Tags: certification, Certification Paths, what we're working on
Our partners at Global Knowledge recently sat down with several members of the Transcender practice test development team — specifically George, Aima, and Josh — and picked our brains about “how their practice exams are developed and how they have evolved to keep up with changes coming from Microsoft. In the end, we learned that there are major challenges in writing practice exams that accurately reflect and teach students important exam concepts, Microsoft is moving towards more open standards, and customer feedback is crucial to developing and evolving Transcender practice exams.”
You can read the entire article here on the Global Knowledge blog: The Evolution of Microsoft Certification Practice Exams.
Tags: Beta Exams
Curious to know how the beta exam process works behind the scenes at Microsoft? Eager to get your hands on a free invite code to a pre-released exam? Liberty Munson has posted a two-part series over in Born To Learn that’s titled Everything You Wanted to Know about Beta Exams: Part 1 (Beta Invites) and Everything You Wanted to Know about Beta Exams: Part 2 (Beta Availability).
Although I recommend you read both posts, the take-away points are:
- Free seats are still available, but very limited.
- Your best shot at a free seat is to keep your SME (subject matter expert) profile current with Microsoft.
- Paid (not free) beta exams are available to anyone.
- Paid (not free) beta exams will now stay in the market until the final exam is live.
This last point is a substantial policy change on the beta front, as these exams were typically only available for a few weeks before vanishing in a puff of psychometric smoke. With the extended availability of beta tests, anyone who needs to prove competency in a brand-new technology will be able to do so without having to wait for the final exam to come to market.
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: mcsa, mcse, TechEd, Windows 8
TechEd 2012 Orlando has come and gone. A great time was had by all. Now it’s time to go home and process the volumes of information, and hopefully share some of the highlights with you in the process. Windows 8 is the first one that comes to mind.
Microsoft featured Windows 8 in the keynote presentation. This operating system is a bit different from previous versions in that there is a heavily redesigned front-end, and it is designed with touch screens in mind. In fact, they had a DJ use a virtual mixing board using the Windows 8 platform to lay down a beat or two.
While the DJ demonstration did not really give me a clear sense of what Windows 8 can do beyond tablet integration, I will say the President of the Server Business at Microsoft gave a great overview of the future of Windows Server 2012. The keynote speeches gave attendees a quick look at the new operating systems and products and were a great kickoff to the week. You can view video recaps of the keynote speeches in the comfort of your own home: http://northamerica.msteched.com/#fbid=jT4iGRg006A
Another TechEd favorite are the hands-on labs. These labs are, hands down, the most popular part of the program. If you could find an empty seat, then you could play around with the latest technology. My technology of choice this year was Server 2012, Windows 8, and SQL Server 2012.
Microsoft offered discounts on existing exams and the opportunity to take beta exams for attendees. There was a Prometric test center where you could take your exams. According to Prometric, the 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 and 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud with System Center 2012 exams were the most popular exams taken at TechEd.
I took the 70-687 Configuring Windows 8 and the 70-410 Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 beta exams. In past years, the test center was isolated and the whole exam process was effortless and very, very quiet. Not so much this year. The testing computers had some hardware issues, and the test center was about as quiet as a Widespread Panic concert on New Year’s Eve. Having said that, I’m sure the noise level was mostly due to the fact that people (read: fellow geeks) were very, very worked up about the new MCSE and MCSA certifications.
Which brings me to the newly announced certification tracks. Our good friends at TrainSignal Training filmed two great short clips of Don Field, Sr. Director of Product Management at Microsoft Learning, talking about the new MCSA and MCSE certifications as they relate to the new Windows Server 2012. Be sure to check these out if you missed the discussions at TechEd:
The workshop sessions for Server 2012 were also very popular. It seemed that every Server 2012 and System Center 2012 session that I attended jammed about 1,000 people into a space that should only hold 750. The SQL Server 2012 sessions were especially well attended, particularly those for the Business Intelligence tracks. Several of these great sessions are available online, so I recommend that you watch them while you can:
You can find the complete list of TechEd videos here on Channel 9.
