Microsoft has just launched 90days2mcsa, it set of resources which will help you gain the one the new MCSA certifications. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification validates your foundation of core technical skills and prepares you for a sustainable IT career. To help you get there, we present the 90 Days to MCSA program, a plan of action with a focus on Windows Server and SQL Server. The plan gives you a clear roadmap, tools and community support, all designed to help you achieve your MCSA goal at a pace that works
I’m very proud to be on of the wiki moderator and am responsible for creating an updating the wiki’s for MCSA: Windows Server 2012. Check it out,and get yourself certified!
I recently did an interview with Liberty Munson(Psychometrician at Microsoft Learning) about the development of Microsoft exams. See below for the interview. Liberty: Thanks a lot for taking time for this interview!
Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do at Microsoft.
I’m Liberty Munson, Principal Psychometrician at Microsoft. I ensure the validity, reliability, and quality of Microsoft’s certification exams, including Microsoft Technical Associate (MTA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD). I also work with the Office and Masters certification programs to ensure the psychometric rigor of their exams. Across all of these programs, I manage more than 125 exams!
Since you are a psychometrican, can you explain what that is and what you do?
As a psychometrician, I am responsible for ensuring that the exams measure what they are intended to measure (validity) fairly and consistently (reliability). Because we are constantly being asked to be more agile in exam development (develop more quickly) and to be more efficient and effective in how we utilize our resources, one of my key roles is to strategize innovations in the design process that will allow us to meet our programmatic and organizational goals while still ensuring the exam is a valid and reliable measure of the content domain.
Most of my time is spent sustaining our exams once they are published. I review the psychometric performance of each exam at least annually with reviews of our popular exams (e.g., Windows Client, Windows Server, etc.) occurring more frequently. Based on these reviews, we update the exams as needed to ensure their ongoing validity and value in the marketplace. As with design and development, we look for opportunities to be more agile, innovative, and efficient in our sustainment process, so I’m often pilot testing new approaches to sustainment to meet programmatic goals in a psychometrically sound way.
I also work closely with our content development managers as they innovate on new question type formats. Because all aspects of the exam situation have psychometric implications, I provide strategic guidance on the design of new question types, how to evaluate their effectiveness, and the implications of using them in the broader context of our exams and program.
But, the most fun that I have in my role is talking to candidates and stakeholders about our exam development processes, how we ensure the ongoing validity and reliablity of our exams, and our certification program. I’m naturally introverted, so it was a huge surprise to me to learn that I have a passion for talking to people–not only one on one, but in front of large groups–about our exams. Riding the bus as part of the “Get on the Bus” Campaign Tour three years ago was an awesome experience that really changed what I do in my role at Microsoft. Not only do I focus on identifying innovative approaches to exam development and the hard core psychometric analysis required to ensure the validity and reliability of our exams over time, I seek out opportunities to talk to candidates and other key stakeholders. Microsoft follows industry recognized best practices in exam development, and I love to talk about them. As you may have noticed if you follow me on Born to Learn or Twitter, I am a huge fan of transparency in our processes. Of course, there is some stuff that I can’t talk about, but I’ll always tell you want I can.
If you start a Microsoft exam you get a survey presented before the actual exam starts. There are many rumors that that influences the question the candidate is presented in his exam. Can you comment on that?
The survey that you take at the beginning of the exam has NO impact on the exam content or scoring. This is purely an evaluation tool that I use to do ongoing exam monitoring and validity checks so that we can ensure the highest possible standards of quality and rigor over the exam’s lifecycle. Check out this video to learn more:
Before a Microsoft exam goes live can explain what phases an exam goes through in the exam development process?
Exam development begins with a job task analysis (OD or skills analysis) defining the critical skills that should be measured on the exam. This content domain is defined by external subject matter experts (SMEs) to reflect the real world, solutions focused use of the technology. Once the content domain is defined, SMEs rate the importance and frequency of each skill identified. This is used to create a blueprint that indicates how many questions should align to each skill area and ensures the appropriate distribution of content on the exam—more important and frequent skills will have more coverage on the exam than less important/frequent skills. The required number of questions are written to each skill area by external SMEs; once written, the writer also provides a rationale explaining how the item aligns to the skill area that it’s intended to measure. This establishes the content validity of the question (why it’s measuring what it should be measuring). A different set of SMEs review the items during a technical (alpha) review; during the alpha review, SMEs review the technical accuracy of the item as well as the linkage between the item and its intended objective. This ensures that exam content maps to OD (the list of skills that were identified as critical). The questions are then pilot tested during a beta exam process. Based on the data obtained during the beta, we can evaluate the psychometric characteristics of the item and determine if it’s a good measure of the skill. Keeping only those questions that are psychometrically sound measures of the content domain, we publish exams in alignment with the blueprint requirements. Because of the process used to develop the exam, we have ensured that the questions map back to and are appropriately distributed across the content domain establishing the validity of an exam.
