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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

NOVEMBER 9, 2011


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

Examples of why we love EE

Nata's Corner
The good and bad of Facebook

Articles Points
EE is more than Q&A

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through November 5


Moving on: We want to wish a fond farewell to Megan Farrell, who left Experts Exchange at the end of last week. Her contributions to Experts Exchange will be felt for some time to come; she is one of the people who worked tirelessly on the new version of the site that is getting closer to launch every day. But as importantly, Megan cmeganoordinated the effort to turn t-shirts into water that resulted in life-changing experiences for a school and a community in Ethiopia and Megan herself. It's a rare person who can both contribute to a community and at the same time, enable the community to give to something so important to her. Thanks for the great run, Megan!

"It takes a village": After seeing his staff and Experts Exchange's Experts build two wells (see the links in the item above), CEO Randy Redberg is matching the EE community's donation to WaterRun to build a third well in BorBoro, Ethiopia, and our most recent podcast features the aforementioned Megan and demazter talking about the t-shirt challenge and water wells.

New EE Blog: The official Experts Exchange blogs have gotten a makeover; here's what you'll find there.

Meet-up: Site administrator Jason Levine, AKA WhackAMod is taking EE's roadshow to Chicago on November 17. He'll be at The Fifty, 2047 Division Street, from 4 pm to 8 pm, and will be joined by EE's prolific politics blogger Matt Stanford and one of our favorite EE people, Natalie Kuhn. Come have a beer on us; you can RSVP here.

leaHalloween: Earlier this year, BooMod's delightfully charming wife underwent her second major surgery for treatment of breast cancer, and following her recuperation, has been undergoing treatment. Her recovery has been successful enough that she was able to star in a movie with the directing, producing and costuming functions performed by her husband. Of the process, BooMod says, "I was --><-- that close to throwing in the towel like three times a few days before, but had to keep pusing on and redo and redo and undo and redo my soldering hundreds of times to fix mistakes..."

Customer Service contest: One of the things that sets Experts Exchange apart from most other knowledge sites is its Customer Service department; as with any successful business, the service this talented group of people provide is integral to the company's progress. Now, if you have a reason to deal with the CS department, you can win one of the very nice EE polo shirts just for filling out the survey after your experience.

buckleShowdown winner: We're going to regret this, but we have to post it anyway. slightwv (who will now become insufferably smug toward all of us who bet against him) outpointed sdstuber to win the first Expert Showdown a couple of weeks ago. Congratulations, Bud!

Beta: There's still time to pick up a very cool EE V.10 t-shirt and maybe even a year of free Premium Services by signing up to participate in our beta program and helping spread the news about the new site by posting the beta badge on your website.


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There aren't many things that can be more perplexing or intimidating than the message "User Type Not Defined", especially if you aren't sure how to do what a program is telling you to do. That's what WestBillWest ran into last week, and fyed came to the rescue, providing a sample database to help: "Great, worth every dime. Hopefully someday I can help somebody."

rkode was apparently in need of some serious assistance ("I'd really REALLY be grateful for it.") when asking for some help writing a script to parse a text file. billprew wrote out a script and said he thought it would be pretty close, and rkode replied: "Pretty close? It's PERFECT! Absolutely PERFECT! I can't thank you enough. My eyes can't thank you enough. You're the greatest." And if that weren't enough, after getting a minor error in closing the question fixed, he came back and added, "I was so excited about getting Bill Prew's solution, that I kinda messed things up. (With regards to awarding points and closing the incident.) Anyway, all is well now."

It didn't help him win the Expert Showdown, but slightwv's suggestions in helping NillumbikSC figure out why two databases weren't talking to each other made the difference: "Yet again the value of the EE world comes through. I had battled with this problem for about 2 weeks off and on and finally a solution. Many thanks guys and gals."

