ITKE Community Blog

January 17, 2013  8:03 PM

Orion Health Live Chat: Health data liberation

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Healthcare image via Shutterstock

Join and the Health IT Exchange for a live chat on health data liberation on 1/22 from 1:00 – 3:30 EST!

Data has the power to transform health care – by aligning business intelligence data with clinical decision support technology, organizations can make dramatic improvements in cost, quality and productivity.

Health care organizations of all types are collecting petabytes worth of data, but all too often these large data sets reside in massive repositories that prove to be of little value to today’s busy clinician.

On Tuesday, January 22nd from 1:00 – 3:30pm EST, join a live chat with Micky Tripathi, President and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the eHealth Initiative to find out how he’s working with 600+ clinicians, across 200 locations, to improve operations and quality of care through the application of clinical data analytics. Tripathi, a nationally recognized leader in the field of health IT and interoperability, will provide critical insight into the processes and technologies employed to manage and integrate data across disparate systems and complex silos. Follow  @MAeHC on Twitter!

Also on hand to offer his expert perspective will be Shahid Shah, the industry’s own “Healthcare IT Guy”, resident blogger and CEO of Netspective, skilled in offering impactful advice and bridging the sometimes large gap between technical resources, business managers, and CXO’s to deliver sophisticated solutions to real world problems. Follow @ShahidNShah on Twitter!

Take advantage of this live chat to get answers to your most pressing questions. Find out how to effectively integrate data across your organization, and what types of analytics can (and should) be applied to drive change at the point of care. Register today!

January 16, 2013  4:45 PM

ITKE update: Code highlighter

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Image of code button

Great news, ITKnowledgeExchange members! We’ve recently released a fix that greatly improves the display of code on our pages. When you want to post code in a question, answer, or comment, use the [code button (appearing in the top right-hand corner of the text editor), paste your code in the box, and watch the magic happen. Your code will appear in an easy-to-read, highlighted format that keeps all spacing and formatting intact.

Image of displayed code

Make sure to try out our newest update and let us know if you have any questions!

January 14, 2013  10:05 PM

Featured Member: Carlos De Leon

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

ITKnowledgeExchange recently had the chance to talk to this month’s ‘featured member’ Carlos De Leon. He is one of ITKE’s most active users and specializes in Oracle, SQL and Java.

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

CD: I currently work as Software Development Director at a local telco. Working there has given me the opportunity to learn a lot and be involved in several different IT areas, from software development to operating systems, security, networking and telephony; but software development is what I really do today.

I’ve been involved in software development  for many years, so I would say my area of expertise is definitely there, but development is a very broad field.  One can be proficient in only a small number of languages,  or methodologies or tools, etc.  In the last few years I’ve worked a lot with Oracle databases, so I would probably say that SQL and PL/SQL are the languages I know better right now.

But as years have passed, I have been devoting less time to coding and more to managing.  I keep trying to find the way to make software projects succeed regardless of the different external factors or forces that are always present (although many times not in a very visible way) around most IT initiatives.

In my spare time I develop mobile applications, mostly for Nokia devices.

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

CD: Probably a musician, but I’m not sure whether I would be playing praise music at religious events, or I would have founded a heavy metal band.  I could also have been an MMA fighter 😉 

There are many things that interest me a lot, but I don’t have enough time for them.

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

CD: Not sure if this is normal, but I don’t really admire any one.  I read a lot, and because of that I have came to know some of the fantastic things some people have made in the IT world, but I focus more on some of their accomplishments than on their lives or even their careers.

One example is Linus Torvalds.  I admire what he did with the Linux kernel, but apart from that (and from his creation of Git) I don’t know almost anything about him or what he has done afterwards.  Something similar happens with Marc Benioff from or Mark Spencer, the creator of Asterisk.  I know of many people that have done amazing things, but I just don’t keep following them.

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

CD: As we are already seeing, mobility will most likely dominate, which probably means also that cloud adoption will grow very rapidly in the near future. 

Areas like domotics (home automation) will experiment significant growth as well, and as most of the things we use in our lives are becoming computing devices, information security will be even more important. Even today, a malicious hacker could gain control of your car, or make your pacemaker malfunction and kill you. That is scary.

