Experts Exchange EE News September 2010

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September 8, 2010 >>

What's New at Experts Exchange
New sites to test, shirt donations and kudos

Winners The Next Big ThEEng
Ten ideas that could get a look-see

Editors' Choice Article
DrDamnit does it again

An Expert For All Reasons
A celebration of one of EE's best

Autopsy on Web Inconclusive
Providing a service on the Web

More News and Notes
Rule Number Zero

Nata's Corner
LinkedIn, hackers and flash drives

New Certificates
New certificate holders, through September 4

What's New at Experts Exchange

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redsourceWhat's New at EE:

  • Microsites: Redsource Interactive has released five more microsites: MS Sharepoint Solutions, Windows98 Help, SQL Server Answers, Javascript Solutions, and Oracle Solved. Send your feedback to
  • Updated points systems: On any page that shows your points or a representation of them you will see your overall point total, including points from both questions and articles. You will be able to sort question/article/both types of points with the HOF and Member and Zone Ranks. This also affects the EEple people will see, the badges that show in your profile, the shirts you are eligible to redeem, and your Zone and Member rank.
  • Contact us: The Contact Us page is getting a visual revamp along with increasing the live chat to a larger percentage of the membership. Please note that Mods/Admins handle almost anything except for billing issues, so please don't ask the good folks in the customer service department to help you close your question; just click the Request Attention button.
  • Mobile EE: EE has added the auto-close system and ability to object to the mobile site.

Megan's T-shirt donation update: Through Monday, 713 t-shirts have been donated to Experts Exchange's drive to build a well in the Senale Tabia area, located in the Hinatolo-Wajirat district of the southeastern zone of Tigray, Ethiopia. The area is characterized by sparse and highly seasonal rainfall leading to frequent droughts. Currently 12 per cent of the total community has access to clean drinking water, rural families survive on less than 5 liters of water per day that is contaminated and unprotected, and during peak dry season one trip to fetch water can take up to 3.5 hours round trip.

Outcomes of the overall project include access to clean water for 95 per cent of the area, each person will be able to consume the recommend healthy amount of 15 liters per day, and it will ensure the time to fetch water is no more than 30 minutes.

Since there has been such a large effort on the part of the community, we will be building a well that is based at Hidale School in Deneale/Genti (GPS reading: North: 13°03'40.7, East: 39°04'33.8, Elevation: 2271 meters) serving children and teachers from multiple villages throughout the district. Currently the students and teachers during the day have to walk 30 minutes to 1 hour to collect contaminated water. With this new well they will only have to walk two minutes and they will have access to safe clean drinking water. In addition to the water project being implemented there will be a comprehensive hygiene and sanitation program.

Yes, you can still donate your shirts. Just redeem them as you normally would, but in the line for your address, enter the words "Donate to charity", and your shirt's value will be added to the total.

Our sincere thanks to demazter, alanhardisty and nutsch for everything you have done to get this project rolling, and to everyone who has contributed! It's an honor to work with you -- you rock!

My first million: Reaching the 1,000,000 point level (which, as noted above, gets them a new EEple) are DaveBaldwin, bryon44035v3, James0628, MidnightOne and senad. Congratulations!

Got something to say?

Experts Exchange is looking for a few good people who have a passion for something: Oracle, overclocking and object-oriented programming -- to write a few articles and spread the word!

If you have the knowledge, our fabulous Page Editors will help you turn that scribbled-on napkin into solid writing, and you even pick up points when your article is used as a solution!

So what are you waiting for? Get started!

New Geniuses: matthewspatrick is only the third member of Experts Exchange to earn eight Genius certificates, as he picked up his most recent one in Miscellaneous Databases. Joining him on this issue's list of awardees are second-timers andyalder in Storage Technology, the first EE member to be honored as a Genius in that zone, and Dhaest in Visual Studio.NET 2005. Earning their first Genius certificates were cyberkiwi in SQL Server 2005 and our old buddy Kdo in DB2. Well done, folks!


