October 8, 2012 4:36 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
One of the great things about having a blog of one’s own is that one can occasionally depart from the usual topics to reflect on the trials of daily life, or to vent one’s spleen about various and sundry aggravations. Today, I will do a little of both and explain why I love Caller ID, and how it’s changed my telephonic behavior forever and very much for the better.
If you don’t identify yourself, I probably don’t want to talk to you, either.
I work at home, and everything I do is on a deadline. When an incoming call gets to ringing, I no longer pick up the phone and do my own call screening by trial and error. Instead, I look at the caller ID, and use what I do — or don’t — see there to decide whether or not to pick up. And even when I do pick up, that information often guides my subsequent and immediate behavior. I can sum this up in two simple rules:
Rule 1: If I don’t know you, or you won’t tell me who you are, I probably won’t pick up
I get countless calls labeled as “anonymous,” “unknown caller,” or any of a wide variety of toll-free numbers (from the 800, 888, and other 8** exchanges). Other calls are simply identified by location: I just found ”Santa Monica, CA,” “Plano, TX,” and “Gilroy, CA” in my 100-number caller ID log. 9 times out of 10 I don’t pick any of these calls up, knowing that I don’t want to hear what they want to tell me anyway.
Rule 2: If I do pick up on a no-name caller, there better be a live person on the other end of the line
The one time out of 10 when I do pick up a suspect number, I’ll listen for a human presence when I pick up the phone. If there’s any delay at all — while the auto-dialer detects “Hey, we’ve got a live one!” and switches me over to an available call-center employee — I’m already hanging up the phone. I usually wait until the switchover occurs and I hear the line go over from a dead state to a live one (background noise kicks in), and that’s when I hang up before the call center employee has a chance to launch into his or her script.
Why do I do this? I’m sorry if this seems rude to those readers who may be interested in my blog but who also work in a call center, or know somebody who does, but my time is all I have to sell to make my living. I try to max out my charitable giving every year, and I’ve learned to ask those charity callers who get through my screen the first telling question in that game of chance “How much of your donations goes to the actual beneficiaries?” (I won’t give to any organization that gives less than 80-85% to the beneficiaries; recently I got a call from some “Kid’s wish” outfit that gives only 13 percent — yes, THIRTEEN % — to the kids). But I just don’t have time to spend on the phone listening to pitches I’m likely to decline anyway. So I try to steer around that stuff.
As for calls that come in after normal working hours, I won’t get near any numbers I don’t recognize. That goes double for incoming calls while we’re sitting at the table eating dinner. Take a lesson telemarketers: Caller ID is the consumer’s friend. Don’t expect us to give you our time any more, unless you treat us like normal, decent human beings. Tell us who you are, what you want, and let us bail if we don’t want to hear any more. It would also be very nice if the national do not call list really worked the way it’s supposed to, too!
October 5, 2012 3:31 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
After last month, many economists were expecting low job growth for September and possibly even a slight uptick in the overall unemployment number. Happily, new jobs created not only came in barely over the consensus forecast — 114,000 actual where most forecasts were at 110,000 — but also the overall unemployment number dipped from 8.1 to 7.8 percent, where the consensus forecast had been somewhere between “no change” and 8.3 percent.
But the number of “involuntary part-time workers” (those who would work full-time if they could, but who can only find part-time work) jumped up from 8 million in August to 8.6 million in September (a 7.5 percent increase). Also, the number of “persons marginally attached to the work force” (those who can’t find jobs, and haven’t had a job in 12 months or more) remains almost unchanged from its value one year ago at 2.5 million persons. That said, the number of “discouraged workers” (people currently not looking for work because they believe there are no jobs to be had) was at 802,000 for September, a decrease of 235,000 from the same month in 2011. The remaining 1.7 million persons in the marginally attached group did not search for work in September owing to family responsibilities, school, or other commitments.
