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Cert-bytes March 2, 2010

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Here’s what a few people are saying about certifications in the IT industry for this year– 2010:

trick questions are a MYTH! February 25, 2010

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MSL has recorded a couple of meetings surrounding certification exams– how they are developed, what is up-coming, why it’s important, etc.  I just attended the 201 LIVE meeting and found it very useful.  Some highlights:

  • Virtualization exams for Server and desktops are coming out this month- March
  • MS exam objectives are not developed over lunch!  They go through a rigorous- ongoing process.
  • Every comment during a BETA exam is read by Krista! (Exam content developer manager)
  • Not every comment is read of a live exam because there’s just too many- but they are regularly sampled
  • 80/80 rule =questions focus on tasks that 80% of the people do 80% of the time- real-world matters in the exams!
  • EXAMS are not post-tests to any training materials– information isn’t shared between exam writers and training content writers
  • Trick questions are a MYTH!  Subtext doesn’t exist.
  • 700 does not EQUAL 70%!  Scores are scaled based on difficulty and comparison.

The 201 meeting also covered the basic formula for their questions, their intentions, and tips on how to process a question.   You should be able to find these videos on the born to learn site. 

Great stuff!

no dumping allowed! February 18, 2010

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KEWL!  Microsoft takes aim at this braindump site!

and my dad and comptia wear thongs February 12, 2010

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My dad loved to wear thongs when we were growing up.  Before you get the wrong idea, it’s not the French kind (that’s just thong, no S)- I mean the flip-flop kind.  And he’d wear them with socks!   I can’t tell you how many times my brothers and sister felt the shame.  Here we all were in the grocery store, with the loudest, squeekeyest cart– my mom somewhere else while we walked ten feet behind my dad, pretending we didn’t notice his  thip thip, squeek, thip thip, thip, squeek– and yet we shuddered as everyone, EVERYONE, looked at my dad’s feet wearing black dress socks, yellow flip flops, and some sort of short\pants thing.  Who cares, you say?  When you’re 15- YOU CARE.   (Today, however, I’m wearing a cardigan sweater and PJ bottoms he he)

Now Comptia has joined my dad, along with the French and John Kerry– they have flipped their certification “shelf-life” policy only to flop it again.   Here it is, the official policy, socks and all.  

And in case any of you get the wrong idea, I must add it’s nice to see them  (Comptia  that is) responding to their customers.  I have nothing but praise (*happy applause*).   As for my dad’s taste in fashion, we’re still working on him.

win7 certification portal from Microsoft February 12, 2010

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New post on the born2learn site sends people to this site here– a Win7 certification portal.

Also, here’s an IT job role quiz on facebook.

exam coaching sessions from MS January 27, 2010

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Recorded coaching events here for those of you looking to take the following MS exams:

  • 70-432
  • 70-541
  • 70-620
  • 70-536
  • 70-631
  • 70-640
  • 70-642
  • 70-646
  • 70-647

Let me know what you think of these!

CCNP announcement coming soon January 16, 2010

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For those of you who are working toward your CISCO certs, the famous CCNP series of exams is expecting a change this year.  A formal announcement from CISCO is expected soon but here’s a short blip from one of the forums: 

“To address questions about the future of CCNP certification, Cisco would like to alert students, instructors, customers, and partners to an upcoming announcement.  At the end of January 2010, Cisco will be formally announcing a revision to the popular Cisco Certified Networking Professional curriculum and certification.  It has been several years since the last revision, and changes are required to ensure the CCNP certification remains relevant to the role of enterprise networking professionals.  Even as revisions are made, Cisco is committed to giving students and professionals who have begun the CCNP certification process adequate time to adjust their study plans and complete their certification.  At the time of the announcement, the current CCNP curriculum and exams will not be immediately retired, consistent with past practice.  Details for how the new CCNP requirements will be phased in will be included in the January announcement”

I’ll keep you posted when I learn more.

can I get a witness? January 15, 2010

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Although certification isn’t a substitute for experience, I see it as a testimony to a person’s dedication, work-ethic, and technical know-how.    I often like to reflect on what the word “certify” means– it’s means to make certain and is related to words like testify.   In essence, when you earn a certification, you earn an objective witness.   And this witness isn’t like your mom who tells everyone what a swell guy you are– this witness is impartial and treats all candidates the same. 

Occasionally, however, when I speak of certification I’ll get the “pooh pooh” look– which basically translates to, “I don’t need no stinkin’ certifications! I’ve been doing this for X number of years!  I know DOS!”

I agree with this sentiment– but only in part.  Certification is NOT the same as experience.  But then again, experience is NOT the same as certification.  I have met many an “experienced” sys-admin who still can’t tell their share tab from their security tab.   Sure, many uncertified propeller-heads learn this sort of thing OJT, but it isn’t always certain.  Often times, your experience only gives you a niche understanding of a product.   And, if you’re a hiring manager, how do you tell if the candidate really knows their SIMM from their DIMM?  You can ask them a series of questions, of course, along with making a few phone calls, putting them in front of a box and challenging them, reading their palm, etc.   but why not let an objective, certification exam do some of this for you?  It still doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to show up on time and be your friend, but it does add something to the mix that experiences may lack.

Now some of you are going to say, “I knew a guy . . .”   Yeah, yeah.  When was this?  1996?  Yeah, me too.  I knew a guy.  “Paper-MCSE” and all that.   Well I’m not going to defend anyone who can’t do their job– and certification isn’t the ultimate cure.  But let me add that the new certifications are not easy and this isn’t 1996 anymore!   If you can pass the 70-640 without actually ever installing & configuring AD  (I knew a guy who was a CNE without EVER touching a Netware box- just read the books) then you’re a freak of genius and should be hired anyway!   These new generation of exams require more than flash cards.  You need to know the product!  If you don’t believe me, then take the exam for yourself! 

Is it worth it for a noob?  Yes!  Even if you have a “friend-of-a-friend” who knows someone who knows where the CIO plays golf, you can still distinguish yourself and make yourself “promotion ready.”   You may not have the experience but you have obtained a skill-set that can only go up!  (One other thing here, if you just got certified but have little experience, then don’t try to deceive the hiring manager– it diminishes the cert and your hard work!  Be up front and honest.  And if experience is really necessary, then go get some by volunteering and working temp jobs– or set your sights a little lower until such a time) 

Is it worth it for an already experienced techy type?  Absolutely!  Certification can broaden \ deepen your understanding BEYOND your routine.   Dedicate yourself to the rigor of real study for a certification exam and you may find yourself surprised.  Experience isn’t always rooted in reality! 

So, you still might be skeptical about certification and you might have experience to back it up.  But due to the recent flood of new technologies and the need to stay ahead of the curve, certification can enhance your experience.  It’s more than just dressing.  It’s an internal possession with external verification.

MS Office certification January 13, 2010

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Are you a font-junkie?  Do you IF OR AND and autoTHIS and THAT?  Do you power-up with 12 point custom bullets?  Can you GoalSeek or do the macro-rena?  Do you want to show the world that you know what the Alt + ~ key can do?  Well, then get Office certified!  Check out office.microsoft.com!    & check out the following office certification blog  from LITTLEROAR.

Historic changes for Comptia certs! January 12, 2010

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An important change is happening to the CompTIA certifications.  Now there will be a 3 year “valid through” period– meaning, certifications will have a “shelf life.”   An announcement can be found on their website along with more information here

I’m curious what you think about these changes so if you’re looking to take a CompTIA exam soon, or you’re already certified, please leave a comment!