Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Microsoft Certification Certificate

I just downloaded the electronic copy of my MCTS certificate and noticed that it was signed by Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect, Microsoft Corporation. Didn't Mr. Gates leave Microsoft? So why is he 'signing' my certificate? I'm not saying that I mind, it was just a little bit of a shock. Well, at least it wasn't signed by Jerry Seinfeld!

The new Microsoft certifictation logos are nifty

They have a log builder and logo libary, so you can customize the logos with the certifications you've earned.

Hopefully I'll be adding the MCTIP logo to my logo library before too long!

Free Microsoft Education

While looking for some Microsoft training resources, I came across several free courses/clinics. Taking these won't make you a Microsoft expert overnight, but they are free, and so far, they seem like good overviews and introductions.
Microsoft Learning Manager - English Catalog, Free Products. So far, I've started Clinic 5091: Introduction to Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging, and I'll probably do Clinic 6080: Deploying Microsoft Forefront Server Security Products next. I've recommended Clinic 3404: What’s New in Windows Vista and Course 4697: Introduction to the New Microsoft Office Fluent User Interface. I'll probably recommend those to some of my customers as well.

If I keep saying I should do it, will I?

I really need to update the pictures of the kids at the top of my blog! Zoe and Aidan have grown so much, even Alex and Andrew have updated features. For example, Alex wears glasses now.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Already breaking campaign promises?

Word is that the Obama transition team has requested information on the cost savings of canceling the Ares 1 & Orion projects. I recall during the campaign that Obama pledged funding into NASA aimed in part at narrowing the gap between the Space Shuttle's retirement and the introduction of a successor system. While I thing that the Ares 1 rocket isn't the best thing ever conceived by NASA, it does use a lot of existing technology, keeping cost down and likely bringing it to a quicker reality. Starting from scratch with a new administration would be counter productive, costly, and would widen the gap between the Space Shuttle's retirement and the next era in space travel. Of course, I haven't seen the actual questionnaire, so there could be much much more detailed information that indicates otherwise, but this is not the best of signs. I wonder how my big tax cut is coming?

Parents complain about toy advertising

I'm not a big fan of toy advertisements. They are obnoxious and I think designed to make kids feel bad about not having whatever toy that is being advertised. I guess, with some kids, it works. I see the commercials influence Alex, but we don't buy him very many toys as it is. It isn't that he doesn't get anything, but he doesn't always get the latest and greatest thing that is splashing across the TV screen. It seems to work for our family.

When it comes to family life, I've already figured out that we aren't really normal, and after reading the Fox AP story: In Lean Economic Times, Toy Advertising Under Fire, that notion is reinforced. What I take from this article, is that these parents haven't taught their kids that just because it is on TV, doesn't mean you have to have it, or that you even want it.

I think the biggest problem is what the kids are watching on TV. Alex isn't a TV junkie, but he still watches TV. I encourage the Disney channel. Their advertising is the tamest of them all, basically just advertisements for other Disney shows and videos. Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network are the worst. Every five minutes kids are bombarded with must have it latest piece of junk ads. The same is true with the cartoon blocks on broadcast TV, like on Saturday morning.

So, what is a parent to do? Basically, don't buy the stuff that is advertised, at least not regularly. Then, focus on gifts that will stand the test of time. A great gift for all of our children was the Melissa and Doug Deluxe Floor-Standing Wooden Easel on sale for $35. I've never seen this advertised on TV, and the kids love it, and they'll be playing with it for years. I guess it helps that since we rarely buy advertised products, we can say, and have said (to Alex) "Do we ever buy you what you see on TV?"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Updated Template, Again

I added a link to Cub Scout Pack 285, Amy has been working hard on the pack web site. It looks really good, better than anything I could do. My web skills are stuck in the 90's. Now, I just use blogger to post my web content.

The pack web site is done in wordpress, which is pretty nice, but there are often security bugs in it that would concern me. Amy just updated it today due to a seuciryt vulnerability. She was holding off verson 2.7, but she decided to go to 2.6.5 to fix the security bug.

MCTS: Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 – Configuration

Back in the day, you used to only have to say, I'm an MCSE, and you could get respect in the IT field. Then, somewhere around 1999 or so, the MCSE certification became watered down. I blame the Internet, and the dumbing down of the TCP/IP exam. If you were in the field around that time, you might remember the old TCP/IP exam where you had to understand things like subnets and routing, and the new TCP/IP exam where it was mostly a Microsoft WINS, DNS, & DHCP.

These days there are a ton of Microsoft certifications. The lowest being the MCTS, or, Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist. But the MCTS doesn't really mean anything unless it is followed by something, which in my case is, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 - Configuring. That is a lot harder to say, than MCSE. The good news is that there was only one test to pass, Microsoft Certification Exam 70-236. It wasn't the easiest test I've ever taken, in fact, I was surprised at just how hard it was. The MeasureUP practice test that came with my book probably made it worse. There were several question/answers that were just wrong. One even had two answers that were exactly the same, of course, only one of them registered as correct. The practice test did give me an idea of how the questions would be asked on the exam, but the content on the actual exam was very different from the practice test content.

