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GirlGeek in Training
Part 1: W2K Networking and OS Essentials
by Solana L. Nolfo

GirlGeeks Marketing Coordinator

Who knew that I’d visit Denver, Colorado on a Tuesday night, Lima, Peru on a Thursday night, and make it back home after each journey with a greater understanding of Microsoft Windows 2000.

As a personal challenge, and demonstration that there’s room for geek in every girl, I am taking a Windows 2000 (W2K) Networking and Operating System (OS) Essentials class at the Learn IT! Training Center in San Francisco, CA, where classroom computer stations are named after different cities. This night course meets twice a week and is step 1 in the track to become a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer 2000 (MCSE), the crème de la crème of Microsoft certifications. Unlike fine wines, these certifications do not get better with age, and being on top of the latest OS is everything.

The course material seems to be a refresher for the majority of the class, but is new and completely fascinating to me as an OS and networking blank-slate. At “introductions time” I learn of the other blank-slates, including a cartographer who wants to make more money, and a hotel employee looking for a change. The tech-savvy students include an investment bank employee who is spearheading the W2K rollout, an SQL administrator for the Italian Consulate, and an electrical engineer who wants to expand his capabilities, to name a few.

But the student who really stands out is the only other female in a room of about 15 or so men, Rhonda. When we first noticed each other we made eye contact and winked, a silent declaration of GirlGeek power. This is Rhonda’s second time in an MCSE 2000 program, so she knows what she’s in for and is ready to dispense the advice and support that she did not receive through her first program.

Rhonda’s Rule #1: Take the certification exam soon after course completion. In an effort to avoid exam costs, Rhonda did not try for the certification and instead began to apply for MCSE-required jobs. Nobody let her know that course experience is not enough, and so she’s back to review and obtain the necessary certification, which should happen in approximately five to six months.

In only two nights, however, I was able to absorb a quick overview of the W2K operating system and networking basics. In a nutshell, an operating system manages a computer’s hardware, software, memory, and data management. Networking allows for information sharing and centralized administration and support. This overview will continue for another few nights and then I’m off to Implementing W2K Professional and Server. I hear we even get to hack each other’s computers as part of the learning process!

Until then, I will learn from lectures, labs, in-class exercises and homework. Class participation is definitely encouraged, and I was even awarded a chocolate bar for asking to review a particular question in class: Which tool in the Administrative Tools folder enables you to manage shared folders on the server and administer the hard drive? Answer: Computer Management (then Shared Folders and Shares).

Perhaps naming each workstation at the LearniT! Training center after a different city serves to remind students of how far they can go if they “graduate” and become MCSE certified. With hard work and a stellar attention span this GirlGeek in Training might become certified and take over the GirlGeeks IT department! After all, it can’t be that scary if there’s chocolate involved.

Forget DKNY, let's talk DHCP. Donna Karan has nothing on Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, which many of you know reduces the work necessary to administer a large IP network. You can't pull that off with a matte jersey halter!

My new vocabulary has me dreaming in acronyms and I'm ready to talk tech with anyone who will listen. I even extended a recent visit to Kinko's on account of an exciting chat with the manager, an ex-Unix administrator! My buddy and co-worker, Omar Pahati, (denoted below as 'GuyGeek') has been hearing a lot about my new fascination, and is enjoying a tech adventure of his own: Linux. Lucky for me, and the rest of the world, Israeli Internet investor Yossi Vardi took his son's advice and instant messaging was born. I've been able to keep the banter at a healthy pace ever since.

These are actual conversations and did not take up any of my valuable work time.

Solana: Your Linux class is going to be sooo cool!
: i know i'm excited!
: i might take the certification exam too if i think i learned enough.
: then i can install linux all over the world.
: brilliant
: maybe we'll start our own networking firm. Solana and Omar's W2K/Linux shop.
: right on!
: have you been reviewing for the MCP exam? can you answer questions yet?
: some of the "easy" ones...
: like, what does OU stand for?
: ohio university?
: organizational unit
I am much closer to discovering the full potential of my inner geek, as evident by my envy of Omar's upcoming Linux class. Linux is definitely on my to-do list, but first I must master the many layers of Microsoft Windows 2000 (W2K) Network and Operating System Essentials, in addition to my new course, Implementing W2K Professional and Server (all taken at the LearniT! Training Center in San Francisco, CA, of course). As part of a recent in-class assignment, we learned how to obtain detailed configuration information - such as Host Name, DNS server, IP address, and more - by typing "ipconfig/all" at the command prompt. And to think that all this time I've worked on my computer completely unaware of its identification, its "name". This is a task I was eager to test out on my computer at work.
Solana: Did you know that from my subnet mask,, I can tell that our IP addresses are class B?
: each 255 (from the subnet mask) represents 8 bits, so since our subnet mask is we have 16 bits (8 + 8)
: to figure out the maximum amount of IP addresses we can use, you calculate 2 to the 16th minus 2
: damn! math!
: why the minus 2?
: b/c you can't use the network IP or the broadcast address
: so we can have up to 65,534 IP's! more than the amount of hosts we have on our network.
Apparently, scalability wasn't taken into consideration when the Internet became the hot commodity that it is. Millions of networks are connected to this infrastructure by way of TCP/IP (the standard protocol stack used for communication over the Internet), which requires that each network and computer therein be identified by an IP address. A "classful" system is used for assigning these addresses and classifies network sizes into three main categories: Class A (large), Class B (medium) and Class C (small).

As with clothing, medium is the most popular size and is usually the first to fly off the racks. Class B networks are similar in popularity due to the majority of organizations falling into the Class B category. However not all medium-sized networks are a "perfect" Class B. For example, a network of 2,000 computers is assigned 65,534 IP addresses in the classful system, though it only requires 2,000. This allocation leaves 63,534 IP addresses unused. Because IP addresses are finite, we're running out of numbers and will soon have to implement an address system that will leave the classful system behind and scale without the growing pains. With CIDR (Classless Inter-Domain Routing) it is possible for companies to obtain IP addresses in quantities much closer to what they actually require, reducing the amount of IP addresses that go unused. Conservation of IP addresses can also be accomplished with NAT:

Solana: yesterday we learned about NAT...
: what's NAT?
: NAT stands for Network Address Translation, it allows you to share IP addresses.
: At LearniT! they use it to have all of their locations (san mateo, san francisco, phoenix) on the same T1 line
: even in phoenix? they share the T1?
: wow.
Ah, the splendors of networking.

GuyGeek: you're such a geek, solana. and you just started. imagine what you'll be like in a few months!
: ;-)

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