Microsoft embraces open-source Git for development tools

Microsoft has added Git support to Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server

Once vehemently opposed to open-source software, Microsoft has warmed to the development model over the years and will now take the unusual step of incorporating an open-source program developed by Linus Torvalds into its own development tools.

Microsoft is integrating the widely used Git, a distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) system, into its Visual Studio IDE (integrated developer environment) and Team Foundation Server (TFS), two of the company’s main tools for enterprise developers.

“TFS is a very popular tool in the enterprise, and Git has grown up in the open-source community,” said Brian Harry, a Microsoft technical fellow and the TFS product unit manager. “By embracing Git, we want to bridge that gap, so it can be a great tool for both the open-source community and for the enterprise.”

Harry will announce the integrations at the Microsoft ALM Summit being held this week in Redmond, Washington.

TFS is software for managing the application development lifecycle, including requirements management, project management, configuration management, testing and deployment. Microsoft also offers a hosted version of TFS, called Team Foundation Service.

TFS already has a built-in SCM toA document and storeA changes in an evolving code base. But given that development teams are increasingly scattered across different locations, Microsoft wanted to offer a distributed SCM, in which developers can work on local copies of the code, and synchronize their changes to others on the project.

Instead of building a distributedA SCM from scratch, Microsoft decided to deploy one already in wide use. “Git was the right answer for us,” Harry said.

Microsoft has already recognized the growing popularity of Git among its users. Last year, it released the Git TFS Bridge, which allowed developers to use Git on a local machine, while pushing changes to TFS.

Torvalds started work on Git in 2005 after a licensing disagreement over BitKeeper, the commercial code repository that was used to manage the Linux codebase.

Torvalds designed Git specifically to manage software projects as large as the Linux kernel, which currently has more than 15 million lines of code, is updated every two to three months, and is built collaboratively by thousands of developers worldwide.

Torvalds and his team built the software as a globally distributed repository that would not slow in response times as the code base grows.

The incorporation of Git in TFS will be “a true adoption of Git. It is not ‘Microsoft Git,'” Harry said. The company will be using libgit2, the most widely deployed version of Git, written in C.

When creating a new project, users of TFS will now have the choice to use either Git, which will be included in the TFS software package, or TFS’ own centralized version control system.

“Our goal with TFS is to let users have both the best centralized version control system, and the best distributed version control system,” Harry said.

TFS can execute a range of functions with a Git repository, such as automated builds, testing and work tracking. Over time, Git will have feature parity with the centralized TFS repository, and will also have tie-ins to Active Directory and other Microsoft enterprise security and auditing tools.

The Team Foundation Service will also offer a hosted version of Git for customers to use, starting Wednesday.

Microsoft is dedicating engineering hours to help further develop libgit2. It’ll work with GitHub and other community programmers who devote time to the software.

Some of the work that Microsoft engineers will do will be around making the Windows version more usable. Harry admitted that the Windows version of Git has trailed behind the Mac OS and Unix versions, in terms of ease of use. “We will help rectify that,” Harry said.

In addition to including Git with TFS, Microsoft is also linking Git with its Visual Studio IDE. The company has released a plug-in that will allow users to commit finished code directly to any Git repository. The Git Community Technology Preview (CTP) plug-in works with Visual Studio 12, and Microsoft plans to support Git natively in the next version of the IDE .

Visual Studio can communicate with a Git deployment on TFS, to one on the Team Foundation Service, to the GitHub hosted service, or to any other Git deployment, Harry said.

In effect, Visual Studio can become the primary interface for Git, for developers. “I can connect, clone a repository, and open the project in Visual Studio, edit files and commit,” Harry said.

Developers will also be able to see the code changes committed to Git, review the changes made to the code, switch to another branch of code and merge code into the project’s mainline.

“Git has had an issue of getting pretty darn complicated,” Harry said. “We’ve been trying to codify the most common patterns of using Git, to create a simple workflow in Visual Studio that makes Git approachable.”

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Tech salaries jump 5.3%, bonuses flat

Tech salaries jump 5.3%, bonuses flat
Tech and engineering pros reported the largest salary jump in more than a decade, according to career site Dice

Average salaries for tech pros climbed 5.3% to $85,619 last year, up from $81,327 in 2011. It’s the largest salary jump in more than a decade, according to career site Dice, which specializes in jobs for tech and engineering professionals.

Entry level talent (two years or less experience) waited three years to see an increase in average annual pay — and the market made up for the stagnancy with an 8% year-over-year increase to $46,315. At the other end of the spectrum, average salaries for tech professionals with at least 15 years of experience topped six-figures for the first time, growing 4% to $103,012.

2013 JOB WATCH: Top 11 metro areas for tech jobs

“Employers are recognizing and adjusting to the reality of a tight market,” said Scot Melland, CEO of Dice Holdings, in a statement. “The fact is you either pay to recruit or pay to retain and these days, at least for technology teams, companies are doing both.”

Tech bonuses were slightly more frequent — 33% of respondents got one in 2012 compared to 32% in 2011 — but slightly less lucrative at an average of $8,636 (down from $8,769). [Related story: “Outlook for IT bonus pay murky”]
tech salaries

“In the early stages of the recovery, companies were staying flexible by using performance pay to reward their top performers,” Melland said. “Now, companies are writing the checks that will stick. With a 3.8% tech unemployment rate, no one wants to lose talent.”

