Experts Exchange EE News Oct 2008

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October 1, 2008 >>

What's New at Experts Exchange
Zone Advisor, Help Page, and Geniuses

Getting A Better Answer
aikimark on getting explanations from Experts

Expense your access to Experts Exchange
A win-win for you and your company

Bits And Pieces
ericpete on a few things of interest

More News and Notes
First thing we do, let's disbar all the lawyers

Nata's Corner
A new phony antivirus program

New Certificates
New certificate holders, through September 28

Tips From The Moderators
Interpersonal communications skills

What's New at Experts Exchange

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New and Fixed Features: The Help page has been completely updated, and now includes the list of Moderators and Zone Advisors. Experts Exchange has made a change to the Ask A Related Question feature. The system formerly included the text and title of the original question; now, both the title and text fields are blank. Finally, in response to user requests, we have changed the subject of the email notifications to tell when the Author of a question has posted.

Customizable EEples: You may notice some new faces around the site. Same names, but definitely new faces. With the October 1st release, you now have the ability to customize your EEple for all to see. Male or Female, you can choose the color and style of your hair, facial hair and clothing as well as select various skin colors. Go to your profile and customize your EEple today!

New Zone Advisor: aikimark, who started out in the 1970s as a COBOL programmer, went through the IBM/DB2 kick of the 80s to become a developer and designer in the 90s, and is now learning Delphi, has joined the list of Zone Advisors. Welcome aboard!

New Geniuses: KCTS became the sixth member of Experts Exchange to earn at least four Genius certificates, his latest coming in Microsoft Server. kieran_b earned his Genius certificate in Exchange; what makes his accomplishment noteworthy is that he gave up a previous account in which he had also earned a Genius certificate in Exchange, making him the only member of EE to earn two Genius certificates in the same zone. Finally, recently named Microsoft MVP VBRocks became the eighth Genius in the VB.NET zone.


  • angelIII went over the 2,000,000 point level in MySQL Server, making him the third EE member to go over 2,000,000 points in three different zones. At deadline time, he was also just about 250,000 points short of becoming the first EE member to reach 25,000,000 points overall.
  • zorvek has earned 10,000,000 points overall; he is the eighth member of the site to reach that level.

Kudos:: Two years ago, LSB-IT got the solution to a VMWare problem from rvthost -- not that unusual. But the comment posted last week by mario_andres was: "Thanks -- it is nice to find a quick answer to question here at Expert Exchange. This was really helpful. Thank you all!"

A frozen desktop problem asked back in May by Ryan_R, who finally closed it two months later with assists from garycase and SplinterCell5894, prompted vallis (who also participated in the question) to write to the office: "garycase deserves a mention in dispatches for his sterling efforts on this thread, and Ryan_R deserves a medal for perseverance with his infuriating problem." We'll warn you -- it's a very long thread, but if you're into hardware discussions, it's worth it, and even though the question is closed, the discussion is continuing.

byundt sent us a note about recovering a lost Excel file asked by yodercm, for some unknown reason one of our favorite members. yodercm's comment to byundt ("This post is one of the best examples I've ever seen of how EE should work. Even though I don't get my file back, I wish I could give you a few zillion points for such an excellent reply.") was matched by his response ("You are remarkably chipper considering that you are retyping as we speak. I've given similar sermons a number of times in the past, and the usual reception is nowhere near as sanguine... The kind words and appreciative attitude from an accomplished EE expert such as yourself mean a lot. Thanks!") -- but the real gem is yodercm's reply to it: "Well, I'll tell you ... you can't see my glum face, but there is also a philosophy of life maxim that I adopted many years ago, when I saw it in a Snoopy cartoon. Snoopy is lying on the top of his doghouse in the pouring rain, totally bedraggled. His thought bubble says, "The best thing to do when it's raining is to let it rain." That thought has pulled me through a lot worse things than a lost file. Thanks again!" That's some of the best advice we've seen in years -- thanks, yodercm!

Cleanup Volunteers: Below is a table of the CVs who have helped us close questions recently, with their cumulative total of questions closed along with their production through September 27.

Expert Last 4 Weeks Cumulative
Expert Last 4 Weeks Cumulative

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Expense your access to Experts Exchange

If you've tapped into the collective knowledge of Experts Exchange to help you through a tough project at work, then your company has already benefited from your premium service membership. Consider quantifying the time and money that your membership saves your company each month then ask your manager's permission to expense your membership.

