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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

MAY 11, 2011


What's New at Experts Exchange
From the Central Coast and beyond

Nata's Corner
Fdisk/format, malware and Sophos

Tip From The Mods
It's Cleanup time

Love Your Work
Getting the best from employees

More News and Notes
Playing in the cloud

Who did what through May 7


Visio Webinar: Microsoft MVP Scott Helmers will be presenting "Organize Your Visio Diagrams with Containers and Lists", a webinar scheduled for Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 11 a.m.- 12 p.m. PST. Registration is free, and six attendees will receive a copy of Scott's book, Visio 2010 Step by Step.

"Like" EE, Score an iPad: This week you could get a free a iPad2 just by "liking" EE on Facebook and sending out the message on Twitter. Check out the blog post for details. Apologies once again to our hard-working Badgers; sadly you are precluded from participating (the complete rules are here). May the Apple gods find another way to grant your tablet wishes.

T-shirt donations: If you were one of the many people who donated t-shirts last summer, or even if you weren't, you should take a look at the Experts Exchange video to see the results of your great work.

Ten Years After:: Congratulations, and our most sincere thanks, to the following people who have celebrated ten years of service to Experts Exchange in the past three months:

February 2001
Bauersachs01 Feb 2001 rgturner03 Feb 2001
sjepson05 Feb 2001 apeter06 Feb 2001
VBStudent08 Feb 2001 dbauermann08 Feb 2001
gsprince08 Feb 2001 AmyL09 Feb 2001
tabish12 Feb 2001 stevehamilton15 Feb 2001
cornell25619 Feb 2001 max-hb20 Feb 2001
hums20 Feb 2001 mnasman21 Feb 2001
ksivananth26 Feb 2001 ecarbone28 Feb 2001
March 2001
jmoody02 Mar 2001 gmleeman04 Mar 2001
Zach200108 Mar 2001 m-coon10 Mar 2001
KenIBrown211 Mar 2001 millerdog13 Mar 2001
JJ213 Mar 2001 hermidae14 Mar 2001
mmcmillen14 Mar 2001 Gk14 Mar 2001
RLB15 Mar 2001 mafairuz17 Mar 2001
jwdesselle23 Mar 2001 The--Captain25 Mar 2001
shefen26 Mar 2001 Stardotstar27 Mar 2001
PurpleSlade27 Mar 2001 BobMakarowski28 Mar 2001
Icetoad28 Mar 2001 riazpk28 Mar 2001
TomasP30 Mar 2001   
April 2001
elvin6601 Apr 2001 Valeri02 Apr 2001
ARH6405 Apr 2001 Kalvyn08 Apr 2001
zuhairpk13 Apr 2001 americanpie314 Apr 2001
tballin16 Apr 2001 datastarstar27 Apr 2001
Markham29 Apr 2001 adkdavis30 Apr 2001
edemcs30 Apr 2001   

Kudos: When samiam41 asked his question about running a registry query, he didn't expect it to be as complicated as it turned out. Fortunately, he got solutions from michael626, DrUltima and Qlemo that gave him his solution: "Thanks everyone for putting up with my rambling code, broad question and spam like responses. No more coffee and allergy medicine. It was great to work with you all and look forward to doing it again soon!"

It seems like almost every time someone gets a virus, it is possible to rid the computer of it, but there are always a few left-over issues. Such was tmckinney01's situation; a couple of very important folders were hidden. younghv gave him a couple of ideas: "Perfect!"

Elizabeth2 had a run-in with "XP Total Security" malware and got a ton of advice, including a solid solution from phototropic: "I really appreciated the kind and respectful tone and accurate advice. What a life-saver! Thank you so much!"

In case you were wondering what caused rpggamergirl to write her article on search redirects, it came from a question from tcexperts77, who had completely cleaned his computer and was still having problems: "rpggamergirl is the only one with the correct answer. She knows her stuff and saved me hours of work. Resetting the router solved the problem - I will also use a admin password that is not a "default" password. I would like to maintain contact with someone who knows a lot... You would not believe how many people missed that answer. I can't count all the hours I spent in the past looking for this solution. I've also tried to join "Just Answer" (paid em $ up front, but got a full refund when they failed). I'm telling all my friends about Experts Exchange. Hopefully you will be around in the future. You definitely deserve the rank of "Genius"."

