Experts Exchange EE News October 2009

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October 28, 2009 >> Halloween issue

What's New at Experts Exchange
Stuff, Geniuses, MVPs, Kudos

First Editors' Choice Articles
The first group of the best of the best

Why should I write an EE Article
The first in a series from Articles101

Tips From the Moderators
"Academic dishonesty" and avoiding the trolls

Making the Web Work
Why most websites are a waste

More News and Notes
Super Bowl... Thursday

Nata's Corner
On not being intimidated at EE

New Certificates
New certificate holders, through October 24

What's New at Experts Exchange

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Happy 10-Year Anniversary to Netminder! If you're a diehard member of the Experts Exchange community, you've probably heard of this Netminder character.

For those who don't know, Netminder is one of EE's two Senior Site Administrators (along with Computer 101), joining the EE community 10 years ago today (Oct. 29, 1999), probably using that nifty new browser update everyone was raving about back then (Netscape Communicator 4.6.1). It wasn't long before Mr. Netminder and his *evil grin* were asked to be a Moderator, and by November 2002 he was named Site Admin - AKA kingpin of our community volunteers. Netminder has gone on to become a cornerstone of the site and the EE family, but if you're an avid member of the community, you already know all that. Here's what you didn't know about Netminder.

Windows 7 Release: With over 1,000 questions asked in the Windows 7 zone and 20 articles written, our Experts have been working overtime since Microsoft released its newest operating system on October 22nd. tenaj-207 and LeeTutor have already earned their Masters certification in the Windows 7 zone, and akhafafand leew are hot on their heels. If you're debating whether to upgrade to Windows 7, check out the user reviews by BMilneSLO, 3mp3ror, and blitzg05, or shahprabal's insight from a software engineer's perspective. Netbook users will like tigermatt's article, and everyone should read keith_alabaster's book review of Windows 7 Resource Kit - and then pick up a copy of your own.

We want to hear your thoughts about Windows 7. Write an article or ask a question today!

Just in case you forget: Daylight Savings ends this weekend. We won't reiterate what a dumb idea it was; we'll just remind you to set your clocks back Saturday night or Sunday morning.

New statistics: Since the Member Rank feature was re-enabled a few months back, one of the things that has been bugging Qlemo was the unavailability of statistical breakdowns, so, like any good Expert, he figured out a solution and then wrote an article about it. It took a few revisions, but it is now on the EE-Approved list.

Speaking of which, sometime around September 22, the 100,000th member of Experts Exchange earned his first points. That total -- as of last weekend -- is around approaching 101,000, including four Moderators who -- like the person who changes his name so it appears at the end of the phone book -- gave themselves D grades on test questions so they would each have one point. Knowing those four, if there was a way they could both make the list and have zero points, they would have.

Finally, over half of the Hall of Fame members have over five million points, and by the end of the year, it would not be surprising if 4,000,000 points were barely enough to make the top 100.

New Geniuses: Five members of Experts Exchange have picked up Genius certificates in the past four weeks. Leading off is peter57r, whose fourth Genius certificate is in Access Forms; he has also gone over the 5,000,000 point mark in Microsoft Access. webtubbs, in VB.NET, and nobus, in Hardware, each earned their second certificate; nobus has also earned 8,000,000 points in his EE career. One of EE's longest-term members, abel, who joined EE in June 1997, and evilrix both earned their first Genius certificates, in ASP.NET and C++ Programming respectively. Very nice work by all!


  • objects, one of only five members with a Savant certificate, has reached the 12,000,000 point level in Java.
  • mlmcc and lrmoore both went over the 11,000,000 point level overall.
  • CEHJ has earned over 10,000,000 points at EE.
  • Joining nobus at the 8,000,000 point level were rorya, BlueDevilFan, and aneeshattingal. rorya has also earned 8,000,000 points in Microsoft Excel.
  • mplungjan has reached the 7,000,000 point level overall.
  • Reaching the 6,000,000 point level overall were Mestha, LeeTutor and DatabaseMX. DatabaseMX has also reached the 6,000,000 point level in MS Access, while Mestha has reached 5,000,000 points in Exchange.
  • boag2000 has earned 5,000,000 points in his career.

Microsoft MVPs redux: The fall round of Microsoft MVPs is out, and among the new recipients of the award are BrandonGalderisi and mark_wills. Getting their awards renewed were rob_farley and JOrzech. Congratulations to all on your achievement!

