Archive for September, 2011:

Google’s competition is with innovators in a garage

Apple recently surpassed Google+ as the most valuable brand in the world. How do you think the rivalry will play out in the future?
It’s an exciting time to be in the technology space. I believe that the technological revolution we’re in the midst of now will be remembered as one of the greatest in the history of mankind, if you consider both the pace of innovation and the effect it’s having on people’s lives.


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But in terms of our competitors, as I’ve always said — I’m more worried about the two guys in the garage coming up with the next Google than our big competitors today! In the meantime, we’ll stay focused on our users and fostering the kind of innovation that can change the world.

Trends in social web are something that Google has failed to capitalize on so far. Do you think that Google+ can change it?
About a month ago, we launched the Google+ field trial and we’ve been excited about the initial response and the growth it has experienced in these very early days. The idea behind the Google+ project is that relationships, identity, and sharing haven’t yet been figured out in the online context — the current offerings of the social web don’t replicate how these things work in real life. So we designed this space from scratch with the idea of creating a better way of connecting users with the various groups of people in their lives.

The other aspect of Google+ is knitting together all of our products. It’s undeniable that the people web has become a huge trend in the past few years, and we’ve seen a lot of social activity throughout Google: consider the 100m shares, likes, comments on YouTube every week; the hundreds of millions of people around the world who use Gmail; or products like Docs, Calendar, and Picasa which were built around the notions of collaboration and sharing.

Google+ is designed to have an impact across all of Google, and bring together all of our products through a common infrastructure. I think the people web is still in very early days and there will be a lot of innovation in this space.

Google has tasted great success with Android. The adoption is tremendous. But mostly the tangible benefits are for phone makers because Android is free to use. How does Google plan to monetize the success of Android?
The vision at the very heart of Android is openness and it has been an amazing driver for innovation across every aspect of the smartphone space — handsets, apps, development. But the growth and proliferation of smartphones is also strategic for Google and the value proposition is simple: mobile searches and mobile advertising grow in tandem. The more smartphones there are in the world, the higher the volume of mobile searches, and thus the more opportunity for advertising and for advertisers to reach an audience.

How does Google strike a balance between the security, privacy and rights of its users when faced with takedown notices or information requests from the government?
Our users’ trust is one of our most important assets, which is why as a company we have always taken issues of privacy and security so seriously. Of course we have to comply with the laws in the countries we operate in around the world and get a number of requests from government agencies to hand over user data for criminal investigations and so on. It’s a fine balance.

Our philosophy has been to be upfront and honest about how we handle our user data — that’s essential to maintaining trust. For example, last year we launched a Government Requests tool to give people information about the requests for user data or content removal we receive from governments.

Writing in ET you said in February that in five years between 60% to 100% of all media will be digital. If the world is moving towards this scenario how will digital rights be managed?Google has tried to expand its reach but it has faced resistance from content owners. In the case of books, it faced resistance and in the case of YouTube, many in Hollywood like to believe that Google promotes piracy.How does Google plan to strike a balance between the philosophy of “information is free” and the concerns of content owners?

The Internet has had an impact on virtually every industry. As with any disruptive technology at that scale, the older industries are forced to adapt and develop new revenue models. While is important to limit piracy, it’s even more important to create viable marketplace alternatives for content owners to thrive in within the digital space.

But to the point of digital rights management, new models and protections have emerged. One example is YouTube’s Content ID, which has created a system where everyone wins. It identifies copyrighted content within user-uploaded videos and then lets the rights holders share in the revenue of this content or have it removed.

On the other side of the coin, one thing to remember is that the Internet is an incredible enabler of economic opportunity for content creators and content owners: you have an audience of billions at your fingertips. If you look at YouTube, it has launched countless careers — running the gamut from musicians to chefs and educators — and created entirely new markets that reach a huge audience.

Since acquiring YouTube for a staggering $1.65 billion in 2006, Google has struggled to make money from YouTube. What is the current state of monetization from YouTube services?
YouTube has been on a phenomenal trajectory, in terms of both page views and revenue; it is a vibrant ecosystem for users, partners, and advertisers alike. Video views are up 50% from a year ago — there are now 3 billion views a day. We continue to bring more premium content to the platform, like the broadcast of Britain’s Royal Wedding, which generated 100 million views from around the world, or the growing selection of Bollywood films.

On the advertising side, YouTube revenue more than doubled in 2010, and we share that revenue with our over 20,000 content partners. YouTube is also a core part of our broader Display advertising strategy and brands are engaging with audiences in a number of ways within the platform. To give just one example, T-Mobile recently launched a new mobile phone on YouTube and ran ads on the homepage, Watchpage, and Mobile. In sum, they reached an audience of over 46 million unique users.

Recently an Indian movie studio decided to offer full films on YouTube. IPL is there doing highlights and all. There are several other content owners showing a lot of their stuff on YouTube… and of course there are websites like Hulu and netflix. Do you think that soon TVs will be replaced by online streaming?
There’s no doubt that the distinction between offline and online is dissolving and all of our devices (mobile phones, tablets, TVs) will go “smart” — meaning they’ll be broadband-connected. TV has been one of the last bastions of this shift. But consumers are pushing this trend forwards — as our mindshare shifts towards digital, we’re asking for more of our devices: richer apps, richer media, more choice, customization, and engagement. I have no doubt that in the very near future, all TVs will come with a broadband connection.

