September 13, 2006
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The 10,000,000 Point Man

Sembee, in addition to being the Page Editor for Exchange Server, is a two-time Microsoft MVP. His first points at Experts Exchange came on April 19, 2004, and his first points in the Exchange Server topic area came about a month later; he was ranked 70th overall that month. By the end of the year, he had 1.7 million points -- good enough for eighth overall and the Rookie of the Year award. He was the site's Expert of the Year in 2004 with just over 3.8 million points.

How did you first find Experts Exchange?
I can't really remember -- probably a Google search. I don't even remember signing up, but I do recall trying to sign up again and the system throwing me out because my username was already taken. I then thought about whether I done that myself.
What made you start answering questions?
I knew the answers -- it's as simple as that. You then get drawn in. For me it was people posting wrong answers, I knew they were wrong and had to post the correct answer. That is probably from my technical support background.
What do you get out of answering questions (besides 10,000,000 points)?
I am exposed to a lot of problems that I just don't see in my day job. Even though I am an independent consultant, I would never see the wide range of issues I do on EE.
Then there is the problem solving. A lot of the articles on my web site are based on answers that I have given at EE. I take the answer, clean it up, add in some additional formatting, links and background information and then post it up. If I have had to research something particularly complex (usually a "how-to" type question rather than a problem) then it makes sense to share it with people, plus I can refine it. I will often post an answer which is based on initial research and then have a more rounded complete version on my web site. The blog is starting to get fed with enhanced versions of EE postings.
Tell us a little about yourself -- the who, what, where stuff.
I live alone in a small town about 20 miles from London in South East England. I currently have a vacancy for the position of girlfriend (excellent prospects -- promotion to fiancée and then wife for the right person. CVs with photo to the address in my profile). I have a younger sister. Age... just about the right side of 30 (but not for long [sniff]).
What do you do when you're not doing Experts Exchange?
Outside of EE? There is an outside world? Wow, I thought that was just things on the TV. I enjoy photography, which I have done since I was ten. I can develop 35mm films if required, although don't bother now I am digital. Music, cinema (both home and the big screen), usual stuff. I read a lot. Not just online, but books and magazines. I have quite an extensive collection of reading material and friends who know me find it odd that I can sit in a corner and read a book for three to four hours without going near a computer. Otherwise nothing unusual -- other than spending more time than is healthy on a certain web site.
What got you started in the IT business?
I think IT was in my genes. My late grandfather was an engineer, and even after he retired kept an interest in technical things. He had a PSION Organiser 2 (big thing with a key for every letter) which I loved to play with and inherited. We had a computer at home from quite an early age -- although it was a Commodore 64. However I learned quickly that I didn't have the patience for programming (still don't). First PC when I was 13, running Windows 3.1.
I didn't go to university as I was unable to pursue my chosen career. I sort of drifted in to computers as a career and ended up doing telephone support for modems. 14.4, quickly followed by 28.8, 33.6 and then the high speed of K56 Flex. The company also sold ISDN equipment. I had my own ISDN line and compared to modems it was a different world. Connected in seconds and pages seem to come down fast -- even though it was only 64k. It was a real perk to have -- an ISDN line in the UK cost £400 to install (US$800) with a large per month charge -- AND we had to pay per minute to access the Internet. No free local calls like the lucky US had.
I did two years on telephone support, then wanted to concentrate on network administration. I was fed up with dealing with strangers all the time, preferred to setup and run the network. After a short contracting stint, I ended up running the European network for a Californian software company called Forté Software. They were eventually swallowed by Sun Micro.
I bounced through various companies maintaining networks before I eventually got my hands on an Exchange 5.5 server. Quickly progressed to Exchange 2000 and then to 2003. The company I was working for at the time wanted 2003 as soon as it came out, so I got my hands dirty with that version very quickly. The rest as they say is history.
What got you interested in Exchange?
I don't know what drew me to Exchange. It is very powerful product and one that I seemed to get on with very well very quickly. I wasn't allowed near Exchange servers in a couple of my jobs; it only really took off for me in 2002. I guess it came from my Windows background -- I had always worked with Windows servers and it was the natural email server for many on a Windows network, particularly once active directory was released.
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This newfangled Internet thing

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.

CBS News posted an interesting story about the FBI's data warehousing system, discussing how much things have improved recently, mostly due to the impetus provided by the events of five years ago.

But given the federal government's recent problems (a hacker at the FBI, two lost laptops belonging to the Veterans Administration, and a website belonging to the Department of Education that revealed private financial information), there were a few parts of the story that bothered us.

