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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

FEBRUARY 5, 2014

Featured Content

What's New at Experts Exchange
From SLO and beyond

Editors' Choice Articles
Two you should take a look at

Nata's Corner
Windows XP and other Targets

Tip From The Mods
Blind links

The making of an Expert

The Golden Rules
The myth of net neutrality

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through Feb. 1

What's New at E-E

Webinar: If you didn't get a chance to tune in to Experts Exchange CEO Brian Clausen's presentation of the roapmap for the next year last week, you can listen and watch on the website. The highlights of the 45-minute video, built around the theme of changing EE from "cough medicine into a toothbrush":

  • EE will be making the site more open and accessible.
  • The most commonly used systems -- the question and articles systems -- will get major upgrades.
  • EE will get a new look in mid-spring that will include a new logo, smoother navigation and newly designed shirts.
  • A product review committee composed of members will work with the staff in product development and testing.

The product review committee includes Admins WhackAMod, will_see and Netminder, along with lherrou, Ray_Paseur, thinkpads_user, LSMConsulting and JDettman. There's a lot more to the presentation; it's worth taking the time to listen.

Profiles: EE's JDettman has a video that steps you through all of the changes to your profile. In the video, Jim shows you how to import your LinkedIn profile, add any technical certifications you may have, customize your avatar and share your profile with a personal URL. Have a look!

Upgrades: Recently released upgrades are:

  • Lists such as saved search results will now "remember" whether you want to see the list view or the detail view.
  • The achievements list in a profile can now be hidden.
  • Functionality has been added that will allow a comment to be saved when your submission fails due to a log-in check.
  • Your Requests for Attention have been added to your history tab.

New Leader: For about five years, PeteLong was the highest-ranking member of EE without a Genius certificate until last summer, when he turned the title over to Qlemo by reaching the 1,000,000 point level in the Cisco firewall topic area. Qlemo has just earned his first Genius certificate, in Powershell, and has passed the torch to longtime (June 1997) member ahoffmann.

Referrals: Experts Exchange's referral program enables you earn to pick up some extra cash by referring friends, co-workers and that cousin who always wants to you fix his computer for free to Experts Exchange. New Premium Service and Business Account members get a discount, and you can earn up to $50 per account. The caveats: 1) it's for new accounts only; 2) the email address in your profile must match the email address in a PayPal account; and 3) your referred member must use the link created by the system (go to your profile, click Rewards and then Referral) when registering. It works for people who earn Qualified Expert status too.

Expert badge: If you haven't grabbed one already, be sure to nab your very own certified Expert Badge and show off your skills on your personal blog or website. All the cool kids are doing it!

Editors' Choice Articles

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groceriesUnstable/Slow Performing Networks or VPNs? ...just go grocery shopping!
By diverseit

Imagine you have a shopping list of items you need to get at the grocery store. You have two options:
     A. Take one trip to the grocery store and get everything you need for the week, or
     B. Take multiple trips, buying an item at a time, to achieve the same feat.

Obviously, unless you are purposefully trying to get out of the house you'd choose "A". But why do we so often times choose "B" when it comes to our data transmission performance? The key metric here is efficiency.

pigletsA Polyglot Web Site in PHP
By Ray_Paseur

This article describes the general design elements of a multi-lingual web site. The site will be very simple, but all the important parts of the design will be present. Here are two images that show what the site looks like. By clicking on the flags at the bottom, our clients can change the languages.

The Design of the Directory Structure
We want to be able to support many languages, but with a single, simple design. A directory structure that makes sense for this is in place at The PHP folks have organized the online manual this way, where XX indicates the language.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's Picturetrusted advisorThe other half has been saying it for years: the Delete key is your friend. So is this great New York Times article about Facebook privacy controls.

Since W-2s should be out by now, and courtesy of mvidas, a very plesant man I got to meet at a Core conference a few years ago, an IRS 1040 form done in Excel.

I saw something really stupid a couple of weeks ago -- a post from a guy who says he's running Windows XP, hasn't updated it since the last century and doesn't have an anti-virus program. I guess he's been lucky, but as of today (February 5) you have 62 days before Microsoft -- and everybody else -- stops supporting it. That doesn't necessarily mean you need a new computer; you might be able to upgrade to Windows 7 or even Windows 8. If it turns out you need new hardware, younghv told me years ago about Dell Auctions, and the other half has gotten a couple of machines there.

Sure, the Target breach just before Christmas can't have been pleasant for anyone (and now you can add Neiman Marcus customers and who knows how many more to the list), and while the US justice department is getting involved, it's probably going to be a while before anyone is caught -- and when they are, it's going to be hard to get them back to stand trial or get restitution from them.

