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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

DECEMBER 4, 2013

Featured Content

What's New at Experts Exchange
From SLO and beyond

Nata's Corner
Anniversaries and shopping lists

Tip From The Mods
You can't do that

Two worthy gifts, and
one, two, three guides

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through Nov. 30

What's New at E-E

Holidays: In addition to our venerable holiday banner, we will be putting out one more issue in two weeks, and will then be on hiatus for the rest of the year, in no small part because you're likely to be otherwise occupied on the Wednesdays December 25 and January 1 and wouldn't be reading the EE newsletter anyway. We'll be back on January 8 with the annual Expert of the Year issue.

T-shirt Donations: Recently, we were asked about donating t-shirts; in the past, we have taken the money that might have been spent making the shirts and matched it, but for the holidays -- considering it gets cold -- EE will match every t-shirt donated with another shirt, and we'll donate the whole kit and kaboodle to the United Way. Donations will be taken through December 31; simply fill out the redemption form in your profile with the word "Donate" in every field.

Points: Almost everyone who has earned points will see the numbers in their Topic Rank change (we think we've caught them all in the Milestones section) due to the consolidation of a number of topic areas. You haven't lost any of your certificates, but you might have gained a rank or two here and there in the process.

Referrals: We mentioned EE's new referral program that will let you earn some extra cash 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 three catches: 1) it's for new accounts only; 2) the email address in your profile must match the email address in a PayPal account; and 3) your referred member must use the link created by the system when registering. It works for people who earn Qualified Expert status too.

Tech Trends: Experts Exchange wants to know what you think will be the major trends in technology that will emerge in 2014. Give EE your two cents worth by taking a short survey.

Notifications: Yes, we're aware that there are all kinds of ongoing issues with notifications, including getting some that come from old questions and older articles. We know that some are missing. What we're still trying to find is where, exactly, the bug is.

Blog Post: Ray_Paseur and bportlock combined to give rvcw a solution to the problem of a web application's security and a PHP exploit. It's must reading if you have a PHP site and use cookies.

Tip From The Mods: Almost every day, we see a question go by that has a comment posted to the effect that what the Asker wants isn't something the Experts can help with. There are a variety of reasons:

  • There's not enough information to begin to formulate an answer.
  • The Asker wants someone to write 20,000 lines of code, a project inappropriate for a site like EE.
  • The question has nothing to do with the topic areas it is asked in.
  • The Asker wants to do something that is illegal, immoral or simply a really bad idea.

But occasionally, the question involves doing something that is simply not possible, like extracting search terms from Google searches. Three pretty knowledgeable Experts all said the same thing: there's no way to do what the Asker was looking for.

To his credit, wfskmoney did the right thing: he selected several comments as the answer, because while Experts can get pretty inventive when it comes to solving problems, sometimes "you can't do that" is the only correct answer.

Kudos: Th0R was trying to change the formatting of the data in Excel spreadsheets without having to manually go through thousands of lines. After reading a couple of comments and asking one question, aikimark posted a short bit of code that solved the problem: You are one of the reasons this site is so great. Works like a charm! Couldn't have done it without you!

Ooops: Due to a variety of factors too mundane to get into in any detail, our last issue didn't get delivered to everyone. If you're still interested, you can read it here.

Geek Stuff

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Leap Motion
Leap Motion Controller.
Plugs into a USB port, and keeps you from having to reach over to your mouse, or pick up the stylus. Requires Win 7, Mac OS X Lion or Ubuntu 12, 2 GB RAM. $80.
Emperor chair
MWE Lab Emperor 200 Workstation, custom built to your specs. $49,150.
GPS shoe
Stamp Shoes "No Place Like Home" GPS Shoes
Originally designed for the Global Footrint Project of the Northamptonshire County Council, these shoes are fitted to order and hand made with an integrated GPS system and LED lights to point you to a pre-programmed destination. No price listed for the GPS-enabled shoes, but Stamps Shoes start at £1,100.
A little box that connects to your wireless router and uses the Tor software to prevent snooping by hiding your IP address from the prying eyes of pretty much everyone and effectively stopping websites from logging where you are. $49.

Nata's Corner

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Nata's PicturejavaIf you'd have told me ten years ago that 1) I'd still be wearing the same sunglasses and 2) I'd still be writing this column, I'd have said "You're nuts." Thanks to everyone over the years for your criticisms, your support, and your kindness in delivering both. On the other hand...

