Microsoft Azure, Acclaim Digital Badges and Online Proctored Exams

Over the weekend I took another Microsoft exam.  This was my first Azure exam and I am already scheduled to put it to good use teaching a class on it in Indianapolis next week.  I’ve been teaching for 17 years and this is the first time:

  1. The subject matter can literally change from day to day (certainly week/week month/month)
  2. The course lab instructions are updated so frequently, the instructor must download the week of the course
  3. The lab instructions are either wrong, slightly wrong or will stop working as soon as something goes from preview to production

It’s a great time to be a Microsoft Certified Trainer – the value we bring to this ever changing technology has never been at such a premium!  This isn’t my first work with Azure, though.  Microsoft first announced what would later become Azure at an internal Microsoft Conference in the summer of 2008 (you can read about it here).  Code named Red Dog, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.  Later the name was revealed.  It started small, but grew like wild fire.  I saw the changes from within – first websites moved, then services provided to employees (apps, databases, etc.) and eventually virtual machines.

Virtual machines have been of interest to me ever since I saw my first copy of VMWare working at Motorola on a developer’s computer (1999).  I had learned about Windows almost 10 years prior to that (I saw betas of OS/2 and Windows 3.0 early working at ComputerLand in Decatur, IL).  Once Azure started CTP (community technology preview) of virtual machines, I was hooked.  No more downloading betas of code – build it online and check it out.  Once you were done, shut it down.  Microsoft took these simple concepts and kept pushing boundaries – on demand demo environments, and finally internal beta access with Project Nebula.

This also marks my next Acclaim Digital Badge.  I will be proudly displaying new certifications as I achieve them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and here on my blog page.  I should also mention for those that may have missed the news (or wish to take a Microsoft Certified Exam in the most comfortable spot available – your home) that I took this exam from a room in my home (on a Saturday).  No traveling to a testing site, no locking up valuables.  No driving home afterwards required – just a congratulatory hug from my wife and a weekend of celebrating.

exam-533-implementing-microsoft-azure-infrastructure-solutions

New Look and Feel – Eighties

It’s been six months since DESA Enterprises began and since then I have been working with a number of clients near and far.  One of the goals for this new company was to work closer to home and that will be a focus of this new website.  DeKalb has been my home for most of my life.  Even when I lived in Decatur, IL for college, DeKalb was my permanent address.  After I married Eva and we moved from Decatur to Elk Grove Village and then to South Elgin, we frequently visited DeKalb.

The theme I have chosen for the redesign is called “Eighties” – those were most of my formative years.  It seems fitting to leverage it for my business.  Websites are just one of the things DESA Enterprises focuses on.  We have training, disaster recovery, website design and technical architecture and implementation services.  We also have LinkedIn and Office 365 expertise to showcase you, your company and your services.

It’s been a productive year so far – the second half will see even more growth and it’s the return of one of our employees (back from college) – Sam will be helping with many aspects of the business.

Server Superstar Training – PowerShell lesson

I had a conversation yesterday with an IT Pro about PowerShell, scripting and their environment (all running Hyper-V).  If there is something you are going to do once or twice – do you really need to script/automate it?  It’s up to you (and/or your company) – a script can be documented and tracked (as opposed to other changes – I know a lot of situations where someone made changes but has no trail of what those changes were).

What is a good example of something that I change regularly on my servers?  I have a demo environment that sometimes should be only internal connectivity and sometimes I want the virtual machines to have wired network access.  In PowerShell, I can change the VM’s network adapter setting with the following:

Connect-VMNetworkAdapter -vmname DRSERVER2 -switch EXTWired

Connect-VMNetworkAdapter -vmname DRSERVER2 -switch INTonly

The EXTWired and INTonly are virtual switches I setup in Hyper-V and this is a perfect example of something I could automate, but once the virtual switches are setup, I don’t make a lot of changes to them.  I could write PowerShell to create the virtual switches as well as assign them to a virtual machine’s network adapter, but the thing that I’m constantly changing is just the virtual switch the VMs are attached to (probably multiple times a day depending on what I’m demoing/testing).