And if that's not bad enough, security researchers are sure that lots of other retailers are using the same systems as Target did. Other researchers have found that large numbers of people still use horrible passwords, including 2,000,000 of the people affected by the Target breach. Still, the Target people and others can take some comfort that they aren't in South Korea. I just hope they're better about background checks of contractors.

This might be related. There's a newish scam going around where stolen credit card data is being used to charge subscriptions to phony websites. The amounts are generally small -- less than $10 -- but they're recurring, and it's a good bet that if you try to cancel, you'll spend a lot of time on hold, and then get passed from one representative to another. So check your credit card statements.

Finally, we've been trying to figure out when we'll make our next trip to the Midwest, and how we'll get there. We've been flying most of the time for the last couple of years, but we've been talking about driving again, just to make a few stops along the way. Then we hear about credit card data being stolen through gas pumps -- and suddenly the TSA doesn't seem so bad again.


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Recently, we received a message that cleopatrark had earned a new certificate. We noted that it was in the Lounge, where she currently ranks eighth all time, but that's not the reason for this item.

In November 1998, one of Experts Exchange's more respected members -- Flake -- died suddenly at the age of 64. Her daughter-in-law, cliffsongs, posted a question in the Lounge announcing Flake's passing; as the messages of support were posted, cleopatrark and her sisters mekalm and gershbunny joined EE and posted.

cleopatrark stuck around and established herself as a fixture, but that was threatened in July 2012 when changes to EE's billing system -- the grace month for people who had not earned Premium Services was eliminated -- "encouraged" members to help answer questions in order to be able to ask them. She wrote to Netminder, one of the site's administrators, and he suggested that she find a few questions to answer and gave her some tips on finding them. A couple of days later, she sent him a note about her first "Good Answer" email; within a couple of months the self-described "Official Lounge Hairdresser" had earned her Premium Services and has moving up the ranks in several Apple-related topic areas ever since, and sits fourth overall in the Facebook TA.

She asked for Designated Expert status, quite an achievement for someone who thought that her days at EE were numbered because she isn't a technology professional. We frequently celebrate -- and rightfully so -- the Experts who give of their time and expertise to solve complex programming and configuration issues, but there is so much more to the Experts Exchange community, and people like cleopatrark contribute to that.

Congratulations, Cheryl, and thank you for taking the time to help the people you can.

The Golden Rules

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ericpete is a former newspaper editor, occasional low-level Expert and basketball junkie who has spent over 14 years at Experts Exchange, and has spent much of the last decade editing the EE newsletter.

If there is such a phenomenon as absolute evil, it consists in treating another human being as a thing. -- John Brunner

The ultimate showdown between old school tech companies (the telephone and cable companies) and the new school tech companies (the Googles and Netflixes) edged a little bit closer a couple of weeks ago, as a US appeals court threw out the rules, written by the Federal Communications Commission (after its previous set was thrown out four years ago) regarding "net neutrality" -- the concept that those people who provide Internet access should not be in the position of deciding whose content gets delivered more quickly or before other content.

That doesn't leave the FCC entirely toothless though. The court not only told the FCC how to make its rules acceptable, it confirmed that the unelected political appointees have almost complete authority to regulate the Internet.

The telcos' public position is pretty clear: that those people who use up the bandwidth should pay more. To that end, rather than pay for increased capacity, the benefits of which would be available to all of their customers, they would rather throttle existing capacity, which is a lot cheaper and which would allow them to charge those users more (and is therefore more profitable). (Of course, if they started charging people who send unsolicited bulk emails, you can bet that security on almost every computer would improve, and the amount of spam we get would drop like a rock -- but that's another story.)

Content providers hate that, because they're interested in being able to provide all kinds of bandwidth-consuming content (movies in HD, live webinars and classes, and, of course, lots of paid advertising) at as low a cost as possible to their users -- and their users, of course, want everything for nothing (or as close to nothing as possible).

In other words, it's about two huge industries trying to use the courts and a politically appointed agency to maximize profits. Not that there's anything wrong with that; the US has a glorious history of such episodes involving oil, railroads, steel and, of course, financial institutions at least twice. If nothing else, we've learned that those large, privately owned organizations do not have their consumers' interests first and foremost, and that the government probably doesn't either.

The catch is that the telcos and cable companies are collecting at both ends. They charge the Googles and Experts Exchanges and DinkyTownISPs for the use of their lines, and then charge their consumers for the privilege of receiving not just the stuff they want, but a lot of stuff they probably don't want and certainly wouldn't ask for. The price of cable internet access has gone up about forty per cent in the last five years; I'm sure that it's faster and more reliable everywhere that lines have been replaced and equipment upgraded, but it isn't in this neck of the woods -- and whatever branding is now attached to the phone company's offering never has been available here; phone company customers have paid for it, but AT&T has never seen fit to spend what it's collected.