One of the things I've harped on over the years is about using good passwords and then changing them fairly often. I'm glad it doesn't take a lot to type out the words reminding you yet again, because if this problem were a wall, my head would be awfully sore. In Europe, while about half of Internet users are "concerned" about things like identity theft and have done something about it, the other half have not -- and nearly twenty per cent have never done anything.

Some things you should try once (assuming you have a bucket list that includes things that are totally dumb, like waiting in line outside a big box store). Other things you should try more often, like trying to save your relatives a few bucks when it comes to buying stuff. And if you're in a giving mood, make sure you research your charity before handing over any money.

Tradition being what it is, here's your list of places (outside of the EE newletter, of course) to find all kinds of things for the geek and non-geek in your life:

If you need another reason to drop your Facebook account, I've found one. A security researcher has figured out that even if someone has taken the time to change his privacy settings so that only his friends can see who else he's friends with, a "friend request" will show the requesting person all of his friends, even if the request is denied. Facebook's response to hearing about the flaw? "And your point is... ?" And in case you need reminding, social media posts have a way of coming back to bite you.

Finally, if you're one of the people who runs into an occasional crash for no apparent reason, one of the causes could be a still-installed old version of Adobe Flash Player. The first thing you should do is visit Adobe's test page that tells you which version you have installed and if there is a newer version available. Then download the uninstall program from Adobe and run it (you'll have to shut anything that might use Flash down before you do). Then reopen your browser and download and install the latest version. The cause of crashes might be something else, too -- but Adobe's reputation precedes it.

Downtime Stuff

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Procrastinator's Mug.
There are several styles available, but this one is our favorite. $17.
Self stirring mug
Self Stirring Mug.
Not terribly useful if you drink your coffee black. Batteries required, $12.
Bottle glass
Giant Wine Bottle Wine Glass holds 750ml, and you can ignore the sexist advertising. $18.
Walking dead
Risk: Walking Dead Survival Edition.
A twist on the Hasbro Risk game. $44-$53, depending. There's also a Walking Dead version of Monopoly.

In Brief

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Flipping point: A couple of months ago, Google put a few bucks into its expensive YouTube acquisition and started requiring anyone who wanted to comment on a video to log in using a Google+ account, ostensibly to cut down on the troll-like behavior endemic to sites that don't have measures enforcing responsiblity for one's posts. The results were predictable; to paraphrase Dr Malcolm, trolls found ways of getting back at Google for daring to try to rein them in, notably increasing spam posts.

Of course, it's all a smokescreen; Google isn't really interested in cleaning up the comments in YouTube. Google is interested in getting more information about its users, and Google+ does that to a greater degree than anything else the company can do. More data -- at least in Google's world -- means better targeting of advertising, and that means Google can charge more money for what it delivers to the users' screens. Equally hypocritical, though (okay, maybe not equally, but close) is the change.org petition demanding that Google reinstate anonymous posting. Free accounts and free entertainment come at a price; the user is no longer the customer, but the product, a slave to be bought and sold for fifty cents a click.

We got your order right here: 23andMe, the company owned in part by Google founder Sergie Brin's wife Anne (who is also Google garage landlord Susan Wojcicki's sister), was told to stop selling its DNA-testing kits, but because its corporate DNA comes from Google, it responded with little more than "yeah, we got your letter". In case you're curious, Google's revenues in one quarter are three times the FDA's annual budget. Damon Runyon advised who to bet on.

Fun and games: One of the excuses big box retailers used for starting Black Friday as early as Thursday morning was that the shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a week shorter this year -- which also means that holiday get-togethers will be more frequent, as will suddenly-scheduled doctors appointments and other schemes for not getting a lot of work done. So, as a public service, we offer the following time-sinks:

Elephant in the room: Social networks still don't drive customers -- except maybe "away". Oh... and that whole bit about "why advertisers continue to pour money into something that doesn't work" argument? Easy: elephants travel in herds.

Hiding in plain sight: Yahoo is going to start encrypting its traffic to keep it out of spying eyes. Until, of course, some government asks for it (and they have been for a while). Also in hiding: Yahoo Mail users.


Show me the money: Never mind the philosophical arguments that would rage between Adam Smith and Karl Marx (not to mention Keynes). Bitcoins are here to stay, at least until someone decides to corner the market on them -- at which point they'll be worth less than the paper they're printed on. But no worries; a total of 21,000,000 of the electronic "coins" will be created between now and 2140 (not quite sixty per cent are already out there, and you can track where they are and what they're worth), minus the 7,500 that are in a landfill in Wales. Now all the world needs is an exchange dealing in alternative non-currencies.

