CanDo Technologies Blog

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Exchange 2019 in a Home Lab with a Dynamic IP and Blocked Port 25

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A recruiter recently submitted me for a Microsoft Exchange project even though I knew almost nothing about Exchange. Well, I thought, it wouldn’t hurt to learn. The learning process was quite an ordeal, mostly because Exchange in a home lab is quite different from Exchange in a commercial environment. First of all it can be a challenge when you run Microsoft Exchange in a home lab with a dynamic IP and your ISP blocks port 25. This article is all about how to get around those hurdles. I ran into another hurdle when I discovered a trial download of Exchange is generally unavailable, at least not one I could find. If you want to download Exchange, you need to be on a Volume License Agreement or buy a copy. The retail version of Exchange can be very expensive for home users, but if you shop around, you should be able to find a copy for a reasonable price (Google is your friend). I was going to suggest download Exchange from Technet, but I just discovered Microsoft doesn’t offer Technet subscriptions anymore.

I wanted to run my home lab cheaply as possible. I did not want to pay the relatively high cost to lease a static IP address. There are ways to get around that but there are other problems associated with having a dynamic IP address. I will describe how I got around the problems associated with not having a static IP. I will describe here what I did to get my home lab up and running. It took many Google searches to find what I need to make Exchange work in my home lab. And it wasn’t all in one place. I would run into a problem, search for an answer, then run into a new problem and the new answer was in an entirely different place. The answers weren’t always clear or complete. My goal here is to compile what I found and put it in a single place. Hopefully Google will find my site so your Google searches will point here and help you to make your home lab work. The goal of this posting is to help you set up your home lab. I’m going to cover the basics about installing Exchange, but I do not plan on going into great detail. There are a bunch of articles and YouTube videos about how to install Exchange. I help you get Exchange installed but the goal here is to help you configure Exchange to run in your home lab – after Exchange is installed. Specifically how to get Exchange running without a static IP address and what to do when your ISP blocks port 25. The cost is about $30.97 per year, plus the cost of Exchange. Please allow me to give a standard disclaimer. The solutions presented here worked for me. I’m providing these solutions in the hope you will find them useful. As always, you will need to determine if the solutions outlined here are appropriate for you. Every environment is different. These worked for me, don’t sue me if they don’t work for you or if you follow my cookbook and your stove catches on fire.

Before getting started, you will need to determine how your ISP connects you to the Internet.
This article assumes your ISP connects you directly to the Internet. In my environment, all the devices in my home use non-routable IP addresses. This means my computers could see servers on the Internet but Internet could not see my computers. You will need the Internet to be able to see your Exchange Edge server. No problem. This article explains how to configure your home-router to attach devices in your home to the Internet. Here’s the caution. This article assumes the IP address on the Internet side of your router is routable. In other words a real IP address. In the past, I used an ISP where the IP address of the Internet facing side of my router was also non-routable. My router was not directly connected to the Internet. The Internet would not be able to see my Edge server. If this applies to you, you are out of luck. You will need to lease a static-IP.

The next thing to know is Exchange 2019 is only supported on Windows Server 2019, and you need a 64 bit computer. Since Exchange typically has a mailbox server and an Edge server (more on that later), you will need two servers. At least the servers can be virtual and Windows Server 2019 is available for evaluation download. I do have a rather extensive home lab, so I had the iron to run Windows 2019 and Exchange 2019. Windows Server with Exchange will run on a desktop class machine, and you can buy them rather inexpensively on Ebay, sometimes for less than $100. My 8 GB desktop machine will run Windows and Exchange 2019 but I could not install an additional virtualized Windows 2019 on the same machine – not enough memory. I didn’t find that out until after I installed Exchange. Fortunately, I do have an extra Windows Server 2016 in my lab with 16 GB. I was able to install a virtualized Windows 2019 server running the Edge server under Hyper-V on Windows 2016. I probably could have installed two virtualized 2019 servers with Exchange and Exchange Edge on my 16 GB Windows 2016 machine but didn’t think to do that until it was too late.
If you are curious, this is what I have in my lab:
HP Compaq Pro 6300 SFF
Intel Pentium CPU G870 3.1 GHZ
8192 KB

HP Compaq Pro 6300 SFF
Intel Core CPU I5-3470 CPU 3.2 GHZ
16384 GB

If you have two computers with adequate memory, you won’t need Hyper-V. If you only have one computer, you will need Hyper-V or other virtualization software. It’s important to know what kind of processor you need if you want to …

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Job Search Recordkeeping

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It’s a good idea to keep a thorough record of all jobs you apply for. If you are on unemployment, your state unemployment division will likely require you to keep a record of your job contacts. Even if you aren’t collecting unemployment, it’s still a good idea to keep a detailed record of your applications.