What are the regulatory challenges Google faces in India?
India with its strong democratic framework, free press and independent judiciary provides for a strong platform for the growth of new businesses. However as is the case with most other emerging markets, there is more that can be done to create a regulatory environment that encourages a free and open Internet that would be essential for the growing digital economy and safeguarding freedom of expression.

You talk about how Google’s monetization in India suffers due to poor infrastructure, mainly broadband services. Can you elaborate with examples?
India’s internet penetration has touched the 100 million mark and the growth has been exponential in the last 5 years. And if you look at the positive aspect, India’s Internet population beats the population of some of the countries in the world. What I had earlier said was that India has an infrastructure problem and has always had one but if you look at the current scenario, this is changing.

The Infrastructure growth in India continues to improve and going forward there will be more emphasis upon new age devices. Talking about monetization and revenues from India, it is currently not the way we like it to be. However, we believe that this market has tremendous potential and therefore we are maximizing our efforts in India.

You say that Google’s India R&D team has great expertise in maps and geo products. Isn’t ironic that still India is not covered by Google Navigation or Street View?
We have recently launched the driving operations for Street View in India. However, the Bangalore Police has stopped the cars, citing security reasons. We are in discussion with them to address their concerns and hope to resolve the matter soon.

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Microsoft begins rolling out Windows Phone 7.5

Microsoft promised just a few days back that the Windows Phone 7.5 update (otherwise known as “Mango”, because updates need funny little names now) would roll out “sometime in the next week or two” — and sure enough, said roll out has just begun.

As for who it’s rolling out to… that’s still a bit of a mystery.


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Check out this statement:

Today we’re starting the roll out of Windows Phone 7.5 to more than 98 percent of existing Windows Phone customers. This is a simultaneous, coordinated, global update that cuts across carriers, phone models, and countries. This time, almost everybody is going first.

Then, just a few sentences later:

So we’re deliberately starting out slow. This week, we’ll be making the update available to 10 percent of customers.

So, good news: Hurray! 98% of people will get the update beginning today! Everybody goes first!
But the bad news: only 10% of people actually get to install and use it.

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A twist in Google’s algorithm: ‘standout’ stories

BOSTON (AP) — Google News, which has long relied on automation to deliver news content from countless providers, has announced a twist in its algorithm: It will now recognize “featured” content among the tens of thousands of stories it delivers every day.


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Google announced Saturday that news organizations can now add “standout” metadata tags to stories they’re proudest of — like exclusives, scoops and investigative projects — and the U.S. edition of Google News will consider including a “featured” label with the story on its news homepage and in search results. There’s no guarantee a story tagged this way will be featured, but Google’s algorithm will factor the tag into its decisions, the company said.

“We can showcase that standout piece of journalism in Google News by putting a ‘featured’ label in front of it,” said Google News product specialist David Smydra, who announced the new option at the Online News Association conference in Boston. “And that featured label will help that article persist while other news organizations are following and developing their coverage on that story.”

There will be such a thing as too much self-promotion. If a news provider puts the standout tag on more than seven stories in a week, the algorithm won’t factor it in as much, or may ignore it entirely, Google says.
And the company is urging news organizations to share the love by using a different new tag — as many times as they want — to highlight strong work by other providers.

“The way we’ve designed standout is that when it’s used both ways — for calling out their own work and calling out the work of others — that builds our trust in that source,” Smydra said. The Google News algorithm takes it from there, making stories by such sources show up more prominently on the site.

At Google News, where algorithms rule, the notion of featured stories is the latest sign that the company is reimagining — though certainly not abandoning — its automated approach to distributing news. Earlier this year, the site introduced “Editors’ Picks,” a box on its U.S. homepage that features stories selected by the editors of a particular publication. What you see in the box depends on your news preferences, as detected by Google, or you can specify your preferences manually.
Over the past couple of years, Google News has also introduced features to personalize news feeds and offer recommendations based on the stories readers have clicked on before.

Google News is touting its latest new feature as focusing on high-quality journalism and “giving credit where credit is due,” as Google said in its blog. Of course, with the biggest stories, there may be some differing opinions among news organizations over who deserves Google’s “featured” recognition.

“There will probably be many publishers clamoring for that,” Smydra said. “We think that’s great.”

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70-640 Exam

You work as the network administrator at The network has a domain named All servers on the network run Windows Server 2008.
Only one Active-Directory integrated zone has been configured in the domain.
has requested that you configure DNS zone to automatically remove DNS records that are
What action should you consider?

A. You should consider running the netsh /Reset DNS command from the Command prompt.
B. You should consider enabling Scavenging in the DNS zone properties page.
C. You should consider reducing the TTL of the SOA record in the DNS zone properties page.
D. You should consider disabling updates in the DNS zone properties page.

Answer: B

Explanation: In the scenario you should enable scavenging through the zone properties because
scavenging removes the outdated DNS records from the DNS zone automatically. You should
additionally note that patience would be required when enabling scavenging as there are some
safety valves built into scavenging which takes long to pop.



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You work as the network administrator at The network has a domain named All servers on the network run Windows Server 2008.
The network has a server named ABC-SR15. You install the Active Directory
Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) on ABC-SR15.
Which of the following options can be used for the creation of new Organizational Units (OU’s) in
the application directory partition of the AD LDS?

