ITKE Community Blog

December 24, 2012  4:51 PM

Happy Holidays from the ITKE staff!

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Image of keyboard with bow

Keyboard image via Shutterstock

It’s been a great year full of questions, answers, discussions and more here at ITKnowledgeExchange, and I want to thank you all for your contributions. We’re looking forward to much more to come in 2013, with new site features like improved code formatting and a major new project that will further integrate the community with the extensive TechTarget network and let more people see all your great contributions (more on this soon). I’m really excited about how this site will grow and change over the next several months, and I hope you are, too.

Over the next week, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite content from the year, but for now, I want to point to a few recent changes we’ve made over the past month or so. (I won’t call them “gifts,” but I can’t stop you from doing so.)

  • If you’re wondering how your activity compares to other site members, you can now check this using the ‘badge rank’ link on your profile page. By checking out the Linux badge ranks, for example (, we see that carlosdl has the top spot, with rechil not far behind at #2. You can view the rest of the topics in the menu on the left side of the page. I can already feel the competitive juices starting to flow…
  • The tag alerts function should now be working properly again. When logged in, your e-mail address should be showing in the box on the right sidebar on the homepage where it says “Subscribe to Alerts”; click the Subscribe button and you’ll be able to sign up for notifications on the topics you care about (you’ll get them in a daily digest).
  • We’ve updated the featured questions box that shows on the homepage. This is where we post some of the most challenging and/or most interesting items that are submitted so you don’t have to hunt for them.  (We also post some tough unanswered questions in our IT quizzes, so be sure to check those out.)
  • We’ve started up a series profiling our members and bloggers over on the ITKE Community Blog. We talked with all-time points leader Tom Liotta recently, and we’ll be contacting you all down the road so you can get your moment in the sun. Watch out for an email from Michael Tidmarsh, our Assistant Community Manager, who will be taking over a lot of these kinds of communications.
  • We’ve also welcomed several new contributors to our blogs. Brian Gracely has been doing a great job on his new blog, From Silos to Services: Cloud Computing for the Enterprise. Longtime blogger Robin Miller is now covering tons of ways to save money (especially during the holidays!) on his new Cheap Computing blog. AS/400 expert John Anderson, who you may have seen around the forums, has started up a new blog covering, appropriately, AS/400 and IBM i Tutorials. And ITKE veteran James Bingham (aka harisheldon) is now gathering Tech Support Horror Stories. Make sure to check out all these blogs and offer your comments as you have them.

As always, if you have questions or concerns about something that’s happening in the community, or ideas for how to improve things, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Michael.

Thanks again for all that you do, and have a great holiday!


December 18, 2012  4:48 PM

Featured Member: Tom Liotta

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

ITKnowledgeExchange recently had the opportunity to talk to this month’s ‘featured member’ Tom Liotta. He is constantly active within the ITKE community, answering questions in several topic fields.

ITKE: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What do you do? What’s your area of expertise?

TL: Right now, I’m not doing anything. I resigned my previous position at the end of July, and I intend not to look for anything for the next year. My position for the previous 12 years was as systems programmer for an IBM business Partner, producing network security, system auditing and compliance products for the AS/400 line.

I might not have an area of expertise. My initial work experience was with mainframes since that was a big part of the industry at that time. From there, my work moved to IBM midrange systems and then to PCs of various types.

After being away from IBM systems for a few years, I took some contracts for work with System/38 sites. The first basic S/38 project didn’t go well technically because of lack of understanding of the new non-Cycle structure of RPG III, the impact of externally-described files and the object-based nature of CPF (the S/38 OS). But late in that project, those three concepts suddenly took hold and I haven’t looked back since.

As the rumors about Silverlake (AS/400s) circulated, I worried that IBM mainframe division influence might result in a disappointing product. I was fortunate to be fully involved in the first customer install of an AS/400 in the Pacific Northwest in September 1988; and the experience with that system, as rough edged as it was at the time, convinced me that AS/400s would be the focus of my career from then on.

