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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JUNE 8, 2011


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

Nata's Corner
Some really silly mistakes

Tip From The Mods
Badges in WordPress and an example of great assistance

Starting Up In The Black
You really can make it on your own

More News and Notes
I'm glad I'm over 50, or I'd feel like I was missing something

Who did what through June 4


What's new: Over the past month or so, Experts Exchange has made some changes its systems:

  • Answer tab: Everyone will now have a filter -- even if you have never created one -- that shows all of the open questions at Experts Exchange. When you click on the tab, it will remember whether you were looking at the results of a filter, or the member or zone ranks.
  • Page Views: Authors are now being awarded ten points for each ten views of an article up to 5,000 points. Also, the total points an Article has earned for the Author will be displayed.
  • All Articles: The list shown on the View More link on the Articles landing page (as opposed to the View All Articles link, which only lists the 250 most popular articles) now shows fifty articles listed instead of the ten that were previously shown on each page. The page is also sortable.
  • Word Count: Authors will now see the word count of their articles in both the preview and published modes.
  • Badges: The badge will no longer be rendered in all upper case letters; they will be rendered as you enter them.
  • Closing Questions: The bug that open a new window when you closed a question has been fixed.

Calling all Badgers: it's your turn to win an iPad 2: We've had a few iPad giveaways of late that have regrettably (for legal reasons) excluded our hard-working community volunteers. We appreciate everything you do for Experts Exchange, so this month we're holding a badger-only iPad contest. Tell us why you volunteer and you could win an iPad 2! See the details on our blog.

Meet-up in Phoenix: If you happen to be in the neighborhood of SunUp Brewing Company in Phoenix on Thursday, June 16, you're invited to come meet with WhackAMod, Netminder, AnnieMod and Nata for a little food, beverage and conversation about Experts Exchange, on us. We'll be there from 4 pm to 7 pm, and we're looking forward to seeing you!

Community Experience Manager: If you are an experienced, detail oriented, energetic, customer service focused individual seeking an excellent career opportunity in a unique work environment, we would like to hear from you. This position is responsible for providing leadership in the development and execution of key strategies which promote excellent service delivery and a customer-centric culture. The Customer Experience Manager will be the top manager responsible for value delivery and high level satisfaction among Experts Exchange customers with emphasis on members. He/she will be responsible for our Customer Support Department, Business Accounts Department and Expert Community. He/she will coordinate with the executive team, plus must work closely with other team leaders in carrying out the job function. If you are interested in this position, please see the qualifications and contact details (registration required).

Certified, customized and cool: If you haven't grabbed one already, be sure to nab your very own certified Expert Badge and show off your skills on your personal blog or website. All the cool kids are doing it!

RedSource Interactive Microsite Shout Out! The Experts Exchange Team wants to acknowledge a couple of our amazing Experts for their much appreciated assistance on answering questions on our new RedSource Interactive Sites, CrystalReportsExperts.com and OracleSolved.com. Thank you mlmcc for your hard work on CrystalReportsExperts.com. mlmcc has already accumulated 30,520 points to become the First Qualified Expert and is well on his way to becoming a Master on CrystalReportsExperts.com, and our first certificated Expert on any of our microsites. Also, thank you to sdstuber and slightwv for their help on OracleSolved.com. They have provided excellent answers on OracleSolved.com. Much appreciated!

If you've helped answer questions on some of the other Redsource Interactive tech microsites be looking here for your shoutout in future newsletters. For more information on our microsites, check them out on RedsourceInteractive.com.

Kudos: Most of the time, the notes we post here are instances of a Moderator or Zone Advisor telling us when an Asker has been appreciative of the assistance, but Zone Advisor jimpen asked us to highlight a question he asked about a dynamic batch file. knightEknight came up with the answer in all of 15 minutes: "Fantastic!! Thanks for the quick response!"

