Thinking Technology

Archive for the ‘General Technology’ Category

“You should show your blog some love”

That’s what I was told by a former student I keep in contact with. And truer words couldn’t be spoken.

Well my update indicates one thing, another term is DONE! Winter Term 2013 is in the books. This was a good term. I was very happy with how 225 went, very smooth. Really can’t say that very often. 187I, that was a different story. My labs were rough to say the least. Attention to detail on my part. Those kinds of things bother me the most. There were a lot of mistakes I could have avoided with a second or third pass over the lab instructions. CIS 288M status quo, I’ve taught it so much it was pretty much auto pilot. Although, I had to add a technical skills assessment (TSA) to the class.

The TSA is a way to prove to the state the Computer Information Systems – Networking Administration degree is meeting the outcomes as outlined. Me and another networking instructor developed a series of labs that addresses all outcomes and inserted the lab into our classes. I was able to insert the labs into my class with a fair share of ease, the topics of the lab were already found throughout my class.

I realized now that I’m going to have to generate a report on the first attempt at this. Report my own insight and how the students did overall. One more thing.

The next “big thing” is planning the migration from Server 2008 to Server 2012. A migration from Windows 7 to Windows 8 has been put on hold. This is due to several burning issues. One and probably the biggest. Windows 8 in the corporate environment. PCC has discussed this issue as part of upgrades to systems in the labs & on desks and it doesn’t sound like there’s wide acceptance. Also….

There’s talk of Windows Blue! Yes, another operating system.

Haven’t heard about Windows Blue:,2817,2417020,00.asp

Doesn’t sound…. Positive. So PCC will wait and see. The focus of our program is always what will students see when they graduate. And if the corporate world is doing something different, we as an institution must adapt.

As for the Server 2012 migration, It looks like we’ve got a book for 240M (server intro/ some Active Directory) and 289M (all Active Directory). And that leaves 288M the step child of Microsoft networking courses. The topics are so quick and dirty in 288M, DNS, DHCP, networking done the MS way that its hard to find a book that presents a term’s worth of material. But I need to find that book in short order. One of the items on my spring break list.

And then I need to build the lab environment and get my hands dirty…..

For Spring, I’m teaching 225 again, 289M & 140M (Client Operating System – Win7) Should be another low key term. Two out of three classes are online. That’ll be interesting. There’s 0 development this term, which I’m ok with!  Just class prep & grading. Which should be enough.

Then there’s my Doctoral Studies:

I am in quantitative analysis and education law in higher education. The Quant class is on campus, so that means monthly trips to Seattle. But that’s about it. And I realized this will be my last trip coming up. My last three classes will most likely be online. I’m not totally sad about that. I rather enjoy the structure and interaction with fellow students that comes with being online.

My last three classes are qualitative analysis, education policy & advanced research methods. Which means my time to find a new dissertation topic is really getting slim. I’m going to focus on the completion agenda (that’s a topic post all by its lonesome).

I’m on track for comprehensive exam in January. WOW, that’s closing in fast.

Something of Value

I haven’t blogged in a while for a few reasons, the first and most obvious, I’ve been busy.  But the more important reason, is Value. Why would anyone bother to read my ramblings; Big deal, I work I go to school. Who cares?!

So I decided I’d wait to write until I had something of value to include (with my regular ramblings.)

Given that, lets talk about one of the hot topics in the Windows networking work. New operating systems:

The writing is on the walls, The Microsoft networking classes (CIS 140M, 240M, 288M, & 289M) will be start teaching based on Server 2012 & Windows 8 in Fall of 2013.

What does it take to make this happen? How does PCC’s CIS networking dept go about making such a monumental change.

We start with when the actual OS will be released and when we expect to see books written on the released version of the OS. Versus books written on the beta versions. Things change between beta and release and it can cause confusion. We usually plan to launch the course with the updated operating system in fall term. So the course development happens over the summer.

Here are some notes from my touch of the new operating systems:

No install without activation Key for Windows 2012 & Windows 8….. Blah!

Needed to set both my VMs to Internal Only so they couldn’t auto activate

Straightforward installs

Windows 8:
Performed a custom install of Win 8
No sharing
Turned off Windows Update
Turned off SmartScreen Filter (need to look that up)
Left all of the Send Microsoft Info items off
Turned off Windows Error Reporting & IE compatibility checking
Turned off Share info with Apps features
Requires an email address….. Used:

Attempted to connect to the Internet, can’t created a local account
Managed to get to the desktop, lucky guess
Trying to find the control panel
Found something! Mouse to the lower right hand corner of the task bar brings up controls
Settings! Control Panel! Boo-ya! Alright, there’s the familiar ground.
Also found the shut down

Server 2012
Just asked for a password
RARRRR! No start menu?!
Opened Service Manager (by mistake)
And that’s where they’ve hidden shutdown! It’s in a task drop down window.
Shutdown looks the same from there.

