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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JUNE 20, 2012 First day of summer

Featured Content

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

Nata's Corner
Anti-malware software for you

Extra thanks from members

How Wall St. punked itself

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through June 2

What's New at E-E

twinsNew EE Members: Sarah and Glen Knight became the proud parents of Joel (in the yellow cap) and Dylan on June 12. Joel, the elder by a minute, weighed in at 6 lbs. 6 oz., while Dylan tipped the scales at 6 lbs. 8 oz. They have an older brother, Quinn, age 5. Mother and children are "doing brilliantly", and the grin on dad's face is showing no signs of disappearing. Congratulations, Glen! Now get back to work; you've slipped into sixth place for the year.

Expert profiles: Alison Balter, known as TechMommy, is a relative newcomer to Experts Exchange, but anyone who has done anything of significance with Microsoft Access knows her work as an author, speaker and trainer. She brought her skills and talents to EE about a year and a half ago, and has become one of EE's more prolific authors since then. Alison shares her story in our one of our Expert profiles. The other profile we're recently published is about long-time member Jurgen Kraus, whose enjoyment of the culinary arts is surpassed by very few things, one of which happens to be Experts Exchange.

weddingWedding bells: Courtney Reading, one of Experts Exchange's information architects, became the bride of Grant Whiting on Saturday, June 16, in ceremonies in Santa Margarita, CA. The couple is honeymooning in Hawaii; our best wishes and congratulations to both.

mark_wills, one of EE's Community Volunteers, recently hosted a charity event at his "Farm, a private closed-road testing ground, that raised $20,000 for a new medical centre in Samoa, and, a contribution to the David Rixon memorial fund. Channel Ten News is one of the major "free to air" network news organizations in Australia.

Write a review, get a polo: Gary Weyel and Jenn Prentice, the hosts of EE's weekly podcasts, want to know what you think of their work, so they've asked you to write a review on iTunes. Listen to a few of them, then go to the EE iTunes channel and say your piece. The ten best reviews will earn the authors one of Experts Exchange's very cool polo shirts.

Hackathon: Anthony Ngu, a computer engineering student, won the Experts Exchange sponsored Hackathon at Cal Poly last week with an app called Should I Drive?.

Webinar: If you missed Microsoft MVP Zack Barresse's webinar on VBA for Excel, you can still catch it here in the next couple of days.

Feedback: Our good friend b0lsc0tt was one of the first group of people who were awarded a Lifetime Membership. He wrote:

THANK YOU! What a very pleasant surprise. Is this a new benefit then? Work and outside life (outside EE) has made it so I haven't been able to participate as I did in the past. I have really missed it though. Recently I have even had EE come to mind a few times. Getting this email seems to be an odd coincidence with that and may be even a "sign." :)

Thanks again! I hope many of the old faces I know are still there and doing well. I also wish you all the best and hope to be able to contribute in many ways in the future. I look forward to having EE around as a great resource for my whole lifetime. :)

Scott Boland (b0lsc0tt)

p.s. One thought I share from some recent times I have needed some technical information and EE. I have wished Google results would show your solutions more. I know there are various reasons for that, many out of your control. The search on EE site has always been great. Oh well, not sure if this is helpful or useful but wanted to share. Thanks!

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!


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It took matthewspatrick all of about 45 minutes to come up with a solution for spudmcc's question about changing the layout of a spreadsheet using VBA: "Thank you so much for the quick turn-around and great solution. It is perfect! I very much appreciate your time and talent."

mrmad1966 needed to streamline a report to get rid of a "massive" list of files, and un1x86 got him squared away: "Can't ask for better service, thanks m8."

When slightwv saw toooki's question about finding columns with null values, he knew exactly what to do: he posted a link to a PAQ that had been answered by sdstuber: "I just love getting points from Sean's work: The query slightwv posted above immediately gave me the column names I was looking for. I spent hours on it with some manual ways!! Many thanks!"