Take it a step further and become the catalyst for saving time and money throughout your company. Expense a Corporate Account that enables all of your coworkers to access to Experts Exchange. Like you, they can use their access to the world's most helpful Experts to aid them through difficult tasks more efficiently. Experts Exchange Corporate Accounts are discounted annual licenses intended for multiple users within an organization. Our corporate clientele includes highly regarded companies including Walt Disney, Goodrich, American Express and IBM.

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Tips From the Moderators

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We write a lot about "interpersonal communications skills" and how the effective use of them goes a long way toward avoiding altercations -- which makes our job a lot easier.

So we've come up with a few little suggestions that we think will make your experience at Experts Exchange a lot more rewarding.

1. Listen to what the other person is saying. Okay, so this means "read" rather than actually listen, but the point is the same. If you make sure you understand what the issue is -- even if it takes repeating it back to someone -- then you're a lot less likely to find yourself in a bad situation.

2. Take a deep breath before you post. Askers usually have a problem they haven't been able to figure out on their own, so it's a good bet that they're frustrated already. They don't always realize that the Experts are volunteers, and for some reason, they occasionally even expect everyone to have some of routinet's fairy dust handy. So give an Asker a bit of a break.

At the same time, if you're an Asker, remember that the Experts do want to help you; they wouldn't be at Experts Exchange if they didn't. Telling one of them off won't advance your cause; the Experts read what you post to someone else, and they are smart enough to see that if you go after someone else, you'll come after them as well.

So before you click the submit button, take the time to think about how you would react if someone posted that to you.

3. Everyone was a newbie once. We haven't met the person who hasn't made at least one mistake sometime. Experts Exchange is making lots of changes to systems, and it isn't reasonable to expect someone who has never used EE to know all the little ins-and-outs; there's a lot going on. Try giving people the benefit of the doubt; it's free, and if there's an honest mistake, we can probably fix it.

Expense your access to Experts Exchange

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If you've tapped into the collective knowledge of Experts Exchange to help you through a tough project at work, then your company has already benefited from your premium service membership. Consider quantifying the time and money that your membership saves your company each month then ask your manager's permission to expense your membership.

Take it a step further and become the catalyst for saving time and money throughout your company. Expense a Corporate Account that enables all of your coworkers to access to Experts Exchange. Like you, they can use their access to the world's most helpful Experts to aid them through difficult tasks more efficiently. Experts Exchange Corporate Accounts are discounted annual licenses intended for multiple users within an organization. Our corporate clientele includes highly regarded companies including Walt Disney, Goodrich, American Express and IBM.

»Expense your Corporate Account
»Learn More

21 new corporate clients:

Dassault Systemes K.K.
Texas Workforce Commission
Midway Amusement Games, LLC.
GEA Process Engineering
Frisco Independent School District
Mohave Community College
Medical Rehabilitation Centers
Alachua County Library District
Thompsons Solicitors
EMC Insurance Companies

Texas Panhandle MHMR
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Cape Cod Regional Technical High School
Washington Closure Hanford, LLC.
OVISO Manufacturing
Metropolitan Transit Authority
Roland DGA Corp

Corporate accounts

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»Learn More

Getting A Better Answer

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aikimark is Experts Exchange's newest Zone Advisor, joining the team after several weeks' persistent browbeating and bribing by Netminder.

While trying to solve an Rich Text Format parsing problem in the Delphi TA, I had a disagreement with the accepted answer. Since I'm not a very senior Delphi developer, I started my disagreement with a question of how the solution could work properly. After many posts, the solution-providing expert reminded me that this was a closed question. Realizing my rudeness, I apologized and opened a new question. Even though I've achieved 'master' level points in the Delphi TA, I'm still more of a hobbyist than professional Delphi developer. This would be a learning opportunity for me. Moreover, I could continue my disagreement with the other Delphi expert with some of my seldom-used points.

I had two concerns with the accepted answer was that its primary looping structure might not terminate as expected -- too early or too late. Ending too early would not parse the RTF properly. Ending too late ran the risk of inspecting memory locations well beyond the end of the string variable.

It was a lively discussion with several prominent Delphi experts, including the expert from the other thread. As expected, I did learn quite a lot about string class variables in Delphi. One of my concerns, running long was not a concern since the class secretly appends a null-terminating character, ASCII zero, to the end of the data. Since all the Delphi experts agreed that ending too early was a possibility, I was able to post this to the previously closed thread as a warning. None of the experts in the other thread knew how well-formed/malformed the RTF document might be.