By location, Pittsburgh tech pros saw the largest salary increase, up 18% year/year to $76,207. Six other cities also reported double-digit growth in salaries — which is the most ever registered by the Dice Salary Survey.

San Diego (+13% to $97,328)
St. Louis (+13% to $81,245)
Phoenix (+12% to $83,607)
Cleveland (+11% to $75,773
Orlando (+10% to $81,583)
Milwaukee (+10% to $81,670)

Silicon Valley remains the only market where tech professionals average six-figure salaries ($101,278).

Across the U.S., big data skills are in demand, as evidenced by $100,000+ salaries for tech pros who use Hadoop, NoSQL and MongoDB. By comparison, average salaries associated with cloud and virtualization are just under $90,000 and mobile salaries are closer to $80,000, Dice reports.

“We’ve heard it’s a fad, heard it’s hyped and heard it’s fleeting, yet it’s clear that data professionals are in demand and well paid,” said Alice Hill, managing director of “Tech professionals who analyze large data streams and strategically impact the overall business goals of a firm have an opportunity to write their own ticket. The message to employers? If you have a talented data team, hold on tight or learn the consequences of a lift-out.”

Looking ahead to the current year, 64% of tech professionals are confident they could find a favorable new job in 2013.

Dice surveyed 15,049 employed tech professionals between Sept. 24 and Nov. 16, 2012, for its annual Salary Survey.

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15 Top Paying Certifications for 2013

15 Top Paying Certifications for 2013
Randy Muller, Global Knowledge Instructor, MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MCDST

Having earned an IT certification, many individuals think they are automatically entitled to a huge raise. The truth is that several factors, including geography, industry, experience, and yes, certifications, combine to play a major role in determining an individual’s salary. However, certain certifications do have greater impact on the earning potential of an individual. Here, we take a look at the 15 certifications with the highest earning potential for 2013.

Note: The rankings below are derived from certifications that received the minimum number of responses to be statistically relevant in the Global Knowledge annual salary survey completed in October 2012. Certain certifications pay more, but are not represented due to their exclusive nature. These include CCIE: Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert and VCDX: VMware Certified Design Expert, for example.

1. PMP: Project Management Professional – $105,750
The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is recognized as the most important certification for project managers. It is globally acknowledged, in heavy demand, and highly sought after by corporations and individuals alike. A Project Management Professional designation demonstrates that you have not only the experience but also the education to successfully lead and direct projects. The PMP credential is for experienced project management professionals, as the qualifications and testing for this certification are rigorous, as are the required continuing education requirements. All of these factors ensure that the PMP credential is widely respected. The PMP experience and exam requirements focus on five process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing.

2. CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional – $103,299
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential is primarily intended for security managers and profes¬sionals who develop policies and procedures in information security. The CISSP certification has become the gold standard in information security certifications and education. Earning and maintaining a CISSP certification is required for many government, military, and civilian security positions. The CISSP was the first credential in the field of information security, accredited by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Standard 17024:2003.

3. MCSD: Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer – $97,849

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer is the new Microsoft developer certification that replaces the old Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer certification. The new certification validates a candidate’s ability to design and build application solutions. These solutions may span multiple versions of a single technology or integrate multiple technologies. Developers are expected to analyze and design enterprise solutions using different Microsoft languages and development tools.

Currently, there are three separate certification tracks for those seeking to earn this certification: MCSD: Windows Store Apps, MCSD: Web Applications, and MCSD: Application Lifecycle Management. Each MCSD track requires anywhere from three to six separate exams. Microsoft has introduced a recertification requirement for the new MCSD. Current certification holders will have to recertify every two years, ensuring that they remain current on the base technology that will have changed due to service packs, revisions, and new product releases. (Those holding MCSE certifications will have to recertify every three years).

4. MCDBA: Microsoft Certified Database Administrator – $95,950

Access to information is critical in today’s fast-paced, global environment. Corporations are even more dependent on quick and reliable systems to process and retrieve information. This means they must operate their own database servers and business intelligence software to access this information in order to grow and become more successful, and Microsoft Certified Database Administrators (MCDBA) are the ones who provide this expertise. An MCDBA-certified individual has proven his or her ability to design, implement, and manage SQL Server 2000 databases. This certification was retired on September 30, 2012, though if you achieved it before that date it will still appear on your transcript as a legacy certification. There are two new MCSE certifications for SQL 2012: Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Platform and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Business Intelligence.

5. CCDA®: Cisco Certified Design Associate – $94,799

The Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) indicates that the certified individual has a strong foundation and apprentice knowledge of network design for Cisco converged networks. A CCDA certification is for network design engineers, technicians, and support engineers, who enable efficient network environments. The CCDA-certified individual has the skills to design a routed and switched network infrastructure and services involv¬ing LAN, WAN, and broadband access for businesses and organizations.

6. MCAD: Microsoft Certified Application Developer – $93,349

The Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) credential provides industry recognition for professional developers who build powerful applications using Microsoft Visual Studio .NET and Web services. Responsibilities include implementing requirements, developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining department-level applications components, Web or desktop clients, or back-end data services by using Microsoft tools and technologies. The MCAD certification is appropriate for Programmers, Analysts, Software Engineers, Software Application Specialists and Application/Software Developers.

