October 26, 2012 3:12 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Every now and then I find a great certification resource. Even more rarely, I have one tossed into my lap. Thanks to my friend and colleague Anne Martinez at GoCertify.com, I recently learned about Matthew Morris and the resources he has assembled at his aptly-named Website: Oracle Certification Prep. I’m especially happy to seize upon his offerings because although Oracle has a huge footprint in the IT certification marketplace, I probably don’t cover them as much or as often as I should. Now, thanks to Matthew’s marvelous collection of information, study guides, and so forth, I hope to remedy this occasional oversight on my part, while also helping to spread the word about his efforts to make Oracle certification more sensible and attainable for interested IT professionals.
Gotta love his motto!
Among the many good things Morris has done with his site, those interested in Oracle certification will find the following elements particularly compelling:
- Exam Info: Links to all current Oracle exams, with further pointers to Oracle documentation, study guides, resources online and in print, and related articles.
- Oracle Certification Sites: This list of Oracle and third-party sites that offer certification information, communities, references, resources, and more appears on the right-hand side of every page on Morris’s website.
- Study Guides: So far, Morris has written 9 Study Guides for the most popular of Oracle’s exam offerings, including lots of SQL and PL/SQL stuff, coverage of Oracle versions 9i and 11g, and Web applications. His books — available in both paperback and Kindle form at great prices — are getting rave reviews from buyers on Amazon, too.
All the covers look the same, but the exam IDs differ.
- FAQ/Tips: Information about Morris’s OCP book series, a comparison against other titles in this area, plus various explanations about their content and coverage.
If you’re interested in Oracle certification, this is one site you’ll want to visit — and probably also, add to your Favorites or Bookmarks in your Web browser. The best part about his approach is that the initials for Oracle Certification Prep and Oracle Certified Professional (the general cert designation that he covers) are the same. All the way around, this is good stuff!
October 24, 2012 2:00 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
In plowing through my usual blog fodder this morning, I came across a fascinating article from long-time learning expert and CTO for Learning@Cisco David Mallory. It’s entitled “Checklists for Studying” and includes several pearls of wisdom well worth chewing over:
1. It does a great job of explaining the virtues and values of checklists: simple lists of items, features, status, and settings to check when embarking on routine or complex technical tasks. Mallory observes that there’s a very good reason why pilots and healthcare professionals routinely use checklists to drive task start-ups such as preparing an aircraft for use or starting a shift in a clinic or hospital ward. He puts it like this “The knowledge required to perform complex jobs frequently exceeds an individual’s ability to remember or their capacity to apply the knowledge in a time-constrained environment without making mistakes.” I think it’s fair to observe further that this applies likewise to routine or repetitive tasks, and that learning how to do such things benefits even more from checklists than getting them right once the elements and sequence have been walked through repeatedly.
2. He cites Atul Gawande’s excellent book: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right. Though the subject matter may sound dry, this book is a real eye-opener and a page turner, according to the many published reviews and accolades it’s received. If you really want to understand the whys and wherefores of checklists, and learn from some great and sometimes amusing examples of how they’re best used and applied, this is the go-to resource on this subject. It’s available on Amazon for under $17 for the physical book, and $10 for Kindle.
3. He uses a great decision diagram — which he explains as a kind of “branching checklist” (aka “decision tree”) — to show how checklists apply to a broad range of technical tasks and analyses, many of which are prime fodder for most certification exams I can think of. It’s for assigning an IP address to a router interface, and it looks like this:
Don’t forget this valuable technique as you take notes and try to distill the skills and knowledge you need to master for certification exams. This technique will not only come in handy for exam prep, it’s also extremely well-suited to putting your new skills and knowledge to work on the job!