As a bonus to the original questioner, the accepted solution expert also posted an alternative solution that was not only immune from the too early/too late terminating conditions, but might prove to be more efficient and more useful.

As a double bonus, future visitors will have a very good explanation of Delphi string and PChar variables and null characters.

Bits And Pieces

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An editor by trade, a writer by avocation and an Expert by happenstance, ericpete puts together the newsletter for Experts Exchange.

The San Jose Mercury had an article last week about how Digg has managed to convince people that there is "wisdom" in getting a big group of people to tell you what's important and what isn't -- and how Digg has also managed to convince those people to pony up another $28.7 million in venture capital to wait for all those people will click on the advertising -- served by that search and advertising powerhouse Microsoft -- Digg shows on its pages, and turn it into profitable company.

What Digg has really done is shown that there isn't a lot of wisdom among people who have large numbers in their bank accounts. The Harris and Field people will tell you that yes, you can find out what a lot of people are thinking by asking a few -- but that requires that each respondent is treated equally.

Digg doesn't work that way. Not quite a third of the site's traffic is generated by one per cent of its members, meaning that a small group of people (by comparison) controls the "wisdom of the crowd", the same way Bill Gates, who owns only about nine per cent of Microsoft, can effectively control the company. It also means that the most important question people want to ask John McCain and Barack Obama isn't necessarily "When is it appropriate to lie to the American public?" -- it's just the most important question to that small (by comparison) group of Digg users. One suspects that a good percentage of the American public already thinks it gets lied to all the time anyway.

Our good friend skirklan sent us an email just about the time a question about a suspicious letter miyuda received from a domain registration service in China (like anyone believes them anyway).

miyuda's might be legitimate, and there are certainly ways to find out. But the one skirklan received is just another variation on the good ol' Nigerian generals scam. She also received one, similar in tone and language, that has political overtones in the US, and rather than subject ourselves to the emails about "sticking to tech stuff and staying out of politics", we'll just note that it was pretty funny; after we forwarded it to a few people, we also got reports that it was so well written that our email address had to be white-listed. Priceless.

When we were young, we learned from our small-town newspaper publisher father -- who was putting together a full-page ad for the local John Birch Society chapter at the time -- that "everyone's money is green". Fortunately for him, he never had to make a decision as to whether an ad he sold was so far out there that he shouldn't accept it; his concern was whether he would get paid.

But most businesses, it seems, have a little sign on the wall that says "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone," which is reasonable, one supposes, for a five-star restaurant that doesn't want to serve dinner to a bunch of toothless drunks just back from a three-week long fishing trip. It is also reasonable that, for example, a car rental company might stop taking your business if every time you get one of their cars, it comes back with a cracked windshield and torn seats.

So we had to laugh a little at the reaction from people like Marcus Sachs, the director of the SANS Internet Storm Center, to the news that Atrivo, one of the world's more notorious hosts of scam, spam and malware sites, was cut off from the web by its last US-based ISP, Pacific Internet Exchange.

Apparently, SANS and others don't like the idea that providers get together and decide that they shouldn't do business with someone -- even if that someone is doing things that SANS is trying to prevent. It seems to us, though, that since nothing anyone has tried has stopped the flow of garbage into our inboxes -- the amount we get every day is well into four digits -- then the action by PIE and its competitors should be considered praiseworthy.

There's only one effective way to get rid of spam, and that's for ISPs and hosting services to stop allowing it to be sent and transmitted. It's all well and good for Comcast to throttle the bandwidth of those users who upload and download huge files all day -- but only a few people (and Comcast) are affected by that. Spam and malware affects everyone, and just because it uses very small chunks of bandwidth doesn't mean it has no impact.

More News and Notes

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The first thing we do, let's disbar all the lawyers: Jack Thompson, the Florida attorney who has created a cottage industry by ranting about sex and violence in video games, has been disbarred. That doesn't mean he can't continue to rant -- it just means that he can't file lawsuits against video game companies. Maybe he can get a license to practice in Kentucky.

Yeah, but will someone in Kansas actually answer when I call? For all you early adopters out there, c|net has comparison between Google/T-Mobile's G1 and Apple/AT&T's G3. No truth to the rumor that Microsoft is teaming up with Verizon to come out with the G8s.

Yes, but you don't go...: The fun-loving folks at the official Chinese news service did it again, after they also "erroneously" listed the birthdates of their womens (girls?) gymnastics team. It doesn't make that much difference, though; after all, they're apparently using some American technology -- or something out of Star Trek.

Attention, California: No chad for you.

