As with each Microsoft convention, much fun was enjoyed by all. Perhaps too much fun, if that’s possible. Besides the nightly siren call of Rue Bourbon and limitless litany of new product versions (Visual Studio 2013 AND SQL Server 2014 … really?), there were a few drumbeats that bear repeating.
Head in the Clouds
The conference kicked off with the keynote from Brad Anderson. Microsoft continues to improve and promote its cloud offering, known as Windows Azure. For the uninitiated, Windows Azure is Microsoft’s cloud-based deployment and management system for applications, services and raw virtual machines.
Although Microsoft announced a huge investment in its data centers, particularly in mainland China, for me the big news was the changes to its previous pricing model. Only running virtual machines will be charged, and billing is now per minute rather than per hour. MSDN server licenses can be used at no charge, and MSDN and MSDN subscriptions with Cloud Essentials or Accelerate will earn free monthly credits for Azure. (See more info at Visual Studio Magazine, http://visualstudiomagazine.com/articles/2013/06/03/microsoft-dramatically-lowers-azure-pricing.aspx).
(Editor’s note: This post belongs to our ongoing series about the new generation of Microsoft certifications. See also Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?, Don’t wait to finish your MCTS or MCITP: Microsoft retiring exam tracks, and Everything old is new again: the MCSE and MCSA are dead (long live the MCSE and MCSA).)
Having wandered the wilderness of Java and CIW certification for some years, I didn’t move into Microsoft developer certs until about 2002. At that time, the MCSD (known then as Microsoft Certified SolutioN Developer) was a catch-all certification, requiring a wide array of Visual Basic, DCOM, and ASP knowledge. Its prestige was based on the complexity and intensity of the exam objectives, and not whether these skills were required by a specific job role in the real world. Most Microsoft developers I knew focused on a type of application, whether it was Windows- or Web-based — not the entire gamut of Microsoft developer technology.
For that reason, few developers were surprised when Microsoft announced new developer certifications for .NET that focused on skill sets related to actual job roles. This change occured during Microsoft’s overall revamp of its certifications that resulted in the demise of the Windows NT and Server 2003-era MCSE. The “next generation” developer certifications were branded as the TS (Technology Specialist) level exams and the newly minted MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer). But in doing away with the old MCSD, Microsoft also lost the recognition the acronym had gained over the years.
So what could Microsoft do but find a way to join those job roles with their former reputation, like some cheesy romantic comedy?
In 2012. enter the Microsoft Certification SolutionS Developer (noticed the new s?). The acronym is also MCSD, but each certification is focused on an application type.* That way you can have your MCSD and eat it, too.
Continue Reading MSCD – A New Certification with an Old Heart of Gold…
Tags: Atlanta, beer, HTML5, mobile, tcatl, techcrunch
The impact of beer on technology notwithstanding, drinking has long been a popular pastime for many in the IT industry. So it should have come as no surprise at the choice of SweetWater Brewing Co as the venue for the TechCrunch Meetup in Atlanta #TCATL last month. What could be better than free beer and food?
Quite a lot, actually. With over 1,200 IT professionals in attendance, from employees of small start-ups to large corporations, the Atlanta area was well-represented. Rarely, do I have a pleasure of attending an event with no preset agenda, or the obligation to sit through and report on a gimmicky sponsor pitch or boring keynote speech. Here I was able to grab a brew, mill around with other techies, and make connections I would have never otherwise established. Not to mention all of the wonderful vendors who passed out business cards and swag like it was going out of style.
On the conversation aspect, the IT buzz was hardly surprising – everyone was talking about mobile platforms, HTML5 and SEO. Apparently, more companies than I would have guessed are tasked with either making their Web sites mobile-friendly or hosting them within mobile platforms such as PhoneGap. Increased needs for better rankings in search engines (mainly Google, although a few CEOs mentioned Bing) are really driving Web development. The built-in optimizations for search engines in HTML5 were lauded many times…or, wait, was that techies just cheering for last round at the beer tap? Okay, so my memory on some of these finer points may be a bit fuzzy.
My point today is, if you ever get the chance to attend a TechCrunch meetup in your area, you should jump on it. Not only will you get tp partake of the free food and drink (maybe you’re lucky enough to have a brewery in your city too), but you may also enjoy one of the most engaging (free) IT events among colleagues!
Tags: #ANGRYLABMENTOR, convention, Hands-On Labs, harry potter, hyper v, msteched, office 365, orlando, powershell, SQL Server 2012, System Center 2012, TechEd, Visual Studio 2012, Windows 8, windows azure, Windows Server 2012
That’s right. Despite being held in Orlando just steps away from the magical world of Disney, the real magic of Microsoft TechEd 2012 was actually found in the hands-on-lab, or HOL for the uninitiated. No, it’s not because I was there helping a lost traveler or two through Microsoft land. It’s because that is where attendees could play with the latest and greatest technologies, whether it involves OLAP cubes, unit testing or GPO policies. Technologies featured at this year’s lab included Visual Studio 2012, SQL Server 2012, System Center 2012, Windows Server 2012 (including Hyper V), Office 365, Windows 8 and of course, Windows Azure. You could follow the tasks in the labs or use the virtual environment as a sandbox for your own experimentation.
