Vol. 47, #8 - September 16, 2013 - Issue #947
IT Career Learning
- Editor's Corner
- IT Career Learning
- Tip of the Week
- Recommended for Learning
- Quote of the Week
- Admin Toolbox
- Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
- Events Calendar
- Webcast Calendar
- Register for Webcasts
- Tech Briefing
- Windows Server
- SharePoint, Exchange and Office
- Windows PowerShell
- Other cloud computing
- Windows Client
- Other stuff
- Windows Server News
- How four providers ranked in head-to-head cloud performance benchmarks
- Pros and cons of delivering desktops with Microsoft Windows To Go
- The reality of processor performance improvement with hyperthreading
- Comparing differences in vSphere Data Protection versions
- WServerNews FAVE Links
- This Week's Links We Like. Fun Stuff.
- WServerNews - Product of the Week
- Instantly See WHO Has Permission to Do WHAT With a Free Tool
- SAVE THIS NEWSLETTER so you can refer back to it later for helpful tips, tools and resources!
- FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER to a colleague who you think might find it useful!
- SEND YOUR FEEDBACK to [email protected] if you have any comments or suggestions!
This week's newsletter is all about the constant learning that being an IT professional today involves. A few weeks ago in Issue #943 Rapid Release we included the following Reader Request from a reader named Sanj:
I have been in the IT business for over 20 years, working in operational, IT support 2nd and 3rd level, and as a Test Analyst working with for small, medium size organizations and now working for some big multinationals. I am now at a point where I need to do some more IT training but not really sure what I want to do. I keep thinking about Windows Server 2012, virtualization, storage, cloud, web and mobile technologies etc, but not sure which technologies I need to concentrate on first, and what is the best approach.
After work, it's very difficult to be get motivated and start to concentrate on learning all the new technologies. Plus having limited time after work to do all the training etc. I know you have recommended some training material that Microsoft provides and some excellent books and web sites to do some research.
The problem I am having is that you do a couple of hrs training, research etc, each day, but by the end of the week, I have already forgotten but I have learned at the beginning of the week.
While several readers responded with advice for Sanj, one reader (Mitch Garvis a.k.a. The Other Mitch) took upon himself the task of writing a guest editorial on the topic. Let's hear from Mitch now as he shares his own perspective about IT learning, certifications, goal-setting and self-motivation...
IT Career Learning
It sounds to me like you know what you need to do, but you are so overwhelmed by the tasks ahead that you do not know where to start, and the lack of a clear direction is working against you by demotivating you.
Thinking back to when I was first embarking on the journey of certifications I remember I had seven courses that I needed in order to earn my MCSE, and I did not know where to start. That was seven courses about different topics… but when it came down to it they were all about a single product.
Today you are faced with needing to learn Server, Hyper-V (one product but really two), System Center 2012 (one product, but really seven), the cloud (depending on what you mean by that it can be a bunch of other products), storage (wow… where do I start?) and mobile (another slew of them). To say it is a daunting task is a ridiculous understatement.
Three words of advice
I am going to start by give you some bits of advice.
1) Decide what it is you want to do. It is nice to generalize, but you can never learn every product you want to know well generalizing. Specializing allows you to learn solutions and not just products. From your list I would drop (for now) storage and mobility. This is not to say that they are not important but they don't fit as well within the same learning plan as the others.
2) Windows Server is the base operating system that is the foundation for everything else you are discussing. I am a firm believer in starting from the beginning, so that is where I would start. I also feel that virtualization is the basis for everything that you will do on Server, so it might be a good idea to start there… except that Hyper-V virtualization is a component of Server, and how do you learn a component of the product before you learn the product? Of course if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it… so if System Center is the solution suite that manages Windows Server then maybe you should learn that first; of course you cannot install any of the System Center components without first installing Server, and most of them require Active Directory and SQL Server….
