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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JUNE 19, 2013

Featured Content

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

Nata's Corner
Passwords and tattoos

Consider the source
It means "not saying anything"

Editors' Choice Article
I am New to PHP

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through June 15

What's New at E-E

KnowledgebasePersonal knowledgebase: Have you ever been posting a comment only to realize that you left a sample file on your office computer? Or been asking a question, only to find that the snippet you were working on was left at home? Now you can save those files, along with questions, links to commonly used MSDN articles and a whole lot more in EE's brand new Personal Knowledgebase. Among the upgrades:

  • You can now save questions, articles, member profiles, external (or internal) links, files, and personal notes to your Personal Knowledgebase.
  • The search within the Personal Knowledgebase now works! And it searches on your notes, too!
  • You're able to add labels to items to organize them.
  • You can attach files to questions and articles directly from your Personal Knowledgebase.
  • The "Add to Knowledgbase" checkbox during the closing question process is gone.

Check it out today, and feel free to report any bugs using the BugFinder project for the new system.

Webinar: Experts Exchange's Scott Helmers' Cloud Class webinar on becoming a Visio 2013 power user is now available on line.

BugfinderBugFinder: 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.

Podcasts: EE's mobile developer, Peter Uzzi was the guest at last week's podcast to talk about Firefox's new phone operating system. 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.

CEO Brian Clausen was a guest on the podcast of Engaging Leader, talking about gamification and social collaboration of knowledge-sharing.

DrackulaDrackula updated: It's a data center app that doesn't bite, also known as dRACKula. The app has now been updated to include asset management and device size support, and we're adding more device images every week There's even a free trial, so you have nothing to lose.

Newsletter contest: slightwv identified You Can't Take it With You as the film that was used to create the taglines in our last issue, and made the connection to the late Jean Stapleton. If you're the first person to correctly identify 1) the source of the taglines in this week's In Brief 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 28.

Kudos: When it comes to WordPress problems, there aren't many better than jason1178, as ezrhino5151 found when he asked a question about custom links: "Thanks for your help on this, you rock! My boss walked in just as I inserted the code correctly and showed showed him that its working now. I swear this website is worth its weight in gold."

Editors' Choice Article

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And by the way, I am New to PHP
By Ray_Paseur

So many PHP questions at Experts-Exchange include (or should include) that statement that it got me thinking about how to advise new programmers on ways to begin learning PHP. The popularity of PHP is undeniable; it powers an overwhelming number of web sites, from the very smallest to the giants like Facebook, and everything in between. So it makes sense that any web developer would need to have some foundation in the PHP language.

PHP came from humble beginnings; it was originally captioned "Personal Home Page" and was intended to be a language so easy to use, that "even Grandma could learn to use PHP." And that was fine in the 1990's before the advent of object-oriented programming, hackers, spam, and web services. But the online environment has grown up and PHP has been forced to grow up, too. Today, while PHP can still perform simple tasks, PHP can also power enormous database-driven applications that build online communities and analyze mountains of information.


Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureI don't know if I'm ready for a tattoo.

One of the reasons I'm cutting back on my Facebook time is that it seems like everyone wants to install something on my computer, and I'm not so sure I really want them to. MyPermissions.com has a whole bundle of security tools that let you control who sees what, whether you're using a mobile device or a standard browser.

Unfortunately, there's something worse than Facebook out there. The owners of the site disclaim responsibility, but when you're a kid, being responsible isn't part of your makeup. So parents, keep an eye on the sites your youngsters are visiting.

Passwords are a pain. Using different passwords for different sites is complicated and using the same password for everything is just plain stupid. What's also stupid is complaining about paying for software that remembers your passwords when the consequences of not using hard-to-guess passwords for most of the sites you visit are far more severe.

For some reason, there seems to be a connection between the Star Trek movies and the versions of Windows: every other one is pretty bad. I don't know what the other half is going to do when support for Windows XP ends next year (but he does have a Windows 7 computer). My friend Mary has a new laptop with Windows 8 that everyone hates -- she's still having problems figuring out her email -- and my laptop has Vista. I was thinking about upgrading it to Windows 7, but I don't know if it's worth the $100 considering the limited things I do with it -- and I do have a new computer (still in the box, but I've been busy) so it isn't really urgent. But the point is that it seems like Microsoft spends a lot of its resources making something "new" (most of what they do seems to be someone else's idea), rather than making something better, so upgrading from 7 to 8 might not be in your best interests. Still, if you're thinking about going from one operating system to the next, it's worth a little bit of time to go to a computer store and play with the machines they have on display, and you should absolutely use Microsoft's upgrade advisor. Who knows? You might become the next Windows 8 Expert at EE.

Finally, Sophos reported that Microsoft and FBI have taken down over 1400 botnets by disabling the software that creates them. Now, if they can just disable the people who write the software in the first place, the world will be a happier place.

Consider the source

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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.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- B. Franklin

About a week ago, a couple of respected sources of information published stories about information given them by one Edward Snowden regarding the scope of information-gathering of US citizens by the National Security Agency. The story was picked up by almost every news outlet that reports daily news, and the resulting hue and cry about the federal government secretly spying on its own citizens in apparent violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, should have caused some alarm in almost everyone who has been audited by the IRS, patted down at an airport or pulled over for "driving while black".

It turns out that the mainstream media mostly got the story wrong -- not because they misrepresented the stories from The Guardian and the Washington Post -- but because those two sources committed the cardinal rule of news reporting: check your facts. Neither The Guardian nor the Washington Post did; rather, they took incomplete information and made it read like the US government was reading all of your email and listening to all of your phone calls. The government may have wanted that, but the big companies that gather all that data weren't ready to give in right away -- not if they want to keep their customers product.

