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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JUNE 5, 2013

Featured Content

What's New at Experts Exchange
From the SLO and beyond

Nata's Corner
Browsers and Big Data

They just don't tell the truth

Notes and Comment
Conversations about EE

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through June 1

What's New at E-E

Megan and ChadSocial notes: Our friend and colleague, Megan Farrell, recently accepted the proposal of Chad Worth of San Luis Obispo, that they be joined in matrimony. Her Facebook post announcing the news: "It was quite a memorable 30th Annual Memorial Day softball game! The BBQ after party stepped up a notch when Chad popped the question. The tequila train followed! It's true we're getting married! Woo Hoo!"

Not quite sure how to take this: Extremists of all sorts have trouble with Badgers.

Five Million Club: Rancy has become the 94th member of Experts Exchange to earn Premium Services for life, having reached the 5,000,000 point level. Congratulations!

Outlook: Experts Exchange has added another resource center to its list: Microsoft Outlook. It joins Excel and Windows 8 as special pages that have links to articles, questions and blog posts on the subject.

Webinar: Experts Exchange's Scott Helmers will be hosting a Cloud Class Live webinar on becoming a Visio 2013 power user on Thursday, June 13, beginnat at 11 am Pacific time. If you want to take part, register here.

Podcasts: Wearable devices, Lego school and becoming an online expert were the subjects of last week's podcast. All of the Experts Exchange podcasts are available on iTunes and SoundCloud, and you can listen to them on the Stitcher app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Newsletter contest: TerryAtOpus identified The Sixth Sense as the film that was used to create the taglines in our last issue, and made the connection of Bruce Willis' character and the late psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers. We're doing it again; if you're the first person to correctly identify 1) the source of the taglines and 2) which In Brief item they're related to, we'll send you one of EE's special prize packages. Enter here by June 14.

Data Center relocation: The primary data center for Experts Exchange was moved to Virginia to see if EE could actually function from its backup facility. Site director Andy Alsup will have Part 2 of his article, describing some of the lessons the company learned, later this month.

Kudos: IDontMeanToWAG came up with a problem that involved rearranging the data in a table, and to his rescue came matthewspatrick, who devised a solution that was "ugly, but do-able" and included both code and a sample: "Thank you so much! You are a life saver!!"

jonmenefee found himself in a critical situation: one of his domain controllers was down, and everything he tried made things worse. mkline71 calmed him down a little and gave him some simple advice that got jonmenefee's users back up and running, and then eased him through getting all the systems back on line: "MKline You are the MAN!! I was actually on the Microsoft pay for support website and almost hit the submit link when your answer came. Ya saved me nearly 300.00. So thank you. :-)"

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureWindowsA study by the Pew Institute says that teenagers are getting tired of the adults on Facebook, who, they say, share too much. Or maybe it's all the hatespeak.

Even with the Facebooks, Twitters and Pinterests of the world out there, most of what most of us do on the Internet (besides answering questions on EE, of course) is search for stuff -- and the bad guys know it. I read something a couple of weeks ago about how scammers are taking a new tactic: they're buying their way onto legitimate sites by going through ad brokers, and they're buying ads on Google and Bing, so the New York Times article last week about how to keep from getting scammed is something everyone should read. Their top pieces of advice:

  • Learn to spot spam sites. Some signs are semi-spoofed domain names (like something ending in .cm, which is Cameroon, instead of .com), contact addresses that are from gmail.com or outlook.com, and bad spelling or grammar.
  • Depending on what you're looking for, some sites are riskier. The article says that most malware is delivered through ads, so if you see a bunch of flashing banner ads, you need to hope your anti-virus protection is up to date -- never mind that the page itself may be nothing more than a link farm.
  • Also depending on what you're searching for, some industries are targets for spammers, like credit reporting, travel, insurance -- almost anything where there can be lots of varying prices. Stick with the ones you know, and go to them directly rather than through a search engine.
  • Make sure your browser is locked down. Our antivirus software includes a link checker, so when we look at our search results, the software tells us if the site is safe. There are also extensions for browsers that will do the same kind of thing.
  • Use specialized search engines, like Google Books or Science.gov. Around EE, we see a lot of links to who knows who's blog as the answer to a question; you're a lot better off searching through Microsoft's site directly for a Windows problem if you can't find it on EE.

Just don't go reporting EE bugs with them, but TechTarget has a nice list of five alternative browsers: SeaMonkey, NetSurf, Lunascape, Pale Moon and K-Meleon.

