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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

NOVEMBER 20, 2013

Featured Content

What's New at Experts Exchange
From SLO and beyond

On Site Notifications
A couple of tips & tricks

Tip From The Mods
Warnings to Google Monkeys

Nata's Corner
Black Friday and cell phones

Still more on Obamacare
EE's Experts get involved

What they're saying about you

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through Nov. 16

What's New at E-E

The Philippines and Midwest: If the typhoon in the Philippines or the freak storms in the Midwest have you considering doing a little something to help, take a look at CARE, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF or the Red Cross.

Referrals: As of last week, you can earn some extra holiday money by referring friends, co-workers, your company or even your Aunt Suzie who doesn't get it about anti-virus programs to Experts Exchange. New Premium Service and Business Account members get a discount, and you can earn up to $50 per account. The two catches: the email address in your profile must match the email address in a PayPal account, and your referred member must use the link created by the system when registering.

Five-Million Point Club: The newest member of the Five-Million Point Club, which carries with it a lifetime membership, is COBOLdinosaur.

Blog posts: Recent additions to the Experts Exchange blog:

On site notifications

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When Experts Exchange released its new onsite notifications system a few weeks ago, it was pretty reasonable for some people to love them, some people to hate them, some people to not even notice them, and some people to suggest lots of improvements to them. One of the more frequent complaints was the objection to having to click the bell in the upper right, and then to click View All Notifications to be able to easily see, without too much scrolling, all of the notifications.

slightwv was one of the earlier adopters, saying "My EE Emails are auto-forwarded to at least one other account. One of those accounts magically appear on my mobile device when I'm not getting paid to sit behind a keyboard. I find it 1000 times easier to just click the bell at the top of the page, right click, open in new tab, delete emails from mobile device. I think I've been converted!!!!!!!!!!!!! Get an email, click the bell."

Nonetheless, he wasn't above trying to make the system more useful for him, when he realized that he could simply leave the All Notifications page open, and then open the linked questions in a new tab. Still, the one thing that bothered him (and several other people) was that the page didn't automatically refresh -- that in order to see any new notifications, he had to do that manually.

PortletPaul suggested a solution, and then went one better. He created a short HTML page, and gave instructions on how to do the same thing.

Open notepad or favorite text editor, and copy this code (Editor's note: because posting the actual code in the newsletter might cause it to bounce, we've turned it into an image.)
Save as a file with .htm or .html extension. Open that file in a browser.

The page refreshes every thirty seconds, with the newest notifications at the top. Depending on how your Saved Searches are set up, you won't need to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously stuff in-boxes -- unless, of course, you want to.

Still more on Obamacare

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healthcare.govThe saga -- fodder for late night talk show hosts -- of healthcare.gov isn't going to go away anytime soon. beavoid's question about what went wrong continued to get readers and comments, including one from jimhorn:

Note to self: Wonder if my old gig at UnitedHealthcare / OptumInsight (the people who were awarded the 'fix ObamaCare' contract) is going to call me back saying they have a hot SSIS gig for me to work on....

Site Admin Netminder suggested they could do worse, but to make sure they had a health plan, to which jimhorn replied:

Absolutely no freaking way. A rational person would think that a health care company would have at minimum GOOD medical benefits, but UHG has a qualified high-deductible health plan (QHDHP) for all employees. They do have a couple of ways to reduce your premiums, but you have to follow their twelve-step programs and enter progress online. And file a claim? Good luck navigating all the websites. Exactly the same method they run other groups health care. Way too much work.

That sums up a lot of what is wrong with health care -- something Ray_Paseur pointed out that the Affordable Care Act isn't -- and one of the reasons the whole process was fated to be a fiasco, if not necessarily a disaster. Then again, it probably doesn't help the situation much that it's become the target du jour for hackers.

EE's own LukeChung-FMS has even become ("accidentally" and "unexpectedly", depending on which post you read) a "national technical expert" on the matter, the result of posting to his blog about his own problems trying to get on the healthcare.gov website.

But for anyone who thinks that the entire US government has no clue how to go about fixing its web systems, leave it to padas to find something that indicates that at least one agency knows where to find solutions to problems. sandshakimi has posted a question -- open as of last weekend -- looking for help making the site more responsive on mobile devices.

