Monday 22 December 2008

Free training 70-652: Hyper V

From TechNet flash

Prepare for Exam 70-652 for Free ($159.99 value) <>

This collection of five two-hour courses helps you develop the skills necessary for implementing and managing Hyper-V in an IT environment; as well as, creating and managing virtual machines and hosts in a virtual environment.

Use promo code 9350-Y2W6-3676 to receive your discount. Please note, you must use the link above to take advantage of this offer.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Ctrl+. keyboard shortcut not working (RESOLUTION)

I have been rebuilding my machine and installing Vista and VS 2008 and all the rest of the tools I use for my daily life.

One of the things that I love about VS 2008 was the resolve usings smart tag and the ctrl+. keyboard shortcut.

Now this mysteriously vanished once I installed a couple of different tools such as F# (which turns out was the culprit)

Firstly I used the VS 2008 macro editor to list as the keybindings that are in use. Macro was found here and found that it was linked to OtherContextMenus.FSIConsoleContext.CancelEvaluation which is an F# keybinding. A quick google led me to a this blog post which details how to fix the issue.

In VS2008
  1. Click Tools -> Options -> Keyboard
  2. Type "View.ShowSmartTag" in the "Show commands containing:" entry field
  3. Hold down "ctrl" and press "." (dot) in the "Press shortcut keys" entry field
  4. Click "Assign"
This will fix the Ctrl+. issue.. Thank god for that!

Wednesday 17 December 2008

2 Free MS Press eBooks

MS Press have released 2 of their eBooks online for free.

They are Undertanding IPV6 and Writing Secure Code for Vista

Freebies are always nice!

Wednesday 10 December 2008

Microsoft Second Shot Offer

Second Shot now offers two incentives to get certified! (Offer to Expire Soon!)

Today, Second Shot provides the benefit of a free retake if you fail any Microsoft Certification exam.

From now until December 31, 2008, you will also be rewarded for passing the exam too!

If you pass your first exam, you can now use the Second Shot offer to enjoy 25% off a different exam!

The Offer – 3-easy steps :

1. Register for Second Shot offer and sit for the exam by December 31, 2008.

2. If you fail the exam you will receive a free retake exam that can be utilized until June 30, 2009

3. If you Pass, you will get 25% off a second exam. You have until February 28, 2009 to utilize the discounted exam.

Note: If you pass the first exam but fail your 25% off second exam, you will not get a free retake on your second exam.

Tuesday 9 December 2008

MS Press Training Kits errata and corrections

It happens, books make it to the publisher with mistakes in them. And those mistakes effect you more, when you are using them as a training manual. So it is common that there are corrections and ammendments made to these.

So here is a list of possibly the most common ones for the MS Press training kits for exams

Developer Exams

Server/Admin Exams

If you go here and type your exam number you will probably find the corrections if they exist.

Monday 8 December 2008

Why certify?

Its probably one of the most common questions people ask me. Why do I need a certification?

The answer is dependent on the side of the IT house you are in. If you are in the Infrastructure/Admin side, you will probably need one, whereas developers don't generally need to certify but that is a generalisation and I will explain about that more further on in this post.

One of the things with the Admin guys and certifications, is that the certification system has been a bit too successful.

People who pay the bills, like having people with a vendor guarantee, i.e. cert are minding their servers and core services and making sure that they are working 24/7. Looking at any job advert for an admin role and you will see acronyms such as CCNA, MCSE and VCP.

These are all certifications considered nearly standard for a mid to senior system admin. Personally I consider the mix of CCNA and MCSE to be one of the best for system admin.

It is also the progression of education and people wanting to have something that differentiates themselves from the crowd.

Now, why don't developers certify?

Developers are on the creative side. This means that they can bring a sort of portfolio with them. So employers can take a look at existing work and evaluate based on that. Not as easy with system admin guys as they are usually working on systems that people don't readily want others knowing about.

But it is becoming more of a requirement that developers also certify. More and more, the requirements as listing different certifications as very desirable. Thus increasing your chances of being successful in your job applications.

And there it is, the answer to why certify? To increase your chances of being successful in your job application or to give you a better shot at a better job.

Certification Salary Results in

Once again has produced its Salary Survey which details based on responses from questionnaires the salaries of different certified individuals.

