The musings of an IT Consultant


December 13, 2008  6:41 PM

BlackBerry Device software version 4.5 available for Canadians

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Recently the latest software revision came out for our BlackBerries for us Canadians that use BlackBerries. Also for you BES users, the latest maintenance release is out and it provides HTML email support.

I recently tried these updates out and I have to say I love them. My BlackBerry Curve now reads email as HTML emails, something that has been available in other devices for quite some time. Also the new 4.5 update added video support to my Curve by using the camera as a video camera. It’s always nice getting new functionality like this without having to pay extra for it!

The one downside from the update I noticed is that my BlackBerry Curve would almost completely drain it’s battery in half a day. My BlackBerry Curve used to run for at least a day and a half to two days before that based on my usage. I quickly went through my settings and set a few applications to query less frequently. I also deleted the ESPN and CNN applications. After I did that everything went back to normal battery time. It seems like some of these applications didn’t take to the new update well and started indirectly causing a battery drain. On a side note, I always leave my bluetooth on so when I get in and out of my car it automatically synchronizes with my car’s bluetooth cell phone ability. This battery drainage wasn’t an issue before so I refused to accept the fact that it was the bluetooth causing the drain. I’m glad I took the time to troubleshoot it because now everything is good!

 -Cheers, RP

December 12, 2008  4:29 PM

Passed the CCNA exam (640-802)!

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Just in case people are wondering, I finally passed my Cisco CCNA exam! Got 94% on it.  For those of you intending to write this, I wouldn’t take it for granted. This is not the easy CCNA exam from the days of old, this is a brand new CCNA exam that Cisco has updated and it is meant to chew you up and spit you out if you are not prepared. They also only give you 90 mins. to write the exam which isn’t a  lot of time based on all the detail in the questions you have to go through.

 

The study resources I used to pass are:

 

·         Previous career experience with Cisco Routers and Switches

·         Boson Cisco Router Simulators

·         Cisco Press Books

·         Cisco Practice Exams that came with the Cisco Press Books

·         Lots of Red Bull J

 

The exam has quite a few mistakes in it that aren’t apparent if you don’t know the material. If you know the material well enough you will catch the mistakes in the questions and then all you can really do is make a 50/50 guess as to what the right answer is based on guessing what the intended question should have been. I know that sounds awful but it’s the harsh reality. The exam that I wrote had at least 4 to 5 mistakes in the exam that I could see.

 

-Cheers, RP


December 1, 2008  1:26 AM

IT Industry Certifications and Standards

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, this is going to be a bit of a rant. Over the years I’ve written many exams and certifications and the one thing that is common amongst them is that they have almost nothing in common in terms of quality and standards.

I have written many an exam and done quite well on them in my IT career but I still feel that there needs to be some sort of governing body that should manage quality control and insure consistent testing standards across the board just like we do for Universities and High Schools.

All to often I find exams full of spelling and grammatical errors, or just plain wrong answers that would make the beginner test taker panic out right if they were dipping their toe into the waters of certification for the first time. By having a governing body to ensure that these certifications are created and done properly, I think we would eliminate a lot of the crappy tests out there and also eliminate a lot of the “paper” certified people out there as well.

Also all to often companies use certifications not as a point of learning but as a point of marketing instead. Hoping to prod the people who have the certifications into becoming drones of pushing their product just because they have the certifications.

-RP


December 1, 2008  1:19 AM

Using BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) with Exchange and Multiple GALs (Global Address Lists)

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, here’s an issue you might run into and tear your hair out over. If you have a BES server working with Exchange and are using multiple GALs (Global Address Lists) in your environment, how do you setup the BES service account to access all the users in the different GALs?

Well the first thing that usually goes wrong is that you can activate everyone but you can’t get certain things such as appointments to sync correctly from the BlackBerry device to Outlook. This is because BES can only look at one GAL. That’s right, you heard me correct, only one GAL. Don’t fret, there is a way around this.

Create a third GAL that incorporates a filter that lists all the users of the other multiple GALs. This way you have one GAL that covers everything. Then give the BES service account permissions to access that GAL. Also make sure you add the Exchange Domain Servers Group full access to the GAL as well. Then in offline address lists you can add that GAL to the offline address list as well. Then don’t give access to the BES service account to the other GALs. This forces the BES service account to only use that one all encompassing GAL you just created.

Then go into your BlackBerry server and when you go to add a user to the BES server you will notice it is seeing all the users from your multiple GALs. That’s it, hope that helps!

-Cheers, RP


November 25, 2008  7:43 PM

Converting a virtual machine to ESXi Server

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Now with ESXi being free, a lot of people find themselves using it. One of the things people want to be doing is converting their existing servers and importing them into their new ESXi server.

Another thing you can do is take any existing virtual machines you might have setup under VMware Workstation and import those in as well. The question I’ve received is how do you do this? When you start up VMware converter there is no option for ESXi.

Well never fear, the answer is quite simple really. Just use the option for ESX. This will allow it to P2V or convert your existing virtual machines from VMware Workstation into your ESXi server without any issues.