7. VCP-DV: VMware Certified Professional Datacenter Virtualization – $92,400

Virtualization, and those who are knowledgeable on virtualization products, are in heavy demand, especially those professionals with datacenter virtualization skills. In the highly competitive virtualization market it is essential to distinguish yourself with a certification that validates your technical capabilities. VMware is one of the leading vendors of virtualization products and earning a VMware certification is the first step toward gaining industry-recognized expertise in virtual infrastructure. Earning the VCP-DV certification demonstrates that you have not only completed a VMWare-authorized training course but also have the necessary experience and training to successfully install, deploy, scale, and manage VMware vSphere environments.

8. CNE: Certified Novell Engineer – $91,350

The Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) shows that those certified individuals have the expertise and knowledge to solve advanced company-wide support problems and high-level network problems. They perform planning, installation, configuration, troubleshooting, and upgrade services for networks. The Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) has been recognized as one of the IT industry’s leading certifications for advanced networking and troubleshooting professionals.

9. ITIL v3 Foundation – $90,900

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITILv3) is a foundational process that provides for quality IT Service Management. The success of ITIL is through the use of documented and proven processes that cover the entire Service Lifecycle. The ITIL Expert level is the third of four levels. The ITIL Expert level certification is aimed at those individuals who are interested in demonstrating a superior level of knowledge of ITIL Version 3 (v3) in its entirety. Once you have achieved ITIL Expert level you will also satisfy the pre-requisite entry criteria for the ITIL Master Level; the highest level of certification within the ITIL v3 scheme, though the Master level is still under development.

10. CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenServer 6 – $90,850

The Citrix CCA is an entry-level certification. Earning this certification validates the candidate’s skills with one of 11 specific Citrix products, the most popular being XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer. The Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix XenServer 6 certification validates the certified individual’s ability to effectively install, configure, administer, troubleshoot, and maintain XenServer 6.0 Enterprise edition and Provisioning Services 6.0 in an enterprise environment.

11. MCITP: Database Administrator – $90,200

The MCITP certification validates that the IT professional is capable of deploying, building, designing, optimizing, and operating technologies for a particular job role. MCITP certifications builds on the technical proficiency measured in the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certifications. In order to earn the MCITP: Database Administrator you must first pass the Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist certification in SQL Server 2008 (by passing the 70-432 exam) and then pass the 70-450 exam. The MCITP Database Administrator demonstrates knowledge of SQL Server instances and database solutions, database server security solutions, high availability databases, backup and recovery solutions, monitoring strategies, database management and maintenance strategies, and data distribution strategies.

12. MCTS: SQL Server 2005 – $90,100

Those who have earned the MCTS: SQL Server 2005 certification are IT professionals who may pursue careers as database administrators, database developers, or business intelligence developers. They may also be people who do not work with Microsoft SQL Server as a part of their primary job functions but who want to show their breadth of technology experience, such as developers, systems administrators, and others. This certification validates that the IT professional can implement and maintain databases by using specific instructions and specifications.

13. MCT: Microsoft Certified Trainer – $89,949

Those holding the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCTs) certification are the premier technical and instructional experts on Microsoft technologies. An MCT has earned at least one premier certification on a Microsoft product and maintains that certification. Some of the benefits of earning and maintaining an MCT include access to the complete library of Official Microsoft Learning Products; substantial discounts on exams, books, and Microsoft products; members-only newsgroups and online community resources; and invitations to exclusive events and programs. MCT’s must renew each year by completing an online application, pay an annual fee, and meet a number of program requirements to renew your certification for the coming year.

14. CCNP®: Cisco Certified Network Professional – $89,749

There are two tracks available at the Associate and Professional levels – Designing and Networking. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) demonstrates that you have the ability to plan, implement, verify, and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks. A CCNP-certified individual is expected to work collaboratively with other Cisco specialists on advanced products such as security, voice, wireless, and video solutions.

15. CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenDesktop 5 – $89,499

The Citrix CCA is an entry-level certification. Earning this certification validates the candidate’s skills with one of 11 specific Citrix products, the most popular being XenApp, XenDesktop, and XenServer. The CCA for Citrix XenDesktop 5 certifies the expertise required to install, administer, and troubleshoot an enterprise environment containing a XenDesktop implementation, including Provisioning Services, XenServer, XenApp and the Desktop Delivery Controller

Earning a certification does not guarantee that you will walk into a higher paying job. Certification counts, but employers look at several factors, including experience. There was a time when certification holders were reasonably assured of landing a job. Today it is more of a qualifier – not having a certification means you may not even get an interview.
About the Author

Randy Muller (MCT, MCTS, MCSE, CEH) is an instructor with Global Knowledge, specializing in teaching Microsoft Office 365, Exchange, Lync Server as well as Windows Server 2008.

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A road warrior’s guide to locking down your laptop

Here’s how to protect your valuable notebook against prying eyes, snatching hands, and malicious Wi-Fi connections.

Mobile computing may be convenient, but it’s also inherently risky. When you drag your laptop to the coffee shop or bring it along on your travels, you’re making all your private data and one of your most expensive possessions a big, fat target for sticky-fingered thieves. And unlike traditional theft targets like jewelry or wallets, a laptop is an easy steal–the baddies just need to wait for you to turn your back, then grab the computer and run. In some cases, a criminal doesn’t even need to steal your notebook. He can simply pull your sensitive data out of thin air.

15 free security tools you should try
Fortunately, you can do a lot to minimize the perils possibly encountered on the road. By taking a few simple precautions and following some common-sense practices while you’re out and about, you can drastically reduce the chance that your laptop will be stolen and keep your data locked up tight. With great portability brings great responsibility!