Healthcare and transportation were the big gainers in September, with bumps of 44,000 and 17,000 respectively. Transportation is actually transportation and warehousing, where the 17,000 breaks into 9,000 for transit and ground passenger transport and 4,000 for warehousing and storage. Manufacturing dropped by a similar amount (-16,000) in September, with another -6,000 in computer and electronic products, and -3,000 more for printing and related activities. Overall, the home sector for this blog — the information, computing, and related services niches — continues flat with little change either up or down.
Looks like both presidential candidates will be able to mine these numbers to paint contrasting pictures of our current employment situation. Certainly, job growth is not robust enough for anybody to like it much, but a decrease in overall unemployment this close to the election can’t help but benefit the incumbent, while continued slow growth mode and lackluster performance in key economic driving sectors (such as manufacturing) will probably play in the challenger’s favor. Should be interesting to see how these numbers get spun, starting today. All in all though, it looks as if slow growth mode remains the order of the days, weeks, months — and possibly even, years — ahead!
October 3, 2012 2:20 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Just yesterday, I contacted my new PR contact at Microsoft Learning, Megan Kahn, to ask about the MCSA: Windows 8 certification, and this morning I find the details posted on the MS Learning Website for this emerging certification. Here’s the banner graphic from its brand-new information page:
No sooner asked than answered — more info on MCSA Windows 8.
The exam track is also so nicely depicted on this page that I simply clip and paste here so you can see the requirements for 70-687 and 70-688 simply and directly.
70-687 and 70-688 get you to MCSA Windows 8 directly.
There’s also a single-exam upgrade path via 70-689 to this credential for individuals who hold any of the following certs:
What I want to know now is why MS doesn’t list the Windows 7 and Windows 8 MCSAs on the MCSA home page? Currently it shows only the MCSAs for Windows Server 2012 and 2008, and SQL Server 2012. Let’s hope they update this page soon!
October 1, 2012 1:14 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Excuse the alt-cap/lower-case orthography on “Register Now!” in this post’s title. It’s intended to draw attention to an upcoming online training event from Microsoft that’s sure to fill up today. Also, there’s a new protocol for signing up for such events where you set up a Jump Start account to register for training, and which enables immediate importation of registered activities into Outlook.
Looks like an HTML 5 app for doing Jump Start registration, agendas, and so forth.
I’ve signed up for this course, and you may want to do likewise. Here’s an overview of the overall schedule, pulled straight from my Calendar in Outlook:
Module 1: Windows Tips Tricks for IT Pros
Touch and mouse/keyboard shortcuts
Sharing, searching, and other contacts
Task Manager, Windows Explorer, and File History
Internet Explorer 10 app
Module 2: Windows 8 Deployment
Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2012
System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
Internet Explorer Assessment Kit
Module 3: Windows 8 and Windows Store Apps
Sideloading (signature, Group Policy)
Step-by-step sideloading an app scenario
Step-by-step sideloading an app by useing MDT 2012
Self-service portal for Metro Apps (System Center)
Management with Windows Intune
Module 4: Enabling Flexible Workstyles with Windows 8
Overview of SkyDrive Pro
Deploying UE V and generating custom templates
Windows to Go
Encrypting a Workspace by using BitLocker Drive Encryption
Enabling office domain join on a workspace
Module 5: Recovery & Security
Resetting and refreshing the PC
Creating a custom refresh image
Creating a DaRT recovery image
Deploying the DaRT recovery image by using Windows DS
Installing the DaRT recovery image locally
BitLocker and MBAM
Secure Boot, Measured Boot
Module 6: Windows 8 Virtualization
Pooled virtual machines
Cut the Rope, HD video, 3D, and webcam over session and over pooled VM
User Experience Virtualization
Some of the topics are pretty tame (Module 1, example) but it looks like there’s a lot of good stuff on deployment, sideloading, recovery and security, and virtualization. That’s why I signed up for the course myself, and plan to jump in and out during October 18 as my interest waxes and wanes. The instructors have a pretty good rep, though — Stephen Rose is a Senior PM and Community Manager for Windows 8, and Joey Snow is a Senior Technical Evangelist (and a regular speaker on TechNet Edge) — so the material should be sharp, fast-paced, and full of useful info for IT pros. If you’re interested, sign up soon (like TODAY). Seats are bound to evaporate quickly.
