Product Buzz

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One of the most common reasons people visit forums, including our own, is to get information about products and services. It’s a good place to find out more about a new offering on the market — most of the people contributing their thoughts know what they’re talking about, and they aren’t going to give you the vendor’s line about how it’s the greatest thing ever with no bugs at all, natch.

Obviously, one of the most anticipated upcoming releases in the world of technology (aside from the next installment of “Grand Theft Auto,” of course) is Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system. It’s gotten a good deal of attention in the mainstream press, obviously, but it’s also been discussed a great deal in the viral environs of the Web. is no exception — we have a couple of posts in the General Discussion forum on our site that go over the next big thing from Redmond.

The first was from frequent forum contributor Wagnerk, who was talking prices for the soon-to-be-released OS. He included a link to a blog that offered information on the latest announcement about Vista costs, which came out of Canada. A few clicks from there took us to the pre-order prices for Microsoft Vista on Amazon. Turns out the fully-loaded Vista Ultimate edition will run $399, while the Home Basic version will be $199.

In another thread, Illinois-based member NSComp gave readers the heads-up on a link to a customer preview program for Vista RC-1 (Release Candidate 1). It’s closed now, as Microsoft reached its goal of 100,000 downloads — pretty quickly, I imagine. It just goes to show that when it comes to finding out about new products, you should check in with the Virtual Village early and often!

Salary Survey
Well, it’s that time of year again. Football season starts, kids go back to school and IT professionals take CertMag’s Salary Survey. Our annual poll covering tech worker income based on experience, specialty and other key factors has already closed. All the results will be reported in the cover story of our print issue at the end of the year. Check it out in our December issue.

Career Development
In a Career Development forum thread titled “Trying to figure out what’s next,” new member misterblitter relates hard employment times due to acts of God:

“I am seeking some advice, as I am trying to move forward post-Katrina (yes, I am a New Orleans resident) and am having quite a time getting my foot in the door. I have an A+ certification and have been freelancing on the side for over 10 years. The storm really knocked out my clientele, and the tax burden is onerous for self-employment, in my opinion. I would like to either have my own full-time consultancy/repair, servicing home and small businesses, or I would like to just work for a company doing break/fix and user/network support. I like being my own boss, but the tax and administrative burdens are bothersome, and I have had real trouble developing a critical mass of clients to support full-time business. On the other hand, working for someone else would relieve me of those problems, but I can’t seem to get my foot in the door … everyone seems to want a bachelor’s in computer science or extensive help desk experience, and I have not been able to get any of that experience here. I would like to get a Network+ and eventually a MCSE with a security cert, but my financial margins are so tight that the exams are a long way off, affordability-wise. I have extensive experience on systems ranging from Vic-20’s to Multi-Vaxen, but potential employers do not seem to value that experience. Anything you guys could tell me would be appreciated … thanks much!”

We encourage anyone who can help out misterblitter in an obvious time of need with career advice or employment tips to do so at

We also would encourage misterblitter and all our other CertMag readers to check out the Career Development community feature this month, which covers the key skills for tomorrow’s IT professionals. Check it out at

Help Desk
We all probably carry the stereotype of the long-suffering help desk professional in our head. You know what I mean: a frazzled, disheveled and disinterested-looking guy, sitting in a cubicle with his headset on, playing computer solitaire as he listens to end user after end user drone on about their tedious, basic problems. But is that really how it is? Find out in this month’s Help Desk & Support community feature, which takes a look at a day in the life of a help desk analyst. Check it out at

Project Management
Time is a key element of any project: After all, these initiatives live and die by deadlines. But another key element of time, where projects are concerned, is scheduling. Good project managers will hold team meetings at recurrent intervals, and they also check in regularly with key leaders and beneficiaries. This month’s Project Management community feature will examine the when, where and how of scheduling important summits and sessions for success. Find out more at

We’ve often discussed the threat within — that is, the IT security problems posed by internal personnel — in the pages of CertMag. While some of the breaches from employees are the result of conscious, malicious intent, the fact is that many are also the result of plain ol’ ignorance. The bad guys have gotten good at disguising their attacks to the point where people who think they’re downloading some newer version of a media player or something like that are actually bringing malware into their enterprises’ IT environments. What’s needed here is not necessarily great security software (although that doesn’t hurt) but rather a policy of preventative education.

To learn more about what you’ll need to deal with the threat within, go to

Systems & Networks
So you’ve decided on an IT career, but you don’t know exactly where you want to go with it. Well, regardless of what you decide to specialize in, chances are you’re going to be dealing with networking. For a majority of IT workers, most of their day-to-day job tasks pertain directly to systems and networks, and even most of those in the minority still deal with them a significant amount of the time. Those who choose to make networking their profession (and also those who will inevitably need to contend with systems and networks on a regular basis) might want to check out the Systems & Networks community article this month, which will overview the top starter certs in this critical niche. For more information, visit

A few months ago, member MrMilonakis put forth the following question in the forums in a thread with the same title — “Have you attended a boot camp?” — and wanted to know how those experiences had been thus far.

Several responded, with some reporting good encounters and some not-so-good. The most recent was positive, though. Member eexea said: “I have attended two boot camps (CCNA and MCSA). I took both camps at Focus Learning Systems. My instructors were great. Both of the instructors I had for the CCNA and MCSA were in-house instructors and easily the best I have ever had. Since then I have taken three courses from the CCNA instructor and two from the MCSA instructor. Not to mention I have taken several courses at Focus Learning Systems … everything from ASP.NET and C#/VB .NET to Active Directory and Exchange. I have been pleased with all the training I have

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