Experts Exchange EE News Feb 2009

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February 18, 2009 >>

What's New at Experts Exchange
Features, Geniuses and Kudos

Survey Proves Value of Corporate Accounts
Save with a proven online community

OTM And Social Networking
On the art of getting rich without making a dime

Great Walls of Fire!
stone5150 buys a firewall

More News and Notes
"Fire" in a crowded theater

Nata's Corner
Scam email isn't getting any better

New Certificates
New certificate holders, through February 14

Tips From The Moderators
Don't abandon your question

What's New at Experts Exchange

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New Features: Mobile computing has come to Experts Exchange. If you have Premium Services, you can now use your device by logging into Tasks you can perform include:

  • Asking questions and participating in your questions
  • Searching for solutions to problems
  • Answering questions through search or from your filters

Coming Soon: An auto-detect system that determines if you're using a mobile device. Please send any feedback regarding the mobile site to

New Geniuses: keith_alabaster is only the twelfth member of Experts Exchange to earn three Genius certificates; his third came in Windows Networking. Joining him in going over the 1,000,000 point level are sdstuber, whose certificate is in Oracle, and CyanBlue, in Flash.


  • TheLearnedOne is the fifth member of Experts Exchange to earn over 12,000,000 points overall. He is also one of only three members to have more than two million points in each of four zones.
  • matthewspatrick has earned 7,000,000 points overall.

Kudos: dawber39 was stumped by Iif query syntax in Microsoft Access, and then the dreaded "Divide By Zero" error, until DatabaseMX explained it all for him: "You are the man—that works perfectly—I can adapt that to where ever I need it—I thank you SO MUCH—you have no idea. Thank you for playing this out with me—I appreciate you hanging in there." He followed that with a closing comment: "You are the super genius dude—Thanks again."

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Survey Proves Value of Corporate Accounts

According to King Research's 2007 study, The Value of Online Communities, 93% of IT professionals "believe they do their jobs more efficiently and save time by using online IT communities." 80% of those IT pros say that they save at least an hour and 37% save 3 or more hours every week.

Experts Exchange isn't just any online community; Experts Exchange is the premier IT resource that has solved 2.4 million technology problems since 1996. Create your Corporate Account now and save your IT department 780 hours over the next year.

>> Learn More about Corporate Accounts

Tips From the Moderators

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A question is considered abandoned when it goes three weeks without a comment of any kind. Normally, the questions get handled by the Cleanup Volunteers, who will make a recommendation on how to dispose of the question—either to close it by awarding or refunding the points, or by deleting it as unanswered. When the CV makes the recommendation, there is a four-day period during which any participant may comment on the recommendation or post the reasons s/he objects to it.

The real problem isn't any individual question, but more that there are some members who abandon a good percentage of their questions. If you have enough time to search around for an answer and then ask your question, and if the Experts take the time to give you the information you need, then you have a responsibility to award the points to them.

When we see a pattern of not doing that, then we will ask you to take the time to close your questions. Please respond to us when we make these requests; ignoring our emails is not going to make the problem go away, and we will eventually take steps to get the message across.

Survey Proves Value of Corporate Accounts

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According to King Research's 2007 study, The Value of Online Communities, 93% of IT professionals "believe they do their jobs more efficiently and save time by using online IT communities." 80% of those IT pros say that they save at least an hour and 37% save 3 or more hours every week.

Experts Exchange isn't just any online community; Experts Exchange is the premier IT resource that has solved 2.4 million technology problems since 1996. Create your Corporate Account now and save your IT department 780 hours over the next year.

arrowLearn More about Corporate Accounts

These 26 new corporate clients can save more than 156 hours per employee over the next year:

Santee Cooper
Global Mentoring Solutions
Föreninge Furuboda
McKinsey & Company
PCI Systems Ltd.
Quinsigamond Community College
Russell County Public Schools
United Center
R2C Group

Witan Jardine Holdings Ltd.
CEDRA Corporation
Advantica Inc.
Kingston Technology Company, Inc.
Forrest T. Jones & Company
Biamp Systems
Knowledge Based Systems, Inc.
Human Resources Research Organization
SEMA Construction, Inc.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority
OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Corporate accounts

arrow Learn More about Corporate Accounts

OTM And Social Networking

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An editor by trade, a writer by avocation and an Expert by happenstance, ericpete puts together the newsletter for Experts Exchange.

I'm beginning to think that computers are lousy when it comes to communication. Not that the telephone is much better; when I was in college, we ran a little experiment to see if someone who called our dorm were paying attention to what was said when we answered the phone. Turns out that by and large, if the greeting is reasonably close to expectations—saying "Dorm One" instead of "Dorm Three", for example—it is largely ignored. It was ignored if we said "Financial Aid", even at 10 pm, but saying "Mary's Restaurant" made people wonder if they had dialed the wrong number.

