Experts Exchange EE News August 2009

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August 5, 2009 >>

What's New at Experts Exchange
Numbers, MVPs, Geniuses, Milestones

"Virut" - Malware Continues to Evolve
rpggamergirl on a truly nasty virus

When Worlds Collide
Fighting off the big lie

More News and Notes
Long day's journey into night

Nata's Corner
Funny business with the iPhone

New Certificates
New certificate holders, through August 1

What's New at Experts Exchange

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The Numbers Game: A couple of weeks ago, someone asked who the "most efficient" Expert is, meaning which ones got the most Genius certificates with the fewest number of points. So we asked, and for active Experts with two or more Genius certificates, the honor goes to LauraEHunterMVP, who has two genius certificates on just under 2 million overall points, followed by sdstuber, boag2000, keith_alabaster and BrandonGalderisi. The Expert who makes the most with the least -- the most Genius certificates with the lowest overall points total -- is lrmoore, with an average of about 1.5 million points for each of his seven Genius certificates, followed by war1 (eight Genius certificates at 2.3 million each) and angelIII, who at the time had nine Genius certificates at about 3.2 million each. Special note is made of zorvek, whose only +1,000,000 point certificate is a Savant (10,000,000 points or more); were it ten Genius certificates, his overall efficiency would put him third on the list.

More MVPs:

When we listed 281 EE members who have earned Microsoft's Most Valued Professional award, we knew we would miss at least one. It turned out that at least two declined to make their profiles public, but that still doesn't diminish the accomplishments of TheLearnedOne, who was recognized for his work in Visual C#, and jefftwilley in Access. Then there are a few we just didn't know; they include brejk, graf0 and maradam, all in MS SQL. We also expected we might see a few more register; joining Experts Exchange in the last couple of weeks are MPECSInc and CrisHanna_MVP, both of whom were honored in Small Business Server, and MScottSewell, who is an MVP in Dynamics CRM. Congratulations!

New Geniuses: It should come as no surprise that angelIII is listed here; he has earned the tenth Genius certificate of his career, in Microsoft Access, which makes him the first EE member to fill up his first page of Zone Ranking with 1,000,000 points or more. Earning the third Genius certificates of their tenure at Experts Exchange were Idle_Mind in .NET/, and peter57r in Access Coding / Macros. Reaching the 1,000,000 point level for the second time was jpaulino in Visual Studio. Newcomers to the Genius roster are HonorGod in the JavaScript zone and nutsch in the Microsoft Excel zone.


  • capricorn1 has earned 14,000,000 points overall.
  • Idle_Mind has earned 9,000,000 points since joining Experts Exchange.
  • SysExpert has gone over the 7,000,000 point level overall.
  • BlueDevilFan has earned 6,000,000 points in the Outlook zone.

Errata: In our last issue, an editing error on our part caused is to mistakenly say that garycase had earned 5,000,000 points in the MS SQL Server zone, when in fact, it was Microsoft MVP aneeshattingal who reached that milestone.

Kudos: Our long list of Microsoft MVPs caused the sending of a few emails, notably from people we didn't know about, but it also brought an email from bjrhart, who wrote:

What I didn't see if someone who has saved me countless hours of work in Crystal Reports XI and BOE and that is James0628 and mlmcc. Without them I couldn't do my job nearly as well as I have!!!!!!!! I give them all the credit for their professionalism, experience, attention to detail and follow through. They are THE MVP's in my book.

We agree, but unfortunately, neither of those two zones gets a look from Microsoft. Still, they're definitely on the Most Valuable Experts list.

Fun and games: Lest anyone think that angelIII is solely a relentless Expert who spends all of his time doing nothing other than answering questions, he recently offered the following:

An Expert pushed a button and charged the client $1,000. When asked for an itemized bill, he replied:

Pushing button: $1.
Knowing which button to push: $999.

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Tips From the Moderators

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We actively encourage Members to include as much relevant information as possible when they ask questions. Doing this often reduces the need for Experts to ask clarifying questions, and can result in getting your answers more quickly. That said, the Moderators ask that you be wary not to include potentially sensitive information in your questions, comments, and in files that you upload to your questions and comments.

For example, be very wary about posting any of the following:
  > Personal names
  > Personal contact info, including snail-mail and email addresses
  > Company names and contact info
  > Social Security / tax ID numbers
  > Internet domain names and IP addresses
  > Server names
  > Other information that may be confidential, proprietary, or otherwise sensitive

Once you post a comment or upload a file, other people will see the contents, and search engines will index the contents, so do not post anything that you would not want to show up in a Google search. If necessary, please remove or obfuscate your sensitive data BEFORE posting it. For example, personal names can be changed to 'John Doe', domain names can be changed to '', IP addresses can be changed to 'x.x.x.123', etc.