  • CEHJ and Idle_Mind have both recently reached 11,000,000 points in their Experts Exchange careers.
  • byundt is the 20th member of EE to reach 10,000,000 points since joining EE.
  • chris_bottomley has joined the list of members who have earned 5,000,000 points overall.

Kudos: snowdog_2112 fought with Cisco icons in Visio for a while before asking his question, and got a very complete answer from Microsoft MVP scott: "Can I give you 2,000 points for that?!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I can't tell you how many different half-crocked answers I've found. Yours is not only correct (most importantly) but the screenshots were helpful!" Thanks again!

LennyGray was having some problems getting a SQL script to work, but got help from mcv22 and ScottPletcher: "You both are valuable assets to EE and to me. Thank you for the unselfish sharing of your time and experience. It is a pleasure to know that the world has people like you and that you are generous-enough to share with people like me. You are making a difference! The two of you created an elegant solution. Thanks, again!"

Publication note: For those of you old enough to remember the Chowchilla school bus kidnapping, a family friend was the publisher of the local paper, and had gone on his first vacation -- camping and fishing without telephone, radio or television -- for the first time in decades a few days before that happened; he found he had missed much of the biggest story in the history of the city (never mind that the big city media had made liberal use of his office telephone -- a bill that took some time to get paid). Because of that, we have been leery, during our career in the news industry, of taking any significant time off, but we're going to be heading out for a couple of weeks later this month, and as such won't have an issue of the newsletter the week of September 22. We'll be back with our quarterly announcement of the top Experts of the summer on October 6, and then start back up with our regular newsletters after that.

Editors' Choice Article

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The following article has been designated as Editors' Choice by the Page Editors. 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.

Hackers Guide to Being Hacked: How "Bad Guys" Take Control, and How to Take it Back.
by DrDamnit:

"Oh crap. I think we've been hacked."

That's the last sentence you ever want to hear from your IT guy, and the last sentence you ever want to have to say to your customers and clients. The fact is, hackers are everywhere. They are out there doing bad stuff for profit, pleasure, notoriety, or simply because: "I can".

Work smarter. Work faster. Work better.

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Tips From the Moderators

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When is the question complete?


By definition this is a tough Tip to write because the answer to the above should be "when the Asker is satisfied with the resolution" but reality sometimes dictates otherwise. When the Moderators are called on to attempt to stimulate a seemingly neglected question, we typically read the thread before taking any actions. Frequently, we discover that the Experts have not abandoned the Asker so much as the question has reached a resolution but the Asker has asked for reclarification or posted a followup question that really should be a new thread. How should you handle these situations?


We understand that you are all volunteers answering questions for the love of it or to earn free Premium Services (or both) and that your time is both limited and valuable. That being said, TRY to answer any follow up question or requests for clarification as best you can in the original question thread. Remember that your solutions are not only going to be used by the Asker but also saved for all time and eternity in the PAQ and future EE users may need the level of detail and context that only you can provide.

If you feel you are being asked to do too much in a thread, PLEASE contact the Moderators by clicking the Request Attention button and express your concerns to us directly and we will educate the Asker as to what the proper scope of a question is per the EE culture. However, we may tell you that the Asker is posting a reasonable follow up question and recommend you answer. What we do not want you to do is flame the Asker for posting a follow-up. That action will quickly earn you a forced vacation from the site.


We know that you may need a lot of information and hand-holding to understand the information being presented to you but there may be a better way to go about getting it aside from stringing an issue along for days and days. Much like our Tip regarding Multipart questions, we always recommend that you keep a question focused to the single issue at hand. If more than one post of follow-up is required to understand a solution, it may be better to accept the solution(s) and close the thread and move on to a new one.

