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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

DECEMBER 7, 2011


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

Nata's Corner
Office parties and Google's ads

Tip From The Mods
Don't gripe about it; do something

Xmas Guide One, Two & Three
'Tis the season, after all

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through December 3


Now that we're done with that whole Cyber Monday thing: The Experts Exchange store is open for business. As might be expected, all of the merchandise is top shelf quality; EE has done a great job of finding goodies that you will use and enjoy showing off -- even the snow globes. Mugs sent to your humble editor will be greatly appreciated.

Share your Favorite Santa Story: To celebrate the holiday season, we're sharing our favorite Santa stories and we want to hear yours. Share your favorite gift-giving story on your blog; you could win a prize (hint: the headline to the blog post says "Amazon Kindle Fire") if your story is the best. Check out the complete rules and how to enter on our blog. Thanks to Nata has added her story already, so keep them coming!

New videos: Experts Exchange is cranking out the videos as we move closer to the release of EE V.10 early next year. The newest ones include Creative Director Mark Barbir on reviving the EE brand, and a cast of a half dozen, including Admins WhackAMod and Netminder and CEO Randy Redberg on the different kind of community that is Experts Exchange. Other videos feature Lead Engineer Michael Spencer, giving some background on why Experts Exchange has rebuilt all of the code behind the site and EE's Lead Designer, Peter Uzzi, describing what users can expect to see when the new site is released.

Customer Service contest: Some of us are lucky enough to talk to the great people in the Experts Exchange Customer Service department every day; they're friendly, helpful and a joy to work with. 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. The contest runs through the end of the month, so post about your experience today!

Kudos: rorya knows his stuff; he's far and away the top point-getter in the Excel topic area, and is a Microsoft MVP to boot. His particular skils were very succinctly put on display in kgerb's question about getting a sum of non-contiguous cells that was, to kgreb, astonishing: "I'm at a loss for words...brilliant...I don't know what else to say...simply brilliant. Thanks Rory."

Win a Nook: Subscribe to Experts Exchange's tech blog, and then share the link on Twitter with this message to your followers (be sure to include the #EEftw hashtag so we can find your post): So I just entered to win a Nook Tablet from @ExpertsExchange -- you can, too: URL HERE #EEftw. You can find all the details about the contest at this blog post.

Webinar: Our next webinar is scheduled for January 19 from 11 am to noon, Pacific time, and will feature Mike Dillon, the CTO of Quest, who will be following up his June presentation on disaster recovery with one titled "Keeping Your Business IT Secure in 2012". If you're interested in presenting, take a look at EE's YouTube channel for samples and then contact Jenn Prentice at the EE office.

The Inbox: skirklan enjoyed our little item in our last issue about the Pareto principle enough to take the time to write: "This bit reminded me of my last corporate job as Director of Advertising for Maxxim Medical. The CEO believed in an aggressive growth through acquisition strategy, and he flew off to Belgium in the corporate jet to check out one of the factories he'd acquired in a recent deal. He was getting a tour of the plant by the general manager, and he asked how many people worked there. The general manager replied, "Oh, about 25%."

Certified, customized and cool: If you haven't grabbed one already, be sure to nab your very own certified Expert Badge and show off your skills on your personal blog or website. All the cool kids are doing it!

Experts Exchange Gift Guide One

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Hand-carved from 100% natural biodegradable bamboo, the Impeccausa KBB500 keyboard connects via USB. Win2K and up or Mac. $50; with bamboo mouse $60.


Sahagún KA-POW! bar looks and feels like chocolate but is made from single-origin coffee beans. $5 per bar, and no flak from the anti-Red-Bull-By-The-Gallon crowd.


For the past month, Canada has been issuing its new polymer banknotes replacing paper. If you can find someone who will send you one, a $100 bill will cost you about $95 USD.


The Urbee will be the world's first 3-D printed car. A hybrid 2-seater, it should get around 200 mpg highway, and will cost between $30,000 and $50,000.


Fans of NBC's The Office can get Dunder-Mifflin paper ("Limitless paper in a paperless world" and "Quabity first") for $35/case.


Dominic Wilcox has created some great watch sculptures that will be available from the Dezeen Watch store. They have others available too.

Nata's Corner

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NataBack when I first started doing this, I thought a lot of it would be answering reader questions about the kinds of issues people were hesitant to post at EE, but it's turned out that I mostly write about things I find interesting to the more non-technical people who are members of EE; I keep telling the people I meet how amazing and brilliant the Experts I've met are -- and it's really the truth. But there's one thing I'm not sure a lot of Experts know a lot about, so I dug up this handy guide from a few years ago that might help you survive the office Christmas party. Have fun, and send me pictures!

I've decided I love Facebook. Without them, I might have to spend a lot more time looking for things to write about. EE beat me to the punch last week, but they missed the part about the European Union getting ready to hit Facebook with sanctions -- maybe even including fines -- over privacy issues, but it avoided fines from the US government. Also hitting Facebook: a new worm.

