February 8, 2006
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Dreamweaver 8: Upgrade or Update?

MHenry is the Page Editor for Dreamweaver. He also likes good beer.

In the October newsletter I wrote a glowing review of Flash 8. One of my critics pointed out that the article's title indicated the review was of Studio 8, not just Flash. This isn't a complete review either. Try to remember: I don't intend it to be. This one is about Dreamweaver?

Anyway, I mentioned in that review that I hadn't had the time to really get a feel for the other Studio components. Since then, I've had the opportunity to build two sites using Dreamweaver and I gotta tell ya -- it ain't no Flash.

One of the things I liked best about the Flash upgrade was that the improvements were functionalities that were huge time- and production-benefits -- things like Photoshop-style filters, gradients and improved drawing capabilities. In sharp contrast, the Dreamweaver improvements seem to be more about time-saving and convenience, not about adding innovative features.

To be fair, Dreamweaver is a mature program; it has been a rich, full-featured tool for years. In fact, the only thing I wished for in Dreamweaver is better integration with ASP.Net 2.0 -- and that can't be blamed on Dreamweaver, which was released months before M$ had managed to get 2.0 on the street. So maybe comparing this release to Flash 8 is unfair.

So, what is new? Well, expanded CSS support for one thing. In my opinion, the nicest feature added to this release is the CSS layout outlines. It's not critical or even necessary but it sure is a help when you're trying to work with complex floats and such. There is also a much-improved CSS tool panel that allows you to change properties, margins, etc. right in Dreamweaver. This feature is most useful when you are working directly in your CSS code. If you're using a linked stylesheet, opening that stylesheet in Dreamweaver and then using the CSS panel will benefit you more than working in design mode will. For me, most of the CSS improvements are purely convenience. I happen to use Top Style Light and like it just fine, although I will admit I'm working more and more in Dreamweaver. If you are new to CSS and want to get going, the CSS panel will benefit you far more than it will the old-timers.

There are also improved coding features: Code collapse, coding toolbar, code line numbering, etc. Again, nice features for convenience, but this has been around in HomeSite and Firstpage for years. Not exactly blazing new trails here, guys. Sure, it's nice. But if you spend most of your time in code view, why get Dreamweaver? Heck, Firstpage is free!

Then, there's the totally useless features: Grids and guides. What the hell is this about? I dare anyone to find a use for grids and guides with tables. In previous versions, cells and tables snapped into place without the guides. We need guides to show us that they are snapping into place? Macromedia claims it's to help line up layers and CSS boxes and I guess that may be useful to some but I kinda doubt it.

So, bottom line: If you're planning to upgrade to Studio, you won't regret it. Despite the fact that most of the new features are just conveniences, they really are time-savers. If your budget is tight and you have to decide between Flash 8 and Dreamweaver 8, I'd plunk down the cash for Flash. And not just because it rhymes.

Our far-flung correspondents

We asked the Page Editors if they had anything they wanted to contribute to the Newsletter this issue. We got back a few items of interest.

mplungjan, the Page Editor for javascript, sent us a note that his non-profit site, Talent-Aid, has been launched with the help of many of the Experts in the Web Development topic areas.

Microsoft announced that the second beta version of Internet Explorer 7 is available for download. When EE's Programming Page Editor, jkr, sent us the note, we asked if he had any comment about it; his response was pretty clear: "Yikes, I am not even going to install it... Just thought it would be worth mentioning that it is out." Good thing he didn't; it took people less than a day to find bugs, including at least one security flaw.

A while back, daveslater wrote to Nata asking how he could get some publicity for the AS/400 topic area; she put him in touch with the Admins, who asked him to become the Page Editor, a job he has done ably ever since. He dropped us a note to say that tliotta has become the second Guru in the TA.

Also worth mentioning: Our friend khkremer, who has his Genius certificate in Adobe Acrobat, took enough days off to give Funkmotor a chance to pick up the second certificate awarded in the topic area. The first person to congratulate him: khkremer. Now there's a class act.

WesLennon, the Director of Community Support, got into the act by sending us notice of a fix for WinAmp that was released last week by Nullsoft. An advisory from security firm Secunia says that malicious code that exploits the flaw is already in circulation.

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Teach your children well

Last week, one of the local TV stations had three or four items related to MySpace.com, and none of them were particularly good for the image of the teen-related online community. One of the stories said that police in Hartford, Connecticut, are investigating sexual assault cases stemming from profiles posted on the site. Another story is about a teenager who was found dead in a canal; she also had a profile posted. Just down the highway, a former firefighter was convicted of assaulting a boy he had found through the site.