Not that those big bandwidth consumers are any better. We can handle Netflix; they're just trying to rent you lots of movies. We're a little less fond of the Googles and Facebooks of the world; to them, you're not a consumer, or a user even, but a digital profile to be offered to whoever comes along and wants to get you to buy his or her product or service. To them, you're not a thing; you're less than one.

But even more hypocritically, the Facebooks and Googles of the world -- even if you don't have an objection to being less-than-chattel -- already know what they're going to do when the telcos and cable companies start charging more, because they're already doing it in the rest of the world. They create deals with the providers for priority delivery, and then tell people they'll get free access to limited (and controlled) data from the tech companies. Text versions of websites, the first page of Google results on your cell phone with no data charges, because Google and Facebook pay to make it so.

In other words, the net neutrality issue is a straw man, a classic example of the Golden Rule: them that's got the gold makes the rules.

In Brief

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In requiem: UC Santa Cruz, during our time as an undergrad there, was an interesting time; my office -- actually, a desk in a corner of a room in one of the sciences buildings -- was just down the hall from where some of the early work on non-linear dynamics was being done, the school was still very new, and of course, there was a war going on; I spent more time fielding phone calls from other college newspapers than I did anything else, but one story I did get was a one-on-one interview with Pete Seeger, who died last week at 94. This one still brings chills. Also, over the weekend, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

MacHappy Birthday, Mac. Apple is celebrating by fixing that WSOD problem.

It makes us think of Major Major Major Major: There are a whole bunch of new top level domain names now available.

Chicken Little was right: Several of Google's more popular services -- Gmail, Drive and Google+ -- all died for over an hour last week... at the same time that the company's Site Reliability Engineering team was doing an "Ask Me Anything" on Reddit; it also caused one guy's Hotmail account to explode. Best lines from Reddit:

  • So which one of these guys tripped over the power cord to The Cloud?
  • Did you try turing [sic] it off and on again?
  • Give it a couple of slaps on the side, put some tin foil on the antennas.
  • I told you to cut the BLUE wire!
  • It's those damn interns again.
  • Nice try, Microsoft.
  • In Ukraine we had a small panic, because every malfunction of communications are now considered government activity.
  • That's impossible the cloud never goes down! (Response: False. Clouds go down so often we have a name for it - fog.)
  • My god, we are living inside an Onion article.
  • Ctrl + alt + delete [Ed. note: We're pretty sure that was contributed by Jason.]
  • "You were doing an AMA on Reddit during this GMail outage? SECURITY! Get these fools out of here, send them to the PHP dungeon!" (Response: The PHP dungeon? That's called Facebook. That would be really mean.)
  • Gmail, I know for such long time, but it was your time for die.
  • Sir, could you please unplug your router, then your modem, and wait 60 seconds?
  • Your internet isn't working on any of your devices? What version of Windows are you running?
  • Did you purposefully take down Gmail so people would talk about something other than Justin Bieber?
  • The free public beta is now over. Thanks for trying out Gmail!
  • Quick, one of you get back to your PC and punch in 4 + 8 + 15 + 16 + 23 + 42
  • So, in light of recent events, my question is was Kevin Mitnick really responsible for the Gmail outage?
  • Anyone else relieved that Postini is still up? No? Just me?

The American way: Vringo, a tiny holding company that bought some patents from Lycos (an archetypical early Internet search engine) and used them to sue Google over AdWords, hit the jackpot.

The Internet way: The owner -- or rather, the former owner -- of the Twitter handle @N had it extorted from him after someone got the last four digits of a credit card number.

It lasted longer than a Kardashian marriage: Not quite two years ago, Google bought Motorla Mobility. Last week, Google unloaded the manufacturing side for less than a fourth of what it paid, but kept the patents.

Rule No. 2: If you're going to be a university administrator, learn how to pronounce "ooops". If you're going to try to evade an arrest warrant, don't post your wanted poster on Facebook.

We'll just call it The New Transparency: That's what happens when everyone spies on everyone (there's an app to block it in the works), and when they don't spy, they just get the information from your provider. They just don't tell Eric Schmidt about it. And we have bridge you can buy, too -- small bills, please.

Snapped again: In our last issue, we made note of the problems SnapChat was having with lousy security, database breaches and generally questionable decision-making. Two weeks later, they're still having problems.