Lock the front door
When you go on a vacation, you wouldn’t leave your front door unlocked, would you? Of course not. You shouldn’t leave your laptop completely defenseless, either. Lock your laptop’s proverbial front door by making sure that your Windows user account is set up to require a password on log-in. A log-in password won’t protect against an even semi-competent hacker, but it could easily be enough to dissuade unsophisticated criminals from snooping through your files after stealing your laptop.

Windows makes it very easy to change your password or to set one if you don’t already have one. In Windows 7, just hit ctrl-alt-del and select Change Password, the fourth option down. After that’s set, head to the Power Options in the Control Panel, click Require a password on wakeup in the left-hand pane, and click the radio button next to Require a password.

In Windows 8, just search for “Users” to open up the Users menu in your PC Settings. Here you’ll find options to both change your password and require users to log in when they wake the PC .

Encrypt your data
As mentioned above, a user account password won’t protect your data from a determined snoop–they’re easily cracked, or the thief can simply plug your hard drive into a different computer in order to access your files directly. If you travel and have any files on your computer that you simply don’t want anyone else to see, you should use full disk encryption to keep them safe.

Full disk encryption keeps all the data on your hard drive secure from anyone who doesn’t know your password. If you have Windows Vista, Windows 7 Ultimate or Enterprise, or Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise, you already have full disk encryption in the form of Microsoft’s BitLocker software. It’s easy to enable BitLocker, and when you do your drive will be automatically encrypted, using your Windows user account password.

If you don’t have a professional version of Windows, or your computer doesn’t have a TPM chip, you can still use full-disk encryption, with TrueCrypt. TrueCrypt is free and open source, and as with BitLocker, we’ve covered its basics before.

Because the strength of encryption is pretty much entirely dependent on the strength of your password, now would be a good time to talk about good password practices. You’ve probably heard it before, but a password can be easily cracked if it’s too short or simple, or if you use the same one across multiple services. For the rest of your security measures to be effective, make sure you’re following these three simple rules:

A free password manager like KeePass can make it a lot easier to follow the above rules. Again, make sure you choose a strong master password.

Use a VPN on unsecured Wi-Fi networks
Unsecured Wi-Fi networkspresent a major threat to your system’s security on the road. You don’t know who else is sharing the network, potentially intercepting and recording packets wirelessly sent by your computer. Basic HTTPS web security does a good job of protecting data sent across the internet, but you are essentially at the mercy of the receiving site’s security protocols. If you’re transferring sensitive data, the sensible solution is to always use a virtual private network.

With a VPN, traffic originating from your laptop is encrypted, then sent to a third party server, where it can safely be forwarded on to the world wide web at large, safe from prying eyes. There are lots of options for connecting to a VPN–your company may provide one for you to use, or you can set up your own VPN server at home. For most people, the easiest option will be to use a web-based VPN, many of which offer a limited free service, and low-price monthly rates for heavier users. PCWorld’s guide to VPNs can help n00bs and veteran traffic-tunnelers alike.

Install Prey
So far we’ve talked about how to keep your data safe if your laptop is stolen, but data’s not the only thing at stake–laptops themselves are expensive! That’s why you should have a plan for retrieving your laptop in the event that it’s lost or stolen. We recommend Prey .

Prey is a (mostly) open source application that helps you locate your laptop. When everything’s normal, it runs silently in the background and barely consumes any system resources. If your laptop gets lost or stolen, you can remotely activate the Prey software, and it will begin sending status updates about your laptop to the Prey website. It tracks the laptop’s location based on nearby wireless networks, and captures screenshots of what the thief is using it for. The software can even use the computer’s webcam to send you photos of whoever’s using your lost laptop, or remotely lock down the laptop to prevent the thief from using it.

The free version includes all that functionality, and allows you to save up to 10 reports at a time for 3 devices. A $5 per month subscription lets you keep more reports and increase the report frequency. LoJack for Laptops is a highly regarded premium Prey alternative, with one-year subscriptions starting at $39.99.

Consider a remote data deletion service
Now, we don’t necessarily recommend this step to all users. The full-drive encryption described earlier is pretty much fool-proof as long as your password is strong–unless your laptop was stolen by the NSA, you can consider your data safe. Still, if you’re carrying really important company data and want true peace of mind, ask your IT department about setting you up with a remote deletion service, which can allow you to delete specific files or whole drives over the Internet.

For more details, talk to your IT department. Again, for personal use, we recommend full disk encryption, which is very reliable and doesn’t involve a monthly fee. If you want the option available, however, LoJack for Laptops includes a remote data deletion option that overwrites data sectors seven times to ensure the information is really, truly gone.

Follow good physical security practices
The best way to protect your data, of course, is to not let your laptop get stolen in the first place. Here are a few simple ways to keep your laptop safe:


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Microsoft’s Windows 8 Surface tablets for business ship Feb. 9

Surface for Windows 8 Pro support all legacy laptop applications, Windows Store apps, touch

Microsoft will ship the business model of its Surface tablet for Windows 8 on Feb. 9, later than the widely rumored Jan. 29 release date and about three weeks later than when the company said last year that it would ship.

Surface for Windows 8 Pro (or just Surface Pro) is the device expected to show off Windows 8 to full advantage given that it is made by Microsoft and that it supports all aspects of Windows 8.

[ TEST YOURSELF: The Windows 8 quiz

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Microsoft initially said Surface Pro would ship about 90 days after the Oct. 26 ship date of the other Surface tablet, which would have made the date Jan. 18. Last week a Microsoft employee tweeted that Surface Pros were rolling off the assembly line.

