Archive for January, 2013

13 useful add-ons for Microsoft Excel and Word 2013

For some reason, Microsoft has taken to calling the mini-programs that you can install into their Office applications “apps.” Functionally, though, most of these are similar to web browser add-ons — in the sense that they add to or enhance the feature set of the main program. Here are the most useful ones for the latest versions of Excel and Word.


Britannica Researcher for Word 2013
This official app provides access to the online version of Encyclopedia Britannica. With it, you can search through over 80,000 article entries in the Britannica library, and view their respective images. You can even insert these images, and citations and references, into your document.
 

 

 

 

 


Bubbles for Excel 2013
This app takes selected data in your spreadsheet and represents it in a chart as bubbles — the size and color of each is based on the number of times a certain value appears. Data from two tables can be “bubbled” so you can compare their differences with this whimsical model.


Gliffy Diagrams for Word 2013
If you don’t have Visio, here’s an alternative. This toolset lets you design flowcharts, mind maps, organizational charts, and other diagrams. Paid options are available offering extras like larger storage space in the cloud, and more shape libraries. But you can still use the app for free to create an unlimited number of graphics.


 

 

Gauge for Excel 2013

This app is exactly what its name implies — a chart graphic that displays what looks like a gauge. Imagine embedding a virtual tire pressure gauge into your spreadsheet to get a reading on whether sets of values are “too low” or “too high.”


Geographic Heat Map for Excel 2013

A model that takes selected values in your spreadsheet that are based on location and generates a map showing their ranges for corresponding regions of it in various colors. The current version features a map of the United States.


Lucidchart for Word 2013

Like Gliffy Diagrams, Lucidchart is another option for easily and quickly making flowcharts and other such process diagrams within Word 2013. It’s a free service that also offers paid plans where you get additional features that include larger online storage and more shape libraries.


Merriam-Webster Dictionary for Excel 2013 and Word 2013

Microsoft offers its own Bing-branded dictionary app for Office 2013, but an appealing alternative is by one of the respected names in the dictionary biz. With the official Merriam-Webster app installed, you can right-click on a word and choose “Define,” and a definition entry for it will appear in a panel to the right of the Excel 2013 or Word 2013 application window.


 

Mini Calendar and Date Picker for Excel 2013

This app lets you embed a mini calendar into your spreadsheet that will make it easier for you or others to select a date to enter into the spreadsheet. The calendar can be customized to highlight specific dates, given different theme colors, or resized.


Radial Bar Chart for Excel 2013

Another colorful chart generator by the author of Geographic Heat Map, this model takes your spreadsheet’s selected values and creates what is essentially a horizontal bar chart that is curved into a circular rainbow graphic.


 

TaskIt for Word 2013

TaskIt is a basic to-do list app that runs alongside Word 2013. Just enter into its textbox a simple description for a task you need to do, adding more one-by-one to build a list of them. Then click the checkmark box beside each task after you actually complete it.


 

WordCalc for Word 2013

Here’s a tool that could be helpful if you are going over math formulas in documents. You can select a mathematical expression in a document or manually enter one into this app’s textbox, and its answer/resulting value will be shown.


WordCloud for Word 2013

This app turns your text document into a tech-marketing and typography cliche: a “word cloud” where certain words that the app determines are most significant are displayed larger than others. Supposedly, if you put your document online, these words are latched onto the most by search engines and used as keywords.


Suite of Excel 2013 feature enhancements by Tyrant Ventures

Tyrant Ventures has developed five apps that add new functionality to Excel 2013, so we grouped them into one. Together they can help ease editing and re-formatting spreadsheets that may not have been created originally on Excel 2013. The suite includes Change Case, which lets you easily change the letters in selected cells to app caps, lower case or proper case.


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15 Top Paying Certifications for 2013

15 Top Paying Certifications for 2013
Randy Muller, Global Knowledge Instructor, MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MCDST

Having earned an IT certification, many individuals think they are automatically entitled to a huge raise. The truth is that several factors, including geography, industry, experience, and yes, certifications, combine to play a major role in determining an individual’s salary. However, certain certifications do have greater impact on the earning potential of an individual. Here, we take a look at the 15 certifications with the highest earning potential for 2013.

Note: The rankings below are derived from certifications that received the minimum number of responses to be statistically relevant in the Global Knowledge annual salary survey completed in October 2012. Certain certifications pay more, but are not represented due to their exclusive nature. These include CCIE: Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert and VCDX: VMware Certified Design Expert, for example.

1. PMP: Project Management Professional – $105,750
The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is recognized as the most important certification for project managers. It is globally acknowledged, in heavy demand, and highly sought after by corporations and individuals alike. A Project Management Professional designation demonstrates that you have not only the experience but also the education to successfully lead and direct projects. The PMP credential is for experienced project management professionals, as the qualifications and testing for this certification are rigorous, as are the required continuing education requirements. All of these factors ensure that the PMP credential is widely respected. The PMP experience and exam requirements focus on five process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing.

2. CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional – $103,299
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential is primarily intended for security managers and profes¬sionals who develop policies and procedures in information security. The CISSP certification has become the gold standard in information security certifications and education. Earning and maintaining a CISSP certification is required for many government, military, and civilian security positions. The CISSP was the first credential in the field of information security, accredited by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Standard 17024:2003.

