Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Come on out and Learn some cool Windows 8 Stuff...

As part of the MVP program, I will be presenting at the Microsoft Store in Oak Brook, IL on Saturday, December 8th, at 10am. If you are in the area, please come out and learn some cool stuff. Lots of demos and tips! Plus an opportunity to win an ASUS VivoTab RT. For more information on the event, check out the MS Store event calendar here. Hope to see you out!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Congratulations 2012 Microsoft MVP!

On Monday, I found out that I was awarded the title of Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for the my contributions to the Windows IT Pro community as a Windows Expert - IT Pro. It is an honor and a privilege to be included in this program. Big thanks to everyone in the IT Pro community whom I've been able to reach especially The Krewe as this award would not have been possible without all of you.


I look forward to another year of connecting people and adding value to our community.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Disabling Check For Updates in Java Control Panel...For Real!

So I ran into this problem…
No matter how many times I changed the update settings for the Java Control Panel on my Windows 7 machines, it always came back. It never occurred to me that UAC was preventing the change, but it was.
Here’s how I fixed the issue:
1.       First I dug into task manager to find the process responsible for the Java Control Panel. Our cuprit is javaw.exe *32. For task manager newbies, I selected the application, Java Control Panel, and did a right-click > Go To Process to discover the process.
2.       Then I did a search for javaw.exe. My copy of the above offender was located at C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre7\bin. I selected javaw.exe and choose to “Run As Administrator”. This does not launch the control panel but it will place the icon in your system tray notification area.
3.       Upon further testing, C:\Program Files (x86)\Java\jre7\bin\javacpl.exe was discovered to launch the Java Control Panel. So I selected javacpl.exe and choose Right-click > Run As Administrator.
4.       From there I just modified the Update tab and unchecked “Check for Updates Automatically”.
5.       Upon reboot, everything was good to go.
Here’s the interesting part of this whole deal…
Unchecking updates appears to be the only (though I did not check every setting in control panel) that requires elevated privileges but does NOT prompt UAC. When I testing different options under the Advanced tab, I found one setting for enabling the Next Generation Java browser plug-in that initiated a UAC prompt for ssvagent.exe. IMHO, that means Oracle built the Java Control Panel by design to prevent the average user from turning off their updates, and that probably surprises nobody!
Maybe I should consider a life without Java…but only the computer kind! 
Till Next Time…Mike
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Monday, June 25, 2012

My Not-Even-Close-To-Epic blogpost on TechEd 2012

Like everyone else, I had a plan to write this really great blog post about TechEd, but what you are going to get is less “fabulous” as it’s all I can get together right now. Since I need to just check this off the list, I’m giving you permission to “choose your own adventure” at this time…

1)      You choose to read a really good blog about Teched

2)      You choose to read another really good blog about Teched

3)      You choose to read a great blog about TechEd

4)      Keep reading this blog about Teched

So here’s the short and sweet of it:

·         TechEd 2012 was one of the best conferences I’ve been to…ever. The content was top notch and I just had an amazing conference. My favorite sessions…

o   How Many Coffees Can You Drink While Windows 7 Boots?How Many Coffees Can You Drink While Windows 7 Boots?How Many Coffees Can You Drink While Windows 7 BootsHow Many coffees Can You Drink While windows 7 Boots?

·         The Krewe Meet N Greet was off the hook. Thanks to everyone who help put the event together, all the volunteers, and everyone who made it out.

·         I met a lot of great people this year whom I hope to continue connecting with in the future.

·          Personal Highlights of the conference:
    1. Presenting on Sunday at TechEd101. It was an honor to get asked and I met a lot of very cool people from the exposure. Thanks!
    2. Being interviewed by TrainSignal about the 60-Day Challenge:

Well…That’s it. If I have time, I’ll revisit and flesh this out, but at two weeks out from the event, I need to cut the cord.

