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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beta Exam 70-331, Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

Thoughts after taking the Beta Exam 70-331, Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013.

To receive the MCSE SharePoint certification, you will need to pass the MCSA Windows Server 2012 certification, then pass 70-331 (Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint server 2013) and 70-332 (Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013).  The new solutions expert path requires the Windows Server 2012 cert.

You can count on answering questions covering other core technologies that SharePoint depends on.  Techs like:
  • Active Directory
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 and later
  • Internet Information Services (IIS)
  • Windows Server 2008 R2 and later

Even though this is the recommendation, I noticed most of the questions were focused on the latest techs and not past versions.  So things like Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, etc.

Questions centered around designing a SharePoint topology based on reading an overview of a case study for a company.  Planning security, installing and configuring the SharePoint Farm (in some cases, integrating multiple farms were mentioned for an enterprise). Creating and configuring web applications and site collections, and maintaining a core SharePoint environment.

Items mentioned below were covered on the beta exam.

Alternate access mappings.  How it's used, why it's needed.
Ins and outs of configuring search services.
Various powershell commands - how to gain reference to a service and store in variable, then modify the service.  Many basic powershell tasks like this.
Setting up various farms based on unique requirements - 3 case studies covering different companies and technical requirements.  Some have an issue and you are required to know the steps to fix.  Some of the issues related to clustered database configuration issues (active, passive, witness server - moving a failing service to another database), search issues, workflow server, how to set up separate apps domain for apps store use.
Config Search results based on doc creation dates - on all searches only return docs between certain dates.
Various questions related to configuration of SharePoint with Office 365
Authentication questions related to when and how to use SAML, oAuth, Claims, Kerberos, etc.
Know in what situations you would use psconfig or farm wizard, based on the type of configuration change that's needed.
A few questions relate to upgrading from a 2010 farm to 2013.  What steps would you take if it was a database upgrade or upgrade based on CUs. Upgrade site collection process, know powershell script behind upgrade.  For example, need to test if upgrade can complete before performing upgrade. Know my sites upgrade process.
Assorted end-user permission questions.  Know the differences to Contribute, Full Control, Read-Only, Inheritance, etc.
Setting.up blob storage external to SQL- use external  hard drive like SAN,  etc.  How is this done, what steps are needed in SQL, apps server, central admin, etc. to accomplish this?  What is the benefit to this outside of storing large files in SQL.
My site configuration how to change what news a user is subscribed to and which users this user follows.  Know how to do this as an admin in central admin.
Test would show a screen shot of an area of central admin with a list of links in that area and ask what to click on in central admin to config or setup X.

How to setup auth for ad fs, kerberos, ntlm, oauth when to use sts. How to config authentication between servers.

How to add additional site collections and sites
Config aam, DNS cnames, etc. when to do this and how, related details.  How to setup domain, subdomain, etc.

After viewing network tracing details, answer which port is used for central admin, front end site, https based site, etc. for a typical company.

How to communicate between separate farms - passing users and authentication, etc.

Two way and one way forest trust settings
Allow users on domain 1 access to collection a and b but users on domain 2 access only to collection a. How this would be configured in a farm.

Form based authentication
Steps to allow outside vendors access to site or collection that aren't a part of domain
Adding to visitors group with read-only access, setting up aam for the extranet, etc.

Know details covering sts oauth saml.

Configure email storage on library and incoming email / email address to be used with library.

Step by step how to limit all users from purchasing and installing apps.

Design focus on information architecture
Plan managed site structures
Plan term sets
Plan information management policies
Design keywords, synonyms, best bets, and managed properties
Design an intersite navigational taxonomy
Design site columns and content types

Know basic design behind a logical architecture
Know the hierarchy to a farm > web applications > explicit managed paths / sites wildcard managed paths > top-level sites > child sites.  Know web application > site collection - How to create a site collection based on an existing web app or create a web app and then create a site collection within that application.

