Belly Up to the Bar

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One of the trends that has resulted from the rising availability of and increased content on the Internet is “infosnacking.” Simply put, this term refers to the short, 10- to 15-minute breaks that people take from work at the office or at home to get bits of information from a blog, news site or any other Web-based portal in the same way they would raid the kitchen pantry or the candy drawer in their cubicle for a small bite to eat. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the ’Net gluttons—people with voracious cravings who spend (or misspend) 12 or more hours a day on the Web.

I would encourage readers of all virtual appetites to check in with the Virtual Village on the CertMag.com site. We always have a smorgasbord of stuff, including blogs, monthly features and discussion boards. Whether you’re looking to get a quick nibble of a tidbit of information or want to gorge yourself on news, analysis and advice, we’ve got you covered. Bon appetit!

Career Development
There’s no such thing as an easy job interview, and the near-universal expressions of dread immediately prior to these occurrences bear that out. Still, candidates can abate their anxiety by taking to heart a few tried-and-true techniques used to sail through interviews. In this month’s Career Development community feature, we’ll go over some of the most effective methods to prepare for interviews and impress your potential employers. Check it out at www.certmag.com/careers.

In our Career Development forum, new member bangkok_rat (love that name!) wants to know what certs an entrant to the telecom industry should hold. He’s already got CompTIA’s A+, Network+ and Linux+ certifications, as well as experience in implementation and construction with CAT5 and fiber-optic cabling. He’s also pursuing the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). If he wants to stick with Cisco, he could opt to get Specialist certs such as IPCC Express and Rich Media Communications and continue down the Voice track with the Cisco Certified Voice Professional (CCVP) and the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Voice credentials. Anyone who has any other suggestions for bangkok_rat can supply them at www.certmag.com/forums.

CRM & E-Commerce
Meanwhile, over in the CRM & E-Commerce forum, there’s a thread on what elements make for a winning Web site. Ceadmin said, “I think elegance and simplicity rate at the top of my list. Sites that are ‘loud’ or filled with too many options/too much information are on the less than desirable sites for me.” In addition to comments in the forum, this topic will be taken up in the April CRM & E-Commerce feature, “The Art of Designing an Enticing Site.” Go to www.certmag.com/crm to learn more about how you can reel in new customers with an attractive virtual storefront.

Database
The database sector has its clear leaders in the market, including colossal companies such as Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, but their place atop the heap is hardly assured in the future. There are several ambitious underdogs—many of which produce open-source solutions—that will challenge the kings of the database mountain in the years to come. The database community feature for this month will identify several of these up-and-coming contenders and explain how the products and services they offer could put them in direct competition with the current champs. Read more about them at www.certmag.com/database.

Development & Design
New versions of software solutions come faster and faster as development processes and the professionals who use them become more refined. However, the finished product can seldom be called “finished” in the strictest sense of that term. As good as developers are—and they’re great—the solutions they roll out will always have bugs here and there. Thus, an important aspect of distributing software is having patch-building and-release plans in place. The April 2006 article for the Development and Design community will explore some of the most effective ways to develop and distribute patches to support software. Read it at www.certmag.com/development.

Help Desk & Support
Ideally, most calls to the help desk would entail a customer asking a single question about their box or system, and the support professional responding with a simple, clear-cut answer. If only it were that simple. A good deal of the time, finding the right answer is a process that must be worked through in non-linear fashion: You diagnose what you think could be the problem, then offer a solution only to find out that it didn’t work and you have to go back a step. You’ve got to maintain a clear head and patient disposition to meet the demands of the customer calling in, though. The Help Desk & Support community story this month will go over how to preserve your sanity and work with callers (or even IMers) to arrive at a successful conclusion. You can find this article at www.certmag.com/helpdesk.

Independents
Tax time can hit IT independents especially hard. Instead of filing a W-2 like IT pros who are employed full time at a single organization, contractors who have several clients are required to file a stack of separate 1099s for each one they’ve done business with. This can be a frustrating process because there’s a lot of time and effort involved with filing that many forms—time and effort that could be spent, you know, working. Furthermore, according to MyBizOffice Inc. President and CEO Gene Zaino, 1099s are seven times more likely than W-2s to be audited by the Internal Revenue Service. The timely April 2006 Independents community feature will explain how IT professionals can keep their 1099s off the radar of IRS auditors. Readers can find those tips at www.certmag.com/independents.

Open-Source
It seems that no part of information technology has gone untouched by the open-source community. These innovators have made their mark from databases to operating systems. The Web in particular has been significantly influenced by open-source techies (and vice versa), from Apache’s webserver to Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird. This month’s Open Source community feature will overview open-source solutions that have impacted the way the world interacts with the Web. Check it out at www.certmag.com/opensource.

Project Management
Think back to your days on the school playground during the recess period. Chances are you played some sort of team-based game such as soccer, kickball or Red Rover. And if you were one of the team captains, you’ll probably recall having to consider carefully exactly which teammates out of the pool of kids you needed to win. You (probably) didn’t pick based on who told the funniest jokes or who wore the coolest clothes, but rather who was the biggest or could run the fastest.

Just like on the playground, when it comes to project management, you want to make sure you pick people who will help reach the goal. The Project Management community feature this month will detail what you need to think about when it comes down to selecting team members for an initiative. For more information on this, go to www.certmag.com/projectmanagement.

Security
Open-source software has a certain reputation for safety in the world of IT, and a substantial amount of research seems to support this, much to the enjoyment of open-source software developers. Advocates of proprietary systems point out that the user base of open-s

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