Until next time…


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Must-See list for Microsoft TechEd

Here's a short list of sessions I am stoked about and won't miss unless two are at the same time.

SIA302 | Malware Hunting with the Sysinternals Tools
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Security & Identity
Speaker(s): Mark Russinovich

SIA304 | Learning the Basics of Penetration Testing!
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Security & Identity
Speaker(s): Marcus Murray

VIR302 | Enabling Disaster Recovery for Hyper-V Workloads Using Hyper-V Replica
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Virtualization
Speaker(s): Mike van de Merwe, Shreesh Dubey

WCL301 | Case of the Unexplained 2012: Windows Troubleshooting with Mark Russinovich
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Windows Client
Speaker(s): Mark Russinovich

WCL302 | Alphabet Soup Deployment: From AIK to ZTI - Migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 Using Nothing But Free Tools
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Windows Client
Speaker(s): Stephen Rose

WCL305 | How Many Coffees Can You Drink While Windows 7 Boots?
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Windows Client
Speaker(s): Matthew Reynolds, Stephen Rose, Vadim Arakelov

WCL403 | PowerShell Remoting in Depth
Breakout Session | 400 - Expert | Windows Client
Speaker(s): Don Jones

WSV313 | The Network Files, Case #53: Diagnosing Diseases of DNS
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Windows Server
Speaker(s): Mark Minasi

WSV316 | Clouds and Your Organization: A (Former) Professional Economist's View for IT Pros
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Windows Server
Speaker(s): Mark Minasi

WSV321 | Windows PowerShell Crash Course
Breakout Session | 300 - Advanced | Windows Server
Speaker(s): Don Jones, Jeffrey Snover

CD01 | Skills for Emerging Technologies Seminar
Career Development | 200 - Intermediate |
Speaker(s): Greg Shields, Jeffrey Snover, Michele Leroux Bustamante, Paul Thurrott, Russ Hearl, Tim Heuer

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Just Released...#60Days2MCSE Blog Post #2

Just finished up and posted my second blog post for Microsoft Learning's Born to Learn website.  You can find the blog post here...

Also, we have a group dedicated to the Challenge so check it out here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Passing the VCP...

Greeting True Believers!

I've been telling myself for weeks that I'd write a blog after passing the VCP510 exam so here it is...

After a few months of studying, I passed VCP510 in January. It was a good thing to as I passed it 2 days before I began teaching my vSphere 5 ICM courses through the VMware IT Academy. A requirement to teach the VMware courses is passing the associated certification (in this case VCP510) for the course you wish to teach. Similar to a VMware Certified Instructor, passing score is 350 not 300 for the general public. I covered the spread so that's all that matters.

So how hard is this test? Coming from the Microsoft certification world and never having taken a Cisco exam, I thought VCP410 was the hardest exam I'd ever taken. VCP510 topped that. This is no slouch of an exam where you can grab a book a week before and pass. The breadth and depth of knowledge is incredible. Viewing the blueprint for the exam shows you that it covers just about everything AND the kitchen sink.

Without breaking my NDA, here are my thoughts on the exam. Then, I’ll discuss how I prepared for the exam.

1. You need to review everything in the blueprint…no exceptions. You don’t necessarily have to read every white paper (though it might help), but there are a number that will be quite helpful.

2. You need to have hands-on experience with vSphere, vCenter Server, and the rest of the components and features. VMware upped their game on this exam and you really have to be able to visualize working within vSphere to be successful.

3. I found that there was a good amount of carry-over knowledge from vSphere 4.x and VCP410.

4. Make sure you are familiar with all of the new/updated features and product add-ins. vCenter Server Appliance, vSphere Storage Appliance, and vCenter Update Manager are products you need to install and run in a lab scenario.

5. You need a working functional lab environment that will allow you to perform all of the labs from the vSphere 5 ICM course. This includes vMotion, HA, and Update Manager. Working with FT is helpful as well.

