Certified Mail: September 2002

Influencers who want bigger decision-making responsibilities, smart cards that are only as smart as the implementers, and a lucky find.

Who’s Really the Boss?
In response to Dian Schaffhauser’s July “Editor’s Desk,” kickbacks, free golf, free meals and general schmoozing of that “C” person, VP or director drive the decision-making in medium and large organizations. The appeal to ego and greed will overshadow technical recommendations from working staff every time. Just look at the proliferation of Mickey-Mouse tools and half-baked outsourced development projects with which those staff must contend.
—Bianca Hayes, MCP
Sherman, Texas

I know I’m valuable to my company because my management seeks me out to work on particular projects and for my technical advice. I’ve also bailed people out from sticky situations and helped implement a new capability. My judgment is trusted and relied upon. This doesn’t mean that I don’t aspire to be a CIO one day—I do. I want to be the decision-maker and the person who sets the technical direction of the organization. As an implementer in the “C” role, it falls to people like me to make someone else’s bad (or good) ideas work; many times, CIOs don’t know the cost of their decisions, and influencers can’t always talk CIOs or other decision-makers out of bad ideas. I don’t aspire to senior management for the purpose of taking credit or gaining glory for myself, but I believe I can use my technical acumen to keep the ship moving in a good direction, perhaps better than most CIOs.
—Jeffrey Harris, MCP+I, MCSE, CLP R5
Fairfax, Virginia

You’re absolutely correct. As a senior systems administrator and an MCSE+I, MCDBA and MCSD, I choose the technology; my boss just signs off (or not).
—Joel Woods
Concord, Ohio

I’m an MCP with the A+ certification, and I just had a client purchase the needed software and hardware for a ground-up network. This is a small business, but I was able to save it more than $12,000. So, yes, even the lowly MCP can make a difference in the market.
—Stephen J. Bonfiglio
Vine Grove, Kentucky

What About the Little Guy?
I’ve noticed that most computer-related magazines target two major audiences: gamers and top-level IT professionals. I’ve only been in this field about three years, and it can be discouraging looking through industry magazines and not finding a single article I can really relate to. I’ve also noticed that admins in small businesses are never addressed. It’s been said that small businesses are the “backbone” of our economy, yet in IT mags, only specialists from major corporations are discussed. I’ve nothing against big companies or their IT pros; I started my career as a tech for a major corporation. It would just be nice to see an article on small business IT pros. —Jon Marshall, MCSE
Maumee, Ohio

Printer Puzzle
In the July cover story, “What’s the Problem?” Eric Lanyon asks how to create a printer and have it apply to anyone who uses that machine. Wouldn’t Microsoft’s how-to article, Q305709, be another good, simple answer to his question?
—Jose Campos
Downey, California

This is a good idea, but only if you can map to drives and servers without any security on them. When I tried this, my local user was unable to connect to Active Directory printers—which automatically means this wouldn’t work. Even if you did relax the permissions in order to make this work, you’d still have to run around to every machine to make the magic happen.
—Jeremy Moskowitz

Admins Getting Carded?
I’ve been reading Roberta Bragg’s security articles and wanted her thoughts on implementing smart card authentication on a forest-root domain. I’d like to restrict enterprise and schema admin usage by requiring smart card authentication within these groups. Is this normal practice? What are the limitations? Do many companies find it important to restrict access like this? Also, from the documentation I’ve read on smart card authentication, administrators are forcing users to log on with the cards, but never is the administrator required to do this.
—Brent Arkley, MCSE+I
Dublin, Ireland

Well, Brent, the use of smart cards by enterprise and schema admins is good practice. However, you should realize that—at least in Windows 2000—there are some admin duties requiring the administrator to use a password. There’s no way for the smart card to work here, so you can’t make the user account require a smart card only. It’s a good additional bit of security, but not an excuse to ignore other things like restricting the number of group members or impressing upon them the danger of allowing others to use their accounts.
—Roberta Bragg

[Bill Boswell also discusses smart cards in his latest "Windows Insider" column.—Ed.]

Another Expensive Lesson
I have a similar story to “The $5,000 Lesson” in the July issue. I lost $5,000 to Ameritrain Inc. in Columbia, Maryland, pursuing my MCSD. My story began in 1999 when I decided on a career change from pharmacist to programmer. I chose Ameritrain because it said you’d have up to two years’ access to its facilities and courses.I figured this would be sufficient time to get trained and be successful in the four exams. I took the initial eight-week courses; a few months later, I returned for “rephrasing” as the company calls it. I learned that it abandoned the MCSD program. Despite this, I landed a job as a junior programmer but was laid off six months later. This was primarily due to my limitations in programming knowledge and experience. At this time, the only certification I had was Visual InterDev. Ameritrain didn’t have sufficient course content for Visual InterDev, SQL Server or Analyzing Solutions. The Visual Basic training it provided was also poor preparation for the exams.

In August 2001, I represented myself in a suit against Ameritrain in an attempt to recover all or a portion of my $5,000. Prior to the trial, the company offered me $1,000 to settle out of court, which I refused. I paid almost $1,000 in legal fees to do some initial discovery for my trial; but, at $180 per hour, I couldn’t continue to engage a lawyer. On the day of the trial, I stood alone. Ameritrain eventually prevailed to my dismay.

My goal, at this point, is to take 70-175 and 70-100 before the end of the summer so I can say I finished what I started even though I’m essentially self-studying since returning to work as a pharmacist. I’ll probably remain a pharmacist, especially during these uncertain times in the IT field. My sympathies to Ed Garrett; I feel his pain.
—Ray Lake, MCP
Baltimore, Maryland

Lucky Find
Thanks for the tip on how to “Show All Registered Devices” in the April issue. Since moving to Windows XP Professional, I started noticing redundant drivers and devices. I had no idea how to remove the clutter or where to find the answer. I happened to browse this issue at a local newsstand and—just by a stroke of luck—noticed your tip. I’m thankful I did.
—Keith Blake
Los Angeles, California

I am glad you enjoyed the article. You’ll find many useful nuggets of info in each issue of MCP Magazine.
—Charles Oppermann

Crash Tip Slip
I read Zubair Alexander’s article, “After the Crash” in the July issue. He said that to install Recovery Console you use winnt with the /cmdcons switch; but my experience has been that this executable won’t install this tool. In order to install Recovery Console, you actually need to run winnt32 with the /cmdcons switch. In addition, Recovery Console only allows access to some very selective directories by default (most notably the root and %systemroot% directories and the cmdcons folder), so there are additional steps required to gain full access to the entire partition you may need to perform some “surgery” on. I recommend that readers check out the Knowledge Base articles Q240831, Q229716 and Q235364 for the details on gaining full access to the file system on the disk. Thanks for writing those articles!
—Mike Foster, MCSE, MCT
Mesa, Arizona

Thanks for pointing out the typo. You are correct. Inside Win2K, you must use winnt32 instead of winnt, whether you’re upgrading the OS or installing Recovery Console.
—Zubair Alexander

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