Kudos: mplungjan's solution to NEILPH's question about passing variables earned him the following: "Thanks. This is the most productive EE help I've had. I even got a bonus. I solved my separate problem of transferring page info across to the log entries."

mbizup and Elvis mbizup (shown at left with Elvis at an Elvis festival in Delaware) answered a question from VTKegan about navigating Access forms, only to find out that VTKegan is, like mbizup, an alumnus of Virginia Tech University: "Thank you so much! You deserve 1000 points if I could give them. PS... I saw on your profile you are a VT Grad. As you might have guessed from my name, I am as well. I just graduated in May, and I am using databases to really help my company grow. I didn't even know what Access was 1 year ago, now I've got a pretty involved database I think.. Probably not like anything you could do, but it is cool to me. Thanks for the help... GO HOKIES!!!" mbizup's email to us was as nice: "I've received nice grading comments before, but this one from a bright and enthusiastic young graduate of my alma mater absolutely warmed my heart ... made my day."

shamil3864 had some issues with inserting an Excel spreadsheet into a Powerpoint presentation, and got some help from one of the world's best: Microsoft MVP Echo_S. The grading comment says it all: "Many thanks for your ingenious solution to my problem. I used the animation like you said and it works great. And even though I haven't yet used the trigger option you mentioned I know it too will work just fine. As promised I am giving you all the points I am allowed to give, all Grade A with the max 500 points. If there are additional ways to give you more points please tell me how and I will see to it you get them. I now know who to ask when I have a really tough PP and/or Excel problem."

richelieu7777 was having difficulties passing NaN as an argument until abel helped out: "The most thorough investigation and response to a question that I have ever received in Experts Exchange. Good job, abel."

Finally, fibo wondered about how to spread the word about Experts Exchange's newsletter (and again, we're flattered):

"Each new issue of the newsletter makes me smile, laugh or wonder. Of course about useful tips about EE and EE achievements. But also about social and business information. And I am really amazed and please to what I read (sorry, I noticed that just recently!) I find lots of content I would like to forward to some friends, presumably on a more or less regular basis. Or to (damn it!) Tweet."

We want to thank ModernMatt for steering fibo to the newsletter archive. We made it public specifically because we want the information about EE and its members shared, so feel free to link away.

From the Inbox: Our article a month or so ago offering some tips for would-be managers prompted a couple of emails that were very kind, and surprisingly, none from those in supervisory positions who took offense. BrandonGalderisi wrote:

"I haven't taken the time to FULLY read one of these in a while. BRAVO. Keep up the great work."

But the one that surprised us was the note from jonathan_hoekman, who, in addition to being a pretty nice guy all the way around, is part of the Experts Exchange management:

"Good newsletter, my man. I especially liked your article about effective management. I printed a copy and have it on my desk. Good stuff!"

Normally, we're adverse to tooting our own horn, but Jonathan insisted that we republish it as an Article; that is a form of flattery we cannot ignore.

steakFun and Games: Our buddy Jason is one of our most dedicated finders-of-tidbits, and took full advantage of the extra two weeks caused by our Expert of the Quarter issue to send us the following:

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Tips From the Moderators

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It is just about that time of the school year that almost all of us came to dread: midterms. That means we expect to see any number of questions that are "academic" in nature; they are take-home exams, or practice questions for a test.

It's a terrific thing that so many students, full-time or otherwise, participate at Experts Exchange, as EE can provide a terrific learning environment. That said, using EE to do your academic assignments for you completely defeats the purpose of education, and so the Moderators want to remind the community of the following:

  • It is a violation of the Member Agreement for you to ask the Experts to do your academic work for you (as well as for the Experts to offer you that kind of assistance)
  • It is, however, OK to ask questions related to basic concepts and theory that underpin an assignment
  • It is also OK to pose a question, show the work or code that you have so far, and ask the Experts for tips and hints on how to fix whatever errors there are or to make the work complete

For you Experts out there, to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, while we cannot define a question that looks like an academic assignment, we pretty much know it when we see it, and we suspect you Experts do too. So if you see a question that looks like homework, just repeat the information above, and/or use the 'request attention' link to ask the Moderators for assistance in handling the situation.

We also wanted to pass along an article sent to us by aikimark on managing trolls -- those annoying people who feel they have to say something even when they have nothing to say, and a question posted by r270ba, who got caught up in the new abandoned question system and was rescued by _alias99:

Thanks alias! I will make sure I do not allow my questions to be abandoned anymore. I will be more PROACTIVE about keeping them clean. I really appreciate EE and everything the community does for me and my company!!!!