First was the item that most of the FBI's agents now have access to the Internet. We're not complaining that they have such access; we just can't imagine what took them so long. Seriously. Almost every high school student in America has Internet access... but the FBI doesn't?

Second was that the government has deployed tens of thousands of Blackberry devices. It's also nice that they all have computers that will work together. But we also saw this week a story about Trust Digital, a company that can retrieve the data from cell phones that has supposedly been erased, and that made us wonder what the government did with all those computers it just replaced -- and what it will do with all those Blackberrys once there is new technology to replace them. Given that the little machines can apparently be addicting, it seems like the government had better start doing some rehabilitation and disposal planning now.

Third, and we're mostly just chuckling about this one, is the notion that the system for searching this 650 million record database is referred to as "uber-Google" by some of its users. That's really not many records, by Google's standards, and while we're certain that 30 minute searches are a vast improvement over the hours and days it took in the past, it's also glacial compared to what the rest of us experience -- even if we are using one of those slowpoke other guys like MSN or Yahoo or

So it begs the question: Why not just hire Google -- or Yahoo, or Microsoft, or -- to just build a search engine? It's 18 databases for 18 divisions; that's nothing compared to the different databases the search companies deal with every minute of every day. And given government salaries, think of the advertising possibilities. Heck, the government might even make a few bucks if they work the contract right, and then our taxes might go down.

Speaking of government contracts, Lockheed Martin has been awarded the contract to build the next space exploration craft. The news came two days after Michael De Kort, a former engineer for the company, posted a video on YouTube that says that Lockheed Martin delivered shoddy equipment, jeopardizing national security.

All things considered, nothing in the juxtaposition of that really surprises us. For whatever reason, the glamor has gone out of space exploration, and when no one is paying attention, no one pays attention, so it should be hardly surprising that NASA has gone through a few bumps over the last decade or so, and it should by hardly surprising that they would select a contractor whose work for a totally unrelated agency has been called into question. That being the case, we were actually rather pleased to watch the launch of Atlantis over the weekend, although we'll admit to being a little surprised at the exchange between the shuttle and ground control over how to reset a readout. It wasn't quite "click CTRL-ALT-DEL", but it was close.

WindowsLive and Google

A week or so ago, the line in the sand between Microsoft and Google became a little more distinct as the the latter announced the beta version of its online applications to go up against Windows OfficeLive. Both now have a calendar, email, an instant messenger, a document creator, and a spreadsheet, so we asked a number of Experts to take a look and give us a little feedback.

redseatechnologies: I would use neither, with Exchange and Sharepoint, there is no need to put your company's data in someone elses hands. Oddly enough, I think I would trust Microsoft more than Google (even though I like the Google folk more (figure that out!))

jimpen: The backbone of our network is Novell Netware with Windows XP clients and some Windows 2000 and 2003 servers. Novell started building the Virtual Office services in Novell 5.1 and has gotten even better in Netware 6 and 6.5.
I have as yet to hear of anyone really using Virtual Office extensively, and they both seem to be the same thing. As far as I'm concerned all either of them would do for you that you can't do for yourself is give a Powered by [CompanyName] Logo on your homepage.

mlmcc: Don't use either.

periwinkle: It occurs to me, that much like the MSN search engine is well behind in the search engine race, that the 'OfficeLive' product is a day behind and a dollar short in competing with Google.
I've found Google's gmail to well worth the use, and use it for those things which must be formatted in HTML (such as the newsletter ;) ). I have a Google Talk account, but realistically, I use it mostly to see if I have Google Mail. I'd prefer if Google talk could be integrated into Trillian. Google Calendar looks very promising. I'm not interested in page creation software; I hand code -- part of being an Expert, I suppose.
Not mentioned on the page is the powerful Google Analytics engine, which is based on the former 'Urchin' product.
Google has continued to impress me with their innovations.

WernerVonBraun: Grand if you just want to establish a basic web presence; it takes the hassle of having to understand what you're doing away. If you want anything more than that, I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole.

