Keeping It Real

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Some of our forum contributors have had some pretty harsh words when it comes to certain credentialing exams, boot camps, self-study test prep tools and other products and services within the certification universe. They’ve pulled no punches in their accounts of grievances relating to shoddy quality and poor customer service. Keep up the good work! And kudos as well to the people who have written all sorts of accolades about vendors. That’s what the forum’s there for—to offer informed opinions and advice that will help out your colleagues in the IT workforce. These insights and observations are part of what makes our Web site a Virtual Village.

This year’s Oscars might be over and done with, but readers always have the CertMag Oscars. This thread in the General Discussion forum, which relates to the best movies about technology, is still going strong. Member JaneDoe recently weighed in on the latest techno-thriller: “Although I have not seen the movie yet, the previews for ‘FIREWALL’ make me want to take my money from the bank and bury it in the backyard in a mayonnaise jar….especially since my banker is nothing like Harrison Ford. So this movie, at least the preview, speaks to me regarding computer safety.”

In response, Traverse City, Mich.-based member Tarvos said, “I agree with Jane on this one. The previews for this movie worry me to a certain extent. However, for older movies, yes everything mentioned was wonderful. I am surprised that no one mentioned The Net with Sandra Bullock. Very interesting movie on identity theft.”

Any other “CertMag Academy members” who want to cast their Best Picture votes can do so at

Career Development
In the Career Development forum, member learner1 has posed that age-old question—certification or degree—but with a variation. “I have been working in the software industry for over 9 years—last 6 in a telecom company (in network management but not as network engineer). I have a MS in computer science from a not-so-reputed university. I am toying with the idea of getting another master’s in IT from a very reputed university. But is it best for my career? Will it add any value or will it be just another degree? Does university reputation matter after 9 years of service? Will this be the best utilization of my time or should I consider certification—maybe Sun Certified Java Architect? My current aim is to advance within my company. But I am looking for value addition that can help me in the future.”

Hal9000 replied with the following: “Someone told me once that a large increase in pay without a job change will only happen once with your existing company. That could be a degree or a certification to get the raise. After that it has to be a move vertically to get more money. I built my skill set with degrees, experience and certifications. It really is truly the chicken and the egg question. I think you need a balance of all three to really get your foot in the door. Right now you are needing certs. I think a couple of developer certs will put you over the edge. If your current company won’t advance you, at least you can go shopping with the new letters that they likely paid for that are now by your name. It never hurts to get the certs.”

“Certs are more in your favor than a new master’s degree,” member ceadmin added. “Your company will view the new master’s as a polish and as a horizontal move on the (corporate) ladder, not a vertical move. Grab some certs and solidify your experience with a piece of paper that gives a warm fuzzy to the higher ups.”

CRM & E-Commerce
Part of the appeal of Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other retailer Web sites is the function that permits customers to post their reviews of products online. This is both a fun feature for users who want to try being Roger Ebert for a day and a useful service for other consumers who can make a more informed decision about whether or not something is worth buying. Of course, occasionally you’ll also get the reviewer who does nothing more than vent spleen in the most vile, obscene manner. The CRM & E-Commerce Community this month will take a look at the advantages and drawbacks that come with online customer product reviews and how you can get the most of the former and the least of the latter. Go to to learn more.

Development & Design
In terms of functionality and performance, not all Web browsers are created equal. Web designers have to keep this in mind as they consider including all sorts of flashy graphics and features into their site because that might prevent quite a few people from trafficking it. The May 2006 Development & Design Community will explore how you can build a site that will work with many different browsers, thereby helping you reach a larger online audience. Read this one at

For many companies, whiteboxes are an inexpensive alternative to workstations, and as long as there are no major problems with them, a small business can save money going with these instead. However, there are certain security and availability risks involved with this approach. CertMag contributor Chris Lehr goes over some of these in this month’s Independents Community. Readers can check out his article at

Project Management
Projects seldom go smoothly, and as often as not, there’s a human element behind the setbacks that cause deadlines to be missed and budgets to be depleted. In particular, personalities frequently clash. The friction caused by these conflicts needn’t always be bad, though. If properly managed and channeled into work, it can serve as a driver of accomplishment. Learn more about how to manage difficult project team members in this month’s Project Management Community. For more information on this, go to

Back in the 1990s and in the earlier part of this decade, it seemed like a major, highly publicized virus or worm would strike fear into the hearts of the masses about once every year. In a rare tribute to the black hats, CertMag will take a look back at some of the more significant cyber threats that have plagued us over the years and see what we’ve learned from them, if anything. Come tour the Virus/Trojan/Worm Hall of Fame in this month’s Security Community. It’s available at

Also, in the Security community forum, new member Dean has the following question: “I’m a software architect and would appreciate hearing of security related certifications that would be relevant to my field of developing enterprise wide applications?” Anyone who has any suggestions for Dean can post them on that thread at

When it comes to storage space, people not only want to be able to know what they need right now, but they also want to project how much they’ll need in the future. Ideally, you’ll always have a little more than you need so that you can grow into it, but superfluous space is one area where you can have too much of a good thing. CertMag contributor David Garrett explains how storage professionals can determine how much space their organization should have in this month’s community feature. Find out more at

Systems & Networks
Anyone who hasn’t seen it yet ought to check out Chris Lehr’s interesting and entertaining series of features on home networking with Windo

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