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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

JULY 18, 2012

Featured Content

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

Nata's Corner
Protecting yourself and your kids

Editor's Choice Article
WordPress flaw, and a fix

Tips From The Mods
What have you tried?

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through July 14

What's New at E-E

jennhpNew Expert: The irrepressible Jenn Prentice and her husband, Russ, are scheduled to become first time parents in January. There is no truth to the rumor that she's naming their son COBOLdinosaur WhackAMod Prentice.

Private EE? We've been asked countless times for a "private" version of Experts Exchange, and with the rebuild that led to EEv10, we can actually recreate the Experts Exchange systems on smaller scales. If you're interested, take our survey; someone is going to get a polo shirt out of it.

TEDx San Luis Obispo: Experts Exchange is the premier sponsor of TEDx San Luis Obispo, set for Friday, September 28, at the Cal Poly Performing Arts Center. The event will include talks by three of our own: mark_wills, tigermatt and matthewspatrick.

New Moderators: demEEmod and jarmod101 have been named to the list of Moderators at Experts Exchange. Welcome aboard!

Expert profiles: If there's anyone who qualifies as an "old-timer" at Experts Exchange, TheLearnedOne would have to near the top of the list. The subject of one of our Expert profiles was the first Impact award winner. ValentinoV has established himself as one of the more prolific authors about SQL Server, and as his Expert profile shows, he's definitely found his place in the sun.

Mobile: If you haven't checked out the new Mobile version yet and want to win some stuff, Experts Exchange is offering an incentive: an iPhone/iPad accessory pack. You have until July 26 to get in on the contest.

Most Valuable Experts: Nominations are now open for our second round of Most Valuable Experts, the people who will be considered the "best of the best" at Experts Exchange for the coming year. Awardees will be hard-pressed to follow our inaugural group, but we know they're out there.

Mentor program: The Admins and Experts Exchange have been kicking around the idea of a techology mentorship program for a while, and we would like to hear from you about what EE's members would like to see.

Podcasts: Our most recent podcast features cs97jjm3, AKA James Murrell, who managed to get his hands on the Raspberry Pi, the $35 Linux computer. Listen to the whole broadcast on our iTunes or SoundCloud channels, and now it's available using Stitcher.

Kudos: mplungjan wrote a little piece of code to help gouder build a calculator in HTML: "Oh wow.... Thank you, thank you, thank you! I just tested it out and it is working with Firefox, Explorer, and Chrome. I can't express my gratitude for fixing my errors. I have spent over 40 hours of researching alternative codes and mplungjan saved the day, more like the month!"

Free pixels: If you use Experts Exchange for your business, share your story with a photograph or video, and we'll put it up -- including a link to your company's website -- on our Business Stories page.

Expert badge: 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!

Tip from the Moderators

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What have you tried?

We're not going to rewrite all of Matt Gemmell's very concise rant from December 2008 that asks, very simply, "What have you tried?". Suffice it to say that as Experts and as Moderators, we've looked at thousands of questions, many of which have very few responses or are completely abandoned by the Asker, that fit into the descriptions Mr Gemmell posted back then.

Unfortunately, we suspect that too many people have not read it -- or if they have, they're certain that the descriptions don't apply to them. We could (and at one time, did) spend a lot of energy listing all the dos and don'ts of getting solutions to your problems. But as Mr Gemmell points out, some Expert writing out all of the code you need as a solution isn't solving the problem for you.

At some point, you had to learn to use a keyboard. You probably had to learn to look both ways before you crossed the street, and you had to learn that saying "please" and "thank you" were a lot more effective than holding your breath and stomping your feet. And that's the point to Mr Gemmell's article: that learning is the best way to get your problem solved.

If you're about to ask your first question at Experts Exchange, then read the article. "So next time you're considering asking a question, you'd better be ready with a convincing answer when you're asked 'What have you tried?'

"If your answer amounts to 'not a lot', take my word for it: the next question you get back will be 'then why should I help you?'"

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureThe best news I've had in a while: coffee may delay Alzheimer's.

If you have children that are just beginning to use the Internet, it's worth glancing through this short guide to protecting them -- no matter how old they are. Also, find out who is tracking your Internet activity, and how to stop them.

My mother-in-law and I were talking about Facebook the a week or so ago, and one thing we agreed on is that the only real reason we keep our accounts is because of the photos various relatives upload, but all of the stuff we really don't want to see is shoved at us to the point where we're both seriously considering turning off our accounts completely. Here's how you can get out of Facebook and still get all the important stuff, without becoming either an unpaid shill or a small part of the company's stat sheet.

Speaking of getting out of things, about a year ago, the Transportation Security Administration -- the wonderful people who brought you full-body scans and dozens of YouTube videos -- was ordered by a federal court to do a notice-and-comment rulemaking that allows for public comment; to date, it hasn't complied. There's a petition that as this is written has just under 13,000 signatures; if it gets 25,000 by August 8, the Obama administration will, by its own rules, be required to respond as well. So sign it, please.

