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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JULY 17, 2013

Featured Content

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

Nata's Corner
Zombies, cast and Windows 8

Tip From The Mods
Copying and pasting

Not Secret Anymore
Suspicatus sum, ergo sum

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through July 13

What's New at E-E

Search: Experts Exchange's search has been completely rebuilt with a new back end that is substantially faster, and a redesigned front end that is significantly more flexible, with a better "refine your search" system. Check it out at the Advanced Search link, and post any bugs you come across in the BugFinder project.

Cloud Class: Zack Barresse will present a live Cloud Class (they're also known as webinars) on Thursday, July 25 at 11 am Pacific time. Zack will explain Excel 2013 tables, pivot tables and slicers, and there's still some space available. The Cloud Class 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 after it's uploaded, Zack's presentation will link to the "Ask A Question" page, with the Excel topic area selected. Bugs with the Cloud Class system should be reported at the BugFinder project.

KnowledgebasePersonal knowledgebase: If you haven't explored EE's new Personal Knowledgebase, you're missing out on a pretty handy tool that includes all of these improvements and features:

  • 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.

Kudos: pvsbandi was trying to get a list of the tables used in a specific stored procedure. Kdo first told him where to find it, and then helped him with some code to automate the process: "You are a genius!! Thanks so much!"

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.

Podcasts: All of the Experts Exchange podcasts, including last week's, are available on iTunes and SoundCloud, and you can listen to them on the Stitcher app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

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.

Newsletter contest: Last issue's In Brief slug lines were from the movie Hook, and were related to the item about Blackberry trying to get more members "hooked", correctly identified by maderitetech, who wins an EE prize package.

Free trial: Know someone who could benefit from Experts Exchange, but who has always said that s/he doesn't want to spend some money on something without trying it? Have that person fill out this form and they'll get a 90-day free trial.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PicturezombieSomehow, I don't think I'd look all that good wearing any of this stuff. I can just imagine, though, what my metadata looks like.

I've mentioned frequently how frustrating (or maddening) it is to try and wade through all of Facebook's privacy settings (especially since they have a disturbing tendency to re-default them all to "everything is public" every time they do a new major release). So if you're at all privacy-conscious, you should know that Facebook has rolled out Facebook Graph, and it's nothing like anything you've ever seen. After you've read the article, be prepared to spend quite a bit of time going through all your settings yet again. And of course, don't ever think that it's going to stay the way it is right now forever. Facebook will change it, and you'll have to go through the process all over again.

castHaving spent a pretty good portion of the last ten -- no, eleven -- years in casts, I'm really interested in what a designer named Jake Evill has come up with. The doctor would take scans and x-rays of a broken (or surgically repaired) limb, and then essentially print, using a 3-D printer, a lightweight nylon exoskeleton instead of a plaster or fiberglass cast. That means no wrapping it in plastic bags in order to take a shower, no people wanting to draw smiley faces on it, and no itching.

We have quite a few computers around our house. The other half has his desktop that runs XP, and a Windows 7 laptop. We have dinosaurs that will probably still boot that have Windows 98 on them. I have a new laptop, still in the box, that also has Windows 7 on it. And then there's the one I've been using for a couple of years that has (please don't hate me -- I was recovering from knee surgery at the time) Vista. And according to NetMarketShare, I may be looking at a museum piece shortly, because Windows 8 has about half a per cent more users than Vista does, though both are far behind XP and Windows 7.

Speaking of which, if you're using Windows 8, you've found that the pre-installed email application doesn't support POP3, which means that you're faced with one of three choices. Microsoft would love it if you bought Outlook (which costs about $100), but most ISPs have some kind of web-based email -- though it probably won't be as flexible as Gmail or even MS's Outlook.com. Your third option is probably the best: get a free email client like Thunderbird. The other half uses it; one of the things he really likes about it is that not only does it support both POP3 and IMAP accounts, but it has a pretty good spam filter built in.

Finally, this is what happens when you post to Twitter or Facebook without thinking about it first. Some people can't help themselves, though.

TMI: Not Secret Anymore

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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.

We probably shouldn't do this, but we're going to go out on a limb and speculate that you've been following the story about the NSA's spying on US citizens (thanks, Bev!>. We'll even bet that you know about know about the double secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that supposedly oversees everything. We'll bet you don't know about the national security letters that let the federal government demand information about you without telling you they're even looking. Unfortunately, it's not a game.

Everyone's unhappy about it. Germany, which has some understandably strict laws about what the government can and can't do with information, is apoplectic (to use Der Spiegel's term) about US and British spying, but the citizens there are even more upset about police using cameras to catch a truck driver who was shooting at other vehicles. The European Union may quit negotiations over a major trade agreement because of what it knows about the NSA and its British counterpart. A London privacy group has sued the British government (which does almost as much eavesdropping as the NSA does). France loves it that Germany is pissed, but the French spy as much as anyone. Even Mexico called the spying unacceptable, although the government there might not be so upset if the US would help find 26,000 missing people.

