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EENewsletter Header -- Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

OCTOBER 13, 2010


What's New at Experts Exchange
From the Central Coast and beyond

Arrogance, thy name is Google
When a big company giveth, it also messeth up the works

Embracing Obsolescence
Figuring out what doesn't work -- and dumping it

Tip From The Mods
When to Object -- and when not to

Nata's Corner
Gadgets, shiny toys, and a scary incident at Google

More News and Notes
The best defense is a good offense

Who did what through October 9


water walkWells: The generosity of both the membership of Experts Exchange and the company's employees has resulted in the donation of funding for two wells in the Senale Tabia region of Ethiopia. For about a month, Experts who had earned t-shirts donated them in sufficient quantities to build a large well that will serve several villages. That effort prompted EE's employees to host a barbecue and "water walk" that raised enough money to build a second well in the area. Above, EE employees Megan Farrell and Jeff Dake carry five-gallon containers (about 45 lbs. or 20 kg.) around the 1/8 mile course; women and children in that region of Ethiopia are used to carrying that load for as far as three miles upwards of fifty times a day. The list of donors:





  • Newsletter format: No, you're not going blind. We just felt it was time for a change.
  • Hire Me: Experts can add a button to their profiles that allows members to contact them regarding employment or contract work. To activate the button, Edit your profile (the My Account box in the upper right part of the browser window), then click For Experts, and then Hire Me.
  • Screencasting: The screencasting feature that has been on beta for some time is now available. Please note that it requires the installation of the Java runtime if you plan on creating a screencast (that's what caused the bug last week).
  • Mobile: There is now a logged-out version of
  • URL shortener: Okay, this isn't so new, but for some reason it didn't get a lot of publicity when it was released. It's handy (at the bottom of every page), it's easy to use, and it works.

A phoenix from the ashes: A group of Microsoft MVPs has banded together to offer a huge package of software, tools, training and books to help unemployed or underemployed developers whose careers have been disrupted. The project has been running since the end of July, but there are still not quite three months left during which the awards will be distributed, so if this fits you, take a look at it.

Kudos: From our inbox, an email from wint100:

I've recently been developing a new .NET application, and due to my lack of SQL experience, I've relied heavily on Experts Exchange to provide me with assistance on my Stored Procedure SQL Syntax.

I've been a fully paid up member of Experts Exchange since 2005, and have always valued the assistance and support offered by the experts. I've come across some Freakishly' knowledgeable individuals, in all areas, and many very, very helpful.

Recently though, I've been dealing with mark_wills. This guy must have an SQL Syntax Checker for a brain! Not only has he provided some exceptional solutions, he also went out of his way to give round the clock responses (literally), lightning quick (100% accurate) solutions, and got so involved with the project, it was like having another, all be it highly educated, team member, on-call and ready to provide expert advice and solutions (in full), just for the love of what he does. I really couldn't have expected nearly as much from a hired DBA. This guy deserves a medal for his work.

With experts like this onboard, offering so much help and support, just for the love of helping out the average Joe, I know EE will continue to grow and grow.

Received at the office from dannyragot: "It was very hard to search on the internet for the solutions especially if the issue is really urgent. I really love the quick response of the experts! Many thanks to all of them. No worries now for all IT issues.

And from LSolt regarding an article by demazter: "I just wanted to let you know that you now have a client for life!! The article "Migrate Small Business Server 2003 to Exchange 2010 and Windows 2008 R2" just paid for the entire year! Excellent resource! I was extremely hesitant at first, but after spending an hour on the phone with a Microsoft Engineer trying to find information about SBS 2003 to Server 2008 migrations and wasting my time... within 5 minutes of searching for the answer I came accross your article.... Complete with screenshots! Brilliant! I basically told the engineer I found the answer and would not need their help!