…Oh boy. It is likely thinking like this that has led you to losing motivation in the first place. That brings us to the last bit of initial advice:
3) Build a plan. Treat this journey as you would a project at work, with a starting point, goals, milestones, deadlines, and so on. The longest journey begins with a single step, and if you don't know where you are going and how to get there that first step can be really daunting. Tools like Microsoft Office Project can be helpful, but so can a simple notebook. Divide your project plan into segments – depending on how you learn, those segments could be course modules or book chapters, but simply saying "Week 1: Learn Windows Server 2012" is a ridiculous statement… it is firstly too big to learn in a week, and secondly what aspects of Windows Server do you want to learn? However if you start with a book then a statement like "Week 1: Complete Chapters 1-6 of Learning Windows Server 2012" might be reasonable.
So now that you know what it is you have to do, you have to figure out how to get motivated. You are already working a full time job, and even if you are only working forty hours per week that doesn't include commuting, family, hobbies, and relaxation. In your words, "After work, it's very difficult to be get motivated and start to concentrate on learning all the new technologies." Believe me, I understand.
The thing is, you also say "…I am now at a point where I need to do some more IT training." Now it is entirely possible that you read this in a fortune cookie, but it is much more likely that you have found that you have reached a point in your career that unless you advance your learning you have gone about as far as you are likely to go. Worse, IT is an industry in which if you do not continue your learning on the newest technologies you can easily find yourself going backwards, losing out on opportunities and eventually being replaced by the guys who are on the leading edge.
The fact that you can stay where you are until you become irrelevant may be motivation enough for some people… but if it isn't then you can take heart in that you have a plan and have carved it out into manageable pieces. It is a lot easier to dedicate 60-90 minutes per evening to studying and reading if you know exactly what it is you need to achieve that night. It means that if you spend 60-90 minutes before or after dinner then you are done for the night, or if you do it right before you go to bed.
The important thing is the consistency, because as you stated clearly: "…The problem I am having is that you do a couple of hours training, research etc… each day and by the end of the week, I have already forgotten but I have learned at the beginning of the week." Here is where a proper workflow and project plan are crucial. Plan to spend the first 5-10 minutes of every session reviewing what you had covered the previous day. That will not only help you to flow more smoothly into what you are starting on today, but it will also help you to remember what you did in previous days.
Or course, book learning is great, but you will never really grasp any of what you are learning unless you implement the actual tools. So your project plan cannot only reading… consider spending 60 minutes learning and 30 minutes implementing every day (or vice-versa). By actually doing what it is you are reading about you will ingest the knowledge much better than simply reading it. Start doing this on Day 1. This is hugely important not only because you will remember what you do better than you will remember what you read. If you start on Day 1 by installing Windows Server, and then on Day 2 by configuring Networking, and Day 3 by configuring Name Resolution, and Day 4 by installing Active Directory, on Day 4 you will already have a properly configured server onto which to install Active Directory, rather than either having to go back and spend 90 extra minutes or (much worse) deciding that you don't actually have to do it as long as you read about it.
If you think about it, the advice I am giving you could just as easily have applied to high school (not my proudest or most successful years). Good study habits are crucial. The only difference is that in high school it was your teachers who developed and maintained the project plan (they called it the curriculum). All you had to do was the assigned homework, but it was just as important after a long day at school for you to carve out enough time to do that homework, and you had to keep yourself motivated (Good grades). The only difference is that now you have to push yourself, and that can be difficult.
How do you motivate yourself? There are as many ways to do it as there are people who do it. You have to remind yourself that this is how you advance in your career. IT practitioners, more than almost any other career I can think of, have to continue to learn always, otherwise they will find their knowledge becomes irrelevant. It gets easier as you go – once you are at a certain level career maintenance and advancement may even be built into your job role. All I can say for now is that once you are on the path it gets easier to stay motivated… but as in so many cases those first steps – deciding what you want to do, what tools do you need to do it, and building (and then following) the actual project plan are the toughest.
From experience though I can tell you that every time you put a green checkmark next to a task, a milestone, a goal… it will feel amazing, and it will fuel your motivation to continue.
Good luck, and let us know how the studies go!
About Mitch Garvis
Mitch Garvis is a Virtual Technical Evangelist in the area of Windows Infrastructure at Microsoft. His well-known blog "The World According to Mitch" consists of the "day to day ramblings of an IT Professional, Trainer, and Community Leader" and is found at:
Send us feedback
How do you handle the constant learning involved in being an IT pro? Let us know at [email protected]
Tip of the Week
GOT TIPS you'd like to share with other readers? Email us at [email protected]
This week we have a PowerTip from our colleague Ed Wilson a.k.a. The Scripting Guy at Microsoft.