The earlier released Surface RT, which, with its ARM processor is designed for long battery life, lacks support for traditional desktop applications. The one exception is an abbreviated version of Office that ships with the device.

Surface Pro, on the other hand, supports any application that runs on Windows 7 as well as the new Windows Store applications. It is the support for legacy applications that make this Surface the most attractive to businesses.

It is based on an Intel Core i5 processor and HD4000 graphics. It also has a touchscreen that meets Microsoft’s Windows 8 specifications, a detachable keyboard and a pop-out kickstand to prop up the screen when it’s used in laptop mode. The keyboard is held on with magnets, and when removed the device becomes a tablet.

Surface Pro comes in two models, one with 64GB storage for $899 and one with 128GB storage for $999. That’s without the keyboard/cover, of which there are two types. The Touch ($120) has a keyboard embossed on a thin, fuzzy surface that is sensitive to finger taps but there are no mechanical keys. The Type keyboard ($129) has plastic mechanical keys that move and costs.

A stylus for note taking is included with Surface Pro.

Microsoft is adding a new line of Touch keyboards with cosmetic differences from the initial Touch covers, which come in five colors — black, white, cyan, magenta and red. The difference with the new ones is they have designs etched into them and cost $129 rather than $120.

With the announcement of the new keyboard/covers, Microsoft is also announcing that it is selling Surface RT — the 64GB ARM model — as a standalone without a keyboard for those who want to use it solely as a tablet. It costs $599. With a Type keyboard it sells for $699.

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Hottest Android news and rumors for week ending Jan. 18

All quiet on the Galaxy S IV front, but plenty going on elsewhere.After a CES week during which the Android world was all a-twitter over a device that wasn’t even revealed at the show, the previously hyperactive Galaxy S IV rumor mill has quieted down, mostly. It’s likely to only be a momentary respite, however, as the device is heavily tipped to be released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month.

MORE OFFBEAT: The dumbest products of CES 2013

Perhaps the biggest news on the most hotly anticipated Android device so far in 2013 is that an ostensible screenshot of mobile benchmarking results has been published by a Japanese-language blog), which points out that the 1.8GHz CPU speed matches up with Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa eight-core SoC. (More on the Octa later.)

Given the source, it’s important to remember that this should be taken with many grains of salt – even the inclusion of the point about the Exynos 5 Octa could easily be read as a little too circumstantially convenient. (Like Manti Te’o confessing to Lance Armstrong on Oprah or something.)

Still, I can’t deny that the pairing of Samsung’s two biggest headline grabbing topics makes sense. We’ll see what happens (probably) at MWC at the end of February.

Speaking of the Exynos 5 Octa, Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs is unsurprisingly not a fan, according to a report from Unwired View. Essentially, he told reporters in China yesterday, Samsung is just covering for the fact that the four high-performance Cortex-A15 cores drain a ton of power by jamming four slower but less demanding Cortex-A7s into the SoC alongside them, and attempting to reap a publicity windfall by boasting about their eight-core processor.

While Jacobs is correct in noting that all eight of the Octa’s cores won’t operate at the same time, I’m not sure why he’s saying this means the SoC is going to suck. OK, so it’s not a “true” eight-core SoC, but the idea of using the low-power cores for light work and switching to the A15s for more serious tasks still makes sense, and could well back up Samsung’s claims of improved battery life and better performance. Seems like fairly ineffectual spin to me.

The Nexus 4 official wireless charger has appeared on the site of Norwegian store Dustin Home, providing a slick pad on which to charge the Nexus 4 that you still probably don’t have. Presumably, this means that it’ll become available soon in the U.S., but this is a product release story involving the phrase “Nexus 4,” so who really knows?

(Hat tip: Android Central)
But wait! The Nexus 4’s availability problems will soon be a thing of the past, according to an LG executive who spoke to Wednesday. LG France director of mobile communication Cathy Robin says production of the Nexus 4 is due to increase by mid-February, which could ease the supply crunch. As of this writing, both the 8GB and 16GB models are still sold out on the Play Store.

(Hat tip: r/Android)
Android Police has what it says is an internal Sprint document, which asserts that the company plans to offer a $400 device credit to new family plan customers who port at least one line in from a competitor. The deal’s supposedly set to roll out tomorrow, so you don’t have long to wait, if you’re interested.

All quiet on the Galaxy S IV front, but plenty going on elsewhere.

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FAQ: The business case for Microsoft Surface Pro laptop/tablets

FAQ: The business case for Microsoft Surface Pro laptop/tablets
Is Microsoft’s Windows 8 laptop/tablet right for your organization?

Microsoft says Surface for Windows 8 Pro laptop/tablets are rolling off the assembly lines, meaning that availability of the hardware Microsoft thinks Windows 8 should run on can’t be far off.

The device sports a removable touch screen, a cover that doubles as a keyboard and a kickstand to prop up the screen for laptop mode. With the cover flipped back, the device becomes a tablet suitable for using Windows 8’s touch-driven Modern interface as opposed to its desktop.

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But is it right for your business?

Here are some questions you should ask and the answers you’ll want in order to make an informed opinion about whether to buy Surface Pro for your organization.

What does it cost?

Either $899 with a 64GB hard drive or $999 with 128GB hard drive. Keyboard/covers are extra. Type covers with keys that actually depress cost $130. Touch Covers with a static keyboard surface that is touch-sensitive cost $120.

