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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JULY 3, 2013

Featured Content

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

Nata's Corner
Being bugged -- and bugged

Ducking for cover
Facebook plays fast and loose

Some special comments

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through June 29

What's New at E-E

KnowledgebasePersonal knowledgebase: We mentioned it in our last issue, but we're already big fans of Experts Exchange's new Personal Knowledgebase. Some of the more useful upgrades are:

  • 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.

Videos: The Cloud Class system of video tutorials and webinars has gotten a major upgrade. The videos are now hosted at EE with an embedded player, and you can now rate and comment on the videos. There are links to the producer's profile, and to the Ask A Question page, so one of JDettman's videos on Microsoft Access will open the question wizard with the Microsoft Access topic area automatically selected and the link to the video included. Bugs with the system should be reported at the BugFinder project.

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: Site Administrator Jason Levine was the guest on Experts Exchange's recent podcast, covering the death of the Barnes & Noble Nook and the birth of the Android-based Ouya gaming console. 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.

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.

Code for America: EE's Jenn Prentice wrote a piece last week about the Code for America program that offers fellowships for programmers to help fix government in America. The deadline for applying is July 31.

Newsletter contest: Last issue's In Brief slug lines were from the movie 21, and were related to the item about Zynga betting its future on online gambling, correctly identified by telyni19, who wins an EE prize package. 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, too. Enter here by July 12.


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lrbrister posted to the Community Support topic area a message to CodeCruiser:

With Gratitude

Over the last few weeks, I've been working on an enormously complex project in VB.NET requiring threading, asynchronous issues, and nested loops. I must have made 10 -15 separate complex posts on all the separate issues. Every time I came to EE I received an answer that allowed me to work my way through the layers of the project.

With great gratitude, I thank CodeCruiser.

This expert provided pertinent links, and when necessary some code snippets. His responses helped without doing my job. Sometimes we forget that the struggle is where we learn.

Again, Kudos to CodeCruiser from someone that has met another ridiculous deadline on a project.

Our article last issue on the spread of misinformation following the release of documents related to the NSA's surveillance programs prompted a thoughtful note from DaveBaldwin:

I read your article in the EE newsletter about the NSA 'scandal'. I have always assumed that the NSA and the DIA and the CIA are doing their jobs and Spying on people and governments to collect information. It's their jobs and at least some of them are very good at it.

I find it kind of funny that people think this 'scandal' is an important part of the NSA's activities. I know just enough to know that it is not. I also know that most of their activities are never going to become public knowledge. This 'scandal' is just a distraction and I'm cynical enough to wonder if it is to some degree on purpose.

People have been spying on each other ever since they could hide behind a bush. They have been spying electronically ever since there was electronics. Our eavesdropping during WW II was a major part of winning the war in both Europe and the Pacific. Maybe some people though it would just stop when the war was over. But we immediately went into the Cold War and kept on spying. And spying more than ever on our own people because they might be 'commies'. The FBI and Joe McCarthy secretly collected everything they could on American citizens that might have ever talked to a 'commie'. In comparison, this 'scandal' is nothing.

Of course, when I tell people that their cell phones are radios and send signals that can be intercepted by anyone with the right equipment, I usually get a blank look that shows they have no idea what I'm talking about. Of course, I would hate to be the one who had to listen to all those cell phone conversations about less than nothing...

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureNSAAre you a cranky idiot?

I haven't figured out how to tell if I'm one of the 6 million people who were affected by this bug -- but I know I get some interesting phone calls and text messages intended for someone named Adam. I'm also a little intrigued by things you can do online, but ordering leftovers and watching paint dry are a little over the top. Maybe the NSA can figure it out for me.