From requirements, be able to plan web applications and application pools, software boundaries, content databases, host-header named site collections, and plan zones and altername access mappings.  Be able to describe the process to map incoming requests to a web application.  Link translation and publish to internet.

Study steps behind designing a physical architecture. Storage architecture, configure basic request management, define individual server requirements, define service topologies, plan server load balancing, plan a network infrastructure.

Know basic hardware and software requirements behind SQL database server and SharePoint with web server or application server in a three-tier farm and beyond.  Know minimum hardware requirements for SQL database including small and medium deployments, RAM, and hard disk space requirements.

Front-end application server requirements, including prerequisites for software.  Things like .net framework 4.5, Microsoft WCF Data Services 5.0, MSIPC, WIF 1.0, CU Package 1 for Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server (KB 2671763), etc.

Know browsers supported, for example, IE 6 & 7 are no longer supported.

Request management.  how to control handling of incoming requests, how this plays in to network load balancing, rule configuration behind request management, status if off by default, and scoped at the web application level.  Request management used to configure rules to perform the denial of potentially harmful requests from entering a SharePoint farm, route good requests to an available server, and you can manually optimize performance.

Know what's new with service applications.  New service applications available like Machine Translation service, work management and app management.  Several service applications derecated or changed, like search, MMS, office web apps and web analytics.  MMS is now more robust, tags now have properties, and the navigation is term-based.  Request management architecture and configuration is included, as well as creating routing rules in PowerShell.

Office 365 planning with SharePoint online is a large part of the exam.

Authentication default is claims - know how to plan and configure authentication, identity federation, configure claims provider, connections to access control service.

This covers pretty much everything I could remember after taking the beta exam.

Sections of the exam:

Core Solutions Exam

Design a sharepoint topology 20-25%
Plan security 20-25%
install and configure sharepoint farms 20-25%
create and configure web applications and site collections 15-20%
maintain a core sharepoint environment 15-20%

Advanced Solutions Exam

Plan business continuity management 20-25%
plan sharepoint environment 15-20%
upgrade and migrate sharepoint environment 20-25%
create and configure service applications 20-25%
manage sharepoint solutions, BI, and systems integration 15-20%

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Search Engine Marketing through Back Links

If you are interested in gaining new business through your company web site, you need back links.  The number of back links to your site determine the authority of your site in search engines.  The more back links you have from high quality, highly ranked web sites, typically the higher you will rank in search engines or the more fertile your site will become for high rankings.  Several other factors impact your organic placement on search engine results pages, like content, optimization of keywords and phrases and more, but anyone can add back links to their site.  Make sure you are listed at the following sites.  They are free, have a long reputation with major search engines, and will impact your search engine marketing campaign. - create a business page - create a page - for the right type of business
google maps
co-pilot - bing local - google places

There are literally 1000s available, but this will get you started.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

id Game Engine Source Code

The first 3D first-person shooter (FPS) game is generally accepted to be Castle Wolfenstein 3D (1992). Written by id Software of Texas for the PC platform, this game led the game industry in a new and exciting direction.

First-person games are typically some of the most technologically challenging to build. They aim to provide their players with the illusion of being immersed in a detailed, hyperrealistic world. It is not surprising that many of the game industry’s big technological innovations arose out of the games in this genre. Some of the complexities in FPS style games often include managing binary space partitioning (BSP) trees, portal-based rendering systems, frustum cull (i.e., removing objects that the camera cannot "see" to improve rendering time), spatial subdivision data structures, dynamic lighting systems and more.

Outdoor FPS games use other kinds of rendering optimizations such as occlusion culling, or an offline sectorization of the game world with manual or automated specification of which target sectors are visible from each source sector.

Digging into this technology, you can find the source code to Quake I, II, III, Doom, Wolfenstein and more id based games are freely available. The original Quake engines are reasonably well architected and “clean” (although they are of course a bit outdated and written entirely in C). These code bases serve as great examples of how industrial-strength game engines are built. The full source code to several id games are available on github at

You can actually build the code using Microsoft Visual Studio and run the game under the debugger using the real game assets from the disk. This can be incredibly instructive. You can set break points, run the game, and then analyze how the engine actually works by stepping through the code.