How do you buy it in volume?

CEO Steve Ballmer said months ago that Surface devices would be sold only in the Microsoft Store online or brick and mortar Window Stores. Since then Surface RT — the low-powered, limited Windows 8 tablet — has gone on sale in the big consumer electronics stores. But there haven’t been any formal changes announced by Microsoft to do the same with Surface Pro.

How can you manage a fleet of these things?

Via System Center Configuration Manager SP1 and Windows Intune.

Will it support all legacy business applications?

Microsoft says any apps that run on Windows 7 will also run on Windows 8, which also supports Windows Store applications that are based on Windows Runtime and cater to touch.

How well is it made?

TBD. Surface RT, which is different but looks similar, had some anecdotal problems with the covers separating at the seams, but nothing that warranted a recall.

How long does the battery last?

Microsoft says about half the life of Surface RT, which makes it somewhere between four and five hours. With an Intel Core i5 processor inside, Surface Pro will be eating up a lot of power compared to ARM-powered Surface RT, but Intel says it is coming out with less power-hungry Core processors. If Microsoft swaps them in to Surface Pro, expect better battery life.

What does it have for storage?

Either a 64GB hard drive or a 128GB hard drive. It has a microSDXC card slot.

How much memory does it have?


How much does it weigh?

2 pounds.

How big is it?

10.81 inches x 6.81 inches x 0.53 inches. The thickness doesn’t include the keyboard/cover, which can be either 6 mm for the Type Cover or 3.25 mm for the Touch Cover.

How good is the screen?

The screen is 10.6 inches with a 16:9 aspect ratio and pixel count of 1920×1080.

What applications does it come with?

Windows Mail and Messaging, SkyDrive, Internet Explorer 10, Bing and Xbox Music, Video, and Games.

What ports does it have?

It sports a full-size USB 3.0 port, a headset jack, a Mini DisplayPort and a port for the keyboard. It lacks an Ethernet port.

What wireless technologies does it support?

802.11a, b, g and n Wi-Fi. and Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy. No 3G or 4G LTE.

How is the security?

Windows 8 is widely considered much more secure than Windows 7. Features include Trusted Boot and Secure Boot, Restore and Refresh options for cleaning up infections, an expanded Windows Defender security software package, SmartScreen to check out downloaded executables, sandboxed applications and logically isolated tabs within Internet Explorer 10.

Registration opens for IEEE wireless certification

The next exam for IEEE wireless engineering certification will start in April, and registration is now open.

The exams, for the IEEE Wireless Communication Engineering Technologies Certification, will be held worldwide at test centers run by Prometric, and be available April 7 to May 4. The certification program is designed and sponsored by the IEEE Communications Society (ComSoc).

Successfully completing the exam results in being credentialed as an “IEEE Wireless Communications Professional” (WCET). More information about the credential benefits and program news is on the IEEE website. You register via that website, and registration is due by March 22.

According to a ComSoc statement, “IEEE WCET has since become recognized worldwide as a vendor-neutral and transnational credential for demonstrating the wireless expertise of communications professionals.”

To qualify for WCET, candidates must have a “bachelor’s or comparable degree from an accredited institution” and a minimum of three years of “professional wireless engineering experience.”

The exam is administered via computers at designated sites. It consists of 150 multiple choice questions; applicants have up to four hours to answer them. The $500 fee (or $450 for IEEE and IEEE ComSoc members) covers the application fee, processing, the “seat fee” for taking the test, scoring and score reporting, and a certificate sent to those who pass. For another $50, ComSoc will provide a 75-question online practice exam, which lets you assess your readiness for the full WCET test.

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Cloud Specific IT Certifications 2013

Few areas within the IT industry have seen the kind of growth that cloud computing has. As a result, many IT professionals are now seeking cloud specific certifications. Here is an overview of what is currently available to help you figure out which certification may be best for you.

2013 is here and as we look back at 2012, few areas within the IT industry have seen the kind of growth that cloud computing has experienced.

If your company is locked into a specific cloud service vendor then choosing which IT certification to get may be simple. However, because cloud computing comes in many flavors and is still in its infancy, deciding which cloud certification to get is difficult for many IT professionals.

To help you figure out what vendor offerings are out there and where to begin, has put together a list of currently available cloud certifications. This list isn’t all-inclusive, simply because the cloud computing market is in a state of transformation. Please add any certification we may have missed to the comments section.

CompTIA Cloud Essentials
The CompTIA Cloud Essentials specialty certification demonstrates that an individual knows what cloud computing means from a business and technical perspective, as well as what is involved in moving to and governing the cloud.

The CompTIA Cloud Essentials exam covers:
Characteristics of cloud services from a business perspective
Business value of cloud computing
Technical perspective/cloud types
Steps to successful adoption
Impact and changes on IT service management
Risks and consequences

The Cloud Essentials exam objectives were originally developed by ITpreneurs in cooperation with the Cloud Credential Council, a membership body dedicated to vendor-neutral training in cloud computing and comprised of companies including IBM, Cisco, EMC, HP and ING.

While it is not required, CompTIA recommends that a candidate have at least six months working in an environment that markets or relies on IT-related services

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EXIN Cloud Computing Foundation
The exam focuses to a limited extent upon Cloud technology. The main focus of the programme is the procurement, implementation and management of Cloud Computing, hence the slogan ‘Get into the Cloud – and stay in control’.

