March 1, 2006
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More Experts By The Numbers
Back in January we announced Experts Exchange's Expert of the Year and then followed it up with more ways of looking at top Experts. Predictably, there were some people who are never satisfied, so here are two more interesting tidbits. These were pulled the second week in February, so they might not be completely accurate.
Most Points without a Certificate
Member Answers
softplus j2 griessh dragontooth _Maddog_ LRI41Barthax irwinpks MiguelSilvestre tonnybrandt 356,854 315,967 289,834 260,830 241,271 236,078 234,892 222,827 218,279 210,745
Answers in the Most TAs
Member No. of TAs
sunnycoder leew shivsa PeteLong sajuks mgh_mgharish angelIII astaec amit_g hongjun 118 110 105 102 97 87 85 84 84 80
Our far-flung correspondents

It only seems like shekerra has been a member at Experts Exchange forever. A week or so ago, she sent us a link to a website she has been working on, which prompted us to ask her about it.

Who's involved in

Right now ciggyfree is a one woman show! I hope to get more people involved as this site grows. I do have interested *lurkers* and people who choose not to disclose their identities (they send information, site suggestions or requests).

I also know people who have serious smoking-related complications. I know of a young guy who has Buerger's disease. This particular disease is strongly associated with smoking. By the age of 22 he had his left leg amputated six inches below his knee.

I quit smoking over two years ago. Though I never really was a heavy smoker, I still think I sustained some damage from smoking (Raynaud's Disease). I anticipate more people will be involved as this site grows. In anticipation of this possible growth, our hosting company moved us to a better server with higher bandwidth so uptime looks good.

What made you decide to put the site together?

I lost my father-in-law to small cell lung cancer. Before he died he begged me to remember what smoking did to him. I never forget the horrific smell of this type of cancer. I remember watching him waste away as he agonizingly tried to draw in more oxygen and knowing that his death could have been avoided had he not smoked.

This site started small with just a few simple articles. With over eighteen months of information I currently use a Mambo backend.

What are you trying to accomplish?

I am trying to discern what type of smokers we have out there. We have generations of smokers where the DNA is skewed and they may have been born into a life of addiction. We have first generation smokers who became enticed by big tobacco and the glamour of it all.

I strongly believe that there are specific categories of smokers who also find it impossible to quit because of genetics. Tobacco is lethal when it is smoked. Four thousand compounds have been identified in tobacco smoke and at least 43 chemicals in tobacco smoke have been determined to be carcinogenic.

I am also a strong advocate of educating the smoker/ex-smoker on how smoking interacts with the human body and what it does to our blood and organs. There is the brain-dopamine connection too that is affected by nicotine and may be responsible for certain aspects of addiction.

Each year, the equivalent of a large city dies from tobacco use globally. The World Health Organization has reported that unless we take every action to change the trend, 250,000,000 children alive today eventually will die from smoking. I feel it is important that smokers be informed and that we protect our youth. I also strongly believe that the rest of us should protect our environment from second hand smoke.

What makes your site different from other sites that have the same or similar goals?

Ciggyfree is mainly an informational quit-smoking support site. We have plenty of information, forums, a chat room, a monthly newsletter, a Yahoo support group, and a supportive atmosphere. There are many other sites that have attracted my attention and Ciggyfree is currently linked to them.

The two sites that have very different goals from Ciggyfree but work exceptionally well for a particular segment of quitters are Cognitive Quitting and WhyQuit, run by Joel Spitzer and John Polito.

The Cognitive Quitting program is a 'body based' approach to smoking and quitting. I have a deep amount of respect for the site owner. If we end up with people trying to quit who would benefit from a cognitive approach, we would definitely direct them to the Cognitive quit site.

WhyQuit is based on quitting cold turkey and on education. They have vast amounts of educational materials. Though Joel and I never saw eye to eye, his method works for so many people. If we get the cold turkey type at Ciggyfree, we will direct them to Whyquit.

I think Ciggyfree is different because there is no *one best method of quitting* -- the quitting approach is "different strokes for different folks". It is trying to figure out what strokes will work and for who...

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Getting your question answered

Atabia posted a New To EE question several months ago; we've done some editing for length, but the advice is still sound.

First, before anyone cries plagiarism, let me say that this document borrows heavily from Eric S. Raymond's "How to Ask Questions The Smart Way". However in the interest of consolidating it down to a more concise representation, update it a bit, and give it a flavor more appropriate for Experts Exchange, I thought I'd rework it and post it for both users and experts to refer to when it is warranted.

The key to getting your questions answered in any type of Internet forum, newsgroup, or mailing list is to phrase your question in such a way that will make those you're asking WANT to answer your question. Even on Experts Exchange, the experts themselves receive almost nothing for answering your question, beyond the satisfaction of helping someone else out and the mental challenge of a new or particularly sticky problem. However, if you, the asker, have not taken the time to try to answer the question yourself, or to think through the problem with just basic problem-solving skills, we as the experts see red flags of a lengthy and time-consuming answer, and will often as not skip your question in favor of someone else who has exhibited those qualities.

