Archive for July, 2014:

Say goodbye to desktop phones

Insurer leverages VoIP client software, 11ac Wi-Fi for “complete mobility”

“When are we going to get rid of these things?” said Ken Henderson’s boss as he pointed at the corded desktop telephone that has been emblematic of the American office for decades.

“I’m glad you asked that,” replied Henderson, the assistant vice president for technical infrastructure at American Fidelity Assurance in Oklahoma City. He outlined to his boss, AFA President David Carpenter, a plan that had been gestating for a while. The recent purchase of a new headquarters building was the spark to put it into action.

The insurer’s IT group is shifting hundreds of employees to voice-over-IP “softphones” on Windows 7 laptops and Apple iPad tablets, all clients to Microsoft Lync Server, for IM and video conferencing and now for VoIP calls, over an 802.11ac wireless LAN from Aruba Networks.

+ From Network World’s Archives (2007): “Wireless VoIP works, but it’s work” +

For years, WLAN vendors predicted that 802.11n Wi-Fi was the perfect foundation to support wireless VoIP. But most deployments were relatively small, at most a few hundred wireless VoIP handsets, in part because the combination of Wi-Fi and VoIP in the enterprise required a lot of work. [see our 2007 article, “Wireless VoIP works, but it’s work”]

The new Aruba 11ac network at AFA is a pervasive, high-performance, redundant WLAN, replacing what had been mainly a network-of-convenience for employees in the original headquarters building. Going with 11ac shifts all clients to the uncluttered 5 GHz band (AFA isn’t allowing 2.4 GHz use, even for Bluetooth), optimizes capacity, and “future proofs” the wireless network for an expected surge in the number of clients and in multi-media, real-time collaboration.
voip user American Fidelity Assurance

Laptop and iPad users at American Fidelity Assurance now make VoIP and video calls via Microsoft Lync and an Aruba 802.11ac WLAN at the new corporate headquarters. Here, Lee Ann DeArm takes a video call on her docked Windows laptop.

Nearly all of AFA’s Wi-Fi clients currently are still 11n, but even these will see a performance gain on the 5 GHz band.
Toward complete mobility

Founded in 1960, privately-held AFA offers a range of supplemental insurance products covering disability, death, and other areas, as well as a range of services to company health plans. In 2012, the fast-growing company bought an existing building to become its new headquarters. Much of the interior was gutted partly for renovations and partly for a new network infrastructure.

“We wanted complete mobility, to support a collaborative environment within the new complex,” says Henderson. “That meant we had to go wireless, and that meant getting rid of the desktop phone, because the cabled phone doesn’t let you move around and collaborate with others as needed.”

“Going wireless” at AFA entails distinct technologies that are intended to realize this idea of “complete mobility.”

One is a distributed antenna system (DAS), designed and deployed by RF Connect, a network services company in Farmington Hill, Mich. DAS is essentially a system of cabling and internal antennas for distributing carrier cellular signals inside a building, improving transmission and reception. The DAS deployment is about 80% complete at this writing.

Second is the 11ac WLAN, with a design to support its new role as a mission critical network. “We built out the WLAN as if it were cable,” says Henderson. “We emphasized redundancy, performance and operational measurements, and a big investment in the [RF] site survey.” (AFA worked with an Aruba systems integration partner, Sigma Solutions, headquartered in San Antonio, with two offices in Oklahoma.)

This type of network adds access points liberally. “We added access points so we’d have overlapping coverage,” says Henderson. Each Aruba AP 225 access point – dual-radio, three spatial streams, maximum data rate of 1.3Gbps – has two gigabit Ethernet ports, each cabled to a separate distribution switch, which in turn are each homed to a separate network core. The gigabit backhaul anticipates video conferencing traffic but also bandwidth-intensive applications such as re-imaging a laptop over the air. There are multiple, redundant Aruba WLAN controllers.

The WLAN environment is complicated by the fact that part of the building is occupied by another corporate tenant for several more years. Access point power levels and channel planning, and authentication and security, had to take into account that company’s separate WLAN.

Aruba’s AirWave WLAN management application provides a wealth of real-time data about the network’s performance and health, including interference sources. The AP 225 can monitor the RF environment, feeding data to AirWave. Aruba’s ClearPass handles network access control, security, guest access and other authentication services. For mobile device management, AFA uses software from AirWatch, a mobility management applications vendor.

