All posts by mkultra

Microsoft made it easier to plan certs

I really appreciate that Microsoft has made it easier to track and plan one’s certification with their Certification Planner site. Currently, I use a program I wrote that tracks all the requirements for each certification or body of knowledge in which I’m interested in attaining the credential or knowledge and experience. Periodically, I’ll revisit those details and confirm their accuracy or adjust their priority/weights.

Using Microsoft’s applet was simple to use. It lists each possible track one could take to a certification goal in a simple tree structure where folders provide key information such as whether you currently meet all the requirements and if not, the number of objectives remaining and which ones qualify.

Aside from the link I include in this post, one can get to the site from the Microsoft Certification Home Page and then selecting “Certification Planner” from the  “View My…” button list in the left navigation menu.

Microsoft's Certified Professional website.

Once you select the track that you’d like to pursue based on your in-progress certifications, a pop-up will launch with that certification at the top level. What I really like here is that the system knows by the tests you’ve passed or failed what tracks are possible and only lists those tracks. A neat side effect is that it allows for some enlightening discoveries like simple specialties that can be added. For example, one might not know that by substituting one exam for another not only can the same base certification be achieved but that with another one or two exams, a specialist track can be attained as well.

Microsoft's applet showing a single track and its status and criteria.

Look how lazy I was to not have taken a simple test on a product which I am very familiar! The shame! ;->

There are a few improvements I’d like Microsoft to make:

  1. Allow for selections of test criteria which can then be downloaded (or stored on Sky Drive)
  2. Support other browsers and operating systems better.  (I’ve not gotten the applet to work under OSX browsers.)
  3. Allow attribute such as font size to carry from the main style sheet.

Overall though, I give Redmond some props for continuing to improve their educational and related training and certification systems.

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Apple worse than Microsoft regarding browser policy

Many thanks to the Multi-Safari project for working allowing one to use Safari 3 on a system that had been upgraded to Safari 4.

For some reason, Apple chose to not let one uninstall Safari 4 once his system has been upgraded to it. Removing Safari 4 with AppZapper still would not allow me to reinstall Safari 3. Had it not been for Multi-Safari, I’d still be having my issues.

So why did Apple choose such a Microsoft-like approach to the browser? I should be able to uninstall the OS-included browser firstly, and secondly, I should be able to then reinstall the prior version of the same browser.

David Haye wusses out – Klitschko dominates Chagaev

So, David Haye wusses out with an “injuury” (perhaps privately failed performance enhancer test?) so I could not see Klitschko take care of him in the ring. However, I did see Chagaev give a valiant try before 61,000+ people in a soccer stadium in Germany. Ultimately, his corner and he knew he wasn’t able to do anything but defend against an onslaught of jabs that could flatten a cars metal into tissue. Klitschko certainly lived up to his nickname, “Iron Hammer”. Chagaev is was no pansy – that man is tough, experienced, and well prepared… and up to the fight this weekend had been undefeated.

Well, David, once the steroi- er, … once your undisclosed injury heals, the world of boxing expects you to stand up to your tall and needlessly vicious and unsportsmanlike talk.

Clearing incorrect saved form field entries in Entourage or Firefox

Someone called me today with an all too common occurence that needed remedy: He entered his password mistakenly in the login name field of a webform. While the easy route would be to clear private data (doing a bulk erase), that’s like killing a cockroach with a bazooka. When you find yourselves in a similar situation, be it a mispelled streetname, login, address or whatever, there is a very simple (and keyboard driven) way to fix this problem.

To remove individual values from saved formed data within Firefox and Entourage (and probably other applications that I seem to not have had the need to test), perform the following, very simple procedure.

1. Put your cursor in the field on the form in which your mistaken entry lies.
2. Hit down arrow key (start typing the incorrect entry) and then hit the down arrow key until the incorrect entry is selected.
3. Press SHIFT + DEL to delete the offending entry.

(Note: This trick doesn’t seem to work in Apple’s Safari browser so if anyone can help document that for me I’d appreciate it.)

Windows Active Directory as Virtual Machines

There are several major considerations for running virtual domain controllers. While I support and recommend VDC use, some common sense precautions need be taken.

  • Ensure the basic virtual networking configuration for the VDC is within Windows Sites definitions and their appropriate subnets.
  • Confirm connectivity for full Microsoft DS IP-suite ports to the Virtual Hosts Farms. This means routing and firewalls should be in place and tested. Note that bridgeheads are applicable in more constrained environments but any type of autotopology support is usually preferable – especially with Windows 2003 and 2008.
  • If using DCs with Virtualization HA features such as VI3′s, make sure the above is true and safely test.
  • Don’t treat VDCs like regular Windows servers – they aren’t. You can risk serious issues if you think you can just fall back on a snapshot or a prior image file. MSDS like DNS uses a serial number of sorts (the USN). You don’t want to cause issues in one of the most important systems in your environment.
  • Exercise care when restoring with backup software whether Microsoft certified or not. Use the principle of doing the least required. Restoring a DC from even a trusted backup application still should be treated with gravity.

Microsoft themselves further recommends the following to prevent the domain’s Update Sequence Numbers (USN) being rolled back from causing issues (from Technet).

  • Do not take or use a snapshot of a domain controller virtual machine.
  • Do not copy the domain controller VHD file.
  • Do not export the virtual machine that is running a domain controller.
  • Do not restore a domain controller or attempt to roll back the contents of an Active Directory database by any other means than a supported backup solution, such as Windows Server Backup.

Now, really, all the above applies to _physical_ DCs as well (or for that matter, P2Ving, V2Ping, P2Ping, or V2Ving), but the point is that with the proliferation of Virtualization that it is much too easy to shoot yourself in the foot.

For more information, please see my Microsoft Systems Resource page.