Two years ago at TechEd 2010 in New Orleans, Microsoft made a big push for the Windows Phone. They gave out hats, shirts and had lots of presentations featuring the phone and its technology. Fast forward to TechEd 2012. I saw a lot of attendees carrying iPhones and I did not feel a lot of buzz for the Windows Phone. This year Microsoft gave out Windows Phone visors instead of hats. Where are all the Windows Phone fans?! I missed all that Windows Phone love!
There were a zillion (UN-official count by me as I walked the expo floor) people at TechEd this year. The show actually sold out which was surprising considering the stagnant economy. Here are some other interesting facts about TechEd:
- Breakfast is prepared by 90 chefs and they serve 40,000 slices of bacon.
- An attendee at TechEd will walk close to 30 miles over the duration of the conference. The Orlando Convention Center is a pretty big place.
- You need to visit a vendor’s booth and ask where the after-party is. Apparently there are after-parties that require an invitation from the vendor to get in to. They are for great for networking and meeting new contacts.
If you didn’t see me jammed into the last seat in the back row of that SQL Server 2012 session, maybe you caught me at the Transcender booth. I love working a trade show booth. You get to visit with customers and hear feedback about your product. I hope you had the chance to stop by and say Hello. We gave away lots of swag, talked to plenty of friendly faces, and noted every last one of your requests for the new Server 2012, SQL Server 2012, and Windows 8 practice tests. I can assure you: we are definitely working on this.
After a long, long, long week, the Transcender gang hit Universal Studios for a chance to mingle with the conference attendees and various other characters.
The week was a lot of fun, but now it’s back to work.
(Of course, even if you weren’t among the elite attendees of TechEd, you can still run a pre-release copy of the new operating systems from their Springboard series. You just have to do the hard work of installation yourself, and no one will serve you bacon while you do it.)
Until next time,
In case you missed us on Twitter and Facebook, we wanted to make sure you knew we’re at Booth #2049 this year and can’t wait to meet you! Our Team will provide their recaps and reviews from the show in the coming weeks and they will be sure to share the wealth of knowledge gathered at the countless Keynotes & Sessions & Labs, but THIS blog post is about the GOOD news:
Where’s the food, drinks, and entertainment?!
- Community Night: Meet fellow attendees and members of the TLC and Connect Zone in North Hall B from 6:15-9pm (yes, there’s beer)
- Jam Session (our favorite!): Open jam for all you musicians (and brave wannabes) tonight from 9 pm – 1am at B.B. King’s at Pointe, Orlando. Just bring your talent, everything else (Instruments, lyrics, sheet music, etc) will be provided. If you’ve never been to one, we highly recommend it!
- TechEd Gives Back: When you’re done chatting it up and dancing the night away, consider giving a little something back to our host city of Orlando. Stop by South Hall B (by the Registration area) and check out the list of on-site volunteer activities. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make a huge impact!
Be sure to comment below or over on our Facebook page and let us know which of these events, or the dozens of other activities, you participate in this week at TechEd 2012.
Tags: ccna, mobile app
Following the success of the TranscenderFlash CompTIA A+ flash card app, we’ve rolled out our first Cisco CCNA flash card study app (640-822, ICND Part 1). For now the app is only available on the Android platform, but we’ll be rolling out an iTunes release next month. Update: you can download the app from the Android marketplace or iTunes.
The app is 100% free of cost and free of ads. Here’s what you get:
- Hundreds of questions covering all exam objectives for 640-822 CISCO ICND Part 1
- Ability to sort flash cards by exam objective
- Simple and intuitive flash card interface
- Easy self-grading, answer history tracking, and session saving
- Correctly answered flash cards are removed to focus on trouble areas
- Post your success to Facebook
To those of you who tried out and commented on our A+ app: we listened! We have completely redesigned the A+ flash card interface, and used the new interface for the CCNA app. Now both apps let you select which objective you’d like to study, rather than taking you through the entire pool of questions starting with the first objective. If you have the old A+ app, upload the revision now. Here’s some screen caps to show you how both apps behave:
Download the app today, and let us know what you think!
Tags: interviewing tips, Motley Crue, resume', tattoos and piercings
A while back one of our team members ran across this LifeHacker post on IT job interviewing, provocatively titled Why I Won’t Hire You. The post stirred some spirited debate with the Transcender Team. Some of us thought it was refreshingly honest and contained valuable insights for a potential job candidate. One of us thought the author deserved a punch in the nose (metaphorically only — we’re not violent people, except where fantasy football/basketball is concerned).