It's a matter of time now; MySpace will find itself the respondent in a major lawsuit on behalf of parents whose children have been the victims of the online creeps we all know are out there. For one thing, MySpace is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which also owns the Fox television network; can anyone say "deep pockets"?

The Internet is, to a certain extent, the last great equalizer. The opinions of someone who blogs from Georgetown, Texas can potentially be seen by as many people as those of someone in the suburb of Washington, DC. It affords us the anonymity we don't have in our neighborhood, so we can say what we think with relatively little fear of reprisal. But it also removes any sense of responsibility we might have; we are removed from those we confront by a wall constructed of LCD screens and wires.

That makes the Internet, and more specifically MySpace.com, as Middleton, CN police sergeant Bill McKenna described it, a "predator's dream come true." If you're going to coach a sixth-grade volleyball team, you're fingerprinted and are the subject of a background check. The school is responsible for what you do, and they know it. But at MySpace, anyone -- literally anyone -- can register and find out pretty much anything about other members.

It's a pretty good bet that eventually, if this does come down to a legal battle, that MySpace will hang its hat on its membership agreement, which includes a warning about posting personal information. Since most of the people who sign up at MySpace.com are minors, it's not a reach to argue that they can't enter into a legally binding contract -- even a membership agreement.

But there's a point at which MySpace.com's responsibility ends, and the responsibility of the parents of minors who use the Internet takes over. See, here's the thing. Kids used to find their way into chat rooms until instant messaging took hold. If someone, somewhere, is successful at shutting down MySpace, it's a pretty good bet that the kids will find someplace else -- and it's an even better bet that someone will build a site for them. There's just too much money involved.

So have that little chat with the young'uns about why they should be a little circumspect in what they post about themselves. And if they don't want to listen, put the computer up for sale on eBay. It beats having your child found in a canal.

Tip from the Moderators: Three from CS

We ran these toward the end of last year, but all things considered, they're all worth repeating. Nata's column has an item on a virus that turned out to be a fizzle, except in one fairly prominent case, but still...

Check your computer to make sure your antivirus software has been updated. It's not that the Moderators mind getting email from members, but we already get plenty of spam, and if one of those virus-based gets ahold of your address book or in box, we get a lot more.

We've also seen a number of questions recently that are requesting changes of usernames. This screenshot shows what EE says when you signed up (except that now it's in bright red); this tells you the problems you'll face if you really want to change it.

Finally, we're seeing a lot of reports of people asking the same question in several TAs for 500 points each time. This exceeds the 500 point maximum for any question; the Moderators will either reduce the points in each, or they'll turn all but one of the questions into pointer questions. Please save them some work by reading this section of the Help page.

Page Two: More News and Notes
Nata's Corner: Now if we can work on the names

woman in specticalsEveryone was all geared up for the Nyxem-E/Blackworm/MyWife/Kama Sutra/Grew/CME-24 virus that was supposed to start wiping files off the hard drives of millions of computer users last week, but maybe the message is finally getting through, because computer security firms reported that there was "insignificant" damage caused by it. I did see a story that said that one Italian city shut down all of its computers because they were infected, but otherwise, it turned into a non-event. One thing I'd like to see, though, would be the various companies get together and start using the same name for each of these viruses.

I got a new kind of phishing line last week. This one, purportedly from eBay, says that they're going to send my account to collections over 81 cents they say I owe them. The spam is ream is really quite polite; they say that if I've already paid I can disregard the message. I hope they won't mind if I disregard it anyway. But there's a new Trojan that's going around that seems to come from F-secure, and it's bogus, so be warned.

It seems that here in the western US, the gas stations that usually have the lowest prices are the targets of a world wide ATM scam. I know it's not necessarily computer-related, but I want to pass on because it could happen at any station or ATM cash machine anywhere. Be very careful at those stations where you have to enter your PIN.

In one of the lists of Christmas goodies, the EE newsletter had a picture and description of the new ASIMO robot being built by Honda. Now comes word that Sony is ending production of its robot dog, Aibo. I know it sounds funny, but they sold about 150,000 of them around the world. I guess if you're used to having one around the house, they're not all that different, although I don't think I'd want to replace my dog with one.

Finally, I got an email from a friend that listed 12 Rules Kids Won't Learn In School, supposedly written by Bill Gates. They weren't, but all things considered, I sure wish someone had taught them to some of the kids that work in some of the businesses I go to.

