Having trouble viewing this newsletter? View our web version to see it in your browser.

Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

12.12.12 (you won't see that again)

Featured Content

What's New at Experts Exchange
From the SLO and beyond

Publication note
Holidays, travel and grandchildren

Wish Lists I, II, III and IV
Things to give someone

For a job well done

Nata's Corner
Holidays, lists and Windows 8

Tip From the Moderators
On asking good questions

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through Dec. 8

What's New at E-E

New ranks: Experts Exchange will have two new ranks this week: Ace (2,500,000 points) and Prodigy (5,000,000 points). Both should show up on your profile page this week; the Prodigy rank comes with the added bonus of a lifetime membership as well. And, of course, there will be t-shirts.

Speaking of t-shirts: Over the last couple of years, the Experts at EE have donated their t-shirts to Water Run, and have built two wells. Currently, over 1 billion people around the world lack access to clean drinking water and nearly 6,000 people (5,000 of which are children), die every day as a result of diseases from contaminated water. So, until all everyone has access to this most basic human necessity, Experts Exchange will continue to partner with Water Run to build wells for people in need.

This year, we're raising funds to build a well in the Aditigray Village of Ethiopia (GPS coordinates: E39.25018, N13.2558). The region is home to over 350 people in need of clean drinking water -- but to fund a well in the Aditigray Village, at least 500 t-shirts must be donated. If you would like to donate some of your t-shirts to the Experts Exchange Charity Challenge, follow the normal t-shirt redemption process:

  • Edit your profile.
  • Click the Rewards tab.
  • Click the Shirts link in that tab. You will see a list of the shirts that you have earned and are eligible to redeem.
  • Click the Redeem button. You will be taken to a page asking for your shipping information and t-shirt size.
  • Write Donate to charity in every field on the page that asks for your shipping information and t-shirt size.
  • Click Submit.

EE and Water Run added a new element to this year's charity campaign. If you do not have shirts to redeem, you can donate directly to the organization -- just $20 gives one person clean water for twenty years. One hundred percent of donations made to Water Run go directly to water projects and Experts Exchange owner Randy Redberg will match 100% of the contributions made by Experts Exchange community members. To make sure your donation is matched by Experts Exchange, simply fill out the donation form and write Experts Exchange in the memo at the bottom of the form.

Webinar: There are still a few spots left for aikimark's webinar on advanced filtering in Excel, scheduled for Thursday, December 13 at 11 am (Pacific). Register here.

Expert Profile: Andy Hancock is having a monster sophomore year at Experts Exchange; just take a look at the Top 25 stats for 2012. If you wonder what makes him tick, read his profile, and if you're trying to compete with him, be glad he doesn't have more free time.

Podcast: This week's podcast has a conversation about twenty years of texting, and some not-all-that-favorable commentary on applications; all of the Experts Exchange podcasts are available on iTunes and SoundCloud, and you can listen to them on the Stitcher app for iOS and Android mobile devices.

Free trial: Know someone who could benefit from Experts Exchange, but who has always said that s/he doesn't want to spend some money on something without trying it? Have that person fill out this form and they'll get a 90-day free trial.


back to top

Good stuff: edurham dropped a note to the Moderators about egl1044's article on creating shortcuts in .NET: "Just an FYI that I found this article so useful that I decided to join, just so I could tell you." He also posted in the article: "It took two days of Google searching and trying sample code before finding this article. Thanks for posting this, it is the only one that I've found that works with Visual Studios 2010 Visual Basic."

Taking the time: One of aikimark's more obvious attributes is that he works through a problem from start to finish; that was evident in the help he gave slatefamily in tracking down fuzzy duplicates from a list of 123,000 records. First, aikimark pointed to matthewspatrick's Editor's Choice article on concatenating values, and then stepped slatefamily through the whole process: "Mark has provided help above and beyond. I can not speak more highly of him, and recommend his expertise. He is exactly the kind of "expert" that makes this website worth the monthly fee!!"

Giving back: krakatoa, who joined EE a dozen years ago, wrote an article that on a tool to rename files en masse that caught the attention of the Page Editors, who marked it as EE-Approved. krakatoa asked why, and when told, posted: "EE helped me enormously many years ago, and it would be nice if this goes some way to returning the favour."

