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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JUNE 22, 2011


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

Nata's Corner
LulzSec and antivirus

The Cost Of Being Online
teksquisite on a new way of protecting yourself

Meet-up In Phoenix
Taking EE's show on the road; Seattle next

More News and Notes
Oh, Marky, we hardly knew ye

Who did what through June 18


What's new: For quite a while now, Experts Exchange has been promoting Experts on Twitter, Facebook, our YouTube channel, LinkedIn and the EE Corporate blog, along with the EE Tech News blog, written very capably by Jenn Prentice and Gary Weyel. Now, jason1178 and ericpete are upping the ante with BadgerThoughts; others will be joining the fray in the coming months.

Mike DillonWebinar: Experts Exchange is joining forces with Quest to present a webinar on disaster recovery and business continuity planning, featuring the company's CTO, Mike Dillon, on Thursday, June 30 at 11 am PDT. Mr Dillon will use case studies and examine software/hardware tools for monitoring and testing to help you gain a better understanding of where you are, where you want to be and how to get there with your disaster recovery plan. Quest has strong ties to Experts Exchange; Page Editor MHenry is the company's webmaster and designer, and Netminder joined EE while he was the company's database administrator.

Plus OneNEW: The +1 Button: Quality trumps quantity online. To improve the Experts Exchange user experience, we've begun to identify content that is truly high quality versus content that is of little or no quality -- and we need your help! Google has released a new feature called the +1 Button that helps identify better content. The more a piece is "+1ed," the more visibility it will receive. This is where you come in: we've added a +1 button to every content page on our site. Think of it as your stamp of approval. Each time you click on the +1 button, we'll use it to promote that page. [Side Note: Sharing content on Facebook and Twitter are also signals we use to ID good content.] Help the community improve by highlighting the content you love using the new +1 button!

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!

Kudos: ChiefIT posted a note asking us to highlight HDTechs' question about some networked Windows 7 computers that were taking to long to log in, not so much because he got the "Good Answer" email, but because a lot of people are having the problem. We're still waiting for an article though.

modus_operandi sent us an email the other day in which he asked us to highlight the questions of Seamus2626. m_o wrote, "He asks a ton of questions, and yet he always stays active in them. Other great qualities:

  • Nearly always keeps question scope focused and reasonable
  • Provides feedback quickly and politely
  • Closes questions promptly, and uses new questions to pursue follow-up queries
  • Always appreciative and thankful

Questions don't always get immediate responses, which, in part, is why the Request Attention button exists. hibbsusan got a couple of responses when she asked her question about sliding a DIV horizontally, but the question stalled and she clicked the button; within minutes, cmalakar was on the problem, and solved it before lunch: "It's very cool. Thank you very much!"

One of the aspects of Experts Exchange we have always enjoyed is the spirit of collaboration among the Experts. justearth asked a question on a Saturday that involved copying information from a report and pasting it into a spreadsheet, but it didn't get much attention until Father's Day, when aikimark and dlmille started working on it: "Thank you. This make my life much, much easier. It appears to work swimmingly. If I have any follow-ups I will ask a related question."

Tip From The Moderators

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Over the past few months, we have been seeing an increase in the number of questions that have files with sensitive or personal information included in them. We can go on for days about the possible consequences of uploading your company's personnel roster, but even when it's something as innocuous as the logs to a server, you're taking an action the rectification of which will make putting toothpaste back into the tube look easy by comparison.

It isn't uncommon for the Experts to ask for a sample spreadsheet or a configuration log so they can see what is going on with your macro or server -- but that doesn't mean they need the real data you're working with. Take the time to redact critical information; it's not likely that more than a dozen or so records with made-up names and SSNs for someone to fix your code. The same is true for logs; by inserting letters in any octet of an IP address, you can keep people from figuring out how to get into your network.

The fact that we've asked you not to upload a file with sensitive information is, unfortunately, probably not going to stop someone who needs an answer now from doing it, but here's the deal: We're not going to remove the file or delete the question (if it has been closed and points have been awarded) just because you ask. If the file is integral to the solution -- if an Expert takes your spreadsheet, fixes your macro and uploads it, sensitive data and all, for example -- then it will stay there unless you provide a sanitized version. We will edit posts -- but that's as far as it goes.

The Cost Of Being Online

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teksquisite has been around Experts Exchange -- under an assumed name or six -- since 2000. Long an Expert in computer security, her current focus is on protection against malware.

Is malware, spam and a loss of privacy the cost of being online?

I've been working with a company called Cocoon that doesn't think so.

What are the core beliefs that drive Cocoon? That everyone should have access to the Web, have a right to online privacy, and that the act of browsing the Web should not expose their computer to malicious code.