A. You should run the net start command on ABC-SR15.
B. You should open the ADSI Edit Microsoft Management Console on ABC-SR15.
C. You should run the repadmin /dsaguid command on ABC-SR15.
D. You should open the Active Directory Users and Computers Console on ABC-SR15.

Answer: B

Explanation: You need to use the ADSI Edit snap-in to create new OUs in the AD LDS
application directory partition. You also need to add the snap-in in the Microsoft Management
Console (MMC).

You work as the network administrator at The network has a domain named All servers on the network run Windows Server 2008.
The network has two domain controllers ABC-DC01 and ABC-DC02. ABC-DC01 suffers
a catastrophic failure but it is causing problems because it was configured to have Schema Master
Operations role. You log on to the domain as a domain administrator but your attempts
to transfer the Schema Master Operations role to ABC-DC02 are unsuccessful.
What action should you take to transfer the Schema Master Operations role to ABC-DC02?

A. Your best option would be to have the dcpromo /adv command executed on ABC-DC02.
B. Your best option would be to have the Schema Master role seized to ABC-DC02.
C. Your best option would be to have Schmmgmt.dll registered on ABC-DC02.
D. Your best option would be to add your user account to the Schema Administrators group.

Answer: B

Explanation: To ensure that ABC-DC02 holds the Schema Master role you need to seize the
Schema Master role on ABC-DC02. Seizing the schema master role is a drastic step that should
be considered only if the current operations master will never be available again. So to transfer the
schema master operations role, you have to seize it on ABC-DC02.

You work as the network administrator at The network has a single forest.
The forest functional level is set at Windows Server 2008.
The network has a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 database server named ABC-DB04 that
hosts the Active Directory Rights Management Service (AD RMS).
You try to access the Active Directory Rights Management Services administration website but
received an error message stating:
“SQL Server does not exist or access is denied.”
How can you access the AD RMS administration website?

A. You need to restart the Internet Information Server (IIS) service and the MSSQLSVC service on
B. You need to install the Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services (AD LDS) on ABC-DB04.
C. You need to reinstall the AD RMS instance on ABC-DB04.
D. You need to reinstall the SQL Server 2005 instance on ABC-DB04.
E. You need to run the DCPRO command on ABC-SR04

Answer: A

Explanation: You need to restart the internet information server (IIS) to correct the problem. The
starting of the MSSQULSVC service will allow you to access the database from AD RMS
administration website.

You work as an enterprise administrator at The network has a domain named The network has a Windows Server 2008 computer named ABC-SR03 that
functions as an Enterprise Root certificate authority (CA).
A new security policy requires that revoked certificate information should be available for
examination at all times.
What action should you take adhere to the new policy?

A. This can be accomplished by having a list of trusted certificate authorities published to the domain.
B. This can be accomplished by having the Online Certificate Status Protocol (OCSP) responder
C. This can be accomplished by having the OCSP Response Signing certificate imported.
D. This can be accomplished by having the Startup Type of the Certificate Propagation service set
to Automatic.
E. This can be accomplished by having the computer account of ABC-SR03 added to the
PGCertificates group.

Answer: B

Explanation: You should use the network load balancing and publish an OCSP responder. This
will ensure that the revoked certificate information will be available at all times. You do not need to
download the entire CRL to check for revocation of a certificate; the OCSP is an online responder
that can receive a request to check for revocation of a certificate. This will also speed up certificate
revocation checking as well as reducing network bandwidth tremendously.

You work as the network administrator at The network has a domain named All servers on the network run Windows Server 2008.
You are responsible for managing two servers ABC-SR01 and ABC-SR02. They are setup with
the following configuration.
ABC-SR01 running Enterprise Root certificate authority (CA)
ABC-SR02 running Online Responder role service
Which of the steps must you perform for configuring the Online Responder to be supported on

A. You should enable the Dual Certificate List extension on ABC-SR01.
B. You should ensure that ABC-SR01 is a member of the CertPublishers group.
C. You should import the OCSP Response Signing certificate to ABC-SR01.
D. You should enable the Authority Information Access (AIA) extension on ABC-SR01.
E. You should run the CERTSRV command on ABC-SR01.

Answer: D

Explanation: In order to configure the online responder role service on ABC-SR01 you need to
configure the AIA extension. The authority information access extension will indicate how to
access CA information and services for the issuer of the certificate in which the extension appears.
Information and services may include on-line validation services and CA policy data. This
extension may be included in subject or CA certificates, and it MUST be non-critical

You work as the network administrator at The network has a domain named All servers on the network run Windows Server 2008 and all client computers
run Windows Vista.
The network has a client computer named ABC-WS640 that was last used six months
ago. During the course of the day you attempt to log on to ABC-WS640 but you are unable to
authenticate during the logon process.
What action should you consider in order to log on to ABC-WS640?

A. You should consider opening the command prompt on ABC-WS640 and running the netsh set
machine command.
B. You should consider opening the command prompt on ABC-WS640 and running the repadmin
C. You should consider removing ABC-WS640 from the domain and then rejoining it.
D. You should consider deleting the computer account for ABC-WS640 in Active Directory Users
and Computers, and then recreate the computer account.

Answer: C

Explanation: In the scenario you should have the computer disjoined from the domain and
rejoined to the domain whilst having the computer account reset as well. You should additionally
note that the long inactivity caused the computer to stop responding to the authentication query
using the Active Directory records. You should note by disjoining and rejoining with the account
being reset would refresh the computer account passwords.