But what about catching all those terrorists? Good question. It could be that they get caught -- but obviously that wasn't the case in Boston. More likely, though, is that any terrorist activity -- given that it's a pretty rare occurrence in the US -- was never really planned, at least, not on the scale or with the frequency that it happens in other parts of the world. There are a lot of people who will point to that as evidence of success, but the reality is more like the joke from our youth:

Q: Why do elephants paint their toenails red?
A: So they can hide in cherry trees.
Q: Ever seen an elephant in a cherry tree?
A: No.
Q: Works pretty well, doesn't it?

The problem is that the NSA is trying to out-Google Google by several orders of magnitude -- but unlike Google, the federal government can't offer stock options or company chefs, and can't sell advertising to pay the bills (including hiring the absolute best programming and database people it can find, noting that they now have to be able to withstand the most rigorous security checks imaginable). More to the point, as any number of people have written, they're looking for needles in haystacks, but instead of figuring out how to separate the wheat from the chaff, they're making the haystack bigger. There are also just enough smarter and more agile people who will try to undermine any spying just because they can.

Politicians don't want to think about things they don't understand; they throw money at the problem. Factor in media- and campaign-friendly terms like "defense" and "security", and it becomes pretty easy to understand how the Never Satiated Agency got everyone in Washington to commit to behavior that was pretty much contrary to everything on which the US was founded, and that certainly didn't help the "trust" relationships with other nations that are the US's "friends". The fact is that all this spying is like stopping a flood with a teaspoon, and that just doesn't enter into the equation. Never mind that it simply isn't the truth.

It might not be as difficult as putting toothpaste back into the tube, but at this point, there's not a lot that's going to stop the NSA from considering every single one of us as a suspect of something. That's what they do.

In Brief

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Google Sign of the Apocalypse We've moved this to the top of the page because a week ago, the unthinkable happened. Also, CNN imitates The Onion, furloughed DoD employees get creative (thanks, Penguin!), and the former deputy CIO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (no wisecracks about elevator operators in one-story buildings, please) got hacked (slightly NSFW language).

Five and fine: Apple's App Store celebrated its fifth anniversary, just in time to be convicted of price-fixing (which makes Amazon very happy). Since publishers have been lowering prices anyway, the fines Apple will have to pay probably won't have much impact -- but being sued by Boston University for patent infringment might. Speaking of paying up, do you think they will? Also up in the air in the book business: What's going on at Barnes & Noble?

On the bus: We like kids. Up to a point, we like games. We like almost any charity that really benefits children (as opposed to the ones that take 25 per cent of their income in "administrative costs"). So when we saw an article on the New Yorker's website about the worst video game ever and an annual contest to raise money for children in hospitals we were hooked.

Go tell your mother she wants you: The NSA has been cordially uninvited to this year's DEF CON.

Quote of the Week: "It's in the interest of services like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to protect you from the very real possibility that your "friends" are out there and they can see what you're doing, but they just don't care. Or, alternatively, that you're less interesting than you think you are."

First, we get them included with Happy Meals: Google is going to spend half a billion dollars promoting its next Motorola smartphone.

Now, about Windows 8: Microsoft has reorganized to "rally behind a single strategy." All they need to do now is pick one: mobile, gaming, acquisitions or helping the NSA spy.

WTF? OMG! In case you didn't get the memo, PRISM isn't the only system the NSA uses. There are ones with interesting names like ANCHORY, AMHS, NUCLEON, TRAFFICTHIEF, ARCMAP, SIGNAV, COASTLINE, DISHFIRE, FASTSCOPE, OCTAVE/CONTRAOCTAVE, PINWALE, UTT, WEBCANDID, MICHIGAN, PLUS, ASSOCIATION, MAINWAY, FASCIA, OCTSKYWARD, INTELINK, METRICS, BANYAN, MARINA and SIGINT. Not only can they not find the ANY key, the CAPSLOCK one eludes them as well. Oh... and they're big fans of PowerPoint.

In requiem: AltaVista, TechNet and MSN TV (both via Microsoft), mouse inventor Douglas Engelbart, and Amar Bose of the speaker company. Trying to avoid the same fate: Bebo and Zynga.

Teach your children... maybe: Whenever there's a suggestion that public employees can do something better or more efficiently or maybe with a little more attention paid to who's paying the bill, it's to be expected that they'll scream bloody murder. Trust us, teach -- the kids are smarter than you think.

Somehow, this doesn't seem like a good thing: If you have stock in SoftBank, the Japanese mobile carrier, the good news is that you now own US mobile carrier Sprint. The bad news is that by buying it, SoftBank's credit rating was downgraded to "junk".

They don't mess around: The European Union is upping the penalties for cybercrimes, and Twitter turned over user information to the French.


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My First Million: Six Experts Exchange members reached the 1,000,000 point level in June. They are wilcoxon, jimyX, mboppe, sarabande, Number-1 and PortletPaul. Very nicely done, folks!


  • angelIII, EE's all time points leader, reached the 38,000,000 point mark.
  • matthewspatrick has earned 16,000,000 points since joining Experts Exchange.
  • Ray_Paseur has earned 13,000,000 points in the PHP topic area.
  • BlueDevilFan is the latest EE member to earn 11,000,000 points.
  • alanhardisty is the 36th member of EE who has earned 10,000,000 points.
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