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Your Technology Problems...SOLVED

DECEMBER 21, 2011 > Last day of autumn


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

Nata's Corner
NTSB flop and a list of lists

Editor's Choice Articless
Five from some of EE's best

Tip From The Mods
EE V10 sooner than you think

Xmas Guide Four, Five & Six
Continued from our last issue

A fix for an irksome IE8 issue

In Brief
Things you might have missed

Who did what through Dec. 17


The Inbox: mtrout made our year last week when she used the Contact Us link to send a note to the Customer Service department, who passed it along: "I did not want to make it a question (do not want to abuse the resource), but I would like to contact you and if you could on my behalf please extend my Wishes of a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Happy Holidays to you and your staff who has helped me endlessly this year. Thank you again."

WhackAMod replied for all of us: "On behalf of the Admins, Moderators, Zone Advisors, Page Editors, and Experts, I would like to thank you for your holiday wishes and we're all just happy we were able to help you. Peace."

adEE and the Arts: Experts Exchange is sponsoring (by buying the playbill advertisement at left) the student production "Seussical" March 8-11, featuring the daughter of Site Admin modus_operandi, who will undoubtedly be happy to sell you tickets. The image is from the second of EE's series of web ads that hasn't been released yet.

Have you forgotten someone? The Experts Exchange store is still taking orders in case there's someone who you should have gotten something for but didn't. 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.

And on the off chance you'll run into someone who has forgotten, there is a Santa Claus.

Customer Service contest: 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! And from those of us on this side of the firewall, our best wishes to Dani, Molly, Cat, Melissa, MJ, Cassie and Chelsea -- you folks make life so much easier!

Podcasts: If you missed our last podcast, featuring Ted Bouskill talking about games for the holidays. This week, we'll be bringing in Senior Administrator Eric Peterson; that conversation could go anywhere. Take a listen Friday at our Soundcloud site.

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". Another [former] Quest employee, Roger Mendoza, has his own way of creating presentations.

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!

Editor's Choice Articles

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Use Excel's hidden data store to share data across VBA projects
By scott

Have you ever wanted to pass data from a VBA project running in one Excel workbook to a VBA project in another workbook? Sure, the code in one workbook can write data into another workbook, but wouldn't it be nice if you had a place to store inter-workbook data that was hidden from view? And that persisted even if all workbooks were closed?

For example, I have a spreadsheet macro that is only allowed to run if the user's PC contains a special license key -- the macro validates the license whenever a workbook is opened. However, there is a noticeable delay while checking the license so I don't really want to do it more than once, even if the user opens multiple copies of my spreadsheet. Can I set a "valid license exists" flag so all workbooks can see it when they are opened? Even better, can I preserve the setting of the valid license flag even if the user closes all workbooks but leaves Excel running? The answer is yes...

Malware Fighting -- Best Practices
Sub-Titled: "My Way" (with apologies to Francis Albert Sinatra)
By younghv

Let me start by stating emphatically that I am one of those Experts who prefer doing things "My Way".

It's kind of a no-brainer. "The following procedure works for me, so here is what I recommend that you do...".

I believe that recommending methods that work for you (me) is exactly what Experts-Exchange is all about and it is the rule that I follow when posting advice.

When attempting to help one of our Members with a malware problem we need to be extremely cautious that any "My Way" advice is also consistent with the known best practices.

How to use Access Control Lists in Oracle
By sdstuber

So, you upgraded to a shiny new 11g database and all of a sudden every program that used UTL_MAIL, UTL_SMTP, UTL_TCP, UTL_HTTP or any other network service starts failing. ORA-24247: network access denied by access control list (ACL) keeps showing up in your error logs. What is going on?

[Oracle]11g introduced a new security measure called Access Control Lists (ACL) and by default, all network access is blocked! An ACL, as the name implies, is simply a list of who can access what, and with which privileges. The "who" part is called the principal of an ACL and can be a user, a role or PUBLIC. The "what" is a host and range of ports. The "which" is a either or both of CONNECT or RESOLVE. Connect, as it sounds, allows you to connect to a host and send/receive data. Resolve allows you to look up hostnames given ip addresses or vice versa with the UTL_INADDR package.

Delimited list as parameter: what are the options?
By angelIII

Earlier or later, every sql developer will be confronted with queries like this:
But with the issue that the list should be a parameter at some point (either in the sql procedure itself, or the programming language that calls the sql). And to take the MS SQL Server syntax as example, the following does not return an error, but simply does not work:
It will return the one matching employee record if you pass 1 single ssn value to the procedure. As soon as you pass several items in the list, you will get:
0 records returned.

Do you Double-click on Combo Boxes?
By harfang

I do... Ever since I discovered the short-cut in Access 2.0, notably in the property sheets, I double click on all sorts of combo boxes -- or their labels -- to select the next item in the list.

This was a smart interface choice by the Access development team: you almost never need to double-click on a word in a combo box to select it, for example, and the feature is especially useful for combo boxes with short lists: "Yes/no", "not indexed / indexed (with duplicates) / indexed (without duplicates)", etc. It speeds up design and avoids having to create check boxes for properties that are really just flags.

Analyse This -- A Database Optimization Procedure
By mwvisa1

As a database administrator, you may need to audit your table(s) to determine whether the data types are optimal for your real-world data needs. This Article is intended to be a resource for such a task.

The other day, I was involved in a question by wasifg on MySQLQuestions.com (a MySQL dedicated site offered by the owners of EE, so usernames and passwords from EE can be utilized there for any interested). The gist of the question is to determine:

An auditing tool that compares the schema definition with the data present in a table (e.g., a column is defined as VARCHAR(255), but the maximum data value is only 100 characters in size).

My original suggestion, not having previously played with the procedure analyse extension, was to query the INFORMATION_SCHEMA to build a dynamic SQL query. This gets the job done of course, but MySQL has a potentially better way, at least one already intended for this purpose; therefore, this Article will act as a resource for my old way and the new way discovered using procedure analyse.

Experts Exchange Gift Guide Four

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higgs boson

The people who get to play around with the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland might have discovered the Higgs boson. Then again, maybe not, so if you happen to have a spare $9 billion...


When we first saw the AirMouse we wondered how you'd type with one on. Then we remembered the piano lessons when we were eight. $125.


Start with a back that lets you shoot 80 megapixel photographs. That's what you'll get with the Phase One IQ180-based camera system. For $48,000.


Perfect for the overly-digitized child in your home: the iWood, complete with manual, self-correcting data entry device. $46.


The DeLorean DMC-EV -- EV means "Electric Vehicle" -- will be available in 2013 for about $90,000. No flux capacitor though.


Perfect for framing: The original contract between Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne that established Apple in 1976. $1.6 million.

Nata's Corner

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NataIn the United States, 35 states currently have some kind of ban on the use of cell phones while driving. I live in California -- not quite the most restrictive, but close -- where you can legally talk on a cell phone while you're driving if it's hands-free and you're 18 or older, but you can't do texting at all while driving. Now, the National Transportation Safety Board wants to prohibit the use of all personal electronic devices by drivers unless they "support the driving task", so the Garmin you're getting for Christmas is apparently okay. I'm not sure whether that means the radio that has been standard in cars for as long as I can remember will be illegal, but what I do know is that the automobile manufacturers are building electronics into cars (and promoting them relentlessly. When it comes down to who's going to win this fight, I'm betting that the car makers can swing more votes.

This seems like good advice any time of year, but it's especially true if you're going to be out and about during the holidays: Use only ATMS located inside a bank. The same guy who wrote this tip has several others that seem like they'd be common sense, but if they were really that common, he wouldn't have to write them out for people, would he?

On a more serious note, this is the time of year when people can get really depressed, especially if you happen to be Facebook's CEO and your own profile gets hacked. In what may be the first really sensitive thing Facebook has done in a while, it came out with a suicide prevention system last week; meanwhile, up the road at Google, they're having to deal with the fallout over a little girl in Texas who is pretty unhappy.

People who won't be getting a visit from Santa this year: the British student who hacked into Facebook and six other people who scammed British students; the high tech spys in the British media; and the Romanians who hacked Subway.

Finally, you're going to be seeing lots of lists of things over the next week or so, if you haven't been seeing them already. So, as a tribute, here's a lists of lists you might have mist. Missed.


Experts Exchange Gift Guide Five

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cutting board

Everyone reading this knows someone for whom the OCD Chef Cutting Board is the perfect gift. $24.


These people will apparently build a flash drive out of almost anything, including Legos. 4gb $18, 8gh $28.

3 man chess

It's not quite the same as a WWE 3-way cage match, but 3-Man Chess looks entertaining. $40.

wind turbine

Power for surfing the net isn't cheap, but a Coleman 600 Watt Wind Turbine beats guinea pigs. $649.

pi cutter

Okay, the bad pun was what first got our attention, but a Pi Cutter is still a great gift for a math major. $19.

bug mouse

If you're going to surf the web, a mouse with spider in it is an absolute necessity, right? $25.

In Brief

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Sound and fury: Going into Friday, commentators were on the edges of their seats, and big tech names were on the edges of cliffs (though some overstated things a bit) over SOPA, the recording and movie industry's latest attempt to become the copyright police, judge and executioner in the US. Fortunately, the House Judiciary committee's members admitted that they don't know what they're talking about and delayed any vote until they could ask their teenaged children during the holiday break where the ANY key is. They'd better figure it out fast, or they won't have to worry about it after the elections next year.

What's the sound of a bubble popping? Zynga's stock is worth less than what everyone thought a few months ago.

In requiem: Nate Oliver, who, though not the most active member of Experts Exchange, still had a profound influence on the dozen or so Microsoft MVPs who make the Excel topic area one of EE's strongest. Christopher Hitchens, whose acerbic opinions prompted commentary and observation from near and far.

