Closing the chasm between systems and applications, and why the salary survey is moving to July.

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Closing the chasm between systems and applications, and why the salary survey is moving to July.

As I hope you've noticed, our logo, cover, and table of contents have a spruced-up new look for 1999. Our cover story to kick off the new year has a special twist also. Why a cover story on programming, you might ask, in a magazine that primarily targets systems administrators, network and enterprise managers, and NT systems engineers of all stripes? Don't you have enough to do trying to keep the network up, make users happy, fend off viruses and hackers, integrate and update and backup and still get home for dinner?

So why delve into coding, of all things? I'll let Contributing Author Jeff Honeyman answer that one for me. In the course of writing our cover story, he sent over some thoughtful e-mail about the topic of programming skills for MCSEs.

"I've always been big on diversification…. As I shook off my newbie status in IT, I began to wonder whether I might be able to accomplish some tasks quicker or better if I could custom-code solutions. I began by writing batch files, and moved on to learning VB.

"There's a logical process to programming, much as there's a logical flow to how systems function. You have to be able to zero in on minute details while not losing track of your overall objectives. Are you comfortable with this? Do you enjoy it? If so, there's a lot of training material available free on the Internet. You can pick up VBScript and JScript tutorials from Microsoft; you can get the Java Developer's Kit from Sun. Before you decide on making a significant time, money, and brain cell investment in programming, spend some time with these free materials and see whether you enjoy the process."

As Jeff points out in his article, "Crossing the Chasm: Leverage Your Networking Skills with Programming," a convergence is taking place. Programming skills are merging with networking skills at some level, especially as Microsoft products dominate on both the desktop and network. Perhaps the best systems experts will spend some time on both sides of the chasm, which is gradually narrowing (and may soon no longer be such a chasm at all). If you're an MCSE, let me know what you think of Jeff's story, and whether you want to read more articles on the topic.

Mid-Summer Salary Survey

MCP Magazine's annual salary survey, in which we measure compensation among Microsoft Certified Professionals throughout the U.S., has become a highly visible compensation survey in the industry. For the past three years, survey data has appeared in the first issue of each year. But each year, we receive comments from readers telling us that the information in the survey reaches them just after the budget and salary negotiation process is complete. This year, we're moving the salary survey to midyear—the July issue—to make it more valuable in your budget planning and compensation negotiations. In the July issue, we'll look at compensation for MCPs for both 1998 and 1999; we'll also include additional information from hiring managers on what they're paying MCPs. As an MCP or a hiring manager (or both), is there other information that would make the survey more useful? Send me suggestions at editor@mcpmag.com.

About the Author

Linda Briggs is the founding editor of MCP Magazine and the former senior editorial director of 101communications. In between world travels, she's a freelance technology writer based in San Diego, Calif.

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