Failed Cisco ASA 5505?!

In all my years, yes, I sound like an old man, but it is true, I have never encountered a bad piece of Cisco equipment, until today.
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How-To & Review: Google Cloud Printing

In the age of high-tech mobile devices bringing everything to you from streaming video, to email, to Angry Birds, and so on from the touch of your finger tips, we still sometimes have to rely on “ol’ fashioned” desk-top style hardware. Sometimes you need a large monitor, more processing power, or just that full QWERTY physical keyboard. Let’s no forget printers! Yes, people still do print from time to time, even in this age of soft-copies and electronic forms. So what do you do when you’re on the road and need to print something (lets say to your office) from your mobile device and you just don’t have the time/means to email it? You need a cloud printing solution, and you want it to be printer-model agnostic.

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Can an iPad replace a laptop on a business trip?

Just read an interesting article on about iPad’s and business trips.

Cisco CCSP Program Changes

Looking through the latest Global Knowledge course catalog that I just received, I noticed Cisco is changing the CCSP program. It’s a much more simplified concept, but it sucks for people (like me) who are mid-way through it. If you don’t complete the current model of CCSP by April 28, 2011, you will forfeit those completed classes and exams!

I have two exams to take from the two recent classes I attended, but it will be wasted if I can’t complete the fourth and final class before the program changes. I may have to push through and take the fourth class (or at least the test) before the end of April. That way I get the CCSP before Cisco changes it all.

You too can check out this nifty tool from GK (Global Knowledge) to help you figure out the changes coming for CCSP:

Google Docs

Starting to use Google Docs and share folders and files. Too bad there is no Android interface for it, yet. Mobile version is optimized though. Cool stuff!

Testing Windows 7 RTM!

I decided today would be a good day to dual-boot my laptop with Windows 7 RTM. I figured with all of the hype around it, being faster and better than Vista, a trial run wouldn’t hurt. Worst case, I boot back into XP and delete the second partition. Since I’ve only been using W7 for an hour or so, I’m only going to touch upon some of the immediate highlights.

Installation. The installation is DVD-based, and just like Vista, it’s colorful (GUI). It also supported by USB wireless mouse and keyboard! The speed and ease of the installation is fantastic. I should have timed it, but I really don’t think it took more than 20 minutes. It felt quicker, but I’m sure it wasn’t.

Initial boot-up & log in. After adding the computer to the domain where I work, restarts, log-in’s, and desktop loads (to the point where all programs have finished loading) were extremely fast. Also, Microsoft has removed all of that fluff that’s included when you initially log into a Windows XP machine. The desktop is clean of clutter, and it already includes a cool background.

Device Manager – check device drivers. I figured as with all previous Microsoft operating systems, there’s bound to be a few devices that need the manufacturer driver. This was true for the video and sound driver. No big deal though, as I went to Dell’s website and downloaded what I needed. Obviously it was lucky for me that Dell has Windows 7 drivers for this laptop! After loading up both drivers, I did a quick reboot, and things started looking more clearly.

Antivirus. We run Symantec Endpoint 11 MR4, but it wouldn’t install properly. We downloaded MR5, and it loaded perfectly.

Legacy applications. We use Numara Track-It for our Helpdesk, which installed with no issues.  In addition, we use the typical Server Administrative Pack tools (for Windows servers). In Vista and Windows 7, the standard adminpak.msi found on Windows 2003 servers no longer works. I had to track down the new version, called Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT) made especially for Windows 7 RTM. That dropped a nice shortcut in Control Panel that included all of our beloved tools. Even the once-hated Windows UAC has backed down quite a bit during all of these software installations and system changes.

So far, I’m very impressed with Microsoft’s new OS. Some will call it Microsoft’s redemption, some will continue to be haters. Take it for it is, and for what it’s worth! As I get to test out W7 in greater detail, you’ll read about it here. Below are screen shots of my system config, for your information.




Requirement fulfilled for CNSS 4011 training standard!

Recently I received a letter from Cisco acknowledging that I’ve fulfilled the requirements which meet the CNSS 4011 training standard for information security professionals in the federal government. A valid CCNA certification and passing the 640-553 IINS exam meets this standard.

More information can be found here.