May we suggest BugFinder?

Editor's note: After we put this item together, we came across The Health Sherpa, a do-it-yourself fix created about three days that isn't a replacement for healthcare.gov in that you can't enroll in an insurance plan, but it does let you compare plans -- which is most of the work.


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Understanding the difference between pixels and dots per inch was what sheana11 was trying to do, and padas explained it for her: Thank you, Padas, for your detailed explanation and help. Your answer is the reason I'm a member of Experts-Exchange! Thanks again.

DatabaseDek was having some issues with what he thought was a slow server, but LSMConsulting got him pointed in the right direction: Thank you. I must say that I sometimes don't use Experts Exchange for months on end, but when I do, oh boy, do I get my money's worth!

wordtec000 is on a trial membership at EE, so it wasn't surprising that her first question -- about converting a proprietary audio file to a more common format -- got asked in the Community Support topic area. She got some hints from Netminder, and when she asked it again in the multimedia topic areas, he sent out notes to some Experts to help. MASQUERAID, Merete, ericpete and especially joewinograd gave her a lot of ideas so she was able to get started: Next time I run into another challenging issue, this will be my go to source for help. I've already shared info about this site with my personal and business Facebook page as well. I wish I would have known about Experts-Exchange a long time ago, you all would have probably saved me from having a lot of headaches and stress. Thank you so much, you provide an valuable service!

But it didn't end there; wordtec000 went back to her original question and let Netminder know how it all worked out:

This is a great site and I can't thank you enough for getting me the help I needed to figure these files out. I was pleasantly surprised how quick people stepped up to help and take on the challenge, which it definitely was. Even after I tuckered out at 1 am last night, they were still coming up with ideas and then started again at 7 this morning. Incredible.

I don't have issues with my system very often that I can't eventually figure out, but this was one that the options needed to be explored. We did get a solution, maybe not exactly what I was aiming for, but a solution nonetheless and I now have a few hours of the files copied and converted. That is a success as far as I'm concerned.

I've already told a few people about your site, techies and non-techies and I will also make a post on my Facebook page. I will then make another post on my business Facebook page and steer people in your direction.

Since it isn't often that I do have any issues, I'll do the trial for now, but when I do come back with another issue, I will subscribe for sure. There is a wealth of knowledge and help here for people who have computer issues and now I know where I will go first, the next time I run into a problem. (When it does happen, it's always like at 5:00 on a Friday.).

You have great people here. It was a very enjoyable experience and certainly great advice and tools to help. I appreciate you helping me and pointing me in the right direction in the beginning as well. I really didn't know where to begin.

Just to let you know, after my trial subscription, I do believe I will be continuing on with a subscription. I think it will help me save a lot of time and money in the long run, when I can utilize the experts to help me, instead of having to bug my usual computer person. I have to look around the site when I have time, to see if I can get some insight into a few other issues or recommendations on computer things. So thank you again!

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PicturepasteHuh?

In the last couple of issues, we've made mention of the malware that's been going around that encrypts files and then wants you to pay a ransom for getting the files back. Since then, there have been a couple of questions asked, notably one answered by MASQUERAID that gives a pretty solid way to deal with the infection: Prevent it.

I think I've mentioned it before; I'm not going to make the other half take me anywhere on Black Friday. He doesn't have to know that I hate crowded stores and horrible, smelly rude shoppers at 4 a.m. -- he's just happy I'm not going to go anywhere that sales are going on. The real reason: it's just not safe and it's certainly not private.

It's funny. I first started doing this column about ten years ago, when the editor had just started doing the newsletter, and the owners were looking for people to become what are now called Topic Advisors and asked me to be one. We thought we would use the column as a way to answer questions about Experts Exchange and to give people who might be a little intimidated by the whole Q&A process a way to find out things about their computers, but unfortunately, most of the email I got just wanted to know if I really do wear big blue sunglasses all the time.

Back then, the big stores all tried to keep their Black Friday sales secret, but there were always some enterprising people who would find the ads and post them on line at sites like TheBlackFriday.com, BFAds.net, BlackFriday.com, BlackFriday.fm and FatWallet.com, plus who knows how many other sites. But what's different is that now, all the big stores are pushing their ads out there themselves. There's even a guy out there making predictions on what kinds of specials you'll find. Unfortunately, you can also expect to start getting spam and scam emails too.

