Windows Client UPDATE, November 13, 2003

==== This Issue Sponsored By ====

Security Administrator


1. Commentary: Another Round in the Vendor Certification Debate

2. Reader Challenge
- October 2003 Reader Challenge Winners
- November 2003 Reader Challenge

3. News & Views
- Microsoft Patch Day, Take Two

4. Announcements
-Order Windows & .NET Magazine and the Article Archive CD at One Low Rate!
- Have You Seen Connected Home Media Online Lately?

5. Resources
- Tip: Changing Disk Optimization Settings in XP
- Featured Thread: Printing Problems with Win2K Japanese Version

6. Events
- Check Out 4 New Upcoming Web Seminars

7. New and Improved
- Reset Local User Account Passwords Remotely
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

8. Contact Us
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.

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==== 1. Commentary: Another Round in the Vendor Certification Debate ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

I'm devoting the commentary for this issue of Windows Client UPDATE to the topic that has attracted the most hate mail of my career: vendor certifications. Anyone who has read my work is likely aware of my disdain for many vendor certification programs. I come by my scorn honestly, having drawn it from experience both as an IT manager who has been responsible for hiring IT staff and as an industry observer who has looked at all sorts of certification programs over the past 20 years. Along with the hostile mail I've received about my negative position on certifications, I've received an even higher volume of mail agreeing with me. The sheer volume of mail that the topic generates always surprises me.

You're probably wondering what's prompting me to once again pry open this can of worms, especially in the venue of Windows Client UPDATE. This time, the catalyst is Microsoft's latest certification program, the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST). I've never taken the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification to task, although I'm always amused by the reaction when I mention that the requirement for achieving that level of professional certification is passing one exam. Microsoft's Web site for the MCDST certification ( ) points out that anyone who passes either of the two exams required for the MCDST (i.e., Exam 70-271: Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Microsoft Windows Desktop Operating Systems and Exam 70-272: Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Applications on a Microsoft Windows Desktop Operating System Platform) also achieves the MCP. I'm sure I'll soon be seeing business cards listing the titles MCP and MCDST.

What really set me off was Microsoft's description of the new certification. After stating that the certification "proves that you have the skills to successfully support end users and to successfully troubleshoot desktop environments" running Windows, the certification requirements page goes on to announce, "An MCDST candidate should have six months of experience working with a desktop operating system." Six months' experience with a Windows desktop OS? With that statement, the company prequalifies just about every one of the tens of millions of users who sit in front of a Windows-based computer every day. This sweeping pronouncement includes users of Windows XP Home Edition, which the MCDST Web site mentions specifically.

When I checked the Web site earlier this week, the two exams that make up the certification were listed as "in development." I'm fairly certain that my daughter's elementary school honors class would not only be qualified to take the exams but also would perform rather well on them. Part of the class's program for the past few years has been to support younger students in the school computer labs, which use Windows desktop OSs.

A lot of topflight IT professionals who have earned their spurs the hard way have gone back to school for the Microsoft certifications only because the certifications have become expected for a Windows IT professional. However, the further dilution of the certification universe with titles that bear no fundamental relationship to the skills required by the business computing world does a disservice to the IT community in general. So feel free to open fire--I'm ready for a deluge of feedback about the certification situation.

==== 2. Reader Challenge ====
by Kathy Ivens, [email protected]

October 2003 Reader Challenge Winners

Congratulations to our October Reader Challenge winners! Christopher McKenzie of Massachusetts wins first prize, a copy of "Home Networking for Dummies, Second Edition." (Christopher wrote that if he won, he wanted a book about home networking for his personal use.) Caroline Allen of California wins second prize, a copy of "Admin911:Windows 2000 Registry." (Caroline is an IT Help desk professional who wrote that she wants to learn more about the registry.) Visit to read the solution to the October Reader Challenge.

November 2003 Reader Challenge

Solve this month's Windows Client problem, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by November 26, 2003. You must include your full name, street mailing address, and phone number (all required for shipping your prize).

I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents. (I never respond to a request for a receipt.) Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on November 26, 2003.

October 31, the night of ghouls, scary events, and children demanding treats, seems to affect computers, or at least computer users. My phone rang several times last Halloween as people called to report eerie computer events. I don't believe in all that spooky stuff, and now that my children are grown I even find it difficult to get into the spirit of the evening. In fact, I put an empty bowl on my porch and taped a sign on my front door above the bowl, saying, "KIDDIES--PUT ALL YOUR CHOCOLATE IN THE BOWL AND GO AWAY QUIETLY AND NOTHING BAD WILL HAPPEN." For some reason, everyone laughs and rings the doorbell, so I still have to keep walking to the door to give out candy. I'll have to come up with a better scheme.

Here are two of the calls I received on Halloween. Can you figure out what ghostly event occurred for each caller?