Leave it to ZDNet to come up with a list of six ways to hide from government eavesdroppers... like anyone's ever going to actually do them:

  1. Don't use any cloud services like Instagram.
  2. Stop using text and instant messaging -- although Apple's iMessage is encrypted.
  3. Encrypt all your email. Of course, that means getting your Aunt Mildred to encrypt hers, too.
  4. Hide your web browsing. Just be prepared for slow response times. Using Firefox will probably help, though there's no guarantee that the government will pay any attention to it.
  5. Turn off services you don't need, like anything that needs to by synched and anything that uses GPS.
  6. Quit every social network you ever joined. (I know -- you only look at Facebook for the pictures, right?)

You can even pick from a number of apps that should slow the lookie-loos down.

I'm a country girl when it gets down to it (even with the sunglasses), and driving in big cities with lots of traffic is almost guaranteed to put me in a bad mood, so I'm curious to see how the technology that allows cars to communicate with each other plays out. Participants in a study in Michigan "are shown a warning if, for example, another driver several cars ahead (and out of view) applies the brakes suddenly, or if their onboard computer notices another car approaching an intersection ahead at a speed that could cause a collision." But what really worries me are the things that the cars can't sense, like the teenager texting away on her smartphone or the guy who just spent six hours bending his elbow before getting behind the wheel.

There's at least one good reason why you shouldn't install applications on your iPhone that aren't vetted by Apple: Half the apps on jailbroken phones send information to the app manufacturer, some thing that Apple frowns upon, even rejecting apps that try to access device information. Of course, if you don't care, then jailbreak away.

Ducking for cover

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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.

The freedom to make a fortune on the stock exchange has been made to sound more alluring than freedom of speech. -- J. Mortimer

In this issue's column, Nata has an item about a Facebook bug -- now fixed -- that allowed your updated information to be shared by anyone who has outdated information about you -- even if you've blocked that person. In building the fix, Facebook locked the door to the systems that were essentially building via cross-referencing massive amounts of non-advertising related information -- what the article Nata linked to called a "dossier" -- on everyone who uses Facebook, and probably includes information on people -- like me -- who have deliberately avoided typing anything close to facebook.com into an address bar.

There are a couple of things that yank my chain about what they're doing.

The first is Facebook's invocation of the "free speech" defense for it allowing people to get updates to other people's information. The free speech clause in the first amendment to the US Constitution is specific: "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech..." That means the government can't restrict the right of people to say what they believe, but it only applies to what the government can and cannot do. Facebook isn't bound by it; it can restrict speech as much as it wants to, and it seems to have no qualms about letting whatever it wants run rampant, as long as it doesn't violate the terms of use.

That bothers me because my third-cousin-twice-removed has no inherent right to reveal to anyone my personal information. More importantly, he has no inherent right to reveal it to people who I have said I don't want knowing it. And most importantly, he has no right to unknowingly reveal it to anyone who hides behind a law that says "you have to tell us, but you not only cannot tell Eric about it, you can't even tell him that we aske demanded the information from you". Facebook doesn't have those rights either; they're not even a party to the information. It's like the post office opening up your phone bill and telling everyone in town to whom you've been making phone calls.

The second is that I'm not a Facebook member and have no intention of ever becoming one. I don't click on links to Facebook pages -- even my mother's, Experts Exchange's or my wife's. I'm not part of the massive group of people to whom the advertising on Facebook is directed, and I'm not part of the massive amount of data that is part of the bill of goods sold to advertisers. In short, I've done almost everything possible to keep my existence unknown to the company (unless they read the not-infrequent rants about how evil they really are), and to avoid any interaction with them. So what gives them the right to [theoretically] keep any information about me?

I know, I know. Facebook will say that if I'm in some member's address book, then Facebook has the right to use that information within their guidelines and privacy rules blah blah blah, just like Google can use information it finds about me to send me "relevant advertising" (talk about an oxymoron). But I actually use Google; that's my implied and even explicit permission to use whatever data it gathers about me in the process, and since nothing on the Internet is a secret, they can even use something someone says about me. That makes Facebook's use of the same argument a straw man; it doesn't apply.