In requiem: Paul Walker, star of the Fast & Furious movie series, one of our favorite guilty pleasures.

Crowd avoidance: If you haven't bought your new Xbox One, there's a good reason to not be an early adopter: the disc drive might be faulty. Redmond is making good by replacing the consolve and giving a free download... but don't cuss on Xbox Live.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Bill Gates' foundation has funded another health project. We're not going to publish any emails with bad jokes, so don't send them, please. An Ohio WalMart is holding a food drive for its employees. The CEO isn't eligible. Copyright infringement run amok (at least they know where to find lawyers, right?). First world problems: a pecan shortage.

Signs of the Apocalypse Stuff

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Nail polish
Facebook Blue Nail Polish.
We don't know what it costs, or if you can get it anywhere but Facebook's office, but it's better than Yahoo Purple.
Dr. Tung's Tongue Cleaner.
Stainless steel, a measly $7, and counts toward free shipping. But it's this review that will cause you to put this on your shopping list for someone.
Face Slimmer Exercise Mouthpiece
"The makers recommend you say vowel sounds out loud over and over..." At $62, it's a lot less expensive than plastic surgery and a lot less likely to turn your face into something out of a Chucky movie; it doubles as the foundation for a Halloween mask.
phone case
Ear Shaped iPhone Case.
We found this on a number of sites, curiously, all from Great Britain -- maybe it's a Prince Charles thing. Made from silicone, only available for iPhones, about £10.


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New Savant: LSMConsulting is now a Savant in the Microsoft Access topic area.

New Prodigy: hanccocka has reached the 5,000,000 point level in Virtualization. He is the third member of EE to have 5,000,000 points in each of two topic areas.

New Geniuses: nobus has become the all-time leader in Genius certificates as he earned is fourteenth, in Microsoft Operating Systems; he has reached 2,000,000 points in four topic areas. On the other end of the spectrum, erniebeek has earned his first, in Cisco PIX/ASA Firewall.

My First Million: Sandeshdubey reached the 1,000,000 point level.


Expert In Topic Area Certificate
GaryC123.NET ProgrammingMaster
keustermans.NET ProgrammingMaster
Raj-GTActive DirectoryMaster
SubsunActive DirectorySage
bportlockApache Web ServerGuru
Psy053Backup / RestoreMaster
erniebeekCisco PIX/ASAGenius
TimotiStCisco PIX/ASAMaster
DaveBaldwinEmail ClientsGuru
EnphynitiEmail ServersMaster
R--REmail ServersMaster
DavisMcCarnHardware ComponentsGuru
dletheHardware ComponentsWizard
MereteInternet / Email SoftwareMaster
Darr247Internet ProtocolsMaster
serialbandMac OS XMaster
nobusMicrosoft OSGenius
strivoliMicrosoft OSMaster
AlexPaceMisc NetworkingMaster
arnoldMisc NetworkingWizard
Cyber-spyMisc Web DevMaster
FlysterMS AccessWizard
MartinLissMS ApplicationsGuru
jimhornMS DevelopmentGuru
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
HarryHYLeeMS ExcelGuru
HayesJupeMS Server OSGuru
gsimosMS Server OSMaster
yo_beeMS Server OSMaster
skipper68MS SharePointMaster
jacko72MS SQL ServerGuru
jonnidipMS SQL ServerMaster
BriCroweMS SQL Server 2005Master
agux3eMS SQL Server 2008Master
jackiemanMS WordMaster
amar_bardoliwalaMySQL ServerMaster
_agx_MySQL ServerWizard
rauenpcNetworking HardwareGuru
Geert_GruwezOracle DatabaseWizard
ozoProg LanguagesWizard
jacko72Query SyntaxMaster
sjwalesQuery SyntaxMaster
hanccockaServer SoftwareMaster
xtermShell ScriptingMaster
NicoboSSRS SQL Reporting SvcSage
rauenpcSwitches / HubsGuru
JamesBurgerVisual Basic ClassicMaster
jyparaskVisual Basic.NETGuru
AlexCodeVisual Basic.NETWizard
McKnifeWindows OSGuru
djsharmaWindows Server 2008Master
hhaywood000Windows Server 2008Wizard
jakob_diWireless NetworkingWizard