Free Partiton Recovery Software

You know what it is like, it is late at night, you have one eye on the TV, the other on your computer. You are just about to partition a spare hard drive that you have connected to your computer. Just before you press “Yes” to delete the partition you are distracted for one minute and when you come back you are still half distracted and before you know it you have deleted the wrong partition that contains all your music and photos.

That happened to me this week but instead of getting angry with myself I decide to have a look on the web to find out if there was some good free partitioning software that would be able to recover the deleted partition quickly and easily that I could recommend to family and friends. I already had some software installed such as Recuva and Stellar Phoenix Windows Data Recovery so was able to get all my files back so I decided to have a look on Youtube and came across a video for AOMEI Partition Assistant 5.2 Standard Edition. The video made the whole process look so easy that even beginners could use. I downloaded the free software onto my Windows 7 PC, started it up and within 2 minutes had recovered the deleted partition with all my data.

Give it a try, if you have accidentally deleted a partition. It was so easy to use

http://www.extend-partition.com/free-partition-manager.html

 

Posted in Windows 7 Operating System | Tagged | Leave a comment

Microsoft MCSE: Private Cloud Exam Resources

I took both the following exams for this qualification and I must say that they were two of the most difficult exams I have ever taken.

Exam 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?ID=70-246#fbid=7Oaqm0eQ_Qu

Exam 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?ID=70-247#fbid=7Oaqm0eQ_Qu

I already had the MCSE: Server Infrastructure so these two exams gave me the MCSE: Private Cloud to add to my list of certifications. I think the reason why these two exams were quite difficult was due to the Fact that SCCM 2012 is now a suite of application that have been combined into one application. I already had experience with SCOM 2007, SCCM 2007, DPM 2007, Hyper-V and SCVMM 2008 so thought this would be quite straigtforward but really what they are testing in this certification is how they all fit together.

I did quite well on the 70-246 exams but am not convinced that they marked the case study as I am sure I got some of the questions wrong. On the 70-247 my result was alot lower but still enough to pass….phew!!! I thought I would put together a list of resources to help others with these exams.

One thing I would have done differently if I had seen it earlier was to study for and take the following exam

Exam 70-243: Administering and Deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?id=70-243#fbid=7Oaqm0eQ_Qu

On the Microsoft website it states the following…..When you pass Exam 70-243: Administering and Deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager, you complete the requirements for the following certification(s):
MCTS: Administering and Deploying System Center 2012 Configuration Manager

However, if you look under the MCTS Certifications it is nowhere to be found so I just assumed that the 70-246 and 70-247 were the new SCCM 2012 exams and didn’t realise my mistake until it was too late!!!

As always I started off with Online Training. I believe these courses can be used for both exams
CBT Nuggets: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 by Greg Shields
TrainSignal: System Center 2012 Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud (70-247) by Elias Khnaser

Also there are some very good videos produced by Microsoft Jumpstart
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/video/private-cloud-jump-start-01-introduction-to-the-microsoft-private-cloud-with-system-center-2012
From here you can also see these other videos
Private Cloud Jump Start (01): Introduction to the Microsoft Private Cloud with System Center 2012
Private Cloud Jump Start (02): Configure & Deploy Infrastructure Components
Private Cloud Jump Start (03): Configure & Deploy the Private Cloud Infrastructure
Private Cloud Jump Start (04): Configure & Deploy Service Delivery & Automation
Private Cloud Jump Start (05): Configure & Deploy Application Management
Private Cloud Jump Start (06): Monitor & Operate Infrastructure Components
Private Cloud Jump Start (07): Monitor & Operate the Private Cloud Infrastructure
Private Cloud Jump Start (08): Monitor & Operate Service Delivery & Automation
Private Cloud Jump Start (09): Monitor & Operate Application Management

The only book I could find which was good enough to read for these two exams was “Microsoft Private Cloud” Computing by Aidan Finn, Hans Vredevoort, Patrick Lownds and Damian Flynn (29 Jun 2012). This book had most of the topics covered by the exam

One good link that provided a good understanding of the different components in SCCM 2012 and how the work together was “System Center 2012 Suite Configure and manage apps, services, computers, and VMs” by Orin Thomas
http://windowsitpro.com/system-center/system-center-2012-suite

Also these links can help with the exams
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh397409.aspx
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/system-center/configuration-manager-2012.aspx
http://eskonr.com/2012/01/configmgrsccm-2012-site-system-roles/
http://www.jamesbannanit.com/2011/04/certificate-requirements-for-sccm-2012/
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-gb/systemcenter/hh880681
http://technet.microsoft.com/library/cc507089

Good luck!!