EXIN Cloud Computing Foundation is part of the Certified Integrator program and is one of the prerequisites to attain the title:

EXIN Certified Integrator Secure Cloud Services.

Target group
The exam is suitable for IT managers, business managers, IT professionals and procurement specialists, who want to qualify for a role within the rapidly growing field of Cloud Computing. For organizations and trainers, EXIN Cloud Computing serves as independent certification of their own course or training.

Cloud Computing ties in well with other EXIN examination programmes, such as IT Service Management and Information Security.
EXIN Cloud Computing Foundation was created in close collaboration with industry and trade organizations.

HP ExpertOne
HP ATA – Cloud V1
Click to Chat With an Online Representative
For students pursuing HP ATA certification

This certification training provides you with the skills and knowledge to understand a customer’s business objectives and support end-to-end IT solution design and deployment, including on premises, hosted, and cloud solutions for small- to medium-size businesses.

To prepare for this certification, you will learn industry-standard cloud and virtualization technologies. You will also learn how to support disaster recovery plans, install, configure, and upgrade servers, storage, data, networks, clients, applications, and users in new and existing environments. Achieving this certification validates your ability to optimize, troubleshoot, and administer cloud solutions.
Why earn this certification?

As a student you have access to HP training developed in an academic format. You will gain higher job and earning potential through an industry-recognized certification and a high-quality education that provides practical experience with HP and industry-standard technologies.

The HP Accredited Technical Associate (ATA) certification is for individuals interested in pursuing careers in technology and lays the foundation for success.

HP ASE – Cloud Architect v1
Click to Chat With an Online Representative

This certification verifies that you have the ability to specify and architect a spectrum of cloud services based on a converged infrastructure. These include private, public and hybrid cloud environments, and IaaS, PaaS and SaaS platforms. The Cloud Architect training provides you with the ability to navigate through the HP CloudSystem solution offerings and identify, describe, position and specify the right solution based on identified needs. The training also provides an understanding at the level of purpose, function, positioning, and capabilities of HP CloudSystem offerings. The available training will also help you learn the technical consulting skills needed for planning and designing complete cloud solutions.
Why earn this certification?

Businesses are moving rapidly to take advantage of the cloud to speed innovation, accelerate business processes, and reduce time-to-revenue. However, enterprises and service providers seeking to build cloud environments are confronted with fragmented solutions, leading to complexity, security issues, and management costs that organizations are trying to avoid. You can increase your business and professional value by validating your unique breadth of knowledge to plan and design a complete, integrated and open solution based on HP CloudSystem built on a converged infrastructure. You validate The Cloud Architect V1 training and certification provides the skills needed to effectively plan and design the right cloud solutions based for both business and IT needs.

IBM Certified Solution Advisor – Cloud Computing Architecture V2
An IBM Certified Solution Advisor – Cloud Computing Architecture V2 is a person who can clearly explain the benefits and underlying concepts of cloud computing. They can also demonstrate how the IBM Cloud Computing offering helps customers realize these benefits.

Key areas of competency include:
Explain the cloud computing concepts.
Describe how the customer can realize the benefits of cloud computing within their environment.
Identify cloud computing architecture and design principles.
Map customer-s requirements to the IBM Cloud Computing offerings.

Required Prerequisite Skills:
The following qualifications are requirements for success:

Working knowledge of Cloud Computing principles
Working knowledge of implementation of Cloud Computing concepts
Working knowledge of the various types of clouds
Working knowledge of the various types of -as a service- offerings
Working knowledge of various Cloud Computing business models
Working knowledge of key concerns and how they are addressed in Cloud Computing such as security,

Microsoft MCSE – Private Cloud certification

Private Cloud certification
Solutions Expert The globally recognized standard for IT professionals

Prove your expertise in managing and implementing Microsoft private cloud computing technologies. With Windows Server and System Center, you will build your Microsoft private cloud solution to optimize IT service delivery and gain the automation and flexibility you need for your IT infrastructure, now and in the future.
Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012
Administering Windows Server 2012
Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services
Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012
If you’re already certified as a Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP): Enterprise Administrator or MCITP: Server Administrator, you only need to complete steps 4 and 5 above to earn your Private Cloud certification.
This MCSE certification requires you to show continued ability to perform in your chosen solution area by completing a recertification exam every three years.


Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X2-2 Certified Implementation Specialist certification

Exalogic Elastic Cloud X2-2 Essentials

New! Register for OPN Exchange and take this exam for FREE at Oracle OpenWorld 2012.

The Exalogic Elastic Cloud X2-2 Essentials exam is intended for system administrators who have implemented and are managing an Exalogic Elastic Cloud environment in a data center. The exam targets a broad range of topics from fundamentals and initial machine setup to storage and network configuration. In addition to on-the-job training, preparation can include attending Oracle University’s Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud Administration course.

The Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud Implementation Specialist certification recognizes OPN members as OPN Certified Specialists. This certification differentiates OPN members in the marketplace by providing a competitive edge through proven expertise.




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Best of CES 2013: In pictures

Best of CES 2013: In pictures
Here’s what’s grabbing our attention right now at the sprawling CES 2013 gadget show in Las Vegas

CES 2013

Christmas, as usual, comes late for the serious phone addicts, tablet-o-philes and general gizmo junkies among us. Here’s a look at some of our favorites, so far, from CES 2013, which is happening right now in Las Vegas. We’ll be adding to this slideshow throughout the week as we come across cool new products from CES, so please check back.

