Course Review - Supporting Windows NT 3.51

by Rod Martin - GUI Computing

John Mina never wanted to be a Network Administrator, and neither did I, so why did GUI Computing's Technical Support Coordinator and Project Administrator, respectively, end up being sent by their boss to a 'Supporting NT' course? The answer lies in us being located at the GUI HQ, where our network problems occur, whereas our programmers are often working at a client site. Thus someone thought it would be a good idea for the two of us to learn something about administering our NT network.

Bear in mind that this is a 'Workstation', not 'Server', course (something John and I did not discover until registering). At GUI we have a NT server, but all our PCs are running either Windows 95 or Windows for Workgroups. When making course enquiries it wasn't explained to me that the intermediate and advanced courses were in fact 'Workstation' and 'Server' courses, respectively.

Ultimately this wasn't a problem because about 90 per cent of the content of the 'Workstation' course is directly applicable to using NT Server. The 'Server' course also assumes prior knowledge of the 'Workstation' course, so if you don't know much about networks or NT you should do the 'Workstation' one first.

Course Name: Supporting Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 (for Workgroups)
Instructor:David Siroky
Location:Digital Learning Services, 564 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Cost:About $1,800 (The price per person will vary according to how many people book as part of the same deal)
What you get to keep: The Microsoft course notes (over 600 pages)
A mouse pad
Duration: Five days (a $5 lunch voucher is provided for the Digital cafeteria each day)
Class size:About 12
Enquiries & Bookings: Drake Training - Phone (03) 9245 0444
Main topics covered: Installing NT
Account administration
NT Registry
System settings/environment variables
File systems
NTFS Security
Backup
Booting
NT architecture and components
Network Resources
Printing
IPX and TCP/IP Networks
Remote Access Services
Optimising NT performance
Moving from a Workgroup to a Domain
Supporting Applications
Troubleshooting NT

Course Format:

About two thirds of each day was spent by our instructor, David Siroky, presenting each topic with the aid of an overhead projector, with the slides closely following the manual content. At the same time we could tap away at our PCs to get a bit more understanding of what he was talking about. The other third of each day was spent doing hands-on, practical sessions and answering review questions.

The whole format seemed to give a pretty good balance between theory and practice. I couldn't think of a better way to learn. (John has also asked me to mention the excellent selection of donuts, biscuits and cakes that were available at morning tea time.)

Manuals:

About 600 pages worth - very clearly laid out and definitely easier for a beginner to understand than the Microsoft NT manuals. They are an excellent reference source. Note that this course used the official Microsoft course notes, so any other course using this documentation will cover much the same subject matter and probably in the same order. If you're comparing one training course to another (where both are using the Microsoft course materials) the difference is really going to be between the quality of the individual instructors.

Instructor:

David Siroky is an MS certified trainer and a CNE, with a background in installing and configuring networks. It was clear from listening to him that he's had plenty of industry experience - he didn't just learn about NT from doing a training course. David seemed to know everything there was to know about NT - his product knowledge was excellent, and he was happy to answer all questions.

Who should do this course?

Anyone who is PC literate and is familiar with the basic concepts of networking will get a lot from this course. You don't need any prior knowledge of NT. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a budding NT network administrator. The course would also be useful to anyone whose company is considering purchasing NT, although there are probably cheaper ways of finding out the pros and cons of moving to NT.

Overall Assessment:

This was definitely time well spent for John and I, given our rather limited knowledge of the subject matter before doing the course. My only criticism is that we were rushed through some of the practical sessions, but given the breadth of material we covered there was never going to be enough time to study everything in detail. A large amount of material was presented in sufficient depth to enable us to learn more (with the aid of our manuals) in our own time. It also helps if you have a copy of NT to practice with later. In short, I'd highly recommend this course.


Written by: Rod Martin
Feb 1996



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