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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JULY 6, 2011


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

Nata's Corner
Passwords and playing nicely in the sandbox

Lemmings To The IPO
Crowdsourcing bad decisions

Some Really Good Stuff
The Badgers highight good Qs

More News and Notes
In all this excitement I kind of lost track myself

Who did what through July 2


EE coffee mug Almost better than an iPad: People who purchase or upgrade to a Business Account from Experts Exchange between now and July 27, and EE will send you not just one $5 gift card from Starbucks, and not just one very nicely designed EE coffee mug, but one for each new license you get. They're pretty cool mugs (or so we're told -- we're still waiting for ours), and of course, you get all the great help and information you have come to expect from the Number One Technology Site on the web.

New Moderator: Please join us in extending a warm welcome to JustAMod, who has joined the Moderators. We're convinced he will be a superb addition to the group.

Meet-up in Seattle: 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. Bring your geeky friends along; we want to hear what you have to say. For more information and to RSVP, visit our meet-up page.

Thanks, Mike! We have been asked by a couple of people if there are links to the Disaster Recovery webinar presented by Mike Dillon, the CTO of Quest. Yes, you can find the webinar in parts or as one file, and the worksheets mentioned are on EE's company blog.

EE Like us box New feature: You can't have missed it, if you have logged into Experts Exchange in the last week or so: the box in the sidebar to the right that says "Stay Up To Date." WhackAMod posted a singularly direct explanation of what the buttons in the box do; very simply, they tell Google that you are a user of Experts Exchange. "So, as a loyal EE member we ask you to do your part", he wrote. "Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Hit the +1 button in the sidebar and on every single question you read! By doing so, you are telling Google that Experts Exchange is a trusted site that daily helps thousands of people do their jobs on and we're worthy of our high page rank and placement in their index. A small click for you, a giant effect on us all." Sounds like a plan to us.

From the Inbox: skirklan had some comments on our item a few weeks ago about Facebook users' reactions to a TheOnion.com spoof about the final Harry Potter film:

"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."
    This is just plain embarrassing for the species homo sapiens. As Suko San would say in Farscape: "Weak species."

"Oh -- they don't have particulary polite vocabularies either."
    I would say they don't have vocabularies at ALL. Modern communication has digressed into a series of grunts, murmurs, and growls littered with lots of capitalized acronyms.
    Is it any wonder that the generation who didn't pay attention in school is now befuddled by tech mediums that rely solely on the written word? I am convinced this is the source of all acting out/going postal. They get so tongue tied they have to resort to punching someone or shooting someone(s) to finally release the urge to communicate their feelings, iFeel.
    Good work, editor.

Nata also received the following note from younghv regarding her item in our last issue on new variants on an old problem:

The "2012" variant you mentioned in the EE Newsletter has been spanking a lot of systems out there. Fortunately, we have Experts in the Virus & Spyware Zones who are all over this one.

The complexity of this "Name Changer" rogue forces us to run two extra tools before you can even start the scanner to find and repair the damn thing. First you have to change back the registry entries that were modified, and then you have to run a 'Rogue Process' stopper -- both before you even get started.

cannot open programs after malware removal
Problem after removing XP 2012 fake anti-virus

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Lemmings To The IPO

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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.

Many years ago, I was waiting for a couple of buddies at a roulette table in South Tahoe. A bored dealer said that she would bend the rules and let me play for much less than the table minimum, as long as I played, because other people would come to the table. She was right; I played, others came and spent a lot more money to watch a little ball than I did. One of them was a nicely dressed young man who sat down next to me, watched what numbers I played, pulled out a $50 bill and said "I'm with you" and immediately lost it by picking the wrong color. This went on about half a dozen times, when I finally said to him "why don't you just give me the money? I need it more than Del Webb does." He laughed and lost another $300 or so before he walked away.

He made a lot of bad decisions (following my lead at a roulette table being one of them). So when I came across an article in HuffAOL that examined the bad decisions made by congressmen, I started to consider the similar bad decisions made by all the people who got sucked into the hype surrounding LinkedIn (which lost 1/3 of its value in about three weeks) and then Pandora (which lost about 25 per cent of its value in two days) last week.

Dr. Jim Taylor of the University of San Francisco asked this bad decision-making; "Why have we not evolved into better decision makers after so many eons of clearly ghastly decisions?"