“They turned a tool into a toy!” John (my tech person @ PCC)

I’ve talked with a few professionals about the transition and most agree, it’s just different. It’s a different approach (going all mobile for Win 8 ) & different look at feel.

There are other major considerations for this transition. 2012 does not run on 32-bit hardware. That means…. Students that can’t run 64-bit virtualization are going to have an issue. I’ve yet to come up  with a viable solution to this & its going to take some bigger brains than mine along to figure that out.

Not the most in-depth look, but it’s a start.

I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to approach this Blog of Value thing. First thought is to develop a list of topics and a set schedule for updates. Surely with a little planning I can post regularly, right ?!

Here’s something: Latest version of Virtual Box (4.2.4)

This version of VirtualBox has two features that will my students should be happy with: “Shared Clipboard” & “Drag & Drop”

I noticed these features while doing some misc testing. I’ve yet to give them a try but I’m sure they will come in handy.

Certifications & Windows Server 8

yep, must be thawed, another post so soon.

So I was looking for text book for CIS 287M, Microsoft Security. It would appear that I’m going to be adding this class to my list of classes I teach. I came across this book:

I thought, awesome. I saw it had some good materials in at a first glance so I passed it along to my dept chair. And he came back with, you know that book is for a certification.

WHAT! No, I didn’t. I’ll have to look at the book in greater detail to see if it’ll work, BUT I hadn’t heard of that Cert before. At first thought it was for a new Microsoft Security product. Nope, it’s a new certification, Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA).

Oh technology, blink and you’ll miss it!

So off I go to:

And end up here:

This MTA exam is apparently an entry-level exam. I’ve heard almost nothing about it before coming across the book. But that doesn’t mean anything. I’m not as connected as I once was. I’ll have to do some more investigation before I’m able to pass judgment.


Windows Server 8!

Really! I’d heard the talk about Windows 8 the client version. And I really haven’t taken the time to figure out the deal. But I KNEW it wouldn’t be long before the Server equivalent came out. And it’s on its way.

So the next thing on my reading list (aside from articles on distance learning, and text books on research methods):

A little break from the AD Interview Questions: Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6)

IPv6 was created to address the “issues” & shortcomings of IPv4. From my experience, the acceptance & adoption of IPv6 has been slow at best. The threat of running out of IPv4 addresses hasn’t sparked a mad dash to an IPv6 Internet & internal networking.

The biggest highlight for IPv6 is the increased address space. IPv6 uses 128-bit addresses written in Hexadecimal format, so the new address space supports 2^128 (approximately 340 undecillion or 3.4×1038) addresses.

For a fairly detailed run down, wikipedia of course:

In one of my classes we covered IPv6 and a student noted IPv6 Test Day. So I decided to check it out.

The event is called World IPv6 Day & will happen on 8 June, 2011.

The jist of it, Major companies will turn on IPv6 access to there websites for 24hours. Among those companies, Facebook, Yahoo & Amazon. The sites will maintain the IPv4 information. So there “should” be no disruption in access to these websites. However, those sending IPv6 traffic should be able to pull up the IPv6 information.

Should in interesting.

As I was doing my research, I came across: The Internet Society (ISOC)

The Internet Society (ISOC) is a nonprofit organisation founded in 1992 to provide leadership in Internet related standards, education and policy. We are dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet for the benefit of people throughout the world.

Taken from:

Directory Services and AD System Files

I realized on Saturday that I hadn’t blogged on Friday as planned. But at least I remembered! I wanted to continue with my answering of AD interview questions. So I started researching:

“Can you connect Active Directory to other 3rd-party Directory Services? Name a few options.”

And apparently not the only person out and about answering these questions.

I landed on & was a VERY interesting site. This site was a place for people to post various interview questions and to have people reply with answers.

Back to the question: “Can you connect Active Directory to other 3rd-party Directory Services? Name a few options.”

The short answer is yes, Active Directory uses LDAP (see previous post)

Pasted from

eDirectory: This is Novell’s implementation of directory services. It supports multiple architectures including Windows, NetWare, Linux and several flavours of Unix and has long been used for user administration, configuration management, and software management. eDirectory has evolved into a central component in a broader range of Identity management products. It was previously known as Novell Directory Services.

Red Hat Directory Server: Red Hat released a directory service, that it acquired from AOL’s Netscape Security Solutions unit,[1] as a commercial product running on top of Red Hat Enterprise Linux called Red Hat Directory Server and as part of Fedora Core called 389 Directory Server.