Of course, I have no easy way of knowing if Facebook has a file on me. I have no idea who -- if anyone -- has uploaded my name and address as part of their address book. I have no idea who -- if anyone -- has tagged a photograph of me (even if there's no Facebook account to link such a tag to). I certainly wouldn't be terribly surprised if there's a list somewhere of "people in the tech industry who keep saying they're never going to ever be on Facebook" -- but it's probably just an inspirational tool for employees.

It's also one more reason while I'll never have a membership.

In Brief

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Someone has a severe ca-ca mouth, you know that?: No one should be terribly surprised that given the size of the Scripps publishing/television organization that it would see fit to sever its relationship with Paula Deen following the public display of crackerdom that has been part of her charm for the past decade. It's also not surprising that her fans are coming out of the woodwork to defend her. We just wonder how long it will be before she's dropped by WalMart.

No, put it down before you poke somebody's eye out.: BlackBerry is trying to get more users hooked. Monster will have to fight similar charges.

Are you related to Mighty Mouse?: Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are all challenging the government's rules on secret requests for user information (and Apple is doing its own thing); never one to miss an opportunity, Google took a swipe at Facebook over the matter.

R2D2 Don't ever frighten me like that again: We knew all along that R2D2 was made in Japan, but we didn't know that you used PayPal to pay for drinks at Mos Eisley Cantina, let alone China.

The TRUTH is far too much fun: And they wonder why secret information keeps getting leaked... so now they're setting up mini turf-wars while the Army simply buried its head in the sand.

Second star to the right and straight on till morning: Google is doing what it considers to be its part to "eradicate child abuse imagery online". So they're throwing about four hours worth of profit at the problem, and in the meantime, they're also shutting down some monetizers. (A side question: How does shutting down bloggers qualify as "organizing the world's information"? Inquiring minds want to know...) We'll bet they're spending more on balloons.

I want, I want, I want, me, me, me, me, mine, mine, mine, mine, now, now, now, now!: Kim Dotcom of MegaUpload infamy is not a happy camper; he's blaming the US Department of Justice because a European ISP deleted all his users' files.

You could break a window: If you're looking to make a quick buck, Microsoft is offering bounties on bugs -- just not in its Xbox policies.

Some sort of the "Lord of the Flies" pre-school? First it was AT&T, then Microsoft. Now it's Google's turn on both the European and American stages.

I ran out of fairy dust: Somewhere, bobexpert is reeling; there's a plan to use scotch to fuel cars.

This is for... never letting me blow bubbles in my chocolate milk! Now we all know what a paperclip sounds like.

To a ten year-old I'm huge: Since the Los Angeles school district is buying $30 million in iPads from Apple, Microsoft has decided it should get into the market too.

This is an insurance nightmare! By the end of the year, you might not have to turn off your cell phone for airplane take-offs and landings. No word yet on returning your seat and tray table to its upright and locked position, though.

Oh my God, I think I've killed it: Your Nook is now a collector's item, but it probably won't sell for a half million. Neither will all those 3-D glasses that came with your TV.

Have I ever made a promise, Jack... I have not kept? Maybe they should get routinet to tell them where the circles come from.

If less is more, there's no end to me: Lies, damn lies and statistics: Depending on how you measure it, Google is more valuable than Apple.

Don't mess with me man, I'm a lawyer! (AKA Signs of the Apocalypse): Using Facebook to verify online dating profiles. A court in Japan sided with Apple in its patent fight with a Japanese company. Oracle and Salesforce signed a partnership agreement. Google wants an $83.5 million tax refund.


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New Geinus: hanccocka, EE's reigning Expert of the Year, has earned his fourth Genius certificate, in Hard Drives & Storage; he has also gone over the 12,000,000 point level overall. Two Experts have earned their first Genius certificates: Racimo and lcohan, both in Microsoft SQL Server. Very nicely done, folks!


  • garycase has earned 9,000,000 points since joining Experts Exchange.
  • arnold is the latest EE member to reach 8,000,000 points overall.
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