Career & Tech Update June 2017

Somehow I managed to let the last 7 months slip by without so much of an update, so no doubt anyone that usually reads this, no longer does!

However, I like to update this blog in order to note my milestones, especially where my career is concerned. I reference all aspects of the last post Found Here

So far in 2017 I have been pretty much doing what I did in the last 6 months of 2016, working with customers to develop technical solutions around their ERP systems. Primarily I am involved in the initial design and install of ERP environments, by that I mean I sit down with a customer (on a technical level) and discuss the various hardware and software requirements around the product the have already signed of on, mostly this is the Epicor ERP10 solution, which is a world leading product aimed at mostly manufacturing and distribution companies across all sectors. Once a customer has made an informed choice on their physical and/or virtual environment where their new system will sit, I am involved in planning, installing and documenting the base deployment of the system. Typically 4 databases (Live, Pilot, Test and Demo) with a variety of additional elements and solutions such as Web Access, Document Management, External System interfacing etc.

Traditionally that is the point where I stop and hand over to the customer a fully documented base install – note if this is an upgrade project they would have their data upgraded as part of this process too. However, I was set a challenge by my superior, and also by myself, tp go beyond the installations and technical planning stages, to spread my wings and my reach a little bit further, deeper into the product.

And so, after 6 months of mixing the day job as described above, with the other day job of keeping my old “managed services” customers up and running, and a few “tech days” on site at multiple customers; training their IT people on managing the ERP infrastructure with an addition of 9 solid days (spread out) of online classroom training, and additional self-paced learning courses… I am now certified as a  Level 1 Tools Consultant up to the latest released version of ERP10 (10.1.600). 

Whilst Level 1 does sound rather basic, and may even be ridiculed by some, what it has given me over the last couple of months, is an ability to understand and appreciate the inner workings of an ERP system, to finally understand how and why customers do not use these systems “out of the box”. Tools consulting is all about helping tailor a system to a company’s individual needs through the use of inbuilt tooling. I am also fortunate that I work alongside a number of people who go one step beyond this into the custom solutions world where they utilise external tools and code to further enhance the systems. I am no developer, but have always dabbled in code, and examples on this blog from years gone by show the random times when I have explored that side of my technical work. Being able to potentially start consulting on tools related work will definitely allow me to mix all aspects of my career to date, and this hopefully will be a great fit for me, allowing me to further enhance and adapt my career.

Back on my last post in November 2016 I listed a number of areas where I was developing within the IT/Tech world. I’d like to review some of those with an update:

  • SQL Skills – With the release of SQL 2016 and a number of challenges regarding compatibility with various platforms and products, I have yet again become rather adept at installation and configuration of SQL environments. I’m also starting to develop a nice library of useful SQL query snippets, from resetting DB ownership, to replacing strings in fields and backup/restore/overwrite of entire ERP environments!
  • ERP – As discussed above I now have a much deeper understanding of the implementation and usage of ERP systems, recent training has opened my eyes to the worlds of finance and manufacturing processes. I have also branched out further into some specific areas, such as CRM and Field Service setups. More of this to come I am sure.
  • Hyper-V – Not really had the chance to go really hands on with this level of setup, in most cases I advise the customer how to set things up but don’t actually get involved in those stages. That said I’ve fixed a handful of Hyper-V snapshot and backup related issues for multiple customers recently so I have to keep my knowledge up where possible.
  • VMWare ESX – same as for Hyper-V really, although I have some interesting migration/decommission work coming up soon so maybe a watch this space.
  • RDS  – I finally have my RDS customers stable and happy, with good performance and no recent complaints! I’ve also worked on implementations related to handheld warehouse devices and ERP client deployment both on RemoteApp and Desktop Sessions.

Do you remember the Coming up list…

Back in November I listed 3 key areas of focus for 2017, with a little Watch This Space…

It seems that out of the three items, two of them are very real, in fact the whole beginning of this post/story covers the Tools area, the other is Solutions, which as a side note to the day job appear to be my area of expertise. By this I mean i have become the main installation resource for a variety of extended solutions (CRM clients, Document Management Email plugins, Project Management integration etc.), also I have become a suport contact point for these and have had some significant contact around the globe  identifying and troubleshooting issues on these solutions. Basically becoming a human intermediary between Developers and Customers – as we all know Developer’s are beyond human  😉 

My last point was Cloud, and in a way without realising it Cloud is part of every day life at home and work. I need to specifically do more work with it, and have targets set against that, so I hope that by the end of this year I will be able to update in more details on that!.