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

CD: Don’t get into IT if you don’t really like technology, investigation and problems.  I have known some people that decided to pursue an IT career just because they thought it was a safe bet and they would get good money there.  After some time, most of them have become very unhappy people, who hate to face problems and take challenges.

A couple of days ago I read this in a tweet “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”.  I don’t know who the author is, but I fully agree, and that is probably the best thing I could say to any student, regardless or the profession they have chosen.

January 7, 2013  9:10 PM

Book giveaway: Mastering the Requirements Process

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Software image via Shutterstock

Do you have trouble finding those software issues? With many errors coming from within requirements, Suzanne Robertson and James Robertson’s book, Mastering the Requirements Process: Getting Requirements Right, teaches you how to gather and verify requirements properly so your software works efficiently. We’ve got an excerpt of the book up on our IT Bookworm blog.

To win a copy of the book, tell us your company’s process for finding complete requirements for a project. Good luck!

January 4, 2013  9:14 PM

IT pop quiz: What do you know about Microsoft Excel?

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Quiz image via Shutterstock

A new semester is about to start for many students but it’s time for another pop quiz for our ITKnowledgeExchange community on Microsoft Excel! See if you can answer any (or all) of the questions below and we’ll give out 100 Knowledge Points for each approved answer. Good luck!

  1. How can a user download data from SAP to Excel using pivot tables? 
  2. How can you keep symbols and numbers together in an Excel column when wrapping text
  3. Is there a way to open Excel and Word files without the ‘read only’ screen?
  4. Can a user keep the same formatting when transferring a report from Oracle Reports 11g to Excel?
  5. What do you need to do when exporting data from SSIS to Excel?
  6. How can a user overcome the ‘Could not find installable ISAM error’ in Microsoft Excel 2007?
  7. How do you incorporate combo boxes into a Microsoft Excel file? 
  8. While having two interlinked Excel workbooks, does a user have to put the same password in for each one?
  9. Is there way to implement conditional formatting for tracking schedules?
  10. How does a user copy and paste data into a cell without the previous chart disappearing? 

December 26, 2012  8:45 PM

Top ITKE blog posts of 2012

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh


This has been a great year for ITKnowledgeExchange as we welcomed many new bloggers. As the year draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back at the top blog posts of 2012!

  1. Transformer Pad/Prime Infinity release date by Nathan Simon (The Real and Virtual Adventures of Nathan the IT Guy)
  2. Resolving MySQL error 1146: “table doesn’t exist” when doing backup by Eric Hansen (I.T. Security and Linux Administration)
  3. NRPE: Could not complete SSL handshake by Eric Hansen (I.T. Security and Linux Administration)
  4. Oracle declares war on cloud and open source by Ron Miller (View from Above)
  5. Oracle the clear leader in $24 billion RDBMS market by Mark Fontecchio (Eye on Oracle)
  6. Buying a touchscreen for Windows 8, episode 1  by Ed Tittel (Windows Enterprise Desktop)
  7. Node.js: Bubbling up from JavaScript by Brein Matturro (SOA Talk)
  8. Interesting fallout from Windows update KB2762895 by Ed Tittel (Windows Enterprise Desktop)
  9. Interesting Windows 8 issues on Lenovo X220 tablet by Ed Tittel (Windows Enterprise Desktop)
  10. Cisco ASA 9.x – Coming soon by Joshua Wood (TechStop)

December 24, 2012  4:51 PM

Happy Holidays from the ITKE staff!

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Image of keyboard with bow

Keyboard image via Shutterstock

It’s been a great year full of questions, answers, discussions and more here at ITKnowledgeExchange, and I want to thank you all for your contributions. We’re looking forward to much more to come in 2013, with new site features like improved code formatting and a major new project that will further integrate the community with the extensive TechTarget network and let more people see all your great contributions (more on this soon). I’m really excited about how this site will grow and change over the next several months, and I hope you are, too.

