Experts Exchange EE News Mar 2009

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March 4, 2009 >>

What's New at Experts Exchange
Zones, Search and Geniuses

The Experts behind Corporate Accounts
The proof is in the pudding

The Future is Here!
stone5150 on new and improved everything

Stealing Stuff Off The Web
skirklan on artists, copyrights and money

More News and Notes
They beat horses, don't they

Nata's Corner
Watch out for jobs and tax refund schemes

New Certificates
New certificate holders, through February 28

Tips From The Moderators
Include enough information to get an answer

What's New at Experts Exchange

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New Zones: Experts Exchange has pushed several new zones: Microsoft Windows 7, Skype, and CentOS. EE has also broken out MS SQL Reporting as a separate zone.

New Advanced Search: Experts Exchange has pushed a completely rebuilt advanced search system. The new search includes a significantly expanded list of parameters you can select from, and allows for multiple includes and excludes as well. You can also save your advanced searches for future use. The changes to the search system also impact the filter system; now, the filters will search for just the open questions. And pre-existing searches for closed questions are now shown as saved advanced searches.

NOT a New Staffer: Danae LaSalle has been promoted to the position of Community Volunteer Liaison at Experts Exchange. Her responsibilities have been expanded to be the person through whom the Moderators and Admins go when they need something from EE. Congratulations, lasally!

New Geniuses: Three members of Experts Exchange have reached the Genius level in the past couple of weeks. boag2000 has earned his second Genius certificate, this one in Access Forms. Joining him on the list are BrandonGalderisi in Microsoft SQL Server and mark_wills in SQL Server 2005. Congratulations!


  • angelIII has earned 27,000,000 points.
  • mlmcc has earned 8,000,000 points overall.
  • hielo has gone over 4,000,000 points in the Javascript zone.
  • emoreau reached the 5,000,000 points overall plateau.
  • chapmandew has earned 3,000,000 points in the SQL Server 2005 zone. What makes that achievement noteworth is that he also has 2,000,000 points in the Microsoft SQL Server zone; only five other members have 2,000,000 points in more than one zone.

Kudos: It wasn't so much the difficulty of 9XqUwH3S's question about coding in Access that got our attention, nor even Frosty555's answer. It was the grading comment:
Wow! I mean Wow(thanksLot).Infomation = "Helpful!"

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The Experts behind Corporate Accounts

Since 1996, the Experts have solved more than 2.5 million problems. The resulting 2.5 million solutions represent countless hours saved and businesses bailed out of sticky situations time and time again. Throughout this newsletter you can find success stories and tales of member appreciation. Each story shows Experts Exchange at its best and hints at what a Corporate Account can do for your business.

Experts Exchange Corporate Accounts are annual licenses for multiple users within an organization. Each licensee receives unrestricted access to Experts Exchange, including our knowledgebase of more than 2.5 million solutions and the ability to collaborate with the Experts responsible for the success stories in this week's newsletter. Corporate Accounts start at $449 for a 5 license workgroup.

>> Create Your Corporate Account
>> Learn More

Tips From the Moderators

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A few weeks ago, we mentioned the most critical issue in getting an answer to your question -- picking the correct zones. Last week, we saw a question that illustrates the second most critical issue: giving the Experts the information they need.

Special thanks to mbizup for pointing this one out to us, and to boag2000 for being a sterling example of the best kind of Expert.

The Experts are volunteers; they are offering their time, experience and expertise to you. So it makes a big difference when you ask your question if you provide them complete information about your question -- including screen shots and sample files, using the Upload system.

The Experts behind Corporate Accounts

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Since 1996, the Experts have solved more than 2.5 million problems. The resulting 2.5 million solutions represent countless hours saved and businesses bailed out of sticky situations time and time again. Throughout this newsletter you can find success stories and tales of member appreciation. Each story shows Experts Exchange at its best and hints at what a Corporate Account can do for your business.

Experts Exchange Corporate Accounts are annual licenses for multiple users within an organization. Each licensee receives unrestricted access to Experts Exchange, including our knowledgebase of more than 2.5 million solutions and the ability to collaborate with the Experts responsible for the success stories in this week's newsletter. Corporate Accounts start at $449 for a 5 license workgroup.

arrowCreate Your Corporate Account
arrowLearn More

The following new corporate clients are now enjoying the support of the brilliant Experts featured in this week's newsletter:

City of Cocoa
Jefferson County Clerk's Office
MCG Capital Corporation
Citizens Energy Group
Brady plc
Braathe Gruppen AS
Johnston Carmichael
Department for International Development
EP Canada Film Services

Benenden Healthcare
Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
Mineral Management Service
Midstate Electric Cooperative
DynMcDermott Petroleum Operations Company
Saphir Group Business Technologies AG
Farmers Coop Society
Walsworth Publishing Company

Corporate accounts

arrow Create Your Corporate Account
arrow Learn More

The Future is Here!

