Certified Mail

Certified Mail: Jan. 2003

DBA vs. programmer; thumbs down on the new look; one-page résumés.

Skill Searching
It seems that database experts and programmers seem to be the best bet lately in terms of employment. I’ve been out of work for nearly a year and haven’t found anything in the Washington, D.C. area. This is due primarily to the “top-secret clearance” requirement of contractors in this area and the lack of in-house positions at many private companies.

Which skill would be most worthwhile: database or programming—and, which should I pursue (Oracle, C++, etc.)?
—Michael Audet, MCSE, MCSA
Germantown, Maryland

Sorry, I’ve no idea which skill is most worthwhile. I’d guess it has to do with your abilities in those areas—both will add more skills to your résumé, but which one is more interesting to you? Network administration is much different than programming, and I suspect database administration will also seem different to you. It depends on your experience level, knowledge and passion. What will it be like after you receive training? Let’s face it, one or two weeks of education in either area won’t make you an expert or even entry-level. Have you looked into program training or talked to professionals who work in these areas? I have seen many database admins and programmers out of work, though.

It’s a long journey, and I don’t have the answers for you; but I wish you luck in finding the right path.
—Roberta Bragg

Extraordinary Effort
I appreciated Dian Schaffhauser’s “Editor’s Desk” November column, “Real World” on classroom training. Being in IT only five years as a result of a career change, I wish I’d had an instructor like Michael Rodgers. Once I got into the field, I was bombarded by concepts, hardware and attitudes I wasn’t prepared for. I strongly believe, especially in IT, the classroom/lab time concept is old-fashioned and often a sub-par experience for students. If I ever taught, I would do it in a style akin to the way Rodgers does—extending the classroom into the real world. It’s inspiring to hear that someone is actually doing it.
—H. Alban, MCSE
New York, New York

I’m the community service coordinator for the Network Users Group of Anchorage (NUGA). NUGA is a non-profit organization comprised of IT professionals and students that meet once a month to discuss new topics in the IT industry, swap stories and plan community service events. Our group’s goal is to offer support, continuing education and training.

We promote and sponsor service projects for the community as a way of providing hands-on training for our members. We also offer training sessions to group members and the public. Many of our members are working toward certification, and our club has held study groups for cert tests. These classes are designed to provide an insight into the IT world and provide a basic level of training.
—Jeremiah Prater, MCSE, MCSA, A+
Anchorage, Alaska

Style Issues
I’m writing to comment on the magazine’s change of appearance. I don’t like it; I thought it was an ad insert—you know, the special advertising section that almost looks like the main section of a magazine. It does look more polished—sophisticated, maybe—compared to previous cartoon-like covers. Still, the old cover was quite recognizable in its own right. The other issue: Why make “Microsoft” bigger now? I thought the magazine was for MCPs.
—Kyung Son, MCSE
Gardena, California

Thanks for your feedback, Kyung. “Microsoft” was emphasized in the title to highlight the fact that we cover Windows networking. The magazine, of course, is still for MCPs, but we thought that the previous emphasis on the "Certified" portion of the name didn’t properly convey our focus, which is more about using Windows network operating systems than about the certification process.
—Keith Ward, senior editor

Eight-Node Clusters
I have a minor correction regarding Bill Boswell’s article in the November issue, “.NET Leap of Faith.” It mentions that Windows .NET will support “four-node active-active clusters and Datacenter Server supports eight-node clusters.” Actually, Microsoft changed its tune for RC1, and it now will support eight-node clusters for both Enterprise Server and Datacenter Server. I know this, as I have an eight-node cluster running in my test lab.
—Michael P. Baker, MCSE
Chandler, Arizona

File System Fantasies
November’s “Call Me Certifiable” column on storage systems makes me think of the implications if Storage+ becomes a reality. Microsoft would have a proprietary file storage system, which would bend standards toward Redmond. And because Microsoft is all about bending the standards (do we dare replay how Internet Explorer defeated Netscape?), this would only be another iteration of that position. Microsoft would use Storage+ to push people toward IIS, as Microsoft wouldn’t release the APIs to open-source software in order to make Apache work. Microsoft would employ a lot of the same tactics as Apple. And with most of corporate America on Microsoft platforms, it would use this leverage to get CIOs to turn off their Linux boxes.

