Experts Exchange EE News September 2009

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September 16, 2009 (Happy Birthday, RPG!) >>

What's New at Experts Exchange
Features, a Promotion, A Genius and Mail

Add / Remove Programs Problems and Resolutions
alainbryden on one of those little Windows annoyances

Twitter TOS tagged by 'ttorneys
ericpete on Twitter joining the real world

More News and Notes
If it walks and quacks like one

Nata's Corner
Texting and driving

New Certificates
New certificate holders, through September 12

What's New at Experts Exchange

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Articles Certs, Authors of the Year up for Grabs!
Experts Exchange Articles has undergone a number of upgrades since going to a public beta in May, including major facelifts this week to both the Articles Zone Landing Page and individual Articles pages to better promote the valuable content produced by the EE community. To take this recognition a step further, Experts Exchange will unveil a new platinum-plated trophy at the upcoming Annual Expert Awards, going to the Author of the Year in 2009.

Experts Exchange is also eagerly awaiting the first Expert certification in the Articles Zone. Like Experts Exchange's Q&A zones, Experts can earn certificates in the Articles Zone and achieve various point levels after an Article is published or voted as helpful.

So share your expertise, get your name in lights, and help solve the world's tech problems one Article at a time. Even if you don't consider yourself an excellent writer, EE's expert Page Editors are here to guide you through the publishing process. WRITE AN ARTICLE TODAY

Other upgraded features include:

  • Corporate PO Option: Upgraded system for creating and using Corporate Accounts by building a Pay by Purchase Order option. The system can also be used for individual accounts.
  • Abandoned questions: Askers of questions in which the most recent comment is by an Expert will now receive an email after three days reminding them to respond. After 14 days, the asker will be blocked from asking any new questions until he responds in the abandoned one.
  • Search: The "on-the-fly" Advanced Search system. Using the EE search box (shown on every page) will now let you modify your search terms on the search results page, and you can switch between a detailed view of the results or a list.
  • Closing: A new Accept Multiple Solutions page that shows you all the comments and does the math for you.
  • Ask A Question: When you ask a question, instead of being taken to an intermediate page, you will now go directly to your question.

New Genius: FernandoSoto, who made a little history a couple of years ago when he guessed the date and time that the 2,000,000th solution would be selected, has earned his second Genius certificate, this one in C# Programming. Nice work!

Promotion: Kari Fuller (neé Hoy) has been promoted to the position of Customer Service Team Lead. Congratulations, Kari!


Kudos: GazClimbs was having issues with his Nokia E50 until alanhardisty found him a solution. GazClimbs' thanks: "Sorted, thank you so much Alan. If I could award you a million points i would. I LOVE ExEx!"

alanhardisty was also on the receiving end of some nice comments after he solved sgarson1's problem with browsing: "Alan, I wish I thought of coming to this site before I wasted my day trying to resolve this. A million thanks! If you live in Boston, I'll buy you a beer!"

Roger49 tried out Experts Exchange with a question about formatting an Excel spreadsheet, and got his solution in 29 minutes from epaclm. That prompted this comment: "Many thanks for all your help. I am definitely going to sign up as a full time member. I have spent all my time since finding the site telling all my friends and work colleagues about it."

And finally, even the Moderators heard some kind words from jeewai: "Thanks for your time. I'm liking the personal attention I get. EE rocks!"

From the Inbox: Susan Kirkland's wrote a response to some criticism of her article about Macs and PCs a few weeks ago, and that fanned the embers a little:

From GuyRGrant: "Re: "BSD was developed off UNIX ... But it wasn't even developed until 1993, long after Mac's operating system was introduced." See where is says "Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD, sometimes called Berkeley Unix) is the UNIX operating system derivative developed and distributed by the Computer Systems Research Group of the University of California, Berkeley, from 1977 to 1995." Hence, Susan's statement does not appear to be factual.

Guy also took issue with in inclusion of a link to a rant by Fox commentator Glenn Beck that described the US government's data collection practices: "Regarding the hyper link "watch by a government" you should also include a link to at least as a footnote for the counter to the alarming and half-baked Glenn Beck.