Starting a new question has the additional benefit of resending the email alerts to all Experts and possibly attracting someone else who has a better grasp of the topic or speaks in a different voice that is easier for you to digest. However, if the Experts (and especially Zone Advisors or Moderators) start recommending you move on to a question, please do so. emember, we cannot force people to answer your questions. You have to be the kind of Asker that the Experts are happy to see, so please take their feelings and site culture into condsideration.

Winners of The Next Big ThEEng

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A month or so ago, TheLearnedOne got ahold WhackAMod and Netminder and told them he had a couple of Visual Studio.NET Ultimate MSDN subscriptions, and did they have any use for them. They decided to hold a contest asking for ideas for improving EE, with the understanding that those ideas might never be taken seriously. They have concluded their deliberations, and have passed along the names of the two recipients to us with the following note:

First, we want to thank the people who took the time to make suggestions and to vote on them. We have been assured by Experts Exchange that it has been monitoring the suggestions, and some of them will be, at least in part, incorporated into current projects.

In reviewing the list of suggestions, a good number of the suggestions weren't selected because they are already in the works at Experts Exchange. Others were deemed impractical for a variety of reasons -- notably that technically, implementation would too much work for too little benefit, or because we expect that upcoming improvements will make the specific suggestion irrelevant. Finally, there were several that can already be done on the site as it is or were essentially duplicates of other suggestions.

The winners are:
mark_wills under the alias EELover: "Create a "tag cloud" for each Expert that indicates his areas of expertise, based upon keywords in answers he's posted and articles he's written at EE. Provide a special kind of filter that shows new questions that fit his "knowledge profile.""

b0lsc0tt: "Provide a way for the new EE expert to easily use filters, especially now that the expert page is handy for answering questions. It took time to learn where questions were and how to post and work with askers/experts. Lower the learning curve."

However, mark_wills is a Microsoft MVP like TheLearnedOne, so he already has a subscription, which means the next person on the list was:
gecko_au2003: "Have 2 types of posts normal questions and project which is worth more points where the op wants assistance on a number of things and wants to keep the solutions in one place"

The remainder of the top ten, in no particular order, are:
rsoly777: "make it so you can look at your comment history and see what threads have been changed since your comment without having to check your e-mail"

mrjoshd: "Allow for bonus points to be earned based on the community's voting of a (more) correct answer or another answer in the thread with additional information. The answer is chosen too fast sometimes and many times I don't agree it's the best."

mrjoltcola: "When typing a response, a background AJAX task should check for updates / new posts to the thread, and allow loading without refreshing my unposted comment. This will limit the cross-talk problem."

aikimark: "Allow the member to request that non-solution comments be collapsed when viewing question threads. This would limit the scrolling required in long threads."

RQuadling: "Allow various panels on the question/answer pages to be turned off persistently. An AJAX'd [+] / [-] would allow the retrieval of the data and to remember the display setting on refresh/new page loads. Lowering the page load for all skins."

jason1178: "Have the EE Marketing Department begin calling/emailing User Groups in large metropolitan areas and recruiting those people as Experts. More Experts = better site"

mrjoltcola: ""Hire an Expert" feature. Better Expert marketting support. Experts who have proven themselves need to be marketted. If someone wants to recruit me for a job, I want EE to support that, not flag it as inappropriate."

An Expert For All Reasons

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Senior Administrator Netminder sent us the following; it is emminently worth sharing:

A couple of years ago, when Experts Exchange was preparing for its first Core Conference, we were asked who the "best expert on EE" was -- one of the more difficult questions we have faced. Some names are obvious; they have contributed so many solutions and accumlated so many points that they cannot be ignored. Others are notable for their consistency over a long -- at least in EE terms -- period of time.

