Sunday, November 5, 2017

MCSE Studying - Week Ending November 5, 2017

This past week was not as successful as I had hoped for. I had to pour a lot of time and energy into a project at work that I am trying to complete prior to the end of the year. It left me quite tired at the end of most days, so I didn't study as much as I had wanted. Still, I did get some work in, and any amount of studying, no matter how small, is still far better than none.

I continued on my studies for 70-412 this past week. I managed to finish off my primary notes for objective 4.1 - Implement an advanced Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) solution, and started into objective 4.3 - Deploy and manage IP Address Management (IPAM). My plan is to finish off my primary notes for objective 4.3 in the next week or so, and then move into the hands-on labs for all of objective 4 - Configure Network Services.

Cool Stuff
In the little bit of reading I did on IPAM (IP Address Management), I thought that this technology is pretty cool. Why? Simply put, IPAM allows you to centralize management of multiple DHCP and DNS servers, and all but eliminates the need to track static IP address assignments in a spreadsheet. I feel that I am going to learn a lot in the next week or so on this topic, so my opinion may change, but for now, this wins the title of "Cool Stuff"!

PowerShell cmdlet of the Week
Nothing this week

Studying Stats
Total time studying: 3 hrs. 25 mins.
  • 70-412: 3 hrs. 25 mins.
Objectives Covered
  • 70-412
    • 4.1.2 - Implement DHCPv6
    • 4.1.3 - Configure high availability for DHCP, including DHCP failover and split scopes
    • 4.3.1 - Provision IPAM manually or by using Group Policy
    • 4.3.8 - Configure IPAM database storage
IT News, Blogs, and Podcasts
  • PowerScripting Podcast
    • Episode 174 - Matt Graeber using PowerShell in Infosec
    • Episode 175 - Mike Wells on SQL 2012 and SQLSpade
    • Episode 176 - James Brundage on PowerShell Pipeworks
In Closing
As I mentioned earlier, I plan to continue working on my primary notes for objective 4.3, working towards the hands-on labs for objective 4. I might also try to sprinkle a bit of PowerShell into my studies, as I haven't had a chance to use a lot of PowerShell at work lately, and I definitely do not want that skill to get rusty!

Have a great week everyone, and keep learning!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

MCSE Studying - Week Ending October 29, 2017

Again,wow! It's now been over 7 months since I last did a blog post on any subject, in either of my blogs. Well, here's committing to writing more than twice a year!

Yes, life has been busy. Between work and family commitments, I have still found it challenging to carve out enough time to study. That being said, I haven't been sitting around doing nothing. I did manage to find time to put together a presentation on Managing DNS Servers with PowerShell, and was quite excited to present it to the Mississippi PowerShell User Group. On that occasion, I stepped way, way outside of my comfort zone, and discovered awesome on the other side!

Now that we are into October, I have finally got back to studying for the 70-412 exam, and I am really enjoying it. Of course, breaking the inertia, actually sitting down to study, still remains the hardest part, but once I get going, time seems to fly by. I am looking forward to writing this exam in the new year and moving on to another exciting exam.

Cool Stuff
I don't have anything specific that I would like to talk about, but I have been enjoying the learning process. Taking a close look at the details of what I'm studying, and researching it completely, has been a lot of fun. It is especially rewarding to research and sort out the details of a topic that is either, not well documented, or is presented with contradictory information from two different sources. Once I get those figured out, I feel a genuine sense of accomplishment.

Next week should yield something interesting or cool. I'm sure of it! Stay tuned!

PowerShell cmdlet of the Week
Nothing this week

Studying Stats
Total time studying: 3 hrs. 20 mins.
  • 70-412: 3 hrs. 20 mins.
Objectives Covered
  • 70-412
    • 4.1.3 - Configure high availability for DHCP, including DHCP failover and split scopes
    • 4.1.4 - Configure DHCP Name Protection
    • 4.1.5 - Configure DNS registration
IT News, Blogs, and Podcasts
Nothing this week

In Closing
The goal for the coming week is simple. Keep studying! Wish me luck.

Have a great week everyone, and keep learning!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

MCSE Studying - Week Ending March 12, 2017

Wow! It's been just about 4 months since I last did a blog post on any subject, in either of my blogs. Life has been busy, and as always seems to get in the way. At least that is what I have been telling myself. The truth is, I just haven't prioritized my time effectively. Well, it's about time to change that.

Over the past few months I have started studying for the 70-412 exam, but it has been going slowly. I have completed objectives 5.1 and 5.2, but that is the sum total of my success so far. To put that into perspective, I have completed a mere 10% of the objectives for this exam. It's not good enough, and I realize this, so I have finally forced myself to organize and prioritize my time, and have been happy to have studied more this week, than I have in all of 2017 so far.