Open Directory: Apple’s Mac OS X Server uses a directory service named Open Directory, which implements LDAP using a customized build of OpenLDAP and integrates support for both SASL and Kerberos authentication. It uses a plugins architecture to work with other LDAPv3 directories, including proprietary solutions like Active Directory and eDirectory.

The how or why of this question was much harder to come by. I’d guess if you have a previous Directory Service implementation running and wanted to migrate to Active Directrory (or vice versa).

Where is the AD database held? What other folders are related to AD?

The files that make up Active Directory are:

  • NTDS.dit – this is the database file that contains the AD Data
  • Edb.chk – Called the checkpoint file, this file tracks what transactions from the log file have been recorded/committed to the database.
  • tmp.edb – temporary data file, temp space for processing transactions
  • edb.log – primary log file, contains all transactions that haven’t been comitted to the NTDS.dit
  • Edb00001.log & Edb00002.log – secondary log files.

The default location of the files: %SystemRoot%\NTDS folder


Windows Server 2008 Inside Out [Paperback]
Paperback: 1520 pages
Publisher: Microsoft Press (April 6, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780735624382
ISBN-13: 978-0735624382
ASIN: 0735624380
Product Dimensions: 9 x 7.5 x 2.6 inches

All Kinds of Technical

So lets get technical in this update.

 The first is this presentation on virtualization, cloning virtual disks  and Active Directory:

 This is a highly technical presentation, the speaker gives that warning before he begins. However the information is very good and it relates well to what I’m doing in my classes. It also helps to explain some of the issues I had in previous classes with students duplicating Virtual Disks. With the problems I had in the past, I moved away from recommending duplicating virtual disks and caution against it. Now I have more information that allows me to speak to the process and the pitfalls. It never hurts to pick up new info on AD as well. 

 So I’ve got a massive issue to address and I’ve yet to come up with a GOOD solution.

The problem: Transitioning the networking classes to Server 2008 R2.

 Normally transitioning to a new operating system is monumental task. It’s generally challenging to coordinate, finding a new book, updating course materials, etc. However, R2 is different. This is the first operation system that has a definitive hardware requirement. R2 will only run on 64-bit hardware.

 Most systems (Desktop or Laptop) purchased in the last year or so will be running  64-bit hardware.  Which should make me feel better about the migration, however!?! The next major roadblock to a transition to R2: the virtualization requirement for the class. Just because a machine is running 64-bit hardware doesn’t mean it support 64-bit virtualization. In some systems there is a BIOS change that must be made in order to support 64-bit virtual machines.

 When I went looking for a new laptop, I had to do a decent amount of research to verify that my machine would run 64-bit VMs. And of course when I got the laptop the first thing I did…. Build 64-bit VMs.

 So any student that purchased a 64-bit machine in the past year, still might not be able to complete the class. Most students that are taking the class distance are taking it that way for a reason.

 I have NO idea how I’m gonna address this issue. What ever solution I consider it has to accommodate 30 or so students.

 Here’s a link talking about 64-bit hardware & VMWare:

  In Winter 2011 term a student posted the following link for a discussion question:

 Technical Interview Questions – Windows Server 2008/R2 Active Directory –

 What an awesome list, so I decided that one thing I could for this blog is actually answer some of this questions. So lets start with the very first question:
What is Active Directory (AD)?  “An Extensible directory service that enables centralized management of network resources”

  • Extensible – expandable/editable
  • Directory Service – a database that stores all the information needed to managed resources
  • Network resource – users, computers, groups, services, (file sharing, etc)

 I’ll be using a variety of sources to answers these question:

Active Directory Administrator’s Pocket Consultant [Paperback]

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Microsoft Press; 1 edition (January 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0735626480
  • ISBN-13: 978-0735626485

 Active Directory Cookbook, 3rd Edition [Paperback]

  • Paperback: 1088 pages
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media; Third Edition edition (December 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596521103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596521103

 Active Directory: Designing, Deploying, and Running Active Directory, Fourth Edition [Paperback]

  • Paperback: 864 pages
  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media; Fourth Edition edition (November 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780596520595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596520595

I should stop in more often…..

And I would if I didn’t lead such a rushed existence.

For example, the week between Winter Term 2011 & Spring Term 2011 – IS OVER! I barely remember it beginning.

Spring term starts today. I’d planned on being far more prepared than I am. But I say that EVER term. At this point, I’m as ready as I’m going to be.