I think Auntie’s right about one thing, though. There’s a growing number of CIOs that are getting fed up with Microsoft moving the OS market every two years. The only way Microsoft is going to slow down and make its products better—rather than switching products as soon as the paint on the old product dries—is for a great number of people to stop fueling the Redmond bonfire.
—Rick A. Butler, MCSE+I
Colorado Springs, Colorado

The advancements presented by a SQL Server-based file system, replication and so on, are certainly great in number and technological advantage, but we’ve already developed our fundamental services around the existing file systems. Microsoft has waited so long, we’ve outgrown the vision of the project. From a developer’s standpoint, being able to access all information on the computer via one all-encompassing set of APIs would be great but not worth the trouble. Ultimately, the features of such a migration wouldn’t validate the overhead. Sorry, Redmond. You’re a day late and a dollar short on this one.
—Matthew Byrdwell, MCSE, MCSA, CCNA
Louisville, Kentucky

Back to the Box
I read “Domain Controller Lockdown,” in November’s “Security Advisor.” My question: Once you’ve applied a Group Policy Object to a domain controller, is there a way (for troubleshooting purposes) to uninstall a custom template so that you’re basically back to an “out of the box” configuration?
—David Berry, MCP, CNE
Richmond, Virginia

While there’s no magic “undo” for security templates, you can return a box to installation settings on most items. The Setup Security template (in winnt\security\templates) represents the security settings on a machine right after installation. You can use Security Configuration and Analysis to import and apply it. However, you should note that because there are so many registry settings, registry permissions and file and folder permissions, you might not get a squeaky clean, original setting. The template is not an “undo,” it’s a “do.” It applies those original settings; it doesn’t undo things that are outside its parameters.
—Roberta Bragg

Reinventing the Résumé
I disagree with Greg and Steve in November’s “Professionally Speaking” about chopping a two-page resumé down to a cute one-pager. I’ve interviewed many folks in IT and find it refreshing to find someone who submits a detailed resumé. I like to know all of the special projects the candidate did while working for a specific employer. I want to see if his or her experience relates to the position, before I call the candidate to set up an interview.

My résumé is four pages long, and I’ve never heard a complaint from any HR or IT department. It’s important that the first page has a good summary of skills and certifications and the concluding pages go on from there.

The goal is to get your resumé to the IT department, where they’ll understand its contents and appreciate its detail.
—Michael Zakharoff, MCSE
Sumner, Washington

Thanks for your comments, Michael. The point of the résumé exercise wasn’t to chop it down to one page. I don’t see any particular problem with a résumé that extends to a couple of pages. The main issue I saw with the submitted résumé is that it described the roles performed instead of what results were actually achieved in these roles. As it was, there were so few accomplishments listed in the original résumé that I had to invent some to illustrate my point. Therefore, if there were more accomplishments to list, then the completed résumé would likely have extended over a few pages.
—Greg Neilson

Recently, I was interviewed by a consulting company and had a bad experience. They asked me “baby” questions such as, do I know how to set up a PDC, BDC, static IP address and DHCP. Why would they ask me such simple questions? Because I didn’t specify this in my résumé, they assumed I didn’t have the knowledge? It made me angry, because a company that doesn’t know what an MCSE does shouldn’t be looking for one. This knowledge is basic of an MCSE. Should I specify these simple things in my résumé?
—Juan Pagán, MCSE, Net+, CCNA
Ciales, Puerto Rico

If I were you, Juan, I wouldn’t get too carried away. Without seeing your résumé, I can’t comment directly on it other than to say that there was enough included to get you the interview. As to being asked “baby” questions, I don’t see a problem with it. We often work with people at different levels of ability, so it’s important to explain key concepts clearly and concisely. If you show the interviewer that you think certain topics are beneath you, then you run the risk of seeming egotistical and perhaps not willing to perform routine tasks. Maybe you thought that the interviewers were a bunch of turkeys at this company, but I would caution you about feeling anger toward the types of questions you were asked.
—Greg Neilson

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