Friday, June 21, 2024

Over the Edge Humor Column: Windows 2000 Certification for Executives

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Illustration by Daniel Guidera

Certification has typically been a way for people with liberal arts degrees to get jobs in the IT industry. But with technology changing faster than a Palm Pilot’s batteries, CEOs are calling on you, their IT executive minions, to get Win2K certified. So you add yet another “to-do” item in your day-timer: Take the certification exam. To help you ace it (it’s almost impossible not to!), we’ve prepared this sample exam.

Windows 2000 Professional Certification Exam for Executives

You are about to take the certification exam for Windows 2000 Professionals developed especially for IT executives. Your success on this exam depends on a number of factors including your preparedness and resourcefulness.

General Instructions
1. Proceed only when the proctor instructs you to, unless you absolutely can’t wait and want to sneak a peek.
2. You must stop when time is called unless you are not finished, in which case you may holler “I am not finished” and continue with the exam.
3. Use only a #2 pencil. If you didn’t bring one, you may use a rollerball, gel, or ballpoint pen. You may not use the stylus from your PDA.
4. A cell phone on “silent ring mode” is permitted in the testing area. You may also bring your administrative assistant to help you with the exam. However, you may not bring any briefcases, purses, or backpacks into the testing area–although your assistant may carry them in for you.


Time: 30 minutes

Windows 2000 Professional Certification Exam for Executives: Technical Proficiency

This section of the exam tests your technical proficiency.

Complete all the questions in the section as quickly and accurately as you can. If you do not know the answer, move on. You have 30 minutes to complete this section.


Question 1:
What is the helpdesk’s extension number at your company? ______


Answer Key and Test Strategy:
Although Section 1 accounts for less than a tenth of all questions, its weight on your overall score is a high 40%. This can make or break your attempt to get certified. To your benefit, the scoring is subjective and favors the certification candidate. For instance, in lieu of responding with the helpdesk’s number, you may specify your organization’s general reception number with a write-in addendum to “ask to be transferred to the helpdesk.” But to receive full credit, you should know the extension or be able to read the speed-dial code from your cell phone’s programmed directory. Scoring of this section is immediate. The proctor will initially review your answers. Those that represent “improbable” extensions (e.g., extensions containing letters not represented on a standard telephone like “Q” or “Z,” or punctuation marks other than “*” or “#”) will be scored as errors, and the candidate will be dismissed. All other answers will be assumed correct because, after all, you are an executive whose reputation is beyond reproach. Sometimes a proctor will ask the executive AA to verify the response and permit the AA to make necessary corrections. The key to scoring high in Section 1 is to not be hasty. Take your time, and work with your AA.

Time: 25 minutes

Windows 2000 Professional Certification Exam for Executives: Leadership Skills

This section of the exam tests the effectiveness of your leadership. Many times in your tenure, you will be called upon to achieve a particular objective. For instance, you may need to compel your entire organization to upgrade their workstations. How “efficiently” you accomplish this task (was it done on a weekend with little impact on productivity, and was the target ROI achieved?) is less important than how “effectively” you accomplished this (i.e., did they carry out your orders?).

Complete the exercise and associated questions in the section, selecting the best answer from the choices as quickly and accurately as you can. If you do not know the answer, move on. You have 25 minutes to complete this section.


Discretely lean over toward your AA and ask him or her to bring you a coffee–lots of cream, lots of sugar.

Question 1:
Did your AA dutifully bring your coffee?
(A) Yes
(B) Yes, but he or she casually reminded me of their Microsoft Office certificate from the local community college, implying “beverage server” was not part of that curriculum.
(C) Yes, but in a Styrofoam cup, which I absolutely hate!
(D) No, I got no coffee, but I was offered a Velamint with some purse lint on it.

Question 2:
If your AA *did* dutifully bring you coffee
(A) Was it to your liking, as it should be?
(B) Did it have too much cream or too much sugar?
(C) Was it cold?
(D) Was it otherwise not to your preference, containing, for example, saccharin instead of aspartame or Coffeemate rather than cream?


Answer Key and Test Strategy:
This section’s objective is to determine the level of unflinching loyalty you command over your subordinates. Because the success of a Win2K rollout (indeed, any project) depends highly on your authority to compel users to upgrade and your ability to wield that influence, many CEOs apportion a higher significance to this section than does the certification organization, which considers it only 15% of your overall exam score. Thus, you cannot afford to score poorly on this section.

The correct answer, then, for both questions is (A), even if it means you have to wince while sipping your coffee. To imply your subordinates are anything less than efficient loyalists can be tantamount to career suicide. You score this section yourself, though the proctor is instructed to look for erasures, which might suggest a level of impropriety on your part.