The third key technology is VoIP, enabled over wireless, via an upgrade to AFA’s Microsoft Lync server, which had been an instant messaging, chat and video conferencing platform. The IT group worked closely with the various departments and business units to identify their full range of communications needs, Henderson says. Adding VoIP brought a range of PBX-like features to the Lync clients, whether Windows laptops or company-issued iPads running a Lync app. Lync also tied together Exchange Server contacts and calendaring with both voice and video conferencing. Because AFA already had a Lync enterprise license, “it was very cost effective to add voice,” says Henderson.

The VoIP transformation is deceptively simple, from the end user viewpoint. “Your laptop is now your phone,” says Henderson. An incoming voice call opens a window on your laptop or tablet screen, along with photo of the caller (if the caller is listed in your contacts). Users have wired or wireless headsets. Lync also shows “presence” – it can show the online status of someone you’re trying to reach. It also supports, via the WLAN, location tracking for 911 calls (AFA also has some hardwired phones in the new HQ for 911 emergency calls), according to Henderson.

Call quality is excellent. “Through Lync, it’s high definition voice,” he says. “Our colleagues realized that very quickly. ‘Oh my gosh, I thought you were sitting in the room next to me.’”

Despite all the documented benefits, for many users there was an unexpectedly strong emotional attachment to their desk phones. “User response was very mixed,” Henderson says. “Quite a few really embraced the technology. But others really like that phone on their desk. One stumbling block was the Microsoft Lync client didn’t flash a message light on their phone [for a new voicemail]. You’d be surprised at how many were upset by that, even though all their voicemail was now going to their email, and they could receive the complete message.”

The collaborative work environment this whole infrastructure is supposed to encourage and sustain is a work in progress. Right now, it means that employees in two separate buildings, and some 600 telecommuters, can use Lync’s video chat and online meeting features. With Lync’s integrated approach to different modes of communication, collaboration becomes a corporate service available over wireless. An AFA employee’s “office” is now wherever they happen to be. As users are switched to Lync, they get mandatory training in its features and capabilities.

Another mobile collaboration technology that’s part of the “complete mobility” concept is Crestron’s AirMedia, which combines an HDMI box that plugs into a projector or flat panel TV and the corporate network. Using a Web service and client applications for PCs, Macs, Android and iOS device, up to 32 users in a conference room and wirelessly share PowerPoint, Excel, Word and PDF documents, along with photos and screen shots. Up to 40 more users can log in via the Web. “I was passionate about that,” Henderson says. “I didn’t want our folks to have to worry about plugging into walls or HDMI ports. We use it to share spec sheets, presentations, videos. It’s very robust.”

Currently about 600 employees have shifted to mobile VoIP, including eight of the highest ranking executives. But so far AFA President Carpenter, the vocal advocate of wireless VoIP, is not yet one of them, mainly because he’s still in the old building.

“He’s still got a phone on his desk,” Henderson says. “But we’ll get to him eventually.”

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Superclass: 14 of the world’s best living programmers

It seems like there are lots of programmers out there these days, and lots of really good programmers. But which ones are the very best? Even though, there’s no way to really say who the best living programmer is, that hasn’t stopped developers from frequently kicking the topic around. ITworld has solicited input and scoured coder discussion forums to see if there was any consensus and, as it turned out, a handful of names did frequently get mentioned in these discussions. Based on that input, here are 14 people commonly cited as the world’s best living programmer.

Jon Skeet
Main claim to fame: Legendary Stack Overflow contributor
Credentials: Google engineer and author of C# in Depth. Holds highest reputation score of all time on Stack Overflow, answering, on average, more than 425 questions per month.
Quotes: “Jon Skeet doesn’t need a debugger, he just stares down the bug until the code confesses” Steven A. Lowe
“When Jon Skeet’s code fails to compile the compiler apologises.” Anonymous
“Jon Skeet’s code doesn’t follow a coding convention. It is the coding convention.”

Gennady Korotkevich
Main claim to fame: Competitive programming prodigy
Credentials: Youngest participant ever (age 11) and 6 time gold medalist (2007-2012) in the International Olympiad in Informatics. Part of the winning team at the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest in 2013 and winner of the 2014 Facebook Hacker Cup. At the time of this writing, ranked first by Codeforces (handle: Tourist) and second among algorithm competitors by TopCoder.
Quotes: “A programming prodigy!” Prateek Joshi
“Gennady is definitely amazing, and visible example of why I have a large development team in Belarus.” Chris HowardLinus Torvalds

Main claim to fame: Creator of Linux
Credentials: Created the Linux kernel and Git, an open source version control system. Winner of numerous awards and honors, including the EFF Pioneer Award in 1998, the British Computer Society’s Lovelace Medal in 2000, the Millenium Technology Prize in 2012 and the IEEE Computer Society’s Computer Pioneer Award in 2014. Also inducted into the Computer History Museum’s Hall of Fellows in 2008 and the Internet Hall of Fame in 2012.
Quote: “He’s pretty darn good.” Alok Tripathy