Love Your Work

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

I'll admit it. I'm a basketball junkie, I love hockey ("a sport for middle-sized white boys") and baseball, I irregularly tear up golf courses, and have an abiding affection for Australian Rules Football -- the consequence of watching ESPN in its early days. It should therefore be no surprise that there is a second website that begins with E that I check daily, and a usually delightful consequence of that is the opportunity to read Bill Simmons' columns.

Recently, I came across one of several columns that consist of a series of emails between Mr Simmons and another writer I've become fond of, Malcolm Gladwell of the New Yorker and author of The Tipping Point. There are a couple of parts to the conversation that are fascinating.

One has to do with Mr Simmons' unabashed admiration for Mr Gladwell's writing ability, something Mr Gladwell tries to downplay. For one thing, he says, he loves to write.

As for your (very kind) question about my writing, I'm not sure I can answer that either, except to say that I really love writing, in a totally uncomplicated way. When I was in high school, I ran track and in the beginning I thought of training as a kind of necessary evil on the way to racing. But then, the more I ran, the more I realized that what I loved was running, and it didn't much matter to me whether it came in the training form or the racing form. I feel the same way about writing. I'm happy writing anywhere and under any circumstances and in fact I'm now to the point where I'm suspicious of people who don't love what they do in the same way. I was watching golf, before Christmas, and the announcer said of Phil Mickelson that the tournament was the first time he'd picked up a golf club in five weeks. Assuming that's true, isn't that profoundly weird? How can you be one of the top two or three golfers of your generation and go five weeks without doing the thing you love?

That leads to a comment by Mr Simmons about professionalism (he quotes another pretty decent writer, the late David Halberstam: "Being a professional is doing your job on the days you don't feel like doing it."), and a question to Mr Gladwell about whether he finds writing difficult. Gladwell's response:

The (short) answer is that it's really risky to work hard, because then if you fail you can no longer say that you failed because you didn't work hard. It's a form of self-protection. I swear that's why Mickelson has that almost absurdly calm demeanor. If he loses, he can always say: Well, I could have practiced more, and maybe next year I will and I'll win then. When Tiger [Woods] loses, what does he tell himself? He worked as hard as he possibly could. He prepared like no one else in the game and he still lost. That has to be devastating, and dealing with that kind of conclusion takes a very special and rare kind of resilience. Most of the psychological research on this is focused on why some kids don't study for tests -- which is a much more serious version of the same problem. If you get drunk the night before an exam instead of studying and you fail, then the problem is that you got drunk. If you do study and you fail, the problem is that you're stupid -- and stupid, for a student, is a death sentence. The point is that it is far more psychologically dangerous and difficult to prepare for a task than not to prepare. People think that Tiger is tougher than Mickelson because he works harder. Wrong: Tiger is tougher than Mickelson and because of that he works harder.

Mr Gladwell earns a protest from Mr Simmons when he compares himself to a specific NFL quarterback, but he also explains.

My point is its almost impossible to know where the person ends and their environment begins, and the longer someone is in a particular environment the blurrier that line gets. More specifically, you can't make definitive judgments about the personal characteristics of people who come from structured environments. What does it mean to say that a Marine is brave? It might mean that a Marine is an inherently brave person. It may also be that the culture of the Marine Corps is so powerful, and the training so intensive, and the supporting pressure of other Marines so empowering, that even a coward would behave bravely in that context. That's what I mean when I say I'm [Jake] Plummer: I'm working in a such a supportive and structured environment that I no longer know where my own abilities end and where the beneficial effects of the environment begin.

The second part that got my attention is a discussion of how terrible most sports teams' general managers are; they make decisions -- which are almost always personnel decisions and are directly related to how successful their teams are going to be -- based on potential rather than proven behavior. Mr Gladwell calls this the "moral hazard":

An economist would say that people pursue high-risk strategies when they are protected against the consequences of failure. The technical term for this is "moral hazard": When the federal government agreed to guarantee the safety of deposits in savings and loans, the savings and loan industry in the 1980's went crazy and made tens of billions of dollars in ridiculous loans. Their thinking was: If we score, we score big. If we lose, the government bails us out. That's the moral hazard of insurance. Don't general managers have the same kind of moral hazard problem? If you hit a home run, you're a genius. If you screw up, the dumb owner you worked for prior to the dumb owner you work for now will always give you another chance. So why not just always swing for the fences? It's the old boys club in the front offices that causes the problem. Somebody out there is going to give [Isiah] Thomas and [Rob] Babcock another chance, and so long as that's true there's no incentive for any GM to behave better.