You work as an enterprise administrator at The network has a forest with a
domain named
The network has a Windows Server 2008 domain controller named ABC-DC01 that
hosts the Directory Services Recovery Mode (DSRM) role.
What would be the best option to take to have the DSRM password reset?

A. The best option is to open the Active Directory Security for Computers snap-in.
B. The best option is to run the ntdsutil command.
C. The best option is to run the Netsh command.
D. The best option is to open the Domain Controller security snap-in.

Answer: B

Explanation: You should use the ntdsutil utility to reset the DSRM password. You can use
Ntdsutil.exe to reset this password for the server on which you are working, or for another domain
controller in the domain. Type ntdsutil and at the ntdsutil command prompt, type set dsrm

You work as an enterprise administrator at The network has a domain named All servers on the network run Windows Server 2008. has two
offices Chicago and Dallas.
The network has the following setup.
Chicago Office – Domain Controller named ABC-DC01
Dallas Office – Read-Only Domain Controller named ABC-DC02
How can you make sure that Dallas Office users use only ABC-DC02 for authentication?

A. You should consider having ABC-DC02 configured as a bridehead server in the Dallas office.
B. You should consider installing and configuring the Password Replication Policy on ABC-DC02.
C. You should consider having ABC-DC01 configured as a bridehead server in the Chicago office.
D. You should consider installing and configuring the Password Replication Policy on ABC-DC01.
E. You should consider having the Global Catalog installed on ABC-DC01.

Answer: B

Explanation: You should use the Password Replication Policy on the RODC. This will allow the
users at the Dallas office to log on to the domain with RODC. RODCs don’t cache any user or
machine passwords.

You work as the network administrator at The network has a domain named All servers on the network run Windows Server 2008. The domain
controllers on the domain are configured to function as DNS servers.
What action should you take to ensure that computers that are not part of the
domain are not able to dynamically register their DNS registration information in the zone?

A. You should consider removing the .(root) zone from the zone.
B. You should consider running the dnscmd /AgeAllRecords command.
C. You should consider configuring Secure Only dynamic updates.
D. You should consider configuring the zone as an Active Directory integrated zone.

Answer: C

Explanation: In order to ensure that only domain members are able to register their DNS records
dynamically you need to set the option Secure only for Dynamic updates. This will only allow the
domain members to register their DNS records dynamically.

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Microsoft ends support for Windows Vista SP1

Another one bites the dust

Microsoft has ended official support of Windows Vista Service Pack 1, with the software giant steadily ramping up the pressure on consumers and businesses to move to its Windows 7 OS 70-640 Training .


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With the call to leave XP still ringing in our ears, Microsoft has now reminded us that its support for Vista SP1 is now at an end.

In a blog post by Brandon Le Blanc, customers are urged to move on to Windows 7 or, at least, upgrade to Vista SP2.

End of days

“I wanted to remind folks that as of today, 12 July, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 is no longer supported,” wrote Le Blanc.

“We recommend folks look at upgrading to Windows 7 which is the fastest-selling operating system in history selling over 400 million licenses to date.

“Windows Vista users can also use Windows Update to update their PC to the latest service pack available which is Service Pack 2 (SP2) Microsoft Free MCTS Training and MCTS Online Training.”

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Microsoft closing in on Baidu Bing collaboration

Search tie-up in the Chinese pipeline
Microsoft is on the verge of signing a deal with Chinese search giant Baidu – which could give the US software giant’s Bing brand a major push in global search 70-640 Training ..


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Baidu is the dominant search engine in China, well ahead of Microsoft’s rival Google, and the US giant is keen to forge key links in one of the key growth regions in the world.

The terms of any deal remain under wraps, but the suggestion is that Baidu will take over the paid advertising on Ning’s Chinese site, while Bing results will be used for Baidu’s English language site.

Past agreement

It is not the first time these two companies have teamed up, with a strategic agreement in the past over paid search listings.

Google’s dominance of search has been a thorn in Microsoft’s side for a long time, and the huge investment in Bing has shown that the Redmond-based giant is prepared to splash the cash in order to compete.

In the US, Bing has had an impact on Google’s market, although that success story has not been replicated on a global scale.

The Chinese market makes a lot of sense for Microsoft, where Google’s relationship has been soured by its near-withdrawal over an attack on Gmail that left the search giant openly critical of the Chinese authorities.

Through that entire sequence of events Microsoft refused to get involved, maintaining a good relationship with the country Microsoft Free MCTS Training and MCTS Online Training.

There remains a good deal of controversy over the way in which the government in China expects search results to conform to its policies on restricting certain information.

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Microsoft Office Web Apps review

Microsoft Office Web Apps lacks many of its offline counterpart’s most useful features

For Microsoft, offering a free version of Office to anyone with a Live ID account is more than a bit of a gamble, so it’s not too surprising that the Office Web Apps built into Skydrive aren’t exactly direct competitors to their offline counterparts.


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Excel WebApp, for instance, lets you put together basic spreadsheets and graphs just like the regular version, but a quick glance at the toolbar compared to the full applications’ Ribbon makes it clear just how little you can do in comparison, and how few time-saving features are on offer to help you do it.