ITKE: If you weren’t working in IT, you’d be…

TL: I don’t know. College was originally attended as a psych major. Though it was easy enough, the realization came after a few years that it was mostly BS. It took a number of years to find out why, but in the meantime I’d gone back closer to home and started a more general schedule of classes just to try various things.

I took a statistical analysis class and signed up for the extra credit version that had us solving problems by coding Basic on a remote timeshare CDC system. The thought came that it was the kind of thing I could make a living at. I started a full schedule in the ‘Data Processing’ track. (Everybody remember when that’s what it was called?)

That’s been the track I’ve been on ever since.

ITKE: Who’s one person you look up to in the IT world, and why?

TL: Robert M. Wooldridge — I know he’s not likely to be known by many, or any, who read this. He’s mostly just a regular IT pro. No books authored, no industry changing inventions, none of the usual stuff that turns people into followers. But he has a characteristic, a natural talent that has kept my interest for 40 years. Simply put, he sees how business processes ought to be automated. It’s a talent because he seems to do it without effort.

Since getting on this track, I always wanted to have that talent. But the most I could do was keep it in mind as I worked for my employers. I always try to influence directions so that processes are automated “the right way”.

ITKE: How do you see the future of IT developing over the next decade?

TL: I’ll wait to see how Oracle v. Google ends before deciding. The healthy survival of Android could be crucial to how the next decade goes. Microsoft will push for its kind of phone/tablet/notebook/desktop/whatever single-standard. Apple will be doing similarly. I’d like to see that Android is where some real innovation arises and causes a change in how we interact with automated systems. And there’s no doubt that everything is going to be automated by the end of the decade.

That is, every type of electrical device that you’ll be able to buy will have an “intelligent” version. Possibly house power circuits will be integrated with a communications network (as I’ve used mine for a few years) or a Bluetooth variation will be used. Regardless, we’ll come to expect that everything can be controlled from wherever we are.

For IT, this will drive a lot of our development effort. (And we’ll have to expect to develop wherever we are.)

The pressure will come from the personal experiences of every user. We’ll have to make everything available to all users who need it wherever they are.

ITKE: What advice would you give prospective IT workers (say college students)?

TL: Quit now?

Best thing I did as a student was to learn how to locate, read and understand vendor documentation. Having forums such as ITKE is a development from my later years. They’re very handy for specific problems, but they aren’t helpful for an actual career unless the working platform can first be understood in a way that a vendor intends.

I often actually read through vendor (mostly IBM) manuals. I rarely read specifically to understand, but rather simply to see what is written. Later, as I’m coding something, the things I previously read come back as vague recognitions. I remember running across a reference, and I have a reasonably good feeling that I can look it up. When I then get back to it and read it with a real problem in mind, it almost always makes sense where it was only a series of words before.

Vendor documentation is the authority. If it doesn’t work, make the vendor fix it. If they won’t, then internet forums become much more valuable.

After vendor documentation, keeping products current is next in importance for a career. Working for employers who keep obsolete versions limping along is not valuable for an employee. You can find those employers late in your career, and then you might be one of the few who the employer can find. By then, you can name a price more to your liking. But early in a career, keep your eyes open for shops that keep up with vendor releases.

Don’t get chained to obsolescence. Your employer might not be in business long, and you’ll need current skills to find a next good job.

December 11, 2012  7:31 PM

Book giveaway: A practical guide to Linux

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Linux image via Shutterstock

Are you a Linux expert but want to take your knowledge to the stage? Mark Sobell’s A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming is the book for you as it covers best practices and examples for each Linux version including: Ubuntu, Red Hat, CentOS and Mac OS X. We’ve got an excerpt of the book up on our IT Bookworm blog.

Tell us what confuses you the most about Linux in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book. Good luck!

December 4, 2012  6:52 PM

FAQ: The consumerization of IT

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

The consumerization of IT has emerged as a growing trend within the industry, with consumer devices and applications playing an increasingly important role in the enterprise.