Jeff Dean
Main claim to fame: The brains behind Google search indexing
Credentials: Helped to design and implement many of Google’s large-scale distributed systems, including website crawling, indexing and searching, AdSense, MapReduce, BigTable and Spanner. Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2009. 2012 winner of the ACM’s SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award and the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences.
Quotes: “… for bringing breakthroughs in data mining( GFS, Map and Reduce, Big Table ).” Natu Lauchande
“… conceived, built, and deployed MapReduce and BigTable, among a bazillion other things” Erik Goldman

John Carmack
Main claim to fame: Creator of Doom
Credentials: Cofounded id Software and created such influential FPS games as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake. Pioneered such ground-breaking computer graphic techniques adaptive tile refresh, binary space partitioning and surface caching. Inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2001 and given a lifetime achievement award by the Game Developers Choice Awards in 2010.
Quotes: “… Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake were revolutionary at the time and have influenced a generation of game designers.” dniblock
“He can write basically anything in a weekend….” Greg Naughton
“He is the Mozart of computer coding….” Chris Morris

Richard Stallman
Main claim to fame: Creator of Emacs
Credentials: Founded the GNU Project and created many of its core tools, such as Emacs, GCC, GDB and GNU Make. Also founded the Free Software Foundation. Winner of the ACM’s Grace Murray Hopper Award in 1990 and the EFF’s Pioneer Award in 1998.
Quotes: “… there was the time when he single-handedly outcoded several of the best Lisp hackers around, in the Symbolics vs LMI fight.” Srinivasan Krishnan
“I might disagree on many things with the great man, but he is still one of the most important programmers, alive or dead” Marko Poutiainen

Petr Mitrechev
Main claim to fame: One of the top competitive programmers of all time
Credentials: Two-time gold medal winner in the International Olympiad in Informatics (2000, 2002). In 2006, won the Google Code Jam and was also the TopCoder Open Algorithm champion. Also, two-time winner of the Facebook Hacker Cup (2011, 2013). At the time of this writing, the top ranked algorithm competitor on TopCoder (handle: Petr) and ranked fifth by Codeforces
Quote: “He is an idol in competitive programming even here in India…” Kavish Dwivedi

Fabrice Bellard
Main claim to fame: Creator of QEMU
Credentials: Created a variety of well-known open-source software programs, including QEMU, a platform for hardware emulation and virtualization, FFmpeg (for handling multimedia data), the Tiny C Compiler and LZEXE, an executable file compressor. Winner of the Obfuscated C Code Contest in 2000 and 2001 and the Google-O’Reilly Open Source Award in 2011. Former world record holder for calculating the most number of digits in Pi.
Quotes: “I find Fabrice Bellard’s work remarkable and impressive.” raphinou
“Fabrice Bellard is the most productive programmer in the world….” Pavan Yara
“Hes like the Nikola Tesla of sofware engineering.” Michael Valladolid

Doug Cutting
Main claim to fame: Creator of Lucene
Credentials: Developed the Lucene search engine, as well as Nutch, a web crawler, and Hadoop, a set of tools for distributed processing of large data sets. A strong proponent of open-source (Lucene, Nutch and Hadoop are all open-source). Currently a director of the Apache Software Foundation.
Quotes: “… he is the same guy who has written an exceptional search framework(lucene/solr) and opened the big-data gateway to the world(hadoop).” Rajesh Rao
“His creation/work on Lucene and Hadoop (among other projects) has created a tremendous amount of wealth and employment for folks in the world….” Amit Nithianandan

Donald Knuth
Main claim to fame: Author of The Art of Computer Programming
Credentials: Wrote the definitive book on the theory of programming. Created the TeX digital typesetting system. First winner of the ACM’s Grace Murray Hopper Award in 1971. Winner of the ACM’s A. M. Turing Award in 1974, the National Medal of Science in 1979 and the IEEE’s John von Neumann Medal in 1995. Named a Fellow at the Computer History Museum in 1998.
Quote: “There is only one large computer program I have used in which there are to a decent approximation 0 bugs: Don Knuth’s TeX.” Jaap Weel

