Certification Web Site Gold Mine
Over the holidays, I stumbled upon a great certification site for those of you seeking specific information about certification exams. The site, a central repository for a variety of free MCSE resources, promises that "you'll find more than 150 links to the best free MCSE-related stuff available on the Net" a claim that I verified by searching through the site's content. The unnamed Web master has divided the site content into the following categories:

  • MCSE study resources— Free MCSE study guides and tutorials, exam crams, brain dumps, and links to sites that provide free online training.
  • MCSE practice tests— Free MCSE exams, tests, and practice questions.
  • MCSE Info— MCSE resources on the Microsoft site.
  • Mailing lists— MCSE-related mailing lists.
  • Personal MCSE pages— Personal pages with useful MCSE information.
  • Windows NT resources— Information about NT Server and NT Workstation.
  • Free IT books online— Links to free libraries online.
  • Networking— Networking technologies information: IP addressing, DNS, network protocols, Microsoft Exchange.

The site clearly identifies and rates its resources. For example, the site highly recommends the Saluki.com mailing list service. For those of you who are new to the certification ball game, the Saluki.com list service gives you access to others working on their MCSE certifications, providing an interaction that many believe is an invaluable source of information. One word of warning: The volume of email you will receive every day from this list service can quickly overwhelm you (I've received more than 200 messages on some days). Fortunately, you can use preview features in programs such as Microsoft Outlook to quickly filter through all the email and read only what interests you.

CompTIA’s New i-NET+ Certification
If you're looking for base certifications, you will want to consider CompTIA’s new i-NET+ certification. CompTIA says that it has designed the i-Net+ certification program specifically for individuals interested in demonstrating baseline technical knowledge that can help them pursue a variety of Internet-related careers. CompTIA claims that its new certification program validates entry-level knowledge of Internet technology.

The i-NET+ certification goes live on January 21, 2000, at a Sylvan Prometric testing center near you. CompTIA is providing special exam pricing for its new certification: If you register between January 7 and January 20, the exam will cost you just $99 (a savings of $76). If you feel that you're not ready to take the exam but you want to take advantage of this reduced price, you can schedule your exam for up to a year after your registration date.

CompTIA identifies six domains that its certification exam measures. The table below identifies each domain and estimates what portion of the exam each domain encompasses.

Domain Exam Content (Percent)
I-Net Basics 10
I-Net Clients 20
Development 20
Networking 25
I-Net Security 15
Business Concepts 10

Exam content for each of these domains includes the following:

I-Net Basics:

  • Describe a URL— its functions, components, the different URL types, and the use of appropriate URL types to access a given server type.
  • Identify the issues that affect Internet-site functionality (e.g., performance, security, and reliability).
  • Describe the concept of caching and its implications.
  • Describe different types of search indexes.

I-Net Clients:

  • Describe the infrastructure that supports an Internet client.
  • Describe the use of Web browsers and various clients (e.g., FTP clients, Telnet clients, email clients, all-in-one clients/universal clients) within a given context.
  • Explain the issues you should consider when configuring the desktop.
  • Describe MIME types and components.
  • Identify problems related to legacy clients (e.g., TCP/IP sockets and their implication on the OS).
  • Explain the function of patches and updates to client software and associated problems.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of using cookies and how to set cookies.

Development:

  • Define programming-related terms as they pertain to Internet applications development.
  • Describe the differences between popular client-side and server-side programming languages.
  • Describe the differences between a relational database and a non-relational database.
  • Identify when to integrate a database with a Web site and the technologies that connect the two.
  • Demonstrate the ability to create HTML pages.
  • Identify popular multimedia extensions or plug-ins.
  • Describe the uses and benefits of various multimedia file formats.
  • Describe the prelaunch process and application-functionality testing.

Networking:

  • Describe the core components of the current Internet infrastructure and how they relate to each other.
  • Identify problems with Internet connectivity from source to destination for various types of servers.
  • Describe Internet domain names and DNS.
  • Describe the nature, purpose, and operational essentials of TCP/IP.
  • Describe the purpose of remote access protocols.
  • Describe how various protocols or services apply to the function of a mail system, Web system, and file-transfer system.
  • Describe when to use various diagnostic tools for identifying and resolving Internet problems.
  • Describe hardware and software connection devices and their uses.
  • Describe various types of Internet bandwidth technologies (link types).
  • Describe the purpose of various servers— what they are, their functionality, and features.

I-Net Security:

  • Define the following Internet security concepts: access control, encryption, auditing, and authentication, and provide appropriate types of technologies currently available for each.
  • Describe VPN and what it does.
  • Describe various types of suspicious activities.
  • Describe access security features for an Internet server (e.g., email server, Web server).
  • Describe the purpose of antivirus software and when to use it.

Business Concepts:

  • Explain the issues involved in copyrights, trademarks, and licensing.
  • Identify the issues related to working in a global environment.
  • Define the Web-related mechanisms for attracting and retaining an audience.
  • Define e-commerce terms and concepts.

For additional information about i-Net+ certification, point your browser to CompTIA’s Web site.