Certified Mail: February 2003

Scripting tools; upgrading to .NET; .NET by any other name.

Scripting Tutelage
Chris Brooke’s recommendation for Primalscript in December’s article, “Editors’ Choice: Products We Love” was interesting. My company has tried the product and although we don’t currently have any XML scripts, we found it to be more of a hassle than not. Just creating or editing VB scripts was painful because the product repeatedly locked up, crashed or just behaved oddly. For example, IntelliSense only worked sporadically, and Sapien’s tech support was no help.

The best script editor we found is MSE7.exe, which is included with Office applications. It may not have all the fancy features of some products, but the price and stability are attractive.
—JC Warren, MCP
Seattle, Washington

Thanks for the feedback, JC. While I didn’t experience any of the hassles that you did (I have yet to experience a lockup), it just goes to show you that user experience differs from person to person. Also, when I called Sapien, I got right through and used the opportunity to ask a variety of “user” questions. This is standard practice when I’m reviewing products. Having worked in tech support, I know how to come up with standard questions as well as “tech-support stumpers” that are designed to really test their mettle. I was happy with all of the answers I received.

I’m glad you found a script editor you like.
—Chris Brooke

Ann’s Future Plan
Bill Boswell’s December “Windows Insider: A Real-World Upgrade” doesn’t show how cheap a company can be; it shows how bad an IT professional can be. Ann wants to move away from NT because of a lack of support. That’s a grandiose idea, but far from a requirement. The foolish part is the move to Windows .NET Server 2003, an operating system that’s unsupported. She then ran into issues that were quite well known (such as an Exchange upgrade).

And then there’s the desire to change the NetBIOS domain name to match the Internet domain name but no stated need to do this. It adds extra work and cost to a client that doesn’t seem to want to pay for it.

While an upgrade to .NET might be desired, Ann illegally implemented the OS for a client. She should have experience with a particular deployment before implementing it.

No effort seems to have been placed on increasing the return on investment for the client. How is Internet security implemented? How is remote management accomplished? Does anyone look to see if the RAID has failed? How much are the salespeople spending on remote access? What about a VPN solution? These aren’t “pie-in-the-sky” MCP exam concepts; they’re basic, real costs to the customer.
—Ed Woodrick, MCSE
Atlanta, Georgia

Windows .NET Server was slated to be released by the time the column appeared, so Ann would have been deploying a fully supported operating system. As to the NetBIOS name, Ann chose to retain the old, flat name and to rename it at some point in the future. She incurred no current cost to the customer with this decision. Implementing the advanced features of Windows .NET to provide increased service levels to the client was not in the scope of the article. I’m sure Ann would begin to leverage the upgrade as soon as the system was stable.
—Bill Boswell

[Note: As of this posting, Microsoft plans to officially release Windows Server 2003 on Apr. 24 in San Francisco. See "Microsoft Sets Launch Date for Windows Server 2003" by ENTmag.com's Scott Bekker.—Editor]

Buying Bob
I’ve been writing software for eight years almost exclusively for Windows. Windows is like a Ferrari and Linux/Unix/OS/2 are like Mack trucks. People love Ferraris because they’re great to look at—and that’s what Microsoft is betting on. Ferrari is a fast and reliable car if you want to drive the highway, but a Mack truck is what you need if you have a heavy-duty job.

It’s time for Microsoft to think about reliability and performance and leave the fancy windows and icons aside. I haven’t yet installed Windows .NET Server 2003, but I expect a lot of improvement in the reliability and stability areas. Microsoft released the .NET Framework for Windows, but with so many open-source projects for Unix, I expect there will be a .NET for Unix—if it’s not already there under another name—in the next few years.

The bottom line is that Windows is nice and works fine on the highway, but we need more if we want it for off-road trips.
—Catalin Tomescu, MCP, MCSD
Jeffersonville, Indiana

I think that naming is important for Microsoft—and for managers. But for those on the technical side, a name is only a trademark. I'd buy Microsoft Bob Server if I thought it was technically sound but then I'd have to explain to my boss that "Bob" is a real OS!
—Majid Bardeh, MCP
Arlington, Virginia

Regarding Em C. Pea's December column, the year associated with a product doesn't bother me. What makes me cringe is the name "Microsoft," because it instantly brings to mind bugs, high cost and overhead, increased complexity with less user control, anti-trust issues and "outdated in six months or less" problems. I'm in the process of switching over to Linux, Lindows and BSD. I've rid myself of Windows 95/98 and NT machines and didn't fall for the Me or XP traps. I don't want Windows .NET Server 2003, either. I wonder if I can sell the old licenses?
—Tom Geis, MCSE
Amherst, New Hampshire

On a New Path
Regarding January’s coverage of .NET Server 2003, I think it stinks. Based on information provided earlier this year, I took Windows 2000 training and completed (at a significant cost) my MCSE.

If Microsoft had been up front, I wouldn’t have bothered. I’m sick of the rules changing. I’m the owner of a small firm with 10 technicians. Training for my staff over the last two years has been our single biggest budget cost. I won’t be encouraging our staff to undergo Microsoft training in the future, as we don’t have time to recoup costs before Microsoft forces us to embark on the next round of training.
—Mark Liddle, MCSE
Mildura, Australia

The question now is: How long will the Windows 2000 certification be valid?
—Erick Growcock, MCSE
Tulsa, Oklahoma

I've been a Microsoft supporter since NT3.51. The company I work for is currently paying for certifying staff on Windows 2000. I don't think it'll be happy to pay for yet another certification path. Therefore, this means we have to buy the courses ourselves. They're quite expensive in the Netherlands. Also, half of the firms here are still upgrading to Win2K. So what's the point in starting with a new server? It won't be until around 2006 that most of our clients will think about moving to .NET!
—Luc Geurts, MCP+I, MCSE
Ridderkerk, The Netherlands

Field Certification: No Thanks!
I can relate to January's "Field Certification Program Strives for Acceptance," article. I've been trying to find any work that will help make up for the more than $12,000 I spent for MCSE courses and certification exams. The practical experience was supposed to come in the form of labs, but those were often glossed over even when the equipment actually worked. One honest instructor made it clear that the "official" Microsoft materials we used gave us only half of what we needed to know to pass the exam.

The IT sector has been hard hit with the down economy lately, and now I'm expected to pay for more exams to prove I can overcome the lack of those hands-on skills to begin with? In your dreams! My lesson is that I'll never pay for courses again.

I was told two years ago that there was an insatiable demand for networking technicians and no end to the work needed to be done in our society. Now all I hear is that employers only want people who can "hit the ground running." This is reflected in the total of 11 days work I've found in two temp positions in the past six months.

Well, Mr. Employer, there are a lot of people out here who only need a chance to start working to show what they can do.
—M.P. Chevrette, MCP, MCSA, A+
South Hadley, Massachusetts

If I had all the money that the managers of the large corporations want me to spend on certification exams—and now the lab exams—I wouldn't want or need to look for a promising career in IT. But because I love the IT field, I'll keep working at it. Please keep the hands-on labs reasonably priced so that I can prove myself—again!
—Matthew J. Re, MCSE, CCNA, A+
Olympia, Washington

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