Blackberry use in Japan

On a last minute business trip to Japan, I had to figure out how I was going to get my email remotely. Japan is 3G only, and my new Curve 8900 does not support 3G. My options were to buy a Blackberry Storm (uh, no), start a new plan with AT&T and get the Blackberry Bold 9000 (uh, no), or rent a Blackberry 8707G. These are currently the only Blackberry’s available with 3G support. I decided to go with the rental.

I did a quick Google search and came across Their rental plan is very straight forward – $19/day (plus optional daily insurance) which includes a nice travel kit too. Email & internet use is free and unlimited, but phone calls and texting are extra. Within minutes, I had placed my order on the phone (because remember, this was all last minute!) and had the phone the very next day. When I received the phone, it came with everything I needed, it was clean, and in excellent shape. At that point, I configured the rental for BES use, sent/received a few test emails, and I was on my way.

Once in Japan, the phone connected to their local wireless network provided by NTT DoCoMo, and the emails I missed (while on the 13 hour direct flight from New Jersey to Tokyo) started to roll in. When I was able to start Outlook on my laptop, the Blackberry send/receive delay was almost unnoticeable compared to Outlook. Internet browser speeds were decent too.

After I returned from Japan and was ready to send the rental phone back, I reconfigured the 8900 for BES use, and shipped the rental back in the pre-paid FedEx envelope provided by RoadPost. I was then billed for my use accordingly.

The only trouble I had with the phone was that it is a little on the slow side at times. Occasionally it locked up for a few seconds during heavy use, but that was really all. It’s not the sleekest phone available, but it got the job done without spending a lot of money.

Next time I travel to Japan, I would definitely rent again from Roadpost, considering that I don’t have a new 3G phone by then!

How safe is your (I.T.) job?

It’s been the talk of the country for a while now. How safe is your I.T. job? Will it be outsourced to India? Yes, I call them out specifically, because that’s where the jobs are going.

After reading this article on Yahoo!, some key points really spoke to me:

  •  “An average salary for a software developer in the U.S. is $75,000 and it’s $8,000 in India,” says Mary Jo Morris, president of World Sourcing Services for Computer Sciences Corp.
  • $20 billion in the stimulus package is directed at health information technology and the building of an infrastructure to promote the electronic exchange of health records.
  • The stimulus act also includes another $6 billion to improve broadband Internet access in the U.S.
  • Obama initially proposed a $3,000 tax credit this year and next for every net new job created.

I’ve always argued that an in-house presence is always necessary for company’s that have large infrastructures. The term “in-house” can even stretch as far as US-based consulting firms. However, modern technology allows virtually all (networked) computer equipment to be remotely managed. The only issue that will always remain is, for example, when someone needs something physically done on-site. If this is the case, many higher level I.T. jobs can be shipped overseas, and basic desktop support guys may grow to be in higher demand state-side.

The challenge that CTO’s and CIO’s have now is making their case to their superiors why it’s important to keep their top-level guys in-house, and not just see the dollars-to-dollars “benefit” of having their network managed by an outsourced crew half way around the world.

CCNA/S – Cisco Certified Network Associate Security

Recently I went was sent by my employer to a training class to start on the Cisco career path towards getting my CCSP (Cisco Certified Security Professional) certification. I chose on taking the training offered by Global Knowledge for the Cisco IINS. Taking this class also came with a TWO FREE VOUCHERS to take the IINS 649-554 certification exam. What that means is you can take the test for free two times (if you should fail the first time through). But wait, there’s more! If you fail twice, you can then retake the class for free! Definitely worth the price of admission. The class is one week long, all day – which most Global Knowledge classes (and similar institutions) are. After taking this class and passing the exam, I received my CCNA Security certification.

The other benefit of this certification is that it renews the length of how long your previous certification is good for. Each Cisco certification is good for three years (most of them), so the CCNA certification that I received in June 2007 has been upgraded to the CCNA/S – good through the end of 2011. When the expiration time draws closer, you need to re-certify or move up the certification scale. According to Cisco, this keeps your knowledge sharp of your certification. I agree with this completely. The technology is always changing, and if you aren’t forced to re-certify, Cisco isn’t aware you know the latest stuff.

Certifications don’t always guarantee a pay raise at your current job, or necessarily land you a job, but it definitely looks great on your resume and shows you are serious about your career. In this economy, who couldn’t use the help with their resume to make it stand out from the rest?

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