A year or so ago, I wrote about Matthew Stewart, whose The Management Myth caused quite a stir when it was published five years ago. It turns out that Mr Gladwell's comments about general managers -- who have many of the same attributes of managers in other industries -- echo those of Mr Stewart. Mr Stewart has little use for the people who are "trained" in "business management"; he notes that most people with MBAs have not managed anything other than spending a couple of years getting three letters to put at the end of their signatures.

How much Mr Stewart's essay was mirrored by Mr Gladwell's comments is almost eerie. Stewart wrote, "As I plowed through my shelfload of bad management books, I beheld a discipline that consists mainly of unverifiable propositions and cryptic anecdotes, is rarely if ever held accountable, and produces an inordinate number of catastrophically bad writers." Substitute the word "players" or "draft picks" for "writers", and you could be taking words right out of the Simmons/Gladwell conversation.

And at the core of Mr Stewart's observations about "management theory" and the people who teach it: "Curiously, [Frederick Winslow] Taylor and his college men often appeared to float free from the kind of accountability that they demanded from everybody else." (We wrote a little bit a couple of weeks ago about why venture capitalist Ben Horowitz and his partner invest in companies managed by their founders; the issue is the same suit of clothes with a different color of material.)

Mr Simmons listed, and Mr Gladwell agreed, that the attributes of great coaches (and general managers) are that they are more like great professors, and less like the ex-players most of them are; they

A. trust their players and allow them to think on their own
B. know how to manage egos
C. keep things as simple as possible
D. are smart enough to avoid having head cases and bad apples around who could potentially undermine them
E. seem to connect with their players on a level beyond just player-and-coach

Mr Stewart would probably agree; he says that managers need to spend less time regurgitating the sophstry of business schools and start acting more like philosophers:

Expand the domain of your analysis! Why so many studies of Wittgenstein and none of Taylor, the man who invented the social class that now rules the world?
Hire people with greater diversity of experience! And no, that does not mean taking someone from the University of Hawaii. You are building a network -- a team of like-minded individuals who together can change the world.
Remember the three Cs: Communication, Communication, Communication! Philosophers (other than those who have succumbed to the Heideggerian virus) start with a substantial competitive advantage over the PowerPoint crowd. But that's no reason to slack off. Remember Plato: it's all about dialogue!

Finally, Mr Stewart notes, "If you believed our chief of recruiting, the consulting firm I helped to found represented a complete revolution from the Taylorist practices of conventional organizations. Our firm wasn't about bureaucratic control and robotic efficiency in the pursuit of profit. It was about love."

The bottom line for both: If you don't love your work -- not your job, or perks, or bennies, or hours, or salary, but the work of managing, you're probably not going to do it very well. And if you think the letters on the door or the key to the executive washroom is fooling the people who are in your employ, there is really only one person you're fooling.

More News and Notes

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Playing in the cloud: If you have an account with Sony's PlayStation Network, get ahold of your bank. But you knew that, because the last two weeks have been full of the news about the 77,000,000 accounts that were compromised by a hacker a couple of weeks ago. But even more than the ongoing unavailability of the network, what has everyone in a tizzy was the days of radio silence from Sony's corporate offices about the whole affair. The company is is offering identity protection, but that is of little solace to the millions of people who can't get their gaming fix.

And of course, it gives the world's most masterful game players -- members of the US Congress -- the chance to kick Sony when it's down -- not that Sony doesn't deserve it. The company went so far as to blame Anonymous, the marginally organized group of people who have been harassing a few big companies on behalf of Wikileaks. For its part, Anonymous denied taking any credit card or other personal information, but didn't deny attacking Sony, and in any case it has bigger fish it intends to fry. Meanwhile, attacks on Sony continue.

What will be interesting to watch is how Sony's fumbling will affect the sales figures of the other game console/network manufacturers, specifically Microsoft, which saw sales of Windows sag. There could be a reason for that: operating systems ain't what they used to be, and Redmond is in Opera territory when it comes to mobile systems.

He who laughs last has found someone to blame: Amazon posted an explanation for why its cloud vaporized a couple of weeks ago. Is anyone else seeing a pattern here?

Doing the needful: India has decided to crack down on snarky comments made by bloggers -- and anyone else. We'll let you know if there are a ton of bouncebacks.

It's still easier to park in Pleasanton and take BART: San Francisco city officials have written an app for the iPhone that finds parking places in the City.

