School’s Out—Let the Learning Begin!

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Some of our most loyal CertMag readers are in high school and college. We know because we get letters from them—lots of ‘em, in fact. Many of you are probably already looking ahead to the summer break that awaits once that final bell rings. No doubt visions of long, lazy days of swimming pools, cookouts and fireworks are swirling around in your heads, mixing together into an intoxicating mental cocktail.

For some of you, summer also represents a time when you can learn what you want to on your own terms. Shakespeare, Gettysburg, the Supreme Court and Noble Gases are all well and good, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to know about those things, but now is your chance to put all of that mandated learning aside and broaden your understanding of the things you’re truly interested in. If your passion is in technology—and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that it is—then please accept our invitation to hang out in our Virtual Village “all summer long.”

Career Development
Over in the Career Development forum, new member rimhof456 has a question about what level of education to attain prior to entering the workforce. “I am about to finish my sophomore year in college, and I have been considering graduate school. Soon I will have the choice of either starting to work on entry-level certifications like A+ or Security+ or graduate school. I have been considering going to the Rochester Institute of Technology’s master’s program in Computing Security and Information Assurance. My question is, how much of a difference does it make for me just entering the IT security job field with a master’s compared to a bachelor’s degree? What kind of job could I expect to be hired to right out of grad school?”

Anyone who has an answer for rimhof456 can offer his or her thoughts in the “Education” thread of the Career Development discussion board at www.certmag.com/forums.

CRM & E-Commerce
When it comes to e-commerce, how much is too much? Will the multitude of offerings on your virtual storefront cause confusion among customers or even drag the performance of your site down? There are a few things to keep in mind when determining the right number and product mix for your retail Web site, and we’ll offer some recommendations and warnings about variety and selection in this month’s CRM & E-Commerce community feature. Have a look at www.certmag.com/crm.

Database
It’s no longer enough for IT professionals to have experience in and knowledge of a particular technology. Now, leading job candidates have firsthand familiarity with their industry, whether it’s health care, defense, education and so on. In the Database community feature this month, we’ll take a look at how databases are used in financial companies. Read about it on the Web site at www.certmag.com/database.

Development & Design
Most end users probably aren’t aware of the fine distinctions between the various Web browsers out there, and they probably don’t care to learn about them. However, many sites simply don’t work with certain browsers due to the inclusion of features such as Flash. Web designers have to keep these things in mind if they want to cast their companies’ net as far as possible across the ‘Net. The June Development & Design article will focus on how to ensure that a Web site works with as many browsers as possible. Check it out at www.certmag.com/development.

Help Desk & Support
We tend to take the gratis help desk for granted: In fact, most customers have probably come to expect free support services from the companies they do business with. Yet it isn’t cheap to administer this function, and some enterprises are considering charging fees for end-user support. How should companies go about setting prices for something that most people expect to be free, though? If it costs too much, they run the risk of alienating clients who aren’t accustomed to paying anything at all. The June Help Desk & Support community feature will explain how to figure out what to charge for these services without risking customer loyalty. For more information, visit www.certmag.com/helpdesk.

Independents
Unlike the full-time employees of businesses and public-sector organizations, independent contractors can’t count on a 401(k) or pension plan to help them out during their years of retirement. Thus, their retirement planning requires a great deal more consideration and foresight. The Independents community feature for this month will take a look at some of the best ways contractors can accumulate, protect and expand their wealth in preparation for their retirement. Find out more at www.certmag.com/independents.

Open-Source
Members of the open-source community often tout their particular model of software development as being superior to any other, and they really make some good points in support of that position. Considering the source, though, objective outsiders can’t help but feel that there’s a great deal of bias in the freeware crowd’s argument. The Open Source community feature this month will explore the inner workings of this development method and also compare it to the proprietary model. See the results at www.certmag.com/opensource.

Project Management
Studies have shown that more often than not, IT projects go over their budgets, past their deadlines or fail outright. This is commonly due to factors such as unrealistic time frames, insufficient numbers of IT staff and poorly defined objectives. The June Project Management community story will examine what actions to take after projects bomb to control the resulting consequences. Have a look at www.certmag.com/projectmanagement.

Also, CertMag.com member and newcomer to the project-management arena Weezulguy has a question about what cert to seek. “I am about to complete a college course in project management, which should make me eligible to take the CAPM certification offered by PMI. I am wondering which is considered more desirable in industry in general: the CAPM or the Project+ certification offered by CompTIA?” Anyone with an answer for Weezulguy can weigh in at the “CAPM or Project+?” thread in the Project Management community forum.

Security
A recent CompTIA study showed that more than half of successful breaches of enterprise IT systems could be pinned on user error. Indeed, the majority of workers today are appallingly ignorant of even basic IT security principles and thus compromise their organizations’ most sensitive information. Yet it’s the black hats out there who are creating the viruses, worms and Trojans and employing social-engineering tactics to infiltrate these systems. So who’s to blame in all of this, and what can be done about it? CertMag contributor Brad Causey takes up this question in the Security community feature this month. Check out what he has to say at www.certmag.com/security.

Storage
Long driven by their enterprise clients, storage solution providers are now beginning to eye the lucrative consumer market. With individuals saving more photos, music and other multimedia than ever before, the iron is hot and ready for some serious striking. The June Storage community feature will overview some of the hottest personal storage devices out right now and how they’re transforming the focus of this sector. For more about this, go to www.certmag.com/storage.

Trai

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