The sad thing about the MCTS, is that someone can pass a basic Windows Vista exam also has an MCTS certification, so you have to be clear when explaining your certifications. The good news is that with the specialized certifications, you can really show your skill in a particular field, which is good for a consultant like myself. I'll be moving on to MCITP next, that is, Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional: Enterprise Messaging Administrator. That will require me to pass two more exams, 70-237, Designing Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 & 70-238, Deploying Messaging Solutions with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.

What I'm really looking forward to is the new Microsoft Certified Master program. As you would expect, it requires the MCITP: Enterprise Messaging Administrator, plus Exam 70-640: TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring. They also require your resume with five or more years of Exchange experience, with at least one in Exchange 2007. Those are all the easy requirements, the hard part is coming up with the $18,500 that the class and exams cost, and the three weeks travel expenses and time away from the job. This is also where working for a Microsoft partner will go a long way.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Doing work?

Is it bad that by day two at the customer site that I’m ready to pull out the rest of my hair? They have so many self inflected problems. At first, the place seemed to have all of these processes and controls in place for systems management, but then I learned differently. Software accidentally gets installed on Exchange mailbox servers. Software with known incompatibilities with Exchange is running on the mailbox servers. There was an unexpected reboot of an Exchange mailbox server today, but there was a sense of normalcy about the event. I heard a story about an outage a few weeks ago that required complete data recovery, and it was the first time they had ever attempted complete data recovery. Operating system patches are installed without testing against Exchange server. And then they drop the bomb shell, that this is the way it is and it will take years to change. I think they have the wrong person filling this role.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I really need to update the title pictures at the top of my blog!

What a Waste of a Good PC

My current customer assigned me a PC today, and what a waste of a good PC it is. It has a high end 64 bit processor, but 7 year old 32 bit windows operating system installed. Say what you will about Windows Vista, but once you've put its features to good use, it is hard to go back to XP and be as productive. In this case, wouldn't it make the most sense for them to use older computers? I would really like to be a desktop engineer for a while (as long as I was well paid). So many organizations waste tons of time and effort at the desktop level when the technology is there to manage desktops effectively and efficiently. I think that there is a mentality in IT management to move quality engineers to their 'server' teams, and keeping their 'desktop' teams filled with the inexperienced or inept, which actually increases the cost of the desktop lifecycle.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Does the DOD have a clue?

They've banned removable media such as CDRs and flash drives because of a virus or worm that is spreading on their network. First, I would think that regular flash drives would not be permitted to be used on classified systems, at least at a minimum, they don't use the same flash drives on classified and unclassified systems. Second, it seems that if the systems were secure in the first place, this sort of thing wouldn't happen. All of the good details are classified, but I bet keeping them classified has as much to do with the possibility of embarrassment as it does with actual security. If the public knew just how insecure their systems were, some folks would actually have to answer for it.

Better late than never

I was working on an issue with Windows Server 2008 Network Load Balancing (NLB). Things weren't going so well when I used the same methods that I've used with Windows Server 2003. I first got it to work by assigning a second default gateway, which is not really a valid configuration. Since I didn't want to leave it that way, I went digging for some detailed information.

After piecing together information from various sources, it turns out that IP forwarding is not enabled by default on Windows Server 2008. The following command enabled IP forwarding on the network interface.

netsh interface ipv4 set interface "NLB NIC" forwarding=enabled

Some management always wants a good source before they will sign off on anything, and various blogs and forum posts don't always count. Technet blogs seem to have the credibility they are looking for. You'd think that paying $180/hour for a consultant would be credible enough when he said that this is what you need to do! Well, the good news is, some of the good folks at Microsoft have posted the setting on their technet blog.

Now I have something more than, "trust me, I know what I'm doing" when I run into this again. Also, for the folks who are stuck in the Windows NT 3.51 days, they show you how to make the change via the registry editor.

Key name: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters
Value Name: IpEnableRouter
Data Type: REG_DWORD
Value: 1

I'm so happy the came out with the netsh command.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Minor template updates

Changed some meta data, and added some links.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Presentation on Digital Traffic

It is pretty basic, but I think it got the point accross.

It covers both NTS and ICS, winlink, packet, and so on.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

DC Metro Loan Deal

I've been following this story for a couple of weeks. It seems that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transmit Administration borrowed some money from a bank, and the terms of that loan required the WMATA to have insurance of a certain quality or pay back the loan. The insurance backer was AIG, which had its ratings cut recently, and the insurance provided no longer meets the standards of the loan. Now, Metro doesn't want to live up to the terms it agreed to and wants the government to fix it. Why doesn't Metro simply honor its contract? I guess it is for the same reason that many homes are going into foreclosure, they agreed to terms that they could not live up to. Like many, forces outside of their control lead to a bad situation, but you would think that someone, somewhere would have asked the question, what do we do if our insurance rating is lowered and we have to pay back the loan in full?