I firmly believe that there's no such thing as too much information. "Information overload," rather than indicating that too much information exists, results from not being able to manage the information that you need. I believe that the best people in IT jobs are those who actively search out and learn as much as possible about their work environment.
I don't believe in adding to the information queue by giving the reader a host of trivial information sources. Consequently, I don't often recommend reading materials or classes to already busy IT professionals. However, when something really good comes along, I feel that getting the word out is my duty.
Last year, I gave a strong recommendation for the third edition of the Microsoft Press book "Inside Windows 2000," by David Solomon and Mark Russinovich. (Mark sometimes contributes columns for the print version of Windows & .NET Magazine.) I still feel that this book is an excellent resource for the systems administrator who works in a Windows XP or Win2K environment.
But now I find myself recommending something that surprises even me—the "Inside Windows 2000" interactive tutorial. David and Mark present a 3-day class several times a year that is, by all accounts, a fascinating, informative look at the guts of the professional-strength Microsoft OS. Everyone I've spoken with who has attended has unstintingly praised these classes--a rare thing from a group of "heard-it-all" IT types.
Few of us have time to attend one of these classes, regardless of their value, and David and Mark have an answer to that problem: a five–DVD set that includes 11 hours of instruction plus 38 hands-on lab exercises that you can work through at your own pace. I worked my way through the instructions and labs over the space of almost 4 weeks, devoting a half-hour or so when I could.
I approached this tutorial with a fairly high opinion of my knowledge of the Win2K OS. I had read the Inside book plus mountains of Microsoft support documentation and every resource kit since the first version of Windows NT. In addition to learning things about the OS that I didn't know, I found that the tutorial corrected some misconceptions I had about the way that I believed the OS behaved in certain situations.
I also screened a few of the lessons for a junior IT person at my office to get his feedback. The tutorial presented the concepts in a way that enabled him to keep up without requiring intensive study of the Inside book. The tutorial isn't cheap (the current introductory price is $950), but it's certainly worthwhile. Check it out at Inside Windows 2000—An Interactive Internals Tutorial."