Tales from Academia

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Tell us about your college experiences! We’re developing a feature in CertMag focusing on what’s happening with IT degrees and certification at colleges and universities. And we want to include some thought-provoking, reader-generated content to keep it real. If you pursued or received a degree in IT, we want to hear from you.

Tell us:

 

 

  • What was it like pursuing/getting a college degree in IT?
  • Did you find it valuable?
  • Would you recommend it to someone else?
  • What did you wish you knew before pursuing/getting a degree in IT?
  • Has it enhanced your career?

 

Some of your comments might be published in the new Academic Connection section in future issues of Certification Magazine. Got stories, complaints, advice or anecdotes about your IT collegiate experiences to share? Go to www.certmag.com/forums.

Buzzword Breakdown
Anyone taking even a cursory glance at the world of IT these days likely will notice the term generating the most buzz is “Web 2.0,” which often is applied to a perceived ongoing transition of the Internet from a collection of Web sites to a full-fledged computing platform that serves Web applications to end-users. Basically, the term is intended to note that the Web becoming more interactive through applications such as social networking sites and wikis. Web 2.0 services are expected to replace desktop computing applications for many purposes.

Late last year, we sought to foster a discussion of the concept in our Help Desk & Support CertMag.com community forum, asking the following questions: “Is it possible that people can get IT support from other users now and not need to use the company help desk? Could this spell the end of the call center? What are your thoughts on Web 2.0 as it relates to the future of the call center and whether people really can get accurate, needed IT support from other users and bypass the help desk all together?”

The only answer we received somewhat deflated the hype surrounding Web 2.0.

Member masterssullivan offered this comment: “I always got the impression Web 2.0 was more of a buzzword than anything else. The Web is always evolving, and I’m not sure why they picked this point in time to give it a new label. How come it wasn’t called Web 2.0 when JavaScript was unleashed, or when Flash (which can and has been doing a lot of this Web 2.0 stuff long before the term ‘Web 2.0’ came around) started becoming more ubiquitous? Sure, there are a lot of new Web technologies that make the user’s experience more robust, but this has always been the case and hopefully always will be. Upward and onward, you know? You can call it whatever you want, Web 2.0: The Revenge, New Internet, This Ain’t Yer Grampa’s Internet or whatever.”

Storage
Over in our CertMag.com Storage community forum, we introduced the topic of flash memory in a thread titled “Flash Memory: Everyone doing it?”

“Flash memory sticks are fairly new, but they’re already taking hold fast,” we wrote. “There is no such thing as bringing in a disk anymore — you simply store everything you need to take with you on an external hard drive or memory stick. This is catching on fast in colleges, but it’s still taking some time to become standard in the business world. How long will it take before everyone carries a flash stick on his or her key chain? Will it happen before memory stick ports completely replace floppy disk drives? Before little kids in elementary school start complaining, ‘Teacher, Johnny took my memory again!’”

Masterssullivan again chimed in.

“It’ll be a couple of years before kids start saying that, and here’s why:

1. Flash memory is expensive. It is definitely worth the money but not enough to go around giving it to kids! But really, you don’t see flash memory-based iPods and such because it’s too expensive to make them in that sized storage. And you probably never will. ‘Why do you say that, Masters?’ Well, I’m glad you asked! Let’s move on to point numero dos.

2. Next-generation flash memory alternatives are already being developed. These, no doubt, will be easier to produce, and therefore cheaper, as well as having all sorts of new capabilities that flash memory doesn’t have. Imagine the future as a jar of mustard and flash memory as a dull knife that cannot cut it, and you’ll catch my drift.

3. But to add, with things such as ferroelectric RAMs, magnetic RAMs, phase-change RAMs and other phase-change technologies, flash will be left in the proverbial dust. Beginning to see my point? I thought so. Samsung also has some interesting new technologies such as FinFET NAND, stacked NAND cell arrays and thin-film-resistor NAND.

But I guess the present is now, and flash is our option. So, for now, it’s a cool thing to have, and Johnny better keep his hands off my memory stick, or he’s going to have to serve a detention. And by detention, I mean something involving molten lava and a live electrical wire! (ha ha). Anyone agree/disagree?”

Trainers
In October 2006, we heard from CertMag.com member bandit648, who was considering a few camps for A+ and NET+ certs and was wondering whether anyone on the boards has much experience with certification boot camps.

“Are these camps worth the high price tag? For lower-level certs such as A+, am I better off just reading the books and taking the test? I already have two and a half years of experience in IT as a network operator and now as an administrative assistant. I want to get certified ASAP, so I can advance my career. One person I talked to said, with a couple certs, combined with my experience, I should be able to land a job as a network administrator.”

Recently, CertMag.com members have offered bandit648 valuable advice.

New member TrainSignal said, “I am a big fan of instructor-led training or CBT, but I am always a little leery of boot camps and their high price tags. In my opinion, boot camps can be worth the money if you already possess a good deal of core knowledge and just want to learn how to pass the certification exams. I also think they are more valuable for higher-level or specialty certs. In your specific case, especially with the experience, I think you are much better off using a book or a CBT for certs such as A+, Network+, etc.”

CertMag.com member Wayne Anderson agreed.

“Like TrainSignal said, you are much better positioned to get a return on an investment in books, CBTs and practice exams than you are on boot camps for those low-level certifications,” he said. “Personally, I strongly advise against boot camps for any certification because certifications are intended to represent to a company (whether it’s an employer or a client) that you have certain skills and experience sufficient to handle work in a specific capacity.

“Boot camps should only be sought as an intensive review, and in such a role, I find it difficult to justify the cost when legitimate practice testing products can provide guidance for individual review at a much lower cost.”

As for whether A+ and Network+ will land bandit648 a job as a network administrator, Wayne was skeptical.

“Eh, there is a lot more to a network administrator (traditionally involved in server and some networking work, usually in the Microsoft space) than the A+ and Network+ provide,” he said. “The A+ and Network+ provide a great entry point to breaking into the desktop space. I would advise that you look for entry-level positions in desktop, which will provide the basis for you to build more relevant skill sets to apply to a network administration position (assuming network administrator in your context means Microsoft system admin). If you mean network engineer, then you will want to eschew the A+ and go more for the Network+ and CCNA, maybe Security+, as well.”

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