Speaking of shopping, a couple of weeks ago we stopped in to the Verizon store because my phone wasn't holding a charge very long, and found out that a little over two years is about what you can expect, but the salesman quoted a price to us and then sent us around the corner to a battery store, where we saved $5 and didn't have to wait for it to be shipped. He also tried to sell the other half a new phone (his is even older than mine), which wouldn't cost much with -- you guessed it -- another two-year contract. So it is with great interest that we're going to be watching what the wireless companies are going to do now that the Federal Communications Commission has told them to start unblocking phones, or the FCC will do it for them. It's about time.

Finally, I've written a lot about whichever dastardly deed Facebook has done this week to sell your information to anyone who steps up to the bar, including a couple of months ago when they started putting users' photographs into ads they'd sold. Google started doing the same thing last week -- if you post a restaurant review and share it, and that restaurant buys an ad, your photo will show up -- with one important difference: Unlike Facebook, Google has made it easy to opt out.

In Brief

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'Tis the season: Not the quarterly earnings calls season, but the semiannual time of year when big tech companies issue "transparency reports" in which they say which governments asked for what information how many times. Most don't like it at all, especially the part where the government can say "you can't talk about the fact that we asked", but they're really unhappy about how many requests they're getting. Apple, as might be expected, has come up with a novel method of getting that information out without actually telling.

Speaking of transparency, we couldn't help but notice Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan's column on Google's broken promises. It's good to see that our Admins aren't the only people who noticed.

Best two ideas we've heard all day: Encrypt everything (not that it will do any good), and find that special place in you-know-where for anyone who uses any of these phrases (like people in the advertising industry, for example).

Just the kind of thing that inspires us: 3D-printer MakerBot wants its devices in every school in the country, which would be fine were it not for the printers' ability to make guns that work.

Help wanted: Seeking curious, relentless and discreet person for at-will position as CEO of well-known data-mining brand. Head office in Washington, DC-Baltimore area, but travel is frequent. Includes major role on organization's golf team (shirt provided). Apply by secure email only. Don't use Yahoo mail for a while yet, though.

YouTube trolls outted: If you're one of those people who wanders around YouTube making snide remards about the mom who posted a video of the poor six-year-old who just sat on his older sister's cat, you can still make the remarks -- after you've signed in with your Google+ account. Now, not only are you a dog, but everyone knows it -- and a lot of them don't like it one bit.

If you don't want to know, don't ask: JPMorgan, the big bank, took to Twitter in advance of a public Q&A session with one of its executives with predictable results. Five days later, the feed is still active.

On the other hand, TripAdvisor gives it great reviews: South African police busted up a Nigerian general scam operating out of a beachfront hotel in Cape Town.

Silly site of the week: FBomb_co. If we had to spend that much time in New York, we'd probably cuss too.

In requiem: Blockbuster stores. The last movie rented? One that could have been a sign of the Apocalypse. Mavis Batey, cryptographer and gardener.

Ain't she sweet: For someone who isn't real, yes.

Maybe you shouldn't have brought a camera to the party: Max Mosley, the former president of Formula One racing, is getting an object lesson in what's known as the Streisand Effect.

Buddy, can you spare a dime? Twitter opened at $45.10 and a week later is down a couple of bucks. Now it has to figure out how to make a profit -- and maybe pay taxes. Don't be terribly surprised if they get into the "information brokerage" business. Meanwhile, Snapchat (another company that makes no money) turned down billions from Facebook and from Google.

Somebody got paid for this: Curiously, Twitter users get their news from Twitter, while Facebook users get theirs from Facebook. Whodathunkit.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Of the 38 million Adobe accounts and a staggering 130 million passwords that were breached, 2 million of them had 123456 as their password -- and they were encrypted using reversible encryption. (Thanks, Bev!) The USPS won't deliver the mail on Sundays, but it will deliver for Amazon, unless, of course, you don't live in Los Angeles or New York. "Selfie" is the OED's word of the year.


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New Genius: lcohan received his second Genius certificate, in SQL Server 2008.


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