So how are they going about meeting these lofty goals? Well, the company is young so some things are still taking shape, but from a malware standpoint, they believe the key problem is the accessibility current browsers allow to your computer. Many of you reading this are likely your family's IT gal. You've seen what gets downloaded unwittingly, and the impact it has on those machines. They believe the traditional anti-virus solution of dealing with the problem after it's reached your computer is wrong. So, the core concept behind Cocoon is to keep the Net at arms distance from your hard drive and your computer.

From a privacy perspective, they believe you have a right to control what you share and how you share it, and those controls should be easy to use with the default being privacy. A quick look at the Cocoon privacy policy is all it takes to see they want to keep things simple and clear.

The way all this is done is by Cocoon providing a smart proxy service via a browser add-on, currently available for Firefox only but a version for Internet Explorer is in development. To protect from hacking and malware, Cocoon provides an encrypted proxy connection that protects your IP address and your connection to the rest of the non-local Internet. No more getting spied on by tools like Firesheep on open Wi-Fi networks; Cocoon blocks malware from being downloaded to your computer by preventing all unwanted downloads, and will soon be introducing active virus-scanning for all desired downloads.

The privacy Cocoon offers includes the ability to proxy your email address, and if you want, you can keep your personal browsing data encrypted yet accessible from different machines you use (handy for not just access to your history, but log-in credentials as well).

All of this is done regardless of your existing proxy setup, so that you can access the web even from behind firewalls that restrict access to free speech. And soon, they plan to release mobile platforms to allow greater accessibility to the Web to people around the world.

The people behind Cocoon include CTO and co-founder Brian Fox. In 1995 Brian completed the world's first Internet banking system for Wells Fargo. He was employee No. 1 at the Free Software Foundation (Project GNU), where he wrote software, including the BASH shell, widely used in all modern versions of UNIX (Linux, SunOS, and Mac OS X). The board of advisors includes Marvin Minsky, co-founder of MIT's Artificial Intelligence laboratory, and Aaron Emigh, co-founder of Shopkick.

The service was just launched in January, but I have been an early user from its initial beta period. While there are still expected bugs to be worked out, I have been excited by the progress they've made and their responsiveness to user feedback. I'm glad to be able to share info about Cocoon with my fellow Experts-Exchange members -- you might find it helpful in reducing your family IT support work!

Meet-up In Phoenix

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Phoenix meetup

Phoenix meetupExperts Exchange, represented by WhackAMod, AnnieMod, Nata and Netminder, hosted a meet-up at the SunUp Brewing Company in Phoenix, Arizona last week. With food and drink provided by EE, the attendees ranged from relative novices to highly advanced programmers. The weather was hot (DOH!), but as AnnieMod said, the air conditioning always works in Phoenix in the summer; the conversations were lively and the company was outstanding. Thanks for coming by!

The EE Road Show continues in Seattle, Washington on Tuesday, July 26 at Pike Pub and Brewery from 4 pm to 8 pm. Come have free appetizers and beer, on us, with EE employees including Site Director Andy Alsup and Site Administrator WhackAMod. For more information and to RSVP, visit our meet-up page.

Phoenix meetup Phoenix meetup
Phoenix meetup Phoenix meetup

More News and Notes

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Oh, Marky, we hardly knew ye: A recent blog post on CNN says that because the author has joined Facebook, the end is near. That depends on who you talk to, of course, or even when you talk to them; one day, Facebook is leaking like a sieve and the next day, things ain't so bad. It also depends on who is doing the leaving. The only way Facebook is going to be worth the $100 billion or so that all the talking heads are saying it will be worth when it has its IPO (early next year, supposedly) is if it can generate a return on the investment (people are unhappy with RIM because numbers are headed in the wrong direction), and it's going to have to do that on advertising.

And there's the rub. In today's economy, kids don't spend a lot because they don't have a lot, so if the people who are letting their Facebook pages collect dust are teenagers, who cares? They aren't buying, whether something is advertised or not (and they're going elsewhere anyway). The real key is the "more mature" users who use Facebook to do a lot of things; in North America and Europe, they're prepared to respond to advertising on websites. What remains to be seen is how well all of those nations where Facebook is growing will click on ads too.

We won't even mention Facebook's total lack of a sense of humor.

Apropos of which, we haven't lost sight of the fact that LinkedIn -- which just six weeks ago had its IPO, opening at $45 and doubling that its first day -- is now below $66, having lost over a third of its value. Pandora, the Internet radio company that -- like LinkedIn -- has never made a profit, lost nearly 25 per cent of its value on its second day. It might not be quite as bad as Bitcoin's collapse, but it's bad enough to make people question whether there is another DotCom bubble getting ready to pop.

ICANNHappy Birthday, IBM. And while we're on the subject of things that seem to have been around forever, one of the tech world's longest-running jokes came to an end last week as Duke Nukem Forever finally appeared in stores. Based on the reviews, it may still be there at Christmas.