For simple spreadsheets though, it’s fine, which is more than can be said for the online version of Word. This gives you a genuinely horrible editor to work with, forcing you to type into a full-width text box.

You can switch to a more traditional view for reading files and see how your document will look when printed out, but only via a read-only preview called ‘Reading Mode’. This is truly dire.

Proper margins and maximum line lengths make writing far more comfortable, to say nothing of giving you a much better idea of how much you’ve written and how many pages you’re using.

The online version of Word looks especially bad when you fire up OneNote WebApp – Office Web Apps’ diamond in the rough. Here, the simplicity works in its favour, making it easy to create an online notebook and fill it with text, images and more, from a very comfortable editing window that Word should be using.

We like OneNote a lot, and this version – while cut down – is good enough to save most people the cost of the full product.

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Microsoft releases ‘complete’ Mango SDK

New app creation tools offered up to developers

Microsoft has made its third big Windows Phone Mango announcement of the last 24 hours by releasing a “more complete” build of the operating system to assist app developers 70-640 Training .


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Earlier on Wednesday we learned that the Fujitsu Toshiba IS12T will be the first handset to boast Mango, featuring a 13.2mp camera, 32GB internal storage and an 800x480p, 3.7-inch display.

Yesterday Microsoft revealed it had finished work on the long-awaited OS upgrade and had handed the completed build over to manufacturers.

Now app developers will have access to an all new version of the SDK in order to create new and exciting applications for the Mango platform before its launch this autumn.

More complete build

Senior Product Manager for Windows Phone Cliff Simpkins said on the company blog: “We’ve received positive feedback on the Mango tools and bits we’ve shared, but appreciate that many devs are still interested in working with a more complete build.

“Today’s refresh of the tools represent a month of great progress by the engineering team, further refining and improving the Mango developer experience.

“What we are providing is a genuine release candidate build, with enough code checked in and APIs locked down that this OS is close enough to RTM that, as a developer, it’s more than capable to see you through the upcoming RC drop of the tools and app submission Microsoft Free MCTS Training and MCTS Online Training.”

Although much of the smoke has cleared, and the Mango picture is now much more illuminated than it was just yesterday, we still don’t know when the first handset will arrive in the UK.

Come on Microsoft, throw us a freakin’ bone here.

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How to Get Mysql Certification?

Just about every job and occupation requires some sort of education and training. This is becuase you will need thte knowlege and hands on training to do the job and adequately. Whether an individual wants to become a physician, attorney, engineer, accountant or computer programmer, they will need to complete an education and training regimen in order to get into the occupation and begin a career in the field 70-640 Training .

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When it comes to the computer and information technology field, there are quite a few certifications that make job applicants more marketable in this field. One of the certifications that helps people get an edge in the technology field is MYSQL certification.

MYSQL is a form of database managment software program that is very vital to most organizations. The MYSQL databases are very and highly specialized so getting certification is of untmost importance. The certification grants people in certain categories such as associate, developer and DBA.
In order to get certified you need to first determine what level you want to be in. This is either associate or developer. The associate level requires passage of only one exam and the developer and DBA require passage of two exams. In the next step to becoming certified it is very helpful to take a practice test in order to determine what parts you need to study more and master.

This is great for an initial assesment and to see what the test willl be like. In the third step, you need to register for the exam through Person Vue which is an exam administrator. The administrator collects fees and provides test material. It is best to select a time and place that is most convenient for you.

When preparing for the exam, it is beneficial to ask your employer if they will reimburse you for the testing fees and costs. If they do then make sure you qualify for reimbursement. While preparing for the exam form a study group to get additional feedback and have others help you understand the material. When taking the exam make sure you answer all of the questions because an incomplete question will be marked wrong. Also review your answers too Microsoft Free MCTS Training and MCTS Online Training.

The process of getting MYSQL certified can be a challenging process but with the proper steps you can be on your way to gaining more skills and therefore make yourself more marketable to employers to advance your career.

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Whoops! Microsoft leaks patch info four days early

Publishes five security bulletins that were meant to appear Sept. 13

Computerworld – Microsoft jumped the gun today by prematurely releasing information on all five of the security updates it plans to ship next Tuesday.

The gaffe is unprecedented, said Andrew Storms, director of security operations at nCircle Security. “I don’t remember this ever happening,” said Storms.


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Microsoft normally publishes the lengthy write-ups — called “bulletins” by the company — only when it ships the actual patches that fix the described problems. Under normal circumstances, the bulletins would have appeared around 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern, on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Although the bulletins went live Friday, the updates did not: A quick search of Microsoft’s download center, where the updates are typically posted for manual download, did not show any available patches. Nor did the updates apparently reach users through Windows Update or the business-oriented Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

Yesterday, Microsoft rolled out its usual advance notification for next week’s Patch Tuesday, saying that it would issue five updates to patch 15 vulnerabilities in Windows, Excel, SharePoint and other products in its portfolio.

The bulletins confirmed what Microsoft said Thursday: The updates will quash 15 bugs, all rated “important,” the second-highest threat ranking in the company’s four-step scoring system.

Two of the vulnerabilities are in Windows; five in Excel, the spreadsheet included with Office; two in non-application Office components; and six in SharePoint and associated software, such as Groove and Office Web Apps.

Of the 15, at least two are “DLL load hijacking” vulnerabilities, a term that describes a class of bugs first revealed in August 2010. Microsoft has been patching its software to fix the problem — which can be exploited by tricking an application into loading a malicious file with the same name as a required dynamic link library, or DLL — since last November.

