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As I write this, you get a 50 percent discount on your TechNet subscription when you get your MCSE. (That could change though; you used to get a year of TechNet for free.)
Internet search engines
Internet search engines are great for finding Windows XP information; choose 'Windows XP' as a search phrase and go wild, or get more specific with a query such as ('Windows XP Professional' and 'Plug and Play'). Here are some of the more popular search services:
* All the Web, All the Time (www.alltheweb.com)
* Altavista (www.av.com)
* Excite (www.excite.com)
* Google (www.google.com)
* HotBot (www.hotbot.com)
* Lycos (www.lycos.com)
* Northern Light (www.northernlight.com)
* Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com)
If you do a lot of Internet searching (and who doesn't these days), you may want to check out Copernic 2000, a program that consults many popular search engines in one fell swoop. Point your browser to www.copernic.com to download the software.
Usenet newsgroups are like Internet bulletin boards. Some contain lots of information about Windows XP. These groups can also be good places to post a question when you can't get an answer anywhere else, or when you just want to read what other Windows XP users are saying. Newsgroups also often post FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions documents) within the newsgroups themselves and on related Web sites: Such FAQs can be good sources of distilled information on specific subjects.
Warning Newsgroups are public. Any sloppy, lazy, uninformed, or even malicious bozo can post to them. Use newsgroups for clues, ideas, and potential problem solutions, but check every tip yourself before you use it or pass it along to others.
Some newsgroups of interest include the following:
* microsoft.public.windowsxp.games (I won't tell anyone)
Software is required to read postings from these newsgroups. Windows XP comes with Outlook Express 6. If you use America Online to access the Internet, you can't use Outlook Express, but you can use AOL's built-in newsreader. Just choose the keyword newsgroups, click the Expert Add button, and type in the newsgroup name.
Some companies make a business of providing exam simulations. The fees for these tests have gone down somewhat in recent years, and you can often download demos from the Web before shelling out cash. Here are a couple to check out:
* Transcender (www.transcender.com)
* Self-Test Software (www.stsware.com)
Microsoft Web sites
Microsoft has hundreds of pages on its own Web site that pertain to Windows XP. Here are a few to get you started:
Third-party exam information sites
Dozens of non-Microsoft sites offer aid and sustenance to the MCP-seeker. Here's a small sample:
* www.certificationshack.com (that's Certification Shack, not Certifications Hack) is a pretty useful site with details on most Microsoft exams.
* www.cramsession.com has some good overview pages for review the day or two before you take the exam, just to make sure you have all the important bases covered.
* www.mcsedirectory.com is an MCSE smorgasbord, featuring everything from sample exams to online books. A really useful site.
Magazine Web sites
Here are a few webzine sites that are worth a visit. Most have their own keyword search facilities:
* PC World (www.pcworld.com/pcmag)
* InfoWorld (www.infoworld.com)
* PC Magazine (www.zdnet.com/pcmag)
* PC Computing (www.zdnet.com/pccomp)
* PC Week (www.zdnet.com/pcweek)
* Windows 2000 Magazine (www.winntmag.com)
For ongoing technical education, I recommend a print subscription to Windows 2000 Magazine. Call 800-621-1544 or 970-663-4700, or write P.O. Box 447, Loveland, CO USA 80539-0447.
Leverage Your Biorhythms
Do you experience a lull in alertness in mid-afternoon, anywhere between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.? If so, don't schedule the exam to fall during this time period! For most people, midmorning is best.