I'm back on track, and I have a plan for managing time, and for the study order for the remaining 90% of the objectives. This past week has been a review of the subject matter that I had already completed so that it is fresh in my mind. For those of you who are interested, you can find the list of objectives for the 70-412 exam here. I feel it is going to go quite well, and I am optimistic that I will be able to write the exam in the next two or three months.

Cool Stuff
Cool stuff? Hmm...not really. There was some interesting topics covered, such as trust relationships and multi domain environments, but nothing that was especially cool. I think that most of the reason for this, is that I am already fairly familiar with the structure of Active Directory, and I still remember a lot of the core concepts around trusts and multi domain environments from my NT 4.0 exam days. Despite this, there is still an article I want to read titled Top Ten Issues with Active Directory Trusts and Corporate Mergers. I feel there will be some interesting information in there.

Hopefully next week, covering sites, subnets, and site links will yield something new and cool that I didn't know before. Stay tuned!

PowerShell cmdlet of the Week
This weeks cmdlet is going to be the only cmdlet available for Active Directory trusts. Unfortunately, if you want to manage trusts, you have to use either the Active Directory Domains and Trusts console, or the netdom trust command line utility. However, if you simply want a cmdlet to show you current trust relationships, you can use:


If you want to view all trusted domains by the current domain:

Get-ADTrust -Filter *

If you want the information about a specific trusted domain:

Get-ADTrust -Identity ""

It is disappointing that there is only the one cmdlet available for managing trust relationships, but there is quite a bit of useful information reported by Get-ADTrust,

Studying Stats
Total time studying: 7 hrs. 40 mins.
  • 70-412: 7 hrs. 40 mins.
Objectives Covered
  • 70-412
    • 5.1 - Configure a forest or a domain - Complete
    • 5.2 - Configure trusts - Complete
    • 5.3.1 - Configure sites and subnets
IT News, Blogs, and Podcasts
  • Nothing this week
In Closing
The goal for the coming week is to start, and hopefully finish objectives 5.3 and 5.4. I am fairly certain I will get through 5.3 "Configure sites", but I'm not sure about anything else. I am still working on prioritizing time, and while my studying is going better than it did in January and February, there is still some more effort required. Wish me luck!

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Studying for the 70-411 Exam - Doing It...Pretty Well Actually

About a year after failing to pass the Microsoft 70-411 exam, I decided to rewrite it, and scheduled the exam for November 8, 2016. It was a very challenging year, especially trying to find time to study, and there was a lot of self doubt and worry as to whether I could actually pass this exam when I took the rewrite.

Leading up to this, I decided to change my study habits slightly. Instead of working through each book or course all the way through, I decided to tackle the 70-411 exam by objective. I felt that thoroughly studying each point in each objective, using every resource available to me, would be more effective, as I could allow myself the luxury of taking those 'rabbit trails' deeper into each topic. The notes that came out of those sessions are, I feel, thorough enough to write blog posts, or an entire series of blog posts on, and I might just do that.

I also knew that I needed a lot more hands on practice than what was in the books, so I set up a lab environment, and added new servers as required for each objective. The result was a lab environment with about a dozen servers in it. It was nice to have a sandbox to play in and experiment with.

The final piece to the puzzle was the Microsoft Virtual Academy course: Mastering Microsoft Certification Exam Prep. I highly recommend that anyone taking a Microsoft Certification Exam take this course first. The information in this course was quite valuable, and turns out, was the final push I needed.

I got to the point where I knew I needed to at least take an attempt at the exam, pass or fail. If I passed, great! If I failed, at least I would have an idea as to where I needed to focus on in future study sessions. I scheduled the exam, and made a promise to myself that I wouldn't reschedule it.

I did not study at all during the last few days before the exam. I felt I needed to take the brain break, and knew that the additional couple of days of study weren't going to sway the outcome of the exam very much. It was nice to take a couple of days off without the exam stress.

On the test day, I also didn't stress myself about the test. I just told myself that this is just an attempt to gauge my knowledge. Even during the exam I told myself this several times. At the end of the exam, when I clicked the 'Finish' button, I was happily surprised to see the  "Congratulations! You passed!" message on the screen. I must have sat there for over a minute re-reading the message, not quite believing it. To say it made my day would be an understatement.

I am quite happy to see that the couple of changes I made to my study habits made a big difference. Knowing that, I intend to keep using these new methods to study for future exams. I won't say that these methods will work for everyone, but they did work for me. The best I can do, is tell you to find what works best for you, and if you do fail an exam, don't let it take the wind out of your sails.