As for studying, here is the plan that I used for my journey:

1. Download all vSphere 5 documentation in PDF format for review on ebook reader or print off in hardcopy.  Also, they have a great online documentation library here

2. Download current BluePrint from I will list them below, but a few VCPs have posted detailed BluePrint blogs that I found very helpful as well.

3. I created my own detailed blueprint based on the actual blueprint.  Below I have links to detailed blueprints created by others.

4. Read Mastering vSphere 5 by Scott Lowe cover to cover. This is IMHO the definitive guide for vSphere 5 and the best book on the market for learning Mastering vSphere. It fills in the gaps left by the official VMware courseware.

5. I re-read the official VMware Courseware for vSphere 5 ICM. Since the courseware is more focused than the Lowe book, I was able to rip through it in 4 days. I completed (again) all of the labs from the ICM course as well.

6. I copied the BluePrint sections into a Word document and began fleshing out the sections, focusing on areas I was unfamiliar or not solid in.

7. Nightly (for about 2 weeks) I took the Mock Exams at They do not give you any of the exam questions, but it gives you an idea on the type of questions on the exam. Plus, it gets you in the test-taking mode. (See Below)

Probably on of the most important study tools is a functional lab. Luckily for me, I have a vSphere infrastructure at the college I was able to “re-purpose” over the holiday break so I was able to deploy many of the technologies from the blueprint including:

1. ESXi

2. vCenter Server (Both Windows-based and Appliance)

a. Also, I was able to deploy an SQL-based vCenter Installation along with the embedded version.

3. VUM

4. VDR

5. VMA

6. VSA

7. vCli

8. PowerCLI

Along with the school’s setup, I also had a VMware Workstation 8 environment that mocked up the vSphere 5 ICM lab environment. So I was able to complete all the labs on my laptop so I wasn’t stuck in the office during break.  If you are looking for a solid lab system, Jeff built a great one for under $1000.  Check it out here.

If you are looking to build an environment using VMware Workstation, I would recommend go through Sammie Bogaert’s blog posting called Building the Ultimate vSphere Lab. It’s a great set of 12 blog postings taking you through the entire build process along with setting up HA, FT, vCenter Server and more.

Below is a laundry list of webpages I found helpful:

1. Duncan Epping’s Blog:

2. Forbes Guthrie’s Blog:

1. Simon Long’s SLOG:

2. Official Mock Exams:

3. Robert Stothard’s Blog:

4. Paul McSharry’s Blog:

Detailed Blue Print Blogs

Good Luck…Mike

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

It’s a Busy Week

Greetings True Believers,

Wow…it has been a busy week.  Microsoft has announced that certifications are changing.  I have stuff to say about that but check out for a couple of great blog posts on the topic.  Jeff did a great job of distilling the information from Microsoft.

As for me, I’m busy working on the first of a set of 5-6 blogposts that will be published through Born to Learn.  The blog posts will revolve around completing and hopefully passing the exams necessary to become certified as an MCSE: Private Cloud at Microsoft TechEd in Orlando.  So I have approximately 60 days to shore up my Windows Virtualization on Server 2008 R2 knowledge, and pick up System Center 2012.  Should be a fun and interesting ride.  I’ll post the links when they go live as well as keeping a running check-in on my blog as well as Twitter.

Before I forget, BIG THANKS to Veronica at Microsoft Learning for the great opportunity!

Enjoy the weekend!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

@Nerdliness is Just one of The Krewe

Good Evening True Believers,

Well, yours truly has a handful of blog topics that are either half-completed or still in his head, but I just had to post this.

Those of you in The Krewe know what special and talented people comprise the group.  It astounds me every day how blessed I am to be connected with people who do extraordinary things on a daily basis.  The “super hero” who stood out for me today is no other than @Nerdliness AKA Justin Stanley.  I’ve known Justin through the group for a few years, and we’ve had great conversation, but nothing much past technology and general conference going.  Anyway, I just learned a few weeks back (obviously I need to pay more attention on twitter) that Justin started an non-profit called The Uprise Books Project.  The concept is simple:  provide  banned books to underprivileged youth in hopes to inspire a life-long love for reading.  Through hard work and the help of many friends including people from The Krewe, Justin was able to get funding through a kickstarter. 