Steve_Brady was trying to figure out how to randomly scatter objects on a PowerPoint presentation, and teylyn provided him with both the technique and a sample. That impressed fellow experts redmondb ("Wow") and ScriptAddict ("teylyn gets a raise for that"), but it was Steve's comment that stood out: "I can't really add any verbiage to Brian's "wow" (except maybe an exclamation mark) because he pretty well summed it up! However, maybe I can contribute some audio: Brtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrtrt -- drumroll as teylyn is typing her post followed by a tympani crescendo building to a cymbal crash as she clicks "Submit" giving way to a full-orchestra fanfare centered on a magnificent motif played by the strings -- most prominently the cellos of course -- when it is published! Then a simple but poignant gong each time an unsuspecting reader realizes what they just read. I wish EE would give us (frequent question askers) 2 or 3 "coupons" -- worth 1000 or 2000 points each -- to award during the year for above-and-beyond effort or above-and-out-of-the-box thinking. This would be a perfect time to use one!"

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PictureIt seems like not a day goes by that my other half comes up with a reason to not ever want to join Facebook; he won't even join so he can look at the photographs his mother posts, so I have to send them to him. This time, it's an item that says that Facebook doesn't care about a vulnerability that lets someone send someone who isn't their friend an executable file as an attachment. The story says that Facebook is pooh-poohing the alleged hole because it would require an additional layer of social engineering", but we have all been watching these things for years now, and the guys who want to install these things know that it doesn't take very many before they have been able to get their hands on tens of thousands of bank and credit card accounts.

Still, that does make you wonder about the parents of children who help their kids create Facebook accounts when the children are under the age of 13 -- like EE, the youngest a child can be to have an account. It's not illegal, but it's such a hassle that most sites simply prohibit underaged children.

Fortunately, Facebook says that a new security feature called "trusted friends" can help keep the bad guys out, which is good considering they estimate that 600,000 accounts are compromised every day. There are still a few questions about it though, like "what happens if someone hijacks your account and changes who your trusted friends are?", but I'm going to give them some credit for at least trying. What bothers me, though, is that Facebook is becoming a lot like Google when it comes to taking care of people who use the site: they're avoiding having anything to do with them, which isn't really very sociable when you think about it. You'd think that with all that money they're making from selling ads that are targeted toward the people who use the site, they'd at least have someone who could answer an email or something like that. I mean, Steve Jobs could.

Speaking of service, you can get out of Klout if you're tired of looking up at other people who have nothing better to do than tweet all day. Or if you really don't want to be reminded of your knowledge and influence about Jersey Shore.. Also, a month ago I had an item about how to find out what information Facebook has on you; Sophos has a list.

We have all seen, and probably a lot of you web developers out there have used, CAPTCHAs -- the squiggly nonsensical words that keep websites like Amazon from selling all of their copies of the last Harry Potter DVD to some guy who then sells them on eBay for twice their regular price because nobody else has them. Well, they may not be as safe as everyone thinks, because some researchers at Stanford have come up with a way to decode them, including two-thirds of the ones used by Visa's Authorize.net payment system. Only Google and its ReCaptcha systems managed to keep the machines out; can you say CaptchaChing?

Groupon went public last week, so I think it's a good time to remind people that those discounts don't last forever. You can spend $25 for a discount worth $50, but if it expires (most are six months, but you should look at what the business puts on it before you buy), the Groupon is still worth what was paid for it. Even here in sunny California, they can expire because a Groupon is not a gift certificate.

Finally, a school district in California is using bar code readers to scan a 2-inch card when children arrive, and that alerts their parents by text or email that the student has arrived safely. The system also calculates environmental and financial savings based on walking or riding a bicycle, rather than the student being taken to school by car or school bus.

Articles Points

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A lot of space in this newsletter has been devoted to the matter of certificates and points awarded to Experts as they help others resolve all manner of technical (and occasionally, non-technical) problems. However, there are a good number of people who also write a lot of articles about all kinds of subjects, and they are awarded points for those as well, for writing the article in the first place, for extra recognition given by the Page Editors, and for "yes" votes from members of the community. There are also points awarded when the article is used as the solution to a question. The two tables below show who the top ten authors in both categories are for 2011 through the end of September.

Most Article Points
Expert Points
Used In Solution Points
Expert Points

In Brief

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Google is at it again. So is the CIA.

Where's Sean Connery when you need him: As if anyone needed any more evidence that the government of about one-seventh of the world's population shouldn't be at the top of the US's ten best friends list, Bloomberg BusinessWeek had a report a couple of weeks ago that China was hacking US satellites.