From using personal tablets and smartphones to accessing third-party cloud services and social media platforms, users no longer depend on guidance from their companies to get their jobs done and IT departments need to keep pace. Companies worldwide must decide how to address the security and compatibility concerns that come from this blending of personal and business technology.

Does your company have a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy? How are you handling ‘rogue’ users and insecure environments? The links below will help with understanding this important shift.

Here are some of the most active conversations on on consumerization topics:

View all consumerization discussions in the community.


Several ITKE bloggers have also provided perspective on consumerization:

– Scot Petersen looks at the true meaning and impact of consumerization and determines that it really depends on who you ask (as the comments prove).

– In this podcast, several security experts discuss strategies on dealing with the increase of consumer devices in the enterprise and making sure sensitive data is protected.

– When it comes to dealing with consumerization, the command and control’ approach continues to be common in many companies, but who controls the approach is still up for debate.

– IT business expert David Scott looks at the beginning of CoIT and how it started through the phenomena known as ‘Bring Your Own Device’ and the different issues, policies and practices associated with it.

– Scott discusses the realities of consumerization and the main ways of managing the challenges it presents.

November 28, 2012  6:47 PM

IT pop quiz: What do you know about Lotus Notes?

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Quiz image via Shutterstock

For many students, Winter break is just around the corner but the ITKnowledgeExchange team wants to test our members once again by giving a quiz on Lotus Notes! See if you can answer any (or all) of the questions below; we’ll give out 150 Knowledge Points for each approved answer. Good luck!

  1. How can a user calculate duration for annual leave in Lotus Notes 8.5?
  2. Why does the hotspot button add 4-5 lines of predefined text when you’re scheduling a new meeting?
  3. How can you automatically create a hotspot URL inside a Lotus Notes email?
  4. Why does Lotus Notes keep telling a user that there are no OLE objects even though he can see them?
  5. Is there a way to select multiple values in drop down fields?
  6. While trying to export a report to Microsoft Excel, can the header row be frozen?
  7. How can a user set up a pop up reminder every Friday when he exits Lotus Notes?
  8. After successfully creating a calendar document, why doesn’t the document show up in the calendar view?
  9. What do you need to do to display the weekly birthdays in a calendar view?
  10. Is there a way to manually activate Lotus Notes?


November 27, 2012  8:10 PM

XenApp on VMware webcast: Improving IT to improve Healthcare

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Webcast image via Shutterstock


Join us for a live webcast on Wednesday, December 5th at 2 p.m. ET as industry experts Greg Shields, Founding Partner at Concentrated Technology, and Frank Nydam, Director of Health Care Solutions & Business Development at VMware, will give tips and best practices for virtualizing your XenApp servers.

Following the webcast, you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions live from our panel.

Don’t miss your chance to hear from leading experts – Register today to get insight into the following:

  • Virtualization strategies that reduce infrastructure complexity Allowing the servers to be included in the same management and DR pools with other virtualized servers
  • Allowing common management and DR pools in mixed environments
  • New approaches to reduce or eliminate planned and unplanned downtime
  • And much more!

Bonus! All LIVE attendees will automatically be entered in a raffle to win a new iPad!

November 19, 2012  3:20 PM

Featured blogger: Robin Miller

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

ITKnowledgeExchange recently had the opportunity to talk to this month’s ‘featured blogger’ Robin Miller about his new blog, Cheap Computing. His blog will be your guide to low-cost computer hardware and software for both home and business use.

ITKE: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What do you do? What’s your area of expertise?

RM: I’m a reporter and editor who covers IT, not an IT person. Think of me as a sportswriter, except I write about programmers and sysadmins instead of quarterbacks and tight ends. My area of expertise is getting behind press releases and product announcements to see who’s really doing what and why they’re doing it. 

ITKE: If you weren’t covering IT/tech, you’d be…

RM: I’d be writing about crime, politics, science, and other human passions. That’s what I was doing before IT reporting became the bulk of my work.

ITKE: Who’s one person you look up to in the IT world, and why?