PowerTip: Use PowerShell to report on BlueScreens
Question: You have a user complaining of receiving the ‘Blue Screen of Death’ all the time. How can you use Windows PowerShell to determine actual frequency of occurances?
Answer: Use the Get-EventLog cmdlet to check the application log for a source from 'Windows Error *'. Choose the timewritten and the message properties, filter on the word 'bluescreen' and sent the contents to a table for ease of viewing. This technique appears here:
Get-EventLog -LogName application -Newest 100 -Source 'Windows Error*' |
select timewritten, message | where message -match 'bluescreen' | ft -auto -wrap
Ed Wilson is the bestselling author of eight books about Windows Scripting, including Windows PowerShell 3.0 Step by Step, and Windows PowerShell 3.0 First Steps. He writes a daily blog about Windows PowerShell call Hey, Scripting Guy! that is hosted on the Microsoft TechNet Script Center; for more PowerTips check out the Hey, Scripting Guy! blog.
Recommended for Learning
Last week's newsletter Issue 946, Cloud, outsourcing, and the IT industry suggested that the days of traditional outsourcing may be numbered as far as the IT industry is concerned. Of course, there are always other perspectives on any subject, and here's a book you might want to check out if you're considering outsourcing some IT project:
Outsource It!: A No-Holds-Barred Look at the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Offshoring Tech Projects (Pragmatic Bookshelf)
A practical guide to outsourcing tech projects written by someone who has seen their share of both failures and successes. Rated 5 stars by reviewers on Amazon:
And if you're looking for a good resource on staying one step ahead of the evolving IT landscape of threats and regulations, you might want to check this one out:
Information Security Management Handbook, 2012 CD-ROM (CRC Press)
This CD contains almost 7,000 pages of articles written by industry experts on information security and risk management:
Finally, we have the following announcement from the Microsoft Virtual Academy:
September 24: Windows Server2012 R2 Storage Jump Start: New Choices
Attend this live on-line Jump Start to discover how the new tools in the R2 release of Windows Server 2012 can help you move workloads to less costly and more robust and scalable storage solutions. Learn more about Automated Tiering, Data Deduplication, Scale-Out File Server, shared VHDX files and Hyper-V live migration over the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol (SMB Direct and SMB Multichannel). Register here:
Quote of the Week
Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there. -John Wooden
Note to subscribers: If for some reason you don’t receive your weekly issue of this newsletter, please notify us at [email protected] and we’ll try to troubleshoot things from our end.
Admin Tools We Think You Shouldn't Be Without
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Microsoft Office 365 has become an option for organizations looking to move content – particularly Exchange – to the cloud. Learn about the new capabilities in Office 365 and what pitfalls await you.
KEMP LoadMaster for Windows Azure is a full Layer 7 Load Balancer/ADC for Azure Deployments and is completely free. Request your copy today.
Project Conference, 2014 on February 2-5 in Anaheim, California
Lync Conference 2014 on February 18-20, 2014 at The Aria in Las Vegas, Nevada
SharePoint Conference 2014 on March 3-6, 2014 at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada
Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC 2014) coming in July, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
European SharePoint Conference on May 5-8, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain
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This section is organized topically by platform/product and provides you with links to tips, tools, information and other resources that can help you in your job role whether you're an IT professional or an IT decision-maker.
Understanding Licensing for Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials and the Windows Server Essentials Experience role (The Windows Server Essentials and Small Business Server Blog)
Build a lab with Windows Server 2012 (Cavarpe Technology Blog)
Microsoft Windows Server Administration Essentials (Sybex)
SharePoint, Exchange and Office
Security in Office 365 White Paper (Microsoft)
Automating Multi-Tenancy in Exchange Server 2010 SP2 (Part 1) (MSExchange.org)
Product Review: Softerra Adaxes (MSExchange.org)
PowerShell Workflow for Mere Mortals: Part 4 (Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog)
Bulk Registering Virtual Machines with PowerShell (Ben Armstrong’s Virtualization Blog)
Deciding How to Use PowerShell to Access AD DS (Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog)
Optimizing your Hyper-V environments with Veeam ONE (System Center Central)
Keeping VM Configurations in Sync with Hyper-V Replica (Ben Armstrong’s Virtualization Blog)
Managing Hyper-V Snapshots (Part 1) (VirtualizationAdmin.com)
Managing availability through vCenter Alarms (Yellow Bricks)
Guest OS Partition Alignment (VMware vSphere Blog)
How a vCloud Director Export Actually Works (Chris Colotti)
Other cloud computing
Cloud Jobs and How to Get Them (CompTIA)
How SMBs can save money with cloud computing (TechTricksWorld)
Product Review: GFI Cloud (WindowsNetworking.com)
The Future of Windows Deployment (WindowsNetworking.com)
VIDEO: Connect to Bluetooth and other wireless or network devices (Microsoft)
Working with Speech Recognition: Setup and Configuration (iHackers)
Customizing the Forefront UAG Portal (WindowsNetworking.com)
Complacency: the 8th Deadly Sin of IT Security (Part 1) (WindowSecurity.com)
Your guide to storage (Part 1) (WindowsNetworking.com)
We'd like to thank the following individuals for contributing items for this section from time to time:
- Florian Klaffenbach, a Solution Expert in Microsoft & Cloud Computing working at Dell TechCenter Germany. Be sure to check out Flo's Datacenter Report:
- Yuri Diogenes, Senior Technical Writer in the Server and Cloud Division at Microsoft. You can find Yuri's blog on TechNet:
- Heather Witz of the Microsoft Customer, Architecture & Technologies (CAT) team for Windows Server & System Center. Check out their team blog Building Clouds on TechNet:
How four providers ranked in head-to-head cloud performance benchmarks
Unlike traditional server hardware, evaluating the performance of cloud services can be a challenge. Typically, consumers have zero visibility into a cloud provider’s infrastructure. Hear from our experts as they assess the top four cloud providers based on new cloud-specific performance benchmarks.
Pros and cons of delivering desktops with Microsoft Windows To Go
Microsoft Windows To Go offers a new approach for delivering desktops to users – but is it right for your business? This insider’s guide reviews the top features and benefits of this new desktop offering while also addressing what to watch out for.
The reality of processor performance improvement with hyperthreading
Faster clocks, larger data paths and different approaches to instruction sets boost processor performance, but often one of the most over-looked enhancements is the inclusion of hyperthreading. Read on for expert advice to help you understand hyperthreading and its influence on processor performance.
Comparing differences in vSphere Data Protection versions
If the free, built-in version of vSphere Data Protection (VDP) isn’t sufficient for your virtual environment, it may be worthwhile to consider the latest paid version that stretches limitations and offers additional new features. Inside, evaluate the similarities and differences in VDP versions.
This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
GOT FUN VIDEOS or other fun links to suggest you'd like to recommend? Email us at [email protected]
Beautiful close-up high-speed footage from the film 'Wings of Life' by Louie Schwartzberg. Check out the hummingbird doing rolls while chasing a bug!
A drone's-eye view of the 'Burning Man' event held in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, in August 2013:
Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo successfully completed its fastest and highest test flight - reaching 69,000 feet and a speed of Mach 1.43 (1,088 mph)
Magician Michael Carbonaro is a magic clerk at a convenience store - with hidden cameras placed by the Jay Leno Show:
WServerNews - Editors
Mitch Tulloch is Senior Editor of WServerNews and is a widely recognized expert on Windows administration, deployment and virtualization. Mitch was lead author of the bestselling Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press and has published hundreds of articles for IT pros. Mitch is also a seven-time recipient of Microsoft's Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for his outstanding contributions in support of the global IT pro community. Mitch owns and runs an information technology content development business based in Winnipeg, Canada. For more information see www.mtit.com
Ingrid Tullochis Associate Editor of WServerNews and was co-author of the Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking from Microsoft Press. Ingrid is also Head of Research for our content development business and has co-developed university-level courses in Information Security Management for a Masters of Business Administration program.