One of the sites I read pretty often is KrebsOnSecurity.com. Last week, he posted the details of an attempt by a malware group to inject malware into his site by buying advertising on his site, which is novel, to say the least. But given the millions (billions?) of dollars that are at stake in the security business, not to mention the money these guys make by stealing your personal information (or someone else's through botnets and the like), the few dollars they would have had to spend seems pretty trivial. But the main point is that while Krebs' ad provider had the foresight to check the advertising before it got served, not every website or ad provider does that. That means you should be extra careful this time of year, especially if you do any online shopping or banking.

I also got quite a few emails last week from what looked like the division of Intuit -- the maker of Quicken and Quickbooks -- that sells supplies like checks and invoices. That's cool, except that I've never owned any Intuit products, and I certainly don't have any need for a free trial payroll program. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people still writing out paychecks by hand, so you know they're going to jump all over it, even though the file is about 200k in size, and find themselves infected with malware. Let's face it. There are going to be all kinds of attempts to hijack your computer this time of year, and about the only thing you can do is be extra careful.

By the way, those nice little ads you're seeing in Chrome? No, they're not coming from the websites. Three wild guesses as to who is making all of the money from them. They have to make up for all the money they poured into Wave and several other products, not to mention the solar thermal energy thing.

Finally, a few people out there know that my other half and I have ties to Mark Twain, since I spent most of my life in the midwest and he grew up where they jump frogs, so I had to laugh that on the same day Google celebrated his 176th birthday, we were reminded that he wouldn't be welcome at either Facebook or Google+. Go figure.

Experts Exchange Gift Guide Two

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Periodically Inspired™ makes all kinds of stuff, but we think their Genius coffee mug stands out. $11.


This zero-cost rimshot is included here specifically for WhackAMod in hopes his son has a Merry Christmas with it.


TreeSmart makes portable wireless writing devices out of recycled newspapers. Two dozen for $8.

In Brief

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What goes up... A few years back, we were reading breathless prose about the End Of The Empire that was Internet Explorer and the rise of the Darling Of Open Source, the Mozilla Firefox browser. Then along came Google with its Chrome browser, and with Mozilla's advertising revenue arrangement with Google having just ended, well ... let's just say the future isn't very bright.

Flashbacks: In our college days, no bulletin board was complete without at least half a dozen pieces of paper asking or offering to share rides. Now, there's an Internet equivalent.

Future shock: In Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, the protagonist gets shipped off to learn how to be a general by playing video games -- in our day, the little handheld devices given to children to occupy them on long trips to grandma's house for the holidays. Fast forward to today, where handheld technology is redefining both command and control and battlefied combat. And we're only scratching the surface of what's possible.

There's gotta be a country song in here somewhere: Why you should never cheat on your tattoo-artist significant other. Contrast that with the hazards of being a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

(Yes, we've used this before, but it's so perfectly appropriate for Washington) The ANY key: We have been buried with emails over the last few weeks from all kinds of organizations and newsletters asking us to send in our emails to Senators and Congressmen to stop passage of two bills, written by those charming people in the recording and movie industries, that turn them into what amounts to a private court system where they make the rules and issue orders to shut down websites. The odds of it passing and being signed into law are currently at 7-5.

What's truly astonishing about this whole kerfuffle is that apparently, people in both houses of Congress aren't questioning whether the proponents' reasoning has any merit, choosing to exclude from hearings those organizations who are best in a position to provide accurate information, and instead use it as a club with which to beat up on Google on issues without foundation (as opposed to beating up on Google for the somewhat unsavory things it does do.

Across the pond in government news, the UK is trying to figure out a way to "cyberban" groups like LulzSec and Anonymous, and would consider shutting down social networks in the face of civil unrest. In a related story, ads are running in all the major papers for teachers who are bilingual in English and either Chinese (mainland dialects preferred) or North Korean.

Just because it's cool: A natural, accidental optical illusion.

Turkey jokes accepted:

Sometimes, you know there's a connection but just can't put your finger on it: SmartPlanet had two stories last week that must have been assigned by the same editor. One was borrowed from the New York Times and titled "Engineers develop new tool for detecting Kim Kardashian's cellulite" (and no, it doesn't involve her latest soon-to-be-ex-husband); the other was an interview with the developer of AdSense who is building a social network that includes digital therapy sessions.

Poor little rich boy: We weren't the only ones who had something to say when Michael Arrington left TechCrunch in a ... okay, maybe a pout, as opposed to a huff ... to start a VC fund and create another blog. We'll even grant that he makes a halfway decent point about whiny workers. But he shouldn't do that by quoting people out of context -- especially 14 years after the fact.

Help wanted: Beta testers. Gymnastics judges need not apply. Also, there might be a summer gig in London, and there could also be some spots opening up for Pre-Cogs.

Brother, can you spare me a dime? You don't want to know how much money the banks made when taxpayers bailed them out. A possibly more up-to-date song is out there, but please, put the headphones on if you're at work.

