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MCP TechMentor Diary, Day 1: Pre-Conference Workshops

MCPmag.com invited a reader to attend the MCP TechMentor Conference in San Francisco. We offered him free attendance in exchange for a daily report on his conference experiences.

With the local transportation strike avoided, I was able to travel from my home nearby to the conference venue without any problems. I had a good first day, and I was especially pleased at the size and set-up of the conference: big session rooms, excellent audio and projection systems quality, and bright lighting.

Conference check-in was quick. I was pleased with the IBM-provided Internet access terminals—IT geeks need to be able to check e-mail throughout the day. For most of the morning, it seemed that my Hotmail account was blocked, but it wasn't a problem later in the day. Now, onto the sessions:

Gary Olsen, Compaq—Active Directory Design
Gary comes across as extremely knowledgeable on his topic and well prepared. His handouts were outdated, but he promised updated handouts in the afternoon part of his session. As of this writing, I hadn't seen them. I came away from his session with material could be very valuable to me in the planning phases of an Active Directory migration. His sessions, a full six hours covering both morning and afternoon, were well attended and well paced. He also gave away a few copies of his book, Windows 2000: Active Directory Design and Deployment (New Riders) during the question and answer sessions—a nice touch. On occasion, he let some of the more experienced attendees offer their possible solutions to some of the questions.

One shortcoming to Gary's presentation was that it didn't really gear me up for the Active Directory Design exam (70-219), a goal I was hoping to accomplish by attending his session. I need to know what to expect and study for on that exam, and I don't think that Gary even mentioned this exam once. The afternoon session was a little slow—Gary seemed to forget we needed breaks and we almost missed lunch. Most people seemed to enjoy his presentation and many were eager to ask questions or speak with him personally during the breaks. I've give Gary's presentation a B. If he would have done more to address the AD Design exam, I would have bumped up his rating to an A-.

Chris Brooke—70-210 Windows 2000 Professional Certification Slam Session

Chris' sessions was nearly a full house. My suggestion: Two night sessions. Chris Brooke was a livelier speaker—he moved at a quick pace and his session was geared for those that are expecting to tackle the 70-210 Win2K Pro exam. His session was more what I expected and I hope all the remaining sessions that I attend throughout the conference follow his presentation. Chris admitted that he only recently passed this exam. Keeping in mind his exam non-disclosure agreement, he revealed enough tips and tricks during the session: number of questions, time limit, style of the exam (adaptive or not).

I especially liked his demonstrations. He showed many of the tools that you need to become familiar with and, rightfully, he explained how important hands-on experience with the operating system can be when attempting the exam. I've taken six beta exams so far and I can wholeheartedly agree with this assessment. He clearly explained some of the more complex and little-known features of Windows 2000 Professional and pointed out which features are totally changed from Windows NT 4.0 Workstation, and where to look for the replacements for these changed features. I give Chris an A+.

About the Author

Rick Johnson, MCSE+I, has extensive experience in network and security design, enterprise application rollouts and management. Rick, formerly an NT Administrator and Desktop Engineer for the Advanced Systems Lab at Hewlett Packard's Mountain View site, also holds CompTIA A+, Network+, iNet+, Server+, Citrix Certified Administrator, and Certified Internet Webmaster Associate certifications. He's currently in pursuit of an MCSE upgrade.

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