One measure of what makes an Expert one of the best is the regard in which he is held by his peers. For byundt, who recently hit the 10,000,000 point level, he was treated to a sample:

broomee9: "Congratulations to Brad for reaching 10 million points site wide!!!!!"
patrickab: "Well done Brad - that's one massive level to have reached. Perhaps your family will now get you back!"
brettdj: "Kudos to you Brad for your gold plated 10M point effort. Revisting and paraphrasing an old thread, you've been landing gamefish from the rocks - no shooting fish in a barrel for you."
chris_bottomley: "I would very much like to say the same ... but in the abscence of a 'friendship' let me say I am in awe of you generally. I mean no disrespect to anyone when I say you could have done it years ago but have maintained a superlative standard both with askers and 'experts' like myself. Know that I respect you for more than the points - you are THE legend."
teylyn: "I have not been around long enough to truly grasp the magnitude of your contribution to this community. All I note is that whenever I see a post of yours, it's high quality, checked and tested, and will do the job to perfection. For us noobs, you are a fine example to aspire to live up to. I have the highest respect for your knowledge, expertise, courtesy and good manners. Do you ever get impatient? Angry? If you do, you hide it well, and I admire you for that. Thank you for being a pillar of the Excel Zone and congratulations on your latest milestone."
calacuccia: "Congratulations to Brad indeed (I see I forgot this)..."
rorya: "I'd just like to echo the thoughts of those above - I've learned a considerable amount from you, and not just about Excel! :) Woo - as they say - hoo!"
pari123: "Congrats! This is truly a great achievement and shows your dedication to EE. Way to go, man!"
zorvek: "What comes to mind when I think of Brad is how he was, back in the day, THE definitive Excel expert. His command of array formulas was extraordinary. I remember this little gem that made my jaw drop (to some of you newer hot shots this is probably child's play): http:/Q_21423967.html#1400083. You see, back then there was no Rory or Barry or any of you other formula jocks. It was just Brad. And we all looked to Brad for the real solutions. And he almost always won the short formula contests!
     "But Brad wasn't just a formula guy. He wrote amazing VBA code too. And he always seems to know for what the OP was asking even when it appeared to be gobbledygook to the rest of us. He has the patience of a saint, sticking with difficult questions/askers until long after the questions are closed. But most importantly, he was the first to set the tone for this zone and he is, as far as I'm concerned, the sole reason the Excel zone is one of the most respected and well-run zones on the site. We all make contributions to this end but it was Brad who was the first and who trained those who now set the examples and train the rest of us."
ProdOps: "I don't post here often but I do follow many of your answers and have learned a great deal from you over the past year. I appreciate everything you have done for this zone and the help you have provided me along the way."
mgh_mgharish: "Congrats Brad... teylyn, I'm sure I've made him angry many times :-)"
nutsch: "Congratulations Brad. You are the gold standard of postings. Whenever I see a contribution by Brad on one of the questions I answered, I get the thrill of anticipation of learning something now, mixed with the fear of realizing what I should have thought out better, explained better, taken more time for, etc. Thanks for everything, please stick around."
barryhoudini: "I'm still a relative newcomer here compared to some of you old-timers! In my experience Brad is always generous when you get something right ... and gracious in telling you when you got something wrong, and telling you how it should be done - we should probably all aspire to that. Here's to the next 10 million!"
saurabh726: "Congrats Brad for a milestone..It has been fun reading all your work and on a personal note i have learnt lot of you and a lot of which i have been using right now still and it just awsome to work with you."

However, in our experience, the more defining characteristic of a true Expert is how he treats those who respect and admire him. His response to all of the above is typically byundt-ish in its elegance and completeness, and unique in its eloquence and candor:

When reading Tom Sawyer in school, I had difficulty understanding how attending your own funeral might be worthwhile. But after hearing my praises sung in the comments above, I can see where old Tom was coming from.

When I first joined the site, I remember feeling somewhat oppressed when more senior Experts got the credit for an answer and my better comment was apparently ignored. So when the shoe was on the other foot, I started making a point of praising other people's suggestions if they were clearly better than mine, and reopening questions where I got sole credit and it should have been a split. The unexpected thing was when I started seeing other Experts adopt similar behavior.

