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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

AUGUST 14, 2013

Featured Content

What's New at Experts Exchange
From SLO and beyond

An era at EE comes to an end

Nata's Corner
Travel, addition and cell phones

Better Comments
Don't be so quick to search

Editors' Choice Article
Ray_Paseur on PHP sessions

What people are saying

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through Aug. 10

What's New at E-E

EliseNew to EE's developer team: EE's longest-serving staff member, Jan Louwerens, and his wife Bonnie welcomed Elise Alyssandra to their family on Sunday, August 11. She weighed 6 lbs. 4 oz. (2.83kg), and was 17.5 inches (44.45cm) long. Our fondest congratulations to both parents and daughter!

Cloud Class: Dozens of video tutorials, from HTML for beginners to disaster recovery planning, are available as part of Experts Exchange's Cloud Classes.

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DrackulaUnlimited racks for $29/mo: It's a data center app that doesn't bite, also known as dRACKula. Now you can get unlimited users and manage unlimited racks and datacenters for just $29 a month or $299 a year.

Podcasts: 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.

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.

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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!

Register a Friend for FREE! Have a friend who knows a thing or two about technology?

  • New Experts can answer questions and write articles to unlock Premium Services
  • To unlock these features and become a Qualified Expert, new Experts must earn 10,000 points (about 7 questions)
  • After that, they'll need to earn just 3,000 points each month to keep free membership and access to Premium Services

Share the free registration link with your friends and colleagues!


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Pete Long Not quite five years ago, PeteLong began his run as the highest ranking member of Experts Exchange without a Genius certificate when his predecessor, SysExpert, earned his millionth point in the Lotus Notes topic area.

That run came to an end last week, as Pete -- a ten-year veteran of EE -- became the fourth Genius in the Cisco Firewall topic area, leaving only ahoffmann, HainKurt and Qlemo as HOF members without Genius certificates.

When Pete joined EE, he got his first Good Answer email the same day, and found his footing in the summer, as he answered over 450 questions during the summer months alone. He also took the time to be one of the first to join the fledging Cleanup program, which got the attention of the Director of Community Support, who made Pete the first Topic Advisor (nee Page Editor) hired by the online administration at EE (both Nata and DanRollins were appointed by EE's management). One of his first "situations" as a member of the Badger team was when he encountered the Fong family, during which his remarkable sense of humor made the job a lot easier. In 2004, he was nominated, as a result of Microsoft's request to Experts Exchange, as one of their MVP candidates, and has been one ever since.

If ever there was a site that is an easy-to-use free reference for all things networking, it would be Pete's; we were introduced to it years ago when he allowed us to republish his work, including screenshots, on Windows Deployment Services (For the Ghost Generation). Pete will frequently post links to his articles as the answer to a question, which makes sense, since many of the articles were prompted by questions he has answered at EE, and a few even include videos. Pete isn't completely serious, though; he also gets credit for hosting the League of Extraordinary Experts (also known as the rogues' gallery) on his site.

But it is as an Expert that Pete has truly had his most significant impact. There are any number of examples of his telling the Moderators that his contributions were only to support something someone else posted, and that he didn't deserve the points. In other questions, he frequently refers to posts made in other questions by other Experts, giving them the credit where it is due. But whatever it is he is doing at EE, we're glad he keeps on doing it.

Editors' Choice Article

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PHP Sessions: Simpler Than You May Think!
By Ray_Paseur

This EE question ("I am looking for a solution for logout after inactivity.") got me thinking...

Developers who are new to PHP session handling sometimes over-think the role and behavior of PHP sessions. This article takes the process apart and reconstructs it to show how easy it can be to use the PHP session to your (and your clients') advantage.

Use the Built-In Features Whenever Possible
PHP already has a built-in solution for logout after inactivity. All you need to do is embrace it! Do not write separate programming to try to cause this to happen -- all that will happen is that you will get confused by the overlapping layers of your programming and the standard, expected behaviors of the PHP session handler.

