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ENetarch is preparing to demonstrate how to build web based applications using Ladder - Our Object Oriented Database Management System (OODBMS).

ENetArch supports clients requiring network administrative and pc maintenance from single users to 50 clients in the Metro Detroit Area.

ENetArch builds better webbased applications faster using reusable repository objects (RRO's) and an our open source object oriented database management server (OODBMS) named Ladder. Read more about our solutions, products, services, and support to see how we can best serve your needs.

If I were to Learn Computers

I recently had a patron ask me, "If I were to learn about computers, what should I know?" Following is my response:

I’m a proponent of self learning first of all. The reason why I prefer self learning is that the more you know when you start a degree program the more you will get out of it. With that said, let me start by telling you what my experience was in my CSC BA program. Then I will answer your questions.

During my CSC BA Program, I learned the basics of programming: General Language Syntax, the difference between Compile errors and Runtime errors, how to create structures, functions, modules and classes, as well as many of the foundation classes now needed to interact with the operating system and GUI interface, I also started learning about more complex issues such as building databases, creating multi-threaded code, resource locking, communicating across networks, and much more. The reason for this was to give us a very broad range of experience from which to choose a focus on during a master’s program.

Today there are many focuses to concentrate on – what is described above focuses on Software Development. Including the above, we have network administration, domain administration, enterprise administration, data center administration, database administration, and project management just to name a few. Then there are specific vendors: Sun, Microsoft, Cisco, Unix, Linux, Apple, Oracle. Yes a lot as you’ve pointed out in one of your questions.

There is a lot you can learn on your own. Programming languages are available for free: You can get a simple C compiler (from download.com) or Java (from Sun.com), or PHP (for IIS or Apache both of which are free), you can write VB and Java Scripts for Windows, as well as your web browser (which doesn’t require a web server). This will give you the general experience of writing code, understanding syntax, building methods and classes.

As for administrating a network you would need acquire a copy of Microsoft Server 2000. If you can find an old copy out there, it doesn’t require you to register it – yes, I’m advocating pirating. But it will allow you to learn the fundamentals of running a Domain Network. Setting up Users, Creating Groups, Creating Print Servers, Linking various computers to the Domain, understanding how and why it’s done. As well as managing various concepts such as profile management – ie how to control what a user can and should do, vs what they want to do. And how to create a common user environment for multiple users so that no matter where they sit on your domain, they can use the applications they need.

If you’re not comfortable with using Microsoft Windows Server 2000, then you can always use a free copy of Linux. But it’s harder to navigate and learn the basic concepts.

If you want to learn about WebSite Design, Hosting, and Programming – then you can use Linux, mySQL, Apache, and PHP – all of which are free. In addition you can Add Microsoft’s ASP module for Apache. This will allow you to use the VBScript aka VBS aka ASP. You can also install a Java WebServer and linkages into Apache so that you can run Java Server Pages (JSP) on the Linux Box. There are many good websites and books out there that talk about this. Php.org, Java.com, Apache.org, mySQL.com, …

If you want to write websites, then you will need to understand the language you want to write in. PHP, ASP, Java are the major players. You will need to understand SQL – and it’s flavors – MS SQL or mySQL or Oracle SQL. Then there is HTML, JavaScript and XML – for either IE or FireFox - now known as AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

Also note that there is a new concept coming out of the Mainframe world that is being applied to the PC world now. It’s call VM. Virtual Machines are based on a concept that each user has their own processing space, each service has it’s own processing space, and so on. They communicate through TCP/IP now. This concept has been growing in the PC world and looked like Multi Tasking, Memory Paging, Process separation, Threading, and so on. The basic concept is that various tasks are now being segmented off into their own space so that if they crash, they only take out their environment, and not the entire server.

What advice would you have for someone looking to get education in the area?

Learn the basics three different environments: Programming, Operating Systems, and Networks. Learn to program in any language so that you can apply the concepts to any language you use. What is a function, structure, enum, method, class, package, application. Learn about process and task threading. All operating systems are the same. This applies to Linux, Unix, OS/2, MS Windows, Apple. They all have the same basic concepts, just applied differently. And if you can learn those concepts, you can definitely learn how networks run – since networks are nothing more than computer talking to each other. The question is what do they need to know in order to talk to one another?