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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.

That's right, the future is here. How do I know this? Advertisements and sales people tell me that it is all the time. I am pretty sure they are right too. All the super advanced futuristic things they tell they have look a lot like the things we are using now, only with an extra bell, whistle or cup holder. Obviously it must be the future, right?

Everything from kitchen utensils to cars is advancing at astonishing rates, or they are if you believe everything you read and hear. From the latest release of Windows to the wind generated by car salespeople, the future is about to run us over and we had better get on board or get left behind. Imagine the hell your life would be if you couldn't see your pretty desktop image through the border of your document, or your cup holders didn't slide out all Star Trek like, but instead just sat there motionless.

My ten year old car looks a lot like the new ones they are selling on car lots plus gets almost the same gas mileage, and my two year old laptop still looks and works great. Why should I spend money to get the newest shiniest things, oh yeah, because if I don't the terrorists will win or some such nonsensical thing like that. I seriously doubt that some terrorist group is plotting the demise of democracy based on my tight-fisted spending habits.

Want to impress me? Give me the things I have been promised for ages. I don't have any lofty ideas that they can produce flying cars and full motion, two-way, wrist watch sized video phones dreamed of when I was a kid, but haven't they been saying cars should be getting over 100 mpg and computers would turn on like lamps for years now. Where are these fuel misers and ultra fast computer systems? Did I miss them? Or are they just selling me a bill of goods packaged in shiny new features like sliding cup holders and transparent window borders?

Thinking of pointless upgrades and add-ons, when exactly did the advertisements for cellular, oh sorry, wireless phones stop mentioning anything about them being able to make a phone call?

On the other hand, I can remember when a 10 megabyte hard drive was massively huge and a used car with seat belts was rare find. So I'll admit there have been some pretty impressive advancements in computers and car safety accessories in the past few decades, as well as cleaning products and ways to slice, dice and make julienned fries (whatever those are exactly). But it is getting kind of ridiculous when they expect me to upgrade just to have the newest things regardless how trivial the improvements are.

Should I fork over my hard earned money just because someone tells me the product is new and improved, or should I wait till it actually improves my life? I am pretty sure I have enough toys that waste my time far more than they save me time. In fact, I have drawers and closets full of them, unfortunately most of them have long since broke or have been such a pain to use that the time it took to dig them out and set them up was greater than the time they saved. I can slice a potato up with a standard kitchen knife faster than I can dig out the fancy tool someone thoughtfully gave me and my wife as an anniversary gift 10 years ago, just like I can type up an article faster in my old fashioned word processor application than I can navigate though some ribbons chock full of odd little pictographs.

Maybe I am just getting old and set in my ways, but shouldn't improvements actually improve things?

Stealing Stuff Off The Web

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skirklan is a designer and author. The second edition of her book, Start and Run a Creative Services Business, was just released.

Designers and professional art directors know there are plenty of career opportunities to take the easy road to complete jobs. It's littered with Google images, online download sites and image banks where one might find an photograph or illustration suitable for a comprehensive or research material for an illustration. It is much easier to ask permission than to use material illegally. Why risk it when you might get famous in the process and end up surrendering half of all your earnings plus punitive damages due the originator of the work you "borrowed"? My advice is don't even think about it. Jeff Koons makes a very good living selling stuff he calls art; though taking a postcard of a group of dogs shot by professional photographer Art Rogers and shipping it off to Italian artisans to have it reproduced as sculpture is not art. That pseudo art sold 3 sculptures at $367,000 each. Rogers, who owned the rights to the photograph used on the postcard, sued and won. The court found "substantial similarity" and that Koons had easy access to the picture; as a result, the sculpture was judged a copy of Rogers' work. Koons attempted to use Fair Use laws as a defense but lost anyway.