Finally, Darr247 had this comment on the "dirtiest websites" item from our last issue: "The latest newsletter included a blurb, in the More News and Notes section, about the 'dirtiest sites' list, which is compiled (somehow) and published by Symantec. I invite you to take a closer look at that 'feature' (Norton SafeWeb), and advise not putting too much faith in it. E.g. view the report for and please tell me what qualifies that site to be on their list? List - - note it's indeed on the list (lower left corner, just above Report - I see 17 categories with each one followed by a zero in the 'threats found' column. The only thing bad I see about it there is a poor review given because it appears on the dirtiest sites list... circular logic at its best."

Darr, we just report what others say -- but that doesn't necessarily mean we believe what they say.

Fun and games: From AnnieMod: Q: How many Microsoft employees does it take to change a light bulb?
A: 10.
1 to release a beta version
1 to complete the documentation
1 to test for hardware compatibility
1 to deny tech support
1 to configure the TCP/IP
1 to check for y2k compliance
1 to program the software to be compatible with the other software
1 to approve the invoice for the ladder
1 to change the bulb
(That's nine because there's always one more thing you need.)

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Tips From the Moderators

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We have frequently used this space to suggest that you take a quick glance at the Experts Exchange help page and the Question Tips before you ask your question.

We're going to list the basic tips again, but before you read them, please take the time to look over a question asked in the Oracle zone by finance_teacher. Several of the Zone Advisors came across it, and have described it as the "perfect question."

Why? First, the title tells exactly what the problem is. Second, the body of the question shows what he is trying to do that isn't working. Third, he used tags (some Experts use tags in their filters). Fourth, he included an image that shows what he has and what he wants in the way of results. Finally, he took the time to look through the Zone list and put the question in the appropriate zones for his question.

The quick tips:
1. Be specific. What isn't working the way you expect it to?
2. Don't make assumptions. If you know what's wrong, then you don't need to ask, right? But remember, the Experts can't look over your shoulder.
3. Search. There are over 2,000,000 solutions at EE; one might be the one you're looking for.
4. Check for errors. A typo might be what's causing your difficulties.
5. Use short, meaningful titles. Saying "Urgent" or "Help!" won't help; describe your problem.
6. Proofread your question. Make sure the Experts understand you.
7. Break your question up. If you have a lot of problems, ask a lot of questions.
8. Respond quickly. If the Experts take the time to help you, do them the courtesy of replying.
9. There are no stupid questions. Except, perhaps, the one you don't ask...
10. Be honest. Explain the circumstances of your question.

If you follow these tips -- which were developed by the people who volunteer their time and expertise to help you get a solution -- then you will find Experts Exchange to be consistently one of the best resources for technical assistance anywhere.

Add / Remove Programs Problems and Resolutions

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alainbryden is is one of the "rising stars" at Experts Exchange, with seven articles under his belt. This article, entitled "Add / Remove Programs Problems and Resolutions", was picked 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.

The purpose of this article is to suggest some tips for common messed up installations and uninstallations, and related registry entries.

If you have a windows machine with reported duplicate programs, phantom (missing) programs, or programs that refuse to uninstall, these are the instructions for you.

1 I thought I deleted this program?

Every now and then, the user might try to repair a program installation by installing it again, or might uninstall it by deleting related files, instead of going through the Add/Remove Programs dialogue (or Programs and Features in Vista). Sometimes, programs simply aren't well enough programmed that they can update themselves without leaving behind traces of old installs. (Personally I hate the way Java leaves on all old versions when you get the latest version. This should at least be an option, with the default set to not keep old versions - something that only Java developers would have to worry about.)

Read the full article.

Other articles of note:

By DanRollins: Use CHtmlEditCtrl to Create a Simple HTML Editor
   I needed a lightweight HTML editor to generate "rich text" emails, so I decided to explore the features and capabilities of the MFC CHtmlEditCtrl control.

By mrjoltcola: Oracle Backup and Recovery: Best Practice #1: RMAN Autobackup
   For all RMAN beginners, the very first thing you should know how to enable, and why, is the AUTOBACKUP option.

By unassassinable: How to reset the Root password in Linux with GRUB and Single User Mode
   So you forgot your Linux Root account password eh? It's really easy to reset said password in just such a case.

By shauncroucher: Import mailboxes from PST into Exchange 2007 using Powershell
   In Exchange 2007, exmerge is not a supported method for Importing from PST files. The functionality has been naturally replaced with the Import-Mailbox cmdlet.