Praise from a peer: Another of matthewspatrick's Editor's Choice articles -- on using the Dictionary Class in VBA -- got the attention of fellow Microsoft MVP DatabaseMX: "This article has 10,000x more info on the Dictionary Object than all Microsoft articles combined!... Great job!I've made major use of it in the last couple of days ... related to multiple form instances. Like I'm browsing all over on the Microsoft site TRYING to find details on the object model. Pretty much zip. Fortunately, Google leads to EE and this article. HELLO! And thanks for doing all the performance testing ... like ... Microsoft ain't gonna do that!"

Doing service right: When it first came out, we got on the mailing list for SweetJack, a daily deal site that has some serious media money behind it. A couple of weeks ago, we ordered some Christmas gifts, and the email we got said they'd be delivered within ten business days, but nine business days later, we didn't even have a tracking number from the company that was supposed to send the gifts -- so we got on the phone. The young man who answered not only proposed a resolution, but for the next two days, we received about four emails from him telling us what he'd done and asking for updates. When we got the tracking number, he took the time to check on it, so we didn't even have to use UPS's site to know where the package was; when the package arrived, we sent him a note thanking him. His response: "Thank you for letting me know. I am glad that you have received your products and I apologize for the delay. We appreciate your business and want you to be satisfied and I am happy that I could help that happen. If you decide to use us again and have any issue please let me know." We wrote some time ago about Zappos' culture of service, but SweetJack is right there with them.

Wish List I

back to top
Pinstripe Hoodie
Gray Pinstripe Hoodie.
"Superfine Merino wool hoodie with Paisley t-cloth liner". Dry clean only, of course. $168. You'll look great wearing it when cycling to work.
Washable keyboard
Logitech Washable Keyboard K310.
Typical. They come up with something that you can wash instead of something that can't get things spilled on it. $40. Buy some special keys, a WTF stamp and a Post-ITable and you can be a social networking consultant.
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model S
12-way adjustable, heated front seats, red multicoat exterior paint, and tax credits. $59,000, and spare batteries are extra. On the other hand, you can also turn your cell phone into a garage door opener.
Switchblade drone
Switchblade Drone.
2 ft. long, 6 lbs. with real-time video feed and controller. $40,000-$150,000, depending on the extras you want. A better bargain than a Death Star, no matter how cost-effective one is, and you won't need a universal translator.

Publication note

back to top

Because of the way holidays fall and travels to parts far and wide interfere, this is our final newsletter of 2012 (which might not matter anyway); we'll be back on January 2, 2013 with something that is hopefully informative and/or entertaining.

That being the case, we thought it appropriate to reflect on one of the more tumultuous years in our community's history. We started the year in the somewhat frantic throes of doing beta-testing for EEv10 while still using EEv9, and trying to figure out what the differences were; at the same time, Experts Exchange was trying to find its way through the implications of the rapid-fire updates to the Panda changes to Google's search algorithm that had a major impact on traffic to the site (and everything else EE-related).

Still, there were any number of things to celebrate: our first two classes of Most Valuable Experts; profiles of some of our more interesting Experts; a few contests that included some nice prizes; and above all, our third well in Africa that will provide safe, clean drinking water to the Aditigray Village in Ethiopia.

Experts Exchange should be fun; we all do this -- the writing of articles, the answering of questions -- because we like giving back, but the notion of providing the literal elixer of life says more about EE's Experts than anything we could write here. It's something special when the management and staff of a relatively small and unheralded company in San Luis Obispo, CA, and the members at the core of EE's mission -- the Experts -- can make a difference in lives so selflessly.

So as we head into this particular time of the year, we thank all of you who helped get us through 2012: Randy, Mark and the staff, the Admins, Mods, Topic Advisors, Page Editors and Cleanup Volunteers (all too numerous to mention by name), the amazing Experts whose tireless contributions make it all work, and the members who keep asking and reading and accepting.

Eric Sevareid, long the poet laurate of Walter Cronkite's news broadcasts, once observed that "As long as we know in our hearts what Christmas ought to be, Christmas is." We hope that your Christmas is all it ought to be, and more.


Wish List II

back to top
Embody Chair
Embody Chair
It doesn't save you from having to get up and get coffee, but at $940-$1,400, it's probably comfortable to work in. Of course, if sitting isn't your thing, get a treadmill desk.
Time Out Timer Stool
Time Out Timer Stool
For children only with adult supervision, which begs the question: if they're supervised, why do they need a time out? $99. For smaller children, just use a Baby Mop.
Beer Bacon Battered Deep Fried Bacon
We couldn't find it on the site the author listed, but there's a lot of other stuff bacony. Lots of bacon. And you can use it to make Bacon Jello.
170-Year-Old Veuve Clicquot Champagne
$156,000 unless you can find the right shipwreck, but at least you know it's been kept in a cool dark place. Newer vintages cost a lot less.