For a nice overview of the FPS genre, see

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Prelude in E Minor - Chopin

Prelude in E Minor for Piano, Op. 28, No. 4 (1839), by Frederic Chopin

A quintessential miniature classical brood.  Dissonance and agitation abound in this prelude.  This is Dracula's or trampula's theme song.  Most of the long notes are accompanied by a different dissonant chord below; which causes a continued change in color as the singular long note in prominence is held above.  Small movements of the left hand cause a striking sentiment.  The espressivo - expected fast rhythm, sad melody, and acceleration are further filled with expectancy of resolve by brief pauses throughout the piece. Tension is finally released in the three solemn chords of the closing cadence. 

It's like an E-minor mine car ride, spiraling out of control sitting on questionable tracks.  The quickening 'dunk dunk' of the railroad ties assisting the acceleration of the duple meter into the depths of the unknown.  The miner finds himself trying to find the e-brake, but it is preluded.

Freddy was in a serious mood in writing this tune.  One cannot listen to the prelude without feeling the intensity of emotion behind the piece. It is short, dialing in at around 2 minutes, yet full of possibilities for interpretation.

Hagia Sophia

This looks like something straight out of a movie set.  Now that I know better, when I think of Istanbul, I will think of this place.  Originally built in the 6th century, the Hagia Sophia, formerly known as a Christian basilica, is now a museum.  As a side note, I would museum the heck out of this place.  Until recently, well, 1520 to be exact, it served as the largest cathedral in the world. 

When you think of Byzantine architecture, think of this place.  As related to placing the style in time, it may be better referred to as, pre-Neo-Byzantine architecture.  It straddles the Bosphorus, one of the world's busiest waterways in northwestern Turkey.  If you were wondering, Bosphorus does not make up 1% of your total body weight like phosphorus does.

Not to be confused with the Hagia Sophia Church, of Sofia, Bulgaria, construction was completed in only 5 years!  And everyone knows Bulgarians are lazy, so their Hagia was rumored to have taken just over 104 years to build. 

Clearly, this would make the list of the world's greatest buildings.  It would fall right in line above the Portland Building.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Firebird

The Firebird, Scene 2 (1910 version) by Igor Stravinsky (1882 - 1971).

Originally written to accompany a ballet by the same name. This roughly three minute piece is the final scene of the work. It repeats one melody over and over, creating contrast through changes of dynamics, tone color, and rhythm.  The most beautiful creation of music I have heard in the shortest duration - using repeated segments, increasing grandeur, and finally, leading to a brilliant concluding section.

The Firebird, in Slavic folklore, is known as a bringer of both blessings and doom to its captor.  The strings around duration 1:30, accent very softly, in a random chromatic aberration, almost out of key with the tonal center of the piece.  This seems to bring a taste of doom to the listener.  The strings quickly crescendo, a hard timpani hit is heard, and we are back into the main rich and expressive theme.

You can absorb the magical sense of the song, in a verse from A Winter's Journey, by Yakov Polonsky, which inspired The Firebird ballet:
And in my dreams I see myself on a wolf's back
Riding along a forest path
To do battle with a sorcerer-tsar
In that land where a princess sits under lock and key,
Pining behind massive walls.
There gardens surround a palace all of glass;
There Firebirds sing by night
And peck at golden fruit.

Reading into the work, we learn during this scene the hero triumphs and becomes engaged to a princess.  The slow triumph is heard.  A skillful crescendo creates spirit as instruments are added to the piece.  The melody is repeated at higher and higher pitches.  Use of dynamics ranging the entire gamut, from pianissimo to fortissimo, can be heard.  The repeated effect is further outlined by the timbre of each instrument.  A critical listener can hear English horns, oboes, french horns, harps, piccolos and more.  This tone color contributes to continuity; as it is easier to recognize the return of the melody when the same instruments repeat the main theme.

What an excellent piece of music.