More detail can be found here: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/exam-dev.aspx
Can you explain what you do with the comments a candidate fills in if he/she takes a beta exam? If a beta exam candidate fills in a comment at a beta exam, is there a best way to comment? What comments the most valuable for you in the exam development process?
As part of my psychometric analysis of beta exams, I read every beta comment. The best comments are the ones that explicitly say:
- This question is not technically accurate because…
- There is no correct answer because…
- There is more than one correct answer because…
- This question is unclear/doesn’t make sense because…
Feel free to comment on typos and grammatical errors; we will make every attempt to correct them before the exam is published.
In terms of the amount of time you’re given to provide comments, I know that most of you would like more time. I have to balance that with the security of our content. We get more than 200 comments on most beta exams… so, trust me when I say that if you had an issue with a question, someone else did, too. Given the number of comments that are provided, odds are good that someone else was able to comment on that issue. That being said, if you have feedback about a beta exam that you want to share with me, send it to email@example.com.
Check out these videos to learn more:
What does Microsoft do to detect people who braindumps? (Can you explain what measures are taken in the software to detect “braindumpers”?)
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about the specific actions that we’re taking to identify and prevent cheating because the more we tell people, the better the cheaters get at thwarting our anti-piracy efforts. So, these are secrets that you want me to keep.
But, I will tell you this–everyone leaves a “footprint” in the data when they take an exam; using statistics to analyze this footprint, I know if something anomalous occurred during a particular testing session. And, we do look at these footprints. Further, we are constantly monitoring the web for misuse of our exam content and will have illegal uses of our content removed. If the site owner won’t remove the content, we will take legal action.
For example, Microsoft recently won a $13.5 million judgment against a web enterprise that illegally provided test questions and answers under several “testinside” domain names. This decision broke new legal ground in terms of the size and scope of judgments against these brain-dump sites. By awarding the maximum statutory damage allowable under the Copyright Act, the court validated the significance of this type of fraud for both Microsoft and the certification industry.
Microsoft takes cheating very seriously, and we have developed four major pillars in our anti-piracy campaign. First, we want to educate candidates about what Microsoft considers cheating: colluding or working with others in a collaborative way during the exam, using braindump sites to prepare for the exam, having someone else take the exam for you (proxy testing), and falsifying score reports are all behaviors that Microsoft considers “cheating.” Second, we look for ways to protect our content, such as having candidates sign non-disclosure agreements before taking an exam, geoblocking (not delivering exams in certain countries), and investing in innovative publication strategies and question types. Third, Microsoft investigates every lead that we get from braindump sites to test centers that are engaging in inappropriate behaviors to candidates who provide score reports as evidence of passing an exam or cheat in ways that we identify through that footprint that I mentioned above. Finally, Microsoft enforces our anti-piracy policies; we ban candidates and close test centers, and we have successfully sued multiple braindump sites with satisfying results. We are looking for ways to share more of our enforcement activities publicly and hope to do more in the future.
Check out this video for more information: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJpU1ZVQiOg&list=PLF3AEB246624F3304&index=12&feature=plpp_video
If you have a candidate has wrong answer in a Microsoft exam, will that candidate get more questions about subject attached to the wrong answer. (I believe that’s called adaptive exams)
At this time, we do not use computer adaptive testing methodologies although we are exploring (and have implemented some) innovative ways to deliver our exams to address security issues, minimize exposure to content, and more efficiently determine if a candidate is qualified.
Microsoft tried lab exams in the 70-640 exam for example, and stopped for a while after those labs gave too many issues. Will that be reintroduced sometime with more stable labs, or is that gone forever?