Because we're still the same idiots we were hundreds and thousands of years ago, with one distinct difference: now, with the advent of technology, we can make those bad decisions more quickly, before we've had the time to digest whether or not it's a good decision. So congressmen send pictures of their parts to porn stars. But it doesn't end there. The curse of humanity is that we developed brains but never considered that we might actually have to learn how to use them. Our instinct is to survive, and we still carry around all that baggage from when life meant staying out of the way of predators, trying to sleep indoors, eating and procreating whenever we could.

People became tribal; they realized pretty quickly they could do better in groups than they could on their own. That was a good idea, but it also leads to wanting more, which means someone else will get less. Some are stronger or even a little smarter, and they wind up leading; when you have leaders, you have followers, and voilà -- you have an organization and a structure and natural, understandable, reasonable conflict between the haves and the have nots. You also still have all that baggage.

Unfortunately, there's also that whole "bad-decision-making" gene. Leaders make bad decisions. People who are parts of groups independently come to the same conclusions and make the same bad decisions their neighbors and friends do -- like buying ownership in companies with minimal or no revenue (or profits), no reasonable plan for generating revenue, and comparatively long histories of generating revenue. People haven't spent nearly as much time or energy learning how (to use one of those fancy terms that comes from educators) to critically think.

Senator Everett Dirksen never really said "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money." People dumped a lot of money into LinkedIn, sending its stock price to over $100; a month later, it was worth about 2/3 that. Pandora came along, and lost about 1/4 of its "value" in two days. I didn't keep the link to the quote, but someone out there suggested that GroupOn (projected to be the next big IPO) will last about four hours. One fully expects that Facebook -- which actually has a revenue stream ($2 billion in gross sales in 2010) and profit of about twenty per cent -- to be "valued" by stockholders at $50 billion, if only because Goldman Sachs, the financial firm that is doing all the work for Facebook's IPO, says it will be worth that much and possibly more.

I'm not buying. I'm certainly not buying something with a price-earnings ratio of about 125:1; I don't feel a bit sorry for the people who bought Google at $700 when it's now sitting at a more reasonable $475. You wouldn't buy a house, let alone a car, that was going to take 125 years to pay off. But people will make bad decisions, and other people will go right on following their lead.

Don't take any wooden nickels either.

Some Really Good Stuff

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The Moderators, Zone Advisors and Page Editors were recently asked to come up with some of the better questions and solutions they came across in the course of their duties at Experts Exchange. These are just a few of the items they came up with; we've also taken the opportunity to move the Kudos section to this spot.

Kudos: It is often difficult for Experts and Askers to make the distinction between what is a normal "question and answer" situation and when someone is asking an Expert to do his whole project; at some point, the Asker must "own" the project and do the work necessary. Sometimes, it's just a gentle nudge that's needed, and sometimes, a little more forceful declaration on the part of the Expert is called for. Badotz demonstrated his ability to walk that fine line in roberth509's question about some apparently random errors in ASP: "Badotz is one of the most finest of all I've received assistance from; I am sorry to have disapeared due to personal issues. In fact I still have to follow his guidelines to complete my task, but I see the solution very near to happen."

Askers like DeeDB are almost always in good hands when it comes to PHP and AJAX issues if mplungjan sees the question: "Thank you, thank you, thank you !!!!!! It works .... I really appreciate it, you've been such an enormous help, your worth your weight in gold !!!! :-)"

andersonaraujo had an issue that pops up fairly frequently: he wasn't receiving email from Hotmail. alanhardisty stepped up and helped: "No words to explain how useful Experts Exchange has been to me thanks a lot."

rpggamergirl teamed up with Jonvee and SSharma to help solve unrinoceronte's problem with what he described as "many infections": "Thanks for your comment Jonvee, i try to be the most specific that i can be, i think thats the way to solve problems more efficiently. Next i will do the Windows SP3 update... @RPGGAMERGIRL: Thanks a lot, your script worked perfectly. Now i feel this computer is clean and safe. and also for all your other suggestions and excellent support and dedicated help. Experts like you and many others are the reason why i still am a member from EE, i always find solution for my problems here." GMorris215 also had praise for rpggamergirl when see helped him fix a registry mistake: "You did it girl. Thank you so much you are the best. oh and thanks for twisting my ear well deserved :) i will never attempt to manually remove any files in the system again :). renaming and replace the registry files is what did it. Great link."

briankam couldn't find an Oracle ODBC driver, so slightwv told him where to look: "Perfect answer in 5 minutes. Thank you very much."

