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peter_89 06-08-2006 09:21 AM

Confessions of an MSCE
I was speaking to an MSCE the other day, and brought up Linux.
Now, I know for a fact that she has never used anything other than Windows.
But she kept saying how these days, "Linux makes a great geek toy but is worthless for even day-to-day work. Hardware detection is hard, and you have to find a driver for everything yourself ...".
It's funny how she knows so much about something she's never used.
I have to wonder, what are they teaching MSCE people these days?

Okie 06-08-2006 09:38 AM

sounds like she was fed liberal helpings of misinformation and FUD.

brianthegreat 06-08-2006 09:44 AM

You would be surprised if you talked tothe same MCSE a couple of months or years from now. Newly minted MCSEs have closed minds and live and breath MS. MCSEs with more years in the field usually possess open minds regarding other OSes. It all depends on the individual though. Some people possess tunnel vision while others do not.

I was almost a MCSE once and lived and died by MS. It was only time until I found the nix OSes. I personally like most of the operating systems out there. (MS included)

nonades 06-08-2006 09:56 AM


Originally Posted by peter_89
I have to wonder, what are they teaching MSCE people these days?

Windows, duh :p (sorry, had to say it)

LzW-x 06-08-2006 04:57 PM

I looked up MSCE because I didn't know what it was... It is microsoft certification for Windows NT, 2000 & Server 2003.

I'm guessing you could put that on a job resume if you had it but it might not help a lot otherwise... For example: People know if you want a web site on Windows Server, install the IIS Application Server and configure the default web site!

The configuration wizard is a lot like any other part of windows... If you are familiar with the basic concepts of the internet and can use windows, you can configure a web site!

My method of learning is different and I'm not certified for anything! I wait for a problem and learn how to fix it! I call that real world experience...

I'm pretty sure I didn't update Firefox in Suse correctly but it works and next time I'll figure out how to do it better!

reddazz 06-08-2006 05:44 PM

Someone from my old work place used to have a similar mentality (although we both worked in non IT related jobs) and after months of Linux bashing, I gave him a Mepis live cd. I was suprised that after a few months time we were both discussing how wonderful Linux and opensource was. Obviously this guy was willing to try it, but some are not willing to try alternative OSes.

sundialsvcs 06-09-2006 10:44 AM

Unlike IBM, Microsoft never really developed their own sales-force. Instead, they rely upon the indoctrination of programmers and "solution providers" ... independent businessmen ... to do everything but write the software. The Solution Provider program is linked to and fuels the MSCE program because, to get and keep the SP designation, you must have a certain number of MSCE employees.

All of this would be well-and-good if it were something more than a trademark-license.

But it really isn't, because Microsoft also makes no particular formal effort at training, either. To get the designations, you simply have to pass a test .. or have someone say ;) ;) that you did. How you get the knowledge, or at least the passing grade, is entirely "up to you."

As a consequence, it has been my experience that a lot of people pay a lot of money on a fairly-regular basis to get these "credentials" to tack after their name, only to find that they are not the "magic ticket" that they were claimed to be. The certificates, as a product, are certainly successful. But that is what they are.

Pragmatically speaking, I can say from 20+ years in this business that you cannot afford "vendor lock-in." Even if you wind up spending your entire career working with or working on a single vendor's equipment (which, btw, you won't...) that equipment will be working in [dis-]harmony with lots of other gear, and the more versatile and well-read you are the more employable you will always be. When faced with a new and unexpected situation, you need to be able to smile, bob your head pleasantly, promise appropriately, then get back to your office/cube, rip into the manuals and the Internet, and actually get it done, as promised. [You don't see the knowing smile on your boss's face... who knows perfectly well that you were bu**s**tting him/her back there, but who also knows that you will, nonetheless, make sure that it really didn't turn out to be B.S. after all. It's a little game that you play. But, you deliver.]

You need to constantly do the things that we were doing back before computer-science degrees existed, and a "personal" computer was not yet technically feasible. Journalists called it "hacking," but mostly it was a highly refined case of goal-oriented, self-motivated, self-education. If you know how to teach yourself, you don't particularly need schools or training-centers that try to do it for you. It's the subtle difference between accepting knowledge that is proferred to you, versus getting it, yourself.

It is not really the sort of education that can be "spoon fed" to you in some classroom or training-room. You have to go out there and do it. You have to read manuals very, very quickly. You have to have and to assemble a mental framework in which all these seemingly-disparate pieces actually fit. You have to be nimble-headed and think on your feet.

graemef 06-09-2006 12:44 PM

I'm really against the idea of certifications because they don't prove ability just the retention of information. That said they are used by non technical people to assess technical people, i.e in the hiring of new staff.

There are a lot of jobs out there where certification are part of the requirements and I can see its use when hiring people with no previous work experience (typically new graduates). The MSCE covers good material and I helped the college I used to work with introduce the CISCO equivalent for our students. They liked it and it did help a little with their studies but multiple guess assessments are never going to provide you with any insight in the real concepts.

brianthegreat 06-09-2006 01:25 PM

Everyone knows that people need hands-on experience regarding learning different aspects of the I.T field. Certifications are good as long as the individual does not braindump their way through. Cisco ceritifcations are thougher considering the price ofthe equipment but there are good sims out there. MS/Linux certs are more obtainable referencing that individuals do not have to buy expensive equipment regarding obtaining hands-on experience.

As for college course work is concerned. A lot of colleges out there possess the equipment and classes that will prepare individuals for the networking field. It all depends on the program. A lot of the networking classes that are offered reference the community college level. Fours year colleges usually focus on programming.

Cerifications offers great in-sight regarding learning new technologies. It all depends on the individual referencing how well the material is actually learned.

sundialsvcs 06-09-2006 05:19 PM


Originally Posted by brianthegreat
Cerifications offers great in-sight regarding learning new technologies. It all depends on the individual referencing how well the material is actually learned.

My central difficulty with "certifications" .. and I say this simply as "let the buyer beware" .. is that there is really no way to know how well the material has actually been learned.

What I do find useful are the "training guides" that are sold to people who seek various certificates!

Crito 06-09-2006 07:10 PM

The new MCSE tests require candidates complete simulation exercises. You're dropped to a virtual desktop and have to do everything, from navigating the start menu to actually typing data into dialog boxes. While a good portion is still multiple choice, I doubt you could pass with just braindumps and no hands-on experience now.

MCSE on NT 4.0 was a joke, but MCSE on Server 2003 isn't, IMVHO. I guess MCSE on 2000 is somewhere in the middle. The "adaptive" tests were harder, but you could still braindump your way through (if you had the brain power to memorize the entire pool of 250 or so questions).

graemef 06-09-2006 07:47 PM

It's good that the tests are improving but I'd guess that they essentially test you on working systems not on the scenario "This is broken, how would you fix it?". Basically that is the problem with computerised and auto marked tests, the scope is limited to being closed questions and they don't test understanding. But nice to hear that they are improving and exploring different ways of testing

brianthegreat 06-10-2006 11:45 AM


Originally Posted by Crito
The "adaptive" tests were harder, but you could still braindump your way through (if you had the brain power to memorize the entire pool of 250 or so questions).

The adaptive tests were so easy! Both of the exams that were administered to me in this format. I answered about half of the questiuons on the exam and was done. The only exam that really tripped me up referenced the TCP/IP exam because I failed to focus where the different servers should be placed on a network.

The certifications questions that I always really hated where the Cisco questions that would give you a network senario and then you had to pick that best switch to install. The questions were a real pain in the ass because I had never seen half of the equipment listed.

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