Nothing if not efficient: In case you've forgotten, here are some amazing before and after photos of Japan's coastal cities during and after the earthquake and tsunami in March.

Blood in the sand: We've mostly been ambivalent about Anonymous. On the one hand, we don't like the idea of outing undercover police officers who are risking their lives dealing with some fairly ruthless people; on the other, seeing the high and might toppled (or at least embarrassed) has been high sport for a year or so now ("I wonder who they'll get next..."). But taking on the Mexican drug cartels has already cost some lives, so it's good to see that the ad hoc group is exercising some discretion.

Raise your hand if you've heard this one before: It's been a while since we wrote about bosses, but sometimes they make it too easy.

It may be the one thing they're never criticized for: Just in case you were wondering how they did it, here's Google's Halloween doodle.

You can substitute a Mountain Dew can if you're really geeky: Just for younghv as an early Christmas gift from Nata, something to do with all those unrecycled beer cans.

In requiem: Joe Frazier (whose fights against Muhammad Ali interested the world), Andy Rooney of CBS (who we never really found very interesting), and Google Sidewiki (which nobody found interesting).

Slip sliding away: Despite Microsoft's best efforts to convince everyone that they shouldn't be using Windows XP, it took ten years for any operating system to catch it worldwide. Interesting is ZDNet's use of "floundering" when referring to Windows XP; we think that it would better refer to Microsoft's ability to turn out a decent operating system, considering we had to go through the Vista challenge before we got to Windows 7. Also of note: Internet Explorer is continuing its slide, with Chrome as the beneficiary.

It's got hit written all over it: We're pitching this to the USA Network: a TV drama about a frumpy, grumpy ol' lawyer with a Victoria's Secret model investigator taking cases of guys busted on NCIS, Law and Order and CSI, alleging they were tracked illegally.

Just because we haven't said anything about them lately doesn't mean they haven't been busy: The recording and movie industries are still trying to stick their round peg of a business model into a square hole -- and hamstringing the First Amendment in the process. And that guy who thinks he owns half of Faceborg has to find the flash drives that he says prove it.

If you're one of those people who doesn't like some facebookless employee knowing everything there is to know about you: Unthink could be the site you're looking for.

A plague on both your houses: Apparently, the EU is tired of Apple and Samsung tying up the courts.

Go ahead: We dare you to try it, even if it is a few days after the contest is over. At least you won't be stuck with people thinking you're a "RedDitor". Just remember: with Yahoo's numbers doing what they're doing, they could be in the market for a new search partner.

H-oooo-Ps: Back in August, then-CEO Leo Apotheker said that HP was probably going to offload its PC business, which, after announcing that it was going to stop selling its new TouchPad and Palm-based phones, were many things led to his being replaced by former eBay boss (and HP board member) Meg Whitman. Her first significant acts as CEO: reversing the decision on the PCs and the Slate. Meanwhile, Microsoft uses Courier to explain its goofs.

We know we've used this bumper before, but "if you're so rich, why aren't you smart?" Let's see if this makes sense. They've burned through $1.1 billion in venture capital. As of September 30, they had lost over $200 million in 2011, and owe another $465 million to merchants. They've been accused of "creative" accounting. Oh, and both Google and Amazon, both of which have pretty solid track records financially, are starting competing services. And Groupon still managed to raise $700 million in its IPO Friday. As Adlai Stevenson is reported to have said, "It hurts too much to laugh but you're too old to cry."

Maybe that's why Groupon loses so much money: Too many deals with Chinese restaurants.

Sirious problem: As if having more battery problems and yanking Gmail weren't enough, Apple's Siri, the facial recognition and personal assistant software that makes the iPhone 4S different from its predecessor, is going AWOL, and while the ever polite Siri apologizes, Apple is noticeably quiet on the subject.

Signs of the Apocalypse: A how to book for marketing in the Teens. Angry Birds on Coke. One [More] Life to Live for All My Children. Tech execs send their children to computer-free schools.