3. MCSD: Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer – $97,849

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer is the new Microsoft developer certification that replaces the old Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification. The new certification validates a candidate’s ability to design and build application solutions. These solutions may span multiple versions of a single technology or integrate multiple technologies. Developers are expected to analyze and design enterprise solutions using different Microsoft languages and development tools.

Currently, there are three separate certification tracks for those seeking to earn this certification: MCSD: Windows Store Apps, MCSD: Web Applications, and MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management. Each MCSD track requires anywhere from three to six separate exams. Microsoft has introduced a recertification requirement for the new MCSD. Current certification holders will have to recertify every two years, ensuring that they remain current on the base technology that will have changed due to service packs, revisions, and new product releases. (Those holding MCSE certifications will have to recertify every three years).

4. MCDBA: Microsoft Certified Database Administrator – $95,950

Access to information is critical in today’s fast-paced, global environment. Corporations are even more dependent on quick and reliable systems to process and retrieve information. This means they must operate their own database servers and business intelligence software to access this information in order to grow and become more successful, and Microsoft Certified Database Administrators (MCDBA) are the ones who provide this expertise. An MCDBA-certified individual has proven his or her ability to design, implement, and manage SQL Server 2000 databases. This certification was retired on September 30, 2012, though if you achieved it before that date it will still appear on your transcript as a legacy certification. There are two new MCSE certifications for SQL 2012: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Platform and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Business Intelligence.

5. CCDA®: Cisco Certified Design Associate – $94,799

The Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) indicates that the certified individual has a strong foundation and apprentice knowledge of network design for Cisco converged networks. A CCDA certification is for network design engineers, technicians, and support engineers, who enable efficient network environments. The CCDA-certified individual has the skills to design a routed and switched network infrastructure and services involv¬ing LAN, WAN, and broadband access for businesses and organizations.

6. MCAD: Microsoft Certified Application Developer – $93,349

The Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) credential provides industry recognition for professional developers who build powerful applications using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and Web services. Responsibilities include implementing requirements, developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining department-level applications components, Web or desktop clients, or back-end data services by using Microsoft tools and technologies. The MCAD certification is appropriate for Programmers, Analysts, Software Engineers, Software Application Specialists and Application/Software Developers.

7. VCP-DV: VMware Certified Professional Datacenter Virtualization – $92,400

Virtualization, and those who are knowledgeable on virtualization products, are in heavy demand, especially those professionals with datacenter virtualization skills. In the highly competitive virtualization market it is essential to distinguish yourself with a certification that validates your technical capabilities. VMware is one of the leading vendors of virtualization products and earning a VMware certification is the first step toward gaining industry-recognized expertise in virtual infrastructure. Earning the VCP-DV certification demonstrates that you have not only completed a VMWare-authorized training course but also have the necessary experience and training to successfully install, deploy, scale, and manage VMware vSphere environments.

8. CNE: Certified Novell Engineer – $91,350

The Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) shows that those certified individuals have the expertise and knowledge to solve advanced company-wide support problems and high-level network problems. They perform planning, installation, configuration, troubleshooting, and upgrade services for networks. The Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) has been recognized as one of the IT industry’s leading certifications for advanced networking and troubleshooting professionals.

9. ITIL v3 Foundation – $90,900

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITILv3) is a foundational process that provides for quality IT Service Management. The success of ITIL is through the use of documented and proven processes that cover the entire Service Lifecycle. The ITIL Expert level is the third of four levels. The ITIL Expert level certification is aimed at those individuals who are interested in demonstrating a superior level of knowledge of ITIL Version 3 (v3) in its entirety. Once you have achieved ITIL Expert level you will also satisfy the pre-requisite entry criteria for the ITIL Master Level; the highest level of certification within the ITIL v3 scheme, though the Master level is still under development.

10. CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenServer 6 – $90,850

The Citrix CCA is an entry-level certification. Earning this certification validates the candidate’s skills with one of 11 specific Citrix products, the most popular being XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer. The Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix XenServer 6 certification validates the certified individual’s ability to effectively install, configure, administer, troubleshoot, and maintain XenServer 6.0 Enterprise edition and Provisioning Services 6.0 in an enterprise environment.

11. MCITP: Database Administrator – $90,200

The MCITP certification validates that the IT professional is capable of deploying, building, designing, optimizing, and operating technologies for a particular job role. MCITP certifications builds on the technical proficiency measured in the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications. In order to earn the MCITP: Database Administrator you must first pass the Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist certification in SQL Server 2008 (by passing the 70-432 exam) and then pass the 70-450 exam. The MCITP Database Administrator demonstrates knowledge of SQL Server instances and database solutions, database server security solutions, high availability databases, backup and recovery solutions, monitoring strategies, database management and maintenance strategies, and data distribution strategies.

12. MCTS: SQL Server 2005 – $90,100

Those who have earned the MCTS: SQL Server 2005 certification are IT professionals who may pursue careers as database administrators, database developers, or business intelligence developers. They may also be people who do not work with Microsoft SQL Server as a part of their primary job functions but who want to show their breadth of technology experience, such as developers, systems administrators, and others. This certification validates that the IT professional can implement and maintain databases by using specific instructions and specifications.

