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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

MARCH 19, 2014

Featured Content

What's New at Experts Exchange
From SLO and beyond

Nata's Corner
Texting and Bitcoins

Tip From the Moderators
About Topic Advisors

Bitter beer taste
The Facebook imperative

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through Mar. 29

What's New at E-E

Public Service Announcement: In case you missed it, April Fool's Day was Tuesday. And we're all Experts, right?

Lifetime Member: barryhoudini is the newest member of the Five-Million Point Club. It's been a good year for him so far; he is also a member of the Gamma class of Most Valuable Experts.

Kudos: aikimark came to the aid of JohnRobinAllen, who was trying to figure out how to clear a VBA collection. The solution included a link to matthewspatrick's article on using the Dictionary class: Aikimark's solution is beautiful and elegant. I'm most grateful and will use it frequently.

crp0499 was looking for a document that spelled out a migrating mail to Office 365, and got help from TechSoEasy: Thanks. Can I give u more points? :), to which Jeff replied, Sure! Send 'em to me so I can buy lots of new stuff!

Bugfinder BugFinder: BugFinder is Experts Exchange's new system that allows you to post your website and have Experts help you find the problems with spelling and grammar, display issues, functionality and security issues, or just get feedback. You assign points based on the nature of the bugs found, and can reward those Experts who help you out the most. Check it out.

Tip From The Mods

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Recently, AnnieMod posted an inspired post about who the Topic Advisors are, and what they do. We thought summarizing it here will make your experience at EE a lot better, because like the Moderators, they're all here to help you get your solutions.

Topic advisers are appointed by the Admins and they do not self-appoint themselves -- they are chosen for their understanding of a topic area, their understanding of how EE works and because they are ready to volunteer their free time to help the Admins and Mods to make the site a better place. We rely on the TAs to help us with technical issues, and additionally, the TA team is the boots on the ground -- they are on the site anyway and can alert us of any issues.

Every ZA/TA has his/her own style - some monitor silently and intervene very rarely; some do it more often. It is this mix of styles that works the best on a site like EE. Assigning someone as a Topic Advisor means giving them permissions and trusting them not to misuse them -- and these people are held responsible for their actions.

EE has always had its doors open for anyone that wants to volunteer their time and if someone has time and wants to help; contact the Admins and we can discuss options. Part of what we are looking for is understanding the processes and the ability to work with other people -- even if their methods are different. If you are looking at expanding your role in EE, let us know.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's Picturecoffee I saw it on the Internet so it must be true.

Just in time for all of you Windows XP users who are still in denial, Microsoft has announced that it is going to produce a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad. The bad news is that it's not likely to work on your older iPads anyway. Microsoft is also cutting prices on new computers.

I've written a lot about how we use our cell phones, and it doesn't include surfing the web or sending and receiving hundreds of texts every day. Last week, though, we had a family issue that meant the Other Half's family (there are six of them) were sending lots of texts -- and it's a good thing that the FCC requires phone companies collect and store phone data -- because he ran over his plan in a hurry. It turns out that for some reason, Verizon was doubling up, saying that about a third of the texts he actually received had images or videos (they didn't) -- and now they're trying to figure out why. I know him well enough to know that if the answer isn't good enough, we may be getting a new provider since our contracts are up.

Speaking of cell phones and mobile devices, Microsoft has come up with a way of detecting fraud that comes buried inside mobile applications. I don't suppose I'm affected by it because I don't use many apps, but the idea of not having my phone or tablet to commit fraud is good. I wouldn't even be terribly surprised if some of those apps were adding people to spam lists, and we already know that some Android apps secretly mine BitCoins, which would be fine if they shared.

I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised that Google wants to get its hands on my financial transaction history. After all, we know they keep track of what we search for, and we're pretty sure they scan our emails for stuff we write about, but this is one step better, because instead of getting information about what me might say to someone, Google pay is all about what we actually do -- buying stuff.

I have to admit that a 218-foot wide television might be a little on the excessive side.