Mathiau was having trouble with an Exchange server, and got some assistance from hypercat, MegaNuk3, and demazter over a couple of days: "I can not thank all of you enough for your help, things have been insane at work lately, getting married in 10 days, so getting the finishing touches on that, planning a honeymoon and a boat load of work! It is fantastic that EE has such intelligent people to help out those of us who run into walls with issues and help us get past any barriers we hit. Thank you all so very much! Sure I will be posting soon once I start with ActiveSync and BB Express"

mplungjan, the all-time leader in the JavaScript topic area, knew he had the answer to badwolfff's question about crossfading innerHTML text inside a div with onMouseover. When he posted the solution, the response: "wow this is excellent and it works great!"

One of the best examples of how Experts should work with Askers was on display in jyk_aus's question about a write conflict in Access: harfang. Jacob's comment: " I had never used the .Assert method before, I did not know what it does, thus you tought me someting useful for the future for which I am grateful. I am greately appriciative of the time you took to help me -- many many thanks."

Preece, johnb6767 and younghv teamed up to help Luuker uncover some hidden folders: "Worked perfectly!! The Quick Launch toolbar items didn't come back, but I can put new ones down there and they show up now. Great job!! Super fast results!!"

cpatte7372 asked a question about an Excel formula not updating, and got assistance from dlmille, one of the TA's rising stars: "I am sooooooo looking forward to testing this out... In the meantime, I can't thank you and the rest of Experts enough on this site. You guys have made possible my new found career." Carleton then came back after trying out the solution: "I want to give you some feedback on the formula. I used it from Market open to close and it worked like a picture. Mate, seriously, many thanks. It's amazing how much time and effort people from Experts put in to help people like me?"

Finally, we received an email at the newsletter account about not just the newsletter, but about some of the other features at Experts Exchange: "My name is Tracy Myers and I wanted to provide feedback on your page, http://www.experts-exchange.com/viewNewsletter.jsp. I'm not sure if you're the right person to contact, but I wanted to tell you that since I have been researching podcast resources for personal use, your page was a great source of information." Thanks, Tracy; we hope you'll sign up and join us!

Tip From The Moderators

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Our good friend WhackAMod recently helped out someone who was having trouble posting his Experts Exchange badge to a WordPress blog, and in the interest of furthering EE's resistance to global domination by anyone, he has agreed to share the code with the rest of the world. He did tell us, however, that this code will not work with any site actually hosted by WordPress; it can only be used if you're hosting the site someplace else. He also notes that unless you change the MemberID number to your own, you're going to wind up broadcasting WhackAMod's badge to all of your loyal readers. No one should be compelled to suffer that indignity.

Back in 2009, irishmic33 asked and closed a question about setting up Active Directory. Last week, he asked the Moderators to reopen it so he could both post an updated solution and regrade it. In letting us know about it, Site Admin modus_operandi wrote: "This is a nice example of an Asker who cared enough about documenting the right answer that he came back to a 2-year-old question to post an update." It also sparked a comment from lazarus98, one of the original Experts in the thread: "irishmic33, Thanks I really appreciate your coming back on this one. I've now learned something more, which is why it's a great place to frequent."

Starting Up Without Owing Anyone

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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.

Our buddy Guy sent us a link the other day to a blog post by Kyle Neath, one of the designers of GitHub, a company that has a system for collaborative code development. The post itself doesn't say anything that is overly ground-breaking (frankly, 37signals' owners are more eloquent), but it reiterates the kinds of things we've been saying for a while:

  • Have the conversation -- with your staff, your critics, and most of all, your customers -- and don't do all the talking.
  • Try it -- get it shipped. If it works, keep it. If it doesn't, junk it.
  • Never make a promise you can't keep -- and keep your promises. No excuses.

All of that -- including the details Mr Neath and the good folks at 37signals have filled in -- is all well and good. But the Internet can be a terrible time suck, because when you come across something like Mr Neath's article, because it inevitably leads to something equally compelling, and in this case, the items are a couple of posts by Tom Preston-Werner, Mr Neath's nominal boss at GitHub. Mr Preston-Werner and his partner, Chris Wanstrath, started GitHub a little over three years ago, and it has been profitable for most of that time.

In the first -- originally written in December 2008 as the company was about to celebrate its first anniversary but not posted until a couple of months ago -- Mr Preston-Werner tried to list ten things he learned from his company's first year. Again, some of it isn't really all that new ("paying attention to Twitter" isn't much different from "listen to your customers", and "trusting your team" isn't much different from "hire good people and get out of their way"), but there were a couple of interesting points.

