Not Helpful

I have successfully updated three of the Windows 10 machines here at home but the fourth, the one I use regularly and often, just won’t go.  From what I see online the problem is related to the installation of the Windows DVD player KB3081704 which appears to be successfully installed on this computer.  Interestingly I see the updates download and run and appear to go to 100% before they crap out.  I haven’t seen the November update yet on this machine.  I’m not a big fan of the way Microsoft is presenting the details of the updates.  The “learn more” and “details” links provide fairly useless information.  I’m hoping this changes.  If Microsoft is going to provide more frequent updates in the background to keep Windows 10 current it would be super useful if they also provide lots of details of what’s being updated and why.

A Hiccup When Upgrading SQL Server 2008 R2 to SQL Server 2012

I was tasked with doing some upgrades for a client in their Configuration Manager 2012 environment recently.  They wanted the SQL database on the back end upgraded to something more recent so SQL Server 2012 it is.  So we confirmed we met all of the software prerequisites and began the upgrade.  Setup Support Rules were happy.

Setup Support Rules

Look at all those green check marks!

All of the features were auto-populated showing that they were already installed and supported.  We confirmed we had adequate disk space, more little green check marks.

Upgrade Rules

Many more little green check marks.

The Upgrade Rules were checked and many more little green check marks were displayed and now we’re ready to upgrade.

Ready to Upgrade

Ready, Set, Go!

The process begins, everything looks happy, the upgrade appears to be proceeding as planned and then this happened.

Complete with Failures

Ouch, so much red it makes my eyes hurt.

So we reviewed the logs, double-checked the prerequisites yet again, searched and researched to see if we could find out what was missing.  No luck looking at entries in the log files so I did a quick search using “an error occurred for a dependency of the feature” and came across this which pointed to an already installed SQL Server 2012 component, the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Native Client.  It may have been installed as part of the SQL Server 2012 Upgrade Advisor which seems odd but I was a bit surprised that the rule checks didn’t flag the item when all the little green checks came up.  All’s well that ends well.  We removed the native client, reran the installation process and SQL Server 2008 R2 was successfully upgraded to SQL Server 2012.

IPViking Live

Take a look at this gem.  They’ve distributed some 8 million sensors out and about in the world that mimic typical devices like ATM’s and POS devices that are regularly under attack by the bad people.  They then take the feedback and present a visual representation.  Very cool!

Exam Time! Crack the Books

It’s that time again when we gather with loved ones and prepare to sit Microsoft exams to gain and update our certifications.  For me it’s upgrade time, I have 70-417 on the menu for this year while others on my team are looking at the whole slate of Windows Server 2012 R2 exams.

We’re using an assortment of resources to get this done.  I prefer Microsoft Press study guides, I always have, and recommend them.  Another excellent source for study materials is the voluminous Microsoft Virtual Academy which provides tonnes of material to learn and review all of the stuff you need to bust a move on those exams.  Do a search with your favourite internet search engine using the exam code of your choice to see who out there has written the exam and get some input on how they found the exam.

There are all sorts of lists of suggestions on how to approach actually writing the exams.  This is how I like to approach them.  I’ve written more than a few and the method to my madness has changed over the years but in a nutshell I like to follow a couple of rules:

  • Book your exam.  That seems like the obvious thing to do but I have known a lot of people who want to write an exam, express interest in writing an exam, but never get around to it.  So, decide which one you want to do, give yourself what you think you’ll need to for prep time and book it.  If you’re not ready when the date approaches you can always reschedule or just go ahead and confront the beast.  Microsoft is going to do you a solid this spring by offering you a Second Shot so if you miss it on the first go you can come around and give it another try.
  • Prepare.  Take advantage of the many free resources out there to allow you to set up a lab and test and play.  Most computers these days run nothing less than 8GB of RAM and I’ll hazard a guess that most of us have a gaming machine that has more.  Load up your favourite hypervisor and practice installing and configuring and learning.  I like to pair this with reading then rereading the study guides for the exam I’ve chosen to write.  I find I almost always come across something new, there’s a lot to learn.
  • Adding to the “book it” note above I prefer to write first thing in the morning.  I find that at some point in the study process your brain is full and you know you’re ready to go.  I’ll put the books down the night before the exam and relax.  The morning of the exam I like to get up early, have my usual breakfast and make my way to the exam center with time to spare.  Being first allows one to get in and get it done without the distractions or delays of a later appointment and doing it first thing in the morning means you’re focused on the exam.

What do you think?  What would you add or remove from the tidbits above?  I’ve always found the Microsoft exams challenging which makes that feeling of successfully completely the exam just that much more satisfying.  Good luck exam takers!