13. MCT: Microsoft Certified Trainer – $89,949

Those holding the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCTs) certification are the premier technical and instructional experts on Microsoft technologies. An MCT has earned at least one premier certification on a Microsoft product and maintains that certification. Some of the benefits of earning and maintaining an MCT include access to the complete library of Official Microsoft Learning Products; substantial discounts on exams, books, and Microsoft products; members-only newsgroups and online community resources; and invitations to exclusive events and programs. MCT’s must renew each year by completing an online application, pay an annual fee, and meet a number of program requirements to renew your certification for the coming year.

14. CCNP®: Cisco Certified Network Professional – $89,749

There are two tracks available at the Associate and Professional levels – Designing and Networking. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) demonstrates that you have the ability to plan, implement, verify, and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks. A CCNP-certified individual is expected to work collaboratively with other Cisco specialists on advanced products such as security, voice, wireless, and video solutions.

15. CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenDesktop 5 – $89,499

The Citrix CCA is an entry-level certification. Earning this certification validates the candidate’s skills with one of 11 specific Citrix products, the most popular being XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer. The CCA for Citrix XenDesktop 5 certifies the expertise required to install, administer, and troubleshoot an enterprise environment containing a XenDesktop implementation, including Provisioning Services, XenServer, XenApp and the Desktop Delivery Controller
Summary

Earning a certification does not guarantee that you will walk into a higher paying job. Certification counts, but employers look at several factors, including experience. There was a time when certification holders were reasonably assured of landing a job. Today it is more of a qualifier – not having a certification means you may not even get an interview.
About the Author

Randy Muller (MCT, MCTS, MCSE, CEH) is an instructor with Global Knowledge, specializing in teaching Microsoft Office 365, Exchange, Lync Server as well as Windows Server 2008.


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Microsoft alum: Windows 8 “a much deadlier assault weapon” than Windows 7

Former Microsoft senior VP says Windows 8 on ARM tablets is a “scale 9 earthquake”

Windows 8 is just what Microsoft needs to take advantage of the ongoing irreversible shift from PCs to handheld devices including iPads, iPhones and other form factors yet to be designed, according to the company’s former OEM chief.

Just as Windows 7 won instant popularity after the debacle of Vista, Windows 8 is poised to capture business from phone and tablet leaders such as Apple, only to greater effect, says Joachim Kempin, former Microsoft senior vice president in charge of OEMs who worked for the company from 1983 to 2002.

“Windows 7 spearheaded a comparably small rejuvenation,” Kempin says in his just-released book “Resolve and Fortitude: Microsoft’s Secret Power Broker Breaks his Silence”. “I predict Windows 8 is readied as a much deadlier assault weapon.”

[TEST YOURSELF: The Windows 8 quiz

NAVIGATE: 12 essential Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts

CLOUD: Microsoft target virtualization with Windows 8/Server combo

HELP: 11 (FREE!) Microsoft tools to make life easier]

He says the main intent of Windows 8 is to push the operating system into low-powered mobile devices running ARM processors vs traditional x86 chips. He says that when Microsoft introduced Windows 8 nearly two years ago it “flabbergasted the IT world by running on a tablet powered by NVidia’s ARM-based CPU. I consider this move to ARM a scale 9 earthquake and wake-up call for MS’s longtime allies Intel and AMD.”

He says that shift potentially signals the end of notebooks and PCs, not just media tablets. A strength of Windows 8 is its common interface and navigation across all devices, he says.

“No need to bother with the annoyance of having to remember different key strokes or gestures when switching between devices or operating them with a mouse or a touch screen,” Kempin says. “Neither Apple nor Google have ever accomplished such uniformity.”

He praises the design of Microsoft’s two Surface tablet models but dooms them to failure.

He thinks they will anger OEMs that were working on their own Windows 8 tablets and notebooks and who now may be driven to make them with Linux or Google operating systems.

In addition, he doubts the devices themselves can be profitable. “MS does not own a factory and has a track record of having trouble with sourcing hardware components and producing devices as cheaply as her competitors,” he says. “I do not know who did the math on this project. The slim revenue gain with not much hope for real profits combined with losing partners’ trust and loyalties seems not worth that risk.”

Instead, Microsoft should spin off a startup with the mission of making Windows 8 devices, putting a distance between the devices and Microsoft itself and creating just another OEM that competes with current OEMs.

Still, he likes Surface RT. “Adding an innovative wireless keyboard makes it a hybrid located between today’s notebooks and tablets,” he says. “When combined with the slick design promises to totally obsolete notebooks in a few years when solid state drives will become cheap and small enough to replace traditional hard drive storage units.”

He admires the strategy of porting Office applications to Windows 8 tablets based on ARM, known as Windows RT. Other tablets can support Office but only via remote services, not locally. “Less need for constant connectivity for 8-powered tablets when running MS-Office applications means a further leg up over Google’s solution,” he writes.

Apparently the book was written before Microsoft’s Windows 8 leader Steven Sinofsky quit the company just after Windows 8 launched Oct. 26. Kempin says the company should tap Sinofsky to champion Surface as a product fanatic as focused as Steve Jobs was at Apple.