To Use the Built-In Features, You Need to Know the Built-In Features
You may know a good bit about PHP or you may want to get a foundation in how PHP works. This requires some study and familiarity with the PHP language and syntax. There will be minor differences from release to release, and differences in MySQL, MySQLi, PostGreSQL and SQL Server, but the differences will be mostly a matter of configuration settings and query syntax, and not a matter of design principle.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PicturedeereOkay, now I know why it's so hard to get the other half to help me in the garden. He's no doubt waiting for a video to finish.

During our drives back to see the grandkids, we've gotten pretty good at locating places with free WiFi, booking a hotel room online and then driving the three blocks to check in (prices are usually lower if you go to the hotel's site and take the AAA discount). It just got a lot better, too, because we won't have to drink coffee at McDonald's; we just have to find the Starbucks.

I've gotten to the point, though, where computers aren't a huge part of my life any more. One reason is pretty straightforward: It's summer, and I've always spent a lot of my time in the garden. I'm also able to get around better than I was for a couple of years (knee and foot surgeries). But the real reason is that I felt like I was becoming addicted. It's not like I was getting anything done; I was just doing exactly what the article describes.

One thing I've never done is click on one of those funky ads you see that suggest that "one little trick" will solve a particular problem. Good thing I didn't, because Slate did, and found out a lot more than they expected. But be careful: You could get a trojan on your machine.

Our cell contracts expired late last month, so we've been looking around. One of the issues is that the other half is grandfathered in to unlimited data if he keeps on using his current phone, and since I had gotten the same phone, we have two of them (which means he's not really going to need a new one for at least a couple of years). Another issue is that we really don't need to have phones that do everything but make coffee (after all, isn't that what laptops and tablets are for?). But if you're trying to figure out what the various cell companies are going to charge you, the Wall Street Journal has a really cool online tool.

Finally, if you've ever tried to explain how the Internet works to your Aunt Susie? Now you don't have to try.


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My First Million: Members of Experts Exchange who reached the 1,000,000 point level in July were joewinograd, footech and om_prakash_p. Congratulations, all!

Kelvin4 got quite a bit of help from Visio_Guy in his question about page sizes in Visio, and was moved to thank not only Visio_Guy, but scott as well: "I'd just like to say how much I appreciate the speed of response of VisioGuy in our contact over the last few months, and with Scott Helmers over a longer period. I guess you know how good they are as 'Experts', but its a delight to tell you all the same!"

jconnelley44 needed a formula to help automate a worksheet, and the one posted by lvbarnes fit the bill: "Your solution is working for my workbook in combination with the conditional formatting for esthetics on the worksheet. I am always encouraged that I seem to think in the same direction that you all do but you all always help me work through the problems and learn so much. Thanks once again! Best money I spend each year on membership fees!! As usual, you all provided a solution that I will be able to utilize throughout other worksheets I use on a daily basis."

Finding an average of values using JavaScript was a little beyond XGIS's skills, but he was fortunate in that mplungjan took an interest and came up with a solution: "Thats pretty cool mplungjan..love your work... thank you for your time and knowledge."

ArtG2521 rebuilt an older Dell so he could play HD movies but everything was choppy. He got quite a few suggestions, but Merete went over and above, telling him both why his Dell would have problems and offering some ideas for what might work better. The result: "Even though the other techs posted very useful comments, I just wanted to say how much I really appreciate all the care and effort you went through for me. You went way above and beyond the usual help and spent a lot of time with my questions. You were very patient and kind. I hope to converse with you on future questions one day. Good luck in all you do! Moderators take note! Merete is the best!"

In Brief

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Oceanfront property in Wichita Dept: If you write an email about your great-aunt Angela, who lives in Europe, guess who's reading it. Of course, they're reading everything else too... and they're ticking off other US law enforcement agencies by not playing nice with it. The good news: they make such a great target. The bad news: the whole mess is causing secure email services to shut down.

In requiem: Charles Varnadore, who should have been remembered as a hero.

We Don't Have To Give A Damn What You Think Dept: Google Chrome's password security won't be fixed any time soon.