Vizio MT11x-A1

Best known for its LCD TV line, Vizio announced a pure Windows 8 slate-style touch tablet, the MT11x-A1. (It previously offered an Android tablet). It’s powered by an AMD Z60 dual-core 1 GHz processor, with 2 Gbytes RAM, and AMD’s Radeon HD graphics. It’s just 0.4 inches thick, weighs 1.8 pounds. The 11-inch screen is 1920 x 1080 pixels. Other features: micro-HDMI port, 64GB solid state disk, 2-megapixel front camera, SRS Premium Sound HD. Availability, pricing not announced. Details on the Vizio web page are scant.

Samsung Exynos 5 Octa

Samsung announced its most advanced mobile system-on-chip: the Exynos 5 Octa, so called because it has eight ARM CPU cores. Four are ARM Cortex A15’s, designed for high performance, which are found in the earlier Exyno 5 Dual which powers the Nexus 10. Four are ARM Cortex A7’s, which are similar but designed for power efficiency. The setup lets the SoC shift different types of tasks among the cores for optimal efficiency. Using a 28 nanometer process, the new SoC is somewhat smaller than the Dual. Rivals Qualcomm and NVIDIA also announced new mobile chips. No word on whether Samsung will upgrade the companion GPU.

Panasonic ToughPad for Android

The second new Panasonic ToughPad is the JT-B1 running Android 4.0 with a Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 1.5GHz dual core CPU, 16 Gbytes ROM, 1 Gbyte RAM, micro SDHC; 7-inch, daylight viewable, 1024 x 600 pixel touch screen; rear 13 megapixel auto focus/LED cam, and front 1.3 megapixel fixed focus cam; 5,720 mAh battery, user-replaceable, with 8-hour life; 8.7 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches, 1.2 pounds; Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n, optional embedded LTE or 3G; Micro USB; MIL-STD-810G spec. Ships in February, starting at $1,199

LaCie 5big external hard drive

The LaCie 5big external hard drive is a RAID monster that also includes a super-fast Thunderbolt connection. Aimed at video and photo professionals, this drive transferred a whopping 30GB of data in about a minute (at least in the demo we saw).

Lenovo IdeaPhone P770

Lenovo’s IdeaPhone P770 packs a high capacity 3,500 mAh battery with enhanced power management software, for up to 30 hours of talk time between charges. Native anti-virus software, and dual-sim capability. That’s about all the info in the press release. There’s not even a Webpage for “Ideaphone.” In November 2012, details were leaked or uncovered: 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean; 4.5-inch (960 x 540 pixel) display; 5 MP camera on the back, front-facing VGA cam; 4GB storage. Ships: January, first in China; price not announced. See the P770 video ad.

Panasonic ToughPad for Windows

Panasonic announced two rugged ToughPad tablets. The first is the FZ-G1, running Windows 8 Pro. It has a third generation Intel Core i5 processor, at 1.9 GHz (up to 2.9, with Intel Turbo Boost); 128G-265GB solid state disk options; 4G-8GB, RAM; sunlight viewable 10.1-inch touch screen, user-replaceable battery runs up to 8 hours; 10.6 x 7.4 x 0.75 inches; 2.43 pounds; Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11n, optional 3G or LTE radio; full USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet, serial port or dedicated GPS; complies with MIL-STD-810G spec; ships in February, starting at $2,899.

Qualcomm announced a fire breather

Qualcomm announced a fire breather: the Snapdragon 800 mobile processor series, aimed at “premium” mobile devices. The 800 uses a four-core Krait 400 CPU (based on ARM cores), the company’s Adreno 330 GPU, Hexagon v5 Digital Signal Processor, and its latest 4G LTE Category 4 modem. All components offer dramatic performance gains over the current generation Snapdragon S4 Pro, which is used in smartphones like the Google Nexus 4 and the HTC Droid DNA. Also new: the 600 series, which offers a lower performance level at a lower price, though still a major step up from the S4 Pro. See this blogpost for more information.

Intel Haswell

Intel banged the drum for a new generation of lighter, thinner, and cheaper ultrabooks: shown is this sleek prototype, dubbed Northscape, running Intel’s next-generation, ultra low-power Haswell mobile processor. Haswell is due out in mid-2013, several months earlier than expected. Press a button and the 13-inch display is released, to be used as an 11-inch touch tablet (the change in screen size lets you hold the bezel-less tablet). The 0.67-inch thick ultrabook has 13 hours of battery life; the tablet, 10 hours.

A company called TrackingPoint (currently only showing a video and countdown clock) combined an array of sensors, a processor, digital tracking display, an optical scope, laser, digital signal processor, and even Wi-Fi, along with something never before seen at CES: a custom-built, bolt-action rifle from Surgeon Rifles. The result: the $20,000 Precision Guided Firearm. Data on temperature, barometric pressure, distance to target, orientation of the barrel, let you lock on to the target, with a big red dot that dynamically compensates for a battery of variables. The Wi-Fi link lets the scope’s image appear on an iPad mini (included). PC World has details.

Samsung LED curved TV

We thought we’d left curved TVs behind with cathode rays, but no: Samsung announced a prototype 55-inch concave organic LED TV, with a gently curved surface. The curve makes all viewing angles equal in terms of the eye’s distance to the screen. Gizmodo’s Brian Barrett says the effect is enveloping, and both “disorienting and majestic.” No information on price or on when, or whether, it will be available.


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