 

Thanks as always for reading what is by far my longest post!

 

Updated Batch Installer Script

So it’s been around a year since I first created the automatic installer script for when we deploy new machines. And it has been a huge success, cutting down deployment time significantly, and meaning we can easily do more than one at a time.

I realised that as it’s been a year, and every product under the sun has a vulnerability in it, that I needed to update the script for the newer versions of the standard products we all know and love. Most notably Adobe Reader, Flash, Java Runtime and Microsoft Security Essentials. On top of these newer versions I also decided as our core business is based on JD Edwards, and it now supports Google Chrome that we should also have that included too.

Another addition that has been made is a simple file copy to create a new folder and put in standard internal documentation that helps people connect from home/customer sites and Accessing our proprietary software.

The latest updates are as follows:

@ECHO off

echo Installing Adobe Reader…

rem “[location]ProgramsStandard SoftwarenewpcAdobeRdr1000.exe” /sAll /msi /norestart ALLUSERS=1 EULA_ACCEPT=YES
rem instructions for compiling network installer can be found at: http://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/show/27718-install-update-adobe-reader-to-to-latest-adobe-reader-xi-11-0-2-using-cmd
msiexec.exe /i “[location]ProgramsStandard SoftwarenewpcAcroRead.msi” ALLUSERS=1 /q /norestart TRANSFORMS=”[location]ProgramsStandard SoftwarenewpcAcroRead.MST”
msiexec.exe /update “[location]ProgramsStandard SoftwarenewpcAdbeRdrUpd11003.msp” /qb /norestart
echo …done

echo Install ActiveX Flash…
rem “[location]ProgramsStandard Softwarenewpcflash_iexplore.exe” -install
msiexec /i “[location]ProgramsStandard Softwarenewpcinstall_flash_player_11_active_x.msi” /qn
echo …done

echo Install Browser Flash…
rem “[location]ProgramsStandard Softwarenewpcflash_firefox.exe” -install
msiexec /i “[location]ProgramsStandard Softwarenewpcinstall_flash_player_11_plugin.msi” /qn
echo …done

echo Installing Java Runtime…
rem “[location]ProgramsStandard Softwarenewpcjava.exe” /s
“[location]ProgramsStandard Softwarenewpcjava_new.exe” /s
echo …done

echo Installing Microsoft Security Essentials…
rem “[location]ProgramsStandard Softwarenewpcmse.exe” /s /runwgacheck /o
“[location]ProgramsStandard Softwarenewpcmse_new.exe” /s /runwgacheck /o
echo …done

rem –install chrome–
echo Installing Google Chrome…
msiexec /q /i “[location]programsstandard softwarenewpcchrome.msi”
echo …done

rem –Copy Useful Docs–
echo Copying BMS Useful Documents…
mkdir “%USERPROFILE%DesktopBMS Guides”
xcopy “[location]batch scriptsDocs*” “%USERPROFILE%DesktopBMS Guides” /Y /q
echo …done

rem –DONE–
echo Installer Complete!
pause

NOTES:

I have left in the older code to compare the differences (if any) in the install commands.

The Adobe installs are now done using a great little utility which you can download from the Adobe website, this helps create a transform file which is basically a set of rules that define the install parameters. The adobe reader install needs a base install of Version 11 and then the update package on top, at time of writing update 3 is the latest, in theory when update 4 is available you should be able to download the file to the standard location and then change the code to reflect this version. The instructions I followed can be found here: http://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/show/27718-install-update-adobe-reader-to-to-latest-adobe-reader-xi-11-0-2-using-cmd

The Google Chrome MSI is available from here: http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en-GB/chrome/business/browser/admin/

For security purposes I have modified the file paths for this post.

 

 

 

Skills Development

Here’s an update of the skills I’ve been developing lately:

  • WordPress Development
  • PHP Development
  • Exchange 2010 Anti-Spam and Transport Servers
  • MySQL DB Management
  • Linux Anti-Virus
  • Linux Shell Scripting
  • Linux Anti-Spam
  • ISPConfig web hosting environments
  • Oracle VirtualBox hosting environments
  • Oracle Enterprise Linux 6 administration
  • Site-Site VPNs

For more of my skills and abilities, check out my LinkedIn profile here