There's a tendency in the development world, apparently, to say "this is what we're going to do, and it's going to take us X weeks/months/quarters/years to release it." The decision-makers say to their subordinates "you're responsible" and they go out and gets teams of people to do this, that and the other thing while everyone is supposedly focused on the goal of completing this major project by some time in the distant future. Microsoft has been doing that for decades now, and hasn't made an initial projected release date since ... DOS 3.1? But there are always issues -- someone wants a new button, "the customers" want something else, and marketing doesn't like the color scheme. There are three predictable results: 1) It's going to be late; 2) it's going to be buggy; and 3) nobody is going to be happy with it. The best example of what's wrong with the hierarchical decision-making and development system that we've heard of lately: Microsoft's Live Meeting crashes Internet Explorer.

Startups, at least the one like Mr Preston-Werner was building, have a couple of advantages. In his case, they were doing something no one else was doing, so there were no real expectations to manage, nor was there an existing customer base whose favorite buttons needed to be in the same places. If you're Microsoft, you can show your latest iteration of Excel to people who have never used it and they'll go "Wow" -- but show it to people who have been using it for years, and their response to the "ribbon" will be more along the lines of "what idiot came up with this piece of insanity". If you're GitHub, you can implement something, see what the reaction and metrics are, and then change it, and your loyal-customer base will grow because you're paying attention.

GitHub loves open source, for obvious reasons; for the uninitiated, Git is the Linux version control system, and GitHub is a repository for projects. Their core functionality isn't open source -- it's too difficult to manage for an ongoing business -- but all of their APIs and tools are. GitHub also uses it to find employees; two of the first three were GitHub users -- what Mr Wanstrath calls "superusers". It's reasonable that people who use a product or system constantly would be the people who are best equipped to determine what features or upgrades will actually be used and how they'll use them.

Mr Preston-Werner isn't a fan of venture capital, either. That makes sense; GitHub is, at a very basic level, his (and his partner's); the two problems with venture capital investment are that 1) someone else -- who controls the checkbook -- might have ideas that don't quite fit with what you want to do and 2) is more interested in what he calls, in his second piece, "optimizing for money" as opposed to doing whatever it is you're doing.

Mr Wanstrath boils making a successful start-up -- in GitHub's case, a website -- down to three pretty simple rules:

  1. It has to work.
  2. It's not about the site -- it's about what the site does.
  3. If someone is a fan, they'll tell people about it.

There are a ton of implications there, to be sure: execution matters ("we were making [GitHub] for ourselves"), don't worry about bells and whistles (he says nobody thinks about the gradients on YouTube, but rather about the video they're watching and sharing ... on YouTube), treat your users well ("be super fanatical about customers"), hire employees who will do great things (GitHub just hired an Australian company to be its system administrators) and so forth.

On the surface, none of this will help you if you're trying to go from AA baseball to the major leagues -- or maybe it will. Mr Wanstrath said that the biggest challenge GitHub faces is in maintaining its small company culture while it is growing. It now has an office and 23 employees; it has a lot more equipment, all of which has to be maintained and upgraded; it has a reputation to protect. He doesn't know the half of it yet; managing 23 people is a lot easier than managing fifty -- or 500.

Growth is a problem for any company. Apple stumbled horribly when Steve Jobs left, and the only solution was to bring him back -- on his terms. Yahoo lost its way and even bringing Jerry Yang back didn't help; we're still betting that sooner or later, it will be absorbed by someone. HP replaced its founders with people selected by a board that was optimizing money; the result was a series of debacles. So what do you do if your company is suffering the doldrums of flat growth curves and competition from other people who say they're going to do what you do, only better?

In a word: Dare. If you know your product, broadcast that vision to the world. Why is the world stopping this week? Because Steve Jobs is speaking at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference. Mark Zuckerberg's words get posted by every tech newsletter and blog. Tony Hsieh is heralded as a prophet because he knows what he wants and tells everyone he can get to listen about it. All of these people are their own evangelists, the tellers of their company's story. If you're going to be successful, someone has to do it; Bill Gates did it for a couple of decades, and when he turned the reins of his company over to Steve Ballmer, the company became less about being the software everyone used to being the software everyone had to buy whether they liked it or not. Good for Microsoft? Not really. It pays a little dividend, but does anyone really consider it innovative or a leader?