matthewspatrick continues to lead by example. From AeroUser's question on dropdown boxes in Excel: "This absolutely perfect!!! Thank yiou so much for your help! Can't tell you how much I appreciate it!" ... and from JDL129's question about a VB6 error: "That was the best 125 points I've ever spent!!!!!" Patrick also sent us a note: "At my hotel this week, I was wearing an EE polo, and a guy stopped me off, asking if I worked for EE. I told him I was an Expert, and he told me that he loved the site, that it's been a great help for him, well worth the subscription fee, etc. Member name is JoeBarbone, if you're interested.

mplungjan got some nice nice words from lauras2010 after helping with a submit button issue: "Perfect. Thank you SOOOO much for all your help. What else can I say. You have saved me so much time and aggravation. Totally awesome."

caliea got assistance from RQuadling in questions about first receiving a SOAP response and then getting it to work in Linux: "Richard Quadling never ever gives up and does not rest until the issue is solved. It is always a pleasure to work with Richard."

Finally, a yet-to-ask-or-answer-a-question member writes: "The EE newsletter is excellent. Well-written, informative, entertaining. It's one of the few newsletters that I read and, what's more, look forward to reading. Sometimes I wish it weren't so long, but then, if it weren't so good, I wouldn't feel so much like I wanted to read it all. So, I guess I'm really happy it's as long as it is." This one -- which comes after about five weeks of not having one, is for you... Thanks!

Arrogance, thy name is Google

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jason1178, in addition to being the "Vice-President of IT for a company you've never heard of", did a stint as a Community Advisor at Experts Exchange, and suffers the slings and arrows of the Los Angeles Dodgers' outrageous fortune.

Take an internet giant, free services, and add some less than thoughtful engineering and you have a customer service disaster.

Don't get me wrong ... for the most part I love Google. They offer so many useful and free services to the community that it's hard not to love them when you think about it. But as they grow and encounter growing pains, they sometimes do things that affect users in a very negative way and leave a bad taste in their mouths for some time.

Recently, administrators of Google Apps for the Domain (Gmail, Calendar, Docs under your own domain name) have been seeing prompts to transition their Google Apps to a new infrastructure that promises that more services will be made available to the GAFD users. Sounds good, right? However, there's a pretty big catch that Google does a very poor job explaining prior to the transition.

If you have ever used your organization account to access a Google service that was not part of GAFD before, you are going to have big, big problems as soon as you undergo the transition. In short, the Domain Migration kills email accounts until you go through a ball-bustingly confusing reconcillation process if you ever used your GAFD email address to open an account in a separate Google service like Picassa, etc.

I've owed a personal domain name for years now and when I discovered GAFD, I naturally converted my domain to it.When I saw the prompt to migrate, I did so without any concern ... I trusted Google. The result was that both my wife and I were unable use POP3 or IMAP to access our email accounts for several hours because each of us had Google services opened under those email addresses. Once we migrated, the emails were disabled for POP3 and IMAP but we were still able to access Reader, Picassa, etc. Other users have bigger problems as their Android Marketplace purchases are now effectively in limbo and inaccessible and the Android phones themselves are wiped out and have to be reset.

Google terms people like me as having "conflicting accounts" because I have under GAFD and I also used it to login to Picasa to share photos once upon a time. In order to get my email address working again, I had to "resolve the conflicting account" by creating a brand new Gmail account ( for the old Picasa stuff. Huh? I'm still me, last time I checked ... why do I need to create yet another email account because Google can't figure out that and with the same password are the same person?

And to drive the point home, Google disables access to my email until I do create the second account because I'm also not allowed to merge accounts with an existing Gmail account? And there's no plan to allow for the data to be merged, either now or later. Madness.

This is the sort of customer service nightmare we have come to expect from Microsoft or Adobe, but not Google. It's like being bitten by the family dog, all the worse because it is so unexpected. Futhermore, if you migrate all (in my case, two) accounts in a domain, you are unable to revert them back unless you contact Google at a link that as of October 9, 2010 was merely redirecting to the Google home page. A second link does exist that works but a) you have to really dig in the support forum to find it (the official help files have the wrong link); and b) at the time of this writing, users have been waiting for more than 5 days to have their domains reverted. Whether this is due to overwhelming demand, laziness on Google's part, or both is unknown.