If you're like most people, you really don't give your passwords much thought, which is one of the reasons the people who steal them have it so easy. But there are other reasons, too, like they use tools and techniques that make most passwords almost irrelevant, even when they're hashed. And speaking of which, if you're a Twitter user -- especially since Twitter hacks seem to be pretty common nowadays -- you'll definitely want to turn on their two-part authentication.

Finally, my new favorite site is CATSMI -- the Canadian Access To Social Media Information project -- where you can find out, in plain English, what various social sites collect about you, and what they do with it. In a related item, the New York Times had an article about all the information that gets collected about all of us, and how we don't have access to it; it also told about We The Data, a site promoting the "democratization" of data.

Notes and Comments

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It seems like every day at Experts Exchange, there's a conversation -- sometimes brief, sometimes extended -- about some aspect of the site that goes beyond simply asking questions or writing articles. Periodically, we'll use this space to highlight some of them.

In our last issue, we noted that byundt had reached the Savant level in Excel, a milestone that prompted some congratulatory comments from his colleagues in that topic area. Brad -- as is his wont when the bright lights of publicity shine in his direction -- wrote a very thoughtful response that is worth reading by anyone who answers questions at EE.

Last week, jcimmaron asked a question about setting points for questions, and got a partial response from Netminder, who admitted he "could go on and on" about the subject. He moved the question to the Expert Input topic area so others can chime in with their thoughts.


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ericpete is a former newspaper editor, occasional low-level Expert and basketball junkie who has spent over 13 years at Experts Exchange, and has spent much of the last decade editing the EE newsletter.

I'm a hypocrite.

There, I've said it. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'll tell you how I've arrived at that conclusion, and in the process, tell you why I probably won't do anything about it.

I use Google to search for things most of the time. I look for stuff for the newsletter. Occasionally, if I'm feeling what my better half calls "froggy" (I don't believe it's a reference to our proximity to the location of one of Mark Twain's stories, but who knows), I use it to find answers to questions on Experts Exchange (no, I don't post lmgtfy.com in my posts, but I've been tempted to when the search results reveal the answer to the question, and I always search EE's PAQ first). I find people, places and things that my curiosity has been piqued about.

I use Gmail because it's dependable and accessible almost all the time from wherever I happen to be when I feel like wading through the hundreds of notifications from EE I get (that's mostly what I use the account for). I use Google Maps because, except for one episode dealing with the location of a hotel in downtown Los Angeles, they're pretty accurate with directions and they have yet to come up the Not-A-County-Road we live on with their street view. All in all that's probably a good thing; there's a guy across the street who would love nothing more than to see if he could hit the camera with his .357.

It's not like I've ever hidden from the world; several years ago, a Lounge Lizard posted a picture of a church, the lawn of which I grew up playing football on, that's about four buildings up the street from the house I lived in. I grew up here, worked in this county for most of my adult life in a fairly visible business (my family owned and operated the local newspapers). Still, it's quiet, and my closest neighbor is a couple of hundred yards away. We have a great view and not a lot of drama.

Which brings me to the source of my hypocrisy. It's not just that every day, Google gets a little closer to creepy; they crossed over that line a long time ago, and obliterated it with Glass. I've even written (with my colleague and friend, Jason Levine) that Google not only fails in its mantra to "do no evil", but in fact, it fails on almost all of the "ten things" it says it believes, but companies masking the basest of goals in the holiest of marketing-speak is commonplace; anyone who grew up after the invention of television remembers that "Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco" and all that stuff. Google made a show of protecting its users privacy by objecting to the federal government's double super-secret warrantless demands for information, but probably isn't going to object that the appeals are going to take a while -- and in the meantime, they "have" to comply. So why does Google have a database with years of data about US surveillance targets?

But creeps can be honest, even if they're still not people you'd want your daughter going out with. Google isn't like that. The company, and anyone who has any public role with the company, simply disregards the truth -- that makes them worse than creepy; it makes them evil. But even that isn't the reason I'm hypocritical.

What's truly disturbing about Google is that while there are lots of controls for what other people see about my searches or in my email, there's no way for me to stop what Google sees -- and what Google sells to others. I'm no longer me, and I'm no longer a customer or user, and I'm hard-pressed to even say I'm a commodity. I'm merely the digitized representation of what Google's programmers (actually, their resulting algorithms) think I am. To Google, I'm less than a thing.

Treating someone that way is truly wicked. And I'm just hypocritical enough to keep using their services anyway.

In Brief

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Eight years ago a typewriter was delivered here by mistake. There's a new Xbox.

I bet she busts the monastery wide open. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is crossing items off her shopping list: Tumblr, PlayerScale (software for cross-platform gaming) and now Hulu, which has passed on previous bids from Google, Netflix and DirecTV.