The top 5 earning certs were (and all pulling in over 100,000USD per annum)
The country with the highest salary for IT, Norway. And Vietnam the lowest. But you need to take into account cost of living indexes as well!

The MCSD came in as the highest earning MS certification whereas the MCDST was the lowest. And it seems that the MCPD was missed altogether.

Main thing was that as a lot of people are expressing that being certified is paying off with those being certified being paid higher than those that are not.

This can all be taken with a grain of salt however as it is based on whoever applied so it may not be completely inline with actual figures.

Friday 5 December 2008

I'm an MCP!!!

I’m an MCP, and I have a webcam!

Are you Microsoft Certified? Got a webcam?

Then declare your MCP pride!

1) Record a short video of yourself that starts with the statement, “I’m an MCP, and…” (finish it any way you like)

2) Upload it to youtube (or dailymotion, or your other favorite video site)

3) Send your link to Monica Kilwine ( by December 19

If your video is selected, it’ll be seen on the Microsoft Learning website worldwide, so get creative, and start bragging!

Wednesday 3 December 2008

Free training from Microsoft

Not a lot of people know this but there is actually free training on the MSL website. Now I have blogged about different ones, but I would be only making up posts blogging about the rest so here is the full list

It covers such topics as Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Hyper V, Forefront, ASP.NET and many more.

So what are you waiting for, check it out!

Free Skills assessments from Microsoft

There are some free skills assessments on the Microsoft Learning pages. Have a look and see if you pass the test!. They are great way of giving you some practice at exams.
SQL 2005 based

SQL Server 2005 for DBAs

SQL Server 2005 for DB Devs

SQL Server 2005 for BI Devs

Visual Studio 2005 (.NET 2.0)

Web Development with VS2005 & VB.NET

Web Development with VS2005 & C#

Also there is a free training module for VS2005 and .NET 3.0 here

Free SQL Server 2008 training

There are a couple of clinics for SQL 2008 which will help you. Best of all they are free

Clinic 6188: What's New in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 for Enterprise Data Platform

Clinic 6189: What's New in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 for Business Intelligence

Clinic 6190: What's New in Microsoft SQL Server 2008 for Database Development

They are mainly a whats new but also a good first look if you have not used SQL 2008 yet.

Tips for 70-431: MCTS SQL Server 2005

Exam 70-431 (MCTS SQL Server 2005) is one of the more popular exams and one of the certifications that always comes high in the list of most desired certifications.

Note: I originally posted this guide on Boards.i.e. sometime ago but I reposting it again with some more information.

It is a mix certification requiring the hats of both an admin and a developer which makes it a challenge.

A couple of things still apply. You should take a read of this post which gives you ideas on what you should be doing to get yourself in the head space for this exam. Also have a look at the exam matrix for this exam.

Now this is also one of the few exams where you can say that it contains both questions and simulations! Once it has been mentioned in a public live meeting we can say it as its not covered under NDA! So this is one of those rare times.

A word about simulations. It is possible to get full marks in the questions and not so good in the simulations and still fail because you didn't demonstrate the knowledge. Don't let this deter you, as for most people the simulations are easier than the questions because they provide a visual reference.

You can pick up a simulations demo here which is a good thing if you haven't tried an exam that contains them.


There are 2 very good ones. The MS Press training kit book and the Sybex Training Kit book

You will probably need one if not both. Now, no book will fully prepare you for the exam, so its a good idea to get some hands on practice for this.

To do this download a copy of the SQL Server 2005 trial and a copy of Windows Server 2003 trial and create 2 (yes 2!) virtual machines with them. You can create one and copy it and then rename the server from within the virtual environment.

If you have picked up the MS Press training kit it comes with a 180 day evaluation of SQL Server 2005 Enterprise.

Now why on earth do I need 2 machines. This is so you can practice things like setting up replication, log shipping and database mirroring. It will also get you used to using the UI more so that you will be better prepared for the simulations.

Will the express editions do. Not really. Some of the higher end functions are not supported on these versions so you will loose out. Have a look at the product comparison here

Also if you are working with the Development edition, it is the very same except for the licensing.