Anders Hejlsberg
Main claim to fame: Creator of Turbo Pascal
Credentials: The original author of what became Turbo Pascal, one of the most popular Pascal compilers and the first integrated development environment. Later, led the building of Delphi, Turbo Pascal’s successor. Chief designer and architect of C#. Winner of Dr. Dobb’s Excellence in Programming Award in 2001.
Quote: “I revere this guy – he created the development tools that were my favourite through three key periods along my path to becoming a professional software engineer.” Stefan Kiryazov

Ken Thompson
Main claim to fame: Creator of Unix
Credentials: Co-creator, along with Dennis Ritchie, of Unix. Creator of B programming language, the UTF-8 character encoding scheme, ed text editor and co-developer of the Go programming language. Co-winner (along with Ritchie) of the A.M. Turing Award in 1983, IEEE Computer Pioneer Award in 1994 and the National Medal of Technology in 1998. Inducted as a fellow of the Computer History Museum in 1997.
Quote: “… probably the most accomplished programmer ever. Unix kernel, Unix tools, world-champion chess program Belle, Plan 9, Go Language.” Pete Prokopowicz

Adam D’Angelo
Main claim to fame: Co-founder of Quora
Credentials: As an engineer at Facebook, built initial infrastructure for its news feed. Went on to become CTO and VP of engineering at Facebook, before leaving to co-found Quora. Eighth place finisher at the USA Computing Olympiad as a high school student in 2001. Member of California Institute of Technology’s silver medal winning team at the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest in 2004. Finalist in the Algorithm Coding Competition of Topcoder Collegiate Challenge in 2005.
Quotes: “An “All-Rounder” Programmer.” Anonymous
“For every good thing I make he has like six.” Mark Zuckerberg

Sanjay Ghemawat
Main claim to fame: Key Google architect
Credentials: Helped to design and implement some of Google’s large distributed systems, including MapReduce, BigTable, Spanner and Google File System. Created Unix’s ical calendaring system. Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2009. Winner of the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences in 2012.
Quote: “Jeff Dean’s wingman.” Ahmet Alp Balkan

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2014 Computer Certifications Training and IT Career Certifications Practice Exams, Practice Tests, Notes and Study Guides

Certkingdom is an online based company that provides various IT certification exam services free of charge. We provide free IT Certification practice tests, study guides, jobs listed and networking tutorials mainly focused on Microsoft, Cisco, CWNP, Citrix, Oracle, CompTIA, Linux and Networking certifications. Under the Microsoft brand, IT professionals can access desktop, server, applications, database and developer study guides, tutorials as well as certification tests.

The range of CompTIA services encompasses CompTIA A+, CDIA+, Cloud+, CTT+, Mobility+, Network+, PDI +, Project+, Security+, Server+, Storage+ Powered by SNIA, Mobile App Security+ and Linux+ ,CCNA, CCNP, CCT, CCENT and CCIE under the Cisco brand. CWSP, CWAP, CWDP, CWNE and verify a CWNP are featured under the CWNP IT brand.

Citrix Certified Expert for Apps and Desktops; Professional for mobility, networking, apps and desktops as well as Associate for networking, apps and desktops. Oracle applications, database, enterprise management, industries, operating systems, Java and Middleware, virtualization, systems and foundation are featured under the Oracle brand. Linux are also covered by Certkingdom. Career Certification is also featured.

There are several reasons to opt for the Certkingdom IT Certification services apart from the free access to the various tutorials, study guides, tests, networking tutorials and listed jobs. IT experts will best prepare for the real tests by practicing with the various guides, tests and even tutorials featured on the website. Many professionals have successfully passed their certification exams by using these materials to study. This simply means that they have been tested and proven to work.

Whether one is studying for a job interview, computer certification exams or just want to improve their IT knowledge and skills, Certkingdom is the perfect website to visit. With the extensive study materials at the disposal of IT professionals, they have no reason to fail their exams.

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Microsoft MCSA Windows Server 2012 Exam for IT Professionals

With the new products coming in the market every other day, one needs to stay updated with the latest information, especially if his or her field is related to Software and Technology. IT experts need to update their knowledge constantly because this field is not a stagnant one. They can do so by taking different certification exams. Experts can take the latest certification exams to build up on their existing knowledge whereas the beginners can start with the entry level certification exams.

MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is a certification designed for professionals and experts. After completing this certification, the candidate can easily qualify for a job of Network Systems Administrator, Computer Systems Administrator and Computer Network Analyst.

MCSA Exams: MCSA – Windows Server 2012 has three exams in total and the candidate needs to pass all these exams in order to get this certification. These exams are:

  • Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 the certification code is 70-410.
  • Administering Windows Server 2012 the certification code is 70-411
  • Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services the certification code is 70-412

Although it is not mandatory that a candidate sit in these exams according to the order, but it is recommended that they do so because the topics in these exams develop according to the order.

Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 exam topics: This paper tests the individual’s skills in installing, configuring, managing and implementing the Windows Server 2012 and the relevant Network Services. Furthermore, the candidates should have some knowledge about the implementation of Local Storage, File and Print Services, Group Policy and Server Visualization with Hyper-V.

Administering Windows Server 2012 exam topics: For this exam, the candidates should be able to implement a Group Policy Infrastructure, Manager User and Service Accounts, maintain Active Directory Domain Services Configure and Troubleshoot DNS and Remote Access, Optimize File Services, Increase File System and implement Update Management.

Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services exam topics: The questions in this exam revolve around implementation of Advanced Network Services, Advanced File Services, Dynamic Access Control, Network Load balancing, Fail over Clustering, Disaster Recovery, AD CS and AD FS.

MCSA will not only give you an in-depth knowledge of Windows Server 2012 but it will also benefit you in case you are planning on taking MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) exam for MCSA is a pre-requisite for MCSE. Since Windows Server 2012 is the backbone of all windows related programs, getting a certification in MCSA will go a long way.

Target Audience: This certification is designed for System Administrators who have an in-depth knowledge of networking and servers and who are focused to enhance their understanding about server administration. This exam is available in only two languages: English and Japanese.

Candidates can register for this exam by visiting the Pro metric website and the exams are held in Pro metric testing centers. MCSA: Windows Server 2012 is quite a cost efficient exam: the price of this exam is $240 in total. So, you should take this exam if you want to improve your understanding about Server Administration.

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5 potential Facebook killers

Remember Empire Ave? How about Hunch? Does Color ring a bell? Those were three of the potential Facebook killers that we identified back in 2011. OK, we might have been a little off. But, undaunted, we’re giving it another go. Outside of the obvious suspects – LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ – who has the potential to unseat Facebook? Here are five possibilities. Tune into this space in 2017 to see if we were right or wrong.

Remember Empire Ave? How about Hunch? Does Color ring a bell? Those were three of the potential Facebook killers that we identified back in 2011. OK, we might have been a little off. But, undaunted, we’re giving it another go. Outside of the obvious suspects – LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ – who has the potential to unseat Facebook? Here are five possibilities. Tune into this space in 2017 to see if we were right or wrong.

WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and CEO Jan Koum, former Yahoo employees. On Feb. 19, Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion. WhatsApp boasts 450 million active users per month, 700 million photos shared per day, and 10 billion messages sent per day. WhatsApp is a cross-platform, instant-messaging service for smartphones. It also includes the option to send images, video, and audio media in addition to an integrated mapping feature that targets user locations. It’s available on virtually all smartphones. Currently, the app is free to install, then users pay $.99 a year.

Pinterest has an estimated 150 million unique visitors monthly. Founded in 2010 by Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra, Pinterest is an online scrapbook or bulletin board where users Pin things they find on the Internet such as images, news, food, recipes, fashion, and events, etc. Users Pin or post these tidbits to Boards, where they can organize and share them. Users can Follow other Pinterest members and/or use the service as a Group bulletin board to plan and organize schedules and events. The site tracks your posts, and then makes suggestions for other items that might interest you.

Tumblr has an estimated 110 million unique monthly visitors. Tumblr was founded in 2007 by David Karp, who is also the CEO. Tumblr is a site where members can share text, photos, quotes, links, music, and videos. Tumblr says it has 182.8 million blogs, 83.1 billion posts, and 95.1 million daily posts in 13 languages. In addition to its billboard-style sharing, Tumblr offers several marketing and advertising avenues to its members. The Sponsored Mobile Post is a full-screen of your content on other users’ cell phones when they scroll through the Dashboard.

Instagram has an estimated 85 million unique visitors per month, 200 million actives per month, and 20 billion shared photos (or, on average, 60 million per day). Founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and launched in 2010, Instagram was purchased by Facebook in 2012 for approximately $1 billion. Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing social network. The differences between Instagram and the other similar services is (1) the ability to apply digital filters to the photos and videos and (2) the option to share them on other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.

Snapchat is a photo messaging app developed by Reggie Brown, Evan Spiegel, and Robert Murphy. It launched in 2011 as ‘Picaboo,’ then later under the Snapchat name. The company has roughly 26 million users who send about 400 million snaps per day. One of Snapchat’s unique features is the option to set a time limit (1 to 10 seconds) on the deadline for the recipients to view the posts or Snaps. Once expired, the Snaps disappear from recipients’ phones and the Snapchat servers.

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