“Like others I always wait for a service pack to be released before trusting a new OS version,” Kempin says. “[Sinofsky] will need to correct this notion with product excellence right out of the chute to gain vital momentum. This is in particular important for changing MS’s fortune in the media tablet market where Apple, Google and Amazon are seen as leaders.

Blindly mimicking Apple in order to take sales from it is a mistake, and that means getting rid of its new brick and mortar Windows Stores. “The company needs to get rid of all distractions like her doomed retail stores,” he writes.

He says Microsoft’s investment in Barnes & Noble and its Nook e-reader represent an assault on Amazon and its Kindle tablets and e-readers. He says Microsoft miscalculated the market for them when it devoted research into the devices in 1998. “But the developers involved in this effort were told to shut down because their solution was not Windows centric enough,” he says.

That was the wrong way to look at it, though. “You do not need Windows to read a book – MS-DOS would have sufficed and could have easily been replaced with more advanced technology later,” he says.


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Hottest Android news and rumors for week ending Jan. 18

All quiet on the Galaxy S IV front, but plenty going on elsewhere.After a CES week during which the Android world was all a-twitter over a device that wasn’t even revealed at the show, the previously hyperactive Galaxy S IV rumor mill has quieted down, mostly. It’s likely to only be a momentary respite, however, as the device is heavily tipped to be released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

MORE OFFBEAT: The dumbest products of CES 2013

Perhaps the biggest news on the most hotly anticipated Android device so far in 2013 is that an ostensible screenshot of mobile benchmarking results has been published by a Japanese-language blog), which points out that the 1.8GHz CPU speed matches up with Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa eight-core SoC. (More on the Octa later.)

Given the source, it’s important to remember that this should be taken with many grains of salt – even the inclusion of the point about the Exynos 5 Octa could easily be read as a little too circumstantially convenient. (Like Manti Te’o confessing to Lance Armstrong on Oprah or something.)

Still, I can’t deny that the pairing of Samsung’s two biggest headline grabbing topics makes sense. We’ll see what happens (probably) at MWC at the end of February.

Speaking of the Exynos 5 Octa, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs is unsurprisingly not a fan, according to a report from Unwired View. Essentially, he told reporters in China yesterday, Samsung is just covering for the fact that the four high-performance Cortex-A15 cores drain a ton of power by jamming four slower but less demanding Cortex-A7s into the SoC alongside them, and attempting to reap a publicity windfall by boasting about their eight-core processor.

While Jacobs is correct in noting that all eight of the Octa’s cores won’t operate at the same time, I’m not sure why he’s saying this means the SoC is going to suck. OK, so it’s not a “true” eight-core SoC, but the idea of using the low-power cores for light work and switching to the A15s for more serious tasks still makes sense, and could well back up Samsung’s claims of improved battery life and better performance. Seems like fairly ineffectual spin to me.

The Nexus 4 official wireless charger has appeared on the site of Norwegian store Dustin Home, providing a slick pad on which to charge the Nexus 4 that you still probably don’t have. Presumably, this means that it’ll become available soon in the U.S., but this is a product release story involving the phrase “Nexus 4,” so who really knows?

(Hat tip: Android Central)
But wait! The Nexus 4’s availability problems will soon be a thing of the past, according to an LG executive who spoke to Challenges.fr Wednesday. LG France director of mobile communication Cathy Robin says production of the Nexus 4 is due to increase by mid-February, which could ease the supply crunch. As of this writing, both the 8GB and 16GB models are still sold out on the Play Store.

(Hat tip: r/Android)
Android Police has what it says is an internal Sprint document, which asserts that the company plans to offer a $400 device credit to new family plan customers who port at least one line in from a competitor. The deal’s supposedly set to roll out tomorrow, so you don’t have long to wait, if you’re interested.

All quiet on the Galaxy S IV front, but plenty going on elsewhere.


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FAQ: The business case for Microsoft Surface Pro laptop/tablets

FAQ: The business case for Microsoft Surface Pro laptop/tablets
Is Microsoft’s Windows 8 laptop/tablet right for your organization?

Microsoft says Surface for Windows 8 Pro laptop/tablets are rolling off the assembly lines, meaning that availability of the hardware Microsoft thinks Windows 8 should run on can’t be far off.

The device sports a removable touch screen, a cover that doubles as a keyboard and a kickstand to prop up the screen for laptop mode. With the cover flipped back, the device becomes a tablet suitable for using Windows 8’s touch-driven Modern interface as opposed to its desktop.

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But is it right for your business?

Here are some questions you should ask and the answers you’ll want in order to make an informed opinion about whether to buy Surface Pro for your organization.

What does it cost?

Either $899 with a 64GB hard drive or $999 with 128GB hard drive. Keyboard/covers are extra. Type covers with keys that actually depress cost $130. Touch Covers with a static keyboard surface that is touch-sensitive cost $120.

How do you buy it in volume?

CEO Steve Ballmer said months ago that Surface devices would be sold only in the Microsoft Store online or brick and mortar Window Stores. Since then Surface RT — the low-powered, limited Windows 8 tablet — has gone on sale in the big consumer electronics stores. But there haven’t been any formal changes announced by Microsoft to do the same with Surface Pro.

How can you manage a fleet of these things?

Via System Center Configuration Manager SP1 and Windows Intune.