Nata's Corner

back to top

Nata's PictureWe're headed back to see the grandkids for the holidays, and we've had our tickets for a while, so having an infographic of the most reliable airports (or even the raw statistics) won't help us... but they might help you if you're planning on flying.

If you're one of those people who is taking advantage of all the sales and getting a new computer with Windows 8 installed -- or maybe you're the person who will get called to try and figure out where everything is -- there are a couple of things I think need passing along. First, if the new owner has used pretty much any previous version of windows, have him/her watch the "Starting with Windows 8" movie that you see on the start screen. Second, I found the way to get back to what we all know as the Start menu by running my cursor down into the lower right corner (or use the Windows button on your keyboard), but there might be some other way to do it too. Third, and this is really why I brought up the subject: The Windows update process updates Windows, but it doesn't update any of the applications, even the ones that are pre-installed and a "part" of Windows.

To solve this little problem, get to the Start page and click Store -- I know, but Microsoft wants to be the next EbayAmazoogletunes or something -- and find the square for Apps. When you click that, you'll see all of your applications listed, and whether there is an update to them. Check the ones you want to update, and Windows will do the rest, showing you a very nice little progress bar for each.

As a public service (and because we won't have another issue until after Christmas), I have two lists for you:

Sites to waste time on when you're not on EE
What if? for all XKCD fans
This Is Indexed (start here)
The Final Sentence of thousands of books, poems and stories
Sharing your dating life, followed by
Break-up bargains
Snow circles
The Eyeballing Game (harder than you think)
Fake Science

Gift Guides
Most expensive geeky gifts
Gifts for travelers
"Unlimited lifestyle" gifts
100 Gifts Under $100
Most overpriced gadgets
Free ebooks
Homeland Security's list of words it tracks
10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 with a review

How is it that some of the 25 worst passwords are still on this list? Haven't people learned to come up with something a little better? I mean, seriously? Oh... and if you happen to get asked over some Christmas cheer if your great-aunt Charlotte should reply to that nice widow in Nigeria who wants to share her $13 million, save your breath and have her watch it on Sophos.

By now, anyone who uses Tumblr as a blog has heard about the delightful worm that spread like crazy last week. The writers of the worm took advantage of Tumblr's automatic reblogging feature, which should be a warning to everyone: Don't let the computer do something online for you that you're probably better off doing -- nor not doing -- for yourself.
Finally, it seems that recently, we've been on the receiving end of more spam through text messages; maybe it's just us, but the tip mentioned in the Sophos article -- forwarding the message to 7726 (SPAM on the normal telephone dial pad) works for most carriers, who take it very seriously.

Tips From The Moderators

back to top

We came across a great article and infographic about posting "engaging forum topics" that, we think, adapts particularly well to asking questions at Experts Exchange.

Most Experts have automatic alerts setup so that they receive notifications when a new question appears in one of their preferred topic areas. You have to ensure that you place your questions in the topic areas that directly relates to your question, and also place it in a more general topic area when necessary. Take a look at the All Topics page to find the best topic area(s) for your question. Also, utilize the search function to drill down further for topic areas.

The next tip to asking good questions on Experts Exchange is to be clear as well as being specific. To ensure you receive the best possible support, make sure you clearly state your goal of the question as well as your problem. Also, make sure you provide as much detail as possible without providing "too much". This will help to get your question answered as quickly as possible.

Provide screenshots, test databases, code, attachments, etc. This will allow Experts to be in your environment without physically or remotely being there. It gives them visuals and allow them to answer your question with ease. Note, that anything you post on Experts Exchange is public and cannot be removed once posted. You should not post confidential information that you do not want on the Internet.

After your question has been answered, make sure you stay with it. Remember, you have asked the question and you are the one looking for the solution. Even stating: "I need a few days to test this", gives the Experts who are volunteering the idea that you are still interested. Stay involved.

If you do not understand the information that you are asking, make sure to note that as well. That is going to allow the Experts who are helping you to provide you with the proper assistance that you require. Don't lie about the information you know, as it will not help you in the end to receive the solution.

Remember as well, the Experts are not here to provide you with a full code solution or full solution that you can present to your boss, etc. Experts are going to urge you to provide examples or the work that you have worked up to that point. The Experts are not expected to do your work for you, but rather to assist you in getting to your goal.

Finally, thank the Experts when they helped you by providing them with final feedback, points, and a final grade. The Experts are volunteers and as such this is the only form of "compensation" they receive. If Experts went out their way to assist you, let them that you are appreciate them.