Time: 70 minutes

Windows 2000 Professional Certification Exam for Executives: Expenditure Justification

This final section of the exam tests your ability to justify a migration to Windows 2000 Professional. It calls on many of your executive skills to bring such a project to fruition.

This section contains three passages, each followed by a series of questions. Read each passage carefully and complete the associated questions by selecting the best answer from the choices as quickly and accurately as you can. If you do not know the answer, move on. You have 70 minutes to complete this section.


Questions 1 through 4:
Read the passage, them complete the questions relating to it.

David Ladd is the VP of technology for Vandalay Industries Inc., a manufacturing facility with approximately 300 workstations. Applications range from inventory control and shipping to product design. Ladd just received an e-mail from the director of purchasing. Apparently, all the new PCs ordered are being shipped with Windows 2000. To help manage resources, Ladd is considering migrating all users to Win2K. Such an upgrade involves not only additional licenses for existing workstations, but hardware upgrades, as well. Further, such an upgrade might disrupt the productivity of the entire organization. Still, Ladd believes the right thing to do is to centralize with a single operating system and chooses to move ahead. He has three days to prepare a presentation to the Vandalay board requesting not only additional funding, but also informing them of the possible risks of meeting availability service levels.

Question 1:
Get your tin cup ready. The distilled version of your plea for additional funding is:
(A) We budgeted for an upgrade next year, but it makes more sense to bite the bullet now.
(B) We were blind-sided by Microsoft’s early release. We thought the 2K in Win2K meant the year “2048.”
(C) Living La Vida Broka: It’s the cost of doing business in the changing world of IT.

Question 2:
One of the board members asks if Windows Millennium Edition, a cheaper OS, is a viable alternative.
(A) No, you say.
(B) No, you say, explaining that WindowsME is just a repackage of Windows98, whereas Windows 2000 is really a new release of Windows NT, all the while hoping that will placate them as you don’t know why you even offered any additional information because you really don’t know any more than that except that you wish someone from the support team was with you to field the question.
(C) Admit that for most of the Minesweeper[[correct??]]-playing workstation users, it probably would suffice, but more money could be saved on the support end– directing their attention to a real flashy pie chart on slide #14 of your PowerPoint presentation.

Question 3:
Dirk, a director representing the marketing leg of Vandalay, asks about Linux, claiming it’s what everyone’s talking about. You
(A) Indicate simply that it’s not in Vandalay’s best interest, and leave it at that, recalling how you blew Question #2 by offering more information than necessary.
(B) Sigh and page back a few slides, *again* pointing out the TCO of an OS with a bad UI and how little it benefits the organization.
(C) Challenge Dirk: “Everyone’s talking about it, Dirk? No one here is talking about it. You’re the only one talking about it, Dirk. Say, I have an idea, why don’t we let Dirk deliver this presentation?”

Question 4 (short essay):
In reality, the board will likely rubber-stamp anything you recommend. In the end, it is not the company’s money, but your carcass that is on the line if the costs overrun, or availability suffers. How do you CYA? (You may shoulder-read the CIO in front of you and copy the answer if it is a good one.)

Question 5:
Read the following passage, then complete the question relating to it.

Windows 2000 introduces a host of new goodies including RIS, EFS, IpSec, and MMC. In terms of justifying the migration based on new features, the first thing you do is:
(A) Buy yourself the latest edition of an acronym dictionary.
(B) Focus your cost justification model on the features that don’t sound like government agencies, like improved security (file encryption and Kerberos support), accessibility tools for the impaired, and powerful new file-search facilities (but don’t dwell on the latter–the 500-meg footprint of the OS pretty much implies files will be as hard to find as Nobel laureate Arno Penzias in the “For Dummies” aisle of Barnes & Noble.)

Questions 6 through 8:
Read the following passage then complete the questions relating to it.

Rod, your senior support technician, implores you to budget for additional support staff in your justification model, citing the additional maintenance overhead (SP1, for instance) as well as the other predictable support spikes his department sees with every IT change.

Question 6:
(A) Tell Rod the impact is only temporary, citing as evidence slide #14 of the aforementioned PowerPoint presentation.
(B) Select (A), then decide to skip the last two questions in this section of the exam because you’re getting hungry.

Question 7:

Question 8:

Answer Key and Test Strategy:
This section of the exam carries the most weight toward your overall score, although it, like section one, is very subjective. The correctness of your answers is less important than how your own efforts play out (i.e., were you given the green light to go ahead with your own Win2K migration?) Because there is no way to foretell, the certification organization understands how difficult it is to grade this section. So it is graded by exchanging your exam with the CIO next to you, who is likely to be just as interested in achieving a stellar score as you are.


Chris Miksanek is the editor of MISinformation and may be reached at

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