Will it support all legacy business applications?

Microsoft says any apps that run on Windows 7 will also run on Windows 8, which also supports Windows Store applications that are based on Windows Runtime and cater to touch.

How well is it made?

TBD. Surface RT, which is different but looks similar, had some anecdotal problems with the covers separating at the seams, but nothing that warranted a recall.

How long does the battery last?

Microsoft says about half the life of Surface RT, which makes it somewhere between four and five hours. With an Intel Core i5 processor inside, Surface Pro will be eating up a lot of power compared to ARM-powered Surface RT, but Intel says it is coming out with less power-hungry Core processors. If Microsoft swaps them in to Surface Pro, expect better battery life.

What does it have for storage?

Either a 64GB hard drive or a 128GB hard drive. It has a microSDXC card slot.

How much memory does it have?

4GB.

How much does it weigh?

2 pounds.

How big is it?

10.81 inches x 6.81 inches x 0.53 inches. The thickness doesn’t include the keyboard/cover, which can be either 6 mm for the Type Cover or 3.25 mm for the Touch Cover.

How good is the screen?

The screen is 10.6 inches with a 16:9 aspect ratio and pixel count of 1920×1080.

What applications does it come with?

Windows Mail and Messaging, SkyDrive, Internet Explorer 10, Bing and Xbox Music, Video, and Games.

What ports does it have?

It sports a full-size USB 3.0 port, a headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and a port for the keyboard. It lacks an Ethernet port.

What wireless technologies does it support?

802.11a, b, g and n Wi-Fi. and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. No 3G or 4G LTE.

How is the security?

Windows 8 is widely considered much more secure than Windows 7. Features include Trusted Boot and Secure Boot, Restore and Refresh options for cleaning up infections, an expanded Windows Defender security software package, SmartScreen to check out downloaded executables, sandboxed applications and logically isolated tabs within Internet Explorer 10.

Registration opens for IEEE wireless certification

The next exam for IEEE wireless engineering certification will start in April, and registration is now open.

The exams, for the IEEE Wireless Communication Engineering Technologies Certification, will be held worldwide at test centers run by Prometric, and be available April 7 to May 4. The certification program is designed and sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc).

Successfully completing the exam results in being credentialed as an “IEEE Wireless Communications Professional” (WCET). More information about the credential benefits and program news is on the IEEE website. You register via that website, and registration is due by March 22.

According to a ComSoc statement, “IEEE WCET has since become recognized worldwide as a vendor-neutral and transnational credential for demonstrating the wireless expertise of communications professionals.”

To qualify for WCET, candidates must have a “bachelor’s or comparable degree from an accredited institution” and a minimum of three years of “professional wireless engineering experience.”

The exam is administered via computers at designated sites. It consists of 150 multiple choice questions; applicants have up to four hours to answer them. The $500 fee (or $450 for IEEE and IEEE ComSoc members) covers the application fee, processing, the “seat fee” for taking the test, scoring and score reporting, and a certificate sent to those who pass. For another $50, ComSoc will provide a 75-question online practice exam, which lets you assess your readiness for the full WCET test.


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Cloud Specific IT Certifications 2013

Few areas within the IT industry have seen the kind of growth that cloud computing has. As a result, many IT professionals are now seeking cloud specific certifications. Here is an overview of what is currently available to help you figure out which certification may be best for you.

2013 is here and as we look back at 2012, few areas within the IT industry have seen the kind of growth that cloud computing has experienced.

If your company is locked into a specific cloud service vendor then choosing which IT certification to get may be simple. However, because cloud computing comes in many flavors and is still in its infancy, deciding which cloud certification to get is difficult for many IT professionals.

To help you figure out what vendor offerings are out there and where to begin, CIO.com has put together a list of currently available cloud certifications. This list isn’t all-inclusive, simply because the cloud computing market is in a state of transformation. Please add any certification we may have missed to the comments section.


CompTIA Cloud Essentials
The CompTIA Cloud Essentials specialty certification demonstrates that an individual knows what cloud computing means from a business and technical perspective, as well as what is involved in moving to and governing the cloud.

The CompTIA Cloud Essentials exam covers:
Characteristics of cloud services from a business perspective
Business value of cloud computing
Technical perspective/cloud types
Steps to successful adoption
Impact and changes on IT service management
Risks and consequences

The Cloud Essentials exam objectives were originally developed by ITpreneurs in cooperation with the Cloud Credential Council, a membership body dedicated to vendor-neutral training in cloud computing and comprised of companies including IBM, Cisco, EMC, HP and ING.

While it is not required, CompTIA recommends that a candidate have at least six months working in an environment that markets or relies on IT-related services


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EXIN Cloud Computing Foundation
The exam focuses to a limited extent upon Cloud technology. The main focus of the programme is the procurement, implementation and management of Cloud Computing, hence the slogan ‘Get into the Cloud – and stay in control’.

EXIN Cloud Computing Foundation is part of the Certified Integrator program and is one of the prerequisites to attain the title:

EXIN Certified Integrator Secure Cloud Services.

Target group
The exam is suitable for IT managers, business managers, IT professionals and procurement specialists, who want to qualify for a role within the rapidly growing field of Cloud Computing. For organizations and trainers, EXIN Cloud Computing serves as independent certification of their own course or training.