The key: Do your homework to make it EASY for us to help you.

  1. Think through your problem. If you haven't even tried to answer your own question, we'll be able to see it right away. This is one of the first questions to get skipped, because it's guaranteed to be be the tip of a large follow-up-question iceberg.
  2. Search First. If I can find the answer in five minutes using nothing but Google, you haven't done your homework, and are a waste of my time. And when you have searched the Web, read the PAQ, and read the manual, mention it in your post. That lets us know you did your homework, and are not just a mindless newbie, expecting to be spoon-fed.
  3. Try to remove all your assumptions before asking. "How do I get Windows to run Linux?" is a bad question, because chances are pretty good you don't want to use Windows to run Linux. Apparently, what you want is to run Linux. The assumption of starting with Windows is most likely a faulty one. Tell us what you are trying to accomplish, and what limitations you have. Don't assume you're on the right track.
  4. Ask in the right forum and only one forum. Don't ask a question about Javascript in an ASP.NET forum or a Windows question in a C++ forum. If you haven't at least narrowed down the specific area or technology in which the problem occurs, it's pretty much a sure thing you haven't done #1.
  5. Reduce your code to the simplist possible configuration that still presents the problem. This helps two ways. First, just doing this often helps the problem area to present itself, and your question will be answered before you ask it; and second, we do not want to read through 200 lines of irrelevant code to find the three lines of code that are actually the problem.
  6. Specify the problem exactly. Start with a short description, followed by exact steps to recreate the problem, what the expected result was, and what the actual result or error was ("It didn't work" doesn't help much). Be sure to include exactly what software or languages you're using. If the problem is intermittent, specify what causes the problem to come and go (as well as you can), or mention that you can't figure out what causes the discrepancy.
  7. Briefly (!) describe what solutions you've already tried. This lets us know you've put some effort into it, and also gives greater clues as to what the problem might be.
  8. Read your own post - carefully! Make sure you post is spelling- and grammatically-correct. Leave your l33t-speak for your teen-age friends on IM. Make sure you've said exactly what you needed to say, and remove anything that doesn't relate to the question at hand. If we can't understand what you're asking, chances are pretty low you'll get an answer.
  9. Write a message subject that reflects your question or at least the topic. Subjects of HELP!!!! or URGENT!!!! are useless. Your subject line is your first chance to engage our interest. Don't waste it.
  10. Describe the raw symptoms, not your conclusions. You're asking for help, so obviously you don't know what the problem is. List symptoms in the order they occured. The only exception is listing possible conclusions that you have tried and eliminated.
  11. Ask a question, don't make a statement. You'd think this was obvious, but apparently not. Wrong: "I can't get this code to work." Right: "My code is throwing error 33, but I don't have any files involved. Does anyone know another reason error 33 would show up?"
  12. Think about what answer you want to receive. Don't ask a yes-or-no question unless you want a yes-or-no answer. Don't assume the answerer will want to expound, or be able to read your mind as to which area you want them to expound into. Wrong: "Is it possible to create a mortgage calculator in Coldfusion?" (Answer:yes) Right: "What's a good algorithm for calculating variable-rate mortgages?"
  13. Assume you're the one doing something wrong, and take a humble, courteous attitude. Even if you secretly think the error is someone else's, it's better to be proven right, and get an apology from the person in the wrong, than to be arrogant and rude, and have to be the one to apologize if you're wrong.
  14. Avoid the "Can I...?" question. For example, "Can I pass in a boolean to the DeleteTree() function?" Try it. Did it work? Then the answer is "yes." If not, the answer is "no." Don't bother us with this.
  15. Avoid large-scale "How do I..." questions. "How do I?" questions are very often violations of rule #1 to begin with. But large scale ones are impossible to answer. This medium is not appropriate for long discourse. If we can't answer your question in a paragraph or two, we won't answer it. Wrong: "How do I make an e-commerce site?" Right:"What are the advantages of Motley's Paradigm over RFT-format (or vice-versa) when creating an e-commerce site in PHP?"
    After you've asked your initial question:
  16. If you don't understand a response, or have a follow-up question, use the same techniques you did in asking your question - search for the answer first, read the manuals for clues, etc. Don't assume that because someone already took the time to answer your question, they are now personally devoted to seeing you succeed.
  17. Say Thank you. Chances are you'll have another question sometime in the future. If you "Pay" the answerer with additional satisfaction from knowing they helped someone, they'll be more likely remember your name and be eager to answer you in the future.
  18. If you find the answer to your own question, post the results so future people can find it.
Tip from the Moderators: Three more from Community Support

Once more, with feeling: Please don't post the same question in four different topic areas just because you can. Even though we mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, we noticed that there are about ten requests by members in Community Support to deal with the situation. Please save the Moderators some work by reading this section of the Help page.

