Certification Nostalgia

When there are other things you'd rather be doing with your time than studying for your certification exams, Halo 2 is probably not one of those things.

The long-suffering Fabio was trying to enjoy his breakfast the other morning when your intrepid reporter, well, squealed. After thumping him heartily on the back to dislodge the errant piece of toast, I read the poor boy the news story that had caused my glee:

For video game console owners, no better value exists than ATARI ANTHOLOGY, which features 85 games that started a revolution, including 18 arcades games such as Asteroids®, Battlezone®, Missile Command®, and Pong®; 62 Atari 2600 games including Gravitar®, Millipede® and Super Breakout® and five bonus titles, such as Off the Wall™, Blackjack™, Desert Falcon™, Steeplechase™ and Sprintmaster™."

Now, I don't know about you, but Auntie is, um, not so good at the current crop of fast-moving hideously complex computer games. The chance to play games that I realy understand (like Pong!) is not to be missed. And I'll be able to do it on my Xbox, which, come to think of it, cost just about as much as my original Pong game mumble-mumble years ago.

Of course, this got me thinking (as many things to) about certification and my fellow certified professionals. Wouldn't it be great to have some time, call it Windows Nostalgia Month, when we could return to the old days of systems administration and solution development? C'mon, admit it: you're tired of staying up all night every night trying to figure out the intricacies of Active Directory and Visual Studio .NET. Wouldn't you like to be able to just breeze into the job and do the things you know well, instead of banging your head against wonderful new problems?

So, in that spirit, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Come in early, unplug that Windows 2003 server and roll out one of the classic Novell Netware servers instead. If you don't still have a Netware server, remember, you can install it in a couple hours from a few diskettes (assuming you still have a working floppy drive, that is) on pretty much any old box. Share the files and printers, and you're done. There's no need to worry about any other services, because there won't be any. Instantly you can get rid of 90 percent of your help desk calls by responding "sorry, we don't support that any more."
  2. Unplug the Internet connection. After all, did you have universal Internet for all of your employees when you first started doing this job? I didn't think so. Pull the plug and get rid of viruses, worms, chain letters, wasted work time due to Web surfing, instant message gossip, script kiddie attacks, credit card thieves and all the other nonsense that we've come to accept as a matter of course.
  3. Roll back those Windows XP installations. No, not to Windows 95. Go clear back to Windows 3.1. Think of the benefits: At this point, you can run that version on just about anything, right down to a smart toaster. And when was the last time you saw a security bulletin for Windows 3.1?
  4. Of course, you'll also need to throw out all that 32-bit applications software that consultants have been working on for years without finishing. Go on back to the 16-bit alternatives. If you're a developer, this is a great chance to spend your time writing 16-bit software. Remember the joys of working in Visual Basic 4.0 or Access 2.0? Think about how quickly you can finish writing an application if it's not weighed down with treeviews, LDAP, Web services and all the other bells and whistles that come with today's more complex software.
  5. Take down the wireless access points. Yeah, the CEO won't be able to use his PDA to get on to the Internet from the Executive Washroom any longer (as if he ever actually did). But that long-haired Red Bull drinking hacker in a beat up Toyota Corolla in the parking lot won't be able to use your corporate network to launch his zombie machine spam mailings either. It's a tradeoff, just like everything else, but it's a worthwhile one.

OK, perhaps we won't actually be able to roll the clock back this way. But even considering it will help you realize just how much you've managed to learn over the past decade. We can argue forever about whether certification itself indicates anything, but the plain fact that you can keep a Windows network running is good evidence that you're a pretty slick operator.

As for me, I've got my order in for the Atari Anthology. Luckily for me, Fabio won't notice if I slack off on the home network for a bit, so long as he can get out to his recipe sites. Bon appetit!

Ready to get back to a simpler era of networking? Or is it time for Auntie to retire and give up her day job to someone who's kept up with the times? E-mail her at Auntie@mcpmag.com and, if your comments make it online, you'll earn yourself a nifty MCPmag.com cap.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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