It worked for Microsoft: Everyone knows that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery... or a sign that your company doesn't really have any new ideas -- we're not sure which.

Pot calls kettle black: The advertising industry had some interesting things to say about a website full of ads. They might as well point fingers.

We know what you're thinking.

Where there's a will... there's an app for it. Snapchat was started to make messaging temporary, and mostly did so, but now there are apps that can secretly save Snapchats. Good thing, too, or we'd all miss out on the drama. Don't people have anything better to do?

Finally: Vermont and Nebraska are going after patent trolls. Maybe that and the Apple-Samsung squabble will do the trick.

Unfounded: There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that it was delivered to Netminder's home.

A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money. Facebook finally hit its IPO price. Maybe this helped.

Polishing an Apple: Nothing to see here... move along... these aren't the Droids you're looking for... and speaking of slow sales...

Polishing a... nevermind: Yahoo is playing around with new logos, but its long-term future is still muddy.

Signs of the Apocalypse: The ultimate fanboy movie. The TSA is spreading. And after all these years of being the Leader of the Dark Empire, we're beginning to warm to Bill Gates.


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New Aces: kaufmed has earned his second Ace certificate, this one in .NET Programming. Also, Sembee2 earned his first, in Exchange, unless you count the ones he has earned as Sembee and Mestha. Well done!

New Geniuses: COBOLdinosaur has earned his third Genius certificate, this one in Misc Web Dev. PeteLong has earned his first, in Cisco PIX/ASA. Thanks for your great work!


  • mlmcc has earned 16,000,000 points in the Crystal Reports topic area. He is the third EE member to reach that many points in a single topic area.
  • hanccocka, who took over last week as the frontrunner for Expert of the Year, has earned 11,000,000 points in the VMware topic area.
  • CodeCruiser has earned 12,000,000 points in Visual Basic.NET.
  • jason1178 reached the 8,000,000 point plateau, the 54th member of EE to do so.
  • chris_bottomley is the most recent member to have earned 7,000,000 points since joining EE.
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
kaufmed.NET ProgrammingAce
DaveBaldwinAdobe AcrobatMaster
insoftserviceApache Web ServerMaster
DavisMcCarnApple HardwareMaster
PeteLongCisco PIX/ASAGenius
Sembee2Email ServersWizard
skullnobrainsLinux NetworkingMaster
hanccockaMac OS XMaster
GwynforWebMath / ScienceSage
joewinogradMicrosoft OSMaster
sedgwickMicrosoft OSMaster
CEHJMisc DatabasesMaster
sarabandeMisc ProgrammingGuru
joewinogradMisc SoftwareGuru
COBOLdinosaurMisc Web DevGenius
leakim971Misc Web DevSage
armchair_scouseMS AccessMaster
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
rrjegan17MS AccessMaster
merowingerMS ApplicationsGuru
zorvekMS DevelopmentMaster
luconstaMS ExcelMaster
MartinLissMS OfficeGuru
Michael74MS OfficeMaster
BitsqueezerMS SQL ServerMaster
edtechdbaMS SQL ServerMaster
PortletPaulMS SQL ServerSage
dsackerMS SQL Server 2005Master
Neo_jarvisMS SQL Server 2008Guru
dtoddMS SQL Server 2008Sage
kevinhsiehNetworking HardwareMaster
vasilchoOffice 365Master
BlueComputeSBS Small Business ServerMaster
padasScripting LanguagesMaster
noxchoServer HardwareWizard
EugeneZSSRS SQL Reporting SvcMaster
kevinhsiehSwitches / HubsMaster
pergrSwitches / HubsMaster
padasWeb ComponentsMaster
noxchoWindows 2003 ServerWizard
CompProbSolvWindows 7Master
SandeshdubeyWindows 7Master
rindiWindows 7Sage
ded9Windows 8Master
craigbeckWindows NetworkingMaster
jcimarronWindows OSWizard
smckeown777Windows Server 2008Guru
Frosty555Windows Server 2008Master
x-menWindows Server 2008Master
dvt_localboyWindows Server 2008Wizard
n2fcWindows XPMaster