One of our key goals is to include performance based testing where it makes sense. Although we encountered some delivery challenges with using virtual machines as the platform for performance based testing in 640, we are looking for other ways to test candidate skills by having them perform the task in the technology. We are currently pilot testing a “short answer code” item type that we’re hoping to use in developer exams (or any exam where someone has to create code or write a query). We’ve been blogging about this item type on Born to Learn:
I also have some ideas for similar item types that require “doing” rather than “reading” that leverage our existing question types. We will continue to pilot test these ideas until we find something that tests candidates fairly and reliably regardless of where in the world they take the exam.
Today I wanted to schedule an exam at the Prometric website. I went to Prometric.com and clicked Schedule at the top of the page. I got an really strange error, which you see in the screenshot below:
As you can see Prometric seems to be using SharePoint 2010, that’s quite nice.
But the error I got is really frustrating, so I decided to contact my contact at Microsoft Learning, and she promised me to forward it to the right persons at Prometric. My opinion in this case is that Microsoft should really consider changing test provider, also considering the issues with the scores we had with Office 365 Beta exams. Prometric just seems to fail more and more!
As I didn’t know much of Lync Server, and was interested in Lync, I decided to watch the Lync Server Jumpstart. I found the presenters Aaron Steele and Brian Ricks very knowledgeable and learned much about Lync. The sessions are now published to TechEd Edge.
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (01): Features and Architecture of Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (02a): Deploying Microsoft Lync Server 2010 | Part 1
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (02b): Deploying Microsoft Lync Server 2010 | Part 2
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (03): Configuring Users and Rights for Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (04b): External User Access Microsoft Lync Server 2010 | Part 2
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (05a): Configuring Basic Enterprise Voice Functionality Microsoft Lync Server 2010 | Part 1
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (05b): Configuring Basic Enterprise Voice Functionality Microsoft Lync Server 2010 | Part 2
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (6a): Extending Enterprise Voice Functionality Microsoft Lync Server 2010 | Part 1
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (6b): Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 SP1/Unified Messaging Integration | Part 2
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (7a): Implementing Response Groups in Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (7b): Real-world IVR Scenarios with Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (8): Conferencing with Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (9): Monitoring Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (10): Compliance and Archiving with Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (11): High Availability and Disaster Recovery in Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (12): Call Admission Control with Microsoft Lync Server 2010
- Deploying Lync Jump Start (13): Deploying and Configuring Enhanced 9-1-1 with Microsoft Lync Server 2010
Today I saw a very good blogpost on the Ask the Directory Services Team blog. Check it out there:
This blogpost is about how to discover which computers and applications are using NTLM V1 and LM security, regardless of your operating system. Everyone knows that Kerberos is Microsoft’s preeminent security protocol and that NTLM is both inefficient and, in some iterations, not strong enough to avoid concerted attack. NTLM V2 using complex passwords stands up well to common hash cracking tools like Cain and Abel, Ophcrack, or John the Ripper. On the other hand, NTLM V1 is defeated far faster and LM is effectively no protection at all.
Very Common officially used Port numbers. Below you see a nice handy table.
|Port Name||Port Number||Description|
|IMAP||143/TCP & UDP||Internet Message Access Protocol|
|LDAP||389/TCP & UDP|
|VMware Console||901, 902 TCP & UDP|
|VMware Server Management||8222, 8333|
|DNS||42/TCP & UDP||Name Server|
|DNS Service||953/TCP & UDP|
|WINS||1512/TCP & UDP||Windows Internet Name Service|
|NNTP||119/TCP||Network News Transfer Protocol|
|Kerberos Authentication||88/TCP & UDP|
|RPC||135/TCP & UDP|
|Netbios||137-139 TCP & UDP||NETBIOS Name Service|
|SNMP||161/TCP & UDP||Simple Network Management Protocol|
|RPC||135 & 530/TCP & UDP|
|MSSQL database Server||1433/TCP||MS SQL|
|MSSQL database Monitor||1434/UDP||MS SQL|
|Radius Server||1812,1645/TCP,UDP1813, 1646/TCP & UDP||AuthenticationAccounting|
|NFS||2049/UDP||Network File Systems|
|RDP||3389/TCP||Remote Desktop Protocol|
|Windows Live Messenger||6891–6900/TCP,UDP|
|L2TP||1701/TCP & UDP||Layer Two Tunnelling Protocol|
|PPTP||1723/TCP & UDP||Point to Point Tunnelling Protocol|
|AD Windows Share
|445/TCP & UDP||Windows Share|
|SCOM, MOM||1270/TCP & UDP||Microsoft Operations Manager|
I recently build my own test-enviroment here at my place. I thought I share it on my blog what I did.I bought an HP ML330G6, and an additional of 4GB ram, which makes the total now 6GB ram. Due to not having the apprioate RAID controller, I was not able not able to ESX on it, which is my ultimate goal. But I will do that the coming months . I have an Technet Plus Subscription, so I can download all the Microsoft software, and I get licenses for testing, including product keys.First I installed Windows Server 2008 R2 on it. The install went quite easy and I installed it about an half hour. Then I promoted it do a Domain Controller, thus I installed Active Directory on it. There a lots of manuals on-line how to install that, so I’m not going to explain that.
