Friday, 25 April 2008

Sun Certified System Administrator

Today I took the Sun Certified System Administrator for the Solaris 10 Operating System Upgrade Exam (snappy title huh?). I passed - but only just.

To aid me in my revision, I used the "Sun Certified System Administrator for Solaris 10 Study Guide" by Paul Sanghera published by Osborne, and "Exam Prep Solaris 10 System Administration" by Bill Calkins published by Que. This is on top of using Solaris on a daily basis for the last eight years.

After revising from both these books and taking the test questions, I was consistently getting over 80% from both books. Considering the passmark is 60% for the upgrade, it looked pretty good.

So imagine my surprise when I sat down in the exam and was confronted by a number of questions that are not covered in either book! The confidentiality agreement prevents me from detailing too much about the content, but I was also surprised to find that the questions were based on a small subset of topics.

This is apparently because Sun have upgraded the exams earlier this year and the books are not yet updated. Calkins has a update on his website detailing the changes (which I've only just found!).

So beware if you want to revise this certification! It's not a walk in the park and make sure you know your Flash from your Grub...!

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Wireless EEE problems

Although I've used the EEE PC on a number of different wireless networks, I could not get it to connect to my Netgear DG834G at home. It would see the network, but would not connect and obtain a DHCP address.

To cut a *very* long story short, the problem was that I had configured access lists on the router so that only specified MAC addresses could connect. This was denying the EEE PC access before it even got as far as authenticating.

I added the EEE to the list of allowed addresses and a minute later was happily connected to the web using WPA encrypted wireless.


Wednesday, 2 April 2008

8bit nostalgia

Over the last few days I've been browsing sites dedicated to the old 8bit BBC micro made by Acorn computers in the 1980s. I was first exposed to the BBC at primary school where I think they had two of them (for the entire school!). When I reached secondary school, I joined the break and lunchtime "Computer Club".

At home we had an Acorn Electron. This was a cut down version of the BBC that ran at a slower speed (1Mhz vs 2Mhz), only a single channel for sound and missed the memory efficient Mode 7 screen mode. This did not deter me from adding a printer, disc drive and some ROM cartridges (for word processing and spreadsheets). My Dad then used the machine to write up notes and sermons.

At school I used the Acorn Archimedes (the first RISC computer available to the masses) but for home use I eventually got a 286 PC and he upgraded to a BBC Master - the pinnacle of BBC 8bit computing.

This would have been in about 1993. So why blog about it now?

I'm realising in my browsing just how well designed the BBC was. No other machine had the potential for expansion or the fantastic BBC BASIC. The implementation of BASIC was beyond all other 8bit micros and had named procedures and an inbuilt assembler. The operating system (16k!) provided access to the hardware in a very simple way.

The BBC could have benefited from some better graphics (say 16 colours at a 320x256?) and a beefed up sound chip (it's not bad, but not as powerful as the SID in the C64), but it remains to this day a classic machine that can stand proudly among its peers.

I must visit my parents and hunt down the BBC Master...