The next step for me? Taking the third, and final exam for earning my MCSA, 70-412. I must say, I am really looking forward to it!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

MCSE Studying - Week Ending July 31, 2016

The study path for 70-411 has been going a lot better over the past two weeks, as I have finally got back into the groove and have found the time to study. I have also validated the fact that studying by exam objective is working out better for me than studying each resource all the way through. Using multiple resources for each objective, sometimes over a dozen different courses, books, and blog posts is working out quite well. It is somewhat luxurious to be able to explore each exam objective thoroughly, gathering every detail possible.

This time round, I have not been going through the objectives in order, but instead, starting with the areas that were identified as my weakest. The confidence level is finally on the rise, and I feel I should be able to take the exam in the next month or so.

Cool Stuff
The coolest thing I covered in the past week was virtual domain controller cloning. When I first got into this objective, I was thinking to myself that it wasn't that big of a deal. Once I started into it, however, I discovered that it is an awesome way to deploy additional domain controllers. It was nice to be able to get one set up, just the way I like, and then be able to clone it. The new domain controller then has the same configuration, folders, updates, and preferences set up, and it only took 20 minutes!

PowerShell cmdlet of the Week
This weeks cmdlet will in fact, be the two cmdlets related to virtual domain controller cloning, along with a few other cmdlets sprinkled in for flavor.


Here are the basic steps for cloning a virtual domain controller:

Source DC: DC-01
Cloned DC: DC-02

Step 1: Add the source domain controller to the 'Cloneable Domain Controllers' security group

Add-ADGroupMember -Identity 'Cloneable Domain Controllers' -Members (Get-ADComputer -Identity DC01)

Step 2: Check for excluded applications that would cause cloning to fail


Check the results. If the excluded applications are from Microsoft they will need to be removed. If they are from a third party vendor, check with that vendor to see if the application is compatible with cloning. If not, remove the application, if it is, add it to the user defined inclusion list using the following parameter

Get-ADDCCloningExludedApplicationList -GenerateXML

This adds the CustomDCCloneAllowList.xml to the C:\Windows\NTDS folder (by default)

Step 3: Create the DCCloneConfig.xml file

New-ADDCCloneConfigFile -CloneComputerName "DC02" `
-Static `
-IPv4Address "" `
-IPv4SubnetMask "" `
-IPv4DefaultGateway "" `
-IPv4DNSResolver @("","")

Step 4: Shut down the source domain controller


Step 5: Copy the source VHD to a new location and rename it to match the new domain controller

Once the copy is complete, you can restart the source domain controller

Step 6: Create a new virtual machine and attach the copied VHD,

$ClonedDC = New-VM -Name DC02 `
-MemoryStartupBytes 2048MB -Generation 2 `
-BootDevice VHD -Path E:\Hyper-V\VM `
-VHDPath E:\Hyper-V\VHD\DC02.vhdx `
-Switch "Virtual Switch - Training"

Set-VM -VM $ClonedDC -ProcessorCount 2 `

Step 7: Start the new virtual domain controller

Start-VM $ClonedDC

At this point, the new domain controller starts up and begins the cloning process.

Step 8: Remove all of the domain controllers from the 'Cloneable Domain Controllers' group

Remove-ADGroupMember -Identity "Cloneable Domain Controllers" -Member (Get-ADGroupMember -Identity "Cloneable Domain Controllers")

That's it! Easy. Although, I do suggest reading through the documentation thoroughly, and practicing in your test environment before trying it in Production.

Studying Stats
Total time studying: 10 hrs. 10 mins.
  • 70-411: 10 hrs. 10 mins.
Objectives Covered
  • 70-411
    • 5.2.1 - Transfer and seize operations master roles
    • 5.2.2 - Install and configure a read-only domain controller (RODC)
    • 5.2.3 - Configure domain controller cloning

IT News, Blogs, and Podcasts
  • Nothing this week
In Closing
It is nice to finally feel like I am making progress with my studies. I am going try to add a few more hours of study time next week and see if I can complete 1-2 sub-objectives per week. Some will require more effort than others as I am still struggling with these concepts. Others will go very quickly as they are topics that I am quite familiar with and have used regularly. Within a few weeks, I should be able to tell when I can write 70-411.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, May 9, 2016

MCSE Studying - Week Ending May 8, 2016

I missed last weeks summary, so I will combine them both into this weeks post.

I successfully finished the "Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches" book, though it did take a week longer than I had planned. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of learning the basics of PowerShell and I am looking forward to getting the next book, "Learn PowerShell Toolmaking in a Month of Lunches". I also spent some time doing some lab maintenance and getting the Windows Server 2012 R2 GUI and Core images patched and ready in order to speed up the deployment of test servers. I also spent a little bit of time learning about Office 365 and studying for the MCSA 70-411 exam.

