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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

MARCH 5, 2014

Featured Content

What's New at Experts Exchange
From SLO and beyond

Nata's Corner
BYOI, breaches and bots

Editors' Choice Articles
julianH on bubbles

Soft Currency
Never do anything for vapor

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through Mar. 1

What's New at E-E

Daylight savings: If you're in the US (and anywhere else your government was convinced to follow Dubya's lead on this), Daylight Savings Time kicks in Sunday morning, so set your clocks forward Saturday night.

T-shirt donations: Toward the end of last year, EE's members donated nearly 300 shirts to the United Way, which sent half to the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan and the other half to relief efforts in Illinois. Thanks to those who donated; you made someone's winter a little better.

Topic areas: One of the best ways to get your question answered by the right experts is by asking it in the topic areas that best suit the issue. Experts in those topic areas have saved searches that alert them when a new question is posted. This increases the speed with which experts are able to provide answers to members who need a quick solution.

To help with that, the most recent code release culminated a project that marks one of the major improvements to existing features that will enhance site usability. Experts Exchange has pared over 600 topic areas from the TA list, and consolidated them into a much more user-friendly 304.

The nature of seeking help is that you don't know what could be causing the problem and therefore, don't know to select the appropriate topic areas so the right experts can address it as soon as possible. Additionally, because there were so many topic areas, some might have been missed by Experts whose saved sarches are based on the TAs. This was especially true for more granular areas for minor products and languages, such as less-frequently used web development languages or overly specific versions of Oracle. The Moderators were compelled to move questions to more general topic areas to get the attention they needed from Experts.

The topic area consolidation changes that. Working from a list developed over several years by the Moderators and Topic Advisors that revealed the amount of activity by Askers and Experts in each topic area, the Engineering staff was able to identify topic areas that got most of the traffic, and moved the content from those non-producing topic areas into the more general ones while maintaining previously earned certificates and rankings. In short, by reducing the "noise", the ability of Askers to ask and Experts to answer was dramatically improved.

If you are still having trouble figuring out how to write up your question, our guide on How to Succeed at EE as an Asker has great tips for you to get the solution you need. You can also request attention, and the Moderators will try to help you improve your question.

Kudos: cpbee wanted to analyze his credit card purchases, and needed a good way to assign categories to each purchase based on vendor name. byundt suggested using the first six characters of the vendor name to look it up, with a wildcard character to match any variations in the remainder of the name. That way, the lookup table didn't need to list every chain store or petrol station in Australia. itjockey noticed the wildcard character and asked how it worked. byundt explained, then offered an alternative that used an exact match if one were available, or the wildcard if not, and for good measure, he added a link to a Microsoft fuzzy logic add-in that offered an even more powerful approach. cpbee was chuffed with the support: Wow amazing stuff, think I just learnt 4 hours in 2 minutes. Makes a lot more sense now that I see you put it that way. itjockey also chimed in: You not Brad You Are Brad Pitt...... Hero!!!!!!

Referrals: Experts Exchange's referral program enables you 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. My secret? I had a stamp made of my unique URL and I put that on the back of a business card.

Editors' Choice Article

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Simple animation using JQuery
By julianH

This article was inspired by an EE question on how to make a page show some balloons animate up a page. It seemed like a fun exercise so I cobbled something together. It turned out to be surprisingly simple so I thought it might be beneficial to post it here.

The Basics
The problem to solve is to randomly create different coloured balloons at different intervals at different locations on the screen and have them rise up at different speeds to disappear off the top of the screen.

To do this we need some resources:

Nata's Corner

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Nata's Pictureangry You know who you are... you have 34 days left.

I'm pretty sure I don't like the idea of BYOI (bring your own identity). There have been too many breaches of security lately. I'm sure that people like the fact that they can use one username and password to log into lots of different sites, but it makes me nervous to think that Facebook and Google -- the two biggest forces behind the single log-in -- are keeping all of the information -- what sites I go to, what I search for, what I send and receive emails and posts about. I know they're keeping track of it so they can send me more "relevant" advertising, and I know they think that makes a "better experience". But what really worries me is two things: that they get asked for information all the time (and sometimes they even comply with the requests without anyone knowing about it), and that as the people who shopped at Target found out, it's not impossible to hack anyone. Maybe I'm just being a little paranoid, but even if you try to keep your personal life your own, someone out there is trying to find something they can exploit.

And just so you know, there were 822 million records lost in data breaches in 2013 in over 2,100 incidents.

A couple of months ago, we were in a city an hour or so from home, and pulled into a gas station where the pumps had a monitor-like screen showing news briefs and, of course, inducements to come into the C-store and buy a big soda and a hamburger that had been sitting under a heat lamp for four hours. Apparently, those two or three minutes you spend watching the numbers go by (instead... ahem... of cleaning your windshield) are pretty valuable, because you're going to start seeing that more often.