For example, Colorado Unemployment requires you to keep a record of:

• What action you took
• How you applied for the position
• The type of work you were looking for
• The person you contacted, a telephone number,
email address or other reliable contact information
• The outcome of the contact

I keep the information in an Excel spread sheet. Excel is very useful for keeping a list of all my applications. Its search feature makes it especially useful. Years ago, I kept a paper list. I discovered paper lists aren’t handy if I want to search through the companies and jobs I applied to in the past.

Click here for sample spreadsheet

I also added the date, the employer, the website, and a few other fields. If I have an email or phone number, I will specify under employer. If the employer is a recruiting firm, I also include the name of the company they are submitting me to. That way I have a record of the actual company I applied to. That will come in handy if I need to search for companies I applied to. Also, some employers will not accept resumes from recruiting firms if you already applied with them.

Most of the jobs I apply to are on-line. The jobs are listed on job boards or employer websites. Often the job board will contain a job desription with a link to apply for the job. Sometimes the link is to an employer’s website, sometimes the job board will send your resume and cover letter to directly to the employer. I keep a copy of the link under the column “Job Website”.

“How contacted” will contain information such as if I applied via a job board, via a company website, or via email etc. I also specify if I submitted a Resume or both a Resume and Cover letter.

Most jobs will display a message and/or email you that you successfully applied. I keep a copy of the message under the “Confirmation” column.

Some employers will ask where you saw the job posting, so I put that information that under the “Job Board” column.
Most company career sites will ask you to set up an account. I keep the account information under the column “Logon to Employer Site”. I don’t put the actual password I used, instead I put hints to help me remember the login and password.

Job Board Hints

I review the job boards and keep a record of every job I apply for
Here are some of the job boards I visit:
indeed.com
linkedin.com (jobs)
dice.com
monster.com
careerbuilder.com
glassdoor.com (jobs)
ziprecruiter.com
The job boards enable you to limit the number of days back to search. This is useful if you search the boards every day.
They’re all a little different, but generally you can limit your search to 1 day back, sometimes 3 days, most will allow you to limit your search to a week back.
Look for links such as “advanced search”, “date posted”, “filter”, or similar. I do not see a similar feature on Dice, but Dice does have a “sort by relevance/date” link so you can put the newest postings at the top.

Other Record Keeping and Job Application Hints.

I use an email address dedicated for my job search. This helps me keep my job search emails separate from my regular emails. This makes it less likely I will miss an important job notification. Since I use Microsoft Outlook, I have my Outlook configured to flag incoming job search emails with a special color and musical tone.

In addition to my log, I keep a “Jobs” folder with several subfolders.

It should be fairly intuitive what most of the folders are used for.
Resumes go in the “001-Resume” folder. I have several different versions of my resume, depending on what I’m applying for.
Cover Letters go in the “002-Cover Letters” folder. Again, I have several different versions of my cover letter, depending on what I’m applying for.
I keep PDF copies reference letters and reference contact information in my “004-References” folder.
My “003-Applications” folders may not be as intuitive at first glance, but it’s a very important folder.
Under “003-Applications, I create an employer sub-folder when I apply for a job. If I apply more than once with an employer, I add the new job info to the folder. Sometimes I may need to create sub-sub folders.
I copy a resume from my 001-Resume folder and I copy a cover letter from my “002-Cover Letter” folder into the employer folder.
I then customize my resume and cover letter to match the job. I may change the order of the items in my resume or cover letter. I may add skills not listed in my original resume to match the job description, and I may change the words and terms in my resume and cover to match the job description. This can be useful for a technical role when a non-technical screener may not understand two different words may mean the same thing.
I keep application-customized resumes and covers in the employer folder while keeping the original versions of my resume and cover in their respective 001 and 002 folders.

I also keep a copy of the job description I am applying for. Be advised, saving a website into the Employer folder doesn’t always work. Neither does printing a PDF copy. If you do save a copy or print a pdf, be sure to check it. An alternative is to copy the text from the job description and save it in a MS Word document.
One …

Wyze Cam Security Cam

I recently decided I wanted an outdoor security camera but I didn’t want to spend much money.  After a bit of research I found a bargain camera that includes a bunch of features. The Wyze Cam can be purchased for $19.95 plus $5.99 shipping. The camera has two way audio and includes 14 days of cloud storage.  The camera will upload 10-15 second video clips every time it detects motion.  If you want to store continuous motion or more than a 15 second clip, you will need a micro SD card.  The camera supports up to 32 GB. The camera out-of-the-box  is not suitable for outdoor use. You will need an enclosure.  I bought one on Amazon for $16.99.  The camera is powered by a micro USB/USB cable plugged into a power adapter. If you want to use the camera outside, you will probably need a longer cable than what’s included.