I've made a few mistakes when it comes to computers and communications. A couple of acquaintances have signed up for various "networking" sites. At least one won't let go of you—kind of like a little dog that has your pant leg in its teeth. My "trial" membership, which was supposed to last 30 days and then expire gracefully, has caused a miniscule increase in the amount of email my spam filter deletes. Yes, I know my subscription has expired. Yes, I know my profile hasn't been updated. And yes, I know that the person who asked me to join (so he could get me to write something nice about him) spelled my last name incorrectly—and the site won't let me correct it.

For the most part, I've avoided the networking sites. I did join one, though I have to admit that I'm not the most active person on it. My sister is a member too; we're not on each other's lists of contacts (which might say more for my relationship with my sister than it does with the level of utility I find the site to have).

Which brings me to Facebook and Twitter. Neither company makes any money, and neither company appears to have any plan in place for actually becoming profitable—unless by "profit" you mean "taking more money from rich people who have nothing better to do with it than give it to us in exchange for owning a piece of a money pit".

The real news at the end of last week was that Twitter's cash flow is good for the time being—more on that below—but in an effort to keep Twitter from being on the only tech-related news, Facebook issued a press release about how great it is. All of those stats back up Microsoft's decision a while back to dump $240 million into Facebook in exchange for 1.5 per cent ownership—setting the value of it at somewhere around $15 billion. (Facebook also updated its terms of service following a couple of news stories that make it seem—in some ironic ways—like a perfect fit for Redmond, since it's the only mainstream site that has at least one company geared toward protecting children who are using Facebook.)

Not that Facebook has done anything to justify that; it's all about expectations—the blue sky as seen through the Windows in Redmond (sorry... just couldn't resist). In fact, there are lots of indications that Facebook—even according to Facebook—isn't worth anywhere near that much. And given that Facebook still hasn't turned a profit—it's spending more than it takes in—I'm just wondering why the people who do the investing don't spend the money on schools, hospices and fixing potholes instead.

And then there's Twitter. I realize that there's more to Twitter than just 140-character updates on whether someone is having the Number 3 or Number 5 at McDonald's. I understand that it allows anyone to immediately report events to a huge number of people.

I also realize that printing its P&L statement requires the use of an ink cartridge with cyan, magenta and yellow in it—no black required. At least Facebook has a business plan of sorts—it will make money off the advertising it serves, theoretically—but Twitter apparently doesn't even have that, or if it does, it's a secret held as closely as the recipe for Coca-Cola.

In the meantime, $35 million for 30+ employees should help pay down a few credit card bills.

Great Walls of Fire!

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stone5150 is the network administrator and de facto help desk for a non-profit organization that is conveniently located just a few blocks away from a Taco Bell.

I recently had the displeasure of buying a new firewall at one of the buildings I play Sys Admin. I had to get a better one than the cheapo one that I had there, since I was reconnecting the main office to the satellite office via a point-to-point wireless. It didn't seem to make a lot of sense to me to have a fancy firewall at the main office, then basically open up a back door to it by leaving a cheap one made by a company I won't name here, but it rhymes with Blinkwiz.

While shopping around for a decent firewall at a reasonable price I found a common theme with the sales pitch. The emphasis seemed to be on the brand name and jargon. Then halfway down the page in tiny print, that seems to get tinier every year now, they put the actual specs. Usually at the very bottom they mention, after you think you have found a real bargain, you find out that it only allows five users or some ridiculously low number. I would think that a morsel of data like that would be right under the pretty picture of the product.

Another annoying thing not uncommon to network hardware and software is the lack of a price tag on a lot of stuff. I guess it follows the old adage that if you have to ask how much, you can't afford it or some such nonsense. But I like knowing how much things cost in order to fairly compare similar products. Is it too much to ask that they tell me what something costs without having to talk to some salesperson for 20 minutes? Most of the time the salespeople don't actually know anything about the technical details of what they are selling, I have pretty much given up on checking out products that aren't up front about the price. Notice to companies that sell stuff—Tell me how much it is or I will move on to the next one on the list.

Another thing I should tell people that want to sell me high end computer stuff on the internet, it doesn't impress me when a site looks like it was made in 1997 as a college kid's website class homework, nor does a ton of flash navigation. If I feel like I fell into a worm hole to the beginning of the internet tubes or like I just popped a video game into my console, I am not sticking around to decipher your site.

Anyway, I spent days straining my eyes and getting drain damage from reading small print on nearly indecipherable sites. I even broke down and called a salesperson or two to hear a mangled version of what I just read on their site, only to get a price tag and a shock at how high it was. After all that I ended up buying an old refurbished 1U rack server and loaded a freebie open source firewall on it.