Knowing what you know, how would you advise someone entering school to proceed so they were well positioned (having the right experience / training to get the best / best paying / most job opportunities) post graduation?

After learning the basics, determine what areas you liked the best. Then focus all your energy into learning about that aspect as much as you can. Get Certificates, partner with other people and companies in that area. Jobs are found more often through referrals from people you know and meet than through the Job Wanted Columns in news papers and websites.

What about the difference in employability and ability between a 4 year and 2 year degree?

Employability doesn’t rely on the degree but on your strength in the language. How many years have you been programming in it? How in depth have you learned the Foundation Classes. The same holds true for the Operation System and the Network Hardware. However, what the degree shows is that you are able to focus and complete a scheduled program. Also, if you know all that I’ve talked about so far – ie languages, operating systems, and network hardware – then focus on getting a masters – which helps you focus on addressing questions of which option is the best and why, and how will you implement that solution?

BTW, the 4 year BA program is going to expose you to other aspects of the educational realm. This may or may not be necessary. Thus a 2 yr BA program may suffice. However consult your CSC counselor to determine if you should do a BA or a MA or an MS degree.

If you were starting now, where would you go to get your education, and what skills / systems / software would you want to get training with?

Since most of what you need to learn can be taught through writing, look into correspondence courses, instead of class room courses. While you won’t interact with other students as much, you will be given time to work on the assignments when you have time – morning, afternoon, or eve. Mind you there are still deadlines in a correspondence course as there are in a classroom course.

I am presently working on a MS in Biz Mgnt w/a Cert in Change Management. It will be completed at the end of September . So far the course while I feel hasn’t been challenging as I would have wished it to be, I have learned a lot. And it’s all writing – answering questions like these.

With so much info floating around, I could teach myself virtually anything...if I wanted to get started before enrolling in school, what sort of foundational skills (ie HTML, UNIX, DOS, visual basic, proficiency in MS Office, etc) would you recommend I get started learning?

I would recommend that you go sit in a book store and speed read as many books on as many different subjects concerning computing as you possibly can. If you don’t know how to speed read, then here’s a short demo. Only read the first sentence of each paragraph in the book. If you need to understand the concept better, then read the succeeding paragraphs. This however will allow you to read about 5 to 10 books in a hour. So you could easily determine what Language calls to you, what Operation system you want to use, and what Network Hardware you want to use.

What's hot in the marketplace right now...or, who's making the best money with the best job opportunities? Java, .Net, VBasic, Oracle programmers? Network Admins? Database Managers / Architects?

Everything is HOT at the moment, however, Network Administration has diverged from meaning … Administrating the complete network to Administrating just the hardware of the network and Administrating the user domain of the environment. So be aware that these splits are occurring as the networks continue to grow and mature. Some places to go look at the number of job opportunities that are available are: Monster Jobs.com, CareerBuilder.com, and CyberCoder.com.

What will make you more valuable is the certificates you gain in a specific area of your experience. For example Cisco has a certificate program for managing all its equipment. The same holds true for Java, Sun, Microsoft, and Oracle. Once you know what really calls to you, seek out those certs.

Can you recommend any magazines / websites / blogs that would help me keep up to date on what's going on in the IT world and where it's going?

Network World
Information World
BNet News
Market Watch

What sort of questions am I not asking here that are relevant?

While most of your questions are relevant, the real question is what are you presently interested in? What calls to you? Knowing more about your background will help me focus my answer to meet your needs.

Some of these questions are a bit of a "shot in the dark," but at the moment I'm gathering info, exploring my interests, and trying to formulate a goal in an area that I know fairly little about.

That’s what education si all about. When I decided to start learning about Change Management I purchased 1 book to read about it. Then I built a concept about what change management is about, and started looking for books that filled that concept. Once I felt I was ready, I then began searching for programs that seemed to match my understanding. This has made it much easier to succeed at achieving the degree I want. It has also helped to expand my awareness of what the degree requires fully. I would never have thought to look for scholarly works that talked about my conceptual understanding of change management. Nor would I have thought about how to manage the change as a project.

Keep your eyes open. What makes you valuable is being as unique as possible.

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Skill comes from diligence.

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