The camera is a bargain does just what I want it to.  It sends me an alert to my android phone every time it detects motion in my driveway. I can view the clip from the phone. The camera also supports iPhones. Next, I plan to set up another cam at my front door.  When someone comes to the door, I can see who’s there and even ask what they want without needing to come to the door.

See my Youtube video for the details: Video

 

 

 

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My New Baha – Bone Attached Hearing Aid

I am nearly deaf in my right ear, and since my ear canal is clogged, a traditional hearing aid won’t help. If it wasn’t for my clogged hearing canal, I would have nearly normal hearing in my right ear. In 2017, I had surgery to drill in a metal abutment into my skull near my right ear.  Three months after my surgery, I received a Bone Attached Hearing Aid (Baha) that snaps into the abutment.With the device, I am now able to hear normally through my skull. The hearing aid comes with accessories that work over Bluetooth.  They enable me to use my hearing aid with a mobile phone, hear streaming audio over Bluetooth, and hear sounds via a remote microphone.  See my YouTube video describing my experience.…

RCA RPJ116 Multimedia Projector for PowerPoint Review

I saw this projector in Walmart for $89. I’ve been wanting a projector for PowerPoint presentations but didn’t want to invest several hundred dollars for something I wouldn’t use very often. I wasn’t sure if this projector would do the job but I knew I could take it back if it didn’t work out. I discovered the output is a little dim but would do a half way decent job in a dimmed room.  The projector is OK for me, but I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who gives frequent presentations.  See the YouTube video for details.…

How I Passed My CISA Exam

The company I work for has been sold. Most of the technology associates expect to lose our jobs in the upcoming months. Fortunately, the companies are offering a generous severance package. As the days counted down towards business close, we were also offered in-house professional training on a variety of subjects, many of which included vouchers for certification tests. Due to low demand, CISA training was not available for in-house training but the company offered to pay for independent study classes. The company would reimburse us for the certification exam if we passed. I took several of the instructor led classes and was approved for an independent study class for the CISA.

CISA Training Classes

I selected the CISA class from Alan Keele at www.certifiedinfosec.com. The class is a self-paced 180 day subscription at a cost of $449.95. He does offer a free trial lesson consisting of a pre-assessment test, training class, and a post-assessment test. I found the trial was a good representation of the general courseware. Keele’s training consists of assessment tests and narrated slides. One of the nice things about the class is the instructor is available to answer questions via phone or email. The instructor promptly answered emails, and promptly responded to a voice-mail I left.

The class is broken down into the five CISA domains plus an extra series of lessons for “Consolidated Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Topics”. Each domain consists of multiple lessons, each with assessment tests and a final assessment test for each domain. The class offers four final exams consisting of 150 questions each (As of this writing, the CISA exam is 150 questions). You can take the assessment tests more than once, but the order of the test questions will vary each time you take the test. The final exams are random questions from a pool – each time you take the final exam you will get different questions in a different order. The recommended passing score is 95%. I passed all my assessment tests with 95%+ but did need to take a few more than once. My final exam scores ranged from 85-93%.

The material seemed to be geared towards helping the student answer test questions. The slides are narrated and  consist mostly of a bunch of test answers without the questions. When I spoke with Keele on the phone, he told me that was the strategy for helping students pass the exam. Since the exam is multiple choice, if the student could recognize the answers, the student will be able to recognize the answer even if the questions were unfamiliar. The CISA test is multiple choice – only one correct answer per question. The assessment questions from the class are in multiple formats including multiple choice, true-false, matching, and “select all that apply” (multiple answers for a question). Although not all class questions are multiple choice, the instructor told me his question/answer format is an easy way of combining multiple questions into one.

After the student answers an exam question, the instructor would provide text and narrated answers. In most cases, the instructor read the correct response, but did not provide much of an explanation. In some cases, the instructor would point out questions and answers that were plain silly and that ISACA’s answer is not always the same the way as an experienced professional would answer. I noticed this when I took the test and I’ve heard the same thing from other people who have taken the exam.

The wording on the narration and slides were quite formal. This format was useful for some of the test questions but not helpful for a true understanding of the material. I found myself going to Youtube to get a better understanding. In my search, I found a series of short lessons from Hemang Doshi. Doshi has a very thick accent and my first inclination was to stop watching and look for another video. I decided to watch his video and found his video very helpful for an understanding of the material. Doshi’s videos do an excellent job of explaining the concepts in very simple terms. He uses a keyword approach – “if you see this keyword”, then “look for this answer”. Doshi’s videos are simple – a question, keyword, answer approach compared to Keele’s formal approach. I found both classes together to be instrumental in my passing of the exam. I did find the practice tests and material from the two to be very similar, but the approach used in the lessons were quite different.