Context
Cloud Computing ties in well with other EXIN examination programmes, such as IT Service Management and Information Security.
EXIN Cloud Computing Foundation was created in close collaboration with industry and trade organizations.


HP ExpertOne
HP ATA – Cloud V1
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For students pursuing HP ATA certification

This certification training provides you with the skills and knowledge to understand a customer’s business objectives and support end-to-end IT solution design and deployment, including on premises, hosted, and cloud solutions for small- to medium-size businesses.

To prepare for this certification, you will learn industry-standard cloud and virtualization technologies. You will also learn how to support disaster recovery plans, install, configure, and upgrade servers, storage, data, networks, clients, applications, and users in new and existing environments. Achieving this certification validates your ability to optimize, troubleshoot, and administer cloud solutions.
Why earn this certification?

As a student you have access to HP training developed in an academic format. You will gain higher job and earning potential through an industry-recognized certification and a high-quality education that provides practical experience with HP and industry-standard technologies.

The HP Accredited Technical Associate (ATA) certification is for individuals interested in pursuing careers in technology and lays the foundation for success.


HP ASE – Cloud Architect v1
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This certification verifies that you have the ability to specify and architect a spectrum of cloud services based on a converged infrastructure. These include private, public and hybrid cloud environments, and IaaS, PaaS and SaaS platforms. The Cloud Architect training provides you with the ability to navigate through the HP CloudSystem solution offerings and identify, describe, position and specify the right solution based on identified needs. The training also provides an understanding at the level of purpose, function, positioning, and capabilities of HP CloudSystem offerings. The available training will also help you learn the technical consulting skills needed for planning and designing complete cloud solutions.
Why earn this certification?

Businesses are moving rapidly to take advantage of the cloud to speed innovation, accelerate business processes, and reduce time-to-revenue. However, enterprises and service providers seeking to build cloud environments are confronted with fragmented solutions, leading to complexity, security issues, and management costs that organizations are trying to avoid. You can increase your business and professional value by validating your unique breadth of knowledge to plan and design a complete, integrated and open solution based on HP CloudSystem built on a converged infrastructure. You validate The Cloud Architect V1 training and certification provides the skills needed to effectively plan and design the right cloud solutions based for both business and IT needs.


IBM Certified Solution Advisor – Cloud Computing Architecture V2
An IBM Certified Solution Advisor – Cloud Computing Architecture V2 is a person who can clearly explain the benefits and underlying concepts of cloud computing. They can also demonstrate how the IBM Cloud Computing offering helps customers realize these benefits.

Key areas of competency include:
Explain the cloud computing concepts.
Describe how the customer can realize the benefits of cloud computing within their environment.
Identify cloud computing architecture and design principles.
Map customer-s requirements to the IBM Cloud Computing offerings.

Required Prerequisite Skills:
The following qualifications are requirements for success:

Working knowledge of Cloud Computing principles
Working knowledge of implementation of Cloud Computing concepts
Working knowledge of the various types of clouds
Working knowledge of the various types of -as a service- offerings
Working knowledge of various Cloud Computing business models
Working knowledge of key concerns and how they are addressed in Cloud Computing such as security,


Microsoft MCSE – Private Cloud certification

Private Cloud certification
Solutions Expert The globally recognized standard for IT professionals

Prove your expertise in managing and implementing Microsoft private cloud computing technologies. With Windows Server and System Center, you will build your Microsoft private cloud solution to optimize IT service delivery and gain the automation and flexibility you need for your IT infrastructure, now and in the future.
Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
Administering Windows Server 2012
Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
If you’re already certified as a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Enterprise Administrator or MCITP: Server Administrator, you only need to complete steps 4 and 5 above to earn your Private Cloud certification.
This MCSE certification requires you to show continued ability to perform in your chosen solution area by completing a recertification exam every three years.

 


Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X2-2 Certified Implementation Specialist certification

Exalogic Elastic Cloud X2-2 Essentials

New! Register for OPN Exchange and take this exam for FREE at Oracle OpenWorld 2012.

The Exalogic Elastic Cloud X2-2 Essentials exam is intended for system administrators who have implemented and are managing an Exalogic Elastic Cloud environment in a data center. The exam targets a broad range of topics from fundamentals and initial machine setup to storage and network configuration. In addition to on-the-job training, preparation can include attending Oracle University’s Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud Administration course.

The Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud Implementation Specialist certification recognizes OPN members as OPN Certified Specialists. This certification differentiates OPN members in the marketplace by providing a competitive edge through proven expertise.

 

 

 


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Why I abandoned Windows Phone 8

I recently acquired a Nokia Lumia 920 to experiment with Windows Phone 8. But a few weeks in, I’m already back to my Android-based device.

A few months ago, I forced myself to switch to Windows 8 on my desktop system (and laptop) and ended up liking the operating system very much. Once I got used to the quirks and garish look of the new Start screen and learned many of the shortcuts built into Windows 8, I found myself enjoying the operating system and was more than pleased by its myriad of enhancements and performance improvements.