By tigermatt: Replace a Windows Server 2003 Domain Controller
   ...if your organization has spent time deploying Microsoft's Active Directory server, you will know that replacing a Domain Controller and migrating everything Active Directory based over is not the easiest procedure you've ever performed.

Twitter TOS tagged by 'ttorneys

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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.

Okay... I'll cop to it. I have a Twitter account. I don't use it -- but it's there. But that didn't stop me from being on Twitter CEO Biz Stone's mailing list. He sent me a nice little note the other day telling me that Twitter has updated its terms of service. I feel so special; "As Twitter has evolved," Stone wrote, "we've gained a better understanding of how folks use the service. As a result, we've updated the Terms and we're notifying account holders." Nice of them; if you look through them, you know that the attorneys finally had their say.

It's not just the language. Gone forever are the simple, clean, short declarative sentences. It's now been replaced by, among other things, the ubiquitous paragraph in ALL UPPER-CASE that says "don't even think of blaming us for anything". You'd think they could at least remove the hyphen from "puni- tive", but that's just me being picky.

So what's the big deal? Well, a couple of things. First, "The Services may include advertisements..." Great. Pardon me if I'm cynical, but a couple of years ago, Facebook -- which got a ton of money from Microsoft -- tried to buy Twitter, but Biz and his partner weren't selling. Now, we all know that if there's money to be made in online advertising, Messrs. Brin and Page are going to be getting their hands wet. We also know that if there's one company out there that knows how to quickly look at a page and send the appropriate advertising to it, it's the folks at Google. They're also the only people who, to all appearances, seem to be able to make a decent profit by doing so.

Twitter does give a hint: "We're leaving the door open for exploration in this area but we don't have anything to announce." Of course not -- at least until someone hacks the computers again and sends all your email to TechCrunch.

We don't begrudge them that at all; we just think it's funny that Twitter has been so coy about how it plans to turn all that buzz into some ROI for the people who have poured about $45 million into a company that has had no apparent plan for making money. Now, the smart bet is that those investors are going to be getting their hands on some cash from a company that has a ton of it. My new best friend Biz will probably be set for life as well. Good for him.

The second big deal is something that shouldn't really be a surprise: "By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed)."

That's pretty much standard -- except that until last week, it wasn't part of Twitter's terms of service. But it's not really the content itself that Twitter really cares about; that's just the horse pulling the cart. What's important is the people who post that content. See, bytes on a screen don't buy anything -- but if you can amass the data that people post and use some nifty algorithms to analyze that data, you can then deliver that advertising. If that advertising is targeted to the specific user, then it has a higher value.

All in the name of what someone will eventually describe as a "richer online experience." We know whose experience is getting richer.

Of course, the alternative for Twitter -- charging for the service it is providing -- isn't something that would go over very well with most of the people who use it. "The Internet should be free" would be the hue and cry -- which is all well and good, except that it's NEVER been free. Someone is paying for the advertising, and prices are higher because of it. Someone is paying for the servers and bandwidth and programming; so far, that's been the people who have spent $45 million in venture capital, and they didn't amass that money by giving it away -- they expect to get it back, with a little vigorish.

(An off-topic note: there's a company out there that will sell you Facebook friends; Facebook, which launched its own TwitterImitator last week, is not amused, but we are.)

Don't think they can do that? Read the paragraph just before the one on advertising. Good for them; they know you can go broke by giving something away and trying to make it up on the volume. We have no special insight into the cost-benefit analyses at Yahoo, but we wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that Yahoo mail and instant messaging are the two departments where the percentage differential between expense and income is the highest.

Too bad for Yahoo that Jerry Yang isn't Carol Bartz.

More News and Notes

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If it walks like hypocrisy and quacks like hypocrisy: Faithful readers are aware that our respect and admiration for the money-grubbing slugs from the movie and recording industries has no bounds, as their tactics include suing 12-year-olds and grandmothers and gleefully cackling over judgments for $80,000 per downloaded song claiming they're protecting those poor starving artists whose copyrights have been infringed.

So we can only sit stunned in wonder at the logic that allows that same federal court system to throw out an award against Microsoft of about $3.50 per instance in a case of patent infringement. For the record, Microsoft's two cents is that each infringement was worth... about two cents.