Joking aside, we then sat around and discussed whether people need specific advice on interviewing for an IT job versus a non-IT job. Then we sat around and exchanged stories about people we’d actually interviewed for jobs who had made strange common-sense errors. Turns out we’ve seen it all kinds of quirks, from the classic typos-on-the-resume errors to showing up with their portfolio in a paper grocery sack.
Assuming you are qualified for the job you are applying for, you will have to go through a series of interviews. First there’s typically a screening, usually over the telephone but it can be in person where the employers will evaluate your overall fitness as a candidate. If you make it beyond the screening interview, you may go on to a series of interviews with the people in the department that will hire you — and that’s just the beginning. You might be called to dozens of interviews. Conclusion? That’s a lot of face time. So we feel there can *never* be enough tips out there to help an inexperienced (or experienced) job seeker ace an interview.
Here are some tips that might help you land the job.
If you are on time, I consider that you’re late. Arriving late does not leave a good impression. I recommend that you show up at the interview site at least 30 minutes prior to schedule. This will give you a few moments for last-minute prep for the interview. However, make sure that you check in for your interview no earlier than 10 minutes prior to the actual appointment time, because arriving too early could backfire if that person thinks you don’t value their time. So kill those extra 20 minutes in the parking lot or the reception area. While you’re there, take a sneak peak at the office environment and get a glimpse of the office culture.
It’s easy to win friends by talking about other people rather than yourself. However in an interview you need to sell yourself. Take some time before the interview and study the company that you are interviewing. Learn about the company, but don’t regurgitate the company’s website or annual report. If possible, try to learn as much about the department that will be interviewing you. You can set yourself apart from other interviewees if you can highlight your assets in relation to their specific needs. For example, if you know the company will be installing several SQL server instances and will need support, you should highlight your previous experience of managing, maintaining, backing up, and restoring databases on a SQL server. Remember, though, that the person conducting the screening interview may not be technical, so keep your experience to what is advertised in the job posting.
The days of people wearing Brooks Brothers suits and 100% cotton starched shirts may be gone. People tend to dress business casual in the workplace, and go even more casual in the IT world. To stand apart from the herd of candidates, you need to be neat and clean. You don’t have to look like you are ready to pick up your prom date at your parent’s house, but in a way, an interview is like a speed date. You need to make a good impression fast. Your date is not going to appreciate an unclean, unkempt person, or the person who over-dresses. I try to know what their office dress code is and aim to go one step above it.
In my role as a trainer I’m frequently asked about tattoos and piercings on a job candidate. I do not have a tattoo or piercing and not going to get any, but they don’t bother me. If the person can do the job and gets along with other team members, why should I care? But – and this is a big but – the person conducting the interview may not share your same view on tattoos and piercing. Many companies ask employees to keep tattoos covered in the workplace. For an interview, I recommend you cover the body art and remove piercings. An HR employee at a large company once told me, “Tattoos and piercings are not professional and we only hire professionals.” Does having a tattoo or a piercing mean that you cannot do the job? Of course not; that’s ridiculous. Do employers hire people based on looks? Well, a company cannot discriminate against you based on sex, religion, race, age or reproductive status, but they can certainly choose to not hire you based on looks. If you look like you fell into a tackle box or you have tattoos like a member of the band Motley Crue, expect the hiring company to hold that against you. It may not be fair, but it is legal.
You should expect to have some skills test, written test or combination of both in order to gain employment. I am from the school of thought that people do not intentionally lie on a resume, but they may stretch the truth. A prospective employer has the right to call you on your skills and experience. The information that you put down on a resume should be corroborated by someone else at your current job or previous job. Do not expect an employer to accept the fact that you can do a particular task because a person you work with and a person they have never met says that you can.
When I interviewed for a LAN administrator’s job, I was called back to perform a series of tasks within a 30 minute time frame in a lab the company had set up. That was the fastest 30 minutes of my life. The company wanted a highly skilled candidate that worked quickly. This was their way of weeding out candidates.