The bulletins appeared complete, although there were errors that presumably would have been caught during a final edit: In MS11-074, for example, the bulletin’s summary claimed that only five vulnerabilities were patched. Deeper into the bulletin, however, six vulnerabilities were listed.

Storms didn’t think the early leak is much to get nervous about.

“From what Microsoft had given us yesterday, none of these [bulletins] were terribly exciting or worrisome. So I see this as an embarrassment of procedure rather than a giant disclosure,” Storms said.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to questions about how the bulletins appeared four days early, or what it planned to do about the mistake.

Storms thought Microsoft might simply push out the patches early.

“They might just release the updates, maybe Monday, after deciding to go early to cover the bases,” said Storms. “They may do that if they see a huge risk to users in waiting [for Tuesday].”

There is information useful to hackers in the bulletins, but things would be quite different if the updates themselves had leaked, or if the bugs to be patched posed more of a threat.

“It would be a big difference if people had the updates because then [attackers] could compare the old and new binaries,” said Storms, referring to a tactic hackers use to try to figure out where the bug is in Microsoft’s code.

“And it would be different if there was something that was remote code executable that didn’t need authentication, like an Exchange or TCP [vulnerability],” said Storms. “Then you’d get people hammering on it a few days early.”

Storms even saw a silver lining in Microsoft’s blooper. “For smaller organizations like ours, it’s actually a good thing,” Storms said. “I would love a few extra days to prepare for the updates.”

Partly tongue in cheek, Storms suggested Microsoft might turn the mistake into a new procedure, releasing the detailed bulletins rather than giving customers the information-light advance notification on the Thursday before Patch Tuesday.

The bulletins were available on Microsoft’s website for approximately an hour; before noon ET, however, they had been removed.

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Microsoft to users — the Windows 8 ribbon is here to stay

Ever since Microsoft revealed that the ribbon interface is coming to Windows 8, Microsoft has faced plenty of criticism and complaints. But Windows chief Steven Sinofsky says that employing the ribbon in Windows 8 makes a lot of sense, and it’s here to stay.

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Last week Microsoft showed off a ribbonized version of the Windows Explorer file manager for Windows 8. Alex Simons, director of program management for Microsoft, wrote in his blog that use of the ribbon will “allow us to create an optimized file manager where commands would have reliable, logical locations in a streamlined experience.”

That was followed by a blog from Windows and Windows Live President Steven Sinofsky providing more details about the Windows 8 interface, including how the ribbon and the tile-like Metro interface will co-exist.

Sinofsky got plenty of feedback about the ribbon on his blog, most of it negative. And now Sinofsky has replied to that feedback in another blog post, and he makes clear that while he understand why some people might not be happy about the ribbon, it’s here to stay. He writes:

“We have taken into account many of the criticisms we were certain would surface [about the ribbon]. We chose the ribbon mechanism, and to those that find that a flawed choice, there isn’t much we can do other than disagree. We were certain, and this proved out, that the dislike of the ribbon is most intense in the audience of this blog. Said dislike, we assumed, would produce a high level of commentary, much the way some topics during Windows 7 blogging did. That assumption was correct.”

First of all, kudos to Sinofsky for addressing criticisms directly, and not being mealy-mouthed about it. It’s refreshing to see a technology executive be so direct and clear, and to engage directly with his critics. His response to the criticism is a ideal use of a corporate blog.

Sinofsky is absolutely on target when he says that criticism of the ribbon is more intense on the blog than elsewhere. As a veteran tech blogger, I can vouch that no matter what you write, negative comments will almost always outweigh positive ones, and that comments on a blog do not necessarily reflect the views of most people, or even most of the readers of the blog.

Beyond that, he’s flat-out right about the ribbon. The ribbon in Office, for example, makes for a productive experience, putting many commands and features within easy reach while using very little real estate. Applying it to Windows Explorer and other Windows 8 apps makes sense and will make it a better operating system.

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Can simulations fill the gap in 21st century ed?

While plenty of schools offer solid computer science training and certification programs, this can be resource intensive and costly in terms of both the necessary hardware instructional expertise required…can simulation software fill the gap?

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Whether students live in rural areas, are home-schooled, are exceeding what their schools can offer for coursework, or their schools simply lack technical education resources, a majority of young people struggle to find relevant courses in technology education. While plenty of schools offer solid computer science training and certification programs, this can be resource intensive and costly in terms of both the necessary hardware instructional expertise required.

One rural high school in Walla Walla, Washington (yes, it’s really called Walla Walla, Washington; I’ve been there and it may have a funny name, but there’s nothing like a Walla Walla sweet onion), turned to simulation software to fill the gap in the courses they were able to offer and the skills they were able to impart. Using LabSim software (available both online and locally installed), the school was immediately able to begin running certification programs in A+, Network+, Security+, CCNA and MCSA.

In a town where graduation rates are low, college placement is lower, and unemployment is relatively high, relevant, rigorous vocational programs are a must. Distance learning and “virtual high school” programs, dual enrollment with local community colleges, apprenticeships, and internships can all supplement limited resources. However, LabSim does provide an interesting alternative that can address needs both at the high school, trade school, and community college/post-secondary level.

