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Republished from Communiqué, Issue 122, March 2001...

help me

MVPs -

the giving

Are there really IT experts who just give away their
expertise? It's true. Welcome to the world of the MVP

Imagine a people with intimate knowledge of particular Microsoft programs.  They maintain Web sites and bulletin boards about problems with the program and answer questions about any difficulties you may be having with it. All year round. Free.

Welcome to the Microsoft MVP program

The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) progam was started in the mid 1990s. It recognises those members of the general public who devote their time and considerable computing skills, on a voluntary basis, to helping users "in distress" in the various newsgroups that Microsoft hosts

It is not something that you can study for; you don't sit a test or even take an exam. Microsoft support engineers, team managers and other MVPs take note of a participant's consistent and accurate technical answers in various electronic forums and other peer-to-peer areas. They then nominate those participants to become MVPs, who are not paid in any way but do receive discounts on software and invitations to special events.

There are around 600 MVPs worldwide who actively participate in the Microsoft Technical newsgroups, including 14 in Australia and 6 in New Zealand. Many are IT consultants, some are published authors or technical instructors, and there are those who have no formal training but have practical experience.

Exchange guru

Andrew Sword from Melbourne is a Microsoft MVP in Exchange.

He has been an MVP for five years. The first two years he worked with SNA Server, the last three with Microsoft Exchange.

"During business hours, I work as a consultant focusing on corporate and government clients. I work with IT systems integration and infrastructure, designing and rolling out computer networks."

Having worked 9 years in the industry in project management, presales, consulting and implementation, he now concentrates on the Microsoft DNA infrastructure products IIS, SQL Server, Proxy, SNA Server, NT and Windows 2000. He has consulted in Exchange and Lotus Notes and worked in the help desk, desktop and server support areas.

"As an MVP you receive many privileges. These include having access to Microsoft personnel and beta programs. The help, advice and friendship I receive from other MVPs is much appreciated."

Explorer master

Sandi Hardmeier from Perth is a Microsoft MVP in Internet Explorer and Outlook and has worked in the legal field for 13 years.

"By profession I am a technical specialist (desktop programs) working in the areas of workers' compensation, motor vehicle personal injury claims, and criminal injury compensation. I run the office's computer help desk and am responsible for troubleshooting program and print faults, stabilising and maintaining the desktop systems." She trains the staff in Microsoft programs and "general computer use, safe Internet practice, virus awareness and virus hoaxes."

"Virtually all my knowledge comes from time, experience, experimentation and hands-on practice. Book learning and formal study have played only a small part in the development of my skills over the years. In fact, hands-on real-world experience is a common trait in many MVPs.

"As an MVP, I specialise in troubleshooting Microsoft Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, which is currently a rapidly changing environment. At the moment, we have Microsoft Windows 95/98, Windows 2000/NT, and the Windows ME (Millennium Edition), all of which require different approaches when fixing problems. There is also the current rapid upgrade cycle for Microsoft Internet Explorer, from V5.0 to 5.01 to 5.5.

On-site Advice

Helpful email broadcasts
If you're an avid reader of the Communique WorkSmart Solutions pages, you are familiar with teh work of Tony Stevenson, who writes our VB Tips page as well as tutorials and occasional features. He also writes a free email broadcast called the Internet Update. Filled with hints, helpful Web sites and tips, you can receive it monthly by subscribing at http://internetupdate.listbot.com/ Here's a taste.


Tip: More search results are definitely better? When searching the Net, do you get annoyed because you have to continually click your browser's forward (or next page) button to look through the results returned from a search engine? If so, try initiating your searches from the 2bpop Power Search site at http://start.2bpop.com/search.asp.

The number of hits displayed per page can be set from 10 to 1,000 with other values being 25 or 50 or increments of 100, for example, 100, 200, 300 and so on. I found a setting of 200 to be effective. In addition, you can also nominate the search engine that you prefer to use. The options available include Altavista, Yahoo, Google, Looksmart, Webcrawler and Kanoodle.

Need help?

From the MVPS.org home page (www.mvps.org) you can use the unlimited resources the 600 MVPs around the world have created. Many of them have their own Web sites, which can be accessed at www.mvps.org/links.html. These contain links to personal pages categorised by that MVP's program speciality.

If you're in need of more help, go to www.microsoft.com/technet. This enable you to search Microsoft Technet and Knowledge Base online for answers to questions. There is also msnews.microsoft.com - the location of the Microsoft newsgroups. Here MVPs and experienced IT people can answer your questions. To learn more about the MVP program, visit the MVP Web site at www.mvps.org/about.

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Last Updated: September 26, 2004