(We halfway wish the government did think it needed to read everyone's email. That would solve unemployment, cure insomnia and keep all of us from having to put up with the TSA; we can just imagine some poor drone reading the correspondence with Mom regarding the weather in western Missouri, not to mention the t-shirt we got her emblazoned with the name of the Appleton West High School football team.)

The real problem, though, is that there are now about three hundred million items out there on the subject of the NSA spying on American citizens -- and most of them either 1) repeat the same erroneous information (frequently omitting some germaine information to "prove" a point) or 2) express either total support for or hyperbolic outrage against what the US government is doing, including a lot of comments by people in a position to do something about it. There are even more than a few sources of that misinformation that deliberately leave out a fact here and there in order to advance an agenda. Since the NSA isn't telling anyone what its programs do, it's all speculation and guesswork anyway.

All of that's okay; everyone has a right to an opinion. But what's not okay is relying on all of that misinformation -- corrected a week after the fact by the Associated Press -- to make an informed decision about Mr Franklin's concerns. Any decision based on bad information is going to result in a bad decision, something at which the US electorate is pretty adept. (That's not to suggest that the US electorate is worse than others; rather, that it's the one with which we're most familiar.)

But this is a complex issue. Terrorism, like the Internet, knows no boundaries, and the willingness to commit suicidal mass murder for nothing more than strongly-held beliefs makes keeping the residents of a political subdivision a wholy reasonable mission. Throw in a little misogyny and bogyphobia, and it's a short step to gathering as much information -- secretly, if possible -- on anyone who might put one's sense of security at risk. At the same time (in the US at least), the historical expectation of being safe from the government -- the entire raison d'etre for the nation's existence -- bubbles just below the surface of any conversation involving the restriction of one's own rights, if not necessarily those of other, "lesser" beings.

We've been nervous about the state of democracy in the US for decades; it's horrifying -- as a taxpayer, anyway -- that the Dodgers' backup second baseman will get more votes for the all-star roster than the chief executive of the nation's second-largest city did. Most people get most of their information from a half-hour television broadcast, in 8-second soundbites sandwiched between three accidents that tied up the Interstate for two hours, tomorrow's weather ("boy, was it hot!") and a lost cat that plays ping pong. Those who don't watch LiveActionNewsFirstAt4-5-6-10-and-11 get their information -- usually only half-remembered -- from someone who did watch before switching over to Letterman.

And those 357 "well-informed" blogs you subscribe to aren't much better. Fortunately, the Internet never forgets, but what it remembers may be totally wrong.

Postscript: Who do you trust? Governments that spy on you? Or companies that sell you to the highest bidder?

In Brief

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Dude, I lost track 20 cards ago. We can just see one of barryhoudini's legendary formulas for Excel written on an iPhone.

You think you can beat the system? If you send a message that its recipients don't know has been sent, how would they know?

The only thing worse than a loser is someone who won't admit he played badly. In case you missed it, Zynga, the gaming company that makes most of its money from Facebook users, laid off 18 per cent of its workforce -- the farm just ain't producing like it used to -- so it could keep some of the cash it raised in its IPO 18 months ago. Zynga hopes to still be around when states start legalizing online gambling, but in the meantime, it might be providing just the oxygen MySpace needs to save itself.

I said Google, not Sizzler. Waze, an Israeli crowd-sourcing traffic/GPS company, is being purchased by Google. Not that Google couldn't develop the app itself, but this keeps it out of the hands of the mapping also-rans, Apple and Microsoft. That's how these things work.

It's all what you do in the moment, baby. BINGO!

So how do you know he's not trying to play a trick on you? By now you've heard of start-ups that let you rent someone's apartment while you're visiting some city, or rent out your car to a traveler instead of parking in the long-term lot. Needless to say, car rental companies aren't happy, and neither are airports that get millions from the rental companies. So much for fostering innovation.

No please, keep going, this video's priceless! No, it's not April Fools Day.

What were going to do is perfectly legal and they can't do a single thing about it. Amid all the kerfuffle about the NSA watching the networks of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and all the others, one can only wonder who, if all the really smart computer people are making a gazillion dollars working for those companies, is keeping the NSA secure? Who is the NSA sharing it with (and why)? Who is the EU going to blame? And we wonder what would happen if Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and all the others just said "not without a warrant"?

You can be whoever you want to be. And here I had plans for running down to the patent office with a bottle of spit.

I will break your cheekbone with a small hammer. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

You are only ever as good to me as the money you make! Now there's an idea: charging for advertising based on whether Justin Bieber likes it. Hillary must feel nauseous.

So would you stop stealing 9 cent pens and everything you can get your hands on from the maid's cart. A while back, we noted the fawning over Apple by the US Senate committee looking into the company's tax bill in the US; now France is getting into the act, and the UK is going after Google. Apple is also dealing with some issues regarding older iPhones and iPads and new buildings.

Did I dazzle you? Did I jump off the page? From the sports desk: The NFL plans to stream games live to Verizon phones (for a price), and the America's Cup is making waves in San Francisco. It's also the 25th birthday for Bull Durham, and if you're into Kevin Costner double plays, the US Open finished Sunday.

But he just asked you a simple question. Microsoft and IBM are working on a lie detector, but we're betting it won't stop people from deleting questions because they "solved it themselves".

This *is* the system... beatin' you back! (AKA Signs of the Apocalypse): The BBC was forced to remove the clock from its home page. Scrabble players are unhappy with EA (but who isn't?).


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New Geinus: RainerJ, the 2012 Rookie of the Year at Experts Exchange, has earned his first Genius certificate, in Microsoft Sharepoint. Congratulations!


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