After feeling the sting of a dismissive comment by another Expert whom I admired, I resolved to avoid calling out people in public. On those few times when I need to clean up a thread because things were said that shouldn't have been, I prefer to say that off-topic comments were pruned rather than specify who uttered them. This habit also seems to have been picked up by other Experts.

I take pride in posting code and formulas that I have tested before posting. I recall getting chewed out by Ture early on for posting code that hadn't been tested. He quite rightly noted that the Asker probably wasn't very well equipped to do the debugging -- that's why he posted the question on Experts Exchange in the first place. So whenever I find myself typing the words "I haven't tested this", I start looking for some way of testing it anyhow. This habit comes in handy when the Asker asks about one error, but the code posted in the question also contains two others. My tests force me to fix all three problems, meaning I'll post after six or nine Comments and credit the other Experts for their part of my solution.

Some of the other zones in the old days had a reputation for preaching to the sinners. Other Experts would perk their ears whenever some newbie had the temerity to challenge the gospel of standards and CSS according to CobolDinosaur -- a public thrashing was soon to follow. I never felt comfortable with that kind of attitude, and believed that few such Askers would return for a second course. You can get the same message across (say on getting rid of Select and Activate statements from recorded macros) without needing to belittle the Asker. This is another habit that other Experts seem to have adopted.

The net result is that the Excel Zone is a much nicer place to hang out than some of the other corners of the web. And when new Experts join, they pick up those same good habits even though the example they follow might be twice or three times removed. Teylyn, Tracy and Barry probably didn't need more than a week to learn site norms from Kevin, Patrick, Patrick and Saurabh and start serving as good examples for the next generation. While I enjoy hearing the praise for creating such a great place, it is really you people who are living it and set the continuing examples.

While 10 million points may seem like a lot, I'm actually still working on my first site goal of a million points in the Office Zone. I was well on my way when Word and Excel were split out as their own Zone. I thought about quitting at that moment, but decided to give the new structure a chance. I'm glad I did.

Thanks for all the kind words!

Now, some people might argue that they broke the mold after Brad was created. Respectfully, we disagree; Brad is the mold. Congratulations, sir, on a career that we hope has only just begun.

Autopsy on Web Inconclusive

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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.

A couple of weeks ago, Wired editor Chris Anderson and colleague Michael Wolff published an article (first on their website and then in the print version) that was headlined "The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet". The online version starts with a graph showing that as a percentage of total US Internet traffic, the web -- pages of domains -- has been decreasing, losing traffic to video.

The gist is that the world now revolves on apps; you can go all day, checking your email, reading the news, wasting time on Faceborg, playing a few games, and even watching a movie -- and never open a web browser. Because of that, they say, the notion of the freewheeling, no-holds-barred utopian anarchy is on its way to the same irrelevancy that has befallen FTP (as a universal way of doing business on the Internet), AOL (as a provider of shiny coffee table coasters) and the average person's coccyx (although it does provide a good target once in a while).

Okay, so maybe the headline is a bit of a marketing way to get people to pull it down from the shelf and drop a few bucks to read it on the train ride home. One can hardly blame them for that; it's been almost a century since people bought magazines just because there was very little else.

Anderson and Wolff give lots of reasons for the gradual decline of the economic viability of the World Wide Web. They blame "us" for not demanding better quality from websites (both in terms of how they work and what they provide), which has led to the development of the sleek applications that actually work, but aren't websites. They blame us for buying into monopoly control; the little guys who started nice little websites have been gobbled up by the big guys. They blame us for changing our minds; now that the Web has been around, "good enough" -- isn't; we want things to work, and work consistently. If websites fail, it's because someone else does the job better.

They also blame "them". The big guys control it all; Yuri Milner (what? you've never heard of him?) owns eight times as much of Facebook as Microsoft does. The top ten websites account for 75 per cent of US page views*. Google controls both the delivery and sales of advertising; they're the only ones getting rich off the web advertising industry. Facebook, with its 500 million members, is almost a web unto itself. And then there's Apple that, like Google, controls both the medium and the message (and gets handsomely for both).