September 28, 2012 7:42 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
I was flipping through Anne Martinez’ latest Certification Watch newsletter (Volume 15 #8) earlier this week, and read with some interest that Hitachi Data Systems — a well-known vendor of storage systems, software, and services — has launched a new certification program in the area of storage. What I found interesting was that this new credential, based on the Hitachi Data systems Storage Technology Exam (HH0-050) is explicitly positioned as vendor neutral, with an emphasis on “storage technology and concepts,” in the opening words of its blurb.
Banner from HDS home page for HH0-050 exam.
“Hmmm!” I though to myself, “Isn’t this the rightful niche for the CompTIA Storage+ (Powered by SNIA) exam?” And indeed, SNIA (the Storage Networking Industry Association) itself quit offering its own entry-level storage exam known as SNIA Foundations when it got in bed with CompTIA to launch the Storage+ exam on January 18, 2012. Even more interesting, HDS is listed as one of 17 large-scale voting members of SNIA, right on the front page of its Member Directory.
So I did what any curious certification geek would do: I compared the various basic statistics and published characteristics for these two exams:
|Storage+ vs. HDS HH0-050
|* Discounts for CompTIA member companies do apply
|+ Non-native English speakers get 30 extra minutes for the test
I have to speculate that Hitachi may not have been entirely happy with the uptake and popularity of the Storage+ exam, especially outside CompTIA’s core markets in North America and Europe. By reducing the number of questions from 100 to 50, cutting the price almost in half from $246 to 125 (candidates who work for CompTIA member companies do get about a 10% discount, however), and increasing the time from 60 to 90 minutes for those candidates who speak English as a second language, I see Hitachi making direct moves to appeal to a broader, less well-heeled audience outside the first world.
Even in the first world, many candidates interested in storage might find the HH0-050 exam appealing because of its lower cost and shorter duration. From what I can see from its objectives and coverage, the Hitachi exam compares favorably with Storage+ in topics, scope, and content. It might make an even better first step for IT professionals interested in learning more about storage, but anyone who takes either exam should remain aware that both are entry level credentials unlikely to lead directly to a new job or a promotion in and of themselves. By design, both of these exams are stepping stones into more advanced and platform-focused credentials from major storage vendors, or more advanced elements in SNIA’s ongoing vendor-neutral certification track.
September 26, 2012 1:54 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Microsoft has been offering online “Jump Start” courses for popular certifications for some time now, and they’ve just announced a free two-day class for the 70-417 exam entitled “Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server 2012.” As I’ve blogged and written repeatedly over the summer, the 70-417 provides a one-exam upgrade path to MCSA: Windows Server 2012 for those who hold an MCSA on Windows Server 2008, or MCITP on Windows Enterprise Desktop Admin, Virtualization Admin, Enterprise Messaging, SharePoint Admin, or LyncServer Admin (here’s a post from Tom’s IT Pro, and another from PearsonITCertification.com on this subject).
Well, for those who qualify to take 70-417 — and even for those looking for a lightning overview of the 70-410, -411, and -412 exams that make up the slate for the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 if starting from scratch — Microsoft has opened a Jump Start class for this exam on October 23 and 24. The instructors are Rick Claus (Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft) and Ed Liberman (instructor from TrainSignal), both represented in a recent Born to Learn blog post as “…two seasoned Windows Server experts with real world experience.”
If past offerings are any indication, registration for this free class will fill up quickly, so you’ll want to register immediately if you’re interested. The class runs from 9 AM to 4 PM (Pacific Time, UCT -08:00) both days, and aims to reach IT professionals who already know their way around Windows Server 2008 and want to extend their skills and knowledge onto the Windows Server 2008 platform.