1. "Help! I opened a document in Microsoft Word and there are little dots all over the document. There seems to be a dot between every word."

2. "My taskbar disappeared, so I couldn't even do a regular shutdown. I turned off the computer manually and lost my work. When I restarted, the taskbar was back. What happened, and how can I prevent it in the future?"

==== 3. News & Views ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Microsoft Patch Day, Take Two

Continuing its promise to release its most important security fixes on the second Tuesday of each month, Microsoft released on November 11 three security fixes for Windows (two critical) and one for Office. In October, Microsoft began its new patch release schedule in the wake of the MSBlaster and SoBig electronic attacks. This month's releases, however, were somewhat problematic for systems administrators at federal sites because Tuesday was a US holiday. To alleviate this problem, the Federal Computer Incident Response Center (FedCIRC) emailed many administrators at various US agencies to warn them the patches were coming. And Microsoft bundled several patches together to make it easier to roll out the fixes: The three Windows patches fix eight vulnerabilities, for example.

"One of the things that we kind of did in this case is that we included several patches in some of the fixes," said Stephen Toulouse, security program manager for Microsoft's security response center. "We are trying to drive the deployment of fixes for our customers. It is one of the things our customers have asked us to do."

The Windows fixes involve several Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) vulnerabilities, a security vulnerability in the Workstation service that could allow remote code execution, and problems with digital certificates. The fixes affect various Windows versions, including Windows Server 2003, Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows Me. The Office fix addresses newly discovered vulnerabilities in Microsoft Excel, Word, and Works Suite. Specifically, the Office fix applies to Excel 2002, Excel 2000, and Excel 97; Word 2002, Word 2000, Word 98 (Mac), and Word 97; and Works Suite 2004, Works Suite 2003, Works Suite 2002, and Works Suite 2001.

==== 4. Announcements ====
(from Windows & .NET Magazine and its partners)

Order Windows & .NET Magazine and the Article Archive CD at One Low Rate!

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==== 5. Resources ====

Tip: Changing Disk Optimization Settings in XP
contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

I've been using large hard disks in external enclosures connected over USB 2.0 to move data and applications between computers. When I recently tried to set up a fresh disk in this configuration, Windows XP wouldn't let me format the disk, presenting blank entries in the File System and Allocation Unit Size fields in the Format dialog box. I solved the problem by changing the optimization for the disk from Optimize for Quick Removal to Optimize for Performance. I noticed that my FireWire (IEEE 1394)-attached disks experienced a performance boost with this configuration, too.

To change the disk optimization settings in XP, take the following steps:
1. Launch Computer Management from the Administrative Tools menu.
2. Select Disk Management.
3. In the lower right pane, you'll see small boxes with labels for available disks (e.g., Disk 0, Disk 1). Right-click the label that applies to the physical hard disk you want to modify.
4. Select Properties from the context menu.
5. From the Properties dialog box, select the Policies tab.
6. Select the "Optimize for Performance" check box.
7. Click OK.
8. Exit and reboot the computer.

Featured Thread: Printing Problems with Win2K Japanese Version

Forum member looking4help just upgraded a user from Microsoft Windows 98 Japanese version to Windows 2000 Japanese version. When the user prints Japanese documents, one and a half pages print correctly, but the third page contains the following message: "This job requires more memory than is available in this printer. Try one or more of the following, and then print again: For the output format, choose Optimize For Portability. In the Device Settings page, make sure the Available PostScript Memory is accurate. Reduce the number of fonts in the document. Print the document in parts." The print driver for the user's machine is PostScript, which works well for all of looking4help's other Win2K Japanese version users. If you can shed some light on this problem, join the discussion at the following URL:

==== 6. Events ====
(brought to you by Windows & .NET Magazine)

Check Out 4 New Upcoming Web Seminars

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==== 7. New and Improved ====
by Dianne Russell, [email protected]

Reset Local User Account Passwords Remotely

Keroon Software announced Reset Local Password Pro, software that lets systems administrators remotely reset passwords for local Windows machine user accounts. In one operation, you can change account passwords for a single computer or for multiple computers simultaneously from a remote machine. Reset Local Password Pro lets you easily set passwords on new computer installations or reset passwords after upgrading hardware or transferring computers between departments. You need administrative rights to any PC for which you want to reset the account password. Reset Local Password Pro runs on Windows 2003/XP/Win2K/NT 4.0. Pricing is $59.99. A free, full-featured 14-day trial version of the software is available for download from the Keroon Software Web site. Contact Keroon Software at [email protected]

Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

Have you used a product that changed your IT experience by saving you time or easing your daily burden? Tell us about the product, and we'll send you a Windows & .NET Magazine T-shirt if we write about the product in a future Windows & .NET Magazine What's Hot column. Send your product suggestions with information about how the product has helped you to [email protected]

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==== 8. Contact Us ====

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