The main goals of using the software are

1. It will get you familiar with the UI
2. It will reinforce the stuff you have learned in the book.
3. You should be able to do most of the topics from the exam matrix
4. You will start seeing some of the common problems that happen when doing certain operations and learn to troubleshoot them.


Couple of things to remember

1. Least principle.. The idea behind this is that it is always the least permissions or least administrative or least performance impact. Keep this in mind. This means that the solution should only use the permissions necessary to perform the task. Or require the least amount of changes to achieve the goal or impact the system the least.

2. Differences between the different RAID levels, their performance and also how to distinguish the different ones from their numbers and names.

3. Security! Know it! Its seems obvious but understanding the implications of security and security principles is a bit thing for all MS software.

4. If there is an option between new and old tech, new tech nearly always wins. MS tend to use their exams like advertisements at times, showing the benefit of the newer stuff. So as a general rule of thumb its new tech over old.

Casting call for MCPs & MCTs

Casting call for video on the value of Microsoft Certification

We are looking for a diverse group of well-spoken Microsoft Certified Professionals or Microsoft Certified Trainers, aged 21 or older, to appear in Microsoft testimonials.

The testimonial shoots will last between two to four hours and take place in the greater Seattle, Washington area in January 2009. Travel expenses for accepted applicants from outside the Seattle area will be paid for by Microsoft, and lunch will be provided to participants as payment.

A pre-interview is required and can take place over the phone. Applicants will have had a positive experience with Microsoft Certifications, and can tell us why they chose to get certified and how being certified impacted their career journey. Please send your picture, current job position, and a brief description of your Microsoft Certification experience to Monica Kilwine for consideration. Electronic submissions only.

Monday 1 December 2008

Exam tips for 70-528..ASP.NET Web Applications MCTS

This exam is aimed at ASP.NET Web Developers who are using the 2.0 version of the framework. So, by the name you can guess that it requires quite a bit of knowledge of the IIS, the ASP.NET web.config file and also standard web protocols.

The ASP.NET exam is a bit varied; it is not just concerned with how to develop ASP.NET web applications but also how to deploy them. This is what sometimes catches people in this exam as it expects you to know how you would publish your application to the web once you have it developed. And what are the reasons you would use a particular tool over another.

So with that in mind, you should take a look at the exam landing page, which details what is expected for this exam.

So what should you be doing?

Take a look at this post and it should help you test your readiness for the exam. If the exam landing page looks ok, have a go at one of the practice exams from and see how you score. This will give you a good idea of where you are in relation to passing the exam.

After that, you should have a copy of Visual Studio 2005. As this exam is aimed at the 2.0 framework, it is better to use the specific tool for it rather than using Visual Studio 2008. Even though VS2008 supports multi targeting of the different frameworks, it has additional tools and functionality not in 2005 and the exam was designed around that.

Now the following is a question that I am sometimes asked in relation to VS2005 and this exam. Are the Express Editions sufficient to use for understanding the UI and tools? And I always answer, I don’t know as I have never actively used any of the Express Editions to any great extent. So I can’t answer with any certainty if all the tools are included in those editions as compared to the Pro editions.

Next thing I would be doing is getting hold of the 180 day trial of either Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008 and installing it in on your virtualisation software of choice. Having this will allow you to test your deployments and also remote debugging etc. If you use Server 2008, you will need to configure some extra bits such as IIS6.0 compatibility so that your web apps will work.

Also you will need a book. I used the MCTS Training Kit from MS Press and supplemented it with information from MSDN and blogs where I saw the need. One of my tricks here was to download the exam matrix to an Excel file and add links to different topics when I needed them so that I would have them on file. Unfortunately I have lost that excel file, but I will recreate it and publish it when I can.

The main key points you need to take away before you sit the exam would be

Understand the web.config

  • Security using IIS and web.config, also with ASP.NET applications and the implications of using the different types
  • The web deployment tools supplied with VS2005
  • Web controls and how to implement them
  • Master Pages, implementation, use, reasoning etc.

While this is not meant to an exhaustive list, it gives you an idea of what you should be looking at when you are studying for this exam. There are other aspects to the material which needs to be given sufficient time but the points above are standard parts of the whole of the toolkit that are expected in any ASP.NET developer.

More information on preparing for your exams can be found here and also some information on doing the exam (here)