were $675K, a nice little windfall for the county.
100 Most Popular Toys of the Last Century -- No Corvettes. No dual processor computers. No 65-inch plasma TVs. Just toys that we all grew up with.
Page Two: More News and Notes
Tip for New Members: The Community Support TAs

There are a number of topic areas under the heading of Community Support, and each serves a specific purpose. One purpose that none of them has is to answer your technical question, but all of them are there to make your experience at Experts Exchange more satisfying and positive.

Community Support: If you have any question about where your question should go, then start here. This is where you get help from the Moderators and Page Editors in terms of closing your questions, fixing your account, or almost anything else except answering your technical question.
EEBugs: This is for reporting operational bugs to EE's Engineering staff. The Moderators do monitor this TA, and will escalate anything they can't help you with.
New Topics: This TA is for suggesting new topic areas at EE. You might want to look through the recent PAQ before asking for a new addition, though.
Suggestions: If you have an idea for a new feature for EE, this is where you post it. As with the New Topics TA, take a look to see if it has been suggested before.
New To EE: If you've just joined, and don't quite know what to do, this TA is for you. While most of what you could ever want to know is on the Help Page, some things might be hard to find; the Moderators will be happy to answer your questions.
Feedback: If you just have something you want to say -- about the way something was handled, or if someone has gone out of their way to help you -- this is where you let everyone know.

There are four other topic areas that are listed under the Community Support topic area, which are monitored by EE staff:
Expert Care: If you need to contact the office, this is where you start.
Expert Input: This topic area is something of a catch-all for dealing with issues on the site. It's your place to talk to EE's staff about on-site issues that can't be resolved by the Moderators, Page Editors and Administrators.
Expert Announcements: The EE staff will post items of importance as they relate to the site here. You can also check the Site News.
Expert Complaints: If you have a complaint, you can post it here. Generally, if it is a site-related issue, the EE staff will turn it over to the Moderators.

Nata's Corner: AdSense and Sensibility

woman in specticalsA lot of you have your own websites, and you might make a little money off them by using Google's AdSense system. Or you might not, if the computer your page is being delivered to is infected with a Trojan horse that replaces the Google ads with ads of its own.

If you use Microsoft's Instant Messenger, you want to be on the lookout for a new virus, called Virkel. It's disguised as a working beta version of Messenger 8 (which hasn't been publicly released yet). First, it starts sending the download link to everyone on your contact list, and then, it sets your computer up as part of a botnet. Whatever you do, don't install a program called BETA8WEBINSTALL.EXE on your computer.

There's an article above under More News and Notes about the zero-day Windows Graphics MetaFile exploit that's going around. F-Secure has said that even fully-patched Windows XP SP2 systems are vulnerable, and even Microsoft says that blocking WMF files won't work.

Finally, if you haven't done it yet, make sure your antivirus software is up to date. If you got this newsletter on Wednesday, then you have only two days to protect yourself against the Sober virus, which is scheduled to unleash another round of emails on January 6. Please, I don't need another forty or so emails from the FBI or CIA, so update your computer today.

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Inside the numbers
ameba, one of EE's prominent Experts, provides us with a list of newly earned Certificates. His list of all of the Certified Experts is located at his site. The list below covers the period from 11 December 2005 to 2 January 2006.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
LPurvis jmantha709 etsherman egl1044 fanpages graye Steven_W DonKronos jrb1 alorentz lozzamoore Hecatonchires nauman_ahmed Edwin_C eyal_mt deepaknet Yurich spongie rindi gothicbloody ZabagaR ScooterAnderson jburgaard jessmca mikebernhardt Frabble nodisco Roonaan SnowFlake mshogren Isisagate raj3060 NicksonKoh m8rix Merete DavisMcCarn Genius Guru Guru Sage Guru Master Guru Guru Guru Master Master Master Sage Guru Guru Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Wizard Guru Master Master Master Master Master Wizard Master MS Access MS Access MS Access Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL ASP ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET Networking Networking Networking Networking Networking Networking Networking Networking Networking JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript Windows XP Windows XP
Expert Certified in Topic Area
rk_radhakrishna mahesh1402 Ready1 igor_alpha ciuly cjpalmer RussMaxwell cvanhoudt alshahnaz carl_legere angelIII igor_alpha Headspace TechSoEasy Fatal_Exception tmassa99 slightwv earthman2 fanpages mvidas rdivilbiss SeCuRi-T hongjun mgh_mgharish wasifg angelIII ampapa Wadski Exchange_Admin KauaiDawn AZ-Administrator adonis1976 RobWill Debsyl99 slyong Zyloch Master Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Sage Wizard Master Sage Guru Master Master Sage Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Java C# C# C# C# Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server VB.NET VB.NET .NET Windows Server 2003 Windows Server 2003 Windows Server 2003 Oracle Oracle Programming Programming Web Development Web Development Web Development PHP PHP PHP Excel Outlook Outlook Outlook Outlook ColdFusion Microsoft Network Operating Systems Linux PHP and Databases
Expert Certified in Topic Area
geotiger Squeebee Gertone dij8 vidru SaxonWica brettmjohnson war1 Watzman Gertone anthonywjones66 actonwang bbao masterbaker leonstryker war1 bigbillydotcom tim_qui Watzman brettmjohnson snoyes_jw war1 BudDurland Daydreams buasuwan rivusglobal tliotta nobus newuser4 MASQUERAID Meff davebytes davebytes Jenn3 Master Sage Master Master Wizard Master Guru Guru Master Sage Master Guru Sage Guru Sage Wizard Master Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Perl Mysql CSS HTML Crystal Reports Crystal Reports C Miscellaneous Desktops XML XML JSP WinNT Net. WinNT Net. VB DB Browser Issues IIS Laptops/Notebooks Laptops/Notebooks Unix Prog. Math & Science Email Netware Graphics PowerBuilder Online Marketing AS/400 HP Printers HP Printers Games GSM Game Dev. OpenGL Software Design
1821 experts have 3005 certifications: Genius:74 Sage:139 Wizard:174 Guru:540 Master:2078
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