I think I'll call 'em Love Dreams. Penguin 4 has escaped. After Google Web-God Matt Cutts tweeted about a special spam report form ("Please tell us about the spammy sites that Penguin missed."), he got a lot of replies Google deserves:

  • "Open to abuse" should replace "Don't be evil" as the Google slogan.
  • The first site to put in there definitely has to be http://Google.com. I've never seen so much spam in my life.
  • hi Matt, how you are going to detect fake reports from unfair competitors?
  • What's the hourly rate Google is offering for this work? :-)
  • Any of the adsense powered sites for that matter. Google will replace your spammy adsense site with somebody else.

No, they haven't got fences. They've got laws. Just for fun, and not related to anything else in this newsletter, the FBI's most wanted cybercriminals.

The Second Five-Year Plan is a failure! After a somewhat extended lull, the Chinese are back at it... and why not? It's almost a government subsidized cottage industry. Also tinkering around with technology intrustions: Iran.

I've got a date with the policeman on the corner. While Apple CEO Tim Cook was in Washington a couple of weeks ago to explain to a Senate committee why his company doesn't have to pay taxes on $30 billion in profits, he and his cohorts at Google, Facebook and elsewhere have been begging for "immigration reform", which does not mean tearing down the fences along the US-Mexico border; it means letting more people from India and China and wherever come work in the US because those companies can't find people in the US to do the work. Why? They're not as well-educated. Why? Because companies like Apple don't pay taxes, and according to the Department of Justice, they fix prices on e-books too.

Well! That was exciting for a minute, wasn't it? Army PFC Bradley Manning's court martial on charges of abetting the enemy for releasing documents to WikiLeaks started Monday.

All I have is a desk with my name on it. Anyone remember Kim Dotcom, the founder of MegaUpload who was shut down for piracy last year, and who's been fighting extradition to the US? He's back, this time with the threat of a patent infringement lawsuit against Twitter, Google, Facebook and almost anyone else who uses two-factor authetication. He even actually has a real patent; the lawsuit is to raise money for his defense. He might be smarter than anyone thinks, because he did convince a court that when his house was raided last year, the warrants were illegal.

I hadn't realized that I was being selfish in the matter. The Bicentennial Man, backwards.

You'd think with forty monks and one girl that something would happen. If you're of a certain age, you'll mourn the passing of Archie Bunker's wife Jean Stapleton at 90 in New York City.

I'm going to smell kind of fishy. A couple of call center firms hired by US telephone companies illegally kept a lot of customer data and then posted it to public servers, where it was found using simple Google searches by a couple of reporters. The telecoms are calling the reporters "hackers" and threatening to sue.

If the Government finds out I'm working they'll get sore. The newest resource for lawyers: the Urban Dictionary (which is also a great time sink).

I know they do rather strange things. Anyone who knows the editor at all knows that he's a big fan of The New Yorker. Now there's another reason; in the wake of Internet pioneer Aaron Swartz' death in January, the magazine has created Strongbox, a secure, anonymous way to share information with its staff. Don't be terribly surprised, given the US government's propensity for spying on journalists, if other publications start using similar systems.

He didn't leave. He died. Google Checkout. Also gone, but not forgotten: Lotus 1-2-3.

All them rich men are Elks or something. You might have caught a little bit about the money laundering charges that were filed against a digital currency system last week, but it pales a little compared to what Apple avoids paying in taxes. The difference: Apple isn't breaking the law, but here's how they do it -- until the EU gets its act together.

babyIt's sort of an experiment in psychology, isn't it? It's pronounced like the peanut butter.

Do not be stingy with the blintzes. In a word: Pizza.

Art is only achieved through perspiration. A few weeks back we mentioned the project out of CERN in Switzerland to dig up the first ever web page. Here you go, but we don't want to hear anything from ">COBOLdinosaur about the lack of styling.

They have sent him to Siberia. Help wanted: A new Doctor Who.

What's the Government going to do with it? We hate to say it, but there's no ANY key on Google Glass, which makes Congress' requests for information about the product all the more entertaining.

Will you bring up one of those new skyrockets? Two new toys you can send to the editor: a very fast computer to go with a very fast Internet connection.

You can take just so much Adirondacks (AKA Signs of the Apocalypse): A house with its own Twitter feed. Second Life might get a second (or fifth) life. Pinterest may have figured out a way to make money. Tesla, the electric car company, paid back the loans it got from the US government nine years early.


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My First Million: Members who reached the 1,000,000 point level in May were Tony1044, Racimo and SStory. Nice work, folks!


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