Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Old tools still handy today

Today I was asked to complete a task by my co-worker, find computer accounts that have not been used in 90 days and have them disabled. Tried looking at some PowerShell scripts, but didn't want to rewrite a script or piece it together. Also since I had to leave in less than an hour I needed something fast.

Searching my all time favorite tool, I came across this helpful admin tool.


Basically this is a command line tool to search and disable (or delete) computer accounts. I ran the command with the following switches.

oldcmp -report

This first gave me an idea of how many accounts where reported, with no change.

Then I ran the actual command.

oldcmp -nodc -disable -safety 500 -unsafe -forreal

After this another report is automatically created and was able to disable the computer accounts in about 1 minute.

It's decently fast and honestly, would have taken me hours to really do this without the tool. Even with a script I would still have to tested it, ran in a development environment and I often don't trust my own scripts to disable accounts. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The commands I always forget

When working on Windows I always forget a few very helpful commands.

MSCONFIG.EXE - For some reason I always forget the location of this helpful tool. Basically it's a GUI for system start ups and services but the location is a bit hard to find.


SYSTEMINFO.EXE - This is a tool to list basic informtaion of the system including install date. Often when working on an older system I like to take note how old the computer is for reference.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Certification path

After spending some time studying for the Microsoft MCITP exams I had time to really understand why their are held as a standard for system administrators. Microsoft has changed the exams to a much higher standard than before. Which makes me really wished I finished my MCSE back in NT 4.0 when I had the chance instead of now with 2008. :)

While it's hard and sometimes so boring, I do like that fact that I'm preparing for the next operating system and will be much more prepared for future roll outs. What does make it fun is playing with VMware Workstation, which I highly recommend for any system admin or person interested in computers to purchase a license. It's the best $200 I've spent on software besides my Photoshop license.

Also using the TechNet account combined with studying for the exams makes it much more fun. I can now play with any of the Microsoft catalog and try out applications before they are released to get an idea how they would work in a production environment. So far, it's brought alot of much needed excitement to a rather borning topic of Active Directory.


While I'm moving along with the Microsoft certification path I also looked at other certification paths as well. One certification which I never seriously looked at is the CompTIA A+ certification.

The A+ is heavily focused upon desktop support and common IT problems including hardware issues. It's non-vendor specific so this allows the exam to cover Windows pc, and Apple Mac but gives a person a good basics about IT troubleshooting. Honestly, when I went over the test questions I first thought to myself why were they so simple. Even a few questions how to replace the toner on a printer. It seems strange but the exam really gave some good questions to honestly fix a problem in the fastest method possible.

Since I had previous experience working and repairing computers at work and at home, I knew most (but not all) of the answers. For someone just starting in the field, I would say it's a good starting point.

Now there's a few important points I have to follow up with the A+ certification. Just because someone can pass a exam does not make them a good IT support person. Also the test, while pretty solid I think has a few flaws that it's so heavily based upon hardware technology that it's easily outdated. CompTIA has recently released the 2009 version of the test to update from 2006, but I still think memorizing details such as how many pins are on a socket 370 processor is not so important as some other skills.

Also keep in mind that the A+ certification is usually aimed as a entry level IT certification. This means it's focused for help desk, IT break fix tech, and even people who work at Best Buy or Fry's. In fact, I was at Fry's a few weeks ago and in the hard drive section they had a sign for installation, then in writing below "Fry's Electronics only hires A+ certified staff". It was pretty interesting and shows how popular certifications are getting mainstream.

So I'm going to study this on the side, I figure I can use the extra help for my hardware skills and never know when it might come in hand. Also some jobs actually require these smaller certifications for getting through the HR process.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Windows Server 2008 Core

Server core is nothing new, in fact it's been out for some time but I found this handy cheat sheet from Microsoft which is helpful.

Microsoft Server Core PDF's

Exam 83-640

Recently I took the Microsoft 2008 Active Directory exam 83-640, I actually scheduled the exam for the 70-640 but looks like the 83-640 is now the standard.

The exam is now done from a virtual server where you are given a short list of tasks to complete within a amount of time. It's actually easier for me to complete than the standard multiple question exam because you can remember steps by looking around. Also amazingly enough, the help command is not disabled, which you can also use for any problems.

A few web sites have posted information about the exam, especially concerning if you make too many wrong click would that count against you or not. It turns out that no, only completling the tasks will be recorded in the final score. But a major downside, at least for my testing was the lack of any score besides my points. This doesn't allow me to go over my exam score and study on the items I need help in. The reason given by Microsoft was the testing technology was still too new. The new exam came out in early 2009 so I would guess it should have been resolved by now.

Transcender posting about 83-640 vs 70-640

ExamCollection forum post about 83-640