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New Geniuses: nobus is the first Experts Exchange member in over a year to earn two Genius certificates in a two week period, picking up his sixth and seventh in Windows Vista and Desktops. Only four other members of EE have seven or more Genius certificates. leakim971's fourth Genius t-shirt came in JScript, while johnb6767 has his third, in Windows 7. Outstanding work!

My First Million: Five members of Experts Exchange reached the 1,000,000 point level for their careers last month. They are dgofman, RajkumarGS, yobri, tagit, and bhanukir7. Well done!


Expert In Topic Area Certificate
ddayx10.NET ProgrammingMaster
sonawanekiran.NET ProgrammingMaster
arnoldActive DirectoryGuru
SandeshdubeyActive DirectoryWizard
RobMobilityBlackberry ProgWizard
anoopkmrCisco PIX/ASAGuru
ArneLoviusCisco PIX/ASAMaster
joewinogradDocument ManagementMaster
jason1178Internet MarketingMaster
mccrickMac OS XMaster
paulmacdMicrosoft IIS Web ServerMaster
shalomcMicrosoft IIS Web ServerMaster
ded9Microsoft OSMaster
ve3ofaMicrosoft OSMaster
Joe_WoodhouseMisc DatabasesMaster
hanccockaMisc HardwareMaster
RobMobilityMisc HardwareMaster
richrumbleMisc NetworkingMaster
dragon-itMisc ProgrammingMaster
digitapMisc SecurityMaster
slemmesmiMisc SecurityMaster
mplungjanMisc Web DevSage
aikimarkMS ApplicationsMaster
andrewssd3MS ExcelGuru
DoDahDMS ExcelMaster
etech0MS ExcelMaster
GlennLRayMS ExcelMaster
m4trixMS ExcelMaster
slycoderMS ExcelMaster
gowflowMS ExcelWizard
nike_golfMS ExcelWizard
akosterMS OfficeMaster
barryhoudiniMS OfficeSage
sammySeltzerMS SQL Server 2005Guru
TempDBAMS SQL Server 2005Master
HainKurtMS SQL Server 2005Sage
lcohanMS SQL Server 2005Wizard
emoreauMS SQL Server 2008Guru
lluddenMS SQL Server 2008Master
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
Paul_Harris_FusionMS SQL Server 2008Master
rajvjaMS SQL Server 2008Master
RazmusMS SQL Server 2008Master
sqlservrMS SQL Server 2008Master
paulsauveMS WordGuru
aikimarkMS WordMaster
PranjalShahMySQL ServerMaster
oleggoldOracle DatabaseGuru
GLComputingProductivity AppsMaster
rindiSBS Small Business ServerGuru
footechSBS Small Business ServerMaster
CallandorServer HardwareGuru
DavisMcCarnServer HardwareMaster
leewServer HardwareSage
dpk_walSoftware FirewallsGuru
PatelAlpeshSSRS SQL Reporting SvcMaster
TempDBASSRS SQL Reporting SvcMaster
arnoldStorage MiscGuru
aleghartStorage MiscMaster
hanccockaStorage MiscWizard
paulsolovStorage MiscWizard
sentnerUnix OSMaster
carrzkissVB ScriptMaster
Mikal613Visual Basic.NETGuru
strickddVisual Basic.NETGuru
djon2003Visual Basic.NETMaster
vbighamVisual Basic.NETMaster
MereteWeb BrowsersMaster
ve3ofaWeb BrowsersMaster
Ray_PaseurWeb FrameworksMaster
TheLearnedOneWeb Services and WCFGuru
lucky85Web Services and WCFMaster
hades666Windows 2003 ServerGuru
wantabe2Windows 2003 ServerGuru
clonyxlroWindows 2003 ServerMaster
richrumbleWindows 2003 ServerMaster
johnb6767Windows 7Genius
rindiWindows 7Guru
gerwinjansenWindows 7Master
NeilsrWindows 7Master
RobSampsonWindows 7Master
Run5kWindows 7Wizard
mkline71Windows NetworkingMaster
willcompWindows OSGuru
jimpenWindows Server 2008Master
mcsweenWindows Server 2008Master
MrGravesWindows Server 2008Master
nobusWindows VistaGenius
apache09Windows VistaMaster
billprewWindows XPGuru
dragon-itWindows XPGuru
cantorisWindows XPMaster