Some of the others:

More News and Notes

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In all this excitement I kind of lost track myself: All the to-do last week was about Google+ which, depending on who you talk to, is either a competitor to Facebook or a competitor to everyone. Because of that, virtually everyone skipped over the news that 1) Google has launched www.wdyl.com (What Do You Love); 2) Chrome now accounts for 20 per cent of the global browser market; 3) after peaking in March, Android is losing market share to Apple (or not); and 4) all of the folks who have reasons to hate Google bought $4.5 billion worth of patents with which to keep Google's legal department very busy while they're not fighting off lawsuits over Street View.

The last time this happened was when Barry Sanders retired: You don't often see someone walk away from the game when they're on top, but the LulzSec folks did just that, dumping some Arizona police files as a final salvo on the same day their alleged leader was outed. Up to a point, we'll almost miss them, if only because it was so much fun watching organizations with less-than-stringent safeguards both scramble to fix things and rail with the righteous outrage of a scorned teenager at the indignity of being exposed as too lazy or too cheap to invest in decent security. As part of their coda, LulzSec posted to Pirate Bay a torrent of usernames and passwords lifted from AOL and AT&T; Pirate Bay took down the files when it found that the AT&T data contained malware. Unfortunately, like all good "funny once" jokes, LulzSec has spawned imitators.

In requiem: Peter Falk, because we loved watching Columbo, and Lorenzo Charles, whose dunk at the end of the 1983 NCAA hoops championship game was a lesson in perseverance. On life support: RIM, maker of the Blackberry -- unless emergency surgery is scheduled fast, but the surgeons are still on anesthesia. Reading the will: MySpace, aka My_______ of Murdochitis, also known as the We Don't Know What We're Doing Blue Flu. (In a related note, Fox Sports, which is owned by News Corp., is being investigated for refusing to give blood.)

Fun and games in international politics: A few weeks after the British government hacked an Al Qaeda site and replaced it with cupcake recipes, someone (who isn't taking credit) knocked them off the Internet.

It's all for the best: First there was the Santa Cruz Operation. Then there was Duke Nukem Forever. As we move into the second decade of the century, a new story is shaping up to join the annals of "Tech Stories That Never Seem To End": that of the Harvard-educated, Olympic-qualifying, born-with-silver-spoons-in-their-mouths Winklevoss twins and their lawsuit against Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. After an appeals court told them ("at some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached") that the $65 million worth of stock (worth about $200 million today) they received was fair, the twins had planned to appeal to the US Supreme Court, but finally decided to drop it. Sort of. Because the next day, they were back in court in Boston alleging that Facebook and its lawyers hid instant messages from them during the original litigation.

Spotted on Twitter: "Sony Electronics is looking for a talented Sr. Application Security Analyst for our HQ in San Diego. You know why."

Spotted about Twitter: Loyal readers will recall an article we wrote about what happens to companies whose founders aren't running the show. Guess what: two of the three guys who founded the service have moved on and the third has a new gig too. Mix in a little FTC probe (and Google+'s Stream and there could be a bumpy road ahead.

The ANY Key Department: California, after fighting a recession-induced budget crisis with smoke and mirrors provided by the Governator, elected former Governor Jerry Brown, who promised (as he had about 35 years ago) to rein in the state legislature's propensity to spend more than it takes in. A couple of weeks ago, he vetoed the first budget sent to him by a legislature controlled by his own party, and then signed a newer version of it the day the state was going to stop paying the legislators. But that's not what makes this an ANY Key Department item.

Included in the budget is a tax on online retailers (known colloquially as the Amazon tax). The state says it closes a loophole; Amazon says the state is harming small businesses that contribute to the state's tax coffers. The result: Amazon has shut down its affiliate program in California -- meaning that instead of getting $200 million in revenue, California will get squat.

Cloud's illusions: Just in case you didn't get the memo, your data isn't safe in the cloud -- and Microsoft (and presumably every other cloud vendor) knows it.