That nasty malware family known as either Zbot or Zeus is getting a lot nastier. Most of the time, it arrives as a zip file that looks like it's an invoice for something you didn't buy; when you open the file, it downloads a compressed file that is unique to your computer and is mostly undetectable. It then injects itself into other processes and starts looking for data to steal. You can't stop the process, either, because it's a rootkit. Oh, and all you iPhone fans? You're not much better off when it comes to security problems.

Finally, for all of you Firefox users, by now you're used to seeing the tiles when you open a new tab that show the pages you go to fairly frequently. Well, get used to the idea of them being advertising, because Mozilla is going to start pushing "sponsored Directory Tiles", and yes, they'll be geolocated, so you'll get ads based in part on your location.

Soft Currency

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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.

One of the less-frequently noted observations in Karl Marx's body of work is the lesson of the evolution of the medium of exchange; exchanging goods and services for other goods and services became exchanging an accepted medium -- precious metals and stones -- for goods and services, which later became exchanging a more transportable medium that represented those metals and stones -- that which we all call money. That "alienation", to use his term, of the person who produces something from the fruits of it is at the core of his economic philosophy.

Historically, that means that it more convenient to set the value of a donkey to a quantity of gold, and set the value of a bushel of peaches to a quantity of gold, and use the gold to facilitate transactions. But gold -- especially under circumstances requiring relatively large quantities -- became just as inconvenient over time, so media were created by those who had the gold to represent it. Governments began to issue first coins and then paper to represent that gold they had on hand (or were owed). Being owed money isn't such a bad thing; the entire financial services industry is based on letting someone borrow money, as long as it's paid back with interest: credit.

And while gold was no longer necessarily the commodity that backed the paper that backed whatever the money was being borrowed for on a dollar for dollar basis, there has always been something somewhere that did, at least until the Depression, when -- as Marx predicted -- the focus of economic policy became the creation of wealth and not necessarily goods and services. Money -- which started life as the representation of value -- became its own reason for existing and growing. It is, to use Marx' term, the ultimate in alienation.

And then came the Bitcoin. If ever there was something (besides stock in MySpace Facebook) that was built for these economic times, it's a currency with the backing of only the faith of the people who use it. People are pouring billions into companies they think will eventually turn a profit; most won't, and the value of the paper they're paying for will be about $5 a ream -- just as the paper that various banks and insurance companies bought six or seven years ago turned into so much confetti. When the largest Bitcoin exchange shut its doors last week, hundreds of millions of dollars, much of it paid for with real money, suddenly became simply unavailable. That Mt. Gox might have been the victim of a massive theft only adds to the currency's problems; the theft represents about 75 per cent of the Bitcoins traded on that exchange and nominally six per cent of the total. It's inevitable that the number will continue to grow.

To be certain, other exchanges have stayed open, but that doesn't change the fact that everything Bitcoin represents is nothing more than ones and zeros and people's trust that there's someone out there willing to pay real money for them (which says a lot about what Kings tickets are worth) -- especially if it's more money than you paid for them. That's a lot to take on faith... and it doesn't make one feel any more secure to know that even drug traffic enablers get ripped off.

On the other hand... if you can find a Kings fan who wants good seats...

In Brief

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We'd still like to know if they caught the guy: A few issues back we wrote about the guy whose one-letter Twitter handle was hijacked; he now has it back. In a related story, you can read why Nata's concerns about single log-ins aren't unfounded.

That's what you get for thinking: A woman who makes a living writing about tech in the Bay Area, where there's been a decent amount of controversy over first, tech company buses and then company ferries, walks into a bar in the Haight on a Friday night, announces she's wearing Google Glass, and is surprised at the reception. Not that anyone approves of her being physically attacked or robbed -- but c'mon folks. The iPhone would have been just fine; Glass still creeps people out.

The final frontier: Long-time readers know we're fans of the US space program; the story of a plan to rescue Columbia's crew is a reminder of why.

NIMBY: Just down the street from our home, it looks like we'll be getting a mysterious new neighbor. If and when it gets here, we'll see if we can get pictures.

No truth to the rumor that EE will be sending these to Experts: The good news: the First Amendment is alive and well.

The ANY key: We could have so much fun with our friend from West Virginia. His US Senator wants to ban Bitcoins.

If you can't beat 'em... imitate 'em.

Rumors and allegations: There's an app out there that, if you and people you know are using it, will let you share those secret posts they make anonymously with other friends.

See? We're protecting our customers! No, really! AT&T got over 300,000 requests for data from the federal government last year, and actually rejected 3,756 of them.

Strange bedfellows: Given the number of takedown requests filed by the movie industry with Google and YouTube over copyright issues, one would expect them to support actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who appears -- with her lines dubbed over so they vilify Muslims -- in the anti-Islamic film Innocense of Muslims, when she sued after Google declined to remove clips from the movie. She won on appeal, and Google will keep pushing the issue, citing the First Amendment. What's missing from all the hand-wringing by Hollywood, Google and the press is that Ms. Garcia apparently never signed the standard release that, among other things, relinquishes her copyright.