If you make an error and inadvertently post sensitive information, use the 'request attention' link to ask the Moderators for help in getting it removed. Please remember, though, that it is your responsibility, and no one else's, to safeguard your sensitive information.

"Virut" - Malware Continues to Evolve

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rpggamergirl, her username notwithstanding, has become EE's authority on all things having to do with viruses, spyware and malware. A member since October 2005, she joined the Page Editor and Zone Advisor team in April 2006. Her article has been selected as EE-Approved. For additional information on Articles and making sure your masterpiece is up to EE's publishing standards, check out the Article Guidelines and Article Tips zone.

"Virut" is a nasty, polymorphic file infector, and it infects every executable and screensaver file on access. Some variant also infects .htm, html, .rar and .zip archives, and latest variants infects php and asp. It patches system files .e.g., userinit.exe, winlogon.exe, svchost.exe, spoolsv.exe, explorer.exe, sfc_os.dll among others.

This virus will also open a backdoor and connect to an IRC server. It then joins a channel and waits for commands to download files and other malware. It can also install a Trojan/Rootkit in the infected system.

Virut is a buggy file infector with destructive power; it destroys files. It infects files but not properly done (it misinfects because of its buggy code) so these files are corrupted beyond repair. Antivirus and other scanners can't clean the infected files so these are getting deleted instead and as a result programs will stop working.

Read the full article.

When Worlds Collide

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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.

In case you missed it, there is a Feedback post from kgerb that is a response to a blog post that takes on Experts Exchange's business model and suggests that the search results -- which brought most members of EE to the site in the first place -- from paid sites be removed from Google's indices.

To quote Kyle's post:

A few weeks ago my attention was directed to a blog containing very negative comments toward EE. I usually don't respond to these kinds of things since the conversation normally doesn't result in anything productive. However, I felt compelled to respond to this post since the comments were exceedingly negative and the poster (Corrine) was a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP). I have attached my response for your review.

First, let me say I am not an MVP. I'm not even one of the heavy hitters on EE. I answer a few questions when I can but that's about it. My experience with EE has been extremely positive. I joined in 2003 b/c I my boss was asking me to do stuff in Excel I had no idea how to accomplish. My first question was answered by a current MVP (though he wasn't at that time). He was so courteous and helpful it inspired me to ask more questions. Since that time I have asked over 200 questions and have developed what I would consider to a fairly strong understanding of VBA. I paid the yearly subscription out of my own pocket the entire time less the last few months when I earned enough points to get premium services for free. I literally cannot think of anything on which I could have better spent my money.

If you don't like this website that's fine. You're entitled to your opinion. However, to call it a scam and publicly deface it is out of line. Every person that signs up for EE takes a calculated risk. If they pay the money there is a chance they will get help with their IT questions. There is also a chance (albeit a very small one) they will not get help. Nobody is forcing them or tricking them or coercing them to do anything. If they decide to pay the money they are exposed to literally thousands of highly skilled professionals. How is that a scam? They pay the money, EE offers a service. A scam would be paying the money only to find out no service is really offered.

As for the response from michko, which you thoroughly critiqued, I don't find anything wrong with it. So he posted links, so what? Do you know how many industries are based on organizing publicly available information. How about travel agents and stock brokers to name a few? All they do is take information that is available to the public, organize it, and sell it. I suppose you think they're all a bunch of scam artists?

Frankly, I feel it was a low blow for you, as an MVP, to say such things about a valid website that is furthering the education and advancement of all Microsoft products. I know a few of the MVP's at EE and I have the utmost respect for them. They are all consummate professionals and would not have made such negative comments on a public blog.

Kyle (kgerb)

These comments make me very thankful for the MVP's who belong to EE. You are all great teachers, role models, and ambassadors (especially byundt for answering my first question and getting me hooked on Excel) :-). Since being here I've learned an unbelievable amount. My only regret is that I do not have more time to spend here learning and then using what I've learned to help others. Thank you again.

We posted in Kyle's thread at EE, though not at the blog itself; for one thing, it's well over a year old, and for another, it isn't even Corrine's work -- she copied it from another Microsoft MVP who also has never been a member of EE.

It reminds us of the people who say they don't like chunky peanut butter when all they've ever had is creamy. They're the people who say that everything on the Internet should be free -- when there is nothing on the Internet that's free; someone, somewhere, is paying the bill. For the Microsoft MVPs who get wined and dined every year in Redmond, it's anyone who buys a computer with a Microsoft operating installed on it -- which is most of the personal computers sold every year.