Since I was on a twitter hiatus during the fall, I missed the kickstarter, but will be donating as I believe in both this project and I believe in my friends from The Krewe.  If you are interested in donating, check out the website for more information at

And that’s why I wanted to write this post, not to let you know I was donating, but to let you know how awesome our group is and the power that comes with networks of friends.  This is part of the vision I have for The Krewe:  Paying it Forward!  Justin is paying it forward and so are many of you that I don’t know about (but would love to).  Stay tuned…

To my pal Justin…Thank You!  It is an honor and privilege to call you both a friend and a member of The Krewe.  I cannot wait to share conversation and a cold beverage in about 64 days, but whose counting:)

Till next time…

P.S.  I "borrowed" your twitter profile picture...Hope you don't mind:) 

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Official #TheKrewe Hat Order is Live!

Good Evening True Believers,

I finalized the order process for #TheKrewe hats as seen in the photo below.

Cost for the Hats:  $28.00 USD for Pickup in Orlando at TechEd or $35.75 to have hat shipped in the Continental US.  All transactions will be done through PayPal.  No exceptions!

Here's how to order:
  1. Use the Email #TheKrewe 2012 Hat Order widget at the top right-hand side of my blog.  Include the following information:
    1. Size of either S/M, M/L, or L/XL (see chart below)
      1. S/M:  54-57cm
      2. M/L:  56-59cm
      3. L/XL:  58-61cm
    2. Nickname or Twitter handle for back of hat.  Up to 8 Characters. 
    3. If you need shipping, please include full mailing address.

Before ordering, please read the following information:
  1. All hats are custom sewn and cannot be re-made after the order is placed so all sales are final.
  2. Make sure all of your information is correct before submitting your payment.
  3. All hats will be available at Microsoft TechEd 2012 in Orlando unless you specify you need it shipped.  I will only ship in the continental US and this will be an additional charge. 
  4. Orders will be accepted until May 1st, 2012 so make sure you order before then.  Otherwise, you will not be included in the order.
If you have question prior to ordering, contact me here.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Relevancy in IT: A Teacher's Perspective on Certifications

Good Evening True Believers,

As an MCT and IT Instructor at a community technical college, I spend a lot of time fielding questions about certifications: Are they relevant? Do employers look at them? Which ones do I need?  My answer has always been "Depends", but that is starting to change as I see how our world of IT is changing.

For a number of years, we would hear from our advisory committee that certifications were not a major hiring criteria. While I still hear this on a regular basis, I also hear that many employers use certifications as away to differentiate candidates with similar work backgrounds. Because of the rigorous study that can be involved with many certification exams, I believe it shows a commitment level in job candidates that they are willing to put in the time & effort to pass a certification. Also, I hear more and more employers looking for specific skill sets such as virtualization, desktop management, and cloud knowledge.

In an improving job market, I think certifications provide an excellent way for my students to differentiate themselves as they enter the IT workforce. Also, it provides validation of their skills and recognition for their time & effort.
From someone who is heavily certified, I use certifications and the testing process as a way to keep me motivated and to keep my skills relevant. It's a great way to learn new stuff like the new Microsoft Private Cloud infrastructure. In fact, I am currently working through the private cloud setup and plan to attend the "Be What's Next In IT" IT Camp in Madison on March 28th that covers the private cloud. My goal is to take and pass the Exams 247 & 246 for the Microsoft Private Cloud certification at Microsoft TechEd 2012 in Orlando.