In the red corner: Apple and Samsung will face off in court at the end of the month.

You know you want to watch: How Sports Illustrated shot swimsuit model Kate Upton in zero gravity. Also, courtesy of xkcd, Frequency. Also not among last weekend's Oscar nominees: Dead Parrot's reconstructions of YouTube comment threads.

Apparently, they never heard about Rule 34: Of the millions of Yahoo webcam chats intercepted by the GCHQ and the NSA, seven per cent have been burned to disk and shared around the offices. (Not really, but you know they would have liked to.)

Signs of the Apocalypse: The FCC will try -- for the third time -- to write net neutrality rules. The only other thing you'll need to make you feel like you're in a bar is a beer. In our college days (the early 1970s), a professor used the Church of the Latter Day Saints as an example of an organization that kept a lot of data on its members, so we're a little perplexed at the bubbling controversy in Utah over the NSA's primary datacenter.


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New Savant: Our old friend, jkr, is the latest member of Experts Exchange to reach the Savant level, having earned 10,000,000 points in C++ Programming. He also gets credit for one of our all-time favorite solutions; it's not so much that it is spectacular programming, but rather that jkr's profile prompted the Asker to donate $1,100 to Hurricane Katrina relief back in 2005. He joins only 14 other members of EE to reach the Savant rank in a single topic area.

New Ace:: Merete has earned her first Ace certificate in MultiMedia Applications.

New Geniuses:

leakim971 earned his seventh Genius certificate in ASP.NET; he is only the sixth member of Experts Exchange to reach that level. Two EE members earned their second Genius rankings: JamesBurger in VB.NET and thinkpads_user in Outlook. Sandeshdubey has earned his first, in Active Directory.

My First Million: Reaching the 1,000,000 point level in February were Rgonzo1971, aadih, The_Big_Daddy, asavener, rpalmeira22, robhenson, and last, but hardly least, former Word MVP Dreamboat -- a huge boon to those seeking assistance in the Excel and especially Word topic areas.


Expert In Topic Area Certificate
EaswaranP.NET ProgrammingGuru
patil786.NET ProgrammingMaster
SandeshdubeyActive DirectoryGenius
Jmoody10Active DirectorySage
footechActive DirectoryWizard
My_UsernameActive DirectoryWizard
mattvmotasCisco PIX/ASAMaster
angelIIICrystal ReportsMaster
ronnypotEmail ServersMaster
craigbeckHardware FirewallsMaster
jackiemanMicrosoft OSGuru
jhyieslaMicrosoft OSGuru
gerwinjansenMicrosoft OSMaster
ivanoviolaMicrosoft OSMaster
MaheshPMMicrosoft OSMaster
pgm554Microsoft OSMaster
-Scorpeo-Microsoft OSMaster
sjef_bosmanMisc DatabasesMaster
eeRootMisc NetworkingGuru
AndyAinscowMisc ProgrammingMaster
satsumoMisc ProgrammingMaster
JDettmanMS ApplicationsWizard
ssaqibhMS ApplicationsWizard
ScottPletcherMS DevelopmentGuru
aadihMS OfficeMaster
regmigrantMS OfficeMaster
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
JamieMcAllisterMS Server AppsMaster
MaheshPMMS Server OSMaster
radhakrishnan2007MS Server OSMaster
Shaun_KlineMS SQL ServerGuru
sjwalesMS SQL ServerGuru
PadawanDBAMS SQL ServerMaster
paulmacdMS SQL ServerMaster
Neo_jarvisMS SQL ServerWizard
sjwalesMS SQL Server 2008Guru
regmigrantMS WordMaster
MereteMultiMedia ApplicationsAce
julianHMySQL ServerGuru
giltjrNetwork AnalysisWizard
arnoldNetwork SecurityMaster
InfamusNetworking HardwareMaster
PortletPaulOracle DatabaseWizard
ChrisStanyonQuery SyntaxMaster
dkotteRemote AccessMaster
Sembee2SBS Small Business ServerSage
woolmilkporcScripting LanguagesGuru
QlemoScripting LanguagesWizard
planoczSSRS SQL Reporting SvcSage
InfamusSwitches / HubsMaster
JamesBurgerVisual Basic.NETGenius
king2002Visual Basic.NETMaster
JamesBurgerVisual C++.NETMaster
SouljaVoice Over IPMaster
ChrisStanyonWeb Languages/StandardsGuru
padasWeb ServersGuru
DaveBaldwinWeb ServersWizard
allenfalconWeb/Cloud ComputingMaster
helpfinderWindows 7Master
footechWindows NetworkingMaster
SagiEDocWindows Server 2008Master
spravtekWindows Server 2008Master
cgaliherWindows Server 2012Wizard
web_trackerWindows XPMaster