You've been a B-A-A-A-A-D boy: Apple is still stonewall the court's monitor in the antitrust case against it; Apple did manage to win round one, barely. Oh, and remember all the ruckus a while back about how Apple doesn't pay any taxes? Due to the fact that nobody else in Silicon Valley does either, we shouldn't pick on Apple too much, but it looks like it's going to get tougher on everyone.

First there was driving: Add going to the movies to the list of things you shouldn't do while wearing Google Glass.

Just wait until California legalizes: THAT'S when you'll see Google, Facebook and Twitter start running selling ads for marijuana. "Not as addicting as your cell phone..."

No honor among whatever they are: The Tor network -- a system that strives to ensure privacy for its users -- has been found to have servers that are monitoring data. Curiously, the NSA is not suspected of being the culprit. Meanwhile, the Chinese came up with a way to keep its people from reading all that western propaganda: send 'em to Wyoming. I hear it's lovely in the spring.

Rule No. 14: Don't feed the trolls.

Stupid government decisions of the week: The word "candy" got a provisional trademark from the US Patent and Trademark Office. The Federal Aviation Administration won't allow beer delivery by drones.

Signs of the Apocalypse: We shouldn't be surprised that a government is using people's own cell phones to track them during protests. Betting on tennis. Too much Law & Order.


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New Aces: Ray_Paseur third career Ace certificate is in MySQL. woolmilkporc has earned his second in Linux. Earning his first, in Small Business Server was chaliher.

New Genius: Qlemo has earned his first Genius certificate, in Powershell.

My First Million: Experts Exchange members who reached the 1,000,000 point level in January were olafdc, marqusG and gowflow.


  • capricorn1 has earned 26,000,000 points since joining Experts Exchange.
  • TheLearnedOne has become the first member of Experts Exchange to earn 5,000,000 points in each of three topic areas: .NET, VB.NET and ASP.NET.
  • hanccocka has earned 13,000,000 points in VMware.
  • leakim971 has earned 12,000,000 points since joining EE.
  • Somewhere along the way, we neglected to note that oBdA has earned five Genius certificates.
  • thinkpads_user is the 59th member of EE to earn 8,000,000 points.
  • mkline71 has earned 2,000,000 points or more in three topic areas, most recently Windows Server 2008.
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
becraigActive DirectoryMaster
MrGravesActive DirectoryMaster
xtermApache Web ServerGuru
logudotcomApache Web ServerMaster
eoinosullivanApple HardwareSage
nociEmail ProtocolsMaster
Sembee2Email ServersSage
amatson78Hardware FirewallsMaster
QlemoHardware FirewallsWizard
PhonebuffIP TelephonyGuru
Gary_The_IT_ProJava App ServersMaster
giveandtake638Microsoft OSMaster
seth2740Microsoft OSMaster
DzynitMisc Web DevMaster
aebeaMS AccessMaster
mGozrehMS AccessMaster
Rgonzo1971MS AccessMaster
pcelbaMS DevelopmentMaster
robberbaronMS ExcelSage
JDettmanMS OfficeGuru
robhensonMS OfficeGuru
luconstaMS OfficeMaster
ThinkSpaceSolutionsMS OfficeMaster
Sembee2MS Server OSGuru
rawsteakMS SharePointMaster
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
Paul_Harris_FusionMS SQL ServerMaster
PadawanDBAMS SQL Server 2008Master
DrTribosMS WordMaster
Ray_PaseurMySQL ServerAce
harbor235Network OperationsGuru
SouljaNetworking HardwareGuru
DaveBaldwinNetworking HardwareMaster
donjohnstonNetworking HardwareSage
QlemoNetworking ProtocolsMaster
vasilchoOffice 365Wizard
leewOS SecurityGuru
cgaliherSBS Small Business ServerAce
tagitScripting LanguagesGuru
Rgonzo1971VB ScriptMaster
robhensonVB ScriptMaster
AkilaPalanimuthuVisual Basic.NETMaster
MacroShadowVisual Basic.NETMaster
arnoldVoice Over IPMaster
willlywilburwonkaVoice Over IPSage
DaveBaldwinWeb ApplicationsMaster
Ray_PaseurWeb FrameworksGuru
girionisWeb Languages/StandardsMaster
MaheshPMWindows 2003 ServerMaster
seth2740Windows 7Master
MASQUERAIDWindows 7Wizard
ve3ofaWindows 8Guru
McKnifeWindows 8Wizard
DanCh99Windows OSMaster
irweazelwallisWindows Server 2008Guru
MaheshPMWindows Server 2008Guru
craigbeckWireless HardwareSage
smckeown777Wireless NetworkingMaster