Your company needs a champion; it should be you, but that's not your gig, then don't fall into the trap Microsoft did. Consider instead Google's owners, who tabbed Eric Schmidt to lead them through through the maze from smallish, but promising start-up to the kind of dominance seen only by Microsoft in its heyday. Hire only the best people you can find to do the job (wherever they are), and then let them do it. Act as if its life depended on you.

It's your baby, after all.

More News and Notes

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I'm glad I'm over 50, or I'd feel like I was missing something: According to a Bank of America study looking at Americans under the age of 50, 94 per cent of them use Facebook. A lot. 82% said that privacy is their biggest concern with Facebook (which begs the question: why are they using it then? ... and don't sweat it, because Mark Zuckerberg says you'll get over it), and the largest plurality said they use it to keep tabs on their friends. In short, the post-baby boomers are a bunch of lazy gossips with nothing better to do. They aren't very smart, either; when The Onion posted a satire saying that Warner Bros. had recut the final Harry Potter film into seven more films, Facebook fans went nuts. Oh -- they don't have particulary polite vocabularies either.

Scary idea of the week: A company is developing a car for blind people. Obviously, he's never been on the 405 at rush hour.

It's a mystery to me: You have to love the people at MIT. Who else would run a synopsis of a paper published by UC San Diego entitled Click Trajectories: End-to-End Analysis of the Spam Value Chain -- in other words, a description of how that fake pill from India gets advertised, sent and paid for. And a related item: Gawker found a real Nigerian scammer.

Cyber-attack tote board: China 1, White House 0. Game 1: Lebanon 1, Sony 0. Anonymous 1, Iran 0. Someone as yet unidentified 2 and maybe 3, Hotmail-Yahoo-Gmail, 0. Game 2: LulzSec 1, Sony 0, and in overtime, LulzSec tacks on a "how-to". Great Britain 1, Al-Qaeda 0, with a bonus for the cupcakes. Apropos of which, we haven't seen the opening line on the match between LulzSec and the FBI, but we'll bet the odds are prohibitive. Syrian people 0, Syrain government 0, early in the first period. Expect that some pretty gruesome videos of a tortured 13-year-old boy that are all over YouTube will play a part in the rest of this set of events.

And while we're on the subject, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that China, which is being linked to the attacks on US defense contractors, is now accusing Google of being a "political tool", based on Google's blog post saying that the recent outburst of phishing campaigns originated in Jinan. But hey, if you're Microsoft or Yahoo or any of a bunch of big companies, it's where the money is.

Forty days and forty nights of wandering in the desert: Sony announced, after being dark for nearly six weeks, that its PlayStation Network should be back up and running by the time this reaches your inbox. We'll make sure and change it before we ship out the newsletter though -- and now you have a little insight into what it's like running a medium that comes out every couple of weeks.

They'd better start thinking of other animals, because they're running out of cats: There probably won't be too many surprises coming out of Apple's World Wide Developer Conference that started Monday; all of the official stuff will center on the newest version of the Mac OS X (Lion), the new version of the mobile operating system (iOS 5, which may address a few issues people have with the iPad2), and iCloud, which will presumably be a cloud-based version of iTunes. iGuess iShould be iExcited, but what would really iMpress me is if Apple took malware protection seriously. Another issue that won't be talked about is the iPhone patent that makes it illegal to make a video of a concert.

And that iPhone4 you bought a couple of weeks ago for $200? You can now get for $147 it at ... [drumroll, please] ... WalMart.

NEW FEATURE: The ANY key: We'll use this space to highlight relatively new instances of governmental agencies that really need to get a clue about technology. This week: France.

Speaking of "Games People Play": Venture Crapital, from the good folks at TechCrunch. Throw money at companies and sell when enough other people have thrown money at the same companies. Speaking of games, a few people are finally beginning to get the picture when it comes to tech companies with no apparent way to turn red numbers into black ones; LinkedIn, which had its IPO a couple of weeks ago, may be the last one, as the GroupOn IPO looks like it is going to have some trouble getting traction, especially since the CEO looks like he's bailing. At least Pandora has a balance sheet that makes some sense. Twitter buying Tweetdeck doesn't, really.