Doshi has quite a few videos, here is a nice sample of several of his videos:

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-approach-to-preparing-for-CISA-examination-without-prior-knowledge-of-auditing

Doshi also has a mostly free site. The site consists of videos, flash cards, study material with assessment test for each domain, and a final 150 question test covering all domains. The site also has a “30 day strategy for CISA Success”. The 30 day strategy is a series of 10-20 questions to be taken one test per day over a period of 30 days. He asks for $30 for the “30 Day Strategy” to be paid upon passing the exam. No credit card or registration is required to take the lessons. Just pay after you pass the exam. I opted for this training, but in hindsight the site offers so many practice tests, it probably wasn’t really necessary to take the 30 day strategy. Since I did use the material and passed my CISA, I did pay the $30 upon receiving my score.

WARNING, WARNING, WARNING, WARNING

The site is supported by pop-up ads and I received virus warnings when some of the ads displayed. The site itself seems to be fine but the pop-ups may not be. My recommendation is to have a good virus checker and close the pop-ups before they have a chance to populate. I would have recommended a pop-up blocker but the practice tests don’t work properly with a pop-up blocker on.

WARNING – Be careful when going to the …

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Pitney Bowes stamps on QL-700 no monthly fee

I recently purchased a Brother QL-700 label printer on sale at Staples for $39.99. A pretty good deal. As I was reading through the promotional material, I discovered that I could sign up for the Pitney Bowes pbSmartPostage service for no monthly subscription fee. I’ve always wanted to be able to print my own stamps, but I could never justify paying a monthly subscription fee. This was my chance. I went to the Pitney Bowes site to sign up. Hmmm, there’s nothing here that lets me sign up without paying a fee. It took a Google search to find the “free” sign-up link. That’s.

www.pb.com/brother

I went to the site and was redirected to the sign-up URL. Sign-up was pretty easy, It didn’t ask even me for a credit card. Just enter a few personal details such as name, email address, and physical address (no PO Boxes allowed). I don’t know if I did something wrong, but during the process it said they were going to send me a free welcome kit, then proceeded to display an invoice showing $0.00 for the welcome kit with $10.00+ shipping charge. How are they going to get the shipping charge from me? Didn’t ask me for a credit card. Well, they never charged me but they never sent me the kit either.

Now that I had access to the site, I was able to get an idea about how the plan actually worked. I already knew I had to buy my label rolls from Pitney Bowes. The choices at this time are $17.99 for 200 labels or 39.99 for 1000 labels. Plus tax. Do the math. $17.99/200 + Tax = more than $.09 per stamp. The other options are less expensive but still add quite a bit to the cost of the stamps. The labeler detects the kind of rolls, so the software won’t let you print stamps on “unapproved” rolls. You do get ½ cent discount on postage but the discount does no good when you’re paying such a high price for the supplies.

If you’ve seen pictures of the printed stamps, you may have noticed an orange stripe at the top that says pbSmartPostage.com. The stripe comes pre-printed on the rolls. That’s fine for the stamps, but if you intend to print both stamps and labels on the same roll, then your labels will have the orange stripe too. The alternative is to switch rolls every time you switch between labels and stamps.

I later learned that you can buy stamp sheets for $7.49; 5 sheets, 25 labels per page, 125 labels in all. You can print the stamp sheets on a regular laser printer. The gotcha is the sheets come with serial numbers. In order to print on the stamp sheet, you need to enter the serial number of the sheet.

You end up paying for the “free” service by paying and inflated charge for supplies. If you pay the hefty charge for the fee subscription, then you can print the stamps directly on the envelope and avoid the hefty charge for the stamp rolls and sheets.

Ordering supplies is relatively easy, just enter your credit card number and order. Pitney Bowes didn’t charge me for shipping, but they did add tax. I ordered the $17.99 roll on the weekend and it arrived in the mail on Thursday.

In order to pay for stamps, you need to fund your account. When you click on “Add Postage”, it will tell you have no funds. You can set up a Reserve Account or enter your credit card information. THEN you can fund your account. It gives you several options for funding with specific dollar amounts of $20, $50, or $100 or you can enter your own amount. BUT… the amount needs to be in even dollar amounts and it won’t let you enter an amount less than $10.00. It does maintain your account in ½ cent increments. When I printed a single stamp, it decremented my account by 46 ½ cents.

I was really disappointed when I discovered the available postage classes were very limited. It allows various types of first class mail up to 3 ounces and media mail. That’s it. One of the main reasons I signed up is so I can print Priority Mail stamps. Tech support informed me Priority Mail requires a bar code, and bar codes go on the address label. Since the basic service doesn’t print address labels, no Priority Mail.

If I knew then what I knew now, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for the service. Printed stamps are very expensive, and the types of mail you can send are very limited. The only thing you MIGHT get is the convenience of not having to go to the post office to buy stamps.

 

Check out my YouTube video