According to their website,

Learning is doing, and the only way to master a skill is through practical application. The online labs in LabSim give your students the tools they need to truly master essential skills. And learning correctly means allowing them to make mistakes; which is why we developed online labs that allow students to experience a virtual environment where they can explore all the functionality of the application they’re learning.

Course materials include instructional videos, tests and evaluations, as well as simulations ranging from virtual computer repair to sandboxed Linux OS simulations for teaching systems administration skills. As the instructors in Walla Walla found, a hybrid approach of in-class teaching and LabSim work allowed them to reduce their hardware and system needs substantially since much more of the work was simulated.

While the technology and simulations are fairly impressive (and would be a great choice for schools and students who might not otherwise have ready access to full labs or experienced instructors with IT certification backgrounds), they don’t come cheap. You can download a free trial of the Windows-only software here (most courses are now available online, as well). However, courses run on the order of $500 for a single-user license. A single user is literally a single user: once a student has completed the course, the software can’t be used for another student.

The company does offer multi-user licensing for schools including 3-year licensing deals that allow re-use of the software. They will assemble custom quotes, but even with expected savings of up to 50% with multi-user options, costs can still add up quickly.

Update as of 6:45, October 16th: The PR folks who originally contacted me about LabSim clarified pricing structures. Higher education students are eligible for up to 80% discounts over the list price on single user courseware. Thus, students in post-secondary education can access these courses for around $50 a piece, increasing the value proposition significantly. In high schools, LabSim offers site licensing that allows full classes to use the courseware. For the cost of that option, schools will need to contact the company directly. The 50% savings noted above, by the way, is the savings that organizations can realize by offering training for multiple staff members; these costs are outside of their educational pricing.

Schools will need to evaluate whether simulations can meet their needs at lower costs than certified staff and full lab implementations. I’m inclined to believe that’s the case. I’m also inclined to believe that simulations like these are useful as one-offs for students who want to explore coursework that their schools can’t support due to limited funding or interest. In the case of vocational technical schools, though, where well-qualified staff are easier to find and funding for true hands-on, experiential learning is a priority, LabSims will be a harder sell.

Based on the updated pricing above, have my thoughts on LabSims changed? A little bit. As I noted (even at the higher prices), the cost of these programs drastically undercuts staff with significant technical expertise. I also still believe that LabSims can bridge important gaps in public education and even some post-secondary settings where human and physical resources are lacking. However, in vocational-technical settings, these should probably be limited to supplemental materials used in conjunction with hands-on, lab-based learning. When they are supplements, then school IT decision-makers still need to carefully weigh their value, regardless of cost, just as they would any classroom materials they supply to students and teachers.

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Google+ Tips: 4 Tools to Boost Your Social Networking Experience

Getting the hang of Google+ and looking for more? Check out these four Google+ tools that let you easily upload photos in bulk, find new people to follow, translate posts and more.

CIO — While rumors continue to swirl about when the Google+ API will be released to developers, that’s not stopping some people from getting in on the Google+ action.


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Whether you’re just starting out on Google+ or consider yourself an advanced user, more and more Google+ enhancements and add-ons are popping up across the Web.

Here’s a look at four new ones that do everything from streamlining bulk photo-uploading to helping you increase your network reach.

1. Google+ Photo Importer for iPhone
If you store your photos on multiple sites such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram or Photobucket, there’s a new download available in the Apple App Store that lets you upload 100 photos in less than a minute to your Google+ account. This tool is especially handy if you plan on shifting your social networking focus to Google+.

The Google Plus Photo Importer by Dropico costs 99 cents, and while uploads I tested generally took longer than the advertised 60 seconds, it was still impressively fast.

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2. Find People on Google+
Looking for more connections on Google+? While its own search feature only lets you find people by name, you can dig a bit deeper to find groups of people with certain characteristics at FindPeopleOnPlus.

Here, you can not only search for people by name, but you can also search by profession, location, relationship status, gender, education, employer, occupation and more, which makes growing your network and tailoring it to your needs a lot easier.

You can also choose to add yourself to its directory. This will keep your FindPeopleOnPlus profile updated and in-synch with your Google+ profile.

3. PlusClout
Akin to, a site that measures your social media influence, PlusClout measures the influence a user has on Google+ and rates it from 0 to 100.

When you visit the site, PlusClout will ask you to insert your Google+ ID in order to generate your score. Your ID is the string of numbers that appear in the URL of your profile page.

PlusClout says that while its formula is still evolving, right now it calculates your number based on 15 million public Google+ profiles and items shared, such as posts, comments, +1s, the number of followers you have and the frequency and volume of information sharing.

You can also browse people with the highest PlusClout in categories such as bloggers, designers, entrepreneurs and the most-followed users on Google+. Click on any of these names and you will see their current PlusClout score, a graph of their score over the last five days, and websites associated with that person.
4. Google Translate for Google+

If you want to connect with people from around the world but find that language is a barrier, this is a must-download Google Chrome extension.

Google Translate for Google+ is a powerful tool that inserts a button into your Google+ streams, letting you quickly interpret a chunk of foreign text.

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Cloud Computing: What You Need to Know About PaaS

Cloud computing discussions invariably begin with the “IPS” taxonomy: Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service. This taxonomy has the virtue of being comprehensible and neatly partitioning assessment requirements:

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 The Challenges PaaS Presents

Why would one call PaaS a significant challenge for users? Simply because the undoubted power and productivity of these platforms brings a new set of issues to enterprises that they may not realize until well after they’ve deployed a number of applications.

