Passing VMware's VCA-DCV Certification

This morning I decided to take a shot at a new certification offered by VMware. The VMware Certified Associate - Data Center Virtualization or VCA-DCV. Initially I was informed about this new offering through my instructor and vExpert +Brian Kirsch. I was immediately interested in attempting the exam for a few reasons. One, it wouldn't hurt to get an early introduction to VMware (I begin my IT program's VCP course next semester), and two, it can be taken for free for a limited time (with a promo code that ends September 30th). A new certification under my belt and I don't have to pay for it; I'm in! Oh yeah, and I passed the exam!

To give you an idea of my experience with virtualization, I am very new to VMware; very new! As I stated before I won't even be taking my school's VMware course until next semester. I am a full time student and have never actually worked with vSphere at an enterprise level. I have, however, been encouraged to take an early interest in my spare time via my instructors and plain old common sense. I've been putzing around with installing ESXi and vCenter via VMware Workstation. So I am at least competent in the subject of virtualization. So if you are in the same boat as me, experience-wise, and are interested in taking the exam, here's my thought and advice:

Thought Alpha
There is a 2.5 hour free training course that is offered to get you started. It's great, watch it. I watched it twice. What you really want to do is become comfortable with identifying the various vSphere products and how they apply to business challenges.

Thought Beta 
Take notes. Probably the most important thing you could do. It's easy to get AS or acronym shock  by all the vThis and vThat. Taking notes will help you reference the different tools and what they do.

Thought Gamma 
If you are a true vNoob the 2.5 hour training video WILL NOT teach you enough to pass the course. It may or may not hint at a few subjects that should be explored further. These subjects will come up in the
test. The best way to know some of the "extras" you'll need to know is consult the VCA-DCV Exam Blueprint. There are things you'll notice are on it that weren't covered in the videos. The video will give you maybe 60% of what will be asked on the exam. The other 40%, however, is not covered and if you go into the exam without checking the blueprint for what else will be on it, it will not end well for you.

Thought Delta
Pay very close attention to the wording of the questions. A lot of what this exam tries to gauge is your competency on solving challenges with vSphere in a virtualized data center environment. This will require you to think outside the box. There may be more than one answer that seems correct, but the question may have asked you about something more specific than that at first glance.

Passing score is a 300+ and you are given 75 minutes to complete the test. The real key is to do the extra studying from the blueprint. Those questions will come up and they will be a curve ball if you aren't ready for them. That was my experience on taking and passing the VCA-DCV. Good luck out there!


How to put Vine videos on your Blogger

So you've made a six second masterpiece worthy of an academy award, or maybe you've captured something truly amazing and it must be shared with all your blog readers. Here's a simple tutorial on how to embed those videos on your to your blogger posts.

I am using an Android device and currently there is no embed option on the Android app. If you are using an iOS device these steps still apply, but I believe you can get the URL straight from the iOS Vine app. *click on any images to enlarge.

Step 1
Share you Vine video with either Facebook or Twitter. Once it has posted go to the post and look for a link that will take you directly to the Vine video. What we are looking for here is the full URL.

Step 2
Copy the full URL address (https:// included) Don't close this browser tab just yet. you may need to come back and copy the URL later.

Step 3
Log into Blogger and create or go to the page that you would like to display your masterpiece in. From here click on HTML to enter Blogger's HTML editor.

Step 4
Enter or copy and paste the following into the HTML editor.

<iframe class="vine-embed" frameborder="0" height="400" src="[YOUR VINE URL HERE]/embed/simple" width="400"></iframe> <script async="" charset="utf-8" src="//platform.vine.co/static/scripts/embed.js"></script>
Making sure you replace [YOUR VINE URL HERE] with the URL you copied from step 2. Changing the height and width will increase or decrease the size of your embeded video. (example: height=600 is a fairly good size)

Step 5
Now save your changes and view your page to confirm that the Vine video has been embeded and is displayed on the page.

There you have it. Now you've taken your six seconds of fame and apotheosized it to all it's rightful glory! May your readers, friends and followers praise your Tarantino-like work for all of time.


Remove Community Post from Appearing on Your Google+ Profile

If you've been using Google+, you may have noticed that posted content in your communities shows up in your profile. It may not seem like the biggest of deals, but if you're sharing the same content throughout multiple communities, it can start to clutter up your profile with redundant posts. Also, you may just want to keep your activity within your communities separate from what shows up if those in your circles visit your profile. (hey, I'm not here to judge) Google+ does offer an easy way to remove communities posts from appearing. Here's how...

Step 1

Mouse over to the Home button. This will bring up a drop down menu.

