ITKE Community Blog

January 16, 2014  6:38 PM

New, improved notifications on all questions, discussions and blog posts

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Here at ITKnowledgeExchange, we know you want to keep up to date on active discussions on the site, so you can get answers to your questions and respond to others. We’ve offered a number of ways to do this, including the ‘Watchlist’ functionality and tag alert emails that offer a digest of all activity on a given topic.

Today, I’m excited to announce an improvement to those notifications which will make it simple to keep tabs on any item, whether it’s a question, discussion or blog post (the previous Watchlist only covered questions). To break it down:

If you create a piece of content — i.e. if you ask a question, start a discussion or publish a blog post — you will be automatically signed up to receive notifications of new comments or replies for that content. This is the same way it’s always worked.

If you respond to a piece of content — i.e. add an answer or comment to a question, reply to a discussion, or comment on a blog post — you will have the opportunity to subscribe to notifications for that item via a checkbox (see below).

Screenshot of comment notification checkbox

Once you’re signed up, you’ll receive notifications about that item from the site in your inbox. Should you decide you no longer want to receive these notifications, you’ll be able to unsubscribe directly from the email without affecting any of your other content item subscriptions. We’re working on a solution that will help you manage all your subscriptions in one place, and also an option for subscribing to notifications on items you haven’t yet commented on. (Tag alerts will remain in place for now.)

This new functionality replaces the old Watchlist, so starting today, those binocular icons on questions will be going away, along with the Watchlist link in the header. Instead, look for the checkbox on each content item you visit/comment on. If you had items on your Watchlist previously, you can re-subscribe to them by adding a new comment (we’ll make sure you get notifications on questions and blog posts that you created recently).

I think this new solution helps everyone to keep up on new activity across all the different content items on the site. Let us know what questions you have: or

January 14, 2014  4:38 PM

ITKE featured blogger: Justin Rohrman

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Justin Rohrman2

Wait, two featured bloggers in January? That’s right…along with Jeff Cutler, we’re happy to introduce software expert Justin Rohrman as our newest blogger on ITKnowledgeExchange. He will be contributing on Matt Heusser’s blog, Uncharted Waters, and providing commentary on all-things IT related. Welcome Justin!

ITKE: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What do you do? What’s your area of expertise?

JR: My day job is software testing. I’ve been at this for about 9 years now and have no intentions of stopping, it seems like there is something new to learn every day. I’m very much a generalist in the testing world, I’ve done a little bit of everything and don’t have particularly deep knowledge in any given area. For the past year or so I have been mostly working on native iPad apps. Mobile has been a really interesting change from testing web apps in a browser. In one sense, there is nothing new under the sun, testing is testing and where the software is doesn’t really change the act. But in another sense, there is a whole new set of constraints to work with: usability is different, you have to think about the hands-on nature of the device, you have to think about dropping internet connections, and power changes. It is a lot of fun. Another area I focus a lot on is tester education. There are very few academic avenues for a person to learn about and develop skill as a software tester, I volunteer instruct BBST courses run by the Association for Software Testing and facilitate sessions for WeekendTesting Americas, and work with peer groups like the Miagi-Do school of testing. All of these are fantastic ways to develop skill in testing.

ITKE: If you weren’t working in IT, you’d be…

JR: This is a tough question, I’ve got lots of different interests and it would be hard to commit to one full time. If I were forced to not work in software anymore I think I’d go radically different and choose some sort of manual trade craft like welding or machinist work. There is something very appealing  about the idea of working with your hands and at the end of the day having something real, and useful, and lasting to show for that. A big interest outside of software I have is folk art, things that are aesthetically pleasing but also useful and ingrained in out daily lives. Something like that would play well into that interest.

ITKE: Who’s one person you look up to in the IT world, and why?

JR: I look up to lots of people in the IT biz, but the one that comes to mind first hasn’t been in IT for quite a while; Jerry Weinberg. Jerry has been a programmer, tester, consultant, conference organizer, writer, and change agent for I don’t know how long now. Jerry is a bit like a dandelion, he plants seeds of ideas all over the place. It is not difficult to find his work, so I won’t go on here.

ITKE: How to you see the future of IT developing over the next decade?

JR: I’m fascinated by all things mobile right now. Most phones and tablet devices these days are pretty highly developed in terms of computing power, I imagine that trend will continue for the foreseeable future.  Imagine a day when everyone carries a smart phone (sounds like today, right?), but these phones can be plugged into a publicly available workstation with a keyboard and monitor. Your workstation is always accessible, it just has to be pulled from your pocket. This mobile workstation idea in combination with already growing publicly available wifi are something I would love to see happen. Convergence has already happened, your phone is your camera, and your music player, and instant message client. I hope growing the capability and usefulness is next.

ITKE: What advice would you give prospective IT workers (say college students)?