The moral of the story is that sometime the simplest solution is the right one. I think some dead dude named Occam said something like that once too, razor sharp that one is.

More News and Notes

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"Fire" in a crowded theater: The freedom to say what you think—the linchpin of the First Amendment—keeps rearing its head to the annoyance of people who think civility has some place in the world, especially on the Internet. At the center of the latest salvo is a recently closed site,, that was both revered and reviled for letting anyone say anything about anyone anonymously.

Help wanted: Snitch: We spent enough time in the news business to know that almost every really great investigative story comes out when someone spills the beans. Apparently, Microsoft has figured that out, because last week it posted that it is offering a $250,000 reward for anyone who gives up the people who wrote the Conficker/Downadup virus. Add "selling out a virus writer" to the list of ways to survive downsizing.

Rabbit [ear] execution delayed: After several weeks of bickering, the House of Representatives and the Senate have finally agreed on one thing: despite years of time to prepare, the government isn't ready to tell people they have to switch from analog to digital signals. About 500 stations across the US had planned to switch Tuesday (since they've been planning it for a decade), but the FCC is going to monitor some stations to make sure that people with analog TVs still get some kind of signal. One of the main reasons the government wants the stations to delay: not enough $40 rebate coupons for the converter boxes. One has to wonder: why didn't they think of this a couple of years ago?

Happy birthday, 1234567890!

No, the penguin isn't smoking a cigar: Cuba has announced that it has developed its own flavor of Linux so it can replace Windows on all of the country's computers. Not that we're losing a lot of sleep over it... but that got us thinking. First, how is it that the one country that is absolutely, positively on the US government's "don't sell them anything" list has Windows (and presumably other Microsoft software) in the first place? And second, in looking around to verify some information related to this, we came across the list of IP addresses assigned to each country. Given that the list was started prior to the creation of ICANN, was the Commerce department's decision to let Cuba play in the sandbox based on what the Cubans might read?

Site of the week: Queen Elizabeth II has a launched a revised version of The Official Web Site of the British Monarchy, complete with YouTube videos. We couldn't find the link to Harry's MySpace page, though.

Traffic report: You'd think that space would be plenty big for everyone; there certainly seems to be enough of it to go around. And you'd think with all that nifty gear everyone's been using to track things with that satellites and such would be able to avoid each other... but apparently not.

Events that just make you want to go "Huh?": The Los Alamos nuclear lab is short 67 (or 69) computers, including three stolen from one scientist's home.

Leaks on the Titanic: You've seen the stories (here and here) and the resulting cartoons (here too); one is reminded (while glancing wistfully at a 401(k) statement that shows only four digits to the left of the decimal point) that "it hurts too much to laugh but you're too old to cry." If your bank happens to be one of those that planned to have a "retreat" in Las Vegas, consider a new bank that listens to you.

Speaking of leaks: Breaches of network security were reported at the FAA, which involved employee data, and at three well-known IT security companies, that did not involve customer or employee data.

Sign of the Apocalypse: Somebody paid a lot of money for this, and it probably won't pay to carry your iPhone into a Vegas casino.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureThe quality of scam email isn't getting any better, but it is showing some interesting twists lately. Over the last couple of weeks, I'm seeing scams that are telling me I can get my hands on part of the bailout money—I wish, because dentists are expensive—along with the usual stuff about drugs, mortgages and computer security. But what's caught my attention lately is the information telling me I have been admitted to one university or another. Not that I would mind going back to school, especially on a full scholarship from someplace like Harvard—but I always thought I'd have to actually apply first. As one might have expected, the e-card spam/scams increased last week too.

The pill guys are getting more creative, too. I've received invoices from iTunes, instructions on how to send bulk mail (huh?), offers on new car financing, a request for my nomination to a Hall of Shame (kind of funny coming from a spambot), new percale sheets, golf vacations, and the ubiquitous "Message No. _______"—all of which had nothing to do with anything except that some outfit wants to send me more drugs. And then there's the one from a hitman hired to kill you.

Everyone suspects the economy is going to get worse before it gets better, and to reduce costs, companies right and left are reducing staff sizes—some by layoffs and furloughs, but others by offering to buy out employees. If you've been offered a golden parachute by your employer, you might want to read the advice from the Boston Globe before you take the deal.

You've probably heard about the California woman who gave birth to octuplets. You might have even heard that her own mother says she can't support the six she had already and a whole bunch of other stuff having to do with why an unemployed single mother of six (including three who receive disability support) would have any more children, let alone eight of them. Perhaps her PR firm (which apparently hasn't updated its website in a while) will eventually come up with an answer.

One last thing: Sophos will send you a free copy of Data Leakage for Dummies®.

New Certificates

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