Here we go again: A couple of weeks after pummelling LinkedIn by pushing its IPO price to twice what the company was looking for and then taking back two-thirds of its value, the folks on Wall Street came back last week and said they were right the first time, showing what a bunch of flakes they really are. It's also why people are going to jump all over Zynga, despite the admission that "any deterioration in our relationship with Facebook would harm our business." Somehow, that doesn't induce a lot of confidence.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Last year, there was a ban on phones manufactured by Huawei in India (so their sales were only $1.2 billion there). Now, India is using a lab built by Huawei to look for cyberspies. It took almost no time for the first Google+ spam campaign to start. A lawyer claimed that the browser ate his homework.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureI've been writing a long time about how you should make sure your antivirus program is up to date and all kinds of other things that will keep you from becoming a victim of some problem -- your money or your identity gets stolen or something like that -- but one of the things I haven't talked a lot about is passwords. You'd think that by now, everyone would have a complex series of letters, numbers and special characters for the password they use to look at their banking information, but apparently that's not the case; from one study I saw recently, at least half the passwords in use today for relatively serious stuff are things like family members or pets, and three-fourths of people use the same password for everything. There's a list of the 500 most common passwords, and I was a little surprised that none of the words I used to use were on there. Still, even if you follow these simple rules for creating passwords, it's still a good idea to change them every so often.

There was good news and bad news on the botnet front. The good news is that the Coreflood botnet was taken down when the FBI sent out substitute "stop" commands to the zombie computers, and then got permission to remove the malware -- the first time the government has essentially taken over a computer it didn't own (despite what you see on TV). Coreflood was huge; from March 2009 through February 2010, it copied about 190 gigabytes of passwords and other data, so it's a big win. The bad news is that the the TDL botnet has become, in the words of Kapersky researchers, "nearly indestructible". It has its own antivirus (in order to keep from attracting attention), so it deletes non-TDL malware and cuts off contact with servers, before it installs its own set of malware programs that run before the computer actually boots. It's nasty, and not surprising.

I came across an article that, while it might be a little bit much for sensitive eyes, gives some really good tips on anger management for the Internet. Yes, some of the language is colorful, but it boils down to four pieces of advice:

  1. Pick Your Battles
  2. Recognize When You're About to Do Something Stupid
  3. You Can Argue Without Getting Ugly
  4. Think About Other People for One [blank] Second

It's pretty obvious that the LulzSec kids hadn't read that piece, and that they hadn't read the one written by a former script kiddie, who says that while it's one thing to embarrass Sony, a software company in Maryland, PBS and the CIA, it's another entirely to put the lives of innocent people at risk.

Finally, my other half said that when he was a kid, his parents used to get the Christian Science Monitor as their daily newspaper because it was the only one that was both delivered daily and reliable. When they went almost completely online a few years ago, he started sending me thing from it, and two items caught my attention last week. One -- which, fortunately, we have never had to use -- was a complete set of instructions for saving your cell phone if you drop it in water. The other has to do with a story I had about the man who posted pictures of the guy who stole his laptop; the CSM has a how-to that tells you what to get and how to use it. Hint: the device needs a camera.


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New Geniuses: It doesn't happen very often that two people earn Genius certificates in the same topic area during the same two week timeframe, but leave it two of EE's best to pull off the trick. chris_bottomley (who also went over the 6,000,000 point level) earned his third Genius level, and rorya, who earned one to go along with his Savant certificate, both picked up theirs in Microsoft Office. objects, currently Number Five All Time at Experts Exchange, has his fourth Genius certificate (including a Savant title in Java, where he has earned over 15,000,000 points), is J2EE. Also earning his third Genius certificate was wollmilkporc, in Linux. Earning their first 1,000,000 point certificates were cgaliher in Small Business Server and bgoering in VMware. Thank you for all your great work!

My First Million: Members who reached the 1,000,000 point level at Experts Exchange in June were for_yan, erniebeek, acbrown2010, kevinhsieh, LZ1, ssaqibh and FishMonger. Nice work, folks!


  • acperkins has earned 9,000,000 points since joining Experts Exchange in May 2001.
  • demazter went over the 8,000,000 point level for his career at EE.
  • CodeCruiser has earned 6,000,000 points in the Visual Basic .NET topic area.
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