You'd better watch out, you'd better not cry: Because two of the world's biggest tech companies are going to have a lot more information on you than you ever expected when you bought your new phone. It's not just that pesky tracking system.

This could go on longer than the SCO case: The billion dollar antitrust suit filed by Novell against Microsoft in 2004 has ended in a mistrial. In other news, applications to law schools in Washington and Utah increased 18 per cent Saturday.

Sometimes, you get news that's just too priceless not to share: People who work for movie companies download pirated movies. Ooops.

Pushing limits: Tiny particles moving at close to the speed of light and 186 Gbps transfers. Take that, AT&T.

You've just crossed over: Imagine, if you will, that you're walking down a street when someone comes up to you and says "Hey, I'm a huge fan of Death Cab For Cutie too and I just love coriander and codfish soup!" It's not so far-fetched; there's a new device out there that broadcasts your social media profile to anyone in the area whose profile matches yours. Christopher Mims isn't worried so much that it might not work, but rather that it will.

Everyone has a favorite whipping boy, and this item will show ours: The US postal service is closing some processing centers and possibly ending Saturday delivery, saying that they need to save money -- and the result will be slower delivery. Think anyone will notice?

No, they're not giving Snooki and The Situation their own show: It wasn't even a hack, which would have been pretty funny (in a perverse sort of way) too. But really, it was just Verizon testing the mobile alert system, and a message sent without the "this is only a test" that sent several New Jersey counties into a tizzy.

I wonder if Verizon will take my Pre in trade: Hewlett-Packard isn't exactly killing off the WebOS operating system it acquired when it bought Palm in 2010, but it's more or less written off the sale as an asset, and is going to open-source the OS.

Prevents programmer burnout: Mountain Dew contains a flame retardant chemical banned in Europe. It's also a dessert topping.

Mighty nice of them: Andreesenn Horowitz, the big venture capital company run by the guy who founded and sold Netscape, says that while it will buy what amounts to a controlling interest in Yahoo (assuming there are enough people who want to unload their stock), the two general partners won't be involved in day to day operations. Sounds to me like they want to flip it, but maybe they need a good tax write-off too.

The Book of Jobs: We're going out on a limb here and suggesting that the biggest story of 2011 was the untimely death of Steven Paul Jobs in October. Love him, hate him, or even feel somewhat ambivalent about him, there is no denying the impact he had; he did, indeed, put a "dent in the universe". As we leave 2011, we'll offer this as a way of saying "thanks": Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.

Of course they have no comment: If you're using Chrome (and the odds are about one in four that you are) and spend any time on Facebook (again, the odds are that you are), and have dipped your toe into the water that is the Open Graph news feeds, there's a neat little Chrome extention that lets you bypass the apps. And the tracking that comes with them.

Ma Bell gets its bell rung: AT&T's plan to acquire T-Mobile may not be completely dead, but it might as well be.

The color of money: We had an item in our last issue -- one of the kinda cool paper bills issued by the Canadian government as a Christmas gift -- the whole point of which was Canada's attempt to curb counterfeiting. Now, using technology that mimics a butterfly's wings, a Canadian company might have figured out a way to beat the bad guys -- at least for a few years.

Just in case it's New Year's Eve, your significant other is asleep, and you've decided to finish that extra bottle of champagne all by yourself: There's an app for that. We know a few people who could use it even when sober.

Signs of the Apocalypse: Twitter art. You can use an iPad on a plane -- but only if you're in the cockpit. Iran hijacked a US drone. Forget "distracted driving"; how about booking air travel during surgery?

Experts Exchange Gift Guide Six

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The iGrill is an app-enabled Bluetooth® meat thermometer; download the app from iTunes and it connects to your iOS device. $100.


The Legotron Mark I camera costs about $100 to build and is a lot lighter than a Speed Graphic.

nerf gun

Small. Concealable. Accurate. And for a few days more, the Nerf N Strike Jolt EX-1 Blaster is only $6.


The full-length Samurai umbrella includes over-the-shoulder scabbard. $20. Also available in a compact version for $25.


With a name like the Blacktop 360 Party Hub Grill-Fryer, it had better have an act. It does: grill, deep fryer, griddle and warming plate. $250.


Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry collection sold at auction last week; the most expensive piece was a necklace bought for $1.5 million.

iPad dock

The AeroDream One dock is a special order item that takes six months to build. $560,000.


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New Geniuse: sjef_bosman has earned his second Genius certificate, this one in Lotus Domino. Congratulations, Sjef!


  • rorya became the 11th member of Experts Exchange to reach 13,000,000 points.
  • Idle_Mind has earned 6,000,000 points in the VB.NET topic area.
  • emoreau brings to fifty the number of EE members with 7,000,000 points overall.
  • Gertone has reached the 6,000,000 point level.
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