Wish List III

back to top
LG Ultra HD TV
LG Ultra HD Smart TV
Model 84LM9600, 84 inches, 3840x2160 pixels, Magic remote, built-in WiFi, 1.5 inches thick, $20,000. Think of what Grandma would look like using Skype. If you're partial to Sony, they have one too.
Single malt scotch
105+ liters. $8,000. Any questions?
Universal construction kit
Universal Construction Kit
Adapters for Legos, Tinkertoys and more. Free. The catch: you'll need a 3-D printer. Lose one of the parts, you can make more; you can also make action figures.
Bubble wrap calendar
Bubble Wrap Calendar.
Just keep your kids away from it. Pop one a day, or mess with your roommate's head and pop two on Sunday. $24. Perfect for people who have to catch a bus every day.

In Brief

back to top

Google --> Grinch: Late last week, Google announced that if you're a business and want to use Google Apps, you are going to pay. Period. Starting now. Both the TechCrunch article and the Google Apps forum have some... entertaining comments: "If you even would have given us some notice, we might have managed it. How many of us small, one and two and three man shops have supported Google over the years? Thanks a lot. Merry Christmas."

Christmas is so big, it's eating other holidays. Apropos of which, Apple (in what surely has to be one of our stranger mixed metaphors) is trying to take a bigger bite out of Samsung. Also, big tech companies are paying early dividends.

'Tis the season: Microsoft is showing a new honesty in its television ads (thanks, Tim!) and may even be justified, but we do wonder: Can the kill switch be used on the ads for the Surface?

We couldn't resist sharing.

Channeling our inner Scrooge: It's one thing to snicker wickedly about the angst New York Yankees fans must be feeling; that's baseball. It's quite another to note that Rupert Murdoch has decided to shutter "The Daily", his tablet-based news publication after just 22 months. He's probably not going to get that pesky phone hacking lawsuit to go away so quickly.

Just what we all need: Just so everyone knows, your humble editor is going to be the one filing the class action lawsuit against Facebook if he starts getting spam text messages from Facebook.

Pixies dancing in the moonlight, too: The North Korean government (yes, we know this item is likely to get us banned there) has says it has proof that not only did unicorns exist, but that they were indigenous. That is, until some capitalist criminals hunted them out of existence. Now if they can do something about buzzwords.

Like you've never done this: Three words: Reply To All.

There is a Santa Claus: We aren't talking about Virginia O'Hanlon (although we could be); we're talking about a House of Representatives subcommittee that held a hearing a couple of weeks ago on the subject of "how best to improve our nation's airport passenger security system through common sense solutions", and the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (whose photo is probably on Nata's dart board), the Honorable John Pistole -- how's that for a name -- declined to testify. The committee was not amused.

Things that make you go "Huh?"

Descriptive Camera™, 2012: This prototype uses crowd sourcing to output a text description of the scene captured (but no image).

Atom Ukulele: Handcrafted, made to order, and there's a waiting list. There are other shapes too.

Muscle Leggings: Maybe for Halloween? They also have a beer dress. Alternatively, a dress made from wine.

Mouth Factory: Functional machines specifically designed to be operated by the mouth of the user. Get your mind out of the gutter.

T-shirts developed that charge mobile phones: We see a whole new experiment for high school chem classes.

Archello Horizontal shower: We have no idea what the "Ambiance Tuning Technique" is, but we suspect it involves a very large hot water heater.

Ham Dogger: Hot dog shaped hamburger. Available from Amazon. There's even a how-to video.


BicIt's one thing to come up with new uses for old Bic pens, and another entirely to just change the packaging and ink color.

ToiletThe Gates-Funded Toilet Of The Future (Mac fans can send us snarky comments) and 'Scary' toilet paper coming soon to a stall near you.

3-D ChocolateMy new startup: impossible artwork rendered in chocolate from a 3-D printer. Can you imagine Escher's Belvedere? Or even edible photos of a nice ribeye.

In requiem: Take Five, Mr. Brubeck.

Notes from the Security file: Breaches, hacks and leaks over the last couple of weeks include Switzerland's spy agency, the Japan's space agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, a Wisconsin school district, Medicare records (eventually), Facebook (predictably -- and eventually), and your hotel room (possibly).

Oh, the humanity! Instagram and Twitter are acting like 7-year-olds squabbling over who gets to go first. Fortunately, there's a workaround, but it figures that the only people who are losing are the users. Expect the on-again-off-again nonsense to continue.