Step 2
From the drop down menu, at the bottom, click Settings.

Step 3
From the settings page scroll all the way down to the Profile section and look for the option that says "Show your Google+ communities posts on the Posts tab of your Google+ profile." and uncheck it.

Step 4
Return to your Google+ profile and confirm that your communities posts no longer appear.

That's it! Your communities posts should no longer appear on your profile. Now only the NSA will know what your doing in there. Cheers!


Confessions of an IT Student.

So what's it actually like to be an Information Technology student? I mean, coming from delivering pizza for a living, to being submerged into the binary world of computer communication is a big step. I am now constantly studying hardware, software, and new technologies that make up our ever increasing globalization.  I have been a digital disciple for close to a year and a half now and I have been asked by a few friends if it's something they should get into. That's never an easy answer to give. Clearly, most people hear 'IT' and know its about connecting, securing, and repairing computers. Being enthusiastic about and proficient in computers is what drew me to IT as a career choice, but I must confess there are a few things no one told me about when I made the choice to go back to school. Here's a few random confessions and bits of advice I've learned along the way.

I thought I was never going to fully grasp the concept of the OSI model in my first few weeks of school. I was convinced there was no way I would be able to have someone say "Layer 3" to me, and know what that meant. Now I look back on that and laugh. Trust me though, you'll hear it so many times you'll never be able to forget it.

If you are not already ensconced in the world of computers you might be in for a rude awakening. Now, I know that may sound harsh and I'm not saying it can't be done, but already having an unhealthy love for computer science will greatly ease the amount of trepidation you are going to experience throughout your semesters. What makes for a good IT student is your comfort level when dealing with an unknown. There are things I learned when I was a kid, breaking a Compaq 386, that came back to make me feel more comfortable installing MS Server Core. Everyone has the right to learn what they want, and everyone should have a fair shot at it. Realistically though, if you didn't already own several computers in your lifetime you may find the going very tough at first.

On that note....get a smart phone. Nothing keeps you out of the loop more than not having a smart phone. It's just really another computer, and you should already own about 5 of them ..right?

I play video games. It comes with the territory really, and everyone I know who is into computers plays some form of computer game. Here's a fun fact: MMORPG's almost destroyed my life twice when I was younger. Once I identified that they were too distracting for me I quit and leveled up in real life. Find out what distracts you most and knock that crap off; your GPA will thank you.

Before you throw your entire life onto your mobile device be aware that there are instructors (almost always general education) who are still living in the Nineties, when phones were simply cell phones and not sophisticated computers capable of being digital organizers. A lot of this is to be blamed on your fellow students who abuse their devices; who text and play games in class. (Yes, I've even heard some people answering their phones during a lecture) This in turn gives some teachers an anti-tech stance in regard to your mobile devices. Some of them are so ingrained in their technophobia that they cannot be reasoned with. I've had instructors tell me to put away my Kindle even after explaining to them that my textbook is electronically located within it. You're going to run into a few Luddites in your classes. Some of them listen, some of them don't. If they don't, just politely put it away....and blog about it later.

I resent the fact that I am required to take the same amount of credits (3) in Microsoft Office as I am in something as important as our Emerging Network Technologies course (VMware). Three credits of Office, really? One can become fairly proficient at office in a few days, or already decent at it from high school. Yet there are classes like our Storage Area Network class that needs to be taken outside of the program or counted as an elective. We could better be using our time learning more Cisco, VMware, or Microsoft technologies.

I choose instructors based on their enthusiasm. I love the IT Network Specialist program at my school and it's directly influenced by the level of enthusiasm my instructors show for their respective specialties. If you aren't sure, ask around or hop on a social network and ask former students about their teacher.

Speaking of which, use social media. Nothing keeps you in the loop about your subject more than successfully utilizing social media to your advantage. We are lucky enough to have a class that helps us with this in our first semester. Not only will it help you as a student, it may just help you get a job after your school is done as well.

The moment I feel like I finally know a lot, I meet people who quickly make me realize I still don't know anything. Industry people have a way of making you realize that you've been living in a microcosm. I think this is great though, aspiring to learn more and more can never be a bad thing and I know, especially in IT, I'll never be able to say that I know it all.

I've learned so much as the semesters go by, that it makes what I knew, when I started this journey, pale in comparison. What does being an IT student mean to me? It means you are fascinated by technology and how it works. It means educating and staying current seemingly forever. So if you're asking yourself if you'd enjoy the Information Technology program, all I can do is tell you what I think of it so far and you'll have to decide for yourself. Years from now I'll have a totally new set of skills and different opinions to throw your way.