The same battle has entered the courts regarding a poster of Barack Obama. The now famous version of photographer Mannie Garcia's shot of Barack Obama was used by copyist Shepard Fairey to create the HOPE poster. Garcia sold some usage rights to the Associated Press (AP), and they have filed a suit against Fairey. Unless Garcia signed away his rights on a specifically labeled Work for Hire contract, he retains all of the rights to ownership of that photograph. Mr. Fairey contends using that photographer's work constitutes fair use and has filed a countersuit against AP; but he has no grounds to stand on unless permission was granted and rights were transferred. No permission was granted, and soon Fairey must share all of his earnings with Garcia once the lawyers take their cut and the courts decide an issue they should eschew. Couple that attrition with Fairey's demand that his work receive all the protection allowed under authorship and copyright laws granted to a work of art and you have in a nut shell why you must always ask permission to use someone else's work product. Play it safe and do the right thing. Dennis Meyler, a professional photographer and visual artist in his own right, suggests we apply the "fairey style" as often as we like (on photography we own, naturally) courtesy of Paste Magazine.

It's up to the art community to finally distinguish between expert technique and expert art because if we continue to allow the uneducated lawyers and judges to make these determinations, no telling who will win what based on aberrant precedents set today. Mannie Garcia should prevail in this instance; as it was his capture of the moment, his determination that it was a shot worth having and his action, energy and intellect that determined the work product. All Fairey did was see something good created by someone else and appropriate it.

I have written before about my awe and admiration for a young artist in my freshman year of art college who faithfully reproduced her college ID; and the subsequent lesson I learned from my painting teacher at the time, Dennis Drummond. There is no art involved in photographically transferring an image through mechanical means to the brain, down the arm and onto canvas if one carefully eradicates any influence that journey has on the resultant creative product. That's a person pretending to be a camera; using good technique and completely setting creativity aside. No, Mr. Fairey did not transfer his emotions simply by applying color to Mr. Garcia's image; and neither does the application of the word HOPE. In fact, the addition of the word hope testifies to the work's impotence, as true art must communicate without verbiage. The very act of resisting personal impressions in transferring the image to canvas is the elimination of art from the process; art is, after all, the only effective method of communicating pure human emotion. A photographic reproduction of something, though awesome in example of perfected technique, is not art.

We are such a loose community and into our own thing that we ignore the label of artist applied to those who create no art, like an art director I worked with who meticulously reproduced the Beatles posters in The White Album in pen and ink pointillism. You can act as a camera, but you are not creating art. The only conclusion under the law is your work is not art and does not merit original works protection under the law. Unfortunately, these issues are not decided by artists. They are routinely decided by lawyers and judges; or patrons and aristocracy on boards and panels -- none of whom possess the necessary passion or education to distinguish between art and a nicely cobbled pair of shoes. So those of you who are expert artists, step forward and let's hear your voice in support of the issues at hand.

The Fair Use Project files on behalf of Fairey

Editor's note: Shepherd Fairey, who is being celebrated by the USA Network as being "character approved", was arrested February 7 in Boston on two outstanding warrants related to grafitti and tagging. Cleaning up after taggers and grafitti artists costs taxpayers millions of dollars annually.

More News and Notes

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They beat horses, don't they: One would think that sooner or later, elected officials would get the message: The 1984 of Winston Smith was NOT a nice place, and it looks even less inviting in 2009 when technology makes it all too easy. We know the government convinced TPC to keep track of internet data without the niceties of warrants; now, a couple of folks in Washington think requiring ISPs to keep data for two years is good idea all the way around... and rather than try to play the combat terrorism trump card, they're playing the protect children from exploitation card. One supposes that all the hand-wringing about being safe from the government is just that; they have yet to figure out how to make their own data evaluation systems work. What's more entertaining is the notion that ISPs won't be able to provide email services under the law -- which would be good news for some people.

Go ahead. We dare you: NASA needs a name for the new space station. Someone has already suggested Serenity.

John Lennon would be pleased: is a site where you can swap services for services -- no money necessary. (Thanks, Anita!) Speaking of which... for all you reality show junkies.

Downright scary: A database of security breaches. This will keep Nata busy for years.

Just when you thought entertainment people couldn't get any stupider: Fresh off coming up with the best Super Bowl commercial, the folks who own Hulu -- a service created by Fox and NBC to keep their stuff off YouTube -- have told Boxee -- a company that facilitates "on demand" viewing of web content by sending it from your computer to your television set -- that Boxee can no longer show Hulu's content, at the same time Hulu's parent companies are trying to bet more people to watch. Even Hulu's CEO knows it's a dumb move.

Skynet now online: The Oak Ridge lab is building a network of bots, complete with the usual governmentese-type acronym, to patrol the US government's computer systems looking for intruders.

We know people who talk like this all the time: Buzzkill, which has suffered considerable neglect of late, posted a list of buzzwords culled from Inside, one of the many trade publications that disappeared when the DotCom bubble popped. This isn't exactly news, but it is funny.