Bazingeroo asked a pretty straightforward question about running alternate A/V programs and got responses from esskayb2d, joelsplace, tzucker, ve3ofa and younghv. The latter was so impressed with Bazingeroo's reply that he wrote: "I think this asker spent more time on his closing comments than we Experts did on our responses. I have an EE filter set up to notify me when certain members ask questions and I just added "Bazingeroo" (great name!) to the filter."

Editors Choice Articles

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How to quickly and accurately populate Word documents with Excel data, charts, and images (including Automated Bookmark generation)
By dlmille

In this article you'll learn how to use ExcelToWord! to copy data, charts, shapes and/or images to Word in a structured fashion, whether as a one-off solution or as a product of iterating through a list/database. ExcelToWord output options include printing, saving to Word, PDF, and eMail. The downloadable add-in and test examples for learning ExcelToWord! can be found at the bottom of this article.


Stopping Spam in WordPress
By jason1178

WordPress currently holds more than 54% of the Content Management System (CMS) market, and powers a staggering 73,000,000+ sites. This makes WordPress a tempting target for spammers.

If you are running a WordPress site that allows pingbacks, comments on posts/pages, or allows registrations so users can start their own posts then it is likely that you have been spammed at some point and have had to spend a portion of your valuable time moderating and deleting the spammy content. Spam is not just an annoyance or a time suck; Google can also penalize you for having links to spam sites in your comments or posts and this is even more true since the Penguin update. This article will go through some settings and strategies to help reduce spam and also cover two free/paid services that can prevent spam from being posted.


The problem with bombs

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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, which gives him the chance to say what he thinks.

The virus-malware news over the last week or so has been all about the relationship between the Stuxnet attacks on Iran and the Flame virus that exploited Microsoft's own updating system and then turned itself off without so much as a "by your leave".

The reaction can be divided into three distinct types. We're pretty certain that defining one group -- Iran (and those nations considering building "conventional" nuclear weapons) -- will be pretty easy. If there's anything that justifies North Korea's complete ban on the Internet, it would be that someone in Pyongyang would open an email with a photo of Maria Sharapova and take down the whole country. Iran says that the Flame virus was no big deal -- but they're also not happy. Darn the bad luck.

The second camp is the techie types who seem more interested in how it was developed, how it works (as opposed to the results of what can do), and what it's going to take to stop it. That's a two-edged sword; it's a set of very short steps from finding and describing the flaws in (for example) an operating system or a browser, to exploiting those flaws for less-than-savory purposes, to implementing them as policy against other peoples perceived as threats (and sometimes, considered allies). Pick a technology; if it wasn't developed with the goal of using it militarily, it didn't take long for those who assign military budgets to pour gazillions of dollars into it.

Technology goes through stages: discovery/invention, implementation and refinement, and mastery. At that point, the question goes from being "how can we use it?" to "how can we use it to our advantage?" to "how can we use it against enemies?".

The third type is all for it. Certainly among western tech writers, one can read the wink-wink approval (if not outright endorsement) between the lines describing the sophistication of the programming. What's a little unnerving about all this support is the preponderence of evidence that political leaders are frequently mesmerized by the apparent mysticism of technology; simply put, it's so far over their heads it might as well be magic (and the fact that there are ungodly sums of money in the industry has to get their attention too). It's not so much that the US can't win a cyberwar; it's that they don't know where to start thinking about preventing or defending against one. And of course, there's the whole security bureaucracy in Washington.

Nobody wants to say it (except Eugene Kapersky, that is), but it was predictable that eventually, the people who are supposedly the good guys would start employing the same tools and tactics as some of the bad guys to do bad things in the name of being the good guys. It is the nature of nations, and the nature of leaders of nations. Our species' history is the tale of wreaking havoc on our neighbors, and the only part that has changed is that instead of throwing rocks or wielding swords or firebombing cities we're now on the verge of causing nuclear power plants to melt down -- or worse.

It's not even all that hard. Consider which is going to bother you more if you live in, say, central Texas: that there's a virus in the computer network at Fort Hood, or ongoing problems with the traffic signal control system in Dallas? It's a pretty good bet that Fort Hood's systems are pretty well isolated; a virus in the systems used to manage the base's finances would be a problem, but uncontrolled roads in the Dallas metro area for anything more than a few minutes would have people in an uproar the size of ... well, Texas.