First Editors' Choice Articles

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In our last regular newsletter we listed several articles of note. The Page Editors have gotten together, and have selected the Articles below as the first group to receive the Editor's Choice designation as outstanding work. Among the first ones selected was DanRollins' piece on thumb drive security. 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.

USB "Thumb Drives" are convenient and cheap. They are great for making quick backups and for transferring data from one place to another. But if you lose a portable flash disk, anything it contains is easily read by whoever finds it. It turns out to be pretty easy to use Windows EFS (Encrypting File System) to encrypt thumb drive data, but it's not so obvious how to make it possible to read from that drive on another computer.

This two-part article describes the steps needed to use EFS to store encrypted data on a thumb drive at work and still be able to use that data on another computer at home. I can dump an entire project directory onto the drive on Friday and use it at home with no fear that if I were to lose the drive, say, at an airport, my client's proprietary source code would be at risk.

Read the full article, and then read the second part.

Editor's note: After seeing DanRollins' article, Nata sent us an item that Sophos has a free encryption tool available.

Other articles that were singled out for special recognition by the Page Editors are:

Conducting a Survey, by Katie248:

In doing marketing for any business it is sometimes difficult to know how to effectively reach your target audience. What drives your consumer to buy your product or use your service? What does your target audience respond to? Does your target audience like your new product/feature? If you don't know the answers to these questions, a survey may be the best way to find out. But exactly how do you write a good survey that will give you the information that you need? Well, the process of conducting a survey, analyzing the results, and drawing conclusions based on the results can be a very complex process. Here are some simple steps to follow to get you started.

Use CHtmlEditCtrl to Create a Simple HTML Editor, by DanRollins:

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. I had looked into using the DHTML Edit Control (an Active X control) in the past, but this new (MFC 7) class supports that functionality, so I decided to work from that direction.

Using Regular Expressions in Visual Basic for Applications and Visual Basic 6, by matthewspatrick:

Regular Expressions (RegExp) is a class that offers incredibly powerful text parsing capabilities, in particular allowing users to find (and even replace) substrings within larger text entries that fit a particular pattern. This article provides basic information on the VBScript implementation of RegExp, and how you can use it to gain robust text parsing capabilities in Visual Basic 6 (VB6) and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) projects. With a little knowledge of the rules and some imagination, you can build incredibly flexible and/or complex patterns.

Excel - Using a Sheet Tab as a Button for Expanding/Collapsing Supplementary Sheets., by alainbryden:

Many projects you may work on in Excel might develop the problem of having a huge number of sheets. Often, when the program is done, you find that many of these sheets are just used for driving the workbook, containing data tables, intermediary calculations, or advanced configuration parameters. Often, you don't want these showing up all the time, since the main program might be run using just one or two sheets. You could hide all the unnecessary sheets, but this can be cumbersome for developers, and can confuse advanced users. What you could really use, is an expand/collapse button.

Dlookup and the Domain Functions, by JDettman:

One of the common questions we see in the Access zone is how to get a value from a table. One way to do that is with a set of built-in functions called Domain functions. These functions work against a set of records (a domain). Most of these functions perform some type of aggregate operation (Sum, Count, Avg, etc). The domain functions are DAvg, DCount, DLookup, DFirst, DLast, DMax, DMin, DStdev, DStdevp, DSum, DVar, and DVarp. You can find specifics on each of these in the on-line help.

Advanced DOS batch pitfalls, by Qlemo:

The following is a collection of cases for strange behaviour when using advanced techniques in DOS batch files. You should have some basic experience in batch "programming", as I'm assuming some knowledge and not further explain the basics. For some basics I will create a tutorial to be published here very soon (reference will be posted here).

Why should I write an EE Article (Part 1)?

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Our good friend Articles101, who is also the defacto "managing editor" of Experts Exchange's articles system, shares his thoughts on why people should contribute their knowledge without having to go through the business of answering a question.

There are various reasons why members would want to write articles at EE. Some of these reasons depend on the author's skill level or ability to write properly in the English language. The EE Page Editors for the Articles System are available to help you write and publish technical articles. It doesn't matter if you have difficulty with the English language or if writing is not easy for you. It doesn't matter if you are just getting started in a technical area or if you are one of EE's top experts. Writing and publishing EE articles has benefits for all members.

  • Having your own article published on the Internet.
  • Improving your skills at writing technical documents.
  • Developing your technical analyses skills for making better proposals and recommendations.
  • Improving your use of the English language (Don't worry; we aren't looking for perfection).
  • Publishing good articles that help you with your employer, clients and job interviews.
  • Getting EE points (sometimes a lot of points).

