Greg's IT Blog

and how to live with IT

Time to write

Less IT admin things, more general IT for me. Findings: "The Department of Homeland Security's United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)" (wow!) has surprisingly good suggestions and tips of all things IT for all types of users. Lovely, well written articles. Even came upon this old news - Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) Vulnerable to Brute-Force Attack. Remember to turn off WPS or update to latest firmware. I keep discarding and archiving bookmarks that I just don't have time to read, but still want to. >1 Mb archive Perfect IT interview (Russian) which never happens in real life. Gartner report for PaaS. IEEE Ethernet 802.3. (Russian) A note on the standards. Old news ("With Android 4.1 (aka Jelly Bean) the full system log is only visible if you have root."), but still annoying. Translating into - you can't have central log files for tracking system events (a common case might be - a phone randomly reboots). No way you're finding out why. There's no event viewer or crash dumps. One of the most amazing articles about virtualization solution appliance I've read recently (Russian). The level of technical detail is amazing. Custom solution on XenServer for streamlining testing, a lot of scripting and observations. How does one become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Curious.

1Y0-300 Exam XenDesktop 7 Prep Guide

Citrix decided to revamp it's certification paths, which is expected and pretty typical in certification business: keep people stressed, rename exams, update exams to reflect newer product version. etc. Prove it. Again.    Having a CCEE certification, Citrix is suggesting the following: "CCEE for Virtualization certificants can achieve the Citrix Certified Professional (CCP-AD) by passing the Professional-level exam, 1Y0-300."   At the time of writing this the information available on the internet is pretty vague. I will be sharing the information I've found useful for preparing for this exam. I've jumped right ahead to 7.1, as the changes are minor. Official prep guide for the 1Y0-300 (Deploying Citrix XenDesktop 7 Solutions). Standard citrix prep guide, the links to multiple KB articles are useful. There are even sample questions available. http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/xendesktop/cds-xendesktop-71-landing-page.html - edocs. Introduction to Citrix XenDesktop 7 and Citrix Certification - cbtnuggets. Great value.   Field notes: 1) The most annoying things is (once again) XenServer hypervisor compatibility with Hyper-V Role. I know installing a hypervisor on a hypervisor is not a supported scenario (surprisingly), but it does work for VMWare Workstation which generally has better compatibility and in LAB environments there's no other way to go around it if you want to properly practice XenDesktop. XenServer 6.0.2 works on Hyper-V in Win8 out of the box. Although there still were some issues which prevented me from using the full functionality, so I went with VMWare as my final choice.  XenServer 6.2.0 doesn't (by default) hangs on "Detecting hardware", disabling ACPI detection helps ("/boot/xen.gz no-real-mode acpi=off watchdog com1=115200.8n1 console=com1,tty"). Then the installation drags on to 55% and freezes. I scrapped the idea of using XS 6.2. 2) One additional disappointment was that App-V 5.0 does not work with SQL Express (Totally forgot that one! The Installler does not recognize an SQL Express instance, maybe there's a way to "hack" the installation to skip some of the checks, but I haven't played around with it that long). It clearly says so in this technet article: Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, or Web Server) R2 SP1 and higher 64-bit Microsoft Windows Server 2012 (Standard, Datacenter)     64-bit This is quite a horrible gesture from MS with no logical explanation. Another horrible thing is excluding c++ redist from the App-V installation media. 3) Published resource keyword descriptions. KEYWORDS:Auto, KEYWORDS:Featured, KEYWORDS:prefer=""   To be updated.

State of the Program

Some of the recent things that I've found inspiring: 1) Career development, interview tips - https://www.linkedin.com/ is stacked with any kind of articles you want to think of. Another great source of information (surprise!) is reddit.com, their AMA sections are awesome - http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1mid4w/iama_executive_recruiter_are_you_in_the_market/. Passed ITIL Service Strategy exam, 36/40. 2) Life - http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/1k72rz/redditors_in_their_30s_what_was_the_transition/ 3) Entertainment - Sopranos, Breaking Bad and House of Cards.

Recent developments

  Recently been involved with hitting Citrix certifications, hard. It did pay off, I'm now officially "Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer for Virtualization". "A25 Engineering a Citrix Virtualization Solution" exam was the most relevant one in terms of what you do and encounter when operating an environment involving Citrix products and solutions. In terms of actually preparing for the exam - I did not take any official trainer-led courses, those would be too rough for my budget. I did have access to cbtnuggets.com and trainsignal.com, those, plus the KB and citrix forums helped a lot. Of course - a lot of hands-on was also involved, which led me to consider that 16 GBs of RAM is not really enough. :) I've also made small text notes with links to KBs and useful command lines, all of those helped. Overall - I'm very satisfied with the experience, not so much with actually getting the certification, the fun part is working for it. ;)

My experience configuring accessibility features / Is using the PC possible for a blind person?