After that I installed Exchange 2010 on it, and I configured it to be my mailserver for my own mail-domain. The install is quite straight-forward and easy to do. The last thing I installed is System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2. I imported most of the Management Packs and also downloaded the Exchange 2010 Management Pack to monitor my Exchange enviroment. I think System Center Operations Manager(SCOM),it is a great piece of software. I’m quite new to SCOM, so I’am exploring the possibilities at the moment. Below you see my operator console
I found a question on a Dutch forum,my home country where a user was asking how to uninstall an hotfix or update in Windows 7.
The old way, with looking into registry hive HKLMSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionUninstall doens’t work anymore, he noticed Normally there was a reference to a msiexec guid string, which you could you use to uninstall an update or hotfix.
After some research I found out that Windows 7 included an new commando to uninstall updates, called. The syntax is a follows:
wusa.exe /uninstall /kb:(kb number)
Prior to Windows 7, wusa.exe included install support only. In Windows 7, wusa.exe includes uninstall support so that administrators can uninstall updates from a command line. Users can uninstall an update by providing the package number (from the Microsoft Knowledge Base) of the update to be uninstalled.
I recently got more into VMware and met some great people who very passionate about this (some of co-workers inspired me for this blog-post)
I found a really great site, with lots of links to great VMware websites. It’s called the VMware Launchpad, its certainly worth checking it out. This site is a collection of great resources and blogs where you find lots of information about VMware and related technologies.
For example, the site of Bouke Groenesheij. He probaly is one the best VMware Trainers, he is also an consultant.My boss called him the world leading VMware Expert. He is also (one of the)founder of the Dutch VMUG, an Dutch VMware Community.He is now working at our company,he and some of my other colleagues, managed to get one of the largest Virtual Enviroments in Europe alive and running. He also trained our colleagues, and I heard they all did a great job. I hope I can follow a training from Bouke the coming year, after finishing my MCSE 2003, which I expected to finish this year in October.
Also the site of Eric Sloof, blogger of NTPRO, is also on of the best VMware trainers in our country. He is also on of the founder of the Dutch VMUG community.Eric Sloof is active as an ICT specialist for more than 15 years. Since 2006 the accent of his services changed from consulting to delivering VMware courses. As a VMware certified instructor he helps organisations who want to maximise the benefits of the VMware virtualisation products. Their IT professionals will benefit from attending in-depth, hands-on courses
Also the person behind the number one link, is working at one of our virtualization projects. His name is Duncan Epping, his blog is called Yellow Bricks. I did not met him yet, but I hope to do that very soon. You can also find Ducan on the VMware VMTN Communities as a user and Moderator.
VMware is the standard for us, and we are going to virtualize about 3000 servers in the coming years.Every server requested by an (internal) customer, will be a virtual instance in our newly VMware enviroment, which is one of the largest enviroments in Europe.We have some very challenging upcoming projects, for example all legacy servers will be P2V-ed to our VMware enviroment, also old bricks and an old bad designed Virtual Enviroment will be a migrated to that enviroment.
I am now trying to get my MCSE 2003 certificates, after I have finished that, there is a big chance that I will be doing the VCP-310 or VCP-400, that Is not sure yet.I’m hoping that Bouke will be my trainer.I’m also going to upgrade my MCSE 2003 to MCTIP on Server 2008. I would like to that right after I passed for my MCSE.I’m one of the persons how loves to certify (myself and really enjoy it(my co-worker found I strange) and learn as much as I can. Knowledge i think is the one powers to success in a job.
Conclusion: The IT is very challenging and I love my job, and every-day I’am learning something new.