Why is there a New Question Type in my MCSD Practice Test?

November 12, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Study hints | 2 Comments
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I know it’s been a while since my last post. But since I’ve finally come up for some air  after writing our practice tests for the Microsoft Developer track, I thought I’d fill you in on a bit of what I’ve been doing in my top-secret hacker lair. (Spoilers: it definitely contains some sharks with frickin’ lasers)*.

Fly in my Soup?

“Is that a new question type in my soup?”

Seriously though, we have been busy re-creating our practice test engine to mimic the new Microsoft question types. We’ve known about the advent of color-coding and these new question types since last summer, but with the onslaught of new exam titles that needed corresponding practice tests added to our inventory, dropping everything to emulate the live exam experience seemed a far-off goal. But with the releases of our Cert-70-480 and Cert-70-481 products, we decided to go for broke.

Without further ado, here’s a quick overview of the short answer, list-and-reorder, and code-based case study item types.

Short Answer

If you bought our Cert-70-461 practice test (Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012), you probably saw some of this type of question already. What makes this item type different is that the questions are very specific, and thanks to color-coding, very readable!

Short Answer w/Color Coding

Much better than the colorized version of It’s A Wonderful Life!

This type of question is all about writing the code, not just knowing the concepts behind the code. The next item type also addresses “the code and only the code” mantra.

List and Reorder

We’ve always had this type of question in our practice tests. With the advent of the updated MCSD certification track, we added color formatting to our previously monochrome items, and made the questions even more code-centric.  This raises the difficulty bar somewhat for newbies, but is a real treat for the die-hard developers that have long awaited the exams that test you only on how to write code. Simple request, really.

List and Reorder question

Just the code, ma’am.

Code-Based Case Studies

That’s right. Here comes the pain (and realism) of developing applications in real life: inserting code at the right place. Rarely will you have the pleasure of designing an application on your own. More often than not, you will be required to plug the hole left by another developer who got a cushy job as a business analyst at a local startup company. It’s up to you to get the code working without help, and no one cares what you have to do to get it working. The new case study item type tests your skills at knowing both what code to add and where to add it.

Code-Based Case Study

“Now it’s getting REAL up in here!”

Whew…!  And that didn’t even cover the new simulation items we added.

Let me know what you think of these new tricks in the Transcender toolbox.

*Hey, it makes for better imagery than my beige office cubicle!

Until next time,

Josh aka Codeguru

TechEd 2013 Debriefing: One Developer’s Position

June 12, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft, Vendor news | 2 Comments
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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.

George and Josh strike a pose.

George and Josh strike a pose

 

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).

Continue Reading TechEd 2013 Debriefing: One Developer’s Position…

MSCD – A New Certification with an Old Heart of Gold

February 8, 2013 at 9:07 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | 31 Comments
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Disclaimer: Exam retirements are subject to change without notice. Please go to the official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date, as it may have changed since this post was originally published.

(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?

Pretty Woman and the MCSD

Is that a shiny MCSD  for my hard work?

For 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…

Beer and Technology

August 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Transcender news, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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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?

SweetWater Brewing Company - TCATL

SweetWater Brewing Company

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!

The Year of the Developer

February 17, 2012 at 11:39 am | Posted in Technical Tips, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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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.

IBM 704 mainframe that uses FORTRAN

IBM 704 mainframe that uses FORTRAN

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.

Mobile Development

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.

NoSQL Continue Reading The Year of the Developer…

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