Cool Stuff
The coolest thing I covered in the past two weeks was the DISM PowerShell cmdlets. I had previously been doing my image servicing using the classic dism.exe utility. I found it to be frustratingly inconsistent in it's usage. During the process of image servicing, I found that dism.exe had no less than three different switches, referring to the same piece of information, depending on what specific task you were performing. I always had to refer to a cheat sheet to successfully make it through the process.

I made a point of learning the PowerShell equivalents for these commands, and found that they are refreshingly easy to use. After just one run through, I was able to do the rest of the servicing tasks without referring to a cheat sheet, or even a help file. The cmdlets referred to the same information by the same parameter in each cmdlet that I used. Go PowerShell! I am becoming a bigger fan of PowerShell every day.

PowerShell cmdlet of the Week
This weeks cmdlet will in fact, be a set of cmdlets. Referring back to the previous section, I thought it fair to post a link to the page for the DISM cmdlets. Also included is a brief overview of the commands I used to add Windows Update packages to the install image for Windows Server. I will cover these steps and cmdlets in more detail over on The Frozen Geek sometime in the next week or so. (link to follow)

DISM Cmdlets

Listed below are the four cmdlets and the parameters I used:

Get-WindowsImage -ImagePath e:\Images\install.wim

Mount-WindowsImage -ImagePath `
e:\Images\install.wim `
-Index 1 -Path e:\Mount

Add-WindowsPackage -Path e:\Mount -PackagePath `
e:\msu\Core -Verbose

Dismount-WindowsImage -Path e:\Mount -Save

Studying Stats
Total time studying: 5 hrs. 5 min.
  • PowerShell: 3 hrs. 50 min.
  • Office 365: 15 min.
  • 70-411: 1 hr.
IT News, Blogs, and Podcasts
Resources used:
In Closing
I had a great couple of weeks finishing off "Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches". It deserves a lot more than the brief mention that I am making here, so I am contemplating doing a full review of the book in a separate post. To be brief, however, I will say that the book was awesome!

Next week, I will be starting back into my studies for 70-411, and I will be setting a date for writing the exam. Now that the lab environment is set up (more or less) the way I want it, it should serve as less of a distraction from this point forward.

These posts will hopefully become a little more frequent, as I firmly believe that reviewing my studies a week at a time like this helps to solidify the information in my brain. Learning is something that I am enjoying thoroughly, and I am finding it easier than every to focus in on my studies. I don't see that ever changing, and I hope all of you are also adopting a philosophy of life-long learning. So, on that note...go learn something!

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

MCSE Studying - Week Ending April 24, 2016

I have opted to slightly change the way I track my studying. One change will be to post the weeks results based on "Week Ending", rather than a numerical week number. Another change I will be making is to separate out the studying from my efforts in keeping up on IT news, blogs, and podcasts. I will still be including both topics here, just listed individually.

This week was probably the first full week back at studying that I have had in a while. It has been quite hectic, both at work and at home, therefore, my studies have suffered a bit. Things are still quite busy, but I have decided I am going to have to become a master of scheduling, and work with the busy schedule, instead of surrendering to it. I expect it will take several weeks to master this time management, and once I have, it will still take constant vigilance to maintain.

This past week was almost exclusively about PowerShell. I spent the last couple of weeks going through the "Learn PowerShell 3 in a Month of Lunches" book. I have tried to finish this book several times over the past year or so, but I always managed to get distracted. No more! I have made it most of the way through the book, with only 5 chapters left to cover. This past week I covered Chapters 19-23. I expect that next week will see the book completed.

Cool Stuff
The coolest thing I learned about this week was scripting with PowerShell. I really enjoyed learning how to take a series of commands and put them into a reusable script. If that wasn't enough, I also learned how to parameterize the script so that certain variables can be entered at run time, set up the script for taking advantage of the help system, and finally, add the ability to utilize CmdletBinding to add even more power to the script! Very cool, exciting, and useful. I already have plans for two scripts that I can use at work to make life easier.

PowerShell cmdlet of the Week
This small, unassuming cmdlet stood out a little this past week:


This cmdlet allows you to add a prompt for input from the user. With the addition of the -Prompt parameter, you can add some detail for the user about what you would like to have them enter. Say for example, you want to prompt the user for the computer name, and assign it to the variable $ComputerName. Simply enter the following:

$ComputerName = Read-Host -Prompt "Please enter the computer name"

It then displays the following:

Please enter the computer name:

I like the fact that the -Prompt parameter automatically appends a colon to the end of the prompt.

Studying Stats
Total time studying: 3 hrs. 15 min.
  • PowerShell: 3 hrs. 15 min.
IT News, Blogs, and Podcasts
Resources used:
In Closing
I feel a bit better about my studies now that I am back into them. Next week, I plan to finish the last few chapters in the "Learn PowerShell 3 in a Month of Lunches" book, and get solidly back into my MCSE studies as I prepare to retake the 70-411 exam.

Have a great week everyone!