One glaring omission from the fairly compelling picture Anderson and Wolff paint about the Web is that it's also, to a significant degree, a cross between Crematoria and a sewage treatment plant that's been suffering from neglect for a decade. If it's not some girl throwing a puppy into a river it's the 4chan vigilantes making someone's life miserable or worse, a movie director getting some free publicity to counteract losing Megan Fox. (Jus' sayin'.) There are bots and viruses and malware infecting who knows how many sites. Companies spend and lose billions of dollars annually just to protect their networks and data from their own employees.

When it gets down to it, can you really blame anyone for not using the Web?

Alexander and Wolff to say that the web won't entirely disappear, and they're right for a number of reasons. First, the Web is -- at least until someone invents an inexpensive self-contained 15-inch monitor and input device that fits in your shirt pocket and won't be mistaken for a pocket protector -- easily read and used in a browser on a monitor; tiny mobile devices aren't all that great for watching a baseball game or a big screen movie. We saw a guy watching something on an iTouch on a flight from the midwest to California a couple of weeks ago, and if he does that a lot, we'd love to be his chiropractor.

Second, while Anderson and Wolff demonstrate that you can use your handheld device to do a lot of things -- even at the same time -- not many of those things are particularly active. They're passive, unless you call responding to an email or text message (or getting a new farm animal) with a few punches of a button active. We'll even go one better: those little devices are an excuse to not have to interact with the world around you. (Yes, we know about texting and email on them and that they're phones -- but that isn't shopping at Nordstrom's or working with others on a project.

And third, the Web is still easier to use for commerce. You can see several hotels, dresses, automobiles, and almost anything else side by side. Your transactions are shown in a manner you're used to seeing -- horizonally, with everything on one line, neatly tabbed. All the information you need is right there, and you can actually get something accomplished. While a large segment of the Web doesn't have a lot of maturity, it has this e-commerce thing down pretty well.

Which begs the question: Why aren't there more websites that perform services? And why aren't they making money at it? It gets to the core of what Anderson and Wolff are saying. In order to be successful, websites need traffic; that traffic is subject to the whims of the people who write Google's algorithm -- which is a secret guarded only more closely by the people who know the recipe for Coca-Cola. So how do you get the traffic? Most people seem to depend on SE0 -- what Anderson and Wolff call "a new-economy acronym that refers to gaming Google's algorithm to land top results for hot search terms."

Google is content-centric; everything else (like views of a specific page) being equal, fresher content trumps older content -- even if the older content is original and the newer content is a copy and paste. So for a service -- like Expedia or Travelocity -- to rank high, they have to constantly be updating content; that's not all that difficult if you're dealing with airlines, hotels and so on. But it's much more difficult for some other kind of service -- say, a company that provides network monitoring services. They may be the best in the world at it, but having constantly updated content isn't what they do, and because of that, they might not show up on Google results until page six.

There's also a certain paranoia that exists among business people about using the Web to accomplish their normal business tasks. In the past couple of weeks, we have looked for pricing of conference rooms (every hotel wants you to call their sales department), new automobiles (you can find prices from dealers of used ones, most of the time, but not of the new ones on their lots), and renting an "electric mobility scooter" in a remote town. All of them want the customer to call; the customer can't take care of the transaction. Can you imagine reading the menu at a table in a restaurant, only to be told that you have to call first to find out how much the cioppino costs or to place your order?

With all the reasons for people to not be using Facebook, it has 500 million subscribers, and while there are lots of reasons, you can boil them down to three:

     1. It's simple, clean and it delivers what it promises. At its core, it keeps you in touch with people you know and people who know the same people you know -- and allows other people to give you reasons to be connected to its network. It's a lot more than just a website; even the geekiest programmer with no social skills and fewer real friends will have millions of them if he comes up with the right kind of appplication. But either way, Facebook has delivered.