We could live with the hypocrisy, though, if it was based on facts -- something neither Corrine nor her source took the time to check. It would have been easy enough for them to do; a healthy percentage of the Experts Exchange members who are MVPs attended the 2008 summit. But why believe them? Better to have an unsupportable opinion and repeat it as loudly and as often as you can than to actually take the time to see for yourself, right? If there's a scam anywhere, it's that writing a blog gets you an MVP invitation.

Memo to self: if you ever get a virus on your computer, stick with rpggamergirl and her colleagues at Experts Exchange; at least you know they've actually fixed something, and not just read it on someone else's blog.

More News and Notes

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Long day's journey into night: The news over the past couple of weeks was full of Microsoft, which in and of itself wasn't that surprising. First, there's the consummation of the protracted courtship of Yahoo (one is reminded of the engagement of Nathan Detroit and Miss Adelaide). Second was the story about research indicating that Microsoft has ... well... Apple-like numbers selling mid-range computer systems, which are reflected in the company's sales figures, reported and characterized aptly as a long, slow decline (thanks, Mark!).

Microsoft's problem is that it's an aircraft carrier in a PT-boat world. One can imagine a lot of words that are used to describe Redmond, but "nimble" isn't one of them. There's a reason that Microsoft only releases patches once every four weeks, on Tuesdays: there are too many systems that have to be checked and rechecked to make sure that a "fix" doesn't break something else -- and that takes time and resources. More importantly, by trying to be all things to all people, and not doing those things well, you wind up being everyone's second choice -- and at some point, second best won't be good enough. Indeed, if Microsoft thinks that its deal with Yahoo is going to make everything all better... it should look at why Yahoo got itself in its predicament in the first place. Denial is the first symptom.

Taking back the Beep: A New York Times columnist is tired of that fifteen-second message all of the telephone companies' voice mail systems have and has launched a campaign. We've complained to our provider, and have told the kids to start using the # sign.

You know where has frozen over: In our little rant above, we were going to include a comment about how Google subsidizes the daylights out of all of the videos you send us links to until we came across a bonafide miracle: Sony, which owns the rights to Forever, acted completely unlike any RIAA member we know of, and actually did not file a complaint under the DMCA. Instead, it took advantage of YouTube's little "Buy Now" feature, and as tens of millions of people watched, the song shot up the charts at Amazon and iTunes. And while you weren't looking, Microsoft gave the Linux world four drivers that will allow Linux to be run on Windows 2008 servers.

"A billion here, a billion there; sooner or later it adds up to real money." Or at least a healthy share of the browser market, in the case of Firefox, which celebrated its 1,000,000,000th download last week.

The Art of War, 21st century style: Sun Tzu's suggestion was to cut off your enemy's supply lines, making it impossible for him to resist your forces, which makes the prospects of cyberwars both fascinating and complex.

TANSTAATS: There ain't no such thing as a tech secret: Benjamin Franklin said that "three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead." As we noted a couple of weeks ago, Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, has been working on creating a touchscreen web-centric tablet, but he's been quite mum on the specs. The company building the device is far more gabby, which didn't amuse Arrington, who was nearly gleeful a couple of weeks ago when he got to publish documents stolen from Twitter.

Just what we wanted to know: The 500 worst passwords of all time. (Thanks, Susan!) Also, Microsoft has promised to apply more stringent controls on which programming libraries its developers use.

Driving while stupid isn't against the law though: We grew up in California, where everyone owns at least two cars and would drive them both at the same time were there not laws of physics prohibiting it. We're also pleased that California has a "hands free" law that will get you a ticket if you're caught talking on a cell phone while driving. It turns out that the federal government has had a ton of data proving the dangers of "distracted driving" for some time -- but didn't tell anyone. At least Congress isn't waiting around to deal with texting while driving.

"If you have nothing nice to say, then come sit right here by me." If you don't, it's likely to eventually get found by someone. A young woman in Chicago is finding that out the hard way, as her offhand remark about her apartment is getting her sued by her landlord, who -- brace yourself -- found it on Twitter (thanks, Gerry!). One suspects that lawsuits over tweets isn't what the Times was thinking when in published an article on managing your reputation. Elsewhere, a Stockton, CA man is under arrest for threatening police officers (how did that domain name get okayed?), and in Boston, a police officer is likely to be out of work because of an email. Unlike what Amazon did with Kindle versions of 1984, this stuff may get erased, but it doesn't disappear.

Given the state of LA freeways, who would notice? Virginia Tech engineers are developing a car for blind people. To drive. On highways.

Who can stop the rain: Congress will no doubt try after hearing that file-sharing software is responsible for making computers vulnerable to intrusion from other computers. Who knew?