RM: Just one? Linus Torvalds would be an obvious answer. Richard Stallman would be another, not only because of what he’s accomplished but because he’s the only person I know personally who’s gotten a MacArthur “genius” grant. Someone a little less noticed who has done a lot of background work to help build the modern WWW is Brian Aker, who was the Director of Architecture at MySQL in pre-Sun days. And done a lot of other important things the general public — even the general IT public — has never heard about. 

ITKE: Complete the following sentence: “Cheap computing is ______”.

RM: an extension of my belief that even if money *can* buy happiness, you should try to get the most possible happiness per dollar spent. I’ve been through a couple of phases in my life when I was determined to have the latest gadgets even if it cost me big-time. And it did! Not just in money but in stress, dealing with beta hardware and software that wasn’t really ready for production use. Now I look for good deals on proven — even used — devices, and I use more free and open source software than proprietary programs. I not only save money, but lead a happier and more relaxed life. The funny thing is, when you apply this same philosophy to SMB and enterprise IT, you get lower budgets, higher reliability, and happier bosses. And happier IT staff, too, because they aren’t dealing with as many emergencies.

ITKE: Why should IT pros read your blog?

RM: I’m 60 years old. I’ve watched people waste money and energy on overpriced and troublesome computers and other high-tech devices since the 1960s. I have a lot of experience — not necessarily my own — to pass on about how to save money and aggravation in your dealings with the ever-evolving whirl of gadgets and technological capabilities that keep our lives interesting as long as we don’t let ourselves get overwhelmed by the money we spend to buy those gadgets and the time and energy we spend to maintain them. 

November 5, 2012  9:06 PM

Book giveaway: Managing the Unmanageable

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

Management image via Shutterstock

Within every business and company, managing your software development team can be a difficult process. If you’re looking for new ways to manage your team and deliver software efficiently and effectively, Mickey Mantle and Ron Lichty’s new book, Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools, and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams, will provide you with different tips and tricks to become a successful manager. We’ve got an excerpt of the book up on the IT Bookworm blog.

Share your favorite quote or story about a manager or management challenge you’ve had in the comments and you’ll be entered to win a copy!

October 26, 2012  5:08 PM

You’re Invited: Storage Decisions San Francisco TweetChat Series

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Please join us for our #SDSF2012 TweetChats series! As our annual Storage Decisions San Francisco Conference approaches, we’re excited to get the conversations started!

Rich Castagna (@RichCastagnaTT), Editorial Director of the Storage Media Group along with our Editorial Events team (@TT_Edit_Events), will be hosting the #SDSF2012 TweetChat 2 part series, kicking off next Friday, November 2nd from 1:00-1:30 EST in the #SDSF2012 TweetChat Room.

We’re thrilled to have conference speakers participate in the conversation! Here are the planned topics and some potential discussion questions:

Friday, November 2nd, from 1:00-1:30 EST

Speakers Participating

– Dennis Martin (@Demartek)

– Jon Toigo (@JonToigo)

T1: Networking:

  • In terms of Ethernet for storage networking, how much share does 10 Gigabit Ethernet have at this point, compared to Gigabit Ethernet?
  • How is that impacting adoption of FCoE?
  • InfiniBand has been getting more press recently among the storage-centric tech press. What’s happening there?
  • What about Fibre Channel: Carol Sliwa did a story a few months ago citing research from Dell Oro group that found that’s predicting that 77% of FC switch shipments will go to 8 Gbps FC this year and that in 2013, 8 Gbps and 16 Gbps should split the FC switch market about evenly. What type of company really needs 16 Gbps FC?

T2: Infrastruggle:

  • Storage metrics:  When designing storage systems, I’ve always considered performance metrics, like IOPs and RPOs. Should I be adding energy-centric metrics to the mix?
  • Going green: I’m trying to evaluate vendor pitches from companies saying they are “green”—what’s a good rule of thumb? Should I be looking strictly at power costs?
  • Vendors and capacity: Along those lines, I’m focused on IOPs but my vendor is focused on capacity, it seems. Why is that?
  • Thin provisioning: My vendor keeps talking about “thin provisioning”—is this really important? Do I need this automated?