If you just purchased Premium Services but can't see the answers to Previously Asked Questions when you search, it's usually because the Experts Exchange cookie still thinks you're a basic (free> member. Just log out, delete the cookie, and then log back in.

If you're confused about the points system, here's how it works. There are two kinds of points: Available Points (also called Question points) and Expert Points. You use the first kind to ask questions; when you ask a question, the points you offer are deducted from the total. The second kind are what you get when you answer questions. If you answer a 200-point question and get an A grade, 800 points are added to your Expert total. If you get a B grade, 600 are added, and a C grade, 400.

Page Two: More News and Notes
Nata's Corner: Identity theft, MySpace style

woman in specticalsWhat do you call it when two problems meet head-on and it involves someone you're very familiar with? The newsletter had an item a couple of weeks ago about and the fact that there are a lot of not-very-nice people posing as teenagers. Now comes a story about how someone posted a web page as if they were Armstrong and Getty (who I listen to once in a while), but made up some horrible stuff and put up some doctored photographs. There were also threats on Armstrong's life; they found out about it when listeners called into their radio show to tell them about it.

This is scary -- although I'll bet there are tons of parents out there who will sign up for this in a heartbeat. There are companies in the United Kingdom who will track someone through his or her cell phone. The companies that do it say there are safeguards in place -- but tell that to anyone who has had their luggage searched at an airport lately. Given that governments seem to have no problem tapping phones and intercepting emails, it's a small step to tracking people's movements using their cell phones.

An item came through the other day that said that Google is now offering a web creator and 100 mb of storage to their GMail members. The day the item came out, I went to look but got a message that they were too busy, but when I finally did get in, I found a nice simple interface that makes it pretty easy to put something together. Don't go getting all excited, though -- you're stuck with the layouts they want, and style sheets don't work.

A couple of weeks ago, the PowerBall lottery jackpot was over $300 million, and I was ready to hop in the car and drive to either Arizona or Oregon (I called a friend in the Midwest instead, and STILL didn't win). But it looks like the treasurers of some states want to make it a lot easier for me to give them some of my money, because they're now taking a look at online lotteries since the revenues of traditional games has been decreasing. How about just making the odds a little better? Of course, there's always a spoilsport.

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 February 13 through February 27.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
GRayL puppydogbuddy RgGray3 p912s mgalig1010 cquinn aneeshattingal Colosseo RobWill scolja bsdotnet TimYates ljo8877 nschafer BraveBrain Jay_Jay70 JoeZ430 mmuruganandam Exchange_Admin PeterFearn BriCrowe emoreau bchoor simoncampbell Yurich tpwells farsight NJComputerNetworks Genius Wizard Master Master Master Master Master Master Wizard Sage Master Guru Master Master Master Master Master Guru Genius Master Wizard Wizard Master Master Master Master Master Sage MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Networking ASP.NET ASP.NET JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript JavaScript Windows XP Windows 2000 Java Exchange_Server C# VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET Win. Server 2003
Expert Certified in Topic Area
InteractiveMind JesterToo gecko_au2003 liviutudor mgh_mgharish TimYates RCorfman sajuks TeRReF minichicken patrickab webtubbs bruintje xanius Plucka RCorfman rherguth jimpen mirtheil aneeshchopra Nyaema GinEric tim_qui pjedmond Tim_Utschig ravenpl BOTA-X mherchl Sage Guru Guru Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Sage Wizard Guru Master Guru Master Guru Master Master Master Wizard Master Master Master Guru Guru Master Master Programming Programming Programming Programming Programming Programming Oracle PHP PHP PHP Excel Excel Excel Excel ColdFusion ColdFusion Databases Databases Databases Flash Operating Systems Operating Systems Operating Systems Operating Systems Linux Linux PHP and Databases Mysql
Expert Certified in Topic Area
sajuks jason1178 mshogren SunBow tfjeff Tolomir ahoffmann Phil_Agcaoili kneH CRAK mshogren BigRat suprapto45 sirbounty keith_alabaster carribeantech Rouchie rpggamergirl in-effect Joe_Woodhouse RobWill coreybryant meverest gheist harisrashid lherrou TechSoEasy lrmoore Master Master Master Master Master Guru Guru Master Master Guru Master Guru Master Master Guru Guru Master Master Master Guru Guru Master Master Master Master Master Guru Master CSS HTML HTML Windows Security Desktops Security Security Security Security Lotus Notes/Domino Lotus Notes/Domino XML JSP WinNT Net. Firewalls Firewalls DreamWeaver Viruses Macintosh Sybase VPN Hosting Web Servers PostgreSQL Microsoft Project Web Images SBS Small Bus. Server Frame Relay
1933 experts have 3224 certifications: Genius:81 Sage:148 Wizard:195 Guru:574 Master:2226
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