In requieum: James Arness, whose performances in Gunsmoke redefined television series as being more than just shallow melodramas; and Dr. Jack Kervorkian.

And there are still people who wonder why the recording and movie industries get no respect: It's because they clog the courts with "massive" lawsuits that... well... you can imagine what should be done with them.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Twitter tattoos, a kidney for an iPad with no return policy, and Fox News apparently needs fact checkers when using images.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureIt's bad enough when data stored by a credit card processing company or a big retailer or a government agency dealing with benefits gets breached by someone who stealing money on his mind. I can live with it when some numbskull wannabe thinks it's funny to hack into a public television website. But it bothers me a lot when the systems of the US's largest defense contractor are hacked, and the target wasn't the employee personnel files. Even the Pentagon is paying attention.

What makes it even worse is that apparently, even last week's attack on Google accounts wasn't really the result of someone attacking directly. Instead, it was someone using tried and true social engineering attacks; in other words, it shows that people who should know better are probably not smart enough to appear on game shows. It's so frustrating -- even if it's good business for all of you who make a living cleaning up the messes made by people using their computers -- that people keep doing the same things we've been telling them to not do for years.

Speaking of people doing really dumb things, I was going to have something here about the man who put up a website showing the guy who stole his MacBook, but on the day I started getting things together for my column, the Oakland, CA police department arrested the "alleged" thief. Just as ... off-kilter... are the people who -- considering that every news outlet everywhere has been talking about data breaches -- use insanely simple passwords or fall for phishing tweets. Trust me -- next fall, when The Biggest Loser comes back on the air, we will all start seeing Anna Kournikova's name again.

Finally, a new survey says that Americans worry more about Big Business snooping on them than they do about Big Government. That's probably because Big Business usually seems to start out like small business -- there's that whole Harvard dorm room thing with people who know what they want to do and know how to do it, while Big Government always seems to be at least a couple of years behind the curve. Speaking of Facebook, my other half asked me what I thought of the Namesake infographic that contrasts the differences between "transparency" -- having an online identity that is who you are -- and "anonymity" -- being able to use whatever username strikes your fancy (or none at all) to mask your identity. I'm not sure where I come down on this argument, because I can see both sides of it, but I'll bet you one thing: the discussion is just getting started.


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New Geniuses: nobus became the ninth Experts Exchange member to earn five Genius certificates, picking up one in the Laptops/Notebooks topic area. leakim971 earned his second Genius certificate, this one in AJAX; and ACH1LLES and rhinok earned their first, in Mircrosoft SharePoint and Crystal Reports respectively. Congratulations, folks!

My First Million: May was the month for millionaires, as eleven members of Experts Exchange reached the 7-digit level: fyed, jackieman, ACH1LLES, rhinok, rfc1180, pwindell, BitsBytesandMore, MojoTech, Frosty555, redrumkev and kadaba.