They don't call it the No Fun League for nothin': The National Football League, which causes an uptick in the traffic of sites like CBS Sports, ESPN and Yahoo from about August through early February, has told players that they can't use Twitter during games.

Happy Birthday, Internet! In celebration, we offer you the Telegraph's 50 things that are being killed by the Internet. Congratulations, too, to the new owners of, not because there's anything particularly special about the company, but because it has the oldest registered domain name on the books.

If you have to ask, you probably already know: Now you can check the reputation of the sites you visit.

The Cow Palace, August 19, 1964: You had to be there. If you weren't, now you can hear it digitally remastered. Unfortunately, it wasn't the "one more thing..." people were waiting for. The release of the Beatles' music -- which coincides reasonably closely with the arrival of the group's contribution to the Rock Band franchise is bound to make a couple of generations pay attention to a group that split up forty years ago and is still making news.

Maybe they should have tried listing it on CraigsList: eBay finally realized that it had a white elephant on its hands and cut a deal to sell Skype to private investors. And because Chris has been having so much fun with his IM avatar, Disney is buying Marvel. Somehow, we just can't imagine Annette Funicello taking the place of Rebecca Romijn.

New features (maybe): Jason's Website of the Week and Headline of the Week.

"Hey, put a hold on that order from Google for Acrobat..." Google's plan to digitize books with an eye toward creating a huge online bookstore/library hit a bit of a snag last week when the head of the US copyright office told Congress that she didn't like the settlement Google had worked out with authors and publishers, even when the deal was sweetened with offers to include companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble in the deal; Amazon wasn't impressed. Neither were European publishers.

Not to be outdone, Microsoft and Yahoo ran into issues with the Department of Justice over their search and advertising deal, and Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems attracted the attention of the European Union.

Memo to Microsoft party organizers: No more caffeinated beverages for Mr. Ballmer before company parties.

Too many bad puns to choose from: A South African IT company found that it could deliver a 4gb file faster by carrier pigeon than it could using the ASDL service provided by the nation's largest Internet provider, which promptly denied responsibility for slow throughput speeds. Go ahead; we dare ya, but keep 'em clean. We'll see if we can find something -- maybe an autographed picture of the Marketing Director -- for the best joke. (Thanks, Matt AND Brad!)

How to keep someone busy when the company is worth a gazillion dollars, has an exceedingly clean and simple user interface for its website, and there aren't any real holidays to celebrate: Make something up or play a game.

Sign of the Apocalypse: You'll never guess whose ads show up on those sites the sales manager is always looking at after hours.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureAh, to have had texting when my kids were young. Or GPS systems.

I have had to spend quite a bit of time in cars over the past few years, making an hour long trip to the second-biggest city around here about every two weeks, and during that time, I've seen a lot of people who are either talking on their cell phones or glancing down at a screen and trying to send a text message while driving in city traffic. Dangerous, against the law (at least in California), and downright stupid. Finally, one of the big auto companies has changed its mind and agrees with me, and it's about time.

I came across this list of ten ways to protect your privacy, and one of the things that jumped out at me was how some companies have no qualms about sharing your personal information or using it to try to sell you something else. So I was a little surprised when one of the tech newsletters I get had the advice to not register software unless it is required in order to use it.

The author's thinking is this: It usually is more trouble than it's worth. For one thing, most software companies provide you with support (there's always Experts Exchange, right?) and updates. If you check the terms of service, a lot of them will "share" the information with "selected partners" -- which means they're selling your name and contact information to somebody else. There are always exceptions, of course; not everyone has this little blurb, but most reputable companies will let you put of registering until you need their help anyway. It's just a thought, though. But let's face it -- everyone knows that your privacy is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Just be glad you're not in China.

Finally, the latest major threat to us isn't our old friend Albert Gonzalez -- not the former attorney general, but one of the guys who hacked into the TJMaxx chain and stole credit card numbers, and who entered a guilty plea in Boston last week. It's a slowly proliferating trojan called Clampi that is pretty potent. It's not a virus, in that it doesn't spread on its own, but instead, it installs a Microsoft utility called PsExec and uses that to find new computers on a network. The bad guys they use the computers to find bank account numbers and transfer money out of accounts into accounts of their own. What makes it really a nasty infection is that it uses 448-bit encryption, so the malware threat folks are having a hard time with it.

Maybe it's time I started learning Linux.

New Certificates

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