Here's a step by step process for publishing an article on EE:

  1. The first step in creating an EE article is to pick a topic. Topics can be found in one of the EE Zones in the top navigation of any EE page. In order to see a more detailed list of Zones (topics), you can click on one of the Zones in the top navigation, or you can click on "Browse All." As you click, the lists get more specific.
  2. After you have picked your topic, you should prepare a draft of your article text. Start with a short introduction that will get a user's attention by telling why the article should be of interest to the reader. Then write what you want to say about your topic, and finally end the article with a brief conclusion of what you said.
  3. When you have prepared the text of your article, use the EE Article Wizard to submit your article.

After you have submitted your article, you can get further help from EE's Page Editors. If you have difficulty with the English language, or if you would like help communicating the ideas of your article (after you have written it), then please ask for help. You can ask for help by posting a comment in the article's comment thread after it is submitted (or you can ask for help in the article itself). All posts made in the Article comment thread before the article is published cannot be seen by anyone other than the EE Page Editors and other EE administrators, so nobody will see your request for help.

This Newsletter article is the first in a short series that will tell you more about the benefits of publishing an article on EE. Some of the topics in the next few Newsletter will include how to write a good article, improving your skills for making proposals and recommendations and how you maximize the amount of points you earn from each article you write.

Making the Web Work

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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.

There are a gazillion books out there on web development -- probably a number proportional to the number of websites there are. And, like most of the websites out there... they are repetitive, unenlightening, and generally useless -- which is perfectly okay; to paraphrase my exceedingly tolerant father, there's room on the Internet for all kinds.

But that doesn't mean one has to encourage such garbage. Of course, one of the problems web developers have is that they don't get paid by the people who are going to use the site, but rather by the people whose site they're developing. That's a problem, because a lot of business owners don't have a clue about what the whole point to a website is.

About fifteen years ago, give or take, a website was generally a brochure -- the kind you pick up a dozen of when you're staying overnight in a hotel in a city on the way from here to there. Websites, because there's no printing cost and because hard drive space is relatively cheap, tended to be a one-way street: you came to the website, saw what the site wanted you to see, and then moved on to the next site. Pretty one-dimensional, but it was what it was.

BrochureSites have gotten fancier (thanks, Macromedia) -- but slick graphics, carefully-orchestrated photo slide shows and embedded video doesn't change the fact that the people who own and operate the site want to tell you only what they want you to know, and don't want to hear from you about whatever it is they're saying, and all the bells and whistles are simply prettier versions of big bold bright red blinking text.

People then got the idea that websites could actually include things like order forms, so the people who own stores didn't actually have to tell someone that your size isn't available in that color; it just wouldn't be there. Or maybe it would, and a customer could buy it without the company having to pay a salesperson to keep the cash register from flying away. The web became interactive -- as long as the person looking at the website was willing to accept the fact that his options were limited to what the site wanted to allow. Interactive? Kinda.

This genre encompasses most of what the heavily trafficked sites are all about. Either they allow you to interact with their business -- think or -- or they let you interact with the site and other people using the system they have built, and to the extent that they allow. A good number of those sites -- think Facebook or Google -- use the information you post as a component to present advertising to you. But it's all about them; if you really think Facebook or Google have YOUR interests at heart, you're wrong. They want you using their site more and more, but not for your benefit; they want you using it solely for theirs.

Customer service? Try getting a file removed from Google's cache sometime; it takes at least ten days. It took Facebook only a couple of days (once the story broke -- which says something about people who use websites without reading the terms of service, but that's another story) to realize that making a major change to its user agreement wasn't the best idea -- but a look at the version that was posted for those two weeks gives you an insight into who comes first.

The only difference between the two kinds of sites is that one tries to sell you their products, and the other tries to sell you someone else's products; let us never forget that the "com" in DotCom stands for commerce. There's nothing wrong with that; it's just a slightly fancier brochure, though, with an order form attached somewhere. That advertising box is -- for the people who run those sites -- a lot like being raised in a maximum security prison: you don't know anything else.

The first kind -- the ones who sell you their products -- will be around for as long as the company performs. If their products are no good, then they'll sell someone something... once. The second kind -- the ones who sell advertising in order to keep their visitors from paying -- are a roll of the dice; when was the last time you read an article about MySpace or even SecondLife? Web traffic is finicky, and the budgets of people who buy are even more finicky.