The--Captain: Google, sigh... Althhough they didn't immediately start hassling me to use Internet Exploder (see below), they have a very poor track record when it comes to keeping their hands off their user's data, particularly for a company whose motto (at least at one time) was something like "Don't be evil". Blackened pots and kettles clog my visual cortex when I hear things like that.
Apparently you can't even try this thing [OfficeLive] out without using Internet Explorer, which is fast becoming the computer equivalent of pouring sugar in your own gas tank -- guaranteed to ruin your computer at some point or other.
So, for the record, I would use neither. Google's certainly going to paw through your stuff, and Microsoft requires you to use software that is simply broken (and I'm sure they too would paw through your stuff, if you have the cajones to run IE long enough to actually try out the thing).
What I'm looking for is something that gives you similar functionality, does not rely on any specific browser (arrrrgh -- I hate Microsoft always insisting that people use what they [MS] have to know is a piece of garbage), and has an ironclad security policy with a nice SLA - something along the lines of "We will pay you $1 for every byte of data lost/leaked/stolen/mined/or otherwise used for any purpose not explicitly authorized by the user" (with maybe requiring a loss of 50 bytes or more to be considered actionable). Of course, man-in-the-middle data leaks (like the NSA illegally watching your traffic) would not be covered by such agreements.
I'm thinking these services, as they currently exist, have a long way to go in order to compete with the likes of OpenOffice, etc. (OpenOffice is less than a 30Mb download, and does everything I need from an office software suite -- I don't need internet access to use the applications, and I can be assured that my data is secure, particularly if I don't connect my OpenOffice machine to any networks).

griessh: OfficeLive looks compelling, but once you are over the polished user interface you are not getting too much for $30/month. However it might be interesting to check out the 'collaboration' capabilities.
Google's tools are not enough for a business, but for schools, clubs etc. certainly very helpful. In addition to that it's all free for now.
Would I sign up? Noooo, I have my own domain with chat and other apps, plenty of email accounts, a database and statistics and all that for a decent price. With SOME work on the user side you can do better. If you don't have the skills, use OfficeLive ...

stone5150: I checked out both. I haven't implemented either yet though.
The Google Apps for Your Domain seemed very straight forward as to what you got and how to install it. I have signed up for it and plan on implementing at least a few of the features in the near future.
The OfficeLive site was a lot more polished and pretty but gave little information as to what it actually did and what sort of services it provided. That is, without signing up for it, which required a credit card. Not that I am opposed to paying for something cool; I am just not going to give out that sort of information for a beta of something I am unclear exactly what it does. It brings back bad memories of trying to cancel an old Earthlink account back in the 90s.

RQuadling: I've been using GMail for a while now. I've finally managed to get all my non-work email out of my work's account and into a private one. Spam filtering is excellent for me. I have very few errors.
There are probably only two things I would like:

1 - Hierarchical Folders.
2 - Filtering by sender's domain rather than email address.

And I have one complaint. With GMail open in FireFox, the whole GMail interface gets slower and slower over time (a few hours), and I'm not sure why. I close and re-open and it is all fine. Change tabs and then come back to GMail and you get a significant delay.
I don't use any of the other GoogleApps and I don't use OfficeLive.

Free tools come with a big cost

stone5150 is the Page Editor for most of the Wireless topic areas. He is the network administrator for a non-profit organization.

There are a multitude of free things available on the Internet, ranging from toolbars to full fledged and quite useful applications. Some of these applications are just fine and are given away free of charge for many altruistic and promotional reasons. You usually have to look kind of hard to get the best freebies. I am referring instead to the ones that jump out at you regularly in the form of pop-ups, spam advertisement and banners ads. These 'freebies' come at a hidden cost that is not realized right away, sometimes not until it is too late.

Some of these applications offer to 'help' you out by giving you access to weather alerts, stock tips and other seemingly useful information. They often help themselves instead to your personal data and habits. There are valid and safe applications that will provide these services, many of them free as well. The best way to check is to go to an Internet search site, such as Google, and type in the name of the application you are thinking about getting and the word spyware, for example "weatherbug spyware".

One of the more prevalent type of 'helpers' are toolbars. I don't mean toolbars that are a critical part of most programs; I am referring to the multitude of 'free' toolbars that are offered by many sites and pop-ups. There are a lot of toolbars out there claiming to help you search for all you favorite things. Some even claim to help protect you from bad things on the Internet.

Even the seemingly innocuous toolbars offered by some of the bigger websites (e.g., MSN, Yahoo, and Google) will interfere with functions that do not originate from the issuer's site. As for claiming to block pop-ups, if you are using a recent and updated version of one of the popular Internet browsers this function is redundant. The other 99.9 per cent of toolbars generally deliver something not advertised. Usually that something is spyware and/or viruses.

While some spyware is fairly harmless, some are quite dangerous to your data safety. They can range from recording what sites you visit to recording your every keystroke, including passwords, and opening up your computer to malicious attacks by viruses or hackers.

The most common indication that you may be infected with spyware is an increase in the number of pop-up ads that come up when connected to the Internet and a general slowdown of your computer.

Some common spyware-laden applications to watch out for are WeatherBug, CoolWebSearch, Gator, Bonzai Buddy, KaZaa and other Peer2Peer applications, and most toolbar applications. Be aware that some applications that purport to rid your computer of spyware are in fact spyware themselves.