I’m serious! These courses are worth getting into if you can, so sign up ASAP. There may or may not be another one in a couple of months, so if you don’t get in, don’t despair: keep an eye on the Born to Learn blog for follow-on announcements and offerings.
September 24, 2012 2:12 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
The Manpower Group has been conducting a quarterly hiring activity survey long enough to proffer a graph that stretches back two decades. Their latest survey for the fourth quarter of 2012 tells some interesting stories:
1. Their “Net Employment Outlook” for Q4 2012 is at eleven percent for overall employment growth, and is the strongest fourth-quarter result posted since the final quarter of 2007, just before the financial collapse of 2008 kicked in. Here’s a snippet from their employment graph:
Scale to the left, data from Q2’07 through Q4’12 to the right (highlighted)
Source: Manpower Group
2. The trend is clearly upward since the very lowest reads in 2009, but is punctuated by plateaus between modest upward rises. This kind of reading is very much in keeping with what I’ve described in other blogs as “slow growth mode” (2, 3, 4). This tells me such a punctuated rhythm is very likely to continue for some time to come.
3. According to the sector details from Manpower Group, both information and professional and business services sectors — where I think most IT professionals may be found in this reporting — is continuing upward, but forecasts for Q3 were stronger than those for Q4 (12 vs 9 percent for information, and 20 vs. 13 percent for professional and business services). Does this indicate diminishing enthusiasm and/or prospects? I think the answer is yes to the former, but not necessarily to the latter. Methinks it’s more indicative of our hitting another plateau, where growth is more or less flat for the moment (shown in the black line on the preceding chart).
Where do we go from here? The trend line says things will be flat for a while, so I’m guessing the answer may come from the business community’s reactions to the recently announced round of quantitative easing (QE3) from the Fed, and from their assessment of recent bail-out and Euro support moves from the ECB. With equity markets up to near record levels, we should hope that companies will take heart and start planning to add more headcount, including more positions in IT. Keep your fingers crossed: it’s by no means a sure thing, or a done deal!
September 21, 2012 2:04 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
For the past week or so, I’ve been batting around an acronym for the Windows 8 default GUI. TIFKAM stands for “the interface formerly known as Metro,” and is gaining currency in some circles as a way to talk about something that is still groping for a catchy name. Of course, Microsoft controls the nomenclature involved, but even they seem a bit hesitant to hang a new moniker on the tile-based and color-heavy Windows 8 GUI used outside the legacy desktop environment.
Because the Windows Store is where TIFKAM apps live MS makes reference by location.
But we just got a clue which way the folks in Redmond are leaning with the re-labeling of one of its Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) credentials. As of late last week the certification previously named MCSD: Metro Style Apps has been recast as MCSD: Windows Store Apps. I think this represents a neat way to sidestep the naming issue of what to call the interface by referring to where the resulting apps live instead of the GUI itself – namely, in the Windows Store online (a part of the Start screen layout for both Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 by default).
Whether or not the ‘Softies will come up with a nifty name for TIFKAM is up to them, I guess. But in the meantime, we have some idea which way they’re leaning!
September 19, 2012 5:45 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Thanks to Anne Martinez’ latest GoCertify.com newsletter, I just learned that all three exams for the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 are now live, even though the MCSA page still labels them as in beta form. Nevertheless, as of September 17, these exams are now available for sign-up at Prometric testing centers:
070-410 through 412 are now available at Prometric for testing.
If they were really still in beta, the sign-up numbers would start with 071-xxx. But as this Prometric screen cap clearly shows, the exams are listed with 070-xxx numbers. This not only indicates the beta period is over, but also indicates the exams are available at normal pricing levels (and subject to the Second Shot promotion currently underway — see my recent blog for how to sign up and exercise this potentially cert-saving option).
Exams that begin with 070 are in production not beta mode.
This credential is your stepping stone to MCSEs for Server Infrastructure, Desktop Infrastructure, and Private Cloud, so it’s a great place to get started on chasing down the latest Windows Server and desktop versions.