Finally, I wanted to include a very nice email that was sent through the editor to me from BillDL:

I wondered whether Nata may be interested in something I discovered recently and have asked about on EE, given that she dislikes Internet tracking, etc, with almost as much intensity as I do. The problem is that I can't find a link in the newsletter to click on that would load her profile page. Perhaps you could forward this to her.

The summary of the issue is that there is a new marketing and tracking technique now being adopted that allows those monitoring site activity to guage visitor "intent". When you scroll over a link (or whatever method is used on a mobile device) to copy and paste it somewhere else, an action that may be adopted if you were suspicious about the link, this action is being monitored and/or tracked. Copying the link causes a "Powered by Tynt" Social Networking "share this" popup to show, and for thick-thumbed mobile users this could be accidentally activated. Additionally, when pasted, the content contains other unwanted lines of text, such as political statements. Pasting thoughtlessly into Facebook or an email will include messages that you may not necessarily wish to pass on. It's just another marketing ploy now in use, but it can easily be blocked by using a non-Microsoft browser that supports add-ons like AdBlock Plus, and by adding to the custom filters.

Nata can make what she wishes from this summation, or from my EE question, and choose whether to include it in a one of the newsletters.


Thank you, Bill. As was mentioned in the last newsletter, everyone has a URL to your profile that's a lot easier to remember. If you want to see my profile, instead of having to find, you can type in, and it will take you directly there, and you can always send emails to the address EE set up for me a long time ago.

Bitter beer taste

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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.

The other day, we came across a question on Quora that asked, essentially, will the companies that have been using Facebook to "connect" with their customers -- mostly the ones who say "like us" but who never really interact with the people who might post to their Facebook pages, but even those who do -- change their use of Facebook now that Facebook is deciding via algorithm what part of their content their "friends" will see.

Unless, of course, they pay Facebook to promote it.

Most of the people who responded were of the opinion that lots of people will pay Facebook lots of money, and that lots of them may monitor their spending with Facebook to see if it actually gets results, but in fairness, most of those people who posted work in Marketing, Social Media, Digital Strategy or some other similar occupation that translates to spending a lot of time using Facebook, Twitter, Google Groups, Quora and whoever or telling other people why they should be using Facebook, Twitter, Google Groups, Quora and whoever.

It's hardly a secret that we've never been a fan of Facebook, because we knew right off the bat that Mark Zuckerberg had no intention of "just help[ing] the world connect and communicate more efficiently". We knew he wasn't about about "mak[ing] the world more open and connected." Facebook doesn't "build tools to help people connect with the people they want and share what they want, and by doing this ... extending people's capacity to build and maintain relationships." Facebook, like Google and the NSA, want to gather information about you... and like Google (but not the NSA), they want to sell everything they know about you to to anyone who wants to send you the information they want to send you, whether you want to receive it or not.

People who do jobs that depend on convining all of us to buy their product love that part of Facebook, although they apparenly liked it a lot more when they didn't have to pay for it. It has to be pretty cool to be able to go from coffee shop to office to park to someplace else frantically following Twitter and Facebook pages making sure that any mention of your company (or more importantly, your clients) gets retweeted and refacebooked. There are companies who sell products and services designed to nothing more than measure how much play companies are getting in social media -- the cost of which is passed along to the clients, of course.

What we haven't seen much of is how all this energy -- not to mention money -- is affecting the bottom line. Now, lest anyone think we're completely down on marketing, marketing departments and marketing companies, that's not true (most of them, yes, but not all, and not all the time). A close relative was telling us the other day that Budweiser puts its name on the wall of nearly every ballpark in the US not because A-B expects you to buy their beer every time you're buying beer, but because they don't want you to forget about them; they want you to recognize the red bow-tie shaped logo even if there's no writing on it. And it works.