Just for fun: We are gladdened by the return, over the last month or so, to EE of COBOLdinosaur, who for many years was a grumpy and strict proponent of user-friendly web development (he was and is also a fierce advocate for putting the users of EE on a par with, if not ahead of, virtually any other considerations). So in his honor, we are borrowing from TechRepublic a list of ten web design tragedies.

Sign of the Apocalypse: It's not so much that Ashton Kutcher has fallen off the top ten on Twitter; it's that anyone cares. A possible Pulitzer Prize for tweeting (we can just see Walter Cronkite rolling over in his grave). And nothing quite says "Merry Christmas" like a photo with Santa.

Experts Exchange Gift Guide Three

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Lytro's light field camera, 8gb $399, 16gb $499. The catch: you need to know someone with a Mac.


We can't imagine anyone actually using a Wheelmate, let alone buying one, but the Amazon reviews are priceless. $20.


The Laser Target alarm clock could be really annoying after a long night; the alarm sounds until you hit the target. $29.


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New Geniuses: There is an interesting theme that runs through the list of people who earned Genius certificates in the last couple of weeks. First, nobus continued his remarkable run by reaching 1,000,000 points in PC Laptops, his ninth; he is the first EE member to be listed in this section for doing that in three consecutive issues, or to put it another way, he has reached the Genius level five times in the past six weeks. Second, one of the members whose username has probably caused come scratched heads among EE's programmers over the past fifteen years -- rrz@871311 -- earned his Genius certificate in Java Server Pages (JSP). Finally, dragon-it reached 1,000,000 points in the one of the original topic areas at Experts Exchange: MS DOS. Congratulations to all!

My First Million: Experts Exchange members who reached the 1,000,000 point level in November were ve3ofa, e_aravind, StephenJR, als315, farzanj, itkamaraj, RobMobility, IanTh, BillBach and pivar. Very well done!


  • RobWill became the 26th Savant overall since joining Experts Exchange as he went over the 10,000,000 point mark.
  • CodeCruiser has earned 8,000,000 points overall; he has also reached the 2,000,000 point level in the VB.NET and ASP.NET topic areas.
  • kaufmed is the newest member of the 5,000,000 point group.
  • slightwv has earned 4,000,000 points in the Oracle topic area and is the all-time leader.
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
dj_alik.NET ProgrammingGuru
x77.NET ProgrammingGuru
jagrut_patel.NET ProgrammingMaster
NeilsrActive DirectoryGuru
GovvyActive DirectoryMaster
MINDSUPERBAdobe PhotoshopMaster
PapertripApache Web ServerMaster
xtermApache Web ServerMaster
DavisMcCarnBackup / RestoreMaster
RobMobilityCell PhonesMaster
junipllcContent ManagementMaster
lherrouDigital Living HardwareMaster
e_aravindEmail ClientsMaster
stevengraffEnterprise SoftwareMaster
washburnmaHardware FirewallsMaster
DaveBaldwinInternet MarketingMaster
farzanjLinux DistributionsGuru
sammySeltzerMicrosoft IIS Web ServerMaster
Chris-DentMicrosoft IIS Web ServerWizard
fyedMisc DatabasesMaster
johanntagleMisc DatabasesMaster
roryaMisc DatabasesMaster
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
MAG03Misc NetworkingMaster
RobWillMisc SecurityMaster
SSharmaMisc SecurityMaster
DarrenDModeling LanguagesMaster
dragon-itMS DOSGenius
chwong67MS ExcelMaster
ScriptAddictMS ExcelMaster
JDettmanMS OfficeMaster
kevinhsiehMS Server OSMaster
TempDBAMS SQL ServerMaster
_agx_MS SQL ServerWizard
PatelAlpeshMS SQL Server 2005Guru
dougaugMS SQL Server 2005Master
jorgedeoliveiraborgesMS SQL Server 2008Master
sachinpatil10dMS SQL Server 2008Master
MereteMultimedia ProgrammingGuru
donjohnstonNetwork AnalysisMaster
hanccockaNetwork Design & MethodologyMaster
lrmooreNetworking ProtocolsMaster
sdstuberOracle 11.xSage
slobarayOracle DatabaseMaster
OP_ZaharinOracle DatabaseSage
nobusPC LaptopsGenius
lwadwellQuery SyntaxGuru
ged325Query SyntaxMaster
mbizupQuery SyntaxWizard
kshitij_ahujaSearch EnginesMaster
jhyieslaServer HardwareMaster
ozoUnix OS DevSage
dlmilleVB ScriptGuru
StephenJRVB ScriptGuru
cactus_dataVisual Basic ClassicMaster
MartinLissVisual Basic ClassicMaster
mattdnguyenWeb MarketingMaster
SameerJagdaleWeb Services and WCFMaster
apache09Windows 2003 ServerMaster
isaman07Windows 2003 ServerMaster
kevinhsiehWindows 2003 ServerWizard
RobWillWindows 2011 ServerMaster
cbowman92Windows 7Master
marsiliesWindows 7Master
jcimarronWindows 7Sage
noxchoWindows Server 2008Guru
SandeshdubeyWindows Server 2008Guru
HendrikWieseWindows Server 2008Master