The two best antispyware applications out there are AdAware and Spybot Search & Destroy. I prefer the latter myself, mainly because there are spoofed copies of AdAware out there that are actually malicious applications.

A good place to download these is, a long time reputable site run by C|Net. Still, be on the lookout anywhere you download programs, because even a reputable site can have stuff from less than honorable sources.

Page Two: More News and Notes
Nata's Corner: Letters from correspondents

woman in specticalsLast issue, I had a couple of items that prompted some of you to write; I really do appreciate the feedback.

One of the items I had written was about keeping your laptop clean. ourcats5 wrote: "Hi Nata, first I just want to say I really enjoy your column. I just wanted to make one comment about your last article; all the advice about kiddies and their new laptops was good, save one: Having a can of air can be a dangerous thing with the growing trend of "huffing". I just thought it might be a good idea to bring this to your attention, since you have a forum, maybe you could reach more people about this danger. Anyway, thanks for listening."
He also included a link to a site that has a long article on what some kids will do. It's a good idea to make sure your child knows what this stuff can do.

Another email came a few weeks ago from Polarbear1 about an item I had about tracking down spammers. "It is often difficult to identify the true sender in an e-mail. It is not always the last server in the list. This is a useful program that I use and thought you might enjoy." He is right -- looking at the last sender doesn't always work, especially since there are more and more zombie computers out there, but it will definitely help you make sure that it isn't your cousin Susie who is sending you all that spam.

It's not new by any means, but the email warning people about a jury duty scam is making the rounds again. The warning is legitimate; scammers will call you telling you that there is a warrant out for your arrest because you didn't show up, and will want your Social Security number or even a credit card number to "verify" that you weren't called.

The Netsky virus just completed its second year atop the lists of the most prevalent viruses. The good news is that only one out of every 278 emails has a virus (gee, that means I only had three today), which is down from one in 50 a year ago. Speaking of problems, CA's antivirus software has been deleting a Windows 2003 file -- the llass.exe file that is the lynchpin of Windows security. Please, no comments from the peanut gallery.

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 August 28 through September 11.
Expert Certified in Topic Area
Arthur_Wood Raynard7 Mr_Peerapol infolurk fostejo Raynard7 MNelson831 sammy1971 rhencullen kevp75 DireOrbAnt NovoNordisk ECNSSMT ngravatt matrixnz WillHudson netsmithcentral whatsit2002 redseatechnologies Amitspeedstar Sancler ZeonFlash Justin_W jrscherer Genius Guru Master Master Master Master Master Sage Master Wizard Guru Master Master Master Master Master Master Master Wizard Master Genius Guru Guru Guru MS Access MS Access MS Access MS Access Visual Basic Visual Basic Microsoft SQL ASP.NET ASP.NET ASP ASP ASP Networking Networking Windows XP Windows XP JavaScript C# Exchange_Server Exchange_Server VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET VB.NET
Expert Certified in Topic Area
suprapto45 Venabili mass2612 elbereth21 TeRReF Raynard7 maUru yotamsher PraxisWeb rbrooker tony_813 nafis_devlpr mahesh1402 Plucka gdemaria Jay_Jay70 keith_alabaster TechSoEasy oBdA pjedmond younghv callrs matthewspatrick Iammontoya Guru Master Master Master Sage Master Master Master Wizard Master Guru Master Master Wizard Master Sage Wizard Master Wizard Guru Master Master Master Wizard Java Java Win. Server 2003 Win. Server 2003 PHP PHP PHP Programming Web Development Oracle Excel C++ C++ ColdFusion ColdFusion Microsoft Network Microsoft Network Microsoft Network Operating Systems Operating Systems Operating Systems Operating Systems Outlook Flash
Expert Certified in Topic Area
trigger-happy ivan_os muxxter adrian_brooks SheharyaarSaahil Disorganise bdreed35 callrs GoofyDawg VirusMinus MASQUERAID donjohnston Scotty_cisco PCBONEZ StoneG Slynky grant300 andrei_teodorescu ahoffmann gsgi lakshman_ce bluelizard garycutri Guru Guru Master Master Wizard Master Genius Master Guru Master Guru Sage Guru Guru Master Master Master Master Guru Master Master Master Master Flash Flash Flash PHP and Databases Applications Storage Crystal Reports HTML CSS CSS Miscellaneous Routers Routers Laptops/Notebooks Lounge Graphics Sybase Sharepoint Web Servers Citrix Software Design Palm Pilot Blackberry
2305 experts have 3884 certifications: Genius: 108 Sage: 178 Wizard: 252 Guru: 697 Master: 2649
Copyright ? 2006. All rights reserved.