Rants and Raves #2
Wow, it’s been a busy few weeks since the last Rants and Raves: Silverlight Firestarter DC, CHODOTNET, RVNUG, and CodeStock (not to mention two Craft shows!)
Microsoft Certification Exam
Along the way I have also been studying for my very first Microsoft Certification Exam, 70-536 “Microsoft .NET Framework – Application Development Foundation”. I am pursuing my Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and this is the core exam for all Microsoft Visual Studio and Microsoft .NET Framework technologies tracks. If you want to prove to yourself just how little you know, try studying for this exam. I realized a couple of weeks ago that I would be fortunate to pass, and I was right: unfortunately I was not so fortunate.
I realize that failing Cert exams is nothing new, and in all honesty I think my 669 was a respectable first go. My Rant is not that I failed the test, but rather the nature of the tests and the focus of this particular one. I am bound by NDA not to discuss the contents of the exam, but I will say that I was completely unprepared for how irrelevant and out of date the contents were: (hey MS, .NET 1.1 called and wants its questions back).
I will, however, discuss the format. My biggest Rant is the amount of memorization. MS has given us a fantastic IDE, Visual Studio, with an unparelled feature: Intellisense. I’ve become so accustomed to it that I almost can’t code without it, and it’s all Microsoft’s fault. That being said, why am I expected now to memorize available methods and signatures? Test my core knowledge, absolutely, but perhaps you could do so in more of a real world environment.
Speaking of not very real world, the Test center itself left something to be desired. While the environment wasn’t great, the worst part was the actual exam software. I don’t think it has been updated in quite some time: the UI is classic “Developer Art”. This was aggravated by the fact that the monitor I had was so large that I had to move the mouse a half acre to click a button. It was functional, but far from pleasant. Then again, perhaps that’s the idea. Mostly I’m just disappointed: the UI was as out of date as the questions.
So maybe I sound like the nerd in class who wants to argue his teacher up to a higher grade, but really I’m OK with my score if this is the kind of stuff being tested. I’ll take it again (and maybe again), but I will pass and move on to something near and dear to my heart: Microsoft .NET Framewor 3.5, Windows Presentation Foundation Application Development.
I Hate My Cell Phone
I have a Verizon PN-820 flip phone. My phone before was a Palm Treo 700W, which I loved. I switched to this POS last time our plan expired because I wanted the Internet Tethering feature. While I have used it a few times, I have not needed it nearly as much as I thought I would, so it hs largely been a waste of money. I miss the QWERTY keyboard, the better Calendar and Contacts. My friends are sick of hearing it, although it provides a certain level of entertainment when they see me tweeting on my flip phone. All I can say is “7777-222-777-33-9 999-666-88” (with love, of course!)
While I am happy to provide laughter for all involved, I eagerly await the day I can get a new phone, hopefully in the next couple of months. Now comes the dilemma: my company has Verizon, and the coverage is excellent, but I want an iPhone, which means switching to AT&T. I’ve heard that Verizon is in talks with Apple to also have the iPhone, but I’m sure that will not happen before my time of choosing arrives.
Verizon has some interesting phone options, like the enV-3, Samsung Omnia (5MP Camera!), and Blackberries Storm, Curve, and Tour. While I want an iPhone, I’m leaning towards a BlackBerry. Not wishing to start a Holy War or anything, but I could use some feedback on this one, so leave your comments below.
Over the last few years I have become a huge fan of our Developer Community, and I love going to events. Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending CodeStock 2009. This was a great 2 day event with almost 400 people registered. The speakers and topics were excellent, as was the food and SWAG. I want to commend the organizers for putting on a top notch event.
By far, my favorite part of these events has become Open Spaces. In short, the attendees create the agenda and hold unprepared meetings about their chosen topic. Discussions are open and vibrant, not to mention completely unpredictable. Some people contribute, some just listen, but everyone learns, and they do so in an atmosphere of complete openness. If you haven’t experienced this format yet, then I encourage you to search it out. More and more Code Camps and larger events, like DevLink in August, are hosting Open Spaces. As I told Alan Stevens, an Open Space champion and organizer, they have become my primary reason for attending such events.
Our .NET Community
If you are reading this and wondering what all this Community stuff is about, let me say this: it’s about YOU. We are very fortunate to have such a passionate group of developers: all over the country there are User Groups, Code Camps, Developer Conferences, Geek Dinners, Roadshows, and much more. Microsoft is certainly part of the community, but it wouldn’t exist without the volunteers who organize it and the developers who attend the events. And the one trait I’ve found to be universal is a desire and willingness to share knowledge with others.
This is where you come in: if you have never gone to a User Group, or a Code Camp, or a Developer Conference, I challenge you to find one and attend. Give it a chance: it could change the Developer you are into the Developer you could be. Not to mention, it’s always a blast!
Until next time, Happy Coding!