Expert In Topic Area Certificate
Alfred1.NET Framework 3.xMaster
CodeCruiser.NET Framework 3.xWizard
BurnieP.NET ProgrammingMaster
mrjoltcola.NET ProgrammingMaster
fyedAccess FormsWizard
DrUltimaActive DirectoryWizard
dgofmanAdobe FlashGuru
jeremyjared74Adobe PhotoshopGuru
rpggamergirlAnti-Virus AppsSage
farzanjApache Web ServerMaster
nappy_dApple NetworkingGuru
pgnatyukApple ProgrammingWizard
rindiBackup / RestoreWizard
cooleditBackup ExecMaster
erniebeekCisco PIX/ASAWizard
brijeshchauhanColdFusion LanguageGuru
rhinokCrystal ReportsGenius
amila_hendahewaDocument ManagementGuru
e_aravindEmail ServersMaster
DavisMcCarnHardware ComponentsMaster
sangamcHardware FirewallsGuru
MereteHome DVD Players-RecordersWizard
mplungjanInternet DevelopmentGuru
freshcontentInternet MarketingMaster
seiko_08Internet MarketingMaster
leewIT AdministrationMaster
duncan_roeLinux NetworkingGuru
wesly_chenLinux NetworkingWizard
jacko72Microsoft IIS Web ServerMaster
pramodsk40Microsoft IIS Web ServerMaster
tgerbertMicrosoft IIS Web ServerMaster
RovastarMicrosoft IIS Web ServerWizard
MohammadSaeedMicrosoft LCSMaster
rpggamergirlMicrosoft OSGuru
a-JaleelMicrosoft SMSGuru
hdhondtMisc HardwareMaster
for_yanMisc ProgrammingMaster
ParanormasticMisc SecurityGuru
D_BruggeMisc Web DevMaster
tommyBoyMisc Web DevMaster
Ray_PaseurMisc Web DevSage
KCTSMS AccessMaster
OP_ZaharinMS AccessMaster
merowingerMS ApplicationsMaster
paulsauveMS ApplicationsMaster
johnb6767MS DOSMaster
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
akosterMS ExcelGuru
peter57rMS ExcelGuru
StephenJRMS OfficeMaster
iSiekMS Server OSMaster
ACH1LLESMS SharePointGenius
nsyyoungMS SharePointMaster
ufarooqMS SharePointMaster
apirniaMS SQL ServerGuru
dbaSQLMS SQL Server 2005Guru
knightEknightMS SQL Server 2005Guru
anillucky31MS SQL Server 2005Master
BanthorMS SQL Server 2005Master
dodge20MS SQL Server 2005Master
sventhanMS SQL Server 2005Master
Daniel_PLMS SQL Server 2008Guru
dqmqMS SQL Server 2008Guru
huslayerMS SQL Server 2008Master
IJZMS SQL Server 2008Master
sureshbabukrishMS SQL Server 2008Master
TheLearnedOneMS SQL Server 2008Master
Sharath_123MS SQL Server 2008Sage
erniebeekNetwork AnalysisMaster
surbabu140977Net. Design/MethodologyMaster
pwindellNetwork OperationsMaster
deroodeNovell NetwareWizard
OP_ZaharinOracle DatabaseGuru
rushShahQuery SyntaxMaster
HonorGodRegular ExpressionsMaster
fl_flyfishingSBS Small Business ServerGuru
ronnypotSBS Small Business ServerMaster
MPECSIncServer HardwareMaster
arnoldSSL / HTTPSMaster
ValentinoVSSRS SQL Reporting SvcWizard
surbabu140977Switches / HubsMaster
jmlambSymantec Anti-VirusGuru
alextestFT211Test With PointsMaster
QlemoVB ScriptGuru
knightEknightVB ScriptMaster
wildboy85VB ScriptMaster
MereteVideo CardsGuru
Alfred1Visual Basic.NETGuru
egl1044Visual Basic.NETWizard
kaufmedVisual C++.NETMaster
mark_06Voice Over IPMaster
shalomcWeb ApplicationsMaster
TiggeritoWeb MarketingMaster
shivaspkWeb Services and WCFMaster
DanRollinsWin OS DevSage
pwindellWindows 2003 ServerGuru
rrjegan17Windows 2003 ServerGuru
amitkulshresthaWindows 2003 ServerMaster
BestWayWindows 2003 ServerMaster
Dusan_BajicWindows 2003 ServerMaster
dvt_localboyWindows 2003 ServerMaster
erniebeekWindows 2003 ServerMaster
Vinchenzo-the-SecondWindows 2003 ServerMaster
BCipolloneWindows 7Master
yobriWindows 7Master
ded9Windows 7Wizard
johnb6767Windows 7Wizard
radhakrishnan2007Windows Server 2008Master
ronnypotWindows Server 2008Master
serchlopWindows Server 2008Master
TechSoEasyWindows Server 2008Master
Wonko_the_SaneWindows Server 2008Master
JohnTheProWindows XPMaster
StoneGWindows XPMaster
younghvWindows XPSage
BillDLWindows XPWizard
digitapWireless NetworkingMaster
CodeCruiserWPF and SilverlightMaster
saraganiWPF and SilverlightMaster
TheLearnedOneWPF and SilverlightMaster