Certified Mail: March 2002

The value of bootcamps; what MCPs wear; Microsoft's certification retirement policy.

Incorrect Information
I read your review of our Spotlight for Active Directory product in the January 2002 issue and thought it was very informative. I disagree with some of your statements, though.

The article says "…nor can you view results from more than one DC at a time, or run more than one instance of Spotlight on the same workstation. So if you’re responsible for a large number of DCs, or prefer to have a more global view, this isn’t the product for you.”

This is incorrect. You can view multiple DCs via the File | Connect to option. You can only view one DC at a time, but you can monitor many DCs, and each DC monitored has an icon on the Spotlight console that reflects real-time statistics. If your DC is having problems, the icon will change color and flash to let the operator know that the DC being monitored is in need of attention. With the ability to monitor numerous DCs at a time, there’s no need to run multiple instances of Spotlight for Active Directory.
—Sean Walker, MCSE, FCSS
Global Professional Services Consultant
Microsoft Solutions, Quest Software
[email protected]

Achieved What He Came For
A letter from a student was published in your November issue regarding one of our MCSE boot camps. Chad McDaniel expressed frustration with the speed of our program at TechTrain when coupled with the fact that his firm gave him less than a week’s notice to enroll and prepare for the program. Many of Mr. McDaniel’s comments were right on the money—and we had already addressed the format of the program by the time this letter was published. Originally, our boot camps had been very intense, with instructor-led training up to 14 hours a day. Now a combination of training, self-study, test-prep and mentoring is used to soften the experience and allow students to keep their energy up during their experience.

What I regret was the overall impression that we didn’t provide the level of quality service that has always been TechTrain’s trademark. Mr. McDaniel mentions that he “felt somewhat comfortable with Win2K” and had “zero experience from a domain perspective,” yet he left our school with his MCSE. In the end, our aggressive program achieved the desired results: certification. In fact, all the students from this boot camp now have their MCSE. Additionally, the entire class purchased gifts and flowers for the TechTrain-Orlando staff at the end of the program, and we received several of our most glowing testimonials from this set of students (several of which can be read at

While we appreciate Mr. McDaniel’s suggestions and are always in a state of continual improvement for all of our programs, I felt his letter didn’t portray our training program in an accurate light. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you and your readers, and look forward to your always-enlightening magazine in the months to come.
—Paul Piciocchi
CEO, TechTrain, Inc.

Stop the Lemming Parade!
While I realize that the whole purpose of MCP Magazine is to promote MicroBorg products, in particular the training and certification revenue streams, I really hope that businesses won’t be as stupid with .NET in the next five years as they’ve been with Windows in the past five years. If IT managers and management in general would insist on “what works” instead of “what everybody else has,” we wouldn’t have to worry about whether the DOJ will bother trying to enforce antitrust laws or not. Insist on open standards rather than proprietary bastardizations that lock you into one vendor, especially a vendor that has proven time and again that arrogance and marketing hype are much more important than product quality and security. It’s time for the lemming parade to stop.
—Phil McIntosh
Atlanta, Georgia
[email protected]

For the record, Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine is not owned by nor affiliated with Microsoft. Our purpose is to cover Microsoft technologies and help our readers learn about them and use them in their work environments. We’re completely independent editorially.
—Keith Ward, senior editor

Windows XP Playbook Scores
I read a lot of tech articles about Windows XP. I could have skipped them all and just read your January 2002 article, “Windows XP Playbook.” You had lots of meat and it was right to the point. Keep up the good work.
—Bob Staber
Athens, Illinios
[email protected]

So What Do I Wear?
Is your cover artist a male chauvinist? An outfit for a woman would have been appropriate since there are some of us out there and I cannot see myself wearing any one of three outfits put on the cover of your January issue.
—Sherrie Andrews, MCSE
[email protected]

I can’t find an outfit for myself on the cover of the January issue. I spent $8,000 for an M, C, S, and E. I have those four letters and a loan balance and no lucrative career as the “certification” industry has promised. I just failed the 70-240 and will now give up and not encourage anyone else to put themselves through such a fruitless labor to find that elusive job that the CTECs and “testpreps” all say is out there. I have jumped off the “certi-wheel.” Certification without vast experience is useless.
—Mark Townsend
[email protected]

Desperately Seeking Adminpak.msi
I’ve been searching desperately for Windows .Net Adminpak. msi. I wonder if you might have an inside scoop on when this might be available.
—Patrick Fox
Vanderbilt, Tennessee
[email protected]