3 'Social-Worthy' Mobile Apps You Should Check Out

We all know that mobile apps are one of the fastest growing trends in mobility these days. With their ability to keep you informed, staying simplified, and being cost effective, mobile apps are on the up and up. Just one look at your respective mobile app store and you'll see just how big the market is becoming. Keeping track of the ones worth noting can be rough, so I figured I would share three of them I have been using that are absolutely worth checking out.

If you haven't discovered Feedly's mobile app, you are truly missing out! It's well organized, fairly straight forward to add and remove content, and it's presentation is top of the line. At first use, back when Google Reader (R.I.P) was still around, I was used to scrolling through the headlines of all my favorite blogs. It wasn't long before I realized just how beautifully Feedly organizes your feeds with picturesque themes. It also keeps track of some of the most recent blogs for when you have categories that build up to 300+ blogs a day. The app will show you some of the more recent entries and move on to the next category to keeps things interesting. The app also provides an easy way to share directly to Twitter or Facebook, which is really nothing new, but it does shorten the links of shared blogs to a 'feedly.com' address. With Feedly finally going cloud based, now you can easily follow feeds on your desktop, but the mobile app is definitely worth it when you are on the go.

"Feedly beautifully organizes your feeds with picturesque themes."

I recently discovered Nextdoor and I think it shows true potential. If any social media platform wishes to break into a top network, it's going to need to find it's own niche among the giants. Nextdoor, to it's user, is a small closed social network that only includes people who live in your neighborhood. When you sign up, verification is required (via telephone, cc, or through snail mail) to prove that you live at the address you say you do. From there you are placed into your respective neighborhood. When you're in you can decide if you want your neighbors to see your actual address (example 1234 White Picket Ln.) or you can hide the numbers from your street. You also have the option of being able to 'Listen' to nearby neighborhoods, to see what's happening just outside your borders. Nextdoor aims to give people who physically live together a micro-network of their own. Depending on your neighborhood and how much you trust the people around you, Nextdoor can be used to find dog-sitters, advertise a garage-sale, or invite others to a block party. One of the most notable uses for Nextdoor is the quick reporting of criminal activity in your neighborhood. With push notifications for ' Urgent alerts', Nextdoor can quickly inform you if all is not well in the neighborhood. Since I've discovered the app people have been rapidly joining my neighborhood everyday. The app doesn't score any points for aesthetics but it does serve a great purpose and I would keep an eye out for it to become more and more popular as time goes on.

"Nextdoor can quickly inform you if all is not well in the neighborhood."

Falcon Widget
Falcon is less of a mobile app and more of a widget, but a great functioning widget it is. At it's heart, Falcon puts a Twitter feed right on your mobile devices desktop with full functionality, ad free! At first glance, it saves you from opening the Twitter app. Which doesn't seem like much time saved, but actually after some time you come to appreciate having your Twitter feed right there for you, ready to go. Falcon really shines on some of its improvements to the way a user's feed behaves. For instance, it highlights a thin blue line on all of the tweets you have not read yet, easily letting you know where you left off last and which tweets you need to start with. Also, a great change that Falcon has improved upon is the ability to see URL content from links directly on the Twitter post when clicked on. Not only does the widget save you from loading up Twitter every time (useful if you are a power Twitter user) but it also saves you from needing to load up a web browser to see the links that are included in the Tweet. This is probably the number one useful feature Falcon brings to the table. The app also includes plenty of visual customization and contains every feature that the standard Twitter mobile app has. 

"A great change that Falcon has improved upon is the ability to see URL content from links directly on the Twitter post"

Got a mobile app you prefer or just can't live without? Feel free to share!


How to Survive a College Textbook Assault

At the beginning of every semester my blood pressure reaches explosive levels and it can always be credited to the shell shock that is the "Required Textbook List" for college. Here I was all summer, sipping some cool lemonade, reading a nice novel and enjoying the peace and quiet. Not a care in the world. I've set up a payment plan for my college tuition, bought a few pens (the nice ones with the rubber grip), a notebook to take some notes. All is right with the world and I've got everything under control. When suddenly klaxon sirens wail and the emergency broadcast system, beeping it's impending doom, is informing me that "No, This is not a test!" There is an army of inflated overpriced textbooks heading your way and they are coming to destroy your bank account! Aircraft carriers are poised off the Pacific coast, fighter jets are deployed, God help us all! 

