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© St. Petersburg Times, published December 20, 1999

Putting certifications to work

Q. I'm thinking of making a career change. Is the A+ and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer certifications of much value to a newcomer in the computer job market? It takes about six months to complete the work and get certified.

A. No doubt the certifications will be a great help in finding a job in the information technology field. Keep in mind, though, that most employers will balance this with a requirement for real world experience, which may lessen the credence given to MCSE certification for a newcomer. My advice would be to get started any way you can and to pursue certification (which in some cases the employer pays for). If you are interested in systems management, concentrate on Windows NT and TCP/IP. If you are interested in application development, concentrate on Visual Basic and SQL (Microsoft or Oracle). Once you get a couple of years experience in the field, your certifications will carry much more weight.

Speedy computer, Net connection

Q. I am in the market for a computer. I want to get the most for my money; it will be used to make money, not just to play with. I use a 7-year-old Packard Bell, which has seen better days. For instance, I go to the Schwab Web site and hit the button to buy a stock. The screen then asks me to hit another button to confirm, but the icon in the upper right keeps turning around and does not place the order. Is there something wrong with my Internet provider or with Schwab's server?

A. Your Packard Bell needs to be replaced -- no question there. I would recommend at least a 400MHz Celeron or Pentium III machine with 128 megabytes of RAM. This will be more than sufficient to handle Web transactions. The other delays you are having are most likely a combination of your Internet provider and, to a lesser extent, Schwab's server. If you are serious about doing business, you need to get a high-speed connection through either cable modem services (GTE or Time Warner) or DSL (offered by several providers).

Stopping a start-up program

Q. When I turn on my computer I get a box from Web Publishing Wizard with instructions on how to start publishing on the Net. I have tried to delete this but have had no success.

A. Check your Startup folder (Windows/Programs/Startup). WPWIZ is the application that is running and probably will have the shortcut name of Web Publishing Wizard. If you find it in this location, delete the shortcut entry and it should bother you no longer.

Windows 98 makes it relatively easy to trace start-up problems. Run the System Information tool (Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Information or Start, Run, type MSINFO32 and press Enter). Select Tools, System Configuration Utility. From here you can selectively turn off the different areas within Windows from which programs run at start-up. You'll see a tab for each area: Config.sys, Autoexec.Bat, System.ini, Win.ini (expand the Windows option and check the Load and Run lines) and Start-up (this contains the programs that start from within the registry). Try disabling one at a time until you find the area where the offending program is starting.

Address book printing

We have received numerous e-mails regarding the printing of the Outlook Express address book. Here is more detail on how to do it:

  1. From within the Outlook Express menu bar, select Tools, then Address Book.
  2. From the Address Book window menu bar select File, Export, Other Address Book.
  3. Select Text File (Comma Separated Values).
  4. Click Export.
  5. In the CSV Export window, click the Browse button.
  6. This brings up the Save As dialog. Note the Folder that the file will be created in so you can find it later (or navigate to the folder of your choice).
  7. Enter a name for the file (such as AddressBook) and click Save.
  8. This brings you back to the CSV Export windows. Click Next.
  9. You are presented with a list of fields from your address book. Make sure that only the field names you want to print are selected. Click Finish.
  10. Now you have a Comma Separated Values file containing only the fields you want. You can open it in Notepad or Excel (the default) and format and print any way you wish.

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