Posted in Chapters, Training Notes | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Citrix XenApp 6.5 Administration (1Y0-A20) Exam Resources

This was the hardest of the three Citrix exams but still relatively straightforward if you read the questions and answers carefully before choosing an answer as some questions were worded in such a way to try and catch you out. Experience in a production environment would be quite beneficial for this exams but, as always, making changes to a production environment in a major investment bank without change control for training purposes would be a recipe for disaster so had to setup my own lab at home.

The first step is to take a look at the Exam A20 Preparation Guide found on the Citrix Website

http://training.citrix.com/mod/ctxcatalog/course.php?id=317#modalid=2&voucher=

This will give you an indication of what is involved in the Exam e.g 68 questions, pass mark of 61% and 90 mins to complete the exam.

It will also give you links to current documentation that will help with exam preparation such as Citrix eDocs

http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/infocenter/ic-how-to-use.html

I also used the following online courses from CBT Nuggets and TrainSignal.

CBT Nuggets – Citrix Virtualization CCA XenApp 6 A18 by Greg Shields
CBT Nuggets – Citrix XenApp 6.5 CCA A20 by Greg Shields

TrainSignal – Citrix XenApp 6 by Elias Khnaser
TrainSignal – Citrix XenApp 6.5 by Elias Khnaser

Again, these courses although very good, did not go into the necessary detail to pass the exam so I also used the following book “Getting Started with Citrix XenApp 6.5” by Musumeci Guillermo. I also like to get hold of the electronic copy so you can carry out a more detailed search on particular words. Unlike Microsoft that have books geared up towards exams, with Citrix and VMWare you have to buy general books on the subjects and hope they cover the necessary topics.

Other useful documents for this exam was the following document as ports are quite important for XenApp to work properly

http://support.citrix.com/servlet/KbServlet/download/2389-102-654859/CitrixPorts_by_Port_1103.pdf

Also take a look at the Citrix Blog for other useful information

http://blogs.citrix.com

Again don’t forget you can also watch some really good Citrix Videos on XenApp at

http://www.citrix.com/tv/

Posted in Citrix XenApp, Training Notes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gates of The City

Having just watched the latest Spartacus episode in “War of the Damned” where Spartacus manages to take a city by first entering the city in disguise and then by opening up the gates to allow his followers in to defeat the Roman Defenders I started to think about network security in corporations.

Sun Tzu wrote “Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.”

Networks, like cities, will always have strong and weak points. Ancient Cities had large walls that surrounded the city to keep invaders at bay but every city had to have gates to allow trade. Without this trade the citizens would soon die of starvation. However these gates also created a weak point which could easily be exploited especially if the invaders managed to get people on the inside.

Corporate networks are the same. You can provide firewalls in the DMZ to keep hackers out, but corporations need to have communication with the outside world to conduct business. These firewalls can also provide a weak point if not properly configured and defended. The corporate security staff need to defend against attacks on multiple fronts. The hacker just needs to exploit one weakness!! It is very easy to exploit weaknesses from the inside. USB drives left in an employees car park which can easily be picked up and plugged into corporate computers which contains trojan code that is activated when plugged in to the USB socket. This code then targets holes in corporate firewalls from the inside while most security staff are concentrating on stopping traffic coming in from the outside!!!

Is it just a fact of life that networks, like cities, will never be completely secure?

Posted in Weak & Strong Points | Leave a comment

Citrix XenServer 6.0 Administration (1Y0-A26) Exam Resources

I also took the above exam this week and found it relatively easy. Again it was possibly due to my experience with Microsoft Hyper-V and VMWare vSphere and was able to use my experience to answer many of the question on this Citrix exam. I reckon I could have answered about 20 questions just on this experience alone.