In a future post, we will discuss modifications to this script so that the virtual machine (DRSERVER2) is a variable, how to enumerate all the virtual machines setup on a Hyper-V host, and other examples of using PowerShell.

 

 

 

Windows Key + PrtSc (or Command + Shift + 3)

Screen shots – they can be great reminders of error messages, or of something you want to show others.  I discovered Windows Key + Print Screen in Windows 8 by accident (I thought I was pressing Alt + Print Screen which takes a screen print of your active window that you can paste into email, Microsoft Paint or whatever other program makes sense).  Windows Key + Print Screen actually CREATES the screen shot for you and places it in a Screenshots folder under Pictures.

screenshot-47

Dual Monitors on a Lenovo – both screens are captured – and this is Screenshot (47) on that computer!

The screen shots are sequentially numbered, and I have not run into an upper end.

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On macOS with multiple displays, the screen shot pictures are placed on the desktop and there are separate files for each screen

 

Server Superstar – DESA DRIVE (Delivering Relevant Information Via Experiences) Training launches Monday

Monday will be a big launch day for DESA DRIVE (Delivering Relevant Information Via Experiences).  The Server Superstar course will launch.  If you have hardware, you can purchase access to just the materials and course, if you would like a portable lab with all of the virtual machines and content, that will be available as well.  Don’t worry if you only have one system, we are also coming up with ways for you to work remotely on hardware hosted by DESA Enterprises.

The various offerings and packages will be available at http://desadrives.com.  Tips and tricks and other in person events across Chicagoland will also accompany the training.  Watch for dates and locations soon!

New – Mac and PC offerings!

As I look at the training available, and remember my 10 year history with Apple hardware, it occurred to me how I learned the macOS.  I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars for training, but to learn the macOS, you need one thing – a Mac computer.  At Microsoft, we brought in a number of rented iMacs right after an Office launch to show how it could be used cross platform (and a Mac could even be booted into Windows physically or virtually).  I decided with DESA DRIVE to also offer affordable training for Mac.

Next week, I’ll launch three offerings – virtual Mac training (you access a Mac securely through the Internet), physical Mac training (you rent or purchase a Mac computer and do the training on the device) or a hybrid of the two (low end hardware rented or purchased and for any higher end lessons, you access a more powerful system remotely).

Here’s where the Mac offerings differ from the PC offerings – greater flexibility.  A Mac computer allows you to virtualize both it’s OS versions AND Windows client and server versions locally.  You could take a Windows version of Office class on a rented Mac and then at the same time or right after that, take an Office for Mac training class ON THE SAME HARDWARE (or virtually if you don’t have a Mac!)

bunch-of-operating-systems

A Macbook Pro running Windows Server, macOS Mavericks, Yosemite, El Capitan and Sierra, as well as Windows 10!

Learn at your own pace, flexibility in how and where you learn, networking with other students.  DESA DRIVE (Delivering Relevant Information Via Experiences) launches Monday – at desadrives.com!

 

DESA GOOD Drives Launch!

Tonight I build an ecommerce website in an hour (more on that later), but in doing so, the first DESA GOOD (Get Out Of Disaster) Drives are now available to order.  What’s a Get Out Of Disaster drive?  It’s a portable, USB 3.0, 1 TB hard drive with Windows 10 Enterprise (Evaluation) 32 bit installed on it that you can boot an infected, malware infested, or just downright problematic computer from and Get Out Of Disaster (GOOD).  Then you will find yourself in a fresh, infection free, no malware, faster operating system.  Because the DESA GOOD Drive is running a separate copy of Windows 10, whether your computer is running Windows 10 or another version of Windows, this “fresh” copy is the version in memory and your current hard drive is not shown (avoiding any harm from viruses, malware, ransomware, etc.).  The DESA GOOD Drive comes with instructions to attempt recovery from various disasters.