I'm not alone in being upset with the transition and if you read any of the threads in the previous link, you will see a lot of unhappy users and some pretty clueless Google folks attempting to help them. One of the highlights that can be printed here that pretty much sums up everyone's experience is from bahab:

"First up, I know this isn't in the right section, but there is apparently no section for crying about google accounts.

A few months ago, life was amazing. I had multiple gmail accounts (I have one with my name, a couple of sanitised addresses, one that I created to save youtube videos, and about 9 or 10 for work (we're a Google App Engine Developer), and they all worked pretty well without any conflict. Then, you guys stuffed around with something. Now, I have two choices, a) continually be forced to sign out of everything, any time I go somewhere; or b) be forced to link every single google account into one stream and switch around when desired. Both of these options are not just stupid, but they are retarded workflows and Google should be ashamed of releasing it the way that it currently exists. Do you have UI/IxD/UCD people working at Google? Does anybody listen to them? Really?

Where is the right place to contact the group that made the decision to force linking of accounts? This isn't /good/, it isn't /helpful/"

So far, we have a pretty standard upset user. That's nothing new. But instead of helping bahab resolve his issue, here was the response which has since been deleted:


This transition was a opt-in phase where you could had choose to either transition or not to transition."

Niiiiiiiiiice, Google. Bahab wasn't too pleased with that response:

"It is only optional to actually link the accounts. The single sign on cookies was not opt-in. Example: Prior to the single sign-on cookies, I could have 3 or 4 application book marks for gmail on my desktop (so they act like applications) for different accounts, be signed in to youtube, and my work account ... all with different gmail accounts. Now, when I sign into any one of those things, I immediately sign out of the others.

The only way to get past the "only being able to have one account active" is to use:

a) linked accounts.
b) multiple browsers.
c) incognito mode (which stuffs up other things)

In addition, who cares if the transition was opt-in or not? What kind of arrogant, useless answer is that? Oh, you opted-in to a pile of [*@#$], so it's your fault, get used to it? I mean, is that what you honestly suggest is helpful?"

I could go on and on with quote after quote from the support board. I strongly recommend everyone go read it and watch the transition of the Google responses from the earliest complaints to the most recent ones. In it, you will see a cautionary tale of a company that it so large and so used to being right, that they insist they are right even when they clearly aren't and their customers suffer for it.

I leave you with this lovely rant from migdalorguy:

"I have yet to see a satisfactory answer in this thread or others on a question of PRIME IMPORTANCE. What is being done for those of us who have Android Phones, and established a (third) Google account to use with Checkout so we could buy things in the Android Market (since Market would not work for those of us apps users who created what is now being annoyingly called "conflicting accounts" we had to create yet another Google account to purchase apps.) When my account transitions (and due to all of the impending issues I know it will create for me, I have put off doing the transition voluntarily at this time) I will effectively lose access to all of the apps I have purchased through Android Market, and none of them will work! This is SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE, Google. I have hard-earned funds invested in those purchases, and it is a breach of ethics and contract for you to, by fiat, make them unavailable to me any longer. In fact, there's got to be a class-action case here somewhere. Anybody on this thread a lawyer?

I expect I am going to have similar problems with my Google Voice account, which is associated with my conflicting account. Once I transition, all my Google Voice data and records will be lost. Again, this is UNACCEPTABLE.

All my hard-earned efforts in Picasa, Maps, Blogger, etc. will go down the drain because Google has not provided any option for data transition for those of us with conflicting accounts (which we created on their advice in the first place!) Enabling multiple sign-in, or using browser profiles is simply not an acceptable solution. It destroys the very intent of this transition. Once again, Google Apps users (and I am a Premium User who pays for the privilege, with one lousy user account) are being screwed over. Why does this keep happening? What is it that Google has finally responded to our please to eliminate the need for "conflicting accounts" in a way that causes more grief for those of us in that exact situation.

Really, really frustrated, Google.

And please-don't point me to any help/support links. I've read them all. NONE of them really address these issues (other than to let you know you're screwed.)

Google speaks repeatedly about the "small percentage" of users who have conflicting accounts. Yet their own support staff over the years has gleefully encouraged us to create those accounts so we could seamlessly transition between Apps and non-Apps features. Are we really that small a percentage?"

Indeed. Beware the power of the little people, Google. There are a lot more of us than there are of you.

Embracing Obsolescence

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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.

Last week, Caroline McCarthy of c|net wrote an interesting little column about Facebook that was titled Will Facebook have a 'vestigial limb' problem?. The upshot is that as Facebook adds features, there are some things that will hang around, even though they're more or less obsolete.

It's an old argument; the automobile companies have been dealing with people who like standard transmissions for years, and there are just enough of us to force them to make vehicles that have that third pedal. No doubt the movie companies would like to forget the people who don't own wide-screen televisions, because it means they have to make a "standard" screen version of the DVDs they sell. You can still buy a 56k modem -- but it's almost as cheap to buy a wireless card and use something like the Palm Pre as a cell phone (which everyone seems to have) and WiFi hotspot.

It isn't just Facebook. Take a look at Microsoft. How much of the stuff that comes standard with a computer nowadays is there to replace programs that exist as part of the Windows operating system? Adobe is another one; we've looked through most of the CS4 suite, and we can't find anything in it that compels me to upgrade from CS2 (except that someone else gave me a license because we do some work for them).

It isn't just big companies either. We used to work for a company for whom we have a tremendous amount of respect; in the ten years or so we have been associated with them, they have reinvented themselves at least three times, always to stay ahead of their competitors and in tune with what their customers need. Nonetheless, there are still some systems and processes that, were they starting today with what they know, they wouldn't have; there hasn't been any reason to have them for years. Even when we ran newspapers -- we went through four major changes in technology (raised type to offset printing to phototypesetting to computers) in about twenty-five years -- there were things we did that had their roots in the way we had done things all the way along (like using Kodak black and white film instead of getting digital cameras).

There are arguments both ways. Do you get rid of those old features that -- for whatever reason -- are obsolete, knowing full well that a small minority uses them, knowing you're always going to have to account for them when you do any kind of updating, and knowing you will feel the wrath of that minority's displeasure if you get rid of them?

Or do you keep them, knowing that they're going to be a nuisance (at best), knowing that they will force you to sometimes have two parallel, more or less identical systems, that do the same thing only slightly differently, and knowing that you're going to be spending resources to make sure both sets of processes work right for everyone?

We have been around our favorite website for quite a while now, and we've seen the apoplexy caused by mere redesigns (does anyone remember the orange/green/black/gray look that isn't the current Premium Services look? -- or even the Blue Look that both preceded, and in a different layout, succeeded it?). We've seen the infamous "Answer button" come and go -- twice. Each time something changes, we have read that "everyone hates it" -- but somehow, the site has thrived despite all the changes.

Still, we have to wonder how necessary it is to have two versions of features. There's an old story in the automobile business about a company that did all the research, and asked all the right questions of its customers, and after doing so, came up with the Edsel. Customers have a funny way of telling you what they want right before they start telling you how much they hate what you've done.

In their recently published book Rework, authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson argued that one of the best things you can do for your business is to simply say "No."

"People avoid saying no because confrontation makes them uncomfortable," they wrote. "But the alternative is even worse. You drag things out, make things complicated, and work on ideas you don't believe in. It's like a relationship: Breaking one up is hard to do, but staying in it just because you're too chicken to drop the ax is even worse." The devil you know is easier to cope with than the devil you don't know.

Almost everyone wants to be Apple. Say what you want about the Mac, poke fun at the iPhone (we do), and be at the ready to cite the next time he doesn't act like the Marketing Genius or Digital Messiah -- but the fact is that Jobs and Apple don't sell products; they sell their passion.

That passion is for elegant, clean interfaces on digital products that just work. Because they believe in their products with the fervor of an Alabama football fan, others believe in them as well, and Apple can drop support for old technology, knowing full well that people will go out and buy the product Apple has built to replace it.

You won't find any covered-over eyes on an Apple device -- and given the company's success, the message should be pretty clear. If you can't fix what isn't working, get rid of it, but better yet, don't include it in the first place.

More News and Notes

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The best defense is a good offense: Something about this defense against DoS attackes is entirely too elegant. Speak-Up uses the novel approach of demanding more, bigger requests from attackers than the attackers are likely to have available -- effectively turning them into the wimps they really are. There's a paper that describes the whole method.

Because we can never resist arrogant punks being hoist by their own petard: Has anyone seen the Faceborg movie? Does anyone mind that Mark Zuckerborg isn't happy with it? We'll come up with a special EE prize for the wittiest, funniest review; write a 300-word article in the Digital Living zone about it (if you've seen it) by Monday, November 1, and our crack staff of judges will pick the one they like the best. Unfortunately, you won't be able to wait for it to come out in 3D.

Help Wanted: Someone to supplement George Will: The Washington Post is looking for The Next Great Pundit.

Please don't tell us you're that surprised: Iran's first nuclear power plan was infected by a virus designed specifically to at a minimum disrupt productivity. Given that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a history of strong opinions about the US and the western nations in general, it's hardly surprising that the Mideast nation called the worm a Western plot, but security experts downplayed that, saying as an attack, it was pretty amateurish and adding that the US is just as vulnerable -- but there are cynics who are unconvinced. In an interesting bit of serendipity, the Iranian power plant had a "small leak", but denies it had anything to do with the worm.

Happy Birthday: The Palo Alto Research Company, AKA PARC -- the wonderful people who brought you laser printing, the GUI and the ethernet. Without them, we would all be in better shape, energy driks wouldn't be a vending machine staple, and Facebook wouldn't exist.

Because I'm not much good at this whole "revenue stream" thing: Ev Williams, the CEO of Twitter, has announced that he is turning over the keyboard to COO Dick Costolo, who started Feedburner and then sold it to Google, so Williams can now concentrate on "pushing product direction". Maybe now he can concentrate on figuring out why Twitter users are so enamored with the letters W, T and F in connection with goats.

Fun and games with Google Instant: or... Why the word you typed in doesn't do anything...

All it takes is a headset and a mic (unless you can find a refurbished one): We might finally have a reason to start playing around with the iTouch we got a couple of years ago; there's now an app available that turns it into an iPhone (kinda) for less than $10 a month. It's not new, but it has been improved, and the price has been cut. Then you, too, can be a People Of Apple. And while we're picking on the iPhone... apparently, Tony Curtis's family has found they work everywhere else. Thanks, Jason! Oh, and One more thing: Apple may or may not be developing an iPhone for Verizon.

Yoda lives! (Thanks, Jason!)

We know what we said, but we were worong: Verizon Wireless is going to refund $50 million or so to customers who accidentally used data services. In December, the company had insisted that it didn't charge for accessing the Internet if they didn't do anything but open the browser, but that turned out to be untrue. And on the subject of wireless plans, Wal-Mart is selling one, but it doesn't come with someone greeting you when you log in.

WARNING: Politics alert: In case you're wondering why California's budget is in so much trouble, you can start by looking at salaries and then doing some math. We found this little treasure trove of information when we came across a study that says that people who make less money for more work aren't as satisfied with their jobs as their better-paid colleagues. Go figure.

Just because we're not so young any more... and while we're at it, a guarantee that your humble editor will always have things to write about.

We know just what to do about it: There's an old joke about the UN. Two small countries get in a fight; the UN steps in and there's no more fight. A big country and a little country get in a fight; the UN steps in and there's no more little country. Two big countries get in a fight; the UN steps in and there's no more UN. That's where the US Congress finds itself, declining to come to any conclusions that might interfere with campaign contributions from big bandwidth providers (on one side) and big content providers (on the other side).

Now that there are iPads, Kindles, Nooks and who knows what else: Microsoft will have the Slate out ... by Christmas. Sure thing...

With apologies to Tom Lehrer:

Oh, MS sues Motorola [who turned around and Apple]
And the Fanboys hate HTC
And Oracle hates all the Googlers
And everybody hates Yahoo!

But during National Brotherhood Week
National Brotherhood Week
It's National Everyone-Smile-At-One-Another-hood Week
Be nice to people who are inferior to you
It's only for one suit, so have no fear
Be grateful that it doesn't last all year!

Sign of the Apochalypse: Researchers have found that the less reputable a website looks, the more likely people are to divulge their personal information. Also, Duke Nukem Forever is back. Maybe. There is rampant fraud in China. Who knew? And finally, only in California.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PicturephoneI love getting mail about the the columns I write, and I was especially happy to get an email from my buddy Vic, who sent the following about the image at right: "I know you're always keeping track of the latest technical developments and wanted to send you a picture of my latest toy. They were passing these out at the Senior Center last week and I got me a couple." Unfortunately, he didn't send me one. I guess I'll have to get my other half to get me something sparkly.

Combine the most popular website out there with the latest greatest new shiny toy, and what do you get? You get a ton of spam on your Facebook wall, and are probably halfway to losing every real friend you ever had. Don't worry, though -- the botnet guys know that if you're not in the market for a new iPhone, they'll get your attention with some XBox points.

If you have been following the papers over the last week or so, you know that US, British and Ukranian officials have arrested a good number of people in connection with the ZBot trojan, which seems to have originated in Russia. What's bothersome -- or maybe scary is a better word -- is that that there isn't a lot of evidence that the Russian governemnt wants to do anything about the rampant growth of cybercrime from within its borders. Meanwhile, Microsoft may have found a way to use the courts to shut down bot networks.

About a month ago, Tolomir, one of EE's Zone Advisors, posted about "binary planting" of DLLs and .EXE files. Microsoft has come up with a few workarounds, but as of a week ago, disabling the WebDAV service seems to be the only way to block the attacks. The security lab ACROS has an online test to see if you're vulnerable.

Finally -- and by no means does this next item mean anyone should stop using Google or anything like that -- but just because a company's motto is "Do No Evil", that doesn't mean that it doesn't have creeps working for it who will do evil things. Pay attention to what your children are doing, please.


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New Geniuses: FernandoSoto has earned his third Genius certificate, this one in LINQ, which also put him over 5,000,000 points for his EE career. Picking up his second was ralmada in SQL Server 2005. Earning their first Genius certificates were endital1097 and sunnyc7 in Exchange;, Geert_Gruwez in Delphi; noxcho in Hard Drives; and dstewartjr in Windows 2003 Server. Nicely done, folks!

My First Million: Members who have reached the 1,000,000 point level in the last month include endital1097, digitap, sunnyc7, Spec01, DrUltima, nav_kum_v, hades666, QPR and Ark.


  • angelIII has reached 34,000,000 points. He has also reached 6,000,000 points in SQL Server 2005, the first member to go over 6,000,000 points in two zones.
  • capricorn1 has moved into third place in the Hall of Fame with over 19,000,000 points.
  • objects is the 20th EE member to have 2,000,000 points in at least two different topic areas.
  • ozo is the 16th EE member to reach 11,000,000 points overall.
  • CEHJ has earned 11,000,000 points in the Java zone.
  • boag2000 has reached the 6,000,000 point level.
  • brettdj has earned 4,000,000 points in Excel.
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