JR: What you are doing at school and the grades you are working for are important, but the work you do outside of school is equally important. I think university educations are a good way to develop some foundational technical skills, but can some times fall in a few other areas. For people planning to work in the software world, there are tons of opportunities to get involved in real software projects before graduating. OpenOffice, Mozilla, and WikiMedia (wikipedia) all depend on volunteers working on their open source projects. These projects can be a great way to get real experience in software development projects and also a way to differentiate your self from the rest of your peers entering the workforce. This is a great place for testers too, probably even more so since there are so few traditional education options there.

January 2, 2014  6:10 PM

ITKE featured blogger: Jeff Cutler

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Jeff Cutler

ITKnowledgeExchange recently had the chance to talk to journalist, social media and security expert and ITKE’s newest blogger Jeff Cutler. His blog, Jeff Cutler’s Keys to Security, will help users learn better methods for securing data and understand the security landscape. Welcome aboard Jeff!

ITKE: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What do you do? What’s your area of expertise?

JC: I’m a career journalist and writer. I create content – and that means blogs, video, audio, images – for audiences to enrich their lives and inform them. My areas of expertise run from lifestyle technology to IT security and social media. Like most classically trained journalists, the skills of listening, crafting interview questions and being able to compile a story allow me to cover many areas where I might not have deep training. It’s the same theory that allows a beginning reporter the skill to interview a Nobel Peace Prize winner. So, expertise is all relative, and mine is in creating good content.

ITKE: If you weren’t working in IT, you’d be…

JC: If I weren’t working in IT content, I’d probably be traveling and exploring technology innovations in some other way. I’m a geek. I like tech toys. I like learning how and why things work. I am thrilled to hear about the NSA and hacks and breaches (and that has informed my blog on ITKE). But I’m also interested to see what’s being done to connect homes and businesses to the power grid, to security monitoring devices and to the world. If I had enough money, I might be taking photos of moose and owls and puffins while I eat pasta and drink obscure beer. Maybe someday.

ITKE: Who’s one person you look up to in the IT world, and why?

JC: The IT world is changing constantly. I think I really admire technology journalists at NPR and CNN who give us something to think about. Mark Janot – who used to be at Popular Science – was inspiring to me for his view on how technology is going to change communication. I also think some of the folks right here on the blogs are great. I love Ron Miller’s take on a lot of topics because he injects healthy cynicism into informative and readable pieces.

ITKE: How to you see the future of IT developing over the next decade?

JC: Speed and data are the two factors that are going to continue to shape the IT world…and the real world. We have the capacity to capture so much information and we have the paranoia to think we need to keep all this info. It’s a recipe for innovation because there’s no way we can save all these GBs and TBs without some drastic change in our methods. Further, the way we analyze data is going to have to shift. There’s going to soon be no way for anyone to get a handle on what data means if there’s so much of it that our laptops and mobile devices choke on it. We’re in for some fun!

ITKE: What advice would you give prospective IT workers (say college students)?

JC: Advice to students. Read a lot. Write a lot, and write well. Learn how to hold a conversation and learn how to do research. And always be curious about the world around you. That doesn’t mean be skeptical, but definitely be skeptical at times too. Finally, have fun with technology and IT. They are changing our lives every second.

December 31, 2013  4:43 PM

Top ITKE blog posts of 2013

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh


Blog post image via Shutterstock

Yes, it’s that time again…the final day of the year. As 2013 comes to a close, let’s take a look back at ITKE’s top 10 blog posts, which included a big year for Windows 8.1 and mobile. What was your favorite blog post from 2013?

December 13, 2013  1:34 PM

How (and why) to start a discussion

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Not every question has a specific answer. That’s why we’ve launched a new section of ITKnowledgeExchange called ‘Discussions’. This is the place where you can start and respond to conversations relating to all technology topics. Where the IT Answers section is meant for technical questions involving specific software or hardware (e.g. “How can I export the data from a Windows Active Directory server’s security log?”), Discussions are for more general questions.

Want to hear about other users’ experiences with a certain cloud vendor? Trying to gauge the business value of tablets? Take a look through the IT Discussions started by TechTarget editors and other community users, and see if there’s a conversation already happening (you can also search for your desired topic – discussion threads will be noted with the ‘Discussion’ tag). If not, you can start your own – it’s almost the same as creating a question. Here’s how to do it:

1)      Navigate to the IT Discussions section:

Discussions page

2)      Add your discussion title (usually a question), description and tags (drawing from the same tag database as questions) in the box at the top right and click “Create Discussion” (you do not need to be logged in at this point).

Start a Discussion box with sample text

3)      Review and edit your discussion as needed, updating the title/description or adding tags and click “Start Discussion”. If you’re not logged in, you’ll be prompted to do so; if you are logged in, your discussion will immediately process.

Review your discussion

4)      You will be automatically taken to the confirmation page.