God considering "ooops" button? There is already enough junk on the Internet. There are already too many people who believe stuff that's made up and passed around Facebook, Twitter and Fox News as fact when it's really the delusional ramblings of people like Glen Beck. People are now suggesting an "Internet erase button" that would let people revise how they portray themselves on the Internet. Can you imagine what the Florida secretary of state would like to do? Not to mention all the people who misquoted Dr. King, or got pwned by fake photos. Memo to folks: If you do something dumb, you should be prepared to live with it. It's called r-e-s-p-o-n-s-i-b-i-l-i-t-y and it's good for you.

Apple to fix core: The best way to get your name out of the headlines is to hope that someone else has bigger problems than you do. Such was the case for Steve Jobs, as he managed to duck questions -- or at least, duck having to see his name on Page One -- about Apple's iPhone/iPad tracking. It's a bit of a tempest in a teapot, because everyone does it, but that doesn't stop some people from getting their knickers in a twist.

Also on store shelves: Duke Nukem Forever: One of the US court system's longer running dramas is in the endgame stage; the US government's oversight of Microsoft's behavior with regard to its dominance of the personal computer software market is scheduled to expire tomorrow.

Think anyone will notice? Friendster is going to delete all those photos and stuff, and Novell got a US appeals court to say it could sue Microsoft over WordPerfect.

Of course they're going to deny it: Rumors are all over the place that Twitter is going to make the Tweetdeck owners rich, but it's been a week since the rumor hit the Twitosphere and nobody is confirming anything. So... a company that has virtually no income is going to pay $50 million for another company that has no apparent income. No wonder the bankers went nuts a few years ago.

Just so Susan knows we're not biased: Apple has upgraded its iMac computers. And as a public service, how to change the F-key functions.

In case you missed it: The front pages of newspapers the day Osama bin Laden was killed. The action by US Navy Seals and the CIA was reported live ("Uh oh, there goes the neighborhood :-/") from Pakistan, then leaked by people who, you would think, should know when to keep their fingers away from the keyboard. Nonetheless, it was a good day for Twitter, and a boost to those encryption-breakers who need something to do. Also, required viewing for people who like seeing myths destroyed.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Two people in California are suing Twitter, alleging spamming, because they received a message from Twitter acknowledging their request to stop receiving messages from Twitter. Also, we're not sure which is more of a DOH! moment: The military embracing social media or the New York Times considering it news, and every teenaged boy's fantasy come true.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureWhen I first started hanging around Experts Exchange, I was asked by the owners to be the Zone Advisor -- we were called Page Editors back then (long story) -- for the Lounge. That had some good moments and some bad ones, but one of the funniest and most memorable comments I read was the Lounge Lizards' solution to almost any problem: fdisk and format. There was a time -- back about the time of Windows 95 -- when it was pretty common for computer techs to tell people to solve most problems by doing that.

Now, most of the time, the problems caused by that uncle in the basement nobody talks about when he starts messing with your laptop at 1:30 in the morning are best solved by treating only the specific disease. If you have too many toolbars, it's going to slow your Internet experience to a crawl. Visit too many of the wrong sites, and your computer will be so loaded with viruses and malware that you might well need to start from scratch. But trust me -- it's not something you want to do, because if you haven't backed up your data, you could lose all your emails, photos, recipes and music.

I know you should all know this, but be careful about what links you click in emails about Osama bin Laden's death. And don't fret too much if you happen to not get one of those emails, because something will happen next week and the malware guys will come up with an email about it. And speaking of spam-related emails, there is a reason I still haven't created a Twitter account: I hate spam.

Finally, g8kbv had this comment about the item I had last time regarding Sophos' toolkit:

Funny how Sophos's toolkit download application form, though it appears to have United Kingdom on the list, doesn't understand UK Post codes!

So, what do we do.... We fake ourselves as Californa residents, with a very well known near LA Zip code!

And Sophos is a "Data Security" company? AND, according to their contact us page, they appear to be a UK company too! http://www.sophos.com/en-us/about-us/contact-us.aspx



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New Geniuses: arnold earned his second Genius certificate in the past month in Microsoft Operating Systems, while DrUltima earned his first in Windows 2003 Server. Outstanding work!

My First Million: Reaching 1,000,000 points in March were the following: ewangoya, cgaliher, Roads_Roads, PowerEdgeTech, mrcoffee365, clockwatcher, edbedb, remorina and D_Brugge. Congratulations on joining the Seven Digit Club!

Milestones: mlmcc is the fifth EE member to earn 13,000,000 points in a single TA: Crystal Reports.

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