There were more than 150 different labs, but here are a few titles to tickle your techno-fancy:
- Deploying Windows 7 to Bare Metal Systems with Microsoft System Center 2012 Configuration Manager
- Building the Right Software: Generating Storyboards and Collecting Stakeholder Feedback with Visual Studio 2012
- Developing a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Tabular BI Semantic Model using SQL Server Data Tools
- Microsoft Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) with Microsoft Office 365
- Developing Microsoft SharePoint 2010 User Interface with Silverlight in Microsoft Visual Studio 2010
- Configuring Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Replica
- Sideloading Metro Style Applications in Windows 8
- What’s New in Windows PowerShell 3.0
The labs were open longer than most sessions (7am – 7pm most days).
Unless you are soon to be enjoying TechEd Europe in Amsterdam, you may be regretting all of those wild parties and crowded sessions that kept you out of the labs. No worries. These labs will be up for public consumption within the week and available for at least 2 months!
UPDATE: The HOL are up now for public consumption. Go to you myTechEd Web site and get to playing!
Tags: Java 7, Oracle, virtual developer day, virtual education, webinar, WebLogic Server 12c
As a technology professional, it is not uncommon to find yourself attending product training and demonstrations. Luckily, many of these events no longer require expensive face-to-face time. Unfortunately, the term webinar leaves a bad taste in many people’s mouths. That’s because often these events boil down to a poorly organized sales meeting led by a person that likes the sound of their own voice. Don’t judge….you know what I’m talking about.
So, when I attended the Oracle Virtual Developer Days for WebLogic Server 12c and Java 7, I was not expecting anything beyond the standard webinar. I could not have been more wrong! Their functional presentation and depth of information blew me away. Besides the requisite keynote session, there were breakout tracks that included a focused Q/A and hands-on labs and even a networking lounge to chat with other attendees. Overall, the experience was engaging, easy-to-navigate and best of all, educational.
I had only minor hiccups with the video streaming, and those were quickly addressed using the chat, where moderators helped to resolve this (among many, I’m sure) issue. All of the presentations were pre-recorded, so I could pause and rewind as needed. The hands-on-labs required me to download and install software prior, but this was a lot less buggy than working in virtual cloud.
Having used this dynamic Oracle Developer Day platform, I am now spoiled. We can only hope other vendors take a page from Oracle and up their virtual education game to this level. I’ll keep you posted on any other webinar gems, and if you’ve attended one that you loved be sure to share the new here.
Tags: 2012 skills, Android, Blackberry, Canvas 3D, Developer skills, HTML5, iPhone, jQuery, jQuery mobile, Kinect, linux+, mobile, NoSQL, OData, phonegap, phonegapbuild, porting, python, Red Foundry, RESTful, Sencha, TechRepublic, Typeface.js, unit testing, Windows 8
Did I get your attention? I hope so, but let’s be honest: it’s been the Year of the Developer since 1954. As wonderful as it is to have the latest gadget goodness in your hand, without developers, that gadget does a whole lot of nothing. Arguably, the adoption of shiny devices and powerful operating systems is directly proportional to the software that runs on it.
But I do have a more salient point beyond giving the developer community a pat on the back.
Development in 2012
What does the future look like? Better yet, which skills should you focus on in the upcoming year? Justin at TechRepublic actually beat me to the punch on this one, so rather than rehash the whole article, I’ll just throw in my two cents.
This one should be fairly obvious. What isn’t so obvious is how fragmented the mobile field really is. An iPhone, Android, and Blackberry device all do very similar things and contain very similar components and UIs, but the back-end development for these platforms is entirely different. Let’s not even discuss the form factor differences between these smartphones and their tablet cousins.
I predict the ascendance of uniform development kits like Red Foundry and PhoneGap/PhoneGapBuild to level the playing field. PhoneGap, in particular, leverages Web development skills such as jQuery and HTML5.
Tags: .NET Framework 4, 70-519, case study, MCSD, Microsoft MCPD, test-taking tips, Web developer
As I first noted in a blog post early last year, 70-519 (Pro: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using .NET Framework 4) heralded the case study’s triumphant return to developer exams. Before you open our practice test and lapse into drop-jaw silence, or (worse still) enter a catatonic fugue state during the live exam, I thought it worthwhile to prepare you once again:
Although the case study has been the mainstay of many Microsoft administrator exams, the last developer exam with case studies was from the retired MCSD track: 70-300: Analyzing Requirements and Defining Microsoft .NET Solution Architectures. Developers seeking certification have been spared the case study for almost eight years (which is a century in technology years). So it’s understandable that we’re all a bit rusty, and those more nervous test-takers are forgiven for their premature hyperventilation.
