August 17, 2006
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The Experts at the turn
Baseball season had its Midsummer Classic a month or so ago, so we felt it appropriate to take a look at the mid-year standings. The numbers below are from January 1 through June 30. The statistics were produced by ameba.
Most Valuable Expert - Site Wide
Member Total Pts
angelIII Sembee war1 leew TheLearnedOne TechSoEasy Idle_Mind Roonaan bruintje irwinpks 3,595,792 3,544,922 2,381,549 1,698,847 1,621,073 1,568,409 1,546,918 1,523,383 1,482,286 1,476,402
Most Valuable Rookie Expert - Site Wide
Member Points
scolja aneeshchopra RCorfman GavinMannion rakeshmiglani bsdotnet zephyr_hex LeeDerbyshire WelkinMaze rorya 960,222 737,409 527,718 451,840 365,451 332,115 300,742 295,418 272,643 262,144
Most Answered Questions - Site Wide
Member Answers
angelIII Sembee war1 leew Idle_Mind TheLearnedOne Roonaan irwinpks bruintje Jay_Jay70 2865 2545 1857 1492 1178 1177 1148 1119 1114 1100
Most Points from Assists - Site Wide
Member Points
angelIII objects Sembee nobus rindi war1 CEHJ irwinpks leew aneeshattingal 262,041 251,036 227,799 209,366 204,259 203,112 201,009 199,375 195,510 178,319
Batting Average (100,000 pts. min.)
Member Answered Comment Pct.
masterbaker Gertone sumix kg_bang khkremer aneeshchopra jlevie Sembee rllibby Sancler 106 504 159 119 136 528 218 2884 110 328 112 545 172 130 149 583 241 3201 123 371 .946 .925 .924 .915 .913 .906 .905 .901 .894 .884
Points Per Answer (100,000 pts. min.)
Member Answered Points PPA
jeverist dgrafx jensfiederer RobertRFreeman ivan_os stressedout2004 vickerleung mkishline aneeshchopra mgcIT 311 98 106 89 81 97 135 117 528 169 561,436 146,247 153,527 127,275 113,875 136,154 188,907 163,446 737,409 235,013 1805.3 1492.3 1448.4 1430.1 1405.9 1403.6 1399.3 1397.0 1396.6 1390.6
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We're showing our age

ericpete is the editor of the Experts Exchange newsletter. He considers the main benefit to doing that job to be the opportunity to write -- something he has done professionally since he was a young boy.

Headline: Dell reflects on 25 years of PCs
Headline: Scratching the 25-year PC itch
Headline: The Great PC 'what-if'
Headline: Twenty five years of the IBM PC

60 years ago, give or take a few months, the ENIAC was unveiled. It wasn't the first computer, but it was the first that sparked the imaginations of countless scientists. 35 years later, in 1981, IBM started selling its Personal Computer.

That's 25 years ago. A quarter of a century.

We remember it well: the boss decided to head to Sears, where he spent about $3,000 (in 1981 dollars) on this whitish box from IBM, complete with the same kind of green monitor we had seen in the computer labs during our college days. It wasn't much to begin with, so he spent yet another small fortune to first add a second floppy drive and some RAM to it, and then later spent a huge amount of money for a 10 mb hard drive. Its serial number was something like 1012.

It was revolutionary. We used phototypesetting equipment that stored data on floppy drives -- nothing really new there -- but what was different was that we could enter data (classified advertising, using a program called DataStar -- from the same people who brought us WordStar) into this computer thing, and it could save the data to a floppy we could put into the typesetter, saving us countless man-hours. It paid for itself in less than a year.

When we got the hard drive, we figured that we could store tons of information about our client base on it -- so much so that we might not have to keep the bulky notebooks of business profiles. That never happened, but we calculated that we could keep pretty much everything we needed about everyone we did business with on that hard drive -- with plenty of room left over.

IBM went in a terrible state shortly afterward, for a number of reasons. It was THE standard for computers -- their mainframes were all over, and a story on a guy who only had to sell one or two a year to make a great living was a front page feature in the Wall Street Journal. But these small machines -- a computer designed for small businesses that would fit on a desktop -- didn't exactly fit the IBM corporate model; hence the partnership with the world's largest retail firm. IBM supplied the technical expertise; Sears provided the outlets and salespeople.

Then came mistake number one, which we still think is singularly the biggest mistake by a big company since Ford built the Edsel: IBM decided that the provider of its operating system could sell the OS to anyone who wanted to buy it. We're not convinced anyone ever actually paid for it; everyone just copied the floppies and handed them around. Talk about a sound marketing strategy: give it away so people become dependent, then start making them pay for upgrades.

A year or two later, we found ourselves "in the business". We worked on networked point-of-sale machines, and along came this guy who wanted us to sell a portable computer that ran both DOS -- any version -- and CP/M, which was the dominant operating system at the time. We sold our first computer to a newspaper company to use for bookkeeping; within a couple of years, they were setting type on one. We worked on Kaypro 16s (someone in the office said that the name came from "all Kays and no pros") -- these suitcase-sized boxes that weighed about thirty pounds and looked like they would survive being shot with 50 caliber bullets. There were plenty of others.