The first step is to take a look at the Exam A26 Preparation Guide found on the Citrix Website

http://training.citrix.com/mod/ctxcatalog/course.php?id=418#modalid=2&voucher=

This will give you an indication of what is involved in the Exam e.g 65 questions, pass mark of 64% and 90 mins to complete the exam.

It will also give you links to current documentation that will help with exam preparation such as Citrix eDocs and give you topics that are covered in the exam

http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/infocenter/ic-how-to-use.html

I also used the following online courses from TrainSignal.

TrainSignal – Citrix XenServer 6 by Elias Khnaser

Again, this course by itself will not go into the necessary detail to pass the exam so I also used the following book “Citrix XenServer 6.0 Administration Essential Guide” by D Tosatto.

Other useful documents were

http://support.citrix.com/servlet/KbServlet/download/2389-102-654859/CitrixPorts_by_Port_1103.pdf

Also take a look at the Citrix Blog for other useful information

http://blogs.citrix.com

Don’t forget you can also watch some really good Citrix Videos at

http://www.citrix.com/tv/

Posted in Citrix XenServer, Training Notes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Citrix XenDesktop 5 Administration (1Y0-A19) Exam Resources

I took the above exam this week and was pleasently surprised by how straight forward it was. It may have been due to the fact that I have been doing alot of reading recently on desktop virtualization in preparation for Microsoft and VMWare exams and was able to use that knowledge to answer many of the question on this Citrix exam.

The first step is to take a look at the Exam A19 Preparation Guide found on the Citrix Website

http://training.citrix.com/mod/ctxcatalog/course.php?id=316#modalid=2&voucher=

This will give you an indication of what is involved in the Exam e.g 52 questions, pass mark of 63% and 75 mins to complete the exam.

It will also give you links to current documentation that will help with exam preparation such as Citrix eDocs and give you topics that are covered in the exam

http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/infocenter/ic-how-to-use.html

I also used the following online courses from CBT Nuggets and TrainSignal.

CBT Nuggets – Citrix Virtualization CCA XenDesktop by Greg Shields
TrainSignal – Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 by Elias Khnaser

These courses by themselves will not go into the necessary detail to pass the exam so I also used the following book “Citrix XenDesktop 5.6 Cookbook” by Gaspare Aristide Silvestri.

Other useful documents were

http://support.citrix.com/servlet/KbServlet/download/2389-102-654859/CitrixPorts_by_Port_1103.pdf
http://support.citrix.com/servlet/KbServlet/download/23253-102-665165/XenDesktop%20Hyper-V%20Design%20Guide_Final_v1%202.pdf

Also take a look at the Citrix Blog for other useful information

http://blogs.citrix.com

Don’t forget you can also watch some really good Citrix Videos at

http://www.citrix.com/tv/

Posted in Citrix XenDesktop, Training Notes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Pass IT Certification Exams

I have been working as an IT Consultant for over 16 years and over that time I have taken many IT Certification exams. Unfortunately, without these certifications it can be very easy for IT Agencies, Companies and Recruiters to pass over your CV when applying for a position even if you have the experience. This post will provide some tips on how to pass these exams so you can include these certifications on your CV.

When I was young I used to hate taken exams. I can remember having a conversation with my Biology A Level teacher walking back from church (It was a boarding school and this was compulsory every morning!!!)

Myself: In the mock exam, I used a blue biro when it said answer the questions with a black biro, does it matter?
Teacher: Not in your case as you will probably fail anyway!!!
Myself: Hmmmmmmmm, I am going to prove you wrong.

That one conversation changed my life, I dropped out from the 1st XI cricket team in the summer and concentrated on my studies. In the end I managed to get a B for my “A Level” Biology and another B for “A Level” Geography. There were only three out of the eleven in the class that actually passed the Biology A Level so it got me thinking about whether it was the attitude of the teacher that was the problem and not myself🙂. When I left Boarding School I had the grades to go to Exeter University to complete a Combined Honours Bachelor’s degree and then on to Southampton University to complete a Master’s degree

As an IT Consultant I generally get some months when I am out of work and I use this time to bring by certifications up to date. I prefer to be able to study uninterrupted for an exam rather than trying to study in the evenings and weekends after a long day or week at work. I suggest that this is a good way to pass exams quickly. The receptionist where I take the exams is impressed my the amount of exams I can get through this way but it is not always that impressive. By using available resources, good study habits and general common sense when taking exams anybody can ace these certification exams!!!