Can we use this as a reason for not filing? We normally use the IRS's online forms to fill out tax returns, but we're reconsidering. But we'll bet others aren't; a patch won't be available for another week, and the vulnerability is already being exploited. Note to Adobe: Add this to the reasons people don't upgrade. One place we won't be going: H&R Block.

Now we know who to blame: Here's why the global economy collapsed.

Ooops: A compendium of items that might otherwise qualify as one of our Signs of the Apocalypse, but there were so many:

This week's Underpants Gnomes site: This service will call your cell phone -- for free -- if you've lost it somewhere. Which begs the question: why not just call it from another phone?

Signs of the Apocalypse (real, kind of): GMail flagged the entire internet as malware and failed for three hours. Some users are still having trouble; those who pay are getting 15 days (about $2) credit. Also, hackers are having trouble with broswer compatability. Damn the bad luck.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureWe're all a little worried about money right now, and with so many people being laid off work, it's just like the bloodsuckers of the world to try to heap more misery on top of you. Just like the typical Nigerian generals' schemes, if you didn't write to someone asking for information, it's probably a scam -- or worse. It's not just the job offers and get-rich-quick schemes, either; it's tax season, too. The delete key is your friend...

I use IE7 as my browser (I use my laptop, which has Vista on it at the moment, and that's what came with it), but given all the negative publicity Microsoft's browser gets, it was good to read that when it comes to security, only Firefox comes close. Of course, that's not IE6, which is currently on some countries' hit lists. Of course, nothing helps if your users go to the wrong sites in the first place. Of course, even using the most secure browser might not be safe, if the tool built by "Moxie Marlinspike" at the Black Hat conference demonstrates. If you ask me, that's the best reason yet to not put personal information where the data can be breached.

I can't be the only person who hates being interrupted during House by some automated, thinly-disguised telemarketing company, so I'm going to definitely be signing up for TrapCall's cell phone "unblock hidden callers" service.

Finally, two things. First, the Obama administration's commitment to the Internet includes a good site dealing with fraud, security, and more. Second, I came across some rules for passwords that I'd like to pass along, just in case you're one of those lazy types who uses "asdf1234" or "password" thinking that nobody would ever think you so crazy as to use something that simple:

  1. Use passwords that look random to everyone else but make sense to you. For example, take your mother-in-law's birthday (November 22nd), reverse it and change the 1s to upper-case Ls, and then add the name of your brother's annoying dog (that little chihuahua that yaps like your mother-in-law). Change the last character and subtract two. The result: 22LLpepit8.
  2. Use unique passwords. In other words, don't use your Experts Exchange password for your Gmail account or for your bank's online system. Come up with a different one for each site -- especially those that handle your personal information.
  3. The longer your password, the better. Most sites nowadays require at least five, and usually eight characters. If you can come up with 14 characters, so much the better.
  4. Most sites will allow both upper and lower case letters, as well as numeric characters, like an asterisk (*) or ampersand (&). And don't be obvious about changing Es to 7s and other obvious (and well-known) leetspeak variations. Be a little creative.
  5. Change your password fairly frequently. What "fairly frequently" means is kind of up to you; the more you use a site, the more often you should change it -- especially if there's any possibility you're dealing with sensitive information.
  6. Unless there's a compelling reason, skip the "Remember Me" feature. At Experts Exchange, I use it, but since they're kind enough to not charge me for my account, they also don't have any personal data on me. Unless you know nobody else is going to ever use your browser, and you're paying to use the site, just re-enter the password each time.

New Certificates

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Expert Certified in Topic Area
gauthampj.NET Framework 2.xMaster
therealmongooseAccess Coding/MacrosMaster
mbizupAccess Coding/MacrosWizard
boag2000Access FormsGenius
mbizupAccess FormsWizard
dhoffman_98Active DirectoryMaster
jason1178Active Server Pages (ASP)Master
oklitApache Web ServerMaster
eoinosullivanApple HardwareMaster
Gary_The_IT_ProAS / 400Guru
Infinity08Assembly Programming LanguageGuru
xuserx2000Asterisk Open Source TelephonyMaster
fredshovelAudio EditingMaster
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gdemariaColdFusion StudioGuru
garycaseComputer Memory (RAM)Wizard
paulsolovComputer ServersMaster
BillBachDatabases MiscellaneousGuru
DanielWilsonDatabases MiscellaneousMaster
keith_alabasterExchange Email ServerGuru
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sparkmakerLCD & PlasmaMaster
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peter57rMicrosoft DevelopmentMaster
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cj_1969Microsoft IIS Web ServerGuru
michkoMicrosoft Office SuiteMaster
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Sharath_123SQL Query SyntaxGuru
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