Ooops... let's try this again: About a year ago, we were having more than our share of fun picking on the self-righteous, money-grubbing folks from the recording industry, when out of the clear blue sky, they finally managed to win one of those silly lawsuits they were filing against blind grandmothers and 12-year-olds.

Well, in the parlance of baseball fans who think, at best, that Barry Bonds deserves an asterisk, we can wipe that one from the record books. The judge in the case against Jammie Thomas has decided that he made a mistake in his instructions to the jury in the case, and has ordered a new trial. Of course, that didn't stop the US Senate from passing another unenforceable law on the matter.

Memo to bloggers... (not to mention people concerned about the spelling and grammar police): There's help on the way. Of course, you can always take Bonehead English.

Aw, c'mon Sergey... you guys can do better than that: Google is celebrating its tenth anniversary with Project 10 to the 100th -- where it will give away $10 million -- no, not $10 to the 100th power -- for ideas that will "change the world".

Let me get this straight. Google can cough up 165 times that much to buy YouTube, which has the potential to be a never-ending sinkhole of settled copyright infringement lawsuits, but it's only going to give me a portion of $10 million if I come up with an idea that might possibly make the lives of millions of people better. Heck, if it's that good an idea, I can sell it to Yahoo for more than that...

For early Christmas shoppers: A time-eating clock from Stephen Hawking. Also, if you know someone who spends ten hours a day in a cubicle: a window.

The PowerPoints weren't what the judge was looking for: Since we're been doing this newsletter, one of the ongoing stories has been the compliance required of Microsoft as a result of the antitrust judgment against it. The latest: the people charged with regulating and overseeing Redmond's submission of documents got so tired of waiting for Microsoft to create templates to use in submitting the system documents that they wrote the templates themselves. No doubt using Open Office.

Sign of the Apocalypse (if you're a Yahoo employee, anyway): One, Yahoo has upgraded its online ad system. Two, Yahoo has hired a consulting firm to "cut costs", which -- if you don't manufacture anything -- means "cut jobs". Three, the Justice department is still looking at that ad deal with Google. Four, Carl Ichan took his seat on the board of directors. Five, Microsoft isn't buying (at the moment). John Donne comes to mind. One imagines there are a few people who would suggest new "DNA tester" jobs for their bosses.

Oh, and in case you weren't paying attention, the Constitution has taken another hit.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureOver the past few years, I have tried to let Experts Exchange members know when there is a new virus or trojan or scam that is making the rounds, but this is a first for me. There is a program being offered out there called Antivirus 2009, and it infects not just computers, but websites too; it changes websites to boost their search engine rankings. Here's what it does: If you go to a website that has the code installed, you will see popup after popup warning you about viruses, and it will keep asking you to install the program.

In a word, don't. Do whatever you can to get away from the website -- even if it means shutting down your computer; the grief of having Windows go through its "unexpected shutdown" routine is a small price to pay for not having the software installed on your computer. If you have already found that your computer is infected, you can get the fix from Install it, and run the Quick Scan (which might not be so quick), and then remove whatever it says it has found., one of the websites created in the wake of the unfortunate deaths of teenaged victims of cyberbullying, has put together a live help system for young people who are victims of Internet abuse. It's still hard to believe that there are a lot of people out there who are just getting started using the Internet, but if you know someone who is like that, you might want to have them check out WiredSafety's basics of the Internet pages.

New Certificates

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Expert Certified in Topic Area
b0lsc0ttGuruWeb Languages/Standards
jar3817MasterEmail Software
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apache09MasterEmail Clients
Bill-HansonSageLotus Notes
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cjl7MasterLinux Admin
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ajarveyMasterMicrosoft IIS Web Server
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Ray_PaseurMasterPHP for Windows
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jahboiteMasterNetwork Vulnerabilities
garycaseSageWindows XP
KdoMasterMySQL Server
mark_willsMasterMySQL Server
keith_alabasterMasterWindows Network Security
tigermattMasterWindows Network Security
FlysterMasterMS Excel
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AmazingTechMasterWindows Batch
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TechSoEasyMasterWindows Vista
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KCTSGeniusMS Server
EricTVikingMasterMicrosoft ISA
peter57rSageAccess Forms
kelvinsparksMasterAccess Coding/Macros
boag2000SageAccess Coding/Macros
RedKelvinMasterVisual Studio
philipjonathanMasterVisual Studio
elimesikaMasterVisual Studio
chapmandewMasterVisual Studio
GrahamSkanMasterVB Objects
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angelIIIMasterMicrosoft Programming
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