(There is an exception to the second kind. It's when you create something that is immensely popular and get a whole bunch of rich people to give you a ton of money on the promise that eventually you'll make money, or when you simply sell it to some big company and then go buy an NBA team.The odds of either happening are roughly equal to those of a Nigerian general's wife sending you $18.4 million.)

They're all missing the boat.

Ten years ago, the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto wrote, "Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal." While the message of the Manifesto can hardly be called conciliatory, the message is still true, and the advice is still valid.

Websites -- as self-contained business units -- can be successful if they provide a service to their customers. In order to do that, they have to know what the customer wants and needs, and the simple advice is to ask them. Then they just have to deliver -- and people will pay for that service.

What is truly mind-boggling about what the Manifesto suggests about what corporations do with their websites is that in not engaging their customers in that kind of conversation, they're actually being anti-profitable. Those companies are spending a lot of time, energy and resources coming up with ways to get new customers when it is just as profitable to keep their old customers coming back -- but costs a lot less to do so.

Back in my Econ 101 days, it was called the marginal return on investment -- the amount of money you have to spend on each new sale. In the newspaper business, it's the first copy of the paper that costs you the most money; after that, each succeeding version costs less and less. For a restaurant, it's a much different calculation, because the variable there is the cost of the food -- but making two plates of ham and eggs don't take much more time than making one, so labor isn't a factor.

For a website, it's a lot more like a newspaper than a restaurant; the costs are mostly up front. But once you have a system that serves your customers -- delivers the service they expect from it -- then the need to do much more than perfect it is non-existent. If it ain't broke, don't fix it -- and if it's broke, fix it first.

More News and Notes

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Super Bowl... Thursday: It's usually not the game itself that makes the Super Bowl worth watching, but rather the ads (yeah, you know the ones). But the big game came a bit early this year when Microsoft launched Windows 7 by clogging arteries in Japan, and Apple chose October 22 as the day to release three new Mac ads -- but for some reason there was no McDonald's tie in (Apple Marketing obviously missed the boat on 2 billion served, but Steve Jobs did say, "our users are clearly loving it".)

Further evidence that emails can come back to bite you: YouTube managers apparently ignored known violations of Viacom copyrights -- because YouTube employees were the ones uploading the copyrighted material. Ooops.

No conflict with their interests: We're not talking about the World Wide Web. We're talking about the arrest on insider stock-trading charges of Raj Rajaratnam, ranked 236th on Forbes magazine's list of richest Americans, and five others, and the finger-pointing that is almost assuredly going to start as the prosecutors start offering deals for testimony. One of the most entertaining aspects of the case is that the accused apparently didn't play favorites, trading in Intel, AMD, IBM and Akamai.

Craigslist ad of the Week: Following up on the suicidal astronaut, the original has disappeared, and in the off chance the reposting disappears too, we've uploaded an image (thanks, Jason!!).

Sometimes it just doesn't pay to go into politics: We don't think her husband would use her uncle's death as an excuse for breaking the law, but we suspect the conversations between California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife were somewhat strained after she was photographed twice in three days talking on a cell phone while driving. The governor was not amused; his wife apologized.

Meanwhile, the father of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's grandchild is going to pose for Playgirl. Just when you thought it was safe to be a Republican again...

Stupid Criminal Item of the Week: A burglar stopped on his way out the door to check his Facebook account. The consequences were predictable when he forgot to log out.

How can you tell when an AT&T executive is playing fast and loose with facts? When he's sending out emails to managers telling them to "encourage" employees to file letters in opposition to proposed federal regulations on Internet neutrality. Anyone who likes to watch big companies calling each other names like eight-year-olds on a school playground will be entertained by the next few months -- especially since the FCC, to whom the comments will be made, won't allow most of those words on television. Fortunately, we have SFGate, even though it changed the headline.

iThinkItsFunny: It's no secret who the new Motorola phone from Verizon is taking on. They have a commercial, too -- and a parody. How can you not love YouTube?

You know what they say about something for nothing -- but if you're a high school or college student (or know someone who is), you can get Windows Server 2008 for free. Insert your inevitable wisecracks about it being Mac compatible here. We'll even take your comments about the software that lets you run the Mac OS on a PC.

And don't for a minute believe that TV shows will be free forever either; they might not be free by this time next year.