Here are my tips.

1) Use many different resources when studying for exams. I use a mixture of online training, books and websites. CBT Nuggets and TrainSignal are now providing yearly online subscriptions to their entire training courses which is a great starting point.
2) These same online providers can provide some mock exams. These can be useful for testing your current understanding of the subject. Use the mock exam poviders recommended by Microsoft, VMWare and Citrix like Transcender, MeasureUp and Kaplan Self Test. These can focus your attention on areas that you are unsure about.
3) Enjoy the exam taking process. Use the experience to test your knowledge of the subject and pat yourself on the back when you pass. If available use the “Second Shot” offers from Microsoft. This will take the pressure off as you can retake the exam for free if you fail. See http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/second-shot.aspx
4) Most of the exams are relatively easy as you are already given the answer(s). You just need to use a method to highlight the correct answer when you are unsure.
5) Read the questions, then read the answers and then read the question again before answering the question. You will be surprised how many times the answer will just jump out at you as you remember something you have read during your studies.
6) Read the questions carefully. One word in the question can completely change the answer. Look for such words as “Standalone” “Best Method” “Remote” “Local” “No Access” “Before” “Minimal Settings” “Least Permission” etc.
7) Look for “Key Words” in the question. Sometimes these same “Key Words” will appear in the answer but be careful as this is not always the case as sometimes they are just “Red Herrings” to catch you out.
8) Isolate the wrong answers. You will be amazed how quickly you can eliminate possible answers down to 2 within 30 seconds. There will always be one or two answers that will just make you laugh as they just make no sense!!! If you are still unsure it is better to have a 50% chance of choosing the right answer than a 25% chance. This can make the difference between a pass and fail.
9) Use your knowledge of other technologies to help you if you are stuck. You will be amazed how many questions are the same when you take the vSphere\Hyper-V\XenServer exams e.g all Hosts will need to be put into “Maintenance Mode” or equivalent when upgrading patches and the VMs moved off onto other hosts.
10) Don’t rush the exams. You will have plenty of time. “Mark” the questions you are unsure about as you can (depending on the exam) come back to them later. Another question in the exam may give you the answer to any problematic questions!!
11) Go with you gut instinct. Most of the time your first choice will be correct and changing the answer later will be a mistake.
12) When reading through books, manuals and articles put yourself in the shoes of the examiners and ask yourself….would this make a good question for an exam?
13) For Drag and Drop questions look for proceedures that have 3-5 steps when studying. If asked Drag and Drop questions during an exam look at the options…e.g. you need to create something before it can be assigned!!
14) Look out for answers that contain features that you have never seen or heard of before. Most of the time they can be ignored and they are just put in to catch you out…Unless of course they are correct🙂
15) Using Microsoft Press Books to pass exams can be a hit or miss affair. Some have been really good but others leave alot to be desired. They do however provide links to lots of articles which can be useful. I used to like the old Novell Exam Manuals. You were guaranteed that the answer to any questions could be found within the manual. When I left some microsoft exams I looked in the Microsoft Press Books and the answers to questions were nowhere to be found!!!
16) Don’t give up if you fail an exam. I can remember a Microsoft Infrastructure Exam that I failed. I had just taken a couple of exams for the Windows 2003 MCSE and found them straight forward so thought this would be the same. I hadn’t really studied properly for it but thought I would easily pass. How wrong I was!!! The next time I studied properly and managed to pass. I have never looked back since and used that exam as a learning experience.
17) Last but not least. Use the Exam Preparation Guides produced by Microsoft, Citrix and VMWare, They will give you an idea of which areas to study.

Other Articles
http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/five-apps/five-apps-to-prep-for-microsoft-certification-exams/1304?tag=content;siu-container

To help you with passing exams I will try and put together a list of resources I used on some of the exams that I have recently passed

Have fun and good luck in your exams!!!

Posted in Training Notes | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment