TechPublishing Now MS Certified

TechPublishing Now MS Certified
Professor Robert McMillen, MBA Microsoft Certified Trainer and Solutions Expert

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Another weekend working on servers

When I got up today I thought it was going to be the first day in a long time I didn't have to work on a server, but I was wrong. A new emergency took to helping a customer restore some services. That's ok, since it is my job, but some day I will get that day off.

I had planned on testing out my cool new wireless device for my Nikon camera that also does movies. I was able to spend some time on it though.
 After doing an unboxing video and uploading to You Tube (, I plugged the receiver into the camera and setup one of the lapel wireless microphones. This is the device:
Neewer® Dual Channel Camera Mount 2.4GHz Wireless Clip-on Lavalier Microphone System Mic with 2 Transmitters and 1 Receiver Set for 7D, 60D, 600D/Rebe
I started the microphone and then the receiver. It didn't work and it was hard finding directions even online. I eventually figured out you need to start the receiver first and then the microphone and I was able to hear the sound. I found I could travel more than 20' and still get good sound. The sound wasn't great though as it was kind of tinny.

I was able to clean it up using Camtasia's utility to take out background noise, but I look forward to spending more time with it to try to get the best sound quality. The cost was around $200 from Amazon.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Microsoft Certified Trainer

I was perusing my Microsoft certification transcript a week or so ago and wondering if I should go for anything beyond the MCSE in servers and infrastructure.

I accidentally came upon a link about the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) program being retired. I had wondered what was going to replace it. It turns out nothing will replace it. Of all the certified IT people in the world only a few hundred became MCM certified.

I can understand why Microsoft would not want to put any more effort into it. I did notice some references to an MCT. I had looked into being a certified trainer years ago but I didn't have the experience needed. Since then I have become an instructor at a couple of colleges, and along with my MCSE, I found out I could qualify.

I applied and found out that it would cost $1,000 for the first year and $800 after that. I would also have to prove that I did train people on an annual basis. The cost went up from $400 per year but I can get some cool benefits for getting the certification. It also add legitimacy to my You Tube channel

I had to have my supervisor at one of the colleges vouch for me. After promising him lunch at a fancy restaurant (kidding) he filled out the letter.

A few days later and I am now certified as a Microsoft trainer. I really look forward to seeing all  the great materials I will get to assist me in training my students.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

IBM support the same as jumbo shrimp?

I had quite the week with IBM support. We buy and sell a lot of IBM servers and SAN (storage) devices.
A year ago we bought a v3700 SAN and had a question about how long it would take to format a RAID 5 partition. We called IBM support and they said we didn't have the right support agreement for us to talk to them.
What? It was brand new.

This time when we bought one of the new 2.5" drive units we made sure we had both the hardware and software support so we could ask questions.

Last Friday I went to set up the new device. It's all web based configuration now. No more Storage Manager.
I had a book of directions and videos that came with the device built into the web browser. Very slick and it should make setting it up very easy.

The first thing I noticed was that, although I had ten drives, I could only use five at a time to configure a RAID 5 volume.

If I made a RAID 6 volume I could use all ten drives, but it makes the last drive a spare. I wanted to use RAID 5, but oh well.

Although the device comes with the ability to connect using both ISCSI and SAS, I decided I wanted to go with ISCSI so I had the flexibility of more easily adding more servers to have access to future partitions without adding SAS cards or running out of ports.

I have configured many of these devices so it wasn't unfamiliar to me to run through the setup steps using the USB method or creating an answer file and plugging it into the v3700 USB port to upload the config. This is actually a fairly nice way to set it up without needing a management cable as the older units needed when you couldn't connect to them using the manager software.

The problem was that the ISCSI ports always showed up as offline even though I could ping the server IPs and the SAN IPs in both directions.

I decided I would call IBM since we had paid $4k for the required 24/7 4 hour response package.
I soon received a call back after opening the ticket from the level 1 technician located in some foreign country. I have no problem with this if they are knowledgeable, and I can understand them clearly.
The tech went over the settings with me and we did make some changes but it didn't make any difference. He then questioned my ability to set up one of these devices.

At 5PM my time he stopped returning my calls in between checking the logs I uploaded to him. I didn't hear from him again until Tuesday morning.
By this time I was irate and he said he would escalate to level 2. By Tuesday afternoon I still had not received a call so I called them back and demanded someone onsite to come and fix this.
IBM support said they would have someone out before 5 PM. 

That time came and went, and no technician. He did contact me and said he would be out 24 hours later, and then told me he wouldn't know how to fix it even if he did come out because he just swaps out bad parts.

He did say he would call me again Wednesday AM. That call never happened.

More irate phone calls by me got a call finally from a level 2 tech who questioned my ability to even configure one of these devices and said he was East coast time and he wanted to go home rather than speak with me. He asked if we could talk the next day and we didn't have the right support package but he would do me a favor and speak with me then. Of course we did have the right package, but IBM never registered it.
Today I decided to shut myself off from the rest of the office and see if I could just fix it myself.
After about 3 hours of combing websites and Red Books from IBM I finally had the answer. The directions were wrong.

Instead of inputting the IP address into the ISCSI port box, I needed to put the ISCSI ID (iqn number) into it. This was contrary to the video, the way I have done it in the past, and the printed instructions that came with the device, but I tried it and it worked.
I finally had my ISCSI storage connecting to my servers.
IBM called again later that today to see if I was happy with their support and one of my staff told them "no", and that I had to fix it myself. They then sent me an email and asked me how I did it.

They wanted to update their bad instructions.
I told them I would have to charge them for my time since I paid them $4K for support, which I never adequately received after 7 days.

They haven't emailed me back.