Like our friend, Sid Fishes, whose invention of iTunes preceded by nearly a decade its actual unveiling, we saw ideas all over the place, from "profiles" to ad hoc networks between offices to Not-Quite-Hotswapped drives to virtual communities on the Internet. And like him, life had a way of intervening.

But it's been a heckuva ride; Mom sends us email from half a mile away because it's more convenient than picking up the phone, and probably hasn't been to a department store in years. We never talk to travel agents any more, and virtually all of the people we work with are at least an hour's drive away -- and for many, we don't calculate how long it takes to get where they are, but rather what time it is where they live. And having gone through our college days with a Royal typewriter that outweighed a pallet of cinderblock, we wonder how we made it through without one.

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Page Two: More News and Notes
Nata's Corner: Yahoo mail gets a makeover

woman in specticalsFinally! I've been using Outlook Express for as long as I can remember, but there are still a few people who send me mail to my Yahoo account -- I just don't remember to look at it, in part because I really didn't like the interface that much. Well, Yahoo has announced a beta version that has an OE-like interface. No more checkboxes, and it even includes a preview pane, drag-and-drop and RSS feeds to go along with the 1GB of storage. It isn't available to everyone yet, but you can get on the waiting list.

Speaking of people who offer you tons of storage space for email, I've never bothered to get a Gmail account (thanks to all the people who have offered me one). All of the news about the US government wanting to look at what Google and Yahoo have on their servers bothers me a little. But the other day, I came across a little "Google Anonymizer" tool. I'm sure someone can adapt it to work for all of the other search engines.

A couple of years ago, I got a passport for a trip that never happened. Now, the US government has started to issue passports with smart chips embedded in them. Not everyone thinks it's a good idea, though. A good number of researchers have demonstrated all kinds of holes in the system, and jkr, who called my other half for his birthday last week, told us about a conference he attended where someone actually changed the data on a passport. Given that most people seem to believe whatever the computer tells them, it might be time for a reappraisal of the idea, especially since there are people who think having them implanted in their bodies is a good idea too.

And lastly, PCWorld came up with a list of The 10 Biggest Security Risks You Don't Know About. Unless, of course, you read this newsletter.

Inside the numbers
ameba, one of EE's prominent Experts, provides us with a list of newly earned Certificates. His list of all of the Certified Experts is located at his site. The list below covers the period from July 31 through August 14.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
angelIII fredthered jmundsack Mr_Peerapol DireOrbAnt Rimvis apresto osiris247 carl_tawn dfu23 prashsax Freya28 lukeca asyscokid third callrs carl_tawn smegghead emoreau apresto Ajay-Singh YZlat tsay sk33v3 Redwulf__53 Wizard Guru Master Sage Guru Master Master Master Wizard Master Guru Master Master Master Sage Master Guru Guru Guru Master Master Guru Master Master Master MS Access MS Access Visual Basic Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL Microsoft SQL ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP ASP Networking Networking Networking Windows XP JavaScript JavaScript C# C# C# C# Java VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET Windows 2000
Expert Certified in Topic Area
Pber kprad cristi_2112 StillUnAware MogalManic julianmatz callrs mmarksbury scrathcyboy Rouchie garycase actonwang angelIII sathyagiri Colosseo dgrafx ebjers rsivanandan prashsax Sembee MohanKNair bonmat86 pjedmond callrs rockiroads Guru Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Genius Wizard Wizard Guru Master Guru Master Master Master Guru Master Master Wizard Master Master Win. Server 2003 Win. Server 2003 PHP Programming Programming Web Development Web Development Web Development Web Development Web Development Hardware Oracle Oracle Oracle Excel ColdFusion Microsoft Network Microsoft Network Microsoft Network Outlook Databases PHP and Databases Linux Applications Applications
Expert Certified in Topic Area
javajws Spykair wykabryan CRXIuser2005 garycase DreamMaster Jay_Jay70 GrandSchtroumpf Eternal_Student callrs Pentrix2 dopyiii jimhorn GuruGary jason1178 walsellers manish_regmi AlexFM DanRollins shuboarder lherrou umahesh mirtheil Master Guru Guru Master Wizard Guru Master Genius Guru Master Master Wizard Master Master Wizard Master Master Wizard Master Guru Guru Master Guru Applications Crystal Reports Crystal Reports Crystal Reports Desktops HTML Windows Security CSS CSS Miscellaneous Firewalls Word VB DB MS-DOS DreamWeaver Macintosh Linux Prog. Visual C++.NET Visual C++.NET MultiMedia Apps Graphics Win CE Btrieve
2254 experts have 3803 certifications: Genius: 104 Sage: 172 Wizard: 248 Guru: 674 Master: 2605
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