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 January 16 through February 13.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
thenelson matthewspatrick ryancys dmitryz6 pootle_flump TriggerHappy BillPowell dqmq fredthered fefo_33065 Sethi glass_cookie amit_g navstar16 Michael_D leew Proactivation dqmq Navicerts simon_kirk kiddanger sajuks lluthien SweatCoder rsivanandan RLGSC RDAdams GinEric TheTull Mazaraat Robing66066 samtran0331 scolja netswap GavinMannion kenson2127 pratima_mcs ovalsquare jyotisinha StormyWaters jessegivy REA_ANDREW ren_b Eagle6990 blohrer MiguelSilvestre rpggamergirl SystmProg bloodredsun edwardiii redseatechnologies matthew_wade kupzpenny ckumar42 NetoMeter LeeDerbyshire yuja smeek icky2000 IvaSoft Genius Wizard Wizard Wizard Guru Guru Guru Master Master Master Wizard Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Wizard Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Sage Wizard Guru Master Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Wizard Master Master Master Genius Wizard Master Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Master MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Visual Basic Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL ASP ASP ASP ASP Networking Networking Networking Networking Networking Networking Networking ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP.NET JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript Windows XP Windows XP Windows XP Windows XP Windows 2000 Java Java Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server Exchange_Server
Expert Certified in Topic Area
jatinderalagh Idle_Mind sumix maxy88 mnasman sun4sunday RobWill SanDiegoComputer Jay_Jay70 TheCleaner cpc2004 garycase sparkmaker CarlosMMartins Caseybea amyhxu jerete 5thcav athapa jensfiederer sajuks ashishg55 Vinod_nk rnby TimYates ram_0218 angelIII Idle_Mind alain34 mvidas R_Rajesh LoNeRaVeR9 JonoBB angelIII amit_g rajeev_devin BlueDevilFan asyscokid MontyV Naser72 mkishline Mr_Nil btrevarthen javasharp jimhorn MikeOM_DBA oleggold NickUpson VMontalvao krbatge keith_alabaster lazarus98 vickerleung CyanBlue ivan_os garycase cpc2004 BillDL mjcoyne jhurst Guru Master Master Master Sage Master Guru Master Master Master Master Sage Master Master Master Wizard Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Wizard Guru Wizard Master Genius Wizard Master Master Master Master Master Genius Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Wizard Wizard Master Master Master Master Master Master C# C# C# C# Delphi Delphi Windows Server 2003 Windows Server 2003 Windows Server 2003 Windows Server 2003 Windows Server 2003 Hardware Hardware Hardware Hardware VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET .NET .NET Web Development Web Development Web Development Web Development Web Development Oracle Oracle Programming PHP Excel Excel Excel Excel Excel C++ C++ Outlook Outlook Outlook Outlook ColdFusion ColdFusion ColdFusion ColdFusion Databases Databases Databases Databases Databases MFC Microsoft Network Microsoft Network Flash Flash Flash Operating Systems Operating Systems Operating Systems Perl Perl
Expert Certified in Topic Area
byundt owensleftfoot Idle_Mind angelIII rindi huntersvcs Caseybea David_Fong todd_farmer angelIII sajuks brunobear D4Ly GrandSchtroumpf jessegivy rpalmeira22 peter57r IdoMillet sparkmaker SysExpert marilyng richrumble shahrial blue_zee LucF bloodredsun mikebernhardt rsivanandan tim_holman Voltz-dk rsivanandan yuzh gg234 bloodredsun Nukfror nobus rid tfjeff davidis99 Chris-Dent pablouruguay sirbounty NovaDenizen JR2003 jlevie brettmjohnson slyong war1 lakshman_ce grblades Mikal613 RobWill gtokas Funkmotor lesouef MilanKM TechSoEasy zzynx ahoffmann yuzh Sage Guru Wizard Master Sage Guru Master Master Sage Wizard Master Guru Master Guru Master Master Wizard Guru Master Master Master Wizard Master Master Master Master Wizard Master Wizard Master Master Guru Master Master Master Guru Guru Master Master Master Guru Guru Master Master Wizard Master Master Guru Guru Guru Wizard Master Guru Master Wizard Master Master Master Master Master MS Office Linux VB Controls VB Controls Storage Storage Storage Storage Mysql Mysql Mysql CSS CSS HTML HTML Miscellaneous Crystal Reports Crystal Reports Desktops Desktops Lotus Notes/Domino Security Security Security Security XML Routers Routers Firewalls Firewalls Firewalls Apache Apache Apache Solaris Laptops/Notebooks Laptops/Notebooks Laptops/Notebooks Laptops/Notebooks IIS Linux Net. MS-DOS Math & Science Math & Science Linux Setup Linux Prog. Macintosh Windows ME Visual C++.NET VPN Handhelds/Wireless DSL/Cable C++ Builder Adobe Acrobat FileMaker Software Design SBS Small Bus. Server URLs Unix Security Unix Setup
1912 experts have 3171 certifications: Genius:79 Sage:146 Wizard:193 Guru:561 Master:2192
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