What's really scary is that highly destructive technology has always been very expensive; despite what we've all seen in movies, it takes a lot of effort and resources to develop weapons-grade plutonium, intercontinental missles or even a moderately effective air force. But with time, research and a device that cost whatever you spent for the device you're reading this on, someone out there has already figured out the mechanics of wreaking havoc on major systems in major metropolitan areas. Stuxnet showed just how easy it is to disrupt a nuclear plant; it's going to be a lot easier to mess with New York City's wastewater treatment plants.

And after that, it's only a difference in degree, not a difference in kind.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureMy new second-favorite website: Government Deals where all that surplus stuff government agencies want to get rid of so they have to buy the latest and greatest stuff gets sold.

Last week, I was looking at Facebook when my antivirus software popped up and told me that Rogue Scanner had been detected at a site I was visiting. I don't know if the site was Facebook itself, or was one of the ads being served up by Facebook, or whether it was a game I'd been playing. What I do know is that AVG has it ranked as the number one threat at the moment, and that there are at least 17 known variants of it out there. In essence, it is the scam that says you have an infection and that you need to install their software to fix it -- which costs you money, installs malware of some kind -- or both. You'll see that a similar scam was run by two of the FBI's top ten cybercriminals.

I was watching the Headline News network the other day, and they mentioned one of those little things one never thinks about. If you have your home programmed into your car's GPS, then any time you use valet parking, you're begging to have someone working for minimum wage and tips find out where you live. Given that in our county, the sheriff's house got burglarized in broad daylight last week, maybe you should think twice about saving your starting location.

If you have a LinkedIn account and haven't changed your password, you'd better do it now, or at least check it (bonus points to the people who came up with the site name). last.fm also reported a password leak, as did eHarmony. All things considered, there almost has to be a connection, right?

Just in case you need a reminder, a teenager in Massachusetts convicted of motor vehicle homicide was sentenced to a year in jail because he was texting when the crash happened. If it's that important, pull over.

One thing you can count on: big companies won't see how any of their actions are classic examples of hypocrisy. A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft ticked off a bunch of big ad agencies by announcing it is going to include "Do Not Track" as one of the default settings in IE10 (as my daughter might say, "oh, waahh"); the adverting people were looking for an excuse to back out of the deal to not track people who don't want to be tracked, and now they have it. But that's not the worst of it. Despite everyone saying that not tracking is good, there's too much money involved, and we all know what that does, but Microsoft can go ahead and blame it on the ad agencies, right? Well, maybe. Turns out that Microsoft (and Yahoo, which uses Microsoft's search engine) are selling our information to polticians. Google and Facebook aren't being so specific, but really... If reporters can identify people based on AOL searches, is there any reason to think that political campaigns can't identify voters from Google and Facebook data?

Finally, it's going to be a while before I click on a link that is from someone I sort of know saying they "Liked" whatever the link is. Maybe Facebook is turning me into a grouch, probably because they insist on blaming the user.

In Brief

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All of this can be yours for just $185,000 and $25,000 a year: Some people call it a land grab. ICANN, echoing every monopoly on the planet, says it will "increase competition". We say that it's a way for ICANN to collect $350 million so it can continue to fly its directors and staff around the world and muddying the waters about everything. I swear, if I hit the lottery and run out of things to blow money on, I'm applying for .FB and .MS. Then I'll create a new cottage industry: TLD-name-trolling. Meanwhile, don't be surprised if Congress starts getting testy about the international Internet. After all, it's an election year.

The annual fix for the fanboys: Apple's WWDC announcements included new Mac hardware, iOS 6, upgrades for Mac OS X and Siri, and Facebook integration. The comments are more entertaining than the story, by the way.

That oughta keep us out of trouble for a while: Two weeks ago, all of the big ISPs enabled IPv6. If you want to find out if you're ready for it, you can do either a quick test or a longer, more complete one. In a related development, the people who want to be able to watch all of us all the time aren't very happy.