If you want to manage .NET servers from XP desktops, you can download the Beta 3 version of the Adminpak.msi tools from Microsoft’s Web site at
—Bill Boswell

Praise for “Your IT Operations Guide”
Thanks so very much for Anil Desai’s fine December 2001 article, “Your IT Operations Guide.” You bring personal discipline to our craft and I appreciate it very much!
—Bud Lamb
[email protected]

Just wanted to compliment you on this article. It’s well written, to the point, and a really good primer on good standards and practices. I think that just as accounting has GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles), IT should have similar standards.
—Suzanne Pacheco, MCSE, MCDBA, CCNA
Austin, Texas
[email protected]

Thanks very much for the feedback. I agree that IT standards in many organizations are lacking. In fact, it seems like a lot of people feel that they’re too busy fighting fires. However, just the importance of their jobs begs for better and more efficient organization.
—Anil Desai

Suspicious of Microsoft Un-Retirement Reasoning
In your magazine, there have been news stories about how happy MCSEs are that Microsoft isn’t retiring the NT 4.0 track. There was also a story about “Accidental MCSEs” in the January 2002 issue. In my opinion, there was a very pro-Microsoft spin in those stories.

I think it would be good idea to cover in detail how the decisions to retire/un-retire NT 4.0 and the un-retirement of the NT 4.0 electives were made and by whom. What I mean by “detail” is to have Microsoft questioned closely on this matter and to have the author hold Microsoft to reasonable and factual answers. I know I would read this article and appreciate your efforts in this matter. The answers that keep baffling others and me are about the appearance that nameless people are making big changes in the MCSE track with little-to-no regard for the people who actually have earned the certification. I have a feeling you may not be happy with what you find ethics-wise.
—Scott Spiess
Roseville, California
[email protected]

A New Way of Developing
Thanks to Mike Gunderloy’s online column, “Solution Developer,” I got a very good understanding of designing patterns in his article, “The Shape of Things.” It got me thinking in a different way as a software developer. Looking forward to reading many more such articles.
—Madan Cheemakurthi
[email protected]

Tired of the Certification Treadmill
I’m bemused to see the hoopla in your December 2001 issue over NT 4.0 MCSEs retaining their status. I was an MSCE on NT 4.0, but no longer, since the IIS 3.0 exam has been retired. My transcript at the MCP Web site no longer shows either my MSCE or MCP+I certifications.

At the time of this writing, I’m attempting the Accelerated Exam, but I’m afraid this will be my last hurrah if I don’t make it through. I don’t have the time or goodwill to stay on the certification treadmill. Nor do I want to penalize my family further by taking time away from them.

Should I actually go on and pursue the MSCE under Windows 2000, I can already see the shortening OS product lifecycles will make that certification expire even more rapidly than the last one. As I have already experienced the downside of certifying early, I have no faith that Microsoft will ensure that the certification will be enduring or meaningful in the long haul.
—Martin Side, MCP, ex-MSCE
Melbourne, Australia
[email protected]

NT 4.0 MCSE More Valuable Than Windows 2000
I finished up my Windows 2000 track MCSE in June after polishing off my accelerated test. I’d done the Windows NT 4.0 track about two years previous. As much as I’d like to believe the 2000 certification is rare and more marketable, I’m afraid it’s not as valuable as my NT MCSE was two years ago. Hence, I’m checking out Compaq’s ASE/Master ASE programs to get a leg up on the new guys. In addition, I ended up pursuing and finishing my MCDBA just last month. The Compaq ASE program doesn’t have many study guides, and I simply can’t break the three Compaq servers we have here at work for personal enjoyment. Events of the last several months—whether the economic downturn, the unlikely HP-Compaq merger, the September 11 tragedy, and so on—have only motivated me to keep in mind that I always must be marketable to potential employers, even if I’m content where I am.

I’m considering both the CCNP and the revamped MCSD when it becomes available. I’m already a CCNA, which means that I have a foundation to start the CCNP.
—Michael Gallina
[email protected]

Not Fair
With the new policies, MCSEs who lost their certification because of the discontinuation of credit for 70-077 are permitted to regain their status as MCSEs on Windows NT 4.0; but MCSE+Internets decertified because of 70-077 can no longer be MCSE+Is. I believe that’s both unfair and discriminatory. I worked hard for my credentials—both the MCSE+I and MCP+I. Just as people can see the exams I have passed although they’ve been retired, can’t my transcript at least indicate that I once achieved these certifications?
—Name withheld by request

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