My schedule this term is different:

Monday – (CIS 288M)

  • (Office Hours) 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon 
  • (CIS 288M) 01:00 PM-02:50 PM

 Tuesday – (CIS 225)

  • (Office Hours) 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
  • (CIS 225) 11:00 PM – 12:50 PM
  • (Office Hours) 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

 Wednesday – (CIS 288M)

  • (Office Hours) 9:00 AM – 12:00 Noon 
  • (CIS 288M) 01:00 PM-02:50 PM

 Thursday – (CIS 225)

  • (Office Hours) 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM
  • (CIS 225) 11:00 PM – 12:50 PM

 That’s a lot of time on campus for me & in the middle of the day. It could have a significant impact on course development time. We’ll see how that plays out. Also, my CIS 240M class is online only. That’s something new for me. But I know some of my students will be in the labs, so I have to make sure I’m available for them.

One brand new class, CIS 225. I found what looks to be a good book for the class. I’m going with the text book material for this run. I’ll see how it goes and make adjustments both as class progresses and for the next time I teach it.

R2 continues to be a dilema for me and the networking dept. R2 is dependent on 64-bit hardware. This will certainly exclude students from being able to participate in the class. And the main question becomes how many students. Come Fall it has to happen, so I need to start getting ready. It’ll require posting the 64-bit hardware requirement in multiple places so students have enough notice ahead of time. The difference between R2 and Server 2008 are… hit and miss. Some things are cosmetic, which makes having two sets of instructions for labs – painful and confusing. Until I can find a better solution, the pain continues.

My own Cert Study…. I realized that completing the AD Cert test was one of my goals for this years review, that didn’t happen. So I’m going to hve to hit that goal for the next review. I don’t want it to fall by the waste side. Not sure how in I’m going to fit it in, but I shall. I’d say over the summer but, that just sounds like an empty promise.

And finally, my quest for higher education. Or the highest education. I will begin my doctoral studies in June of this year. I’ll be pursuing an EdD in Community College Leadership @ Argosy University of Seattle. I started the application process and hope to get my paperwork submitted this afternoon. It’s been 6 years since I finished my MBA. This should be interesting. I’m starting over the summer because it’ll give me a chance adjust without the full time job in mix. By the time Fall term rolls around I’d hope that I’ve got the school thing under control and can transition into working and going to school full time.

For my classes I require students to find articles to analyze. One of my students came across an article that had a list of interview questions about Active Directory. I started reviewing the list and thought it’d a great way to provide some technical insight into my blog. So I’m going to begin making posts that address the answers to two or three of the questions. Keep an eye out for those posts. That should keep me posting more frequently to my blog.

Problem Steps Recorder

WOW! That’s about the best place to start when talking about this application.

 The Problem Steps Recorder is an application that comes native with Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Basically, this application lets you record clicks and screenshots.

 From the start menu, type “PSR”  When the application starts this appears:


Once you start recording  it keeps track of all of you clicks. You can tell its recording by the red dot that flashes at the tip of your mouse. When you’re finish you click stop record. You are prompted to save the information. The application creates a zip file, containing an .mht file.

 The .mht file contains screenshots as well as a step by step break out of what was recorded.

 Now, this is COSMIC on so many levels. I’ve found three major uses for my classes:

  • Writing labs
  • Having students do lab and just submit the file
  • Student troubleshooting!

 I’ve tested the troubleshooting aspect. Worked pretty well.  But nothing is perfect, there are some challenges to work through:

  1.  Doesn’t work with Server 2008 R1. I will be making it a requirement to have everyone using R2 but not until Fall 2011 Term. 
  2.   Size of the files. For longer labs it could get to be an issue.  This will also be something I need to test.

I’ve got some time to work out the master plan, probably start rolling out some testing soon enough.

Subject Matter Expert – Active Directory

Of all the times I’ve taught CIS 289M, this is the first time I’ve really stepped out and done some more complex things with Active Directory. I can’t take any of the credit for the development of the lab. It was my co-teacher. It’s proven to be CHALLENGING! To both the students and myself. This single lab has shown me areas that I need to provide more instruction in. But overall, I’d say it’s raised the bar considerably.

In raising that bar, I’m going to have to improve my own knowledge – considerably! Being away from doing for over a year, almost 2 years has certainly dulled my techno edge and if I want it back…. I’m going to have to put for the effort.

To that end, I’ve added professional development to my daily routine, reading & cert study.

We’ll see how that evolves.

Server 2008 R2

I’m getting a crash course in Server 2008 R2. Due to the 64-bit requirements for Server 2008 R2 I’ve avoided the transition.

However, the system students use to get software only offeres R2. So I’m making some corrections on the fly. Mostly it’s lab instructions. The instructions say to X and students aren’t seeing the options for X. Less than thrilling that’s for sure!

But I’ll get through it. Guess I’m going to have to pick up a book on R2 and start expanding my knowledge, rather rapidly.

It’s good that it forces my hand, bad that it forces my hand.

[hopefully I’ll have more tech type info to post in the near future. I know, I know – I keep saying that.]