Over the next week, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite content from the year, but for now, I want to point to a few recent changes we’ve made over the past month or so. (I won’t call them “gifts,” but I can’t stop you from doing so.)

  • If you’re wondering how your activity compares to other site members, you can now check this using the ‘badge rank’ link on your profile page. By checking out the Linux badge ranks, for example (, we see that carlosdl has the top spot, with rechil not far behind at #2. You can view the rest of the topics in the menu on the left side of the page. I can already feel the competitive juices starting to flow…
  • The tag alerts function should now be working properly again. When logged in, your e-mail address should be showing in the box on the right sidebar on the homepage where it says “Subscribe to Alerts”; click the Subscribe button and you’ll be able to sign up for notifications on the topics you care about (you’ll get them in a daily digest).
  • We’ve updated the featured questions box that shows on the homepage. This is where we post some of the most challenging and/or most interesting items that are submitted so you don’t have to hunt for them.  (We also post some tough unanswered questions in our IT quizzes, so be sure to check those out.)
  • We’ve started up a series profiling our members and bloggers over on the ITKE Community Blog. We talked with all-time points leader Tom Liotta recently, and we’ll be contacting you all down the road so you can get your moment in the sun. Watch out for an email from Michael Tidmarsh, our Assistant Community Manager, who will be taking over a lot of these kinds of communications.
  • We’ve also welcomed several new contributors to our blogs. Brian Gracely has been doing a great job on his new blog, From Silos to Services: Cloud Computing for the Enterprise. Longtime blogger Robin Miller is now covering tons of ways to save money (especially during the holidays!) on his new Cheap Computing blog. AS/400 expert John Anderson, who you may have seen around the forums, has started up a new blog covering, appropriately, AS/400 and IBM i Tutorials. And ITKE veteran James Bingham (aka harisheldon) is now gathering Tech Support Horror Stories. Make sure to check out all these blogs and offer your comments as you have them.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about something that’s happening in the community, or ideas for how to improve things, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Michael.

Thanks again for all that you do, and have a great holiday!


December 18, 2012  4:48 PM

Featured Member: Tom Liotta

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

ITKnowledgeExchange recently had the opportunity to talk to this month’s ‘featured member’ Tom Liotta. He is constantly active within the ITKE community, answering questions in several topic fields.

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

TL: Right now, I’m not doing anything. I resigned my previous position at the end of July, and I intend not to look for anything for the next year. My position for the previous 12 years was as systems programmer for an IBM business Partner, producing network security, system auditing and compliance products for the AS/400 line.

I might not have an area of expertise. My initial work experience was with mainframes since that was a big part of the industry at that time. From there, my work moved to IBM midrange systems and then to PCs of various types.

After being away from IBM systems for a few years, I took some contracts for work with System/38 sites. The first basic S/38 project didn’t go well technically because of lack of understanding of the new non-Cycle structure of RPG III, the impact of externally-described files and the object-based nature of CPF (the S/38 OS). But late in that project, those three concepts suddenly took hold and I haven’t looked back since.

As the rumors about Silverlake (AS/400s) circulated, I worried that IBM mainframe division influence might result in a disappointing product. I was fortunate to be fully involved in the first customer install of an AS/400 in the Pacific Northwest in September 1988; and the experience with that system, as rough edged as it was at the time, convinced me that AS/400s would be the focus of my career from then on.

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

TL: I don’t know. College was originally attended as a psych major. Though it was easy enough, the realization came after a few years that it was mostly BS. It took a number of years to find out why, but in the meantime I’d gone back closer to home and started a more general schedule of classes just to try various things.

I took a statistical analysis class and signed up for the extra credit version that had us solving problems by coding Basic on a remote timeshare CDC system. The thought came that it was the kind of thing I could make a living at. I started a full schedule in the ‘Data Processing’ track. (Everybody remember when that’s what it was called?)

That’s been the track I’ve been on ever since.

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

TL: Robert M. Wooldridge — I know he’s not likely to be known by many, or any, who read this. He’s mostly just a regular IT pro. No books authored, no industry changing inventions, none of the usual stuff that turns people into followers. But he has a characteristic, a natural talent that has kept my interest for 40 years. Simply put, he sees how business processes ought to be automated. It’s a talent because he seems to do it without effort.