I initially made the switch to Windows 8 because I wanted to fully immerse myself into the OS before formulating any strong opinions. Considering how much I ended up liking Windows 8 on my desktop, I thought I would conduct a similar experiment with my smartphone. For the last few years, I have been deeply entrenched in the Android ecosystem and have experience with a multitude of devices. I enjoy installing custom ROMs on the devices and have experimented with countless apps and utilities. At this point my smartphone is an integral part of my day-to-day computing, and I’ve grown fond of a handful of apps and the convenience of always having my inboxes and access to the web in my pocket.
I picked up a [Windows Phone 8-based Nokia Lumia 920 and was initially impressed. The hardware itself is excellent. The Lumia 920’s camera is top notch. The device is obviously well-built. The screen looks great, and navigating through Windows Phone 8 was smooth as silk. At first, my Android-based device (currently a Samsung Galaxy Note II) remained my daily driver. I kept the Lumia 920 handy until I felt I was comfortable using its email client, browsing the web. But eventually I customized the Start screen to my liking and got a good feel for what Microsoft and Nokia were trying to accomplish with the phone. I installed only a couple of apps and got comfortable with them too.

After a couple of weeks and a good initial impression, I decided to dive in head-first and make the Lumia 920 my daily device. At first, I was happy with the decision. I dug the Live Tiles and the Lumia 920 never lost its luster; it’s a great phone.

But as I started to install more and more apps and dig deeper into the Windows Phone App Store, I was regularly disappointed. There seemed to be three kinds of apps available for Windows Phone 8:

Apps specifically designed for the OS that showed signs of greatness
Quick-and-dirty ports of apps obviously designed for other platforms
Kludges that were nothing more than wrappers for mobile websites

The apps designed with Windows Phone 8 in mind were mostly great. I especially liked the IMDB app, which blows away its counterparts on other mobile platforms. The Facebook app was also very fast and responsive, but it wastes a TON of screen real estate with larger-than-necessary fonts in the navigation menu and wasted white space in the feed. There were times when I could only see a single post in my news feed because of all the wasted screen real estate. I’m not sure what the app developers were thinking with that one.

Then there were the obvious ports that just didn’t look right on Windows Phone 8. One in particular, Words with Friends, comes to mind. I know it’s an older title and games aren’t a necessity, but I enjoy playing Words with Friends; it’s a nice break in the day. Anyway, fonts (like the one used to display the score) were nearly illegible and the game is just plain broken. As of a couple of weeks ago, you couldn’t use words with the letter “Z” and the main screen wouldn’t update when it was your turn. You’d think with the amount of complaints logged in the app store someone at Microsoft would fix the game, but no such luck.

And then there’s apps like YouTube, which seem to be little more than wrappers for the YouTube mobile site. Minimal effort was put into optimizing the app for Windows Phone 8, and it shows.

As you probably guessed by now, my little experience was a failure. I’m back to my Android device and don’t plan to give Windows Phone 8 another try for a few months. If Microsoft wants people to give Windows Phone 8 serious consideration, they’ve got to get serious about offering quality apps for the platform. It’s not just about the number of available apps, it’s about the quality, and at this point in time Windows Phone 8 trails in both departments.


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Installing and Configuring the DHCPD Server

Installing and Configuring the DHCPD Server

The DHCPD server is a server that allows DHCP clients to connect to the server, and request IP

addresses and gateway/DNS information. DHCP is used in most large networks as a means of easily

managing IP addresses. Linux has a server of its own, creatively called DHCPD. DHCPD is

available from the Internet Software Consortum’s website at isc.org. The server should also be

available from your distribution however, so check with your distribution first.

ISC only supplies standard tarball packages, so if your distribution does not supply the DHCPD

package, you will have to use the ISC’s package. Download the file and extract it using the

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following two commands:

gunzip dhcpd-version.tar.gz

tar -xvf dhcpd-version.tar

Make sure to replace version with the actual version. Now, perform the following commands:

cd dhcpd-version

./configure

make

make install

DHCPD should install flawlessly, if not then you should complain to the mailing list on the

ISC’s website. We will only have to perform three tasks with DHCPD, the first is to edit the

configuration file. Place the following text in your /etc/dhcpd.conf file:

# /etc/dhcpd.conf by Christopher Pace

ddns-update-style ad-hoc;

default-lease-time 259200;

max-lease-time 300000;

option subnet-mask 255.255.255.0;

option routers 192.168.0.1;

option domain-name-servers 192.168.0.1;

subnet 192.168.0.0 netmask 255.255.255.0 {

range 192.168.0.20 192.168.0.40;

range 192.168.0.50 192.168.0.90;

}

Of course you will want to substitute the routers, domain-name-servers, netmask, and range with

what is for your network. For instance, I have a network that I use DHCP to assign a total of 60

IP addresses. This range is from .20-.40, and from .50-.90. DHCPD will only assign IP addresses

within this range, as I like to keep .1-.19, .41-.49, and .91-.254 free for servers and such.

The ‘default-lease-time’ and ‘max-lease-time’ settings are used to specify how long the DHCP

lease will last if the client doesn’t request extra time (default), and if it requests the max

time (max). This time is in seconds. If you want to have a static IP assigned to a host, then

you can use the following syntax in your /etc/dhcpd.conf file:

host Joe {

hardware ethernet 00:c0:f0:25:b7:15;

fixed-address 192.168.0.205;

}

This will assign the IP of 192.168.0.205 to Joe each time that it requests an IP. The MAC

address is the ‘hardware ethernet’ address.