But it’s really not that bad. As a matter of fact, this format will drastically reduce the length of many questions. Rather than having to parse a detailed scenario for each question, you will be presented one slightly longer scenario with a series of 6 to 12 brief questions based on it. At first a case study may seem intimidating, but because it is divided into sections and is referenced by multiple questions, the mental swap-space is greatly reduced.
- Skim Only. That’s right. Reading a case study is lot like gorging on eggnog and then wondering why you feel so bloated. Case studies are not intended to be read; they are meant to be referenced to as you answer a question. Just as you don’t read the dictionary from beginning to end, but rather flip straight to the section you need, you should read the case study’s overview, skim over each section, and jot down any details that stick out. You should come back to read a sub-section fully after you read the associated question(s). Many case studies contain lines or even paragraphs of extraneous detail that you don’t need to know to answer the question. If you skim, you’ll have a better chance of answering every question in the case study rather than running out of time before you get to the last two.
- Need for Speed. Each case study is a separate testlet with its own time limit. Once that time expires, you will be forced to move onto the next portion of the test. Thus, answer all questions first with your knee-jerk responses, and then go back through them again more carefully. Sometimes, after skimming the case study, I just answer all questions based upon my memory (no more than a minute per question), then go back to each question and re-read the pertinent section of the case study to confirm I selected the best answer.
On some older Microsoft exams, I felt the case study itself was just window dressing; I found I could often answer the case study’s questions on their own merits. These days, there are so many Web technologies that the best approach to a given problem depends heavily on the specific requirements of a scenario. Those manifold details about existing infrastructure, business requirements, technical requirements, and the size of the user base become key to selecting the best approach. After all, real-life development never occurs in a vacuum, but within specific business processes and structures. The case study serves to focus on specific best practices and available technologies. As such, I actually welcome its return to Microsoft developer tests.
Tags: Cisco, CIW, Come Together, CompTIA, IT industry, ITCC, LPI, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, PMI, TechCertRegistry
Since the onslaught of the Great Recession, highlighting your skills for employers has become an important, if not critical, activity. In the IT industry, one of the best ways to prove your skills is to earn certification in the relevant fields and technologies. Thanks to Transcender, and to your own hard work and diligence, you probably have a few certifications under your belt, or are seriously working toward earning one.
If you have a really diversified skill set, you probably have certifications from more than one vendor. Each vendor has their own certification system. CompTIA and Cisco issue physical wallet cards to certified individuals. Microsoft phased out their printed certifications in 2010, then launched their Virtual Business Card site (although wallet cards may be coming back, as per this July post on Born To Learn). All of these vendors, including Oracle, also support a public, online transcript system. The problem is that none of these certification systems are integrated. So you might find yourself fumbling through cards in a high-stakes interview or dealing with an ever-expanding resume to accommodate the boatload of transcript IDs and vendor-specific links.
The (proposed) solution? To make available one central repository of all your certifications, regardless of the vendor. An organization named the ITCC (Information Technology Certification Council) is trying to do exactly that with its TechCertRegistry. Using a single account, you can link certifications from multiple vendors and combine them into one report. Continue Reading Come Together, Right Now…under one certification registry?…
Tags: adoption, certification, diffusion theory, Google+, innovation, internet TV
Following up my Google+ post, I thought I would bring in technology innovation and adoption. It is probably no surprise to you that not everyone jumps on new bandwagons as they roll through town, no matter what the purported benefits. When new technology innovations occur, acceptance differs by individual and time. Some innovations are absorbed rather dramatically, like the smartphone and the MP3 format, while others require some incubation before acceptance – such as Internet TV, Blu-ray, and the DVD. And countless other technologies never catch on.
Everett Rogers attempted to describe this phenomenon in his “Diffusion of Innovations” theory. According to Rogers, we go through a five-step process when determining whether to adopt a given technology:
- Knowledge. What is it? In this step, an individual gains awareness that a technology exists and its basic functionality.
- Persuasion. Do I like it? In this step, an individual gains a positive or negative view of the technology.
- Decision. Should I use it? In this step, an individual determines whether to adopt or reject the technology.
- Implementation. How should I use it? In this step, an individual looks for opportunities to use the technology.
- Confirmation. How did it work? In this step, an individual gains evaluates how well the technology works.
Although we may all go through the same steps, the speed of adoption can differ widely. Some people are more likely to embrace up-and-coming trends, while others rather until their friend join in. The bell-curve describing individual tolerance for innovation is described as follows:
This general predisposition can be described by the overall adoption rate, indicated by the following S-curve:
So, despite the drive by innovators and early adopters (16%), it is really adoption by the majority (68%) that catapults a technology into ubiquity.
Of course, when considering IT certification, there is also a correlation between the popularity of a specific certification exam and the technology on which it tests. The more widespread the adoption, the more popular the certification exam.
Out of curiosity, where do you fall in the innovation scale? Do you latch onto the latest and greatest, or do you wait for everyone else to try it first?