-RP


November 23, 2008  8:58 PM

Portable 2.5″ Pocket Hard Drives

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, I just wanted to speak briefly about portable hard drives. I always carry my 16 GB USB key on me for use while I’m consulting, but even that isn’t big enough for some of the tasks I need it for.

In those cases where I need a larger drive I rather use the new 2.5″ pocket hard drives that are available. These are essentially laptop hard drives in an external enclosure that run off of USB 2.0 power. No need for an external power adapter.

Why are these drives handy? Well you see, most cheap laptops come with very small hard drives and this is a cheap way to expand your storage capacity. I use my external drive to hold all my test virtual machines which take up quite a bit of space. You can also easily attach the drive to your laptop by using double-sided velcro to stick the drive to the laptop. This way you have a nice portable solution!

I recently bought a 500GB SimpleTech 2.5″ drive from Best Buy and it works great. It also has a second USB connection you can use to plug it in to the laptop so you can increase the amount of power that feeds the drive. This allows you to see the drive on laptops where just plugging in one of the USB  connectors doesn’t seem to work.

-RP


November 22, 2008  8:57 PM

BlackBerry Storm Sells out on First Day

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, so rumour has it that the new BlackBerry Storm sold extremely well on it’s first day. In cell phone stores all across the USA the Storm was sold out. In some places stores sold out of the Storm in less than an hour.

I hope Apple picks it’s head up and takes note of this. This means that for the first time the iPhone has a real threat on the horizon. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Storm is the iPhone killer or anything like that as people including myself have been saying previously. But it is going to force Apple to make sure that their product is as perfect as can be.

Like I always say, competition in any segment is always good for the consumer. Whether it’s virtualization or smart phones!

 There’s a great review of the BlackBerry Storm here.

 -RP


November 21, 2008  3:06 AM

Bell Canada and Google at each other’s throats regarding Net Neutrality

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Bell Canada as you may know is currently in a heated battle with consumers regarding Internet throttling. This obviously has Net Neutrality proponents up in arms. Bell is insisting on still throttling it’s customers Internet use such as with Bit Torrent but consumers are demanding that this practice be stopped.

Recently the CRTC deemed that Bell wasn’t breaking any laws and is allowing Bell to continue this practice. Google has sent a message to Bell regarding this, to quote Google “From consumer, competition and innovation perspectives, throttling applications that consumers choose is inconsistent with a content and application-neutral internet, and a violation of Canadian telecommunications law, which forbids unfair discrimination and undue or unreasonable preferences and requires that regulation be technologically and competitively neutral.”

Bell didn’t like what Google had to say and said this “The commission should see these claims for what they really are: the use of policy rhetoric devoid of substance in order to promote vested business interests. Indeed, the opposite of these claims is clearly the case; necessity is the mother of invention.”.

This made me laugh. Bell of all people saying that “the use of policy rhetoric devoid of substance in order to promote vested business interests”. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. Yeesh.

-RP


November 21, 2008  2:42 AM

Traditional servers vs Virtualized ones…

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, this is going to be a bit of a rant….. You see lately I’ve been running into more and more people who refuse to embrace virtualization. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about the people with real legitimate reasons not to virtualize. I’m talking about the people who have servers that scream “virtualize me!” and they still haven’t done it yet.

You see in this day and age with the plethora of virtualization options out there and the very stable product offerings from VMware (come on, they’ve been out for years!), there really is no good reason not to go out and virtualize unless you have very specific hardware requirements that mandates that you cannot use VMware.

However, for the majority of people out there they can easily virtualize most of, if not their entire server environment. I find myself scratching my head as to why these people do not want to virtualize. For example for all of you out there with Windows file servers, Exchange servers, print servers, SQL servers, terminal servers, Citrix servers, BES servers and domain controllers – why haven’ t you virtualized yet? I and countless others in the industry have virtualized these servers with no problems whatsoever. What are you waiting for?

So why haven’t these people virtualized yet? I can only surmise one thing. They’re scared. They’re scared of what’s new and are afraid to have to learn a new piece of software. They’re afraid they’ll lose control of their data center and have to hire external consultants to manage things if they haven’t used virtualization themselves before.

Well fear not any longer. Download the free copies of the various different virtualization products out there and give them a whirl. Use this as an opportunity to learn and embrace virtualization. Because if you are afraid to learn new things and are afraid of change, what the heck are you doing working in the IT field!?!?


November 21, 2008  2:25 AM

VMware snapshots, live it, love it, learn it!

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, here’s a standard feature of VMware that a lot of people take for granted that I thought would bear mentioning. Snapshots!

So you have an application or patch you want to install and you don’t know what effect it will have on your server. What do you do? Take a snapshot! With VMware you have the ability to take a snapshot of your OS at that point in time and then make whatever changes you desire. After your changes are made you can check to see if everything is working. If there are issues you can just select the snapshot and revert back to where you were before.

I find it quite surprising how many people actually have VMware and forget to use this feature as if they’ve forgotten it’s even existed! Snapshotting can be your best friend when doing upgrades, don’t forget it!

-RP


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