Monday, November 5th, from 1:00-1:30 EST

Speaker Participating
-Brian Madden (@brianmadden)

  • We know that storage has a lot to do with the success or failure of a VDI project. But it seems to be a bigger impediment than people expected five or so years ago when we first started hearing about VDI. Why is that?
  • What are the companies with successful VDI projects doing right around storage? Or, what are the others doing wrong?
  • In your session at Storage Decisions, you’ll be talking about why SSD (typically used to prevent boot storms) doesn’t fix the VDI storage problem. Is the issue that SSD isn’t sufficient to address boot storms? Or that other problems exist that SSD can’t fix?

T2: End user perspectives:

  • Have you attempted a VDI project and had to abandon it because of storage?
  • For those of you with what you consider a successful VDI implementation, what kind of ROI have you seen from it?
  • What problems have you confronted that you didn’t expect?

Reminder: #SDSF2012 TweetChats are a marketing-free environment! Join the chat to connect, learn and get excited for our upcoming Storage Decisions San Francisco Conference, but please do not post product-specific information.

It’s easy to join the Twitter conversation by logging in to the #SDSF2012 TweetChat Room, which automatically keeps you in the conversation by tagging all tweets with the #SDSF2012 hash tag. If you are unable to access the TweetChat room, simply search in Twitter for #SDSF2012 and tag your tweets with #SDSF2012 so they can be seen by everyone else.

If you have any questions, please contact Maria Gomez, Editorial Events Associate at TechTarget, at

October 25, 2012  4:17 PM

Featured blogger: Brian Gracely

Michael Tidmarsh Michael Tidmarsh Profile: Michael Tidmarsh

ITKnowledgeExchange recently welcomed cloud computing expert Brian Gracely as a new blogger in the community. His blog, From Silos to Services: Cloud Computing for the Enterprise, will cover cloud computing technology, data center architecture and the changing role of IT. We had the opportunity to talk to Brian and find out a little more about him and his work.

ITKE: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What do you do? What’s your area of expertise?

BG: Originally from Michigan, I now live in Raleigh, NC with my wife and two daughters. My day job is Director of Technical Marketing at EMC. In the past I’ve held a variety of Product Mgmt, Tech Marketing, M&A and R&D jobs at Cisco (14yrs) and NetApp. I co-host The Cloudcast (net) weekly podcast, focused on all aspects of Cloud Computing. I’ve spent the last 5-6 years focused on Cloud Computing, and prior to that I was heavily involved with VoIP standards and architectures. Co-authored VoIP Fundamentals for Cisco Press. You can follow me on @bgracely on Twitter.

ITKE: If you weren’t working in IT/tech, you’d be….

BG: Either working as a school teacher, or building golf courses. I like the ability to help people learn new things and see the world in new ways. And I like the satisfaction of seeing the day-to-day progress of working in the dirt. 

ITKE: Who’s one person you look up to in the IT world, and why?

BG: I’ve been lucky to meet a huge number of really smart, interesting people in IT over the last twenty years, so it’s tough to pick just one. Right now I’m extremely impressed by Jack Dorsey (@jack), co-founder of Twitter and Square. I like how he’s trying to make technology less visible in how people interact. Our lives are complicated enough without more complicated technology getting in the way of progress.

ITKE: Complete the following sentence: “Cloud computing is _______”.

BG: “on-demand computers or applications on the Internet”. IT is the last department within almost every business to adopt a model which incorporate some % of on-demand resource utilization. With every new business project having an IT component, the ability for companies to understand how to leverage on-demand resources will be the difference between business success and failure. Cloud computing is a 10yr technology and business-model disruption, and we’re only a couple years into the transition.

ITKE: Why should IT pros read your blog?

BG: Cloud computing will impact every aspect of IT (HW/SW, People skills, IT process) and my blog covers it from the perspective of the intersection between all those elements. So if you’re interested in technology changes, business model evolutions or how cloud computing will impact your career, this blog will have something for you. 

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