Now then, we move along to the next step, creating the /var/state/dhcp/dhcpd.leases file:

touch /var/state/dhcp/dhcpd.leases

Now, we will start DHCPD, to test it out. First, if you are currently using another DHCP server

on your network, disable that one. Next, run the following:

/usr/sbin/dhcpd

Finally, start up a DHCP client (if you are using Windows 98/2000/XP/NT, you can use the

ipconfig command to release the IP and then renew it by typing:

ipconfig /release_all

ipconfig /renew_all

This should take a while, as the DHCP client is searching for the original server. After a

while, it will time out, and then query the network for any DHCP servers, finding our Linux one.

Now, once you are sure that DHCPD works, we should create an init script for DHCPD. This is used

to start, restart, and stop the DHCPD service. Also, this init script will be automatically run

at boot to start DHCPD. Place the following text in /etc/init.d/dhcpd:

#!/bin/sh

# /etc/init.d/dhcpd file by Christopher Pace

case “$1″ in

start)

echo -n “Starting DHCPD Daemon: dhcpd”

start-stop-daemon –start –quiet –exec /usr/sbin/dhcpd

echo “.”

;;

stop)

echo -n “Stopping DHCPD Daemon: dhcpd”

killall -9 dhcpd

echo “.”

;;

restart)

echo -n “Restarting DHCPD Daemon: dhcpd”

killall -HUP dhcpd

echo “.”

;;

*)

echo “Usage: /etc/init.d/dhcpd {start|stop|restart|reload|force-reload}” >&2

exit 1

;;

esac

exit 0

You should now:

chmod 700 /etc/init.d/dhcpd

ntsysv < FOR REDHAT SYSTEMS

update-rc.d dhcpd defaults < FOR DEBIAN SYSTEMS

If you run a different system then listed, you should check with your distribution on how to

properly tell the system to use the init file you just made. On some systems, simply chmod-ing

the init file will work. Also, some systems only have a /etc/rc.d directory, where the init file

should be placed in the run levels associated with startup, halt, and so forth. Read the FAQs

that your distribution has as to which run levels are for which tasks, as some distributions

tend to go against POSIX.

DHCP is a useful client, but when routers are shipped with DHCP server capabilities, too often

the DHCP server is stripped-down, leaving the many options that DHCPD offers missing. Thus, it

is necessary to have DHCPD instead of these stripped-down servers, in order to satisfy

particular needs. For instance, I need 60 DHCP-assigned addresses, in two different IP ranges.

Thus, I would recommend DHCPD for anyone who needs a truly customizable DHCP server.
• Analyzing the basic intrusion
• Examining various protocols
• Detecting intrusion and its other role
• Analyzing fragment and IP routing
• Configuring snort and traffic analysis

The examination consists of 150 questions with approximately 4 hours of time duration. The minimum score required to pass the exam is 67% or 101 out of 150. The renewal period for this exam is available only for every 4 years. Candidates who have failed in the examination are allowed for a re-take only during the valid eligibility period.

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Symantec links latest Microsoft zero-day with skilled hacker gang

The Elderwood group appears to be living up to its reputation of finding serious software vulnerabilities

Symantec is crediting a hacker group with an impressive track record as responsible for finding the latest as yet unpatched vulnerability in older versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.

Microsoft issues quick fix for critical zero-day hole in IE

A gang Symantec calls the Elderwood group appears to have found the latest zero-day vulnerability in IE, which can allow a malicious website to automatically infect a person’s computer.

Analysis of the attack code used to exploit the vulnerability has similarities to other code used by the Elderwood group to exploit other zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s software, the company wrote on its blog.

In one example, Symantec found the phrase “HeapSpary” inside several samples of attack code.

“HeapSpary is a clear mistyping of Heap Spray, a common attack step used in vulnerability exploitation,” the company wrote. “In addition to this commonality, there are many other symbols in common between the files.”

In September, Symantec published a research paper saying that the Elderwood group appeared to have an “unlimited supply of zero-day vulnerabilities.” A zero-day vulnerability is rare and highly valuable to hackers, as it means it has not been patched by the affected software vendor yet.

The Elderwood group may have possessed as many as nine zero-day exploits since 2009 when Symantec began first monitoring the group. Their attack codes have been distributed through targeted emails, known as spear phishing, and planted on hacked websites.

When someone with a vulnerable browser visits a hacked website, the malicious software is delivered. The Elderwood group has planted its malware on sites that indicate the group is targeting certain types of users, which Symantec calls a “watering hole” attack.

The Elderwood group appears to favor targets associated with defense contractors, human rights groups, non-governmental organizations and IT service providers, according to Symantec’s September report.

Amnesty International’s Hong Kong website was compromised in May 2012 in an attack linked to Elderwood, Symantec wrote.

An exploit for the latest IE vulnerability was found last month on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations as well as that of Capstone Turbine Corporation, a U.S.-based manufacturer of gas microturbines used for power generation.

Microsoft issued a quick fix earlier this week for the IE software problem but will not distribute a patch for it on Jan. 8, the company’s next scheduled patch release.

 


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