As I said before, people tend to stretch the truth on a resume, but you should not out-and-out lie. If you lie about certifications, degrees, or other items that can be checked, you will get busted. Expect to give the prospective employer a copy of your certification transcript or your certification ID number. For example, if you are certified in a Microsoft product, you will get a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) number which can be used by a prospective employer to check your Microsoft transcript. CompTIA, Oracle, and Cisco also issue IDs for their certified professionals. If it can be checked, do not lie about it. Even little lies will get you in trouble.
Another true story – a hiring manager had to choose between two candidates. One candidate, who was only was a casual jogger, said that he ran in the 2008 Boston Marathon and placed in his age group. The hiring manager looked this information up on the Internet and found it to not be true. That candidate did not get the job. The hiring manager said if he lied about running in the Boston Marathon, he could have lied about anything else.
Oh yeah – and pictures say a thousand words. Start vetting your social profiles — Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and so on – before you apply for jobs. Those pictures you have on Facebook may not paint a very favorable picture of yourself. Any modern employer will do a quick background check on you. Expect them to look at your Facebook page. Make sure there is nothing there that will cost you a job.
Another true story. Former Georgia Tech football coach George O’Leary was named head football coach at Notre Dame in 2001, but had to resign a few days later for resume’ padding. Although the padding was on his resume for over twenty years, he had never rechecked and updated the information. Although Coach O’ Leary has bounced back at University of Central Florida, winning conference titles, winning bowl games, and being a positive influence in the lives of young athletes, he may be remembered by some as the guy who once lost a job for resume padding — and that truly is a shame.
The demand for IT professionals is increasing. There are many challenging opportunities opening up. With a little preparation, you too can present yourself as the top notch candidate who will be hard to pass up.
Tags: sales & specials, what we're working on
Ever wonder if we (Transcender) actually read your comments on our blog, or the feedback/suggestion emails you submit? I can tell you that we do, but I’d rather show you.
Check it out – combined delivery is here!
In response to your ever-evolving study habits, we have changed the way we deliver our product. Where previously you had to decide how you wanted to use our product before you bought it, now you can complete your purchase without having to commit to one delivery method. With combined delivery, you have access to both the installation version of our product and 90-day access to the online version. The content is exactly the same for both versions, the only thing that changes is where you are while you’re studying.
Our download product lets you install your practice test on 2 different computers, while the online product lets you access your practice test from anywhere, anytime as long as you have an internet connection. Should you want to access the online version beyond the 90-day period, just log in to your Club Account and check out your recently expanded extension options.
Not impressed yet? How about a $70 savings? Yep! We may have changed our delivery method, but we chose not to change our prices. Everything else in life is already so expensive, we thought we’d do something a little different. Combined delivery for a single price means you save about $70 when compared to buying these products separately. Happy studying!
Tags: CISSP, study tips
Back in September and October, I wrote a few posts regarding the 2012 update to the CISSP exam. (If you missed them, see the post on part I of the changes here, and the post on part II of the changes here). If you remember, there wasn’t a large amount of new content. Most of the changes are mainly the moving of a subdomain from one domain to another or the revision of the wording of a subdomain.
With that said, we have now released a new version of our CISSP practice test that covers the 2012 Exam Guide. For these latest updates, we have taken the time to write new questions to ensure that you understand these topics. We have also moved the content according to the new Exam Guide. Finally, we have revised some of our old questions to better reflect the live exam experience.
We hope that you’ll take the time to study the explanations when studying for this exam. The explanations often go beyond the scope of the question itself to ensure that you fully understand the topics that you may see on the exam.
Keep in mind that we reference Shon Harris’ CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, 5th Edition. Word is that a 6th Edition will be released at some point. When that occurs, we’ll be sure to update the reference list on the product so you can have a direct link to the new book.
Be sure to drop a comment here if you have any questions regarding this latest update!
Tags: a+, mobile app
Owners of iPhones and iPads can now download our free CompTIA A+ flash card mobile application from Apple’s App Store. This handy app contains our entire 1000+ question database of CompTIA A+ flash cards, and lets you mark which questions you answered incorrectly so you can return for a targeted review.
If you missed our Android Market release announcement or want to access a preview video, check it out here.