     2. It gives you every reason to stay where you are. Yes, it does quite a few things that a number of people don't like -- like play fast and loose with privacy -- but it can rival Google if it can convince people it can do a better job of delivering customers to advertisers than Google can. All things considered, that's not an impossible task, because Facebook is a destination, not a doorway.

     3. The guy at the center of it has a vision. Mark Zuckerberg is as ambitious as the day is long (Wired calls him a megalomaniac in a perversely near-approving kind of way), and he isn't afraid to beg foregiveness (if he can't bluster his way out of trouble) than he is to ask permission -- as long as more people sign up every day. It is his ability to communicate his vision to a public that wants what he has to offer -- even if all that amounts to is a diversion from going to work, coming home, feeding the kids, watching a little TV, and then repeating the next day -- and to his staff that has propelled the site to the top of the charts. Don't be terribly surprised if the online rights to the Super Bowl are his in a couple of years.

If you're missing any one of those three -- doing what you say you're going to do, being a destination and not a gateway, and executing a clearly defined vision -- you're either not going to make it, or you'll have competition from a lot of other people who want to do it better. Just ask the guys who started Friendster and MySpace.

* In case you're interested, they are Google, Facebook, YouTube (owned by Google), Yahoo (not quite owned by Microsoft), Windows Live (Microsoft), Baidu (the Chinese equivalent of Google), Wikipedia, Blogger (Google), Twitter and MSN (Microsoft).

More News and Notes

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Rule Number Zero: Never tick off your customers, especially if they have alternatives.

Right. Maybe the Cubs will win the World Series, too: You can say you read it here first; just don't say that we actually believe it to be true, but allegedly, Duke Nukem Forever -- the archetype for promished software that never gets released -- was shown at a game convention over the weekend. "Gearbox hopes to release the game next year" says it all.

In requiem: Paul Conrad, on of the most influential editorial cartoonists of his time.

Let's tie two cans together with string: You have to love the subcontinent (not to mention the UN), never having been known for making things simpler. Millions of people there were looking for some kind of treatment for Crackberry withdrawl until the Indian government found a couple of targets in much better financial shape than RIM: Google and Skype. The Indian government won't have to worry too much about terrorists; they'll have to worry about millions of people using bricked mobile phones as projectiles. The Chinese have a better take on knowing who is doing what -- and we'll bet they don't get as many calls from "Not Listed" marketers as well.

If it were California, no one would have noticed: It took a week, but the Virginia department of motor vehicles' computer network is back on line.

Doing good doesn't have to be doing big: Our friend Susan sent us a note that if you're in the DC area, like animals, and have some spare time, there's a rescue shelter that could use a hand.

Couldn't have done better if they'd put it on eBay: Stockholders of storage company 3Par are getting their kids brand new pairs of shoes to go back to school in, as Hewlett-Packard and Dell spend about two weeks outbidding each other to see who would wind up owning the company. Dell started the bidding at $18 a share (and thought they had a done deal), nearly double what 3Par was selling for, but HP came back a week later with a bid of $24 a share, pushing 3Par's stock price to $26 -- a 267 per cent jump in a week. The two companys went back and forth and on August 27, HP topped out at $30. Dell came back with a bid of $32, but on Thursday, HP countered with $33 and Dell folded, although it made $72 million as a lovely parting gift.

So what actually happened? HP paid about $2.4 billion -- more than tripling the value of 3Par's owners' paper -- for a company that lost $3 million on sales of $194 million last year, and it got Mark Hurd off the front page of Silicon Valley newspapers.

Just for fun: Stephen Colbert on Google and Facebook, a map of "Points of Control" from the Web2.0 summit people (yes, they're still around), and further evidence that some people have too much time on their hands (thanks, Jason!).