We don't make this stuff up: Anonymous, the group whose spot in the sun has been eclipsed by LulzSec, had its network hacked.

Flying the Unfriendly Skies: Had it not been for the cirucmstances, we might have found the tweets from our not-so-old buddy nexusnation, who was at the time stuck in Columbus, Ohio, vastly entertaining. But the flight originated just up the road in Dayton, which certainly didn't help. It probably also didn't help that United Airlines was recovering from a network connectivity problem that delayed hundreds of flights. And people wonder why we drive to see the grandchildren.

Why attorneys make all that money: A teenager is suing a "business partner" over a Twitter account. I wouldn't want to be the judge in this one. In other legal shenanigans, Oracle is suing Google over Android; Cisco is being sued for selling to China, Apple is being sued over the iBooks trademark, and Microsoft will pay i4i $290 million for violating patents.

Good news and bad news: We can just see the executive meeting. Big table. A bunch of people with Microsoft tablets in front of them. Not an iPhone in sight. Guy walks in and says, "The good news is that the FTC and the Justice department have okayed our being purchased by Microsoft for $8.5 billion. The bad news... well... remember those stock options? Forget about them."

You've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? Google apparently doesn't. Still, Google comes up with some great logos.

We knew someone would step up: Last issue, we told you about our new feature called The ANY Key Department, working on the theory that some body making public policy would do something that was pretty silly. We could go on and on about the soon-to-be-former-Congressman from New York who got a little too enthusiastic with social media, but everyone else is so we'll pass. We could go after Sarah Palin for not knowing American history (or pretty much any potential candidate who is trying to differentiate her/himself from the crowd). Instead, we'll stay close to home and pick on California's legislature, which has passed a bill to force out-of-state businesses to collect sales taxes. The theory is that retailers like Amazon will be cutting checks for millions of dollars and that the state will get lots of revenue when it needs it. But when California raised a bunch of money by taxing tobacco through the roof, people stopped buying it, and revenues that local governments got from the state dropped.

Help wanted: A company in Hollywood is looking for a blogger. Good pay and free tin-foil hats.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Wikipedia wants to be named to the world heritage list operated by UNESCO. We'll put our money on The Onion getting a Pulitzer first. Internet Explorer 8 is the most used browser. Somewhere, a web developer is crying. Also, Barack Obama has the third most popular Twitter account. We cannot bring ourselves to tell you who has more followers than he does. Finally, Nokia introduced a new phone that uses an operating system Nokia is going to drop.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureIt's been one heck of a few weeks if you're worried about your personal data. The list of companies and organizations that have been successfully breached by LulzSec (you've gotta love their website, though) is pretty astonishing, as long as your credit card information isn't part of what gets exposed: The X Factor, Fox (which televises The X Factor), a database of UK ATM machines, Sony at least twice, the Public Broadcasting System, Nintendo, an FBI affiliate, Sony BMG Greece and New York, a list of email addresses and passwords of people who, I hope, aren't reading this column, Bethesda Softworks, the US Senate and, most recently, the CIA. It's fascinating that LulzSec tweets about its exploits, and they almost beg companies to improve the security of their customers.

There are some pretty entertaining twists to the LulzSec story, though. One is that they weren't very happy about the hack of Sega over the weekend ("We love the Dreamcast, these people are going down," read a tweet). Another is that they have a telephone request line (Columbus, Ohio, in case you're curious) at which you can leave a recorded message about sites you would like to see attacked. I'm not going to advocate breaking any laws or anything like that, but AG Bank in Azerbaijan, DnB Nord Banka in Latvia and St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank in the Caribbean handle 95 per cent of the sales from spam. Just sayin'; you know they're making a ton of money doing things like spaming Amazon with phoney books, not to mention selling a lot of enhancement pills. As Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein, "Follow the money."

Nope. Instead, arrest one teenager, though LulzSec he isn't one of them.

They're back -- the nasty people who brought us Antivirus 2010 and all the other variants. Now they're out with Antivirus 2012, which, from what I hear, is even more of a bear to remove than its older brother. Also back in the controversy over how Wi-Fi-enabled devices are tracked by Google (and Microsoft, Apple and Skyhook Wireless, so don't go getting all twisted). That sure makes a mess of a bunch of CSI reruns, though; they don't have to use all that fancy triangulating to find out where a cell phone is; now they can just Google for it.


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New Geniuses: mwvisa1 has earned his third Genius certificate in the Microsoft SQL Server topic area. Picking up his second was sirbounty, this one in VB Script. Earning their first 7-digit certificates were for_yan in Java, tgerbert in C# Programming, rkworlds in ASP.NET and aburr in Math / Science respectively. Outstanding work, folks!