But that was true long before Google and Facebook. Budweiser knows that its practice of sponsoring sporting events works in selling more beer, and has a reasonably good idea of both what to expect from an expenditure for a new scoreboard or sponsorship. What we do not know -- or at least, no one who has spent money on all of these socialdigitalmediastrategistmanager types has ever said -- is "is this helping my business?". Or rather, is it just helping the business of the socialdigitalmediastrategistmanager types?

Everyone has to make a living; we get that. We know a good number of people who spend a lot of time doing everything they can to help the company they work for present information to current and prospective customers (and even former customers) effectively, trying to increase revenues -- and they put their best effort forward every day. They know that the work they do is important to the company's overall success.

They also know that what they do isn't what the company does. Budweiser's marketing department doesn't decide what beer the company is going to make, where its breweries are going to be located, or what A-B is going to charge for it -- and the department knows that. They know they're supposed to figure out where the beer will sell best, and what they have to do to convince people to pay for it, and that, they do very well.

The socialdigitalmediastrategistmanager types are going to have a bit tougher task, because now they're going to have to show their clients/bosses that spending more money will actually work, and we're not convinced it will. Having 2,000,000 Facebook friends or Twitter followers doesn't mean a thing if what you're saying doesn't resonate with them; people find it very easy to ignore a company that treats you like a datum and not a customer.

We'll even bet a beer on it.

In Brief

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Lipstick on a pig? Google may have convinced manufacturers like Ray-Ban and Oakley to help them make Glass more cool -- but we're betting people will still find them creepy -- at least until Google gets assimilated. At least Glass doesn't cause a rash... does it?

Zuckerborg Not just for Facebook any more: You can now download Microsoft's new Office for iPad, which is great if you want to read things. If you actually want to work, you'll need a subscription.

Okay, now, this is funny: China is unhappy because its people are being sold fake goods on

What goes around: First there was Moffett Field, home (during our college days) to the NASA Ames lab and ARPANET, which had just gone on line. Just across the Bayshore is Google, which wants to deliver Internet access by balloon and is restoring Hanger One. Up the freeway a bit is Facebook, which thinks the Internet can be better delivered by drones. Finally, there's DARPA, which wants to develop drones that think.

When billionaires collide: Carl Icahn, who has made billions buy buying stock in companies and then suggesting moves that cause the stock to rise so he can sell it at a profit (see: Yahoo, Netflix, Apple), is saying all kinds of nasty things about eBay's management and board of directors.

No complaints about being on hold, though: Deaf visitors to, California's embattled health insurance exchange (trust us -- it's a nightmare), were told to call a chat line offering... special services.

Happy Birthday, Gmail.

In requiem: Television Without Pity, and over 20 per cent of the links on the Million Dollar Homepage.

Not that they'll stop: If President Obama can get the votes, the NSA will have to [officially and legally] stop collecting phone data, at least where US citizens are involved. That won't be of much comfort to anyone else though.

While you were sleeping: Somewhere, some Microsoft developers are smiling.

Now we know why he got poor performance reviews: A former senior architect from Microsoft was arrested for stealing Windows 8 trade secrets and giving them to a blogger who probably didn't want to pay for Windows 8 either.

Stepping in it early: We mentioned in our last issue that ICANN will be taking over the administration of domain names over the next 18 months, but some of ICANN's regulations violate the EU's privacy laws.

I got your standardized gestures right here: "I await the day..." but in the meantime, the imagination reels. I mean... can you imagine a Los Angeles freeway at rush hour with a car that has a hot spot and a Kinect? Or maybe the Samsung wearable glove?

Signs of the Apocalypse: The long-running copyright lawsuit between Viacom and YouTube was settled with no money changing hands. GameStop as a bank. The NSA wants to release its own transparency report.


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New Prodigy:: barryhoudini has earned 5,000,000 points in Microsoft Excel.

New Aces: nobus has earned his third Ace certificate, in Laptops/Notebooks, while DaveBaldwin has earned his first, in PHP.

My First Million: Reaching 1,000,000 points in March were skullnobrains, totallytonto, Zberteoc, pony10us and nickg5.


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