Since getting on this track, I always wanted to have that talent. But the most I could do was keep it in mind as I worked for my employers. I always try to influence directions so that processes are automated “the right way”.

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

TL: I’ll wait to see how Oracle v. Google ends before deciding. The healthy survival of Android could be crucial to how the next decade goes. Microsoft will push for its kind of phone/tablet/notebook/desktop/whatever single-standard. Apple will be doing similarly. I’d like to see that Android is where some real innovation arises and causes a change in how we interact with automated systems. And there’s no doubt that everything is going to be automated by the end of the decade.

That is, every type of electrical device that you’ll be able to buy will have an “intelligent” version. Possibly house power circuits will be integrated with a communications network (as I’ve used mine for a few years) or a Bluetooth variation will be used. Regardless, we’ll come to expect that everything can be controlled from wherever we are.

For IT, this will drive a lot of our development effort. (And we’ll have to expect to develop wherever we are.)

The pressure will come from the personal experiences of every user. We’ll have to make everything available to all users who need it wherever they are.

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

TL: Quit now?

Best thing I did as a student was to learn how to locate, read and understand vendor documentation. Having forums such as ITKE is a development from my later years. They’re very handy for specific problems, but they aren’t helpful for an actual career unless the working platform can first be understood in a way that a vendor intends.

I often actually read through vendor (mostly IBM) manuals. I rarely read specifically to understand, but rather simply to see what is written. Later, as I’m coding something, the things I previously read come back as vague recognitions. I remember running across a reference, and I have a reasonably good feeling that I can look it up. When I then get back to it and read it with a real problem in mind, it almost always makes sense where it was only a series of words before.

Vendor documentation is the authority. If it doesn’t work, make the vendor fix it. If they won’t, then internet forums become much more valuable.

After vendor documentation, keeping products current is next in importance for a career. Working for employers who keep obsolete versions limping along is not valuable for an employee. You can find those employers late in your career, and then you might be one of the few who the employer can find. By then, you can name a price more to your liking. But early in a career, keep your eyes open for shops that keep up with vendor releases.

Don’t get chained to obsolescence. Your employer might not be in business long, and you’ll need current skills to find a next good job.

December 11, 2012  7:31 PM

Book giveaway: A practical guide to Linux

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Linux image via Shutterstock

Are you a Linux expert but want to take your knowledge to the stage? Mark Sobell’s A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming is the book for you as it covers best practices and examples for each Linux version including: Ubuntu, Red Hat, CentOS and Mac OS X. We’ve got an excerpt of the book up on our IT Bookworm blog.

Tell us what confuses you the most about Linux in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book. Good luck!

December 4, 2012  6:52 PM

FAQ: The consumerization of IT

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

The consumerization of IT has emerged as a growing trend within the industry, with consumer devices and applications playing an increasingly important role in the enterprise.

From using personal tablets and smartphones to accessing third-party cloud services and social media platforms, users no longer depend on guidance from their companies to get their jobs done and IT departments need to keep pace. Companies worldwide must decide how to address the security and compatibility concerns that come from this blending of personal and business technology.

Does your company have a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy? How are you handling ‘rogue’ users and insecure environments? The links below will help with understanding this important shift.

Here are some of the most active conversations on on consumerization topics:

View all consumerization discussions in the community.


Several ITKE bloggers have also provided perspective on consumerization:

– Scot Petersen looks at the true meaning and impact of consumerization and determines that it really depends on who you ask (as the comments prove).

– In this podcast, several security experts discuss strategies on dealing with the increase of consumer devices in the enterprise and making sure sensitive data is protected.

– When it comes to dealing with consumerization, the command and control’ approach continues to be common in many companies, but who controls the approach is still up for debate.

– IT business expert David Scott looks at the beginning of CoIT and how it started through the phenomena known as ‘Bring Your Own Device’ and the different issues, policies and practices associated with it.

– Scott discusses the realities of consumerization and the main ways of managing the challenges it presents.

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