Friday, December 10, 2004

my week in Microsoft training

I've been in a week-long training class in midtown Manhattan for Microsoft Active Directory. I didn't ask to go to training for AD; my boss signed me up for the class along with another Novell network analyst from our firm. All week, my colleague and I have joked/kidded/cursed from the back of the classroom at how everything Active Directory can do can be done quicker, easier, and better with Novell's eDirectory (formerly Novell Directory Services).

[GEEK TALK ALERT] Novell's directory system for network management came out about ten years ago, while AD debuted with Windows 2000 just four years ago. While Novell refined and expanded the scope of its product, Microsoft let its Windows NT domain system languish for years until they had no choice but to come up with a directory system of their own. For those of you who are not network techs, the basic problem with AD is that it is a massive hack to combine the administration of many systems into one big system. And it's far more complicated to deploy and maintain than a comparable management structure from Novell.

[RESUME NORMAL RANT] Aside from the class subject matter, I'm annoyed by plenty of other things this week. The instructor gets distracted and frequently veers off topic onto weird tangents. For example, on Wednesday he talked about the process of upgrading a Windows server from one version to another. He said that in terms of the power of the new OS versus the old, it was like when Bruce Banner became the Hulk. Then he asked why Bruce Banner didn't want to become the Hulk permanently, and I guess the class took up the topic. I went outside to check my e-mail (no Internet access in the classroom, more on that in a minute) and when I came back, the instructor was praising the "Blade" movie trilogy and proudly stating that his six-year-old son recites lines from the movies and has twice dressed up as the character for Halloween. He compared another aspect of the Microsoft networking system to changing planes when flying, and that led to a discussion of travel arrangements to Caribbean nations. It's not bad enough that most of the class material pertains to network problems that I will never see. I have to endure these oddball topics as well.

The other big problem with the training center (Learning Tree at the CBS Building on 52nd St.) is that the classrooms don't have any Internet access. I have been to four different training centers in Manhattan, run by four different companies. The previous three all had some form of Internet access, via the classroom computers or a wireless network for student laptops. I still have a job to do while I'm in training, and while classroom Internet access can be a major distraction, it has been invaluable for me to be able to manage my network and still participate in the class. Learning Tree has no Internet access in the classrooms and only a handful of Internet kiosks in the reception area, all of which are occupied during breaks. Thank God for my Blackberry, or I'd have a complete breakdown with no e-mail either. When I had to leave class early on Tuesday to go downtown to fix a problem at the office (incidentally, one that could not have been fixed remotely via a classroom Internet connection), I considered it a blessing. Learning Tree must have some kind of deal with my IT department, because lately all the training classes have been there. I'll have to find some other place for my next class, because I feel lost and scared without my precious Internet. Friday is the last day, and it will be shortened by a dentist appointment first thing in the morning and an early conclusion in the afternoon. By 4 PM I'll be surfing happily at home or at a Starbucks somewhere, glad to be away from AD hell.

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