This is a bit out of the ordinary things I do and post. A couple of weeks back had a relative call me up and ask if it's possible to look into configuring a PC for a blind person. I said I will definitely look into it.   I drove over, met my relative's friend and talked over the situation a bit. The following summary came up: 1) Mostly the person didn't use his laptop all that much, main complaint was that it is not clear on how to use it and make it accessible for him. 2) He had a couple of people previously come over and configure it. 3) He would like to use skype to call up his relatives from time to time, listen to music, audio books, radio. Maybe even find a more efficient way than TV to be up to date on the news.   My initial impression has been - it's like 2012, this should be a breeze to configure and use, just google it!   One of the major surprises I've encountered is that there is no user interface that allows the blind user to actually learn the pc and self-improve. It's all based on pre-defined scenarios, scripts and the application setup done on the workstation. There are several out of the box solutions for blind people, but they go down the same road of pre-defined scenarios, you can't just browse the web, search for info and come up with solutions from the information you've gained.   This is where I had to re-view my approach, because the most intuitive thing like install JAWS screen reader (the best one on the mark, I wasn't really impressed with the Ease of Access Center on Windows 8, I've even lost voice a couple of times trying to scream out commands) and let it handle everything - will not work.   Screen readers don't read everything, most popular web pages and news portals I visit are not optimized for accessibility and to make things worse - the person does not know English at all, meaning we're limited to the Russian segment of the net.   After some struggle on how to make things work, I've come up with the following: 1) Audio training for blind people (managed to find one in Russian) 2) WebbIE browser with some pre-defined URLs published on desktop as separate shortcuts (key combinations can work very good here) 3) JAWS screen reader 4) Custom scripts, calling via skype (some of them successfully borrowed from http://integr.org) 5) TeamViewer for remote assistance 6) The key here is finding a person who is willing to spend time and train the blind user, without this nothing will work   So to answer the question is it possible to use a PC for a blind user? Yes and no.   Without someone to train, setup, show and develop pre-defined scenarios this is not possible. I would pretty much estimate that in the nearest future we will be successful in developing technologies to restore vision instead of developing computer UI for blind people.   http://www.freedomscientific.com/products/fs/jaws-product-page.asp http://www.webbie.org.uk/ http://integr.org/ http://www.ruslife.ru/help/Folder_3202/3608.smx

Current developments

I've been so excited about a lot of things and it's hard to pull myself together and put everything under one post, but here goes. Study https://www.coursera.org/ just completely blows my mind, as a concept, as a future development and even more - the understanding of the underlying technologies, things and events that make this possible today. And of course it complements the basic human need - getting things for free is nice. ;) The most challenging part right now is forcing yourself to allocate those hours for video lectures and homework. I'm personally signed up for https://www.coursera.org/course/friendsmoneybytes and https://www.coursera.org/course/wh1300 All things IT Seeing as how Apple failed to revolutionize the market with their latest and greatest iPhone 5 (n) - I'm sticking with my Android Galaxy SII which, by the way, has more than enough computing power to handle daily tasks, which cannot be said for the cellular operator in my country, with 3G network coverage less than 50% of the places I usually go to (unless you trust the marketing materials, which say otherwise). Oh well, at least I keep history of network speed tests, Android SpeedTest comes in handy. x220 notebook has now failed me once since I've bought it earlier this year - XenServer 6.0+ just fails to install on it and comes up with a permament black screen after reboot, which makes troubleshooting complicated. Citrix certifications It's perfect time to grab them now, with constant demand for XenApp and less so for XenDesktop, but on the bright side - many customers will want all the solutions in one box, so XenServer might see some love too. http://training.citrix.com/cms/education/certification/engineer-series/ And yes - it's 3 more to go for me: CCA for Citrix XenServer 6 CCAA for Citrix XenApp 6 A25 Engineering a Citrix Virtualization Solution I can't stress enough how good are www.trainsignal.com materials for this, they're totally worth the buck and highly recommended. I enjoyed www.cbtnuggets.com a bit less, but they're great too. Though, sometimes I wonder - if selling knowledge is more profitable for some enterprises than using it, does it still hold value? Quotes "People don't make money, money makes money."

Learning: A dive in TechEd

My week's highlights include: Tech·Ed North America 2011 Sorted by most viewed. With Case of the Unexplained 2011: Windows Troubleshooting with Mark Russinovich being the top choice. And the book "Windows Sysinternals Administrator's Reference" being a must-read for anyone involved in administrating Windows. Some of the examples in the video are taken directly from the book, some of them are new. Presentation is easy and fun to watch, there are jokes, the language is simple and it doesn't go all into the theory. I couldn't stop watching it. Free IT Training A lot of youtube videos with step by step guides on a lot of technologies on the way to Microsoft Certification. It's amazing how much content you can get nowadays for free if you know where to look.

Learning

My week highlights include: Exam 70-647: Pro: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator It took a while, but I’m finally there! Definitely an experience to remember, time constrains in some parts of the exam are really pushing you to the limit of quickly understanding what is the question about and what part of information you should be digging in the case scenario. A great video training material is available from CBTNuggets. As a side note - “MCITP Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-647): Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Administrator (2nd Edition)” is horrible, pass on it. Technet documentation is a life saver. http://csi-windows.com/ and http://DesktopEngineer.com Quality, description of available trainings and deep technical expertise level of this resource is amazing. I have not had a chance to look into the whole content of the web site, yet, but already got a chance to download and play around with a script that let’s you “Show UAC Virtualized Registry Keys for All Users”.