Sun setting: If your career planning included a stint at Sun Microsystems, you'd better do some revising. Sun is about to lay off 3,000 people, about ten percent of its workforce.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to be different: But, in the interests of keeping peace, we're posting a link to an item about the top ten Black Friday sites, since it's only a month or so away. One to watch for (and, if you like peace and quiet the morning after Thanksgiving, one to avoid) is WalMart -- which is now intent on becoming the Internet's biggest book retailer. The good news: No greeters.

Sun rising: When the Chinese government blocked access to the Tor Project's software and network -- meaning that quite suddenly, people in China who had been using the Internet without significant concern for their well-being were either at risk or had to avoid going on line -- but only for as long as it took people in China to use instant messengers to send the IP addresses of "bridges" to get around the blockage. There's something truly gratifying about people fighting tyranny, even if the big software and search companies don't have the guts to do it.

Product of the Week: Paint that blocks wireless signals -- while we find $32 a gallon for paint to be not overly expensive, all things considered, it's the prospect of having to paint the house again that's a little unnerving. (Thanks, Matt!)

Search results make strange bedfellows: You'll remember that a while back Facebook -- which doesn't have enough income to make a profit from its 300 million users -- wanted to buy Twitter, and how Twitter soundly rejected the whole idea. Facebook is backed, of course, with a quarter of a billion dollars in Microsoft money -- which makes it very unlikely that it will sign up with anyone else besides Bing (i.e. Google) for any kind of mine-the-daylights-out-of-your-customers'-profiles search.

But now it looks like Twitter will also become part of the Bing Collective. But don't worry that Bing might have search results not available on Google -- this just means that the world's dominant software company will have access to all those twits and Facebook posts. Unless Wowd finds them first, because eventually, Google will have them too.

One final thought: will the Facebook movie gloss over that nasty part about stealing the whole idea?

Napoleon heads for Elba: Carl Icahn, who made such a big fuss by threatening a proxy fight to oust Jerry Yang as the boss at Yahoo, has very quietly resigned from Yahoo's board of directors.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Microsoft (with good reason) is staking its reputation on Windows 7, which is not quite as perplexing as the Chinese accusing Google of violating copyrights. Also, SCO may finally settle with Novell over that Duke-Nukem-Forever-like lawsuit.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureI was talking with my other half about Experts Exchange the other day -- big surprise, huh -- and about a conversation he had with jennhp, one of EE's employees who wrote a very nice introduction to the BlackBerry. He was saying that she said she felt a little intimidated by all the great Experts that answer questions, so she hadn't really done so very much.

I know how she feels, and I'm here to tell you that it's really not nearly as bad as you would think, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, there are a lot of people who ask questions who are just as nervous because they don't know, and they see a lot of Experts asking questions about their systems and the software they're using and a lot of things the askers don't really know about.

When I first joined EE, I was the same, except that I'm not really all that afraid of people -- and that's who the Experts are: people. So when I saw someone being confused by the questions they were being asked by Experts, I just tried to help them by talking to them in language they understand. That's not a knock on the Experts, because I've met dozens of them and they're all nice people who really do want to help -- but they can easily lose track of how much they know, and how little some of us out here who just use computers don't know.

But what has always impressed me is that for the most part, people who really do want an answer can almost always get one. If you say you don't understand what an Expert is telling you, then the Experts are usually pretty good about walking you through the solution.

So don't be afraid to answer questions; everyone who has any points at all had to start somewhere, even angelIII. He wasn't born knowing everything he knows, and the really good Experts will tell you that they had to learn things the hard way too: by trial and error, and by asking questions.

Finally, two little items that you would probably expect to see from me. First, everyone is a target for phishing, including Robert Mueller, the director of the FBI. And secondly, my other half and I have been receiving a ton of junk mail that looks like Microsoft wants you to "update Outlook Express" and refers to an actual Microsoft KB article. We've also been getting notices that the "settings for your email address have been changed", with what looks like a link to a domain mailserver. How many times do I have to say it: Don't take the bait. Go to Microsoft's (or whoever's) website and see if there is anything you really need to do -- and if you have any doubts, you can ask the good people in the Antivirus, Email and Antispam zones at Experts Exchange, too.

New Certificates

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Expert In Topic Area Certified
CodeCruiser.NET Framework 3.x versionsGuru
guru_sami.NET Framework 3.x versionsMaster
thenelsonAccess Architecture/DesignMaster
Helen_FeddemaAccess Coding/MacrosGuru
puppydogbuddyAccess Coding/MacrosGuru
brettdjAccess Coding/MacrosMaster
harfangAccess Coding/MacrosSage
peter57rAccess FormsGenius
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