I constantly tell my students that the cloud is the future (or the present) and they need to get to know it.  Currently, I'm recommending they pursue the MCITP: Server Administrator certifcation since we cover much of the material in our program.  And for the "go-getters", I am planning to recommend they take a look at the Microsoft Private Cloud certification path.  I think it gives them a much-needed intro to the cloud and System Center, which we do not spend much time on at this point.  That will change in the future...

If you are looking to get started with Microsoft's Private Cloud, I'd recommend checking out the link below.  It goes to a great offer from Microsoft.  First, you download all you need to build your own private cloud with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Microsoft System Center 2012 Release Candidate .  Next, you take a TechNet virtual lab on System Center 2012.  Then you get $20 from the Microsoft Store (while supplies last:)...Who doesn't like free money?

Let me know what you think about the Microsoft Private Cloud as you begin to work with it.  I think it's great that Microsoft makes all of the above available (much of it for free) so IT Pros can stay current.  Since many of my students are on financial aid or limited incomes, stuff like this is awesome for them.

Thanks for tuning in...Mike

Helpful Links:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Krewe: A Primer

Greetings again True Believers!

Let's talk The Krewe. Many of you reading this are already familiar with the group. However, there are many  that may simply be following us on Twitter or Facebook, but have no real idea what the story is. So I thought I would take some time to talk about the group.

So let’s start at the beginning…Where did The Krewe come from? Well, it started in early 2007 on TechEd Connect, an older version of MyTechEd, with three words: Where’s The Party? Started by Cliff and Brandon as a way to connect with other people looking at TechEd in Orlando, it quickly grew to an online community posting with over 125 followers. Through Connect, friendships were made and plans were laid for TechEd 2007. It had humble beginnings: an I-Drive pub crawl, T-Shirts and membership cards. As this was my first TechEd, I did not fully participate in the group activities but I enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships that took root.

Fast forward to 2008 and this is where things changed. Still using connect, many of us discussed ways to communicate during the conference. Many of us were on Twitter So I had a great idea…why not create a twitter feed for the group. Thus was born @TheKrewe. Originally, the idea was to use the feed as a way to “herd the cats” and to let people know what Vendors were giving away cool stuff. From the start it was a hit, we found cool stuff, each other, and even an occasional party.

And from there, we have grown exponentially. Close to 600 twitter followers and 300+ on Facebook, we have become a big and some would say influential community in the IT community. Our members include Industry leaders, MVPs, IT Pros, Developers, and the list goes on.

So now that you know where The Krewe came from, let’s talk about what we do? Basically, we are a community in which attendees and non-attendees of Microsoft TechEd can connect. While some will focus on our beginnings as “The Party Group”, the vendor parties/events are simply ways we get people to connect outside the sessions and expo hall. One of those events is the annual Meet N Greet on the Sunday before TechEd. This is an event we started in New Orleans in 2009 as a way for Krewe members to see old friends and meet some new friends.

And once TechEd is over, it is the online community that takes over. Mostly on Twitter, many of us interact on a daily, if not hourly basis. It’s like being at work with all your friends, but you can’t physically hang with them. For me, this is a huge thing as I’m a teacher so I do not work side-by-side with anyone; I’m kind of the captain of my own ship so I don’t get a lot of professional IT interaction like when I worked in the private sector. Also, it is such a huge networking resource. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been assisted by or assisted other Krewe members with technical issues. It’s like having your own “Geek Squad” but this squad has MVPs and industry experts at the ready. IMHO, you can’t buy that kind of networking. So get involved because you we only get returns if you make investments.

So I think that about covers it. We again have big plans for TechEd 2012 in Orlando as we return to the place it all began so keep listening and we’ll keep you posted. Make sure you are following @TheKrewe and The Krewe of TechEd on Facebook, along with my postings on myTechEd

See you in Orlando!


Mike (aka @MichaelBender)

P.S. @TheKrewe doesn’t follow everyone who’s following us to keep things less complicated. If you want to connect with me, follow @MichaelBender.