Kicking the content thieves: Required reading for any techie with a sense of humor are xkcd.com and The Oatmeal. Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman finally got tired of FunnyJunk.com -- a "content aggregator" that makes money off other people's work by stealing it without attribution, known in the days of printing presses as a plagiarizer -- stealing his stuff, posting it where members tweet/like the heck out of it, and raking in the ad bucks, so he went on a rant and the rest, as they say, is history. As of this writing, Inman fans have promised over $171,000 in donations to the American Cancer Society and National Wildlife Federation.

Great news for everyone who wants something for nothing: Intel's new ultrabooks are going to have the ability to ... ummm... "take advantage" of marginally-protected wifi access. Apple CEO Tim Cook (showing that the reality distortion field wasn't tied to a single user) called ultrabooks by any manufacturer little more than imitations.

Great news for everyone who wants something for being stupid: NASDAQ, which had a few technical glitches during Facebook's IPO last month (as opposed to the glitches of stock purchasers who bought the hype instead), has decided to pick up some of the bill. Facebook is trying damage control too.

In requiem: Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451. An interesting Internet.

If you didn't vote, you've got nothin' to complain about: That goes for all 899,657,368 of you. And we thought California's turnout was bad. Then again, at Facebook, nobody ever said it's a democracy.

Beating up on a little girl: A school in Great Britain has decided that instead of banning Martha Payne's blog it should perhaps just make the school's meals better. British Summer (as opposed to Arab Spring)?

An archetypical example of why the US government doesn't work: As we mentioned last issue, one agency of the government wants to ban imports of Xboxes and iPhones because they infringe on patents. Another agency of the same government wants to allow them because Motoroloogle is cheating. It is noted that the only thing built in the US any longer are foreign cars and financial houses of cards.

We know one guy who's all for it: An Australian consumer electronics manufacturer is imposing a tax on customers who use his site with Internet Explorer 7 or older.

Musing: I wonder if they need a mayor.

Out of control: When a story about a cat, killed by a car, turned into a helicopter made the rounds last week (provoking "global outrage", of course), one of the Mods couldn't resist RoboBadger.

The Inbox: From our occasional correspondent skirklan, on JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dixon's appearance in Washington to explain how his company lost $3 billion: "Here we have Congress swooning over a guy who lost $3 billion in one day and begging for advice on how to fix the economy. I don't think he knows and I certainly wouldn't be caught dead asking him for financial advice, much less for his opinion on upcoming legislation to prevent these problems from happening again."

How to tell if you're irrelevant: You haven't seen the new banner on Gmail.

What's Sergey going to do with his free time? He won't be playing Bejeweled, that's for sure.

Memo to Mark Z: Don't let your stock fall to ten bucks, let alone five.

Sign of the Apocalypse: Trending on Facebook: spam about Facebook.


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New Geniuses: Kravimir has earned his second Genius certificate, this one in HTML, while als315 has earned his first, in Microsoft Access. Well done, folks!


  • acperkins brings to 31 the number of Experts Exchange members with more than 10,000,000 points overall.
  • GrahamSkan has earned over 7,000,000 points in the Microsoft Word topic area.
  • jason1178 has reached the 7,000,000 point level.
  • RobSampson has been awarded 6,000,000 points in the VB Script topic area.
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cpkilekofp.NET ProgrammingGuru
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jhyieslaApple HardwareMaster
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North2AlaskaFileMaker ProWizard
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joolsLinux DistributionsMaster
arnoldMac OS XMaster
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rkworldsMicrosoft IIS Web ServerMaster
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theartfuldazzlerMisc DatabasesGuru
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brwwigginsMisc NetworkingMaster
byundtMisc ProgrammingMaster
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freshcontentMisc Web DevMaster
als315MS AccessGenius
DoveTailsMS AccessMaster
JDettmanMS ApplicationsGuru
JamieMcAllisterMS ApplicationsMaster
GrahamSkanMS ApplicationsSage
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vadimrapp1MS DevelopmentMaster
FarzadAMS ExcelMaster
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