Discussion confirmation page

Click ‘View Your Discussion’ to go to the live page.

test discussion - live page

Your discussion will be searchable on the site, and be added to the list visible from the homepage (under ‘IT Discussions’). Here you’ll find discussions (‘Lets talk WordPress’) and conversations related to content published on the TechTarget network. Happy discussing!

Sample discussions page

Have thoughts or questions on the new Discussions feature? Let us know ( and (

December 4, 2013  3:32 PM

Special giveaway: Powerocks Portable Charger

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh


It’s the holiday season so we have a special giveaway in store for you. Courtesy of Powerocks, we’re giving away a “Super Magicstick Portable Charger” which will keep all of your USB devices powered, including cameras, game consoles, GPS devices and MP3 players. If you’re not near an electrical outlet, the portable charger will charge your electronics safely and quickly. Whether it’s for work, play or safety, you’ll never miss an important call or become stranded with no battery life again!

To win this great prize, tell us your best story of when you ran out of battery life on your electronic device. Good luck!

December 3, 2013  1:45 PM

Top ITKE blog posts of November 2013

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh


International Space Station image via Shutterstock

Now you might be thinking why there’s a picture of the International Space Station here. Well, it was actually included in one of our top blog posts for the month of November! Check out why it was included (HINT: It’s not good).

October 31, 2013  2:40 PM

Top ITKE blog posts of October 2013

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh


Microsoft image via Shutterstock

Microsoft and particularly Windows 8.1 continue to dominate the headlines as well as our top blog posts for October. Find out why these topics were so popular with our readers.

October 30, 2013  6:06 PM

New features: Discussions, Answer Wiki improvements and commenting upgrades

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Later today, you’ll notice some significant improvements to the design and functionality of our community. These enhancements are the next step in a site-wide upgrade that we’ve been telling you about over the past few months, with new features that facilitate in-depth discussion, help you to discover new content relating to your areas of interest, and make interaction with questions and blog posts easier than ever before.


The first big change you’ll probably notice is a tab on the homepage and on every tag page called ‘IT Discussions’.

IT Discussions link

This is different from the old Discussions tab, which showed recent comments made on questions. In this new section, you’ll find open-ended questions where you can provide your opinion about a range of technology topics (for specific, technical questions, you’ll still want to use the main Q&A section).

You might find questions about which cloud computing providers are best, or how to best prepare for a certification exam. To begin, these discussions will be started by editors within the TechTarget network (eventually, you’ll be able to start your own Discussions about whatever topic you choose). You can start participating in these discussions now by replying on the page just as you would in a comment thread.

Sample discussion question

Another type of ‘Discussion’ you’ll see is directly related to a piece of content published somewhere in the TechTarget network. Here, you’ll see a title and summary that explains what the article is about, along with a link to the original piece.

Sample editorial discussion

You can comment, and read others’ comments, on these articles. All comments will show with your name and avatar both on this page and on the original article page, which means users around the network will get to know and interact with you. You’re now no longer just an expert on ITKnowledgeExchange, you’re an expert in the TechTarget network.

New Question/Answer Page Design

You’ll notice that the Q&A pages look different (and hopefully, you’ll notice that they look better.)

We’ve removed the boxes from around the question, answer and comment sections to allow the page to flow more easily.

We’ve also rearranged the question section, so the question itself is allowed to expand to the full width of the content area (with the user information dropped below).

Sample question page The Answer Wiki section has gotten a major upgrade; in addition to improvements to the buttons and overall design, there’s now more space given to the answer itself, and less text used to display answer contributors and history (that information is still viewable by clicking the appropriate links). We’re also no longer showing avatars in the answer wiki section.

New Answer Wiki


We’ve also made significant improvements to how comments work on both questions and blog posts.

Below any question or blog post, you’ll see a new, less cluttered commenting section which includes clear instructions for adding your reply. You can also sort all comments based on the time they were posted. You can also flag any comment for review by our team using the Flag icon at the far right of any comment – this will start an email that will be sent directly to us so that we can take a look.

Question discussion

Blog post comments

That’s all I’ve got, for now. Feel free to start exploring the new community and, as always, let us know what questions or comments you have.

A lot of hard work has gone into these new features in an effort to make this community as useful, and usable, as possible. Many of you have already helped us out a lot by offering feedback and suggesting features, and we’d love to hear more so we can continue providing a great experience for you. Thanks again for your participation on ITKnowledgeExchange!

October 30, 2013  5:56 PM

Book giveaway: Building Windows 8 Apps

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh


Windows 8 image via Shutterstock

If you’re looking to create Windows 8 applications, we have the book for you. Building Windows 8 Apps with C# and XAML, by Jeremy Likness, is the first practical guide to building breakthrough applications for Windows 8 from project templates through publication to Windows Store. His book will help you dive into Windows 8 development and gain a powerful advantage for years to come. We have an excerpt of the book on our IT Bookworm Blog.

And yes, we’re giving away a copy! To win, tell us an application you would like to build in Windows 8. Good luck!

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