Here are some of the things IT leaders should think about as they begin to evaluate their PaaS options:

1. Lock-in. Using a PaaS framework entwines your functionality with the CSP framework far more than installing your application into a provider’s virtual machine. Attempting to extract an application when it is internally dependent upon services the provider presents requires deep inspection of code–not just installing a tarball into a different provider. The productivity you gain by leveraging the PaaS provider’s offerings is matched by the dependence you suffer by being locked into the specifics of the offering. I’m less disposed than many to see lock-in as purely negative, as in my experience organizations embrace lock-in because it provides significant benefits. But it’s important to go into this with one’s eye open because it definitely represents a higher level of lock-in.

2. Complexity. Every PaaS provider puts its set of functionality together differently, with its framework constructed according to its view of how applications should be designed. Trying to determine how best to write and run your application in a PaaS environment is not trivial. For sure, it’s a big step away from traditional on-premise environments.

3. CSP (cloud services provider) differentiation. As noted above, a number of PaaS frameworks claim to provide a layer of abstraction that hides the details of the cloud provider from the application developer. Setting aside the likelihood of this application abstraction really working, it overlooks the meta-application functionality that can lock one in as surely as anything. Much of this functionality will be provided by the CSP–think monitoring and payment systems, for example–and will focus on operations, not application writing. CSPs will use this level of functionality to differentiate themselves, with the net effect of locking you in at the operations level rather than the code level. Don’t think this won’t happen. The first thought a cloud provider has is, “How do I differentiate myself from other CSPs?” because they all fear becoming the computing equivalent of a “dumb pipe.”

4. New skills. Your application developers will need to learn a new framework and how to develop applications for it. While many early cloud adopters are blessed with highly skilled development personnel that build new skills quickly, in the rest of the industry, getting organizations up to speed with something new is a human capital challenge.

5. Mapping existing practices to new frameworks. Most organizations have defined frameworks, methodologies and operational practices. These will have to be evaluated in light of a new framework and modified accordingly. In effect, this issue already exists with IaaS cloud offerings; it will just be exacerbated as the richness of the new framework presents more touch points for mapping.

This list may seem like a jeremiad full of reasons to refuse to embrace cloud computing. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that significant issues present themselves with every new platform, whether it be minicomputer, personal computer, cloud computer or mobile computer. It’s crucial to recognize what challenges accompany the benefits associated with every new platform and prepare to meet them. It’s also important to keep in mind the stresses–and solutions–that have occurred in the past. To quote the writer George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Bernard Golden is CEO of consulting firm HyperStratus, which specializes in virtualization, cloud computing and related issues. He is also the author of “Virtualization for Dummies,” the best-selling book on virtualization to date.

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Microsoft’s 5 biggest weaknesses

Search, mobile devices, the Web and even the desktop represent challenges for Redmond

For all its success as the world’s biggest maker of PC operating systems and office programs, Microsoft’s position as the dominant provider of software to consumers is at risk.

While Windows still powers the vast majority of desktops and laptops, the emergence of mobile devices and increasing reliance on the Internet have shown consumers and businesses alike that much of what we call personal computing can be done without touching a single Microsoft product.

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COMPETITION: Microsoft’s top 12 rivals

Microsoft is still a giant, with $70 billion in annual revenue and an amazing 11 products that earn at least $1 billion a year. But it faces challenges in search, Web browsing, mobile devices, Web server software, and even the desktop operating system market.

In this article, we will examine what we think are Microsoft’s five biggest weaknesses, a list we came up with in conjunction with the analyst firm Directions on Microsoft. We provided the list and supporting facts to Microsoft’s public relations firm on Aug. 15. Microsoft declined to make executives available for interviews, but provided responses to some of our questions via email. We’ll include Microsoft responses at the end of each section.
1. Search

Let’s start with the easy one. If you use the word “Google” as a verb, you know how far Microsoft’s own Bing search engine has to travel before it can be called a success. Microsoft’s earnings reports break the business down into five product divisions, and the Online Services Division powered by Bing and MSN is the only one that consistently loses money, including $2.6 billion lost over the past 12 months.

Bing, which also powers Yahoo and offers a fancy iPad app, often gets high marks in studies that rate the effectiveness of search engines, yet Google captures about two-thirds of U.S. market share and more than 80% of the global market.

Microsoft rarely masks its hatred of all things Google, which makes most of its money on search advertising while investing in other products that eat into Microsoft market share, like Chrome and Android.

But with Bing, “They’re so far behind, it’s a long slog,” says Wes Miller, a former Microsoft Windows program manager who is now research vice president at Directions on Microsoft. “People innately think of Google for search. How do you replace Kleenex? They’re going to have to keep burning money for the foreseeable future until they can come up with something that out-Googles Google.”

Microsoft cares about search because of advertising revenue, and also because Google has become synonymous with the Internet in almost the same way Microsoft became synonymous with personal computers.

Microsoft’s response: “This is a long-term game for Bing,” Microsoft said via email. “Bing continues to be focused on creating a great consumer experience, solid execution and steady market share growth. The most recent comScore market share report shows that Bing is continuing to make gains in the U.S., reaching 14.4 percent explicit core search share in June. Overall, Bing increased market share by more than 50 percent since launch.”

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