http://desadrives.com

You won’t have your apps (because it’s a separate copy of Windows 10) and by default you won’t see your hard drive in the computer, but with the DESA GOOD Drive instructions you will learn how to:

  • access your computer’s hard drive to back up and access important files
  • scan the computer’s hard drive to identify it there was a virus or other type of problem
  • load drivers for video, networking, printing if not included with Windows 10 for your computer model
  • use the DESA GOOD Drive in a non problematic or another computer (how to put it to work before you need to Get Out Of a Disaster)
  • other use cases

The DESA GOOD Drive ships to you with a 32-bit version of Windows 10 Enterprise.  Why the 32-bit version?  The hope is to be compatible with the oldest of computers and some of those might be 32 bit only.  The other reason is the 32-bit version of Windows 10 is slightly smaller so more room for files you need/wish to recover.

Once you use the DESA GOOD Drive, you have a 90 day evaluation of Windows 10 Enterprise.

DESA Enterprises developed and sells the DESA GOOD Drive.

Introducing DESA DRIVE!

Dan Rey left Microsoft to address a huge problem – how do you gain experience if you don’t have it in the first place?  He spent two months perfecting a solution that addresses this difficult issue – a training program that advances you – the student, from learning, to networking (actually collaborating with fellow students), to assisting as a class proctor (coordinator or lead type experience) to trainer (if you are interested – I realize this isn’t for everyone).  Out of this, DESA DRIVE (Delivering Relevant Information Via Experiences) was born.

DESA DRIVE is a complete solution for learning computer skills for the workplace.  You start with an evaluation copy of either Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 (depending on your learning profile) setup on a removable hard drive and 30 tasks to accomplish in your first month.  The tasks are based on your goals and interests.  You can choose from three tracks:

Service Desk Guru – supporting Windows and potentially Mac computers (learn either or both skills), getting users up and running quickly, fixing software issues, securing computers and devices, providing tips and tricks to keep users happy and always learning.

Office 365 Wizard – this isn’t just a demo environment.  You will setup an Office 365 tenant from the ground up and learn how to administer it, add users, configure various aspects of Office 365 and support users with tools from their subscription like Skype for Business, OneNote, SharePoint and Exchange Online.  You will gain knowledge of how to support all platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android to start) with real world experience

Server Superstar – this used to be another paradox – “how do I learn to be a server administrator without a server?”  We have addressed that with a DESA DRIVE designed for you!  You receive multiple evaluation copies of Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016.  Your 30 tasks teach you how to setup a server from scratch and lots more!

Links to order your kit will be available shortly.  The BEST part?  Each 30 day course costs $299.00!  You receive materials, downloads, online support sessions and work with others with measurable outcomes and an evaluation so that you have something besides “Read about supporting Windows 10”, “Played around with Office 365” or “Attended Server 2012 R2 Training”.

Bing Rewards – They’re Real

I get a lot of questions about Microsoft scams – it seems like the amount of email threats, scams, and phone calls from people pretending to be Microsoft (or another computer company) must be making someone somewhere money.  We have taught our kids if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.  That’s why I was really proud when both of them didn’t believe me when I told them about Microsoft Rewards (“how do you get real money from just using the computer and Bing?!?!”  my son asked).  This is that too good to be true offer that’s real.

You don’t get paid directly – Bing Rewards is something you opt into with a Microsoft Account.  It allows you to collect rewards for what you already do – surf the web, search, use a mobile device or tablet.  My son is quickly becoming the expect in Microsoft Rewards.  He shared the news with his younger sister who is now old enough to earn rewards as well (you have to be at least 13 years old – https://www.bing.com/rewards/tou)

Sam has already turned some of his Bing Rewards into gift cards.  I think he was more excited about this than working for me in our new business (which he earns a lot more than just Bing Rewards for).  Stay tuned for another “too good to be true” offer involving online training from DESA Enterprises.