Just in time for Santa Lucia Day: Pope Benedict LVI has a Twitter account: @Pontifex. To put things in perspective, if he gets one per cent of his real followers to follow his Twitter account, he won't make the top ten -- which says something about what's important nowadays. On the other hand, there's a precedent out there that will tell you what, exactly, each of Lady Gaga's Twitter followers is worth.

Here we go again: WMDs in the Middle East, and law enforcement folks want to poke their noses into your business.

Sign of the Apocalypse: The Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times -- presumably someone who has a clue when it comes to what should and shouldn't be published -- has been assigned a Twitter editor. People are naming their children after Apple products; there's an Archibald Macleish joke in there just trying to get out, but we're not sure the world needs more Newts. And only in LA, a caviar vending machine.

Wish List IV

back to top
Apple Mac
An American-made Apple MacThey aren't saying which one, but Apple plans on building some in the US. Starting at $1,200.
The Batmobile
1955 Lincoln Mark II with Futura body, clear plastic bubble, 1956 390 cubic inch V-8 engine, 3-speed automatic, low miles, very clean and well-maintained. One of a kind, and it goes a lot faster than a mind-controlled skateboard.
Lamborghini Murcielago
Dexton Lamborghini Murcielago
6v battery, funcitonal horn, fixed spoiler, authentic Lamborghini badges, and probably safer than the Batmobile or the Tesla. $280-$320 at various places.
Beef Straws
Bloody Mary Beef Straws Made from 100% beef. The site also includes a recipes. $23 for 20 or $104 for 100.


back to top

My First Million: Reaching the 1,000,000 point level in November were julianH, TempDBA, Subsun, dvt_localboy and DMTechGrooup. Congratulations, all!


Expert In Topic Area Certificate
ged325.NET ProgrammingWizard
padasAdobe DreamweaverMaster
leakim971Adobe FlashMaster
iamthecreatorBackup / RestoreWizard
webmatrixpuneContent ManagementMaster
rhinokDB Reporting ToolsMaster
RancyEmail ClientsMaster
PowerEdgeTechHard DrivesGuru
tliottaMath / ScienceMaster
acbrown2010Microsoft IIS Web ServerMaster
clonyxlroMicrosoft OSMaster
BudDurlandMisc NetworkingMaster
billprewMisc ProgrammingWizard
ded9Misc SoftwareMaster
kiranvjMisc Web DevMaster
fyedMS ApplicationsGuru
butterskMS ApplicationsMaster
mbizupMS DevelopmentGuru
aikimarkMS DevelopmentMaster
NB_VCMS ExcelGuru
omgangMS ExcelMaster
peetjhMS ExcelWizard
NB_VCMS OfficeMaster
ssaqibhMS OfficeWizard
ve3ofaMS Server AppsMaster
Exchange_GeekMS Server OSMaster
McKnifeMS Server OSMaster
RainerJMS SharePointSage
lucky85MS SQL ServerMaster
MattSQLMS SQL ServerMaster
pratima_mcsMS SQL ServerWizard
Expert In Topic Area Certificate
Jared_SMS SQL Server 2005Master
jogosMS SQL Server 2005Sage
lsavidgeMS SQL Server 2005Wizard
MrAliMS SQL Server 2008Master
jimhornMS SQL Server 2008Wizard
Slick812MySQL ServerMaster
asavenerNetwork Design & MethodologyMaster
ArneLoviusNetworking HardwareGuru
wpcortesOracle DatabaseMaster
jcimarronOutlook Express-Windows LiveWizard
BillBachQuery SyntaxMaster
rindiRemote AccessMaster
ve3ofaRemote AccessMaster
ArneLoviusSBS Small Business ServerMaster
rickhobbsSBS Small Business ServerMaster
COBOLdinosaurScripting LanguagesMaster
leewScripting LanguagesMaster
billprewScripting LanguagesWizard
freshcontentSearch Engine Optimization (SEO)Master
arober11Shell ScriptingMaster
IrogSintaVisual Basic ClassicMaster
shalomcWeb ServersGuru
Exchange_GeekWindows 2003 ServerGuru
Sembee2Windows 2003 ServerMaster
RobSampsonWindows 7Guru
flubbsterWindows 7Master
sfossupportWindows 7Master
hanccockaWindows NetworkingMaster
DaveBaldwinWindows OSMaster
xxdcmastWindows OSMaster
gaurav05Windows Server 2008Master
M3rc74Windows Server 2008Master
AkhaterWindows Server 2008Sage