Sign of the Apochalypse: On NBC Video, William Shatner, whose best musical work came before Transformed Man, performs Sarah Palin's tweets. Also from the media world: a story for which the headline has been changed, but if you read the last fourteen words of the first paragraph, you'll understand why Jason found it so funny.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureThe big news over the last week comes about an unlikely source: Apple. Most of the people I know who have Macs are always beating up on Windows users because we're virtually forced to have all kinds of virus protection and security systems just to keep relatively safe. So the news that the iPhone -- my better half has been talking about getting me one -- could be compromised by a simple, single-character text message was enough to make me sit up and take notice. Two researchers demonstrated how to do it at the Black Hat security conference last week; Apple released a fix. I wasn't all that thrilled about having to get yet another two-year contract from AT&T anyway.

Speaking of which, the FCC is all over Apple and AT&T because Apple pulled from iTunes all of the Google Voice-enabled applications and rejected Google's own application as well. I guess I shouldn't be surprised; when you're the world's seventh largest company, even Steve Jobs will do what you say, including claim that jailbreaking an iPhone is a threat to national security.

Panda Labs released a study that says that there are now 374,000 fake antivirus programs compared to just over 1,000 18 months ago. What's worse, most of the people who scam millions of dollars from unsuspecting folks are virtually getting away with it; if Panda's numbers are accurate, then the typical fine is probably not much more than the annual company picnic bill.

Finally, there may be a glimmer of hope in the search for a solution to spam. Software developed by Georgia Tech researchers identifies spam before it hits your server and if it works, will help provide a disincentive for people to send out junk emails -- because no one will ever see them. It won't take down botnets, but at least it will cut down on the flow.

New Certificates

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Expert in Topic Area Certified
jimpenAccess Architecture/DesignMaster
tbsgadiAccess Architecture/DesignMaster
peter57rAccess Coding/MacrosGenius
jimpenAccess Coding/MacrosGuru
thenelsonAccess Coding/MacrosGuru
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LSMConsultingAccess ReportsWizard
FirebarActive DirectoryMaster
NicksonKohActive Server Pages (ASP)Guru
ddhammAdobe PhotoshopMaster
nappy_dApple Operating SystemsMaster
Gary_The_IT_ProAS / 400Wizard
anoyesAsynchronous Javascript and XML (AJAX)Master
SysExpertBlackberry Operating SystemWizard
DaTribeC# Programming LanguageMaster
jinalC# Programming LanguageMaster
NNirmalanC# Programming LanguageMaster
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darrenmcwiCAD & Architecture SoftwareMaster
BadotzCascading Style Sheets (CSS)Master
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PluckaCold Fusion Markup LanguageGuru
srikanthmadishettiCold Fusion Markup LanguageMaster
noxchoComputer Hard DrivesGuru
andyalderComputer Hard DrivesWizard
ComputerTechieComputer ServersMaster
rakeshAgarwalCRM SoftwareMaster
racekDatabases MiscellaneousMaster
_jesper_Domain Name Service (DNS)Master
demazterExchange Email ServerGuru
abhi_akExchange Email ServerMaster
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XCHExpertExchange Email ServerMaster
BlueDevilFanExchange Email ServerSage
coolsport00Exchange Email ServerWizard
RancyExchange Email ServerWizard
omarfaridFTP SoftwareMaster
noxchoHard Drives & StorageMaster
pravinasarHypertext Markup Language (HTML)Master
QlemoInternet ProtocolsMaster
dhwakeInternet Search Engine OptimizationMaster
objectsJava Standard EditionSage
nappy_dMac OS 10.5 (Leopard)Master
angelIIIMicrosoft Access DatabaseGenius
YadtrtMicrosoft Access DatabaseMaster
capricorn1Microsoft ApplicationsGuru
itkamarajMicrosoft ApplicationsMaster
nutschMicrosoft Excel Spreadsheet SoftwareGenius
bhwithunMicrosoft Excel Spreadsheet SoftwareGuru
hiteshgoldeneyeMicrosoft Excel Spreadsheet SoftwareGuru
robhensonMicrosoft Excel Spreadsheet SoftwareMaster
mkline71Microsoft Operating SystemsMaster
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jinalMicrosoft Visual Basic.NetMaster
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MarkusIdOracle DatabaseMaster
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game-masterVisual Basic ProgrammingGuru
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cxrWeb Languages/StandardsMaster
coolsport00Windows 2003 ServerGuru
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johnb6767Windows Network SecurityGuru
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johnb6767Windows VistaGuru
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David-HowardWindows XP Operating SystemWizard

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