Also, modus_operandi writes: "When you get driving directions from MapQuest on a mobile device, MapQuest very helpfully offers a link right under the map that lets you point out nearby business establishments en route. The type of business appears to rotate randomly; recent searches yielded "Find Nearby Pharmacies", "Find Nearby Ice Cream Parlors", and "Find Nearby Supermarkets". I was somewhat taken aback, though, by my latest such search. After a flight cancellation had me contemplating renting a car for a five hour drive home, I used my trusty BlackBerry to ask MapQuest for directions. When I did, the additional search item beneath the map: "Find Nearby Bars". It's great that MapQuest wants to be helpful, and add value to simple driving directions inquiries, but perhaps they should consider filtering out the business types that aren't exactly compatible with, um, driving..."

Since they didn't have to count my votes, I shouldn't have to serve on a jury either: Meg Whitman, the former eBay CEO running to take over as California governor from fellow Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger got out of jury duty.

Not at all related, but since it was on the same page: two days before the Labor Day weekend, a truck containing 3,000 gallons of beer crashed on the highway connecting Silicon Valley with Santa Cruz, a popular beach town. Had it been cans and not bottles (thanks, Jason!), the highway might still be closed.

Netminder has a plan to get the boss to expense it: "See... there's this runway just below our house, and the guy who owns it is our landlord, and he already stores a helicopter there... so I'd be able to come down to the office at a moment's notice... It's even a two-seater so I can bring Nata ..."

Immovable object vs. irresistible force, or, Breaking up is hard to do: It was pretty much inevitable that Steve Jobs, who wants to be your sole provider of media and the devices used to access it, and Mark Zuckerberg, who wants to assimilate you into a fantasy world of friends, likes and farm animals, would find it difficult to arrive at an agreement over iTunes and Facebook. Anyone want to suggest that money isn't the issue?

Signs of the Apocalypse: Going to a romantic vacation with a cartoon. At least it's anime, right? Also, spending money on Farmville (verifying Thomas Tusser's adage, 4chan goes nice, and giving lawyers a bad name (thanks, Ed!).

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureI have written a lot about privacy and security related issues because there are a lot of things that I don't think are anyone else's business. Because it was so easy for people to figure out who had searched for what when AOL released search data a few years ago, I'm not sure I like the idea of Google or anyone else shoving "relevant" advertising down my throat every time I search for something. For one thing, I shop enough to know what I want, and generally where I want to get it, so all it's doing is annoying me. But at least I can control it; if you don't want to see "relevant" advertising based on your Google searches, just go to the Ad Preferences Manager (linked on this page) and opt out of the whole thing. One of the things that bugs me about every new computer I have ever gotten is that Windows always seems to want me to log into a computer that nobody but me ever uses. If you're one of those people, and have just gotten in the habit of typing in a password every time, that's fine -- but if you want to turn that "feature" off, here's how you do it for Windows Vista and Windows 7:

  1. Go to Start -> Control Panel.
  2. Click on the User Accounts and Family Safety link.
  3. Next, click on the User Accounts link.
  4. Under the Make changes to your user account section, click on the Remove Your Password link for your account.
  5. On the next screen that comes up, enter in your current password.
  6. Click on the Remove Password button to confirm everything.
  7. Close out of all the open windows and restart your computer. That will allow you to test the system to make sure your password really was removed.

I can't imagine that anyone has never gotten a 419 email, and most of us, at one point or another, have even been tempted to actually reply to one, just to have some fun; my friend Sherrie did that many years ago and would up with a file an inch thick of emails, mostly asking her to send money, which she never did. But my other half got one the other day that is pretty remarkable, so we have uploaded it here. It's literate, the words are all spelled correctly -- but it's still the same old scam. Speaking of which, Panda Security has listed its top scams of the decade, and it has also uncovered a website that sells bots. Maybe someone will write some software that can track down their criminal behavior (thanks, Tolomir!)

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