  • TheLearnedOne has earned 5,000,000 points in the VB.NET topic area, but that only begins to tell his story. He is one of only two members to have more than 2,000,000 points in each of five TAs, one of three to have 3,000,000 in three TAs and 4,000,000 in two TAs.
  • zorvek became the sixth member of EE to earn 12,000,000 points in a single topic area, accomplishing the feat in Microsoft Excel.
  • DatabaseMX has earned over 9,000,000 points since joining Experts Exchange. He has also reached that level in the Microsoft Access topic area.
  • Ray_Paseur reached the 7,000,000 point level in PHP Scripting.
  • SysExpert is the 40th member of Experts Exchange to go over 8,000,000 points overall.
  • sdstuber has earned 6,000,000 points overall. He also went over 3,000,000 points in the Oracle topic area, and has 2,000,000 points in each of three TAs.
  • boag2000 has earned 4,000,000 points in the Microsoft Access TA. He also has three other Genius certificates.
  • harfang has reached the 5,000,000 point level.
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
Alfred1.NET ProgrammingGuru
MlandaT.NET ProgrammingGuru
dj_alik.NET ProgrammingMaster
dqmq.NET ProgrammingMaster
kalpesh2804.NET ProgrammingMaster
rakeshjaimini.NET ProgrammingMaster
saragani.NET ProgrammingMaster
slightwv.NET ProgrammingMaster
speshalystActive DirectoryMaster
yobriAdobe AcrobatMaster
MereteAdobe PhotoshopMaster
SSharmaAntiSpam SoftwareMaster
DaveBaldwinApache Web ServerGuru
hernst42Apache Web ServerWizard
junaidITBlackberry ProgMaster
Rsulliv1Content ManagementMaster
breadtanDigital ForensicsWizard
erniebeekHardware FirewallsGuru
shalomcInternet DevelopmentMaster
willlywilburwonkaIP TelephonyMaster
wesly_chenLinux SecurityMaster
aburrMath / ScienceGenius
WebDOTMicrosoft IIS Web ServerMaster
DaveBaldwinMisc DatabasesMaster
OP_ZaharinMisc DatabasesMaster
jhyieslaMisc HardwareMaster
paulsolovMisc NetworkingMaster
QlemoMisc ProgrammingMaster
logudotcomMisc Web DevGuru
JF0Misc Web DevMaster
s8webMisc Web DevMaster
p912sMS ExcelGuru
BitsqueezerMS ExcelMaster
egl1044MS ExcelMaster
TommySzalapskiMS OfficeGuru
xtermieMS OfficeMaster
arnoldMS Server AppsGuru
abhitrigMS SharePointMaster
TechSoEasyMS SharePointSage
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
mwvisa1MS SQL ServerGenius
anillucky31MS SQL ServerMaster
jacko72MS SQL ServerMaster
NormanMainaMS SQL ServerMaster
slam69MS SQL ServerMaster
Alfred1MS SQL Server 2005Master
huslayerMS SQL Server 2005Master
anillucky31MS SQL Server 2008Master
rushShahMS SQL Server 2008Master
vadimrapp1MS SQL Server 2008Master
yobriMS WordMaster
dqmqMySQL ServerGuru
johanntagleMySQL ServerMaster
Sharath_123MySQL ServerWizard
SouljaNetwork Design & MethodologyMaster
ikalmarNetwork ManagementMaster
rolutolaOracle DatabaseWizard
NoiSPHP and DatabasesMaster
jimyXProg LanguagesMaster
peprProg LanguagesMaster
ozoProgramming TheoryMaster
GrahamMandenoQuery SyntaxMaster
RickEpnetSBS Small Business ServerMaster
viralrathodSBS Small Business ServerMaster
knightEknightScripting LanguagesMaster
dstewartjrServer HardwareMaster
Chris-DentShell ScriptingMaster
faiga16SSRS SQL Reporting SvcMaster
huslayerSSRS SQL Reporting SvcMaster
farzanjUnix OSMaster
sirbountyVB ScriptGenius
DatabaseMXVB ScriptMaster
kaufmedVisual Basic ClassicGuru
ssaqibhVisual Basic ClassicMaster
chris_bottomleyVisual Basic ClassicSage
GrahamSkanVisual Basic.NETGuru
ged325Visual C#Master
sarabandeVisual C++.NETMaster
luc_royVoice Over IPMaster
cxrWeb ApplicationsMaster
MereteWeb Graphics SoftwareMaster
freshcontentWeb MarketingMaster
renazonseWindows 2003 ServerGuru
hdhondtWindows 2003 ServerMaster
skca54Windows 2003 ServerMaster
hanccockaWindows 7Master
wantabe2Windows 7Master
arnoldWindows Server 2008Guru
e_aravindWindows Server 2008Master
RobSampsonWindows Server 2008Master
RovastarWindows Server 2008Master
ve3ofaWindows XPGuru
jackiemanWindows XPWizard
yarwellWireless NetworkingMaster