Okay, so maybe it doesn't happen as dramatically as this, but to a college student who has already just forked out multiple thousands of dollars for tuition, getting hit with $600+ in required textbooks feels a lot like an assault on our already drained bank accounts. Particularly disturbing, especially if you are a new college student, is how carelessly the word 'required' is thrown around. You may show up to school with these 'required' books only to be informed in the first 5 minutes of class that there has been a general breakdown in a line of communication. Turns out that book is expendable! Why exactly institutions are so loose with informing students of books they will seriously and honestly need, I have not fully decrypted yet. I feel similar confusion as to why the assigned cost of these textbooks, at your school's bookstore, are so inflated ($180 per book is a hard pill to swallow).  It may be that because so many students are using loans to get through college that there is no great inspiration to attempt to save them any money.  This scenario is especially painful if you are paying for tuition and textbooks out of pocket where every dollar spent comes directly from the money you earn everyday. Buying required textbooks at full price is simply not possible and would cause that student to go broke. Remember though, whether you're borrowing money for school or not....you are still paying for that extortionate textbook in the end. However, there are protocols that we civilians can take in order to lessen the fallout from this financial bombardment. 

"Remember, whether you're borrowing money for school or not....you are still paying for that extortionate textbook in the end."

Rule 1. 
Never buy your textbooks early..ever. Especially in your first semester, you will have the urge to embrace this new horde of educational tomes as your new overlords. Belay that urge! Most instructors/professors are your allies and will inform you on the first day of classes whether or not certain books are required. If they didn't do a good job of convincing you, just ask them again after class. "So we need this book, but we don't need this book?" Most of them are happy to save you from financial ruin. 

Rule 2.
Amazon is your greatest weapon against the occupation. Amazon is your salvation, it will assist you in times of need, in Amazon we trust. First off, if you didn't know, Amazon runs a program in which college students get Amazon Prime for free for 6 months! What does this mean for you? Not only does Amazon sell new and used textbooks at sometimes less than half the price of your school's bookstore, but having Prime means you get them delivered to you in 2 days for free! 90% of the time you will not find your required textbook cheaper anywhere else than Amazon. Obeying Rule 1 and 2 could cost you as as little as $80 the semester as opposed to an egregious $600. Also remember that you can rent books fairly easy from Amazon as a student prime member. Renting from Amazon is a super affordable way to get a textbook. Just remember to mark your calendar so your books don't go AWOL.

Rule 3.
Denounce "Custom Textbook" propaganda. I am not exactly sure why the practice is done, but you will run into classes (especially general education ones) where the 'required' textbook is a custom edition book specifically made for your school and your school alone. Through months of extensive recon, deciphering exactly what the point of this practice is, it's still foggy to me. The conundrum here is these Custom Textbooks are usually going to be required. So let's put two and two together shall we? A Custom Textbook that only your school carries and it will be required...this breaks the laws of rule 1 and 2, which is unacceptable. Oh and by the way, these Custom Textbooks are probably going to be the most costly of the bunch. I've devised an alternative directive for just such an altercation:

Rule 3.a
Research this so called 'Custom Textbook'. It's not foolproof but many times these Custom Textbooks are simply comprised from a normal textbook. If you research what book and edition the custom one was made from, many times you can simply buy the original book for far less money. Case in point; this semester I found the original version of a 'required custom  psychology textbook' for $15 on Amazon. This same 'custom' version cost $150 at my school's bookstore. When I got the original book in the mail I compared its content with the 'custom' one and the only difference was the cover picture! Be advised though, you must do your research, and purchasing a book this way is at your own risk. There may be much more of a difference between the two, so do your research. If this research shows promise proceed back to Rule 2. If your 'custom textbook' is truly a custom book (it is a binder type book that maybe your professor put together himself)...well then diplomacy has failed, proceed to Rule 3.b.

Rule 3.b
Craigslist is your wing-man. When in doubt if you are forced to buy a custom textbook its time to rely on our ally Craigslist. Because custom books typically cannot be found on sites like Amazon (although you still can find them if you search hard enough), the next best thing is to find fellow your students who have been through the gauntlet and are willing to sell you their textbooks. It's pretty easy...just do a craigslist search in your city under books and you should see stockpiles of textbooks being sold. Remember, you're buying from craigslist here, so bring a squadmate.

"90% of the time you will not find your required textbook cheaper anywhere else than Amazon."

Following these commands can end up saving you a lot of money each semester. Heck, now maybe you'll be able to afford food rations for the next few months. The most important thing to remember is be patient and look for the cheapest price you can. Do not be fooled by buyback prices, they fluctuate every semester so make your purchase based on low cost. Never ever buy a textbook at full price if it can be avoided. There you have it. Simple rules to follow to keep you a lean, mean, educationally effective fighting machine. Follow them and you should save yourself from the agony of defeat. So when the hordes of required textbooks come our way, stand firm soldier, and stick to the contingency plan. Dismissed!