Two items in the news made me start to wonder if I should maybe rethink this whole business of online activity. One was a report that talked about malware on Google's Play going undiscovered for weeks. I'm not at all surprised that someone tried to infect products sold through Google; after all, it's a big target and a lot of people play games, right? But you would think that a company with the resources of a Google would do a better job of looking for ways in which its systems could be used for bad things. The other was an item on Sophos that tells how Microsoft is going to fix a vulnerability in its Gadgets and Windows Sidebar features -- two of the flashy new things added in the Vista and Windows 7 operating systems. How is it going to fix the flaws? Simple: by disabling them completely. You mean to say that nobody found this for five years?

Finally, the jury is set to start deliberating in the trial of Wayne Treacy this week; at issue is whether text messages served as the catalyst to the near-fatal beating of Josie Lou Ratley. My point here isn't to pass judgment, but to suggest that you take a look at Microsoft's cyberbullying questionaire and then have another talk with your kids.

In Brief

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Out of the frying pan: Marissa Mayer, possibly the most public face of Google who was responsible for what is still the most profitable product the company has (search), has been named the new CEO of Yahoo. Despite the slug line, we wish her well. Oh... she's also expecting.

Once more into the breach: Yahoo: 450,000 email addresses and passwords; if you're into numbers, c|net has them. Android: 1,000,000+ email addresses, usernames and hashed passwords at one of the most popular forums, Androidforums.com. (NVIDIA forum users got the same message.) Formspring: 420,000 passwords, so the company reset all 30 million users' accounts. Best Buy: not really a breach, but the company confirmed that passwords stolen from other sites were being used to access Best Buy accounts.

Another battle we're all going to have to fight again: online sales taxes. sigh...

A breach too far: In all the hubbub about security failures at search engine companies and developer forums (and the occasional government agency or financial services company), we've only paid scant attention by comparison to industrial controls systems, which is a little odd, really, because in a previous lifetime we made a living designing systems for water and wastewater treatment plants. Given that most of those control systems never needed much in the way of security because they were local to facilities (remote monitorning and control are fairly recent enhancements), it shouldn't be surprising that they're now being targeted. The simple computer "issue" today (aren't the words we use to describe unknown problems amazingly non-threatening? Issue, glitch, bug... ) is tomorrow's total meltdown of traffic controls in Los Angeles, especially given the existence of Stuxnet.

The other side of the same coin is the remarkable attention being paid to government agencies that seemingly want to protect us all of the unknown by assuming that everyone is a bad guy. Representative Smith's amended proposal notwithstanding, we shouldn't worry: they'll keep trying, especially since to all appearances, we all trust the big companies. Okay, most of them.

And the Oscar for best animated short goes to: NASA, despite no Borg queen.

Bad news... and worse news: RIM, the BlackCrackberry folks, has, over the past four years or so, shed most of its payroll and most of its value as a corporation. That's the bad news. The worse news is that developers are bailing on it and it has now been ordered to pay $147 million in damages for infringing on patents.

App of the week: For Android devices, one that helps you record police misbehavior, not that that ever happens.

Happy birthday, Spam!

Old habits die hard: We're not sure which is worse: Russia adopting a new law that controls information flow on the Internet (though maybe it will cut down on the number of spambots out there), or cellphone carriers being asked for subscriber information 1.3 million times in 2011 (note that each request can involve several million accounts). Apropos of which, the "most important tech company you've never heard of".

How do you spell "ooops" in Cupertino? Apple announced it was going to dropped out of EPEAT -- the standards organization for the environmental impact of computers -- and then changed its mind after realizing it was a dumb move.

In requiem: Norman Sas, the inventor of the first real electric game; Ernest Borgnine; and Encyclopedia Brown author Donald Sobol.

7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Number 1: Always wear a helmet when riding the bike. (Thanks, Jason!)

Keeping score: The Oatmeal won. Philanthropy > douchebaggery.

Dugg and buried: Digg, which burned through an average of about $6.5 million of venture capital per year during its seven-plus year run, was sold lock, stock and barrel for around 1/320 of its one-time value. Don't worry -- there will be plenty more of these stories in the future.

What do you expect them to say? Facebook hooked up with ComScore to create a report detailing the virtues of advertising on Facebook. Of course.

So he says: This wasn't him.

And the walls came a-tumblin' down: If you ever wanted to donate to Wikileaks but found you couldn't because payment processing companies stopped (we won't go into why they did, unless you're a real conspiracy buff), you should be able to fairly soon.

Sign of the Apocalypse (in Cupertino, anyway): Siri says that the Microsoft-operated Nokia is the best smartphone ever. People posting pictures of their debit cards on Twitter. A reality show about Silicon Valley.


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New Genius: nobus has become the second member of Experts Exchange to earn ten Genius certificates, joining angelIII (who has eleven); his most recent is in Miscellaneous Storage.

EE For Life: mbizup is the newest member of the 5,000,000 Point Club, and will join 85 other EE members who will receive Premium Services for life.


  • jkr is the tenth member of EE to earn 14,000,000 points overall.
  • DaveBaldwin has earned 6,000,000 points since joining EE.
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