October 22, 2012 3:26 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Although there’s not much going on at CertCities.com anymore — except for Emmett Dulaney’s long-running and always informative “Dulaney on Certs” column — I still make a regular habit of checking on what he’s up to, and what he has to say. This morning, my regular check-in produced a couple of unexpected benefits (thanks, Emmett!) in that it taught me something I didn’t realize, and reminded me of a certification technology niche that’s incredibly worthwhile in and of itself. That cert niche is green IT, and what I never realized was that CompTIA’s Strata certification in Green IT aims at technology managers and implementers rather than total newbies, as do its other Strata credentials. So please, check out Emmett’s “Focus on Green Certification” (10/16/2012) piece, and then go visit the CompTIA web page for its Green IT credential (as an added bonus this is a short — 60 minutes — and cheap — US$100 — exam, as CompTIA offerings go).
An international symbol for green IT and sustainable energy consumption.
Want more Green IT cert info? Check out these handy resources and references:
There’s lots more where this came from (and seeds for an article for PearsonITCertification.com or perhaps TomsITPro.com have been planted) but this should be enough to get anybody started. Go Green!
October 19, 2012 3:57 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Once a week, I post to a blog for Tom’s IT Pro that’s sometimes called “Making It in IT.” That means I also get the word from Tom’s on all of their contests and promotions. Lately, they informed me about a contest they’re running in partnership with online IT e-tailer CDW through October 31, 2012. There are two grand prizes on offer, both Microsoft certification training packages plus Google Nexus 7 Wi-Fi tablets, and four additional of the same tablets as secondary prizes.
One each TrainSignal and ExamForce training package, and a total of 6 Google Nexus 7s.
The two training packages that represent grand prizes are as follows:
- ExamForce Windows Server 2008 training package for MCITP on Windows Server 2008.
- TrainSignal CompTIA Cloud Essentials training package (video-based course covers the CLO-001 exam).
Each grand prize winner will also receive a Google Nexus 7 Tablet as well as the aforementioned training. Four additional runners-up will also win a Google Nexus 7 Tablet as well. To sign up for the exam — entries are limited to one per person, please — please visit the sign-up page, and fill out the entry form there. Do it soon: the contest ends on Halloween (10/31/2012)!
October 17, 2012 8:30 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
If you’ve been following this blog, or reading any of my “cert advice” work for any length of time, you already know that I recommend that cert candidates should club together to form their own study groups for specific credentials, or join existing such groups as and when they can find them. That’s because a group of like-minded folks will collectively be able to solve more problems, cover more resources, and develop good study habits and techniques together than they could ever develop alone. This also explains why many cert programs likewise advocate study groups as well, and sometimes even support them. But nobody does that better right now than Cisco, as the following table will illustrate. It is taken from the Certification Study Groups page on the Cisco Learning site, where each hyperlinked cell leads to the home page for the study group for some Cisco certification (CCENT, CCDA, CCNA, …).
Cisco Certification Study Groups Matrix
What you’ll find for each study group is best illustrated by depicting the banner for one of them — I choose the biggest one (CCENT) as my example — where you find tabs for member questions and answers, information about group members, links to ongoing discussions, and links to helpful documents for study and exam preparation.
Under any tab you can filter by category to scope down the reams of info available.
These illustrations may not directly help those who are not seeking Cisco certification at the moment, but it does illustrate what’s possible in this realm, and what at least one cert sponsor is doing to support its community of certification candidates. If your sponsor doesn’t already do something like this, perhaps they should, and now you can point them to this outstanding illustration of what sponsor effort and Web pages can deliver to their candidate community!
October 15, 2012 2:44 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
In visiting the Born to Learn blog this morning, Krista Wall’s October 11 post “Upcoming Exam Retirements” reminded me that as new versions of software enter the stage — along with certifications to support them — older versions of that same software (and their attendant certs) invariably also fall by the wayside. In looking at the full list of exams Microsoft has now scheduled for retirement, I’m struck by how clean their broom is sweeping the decks in the next 9 months or so. Let me explain, by providing some illustrations:
- Windows Server: on July 31, 2013, most of the Windows Server 2003 exams will shuffle off the stage (70-291, 70-293, 70-294, 70-297, 70-298, 70-299, and 70-699) along with a surprising number of Windows Server 2008 exams (70-643, 70-647, 70-648, 70-649, 70-679, 70-690, and 70-691).
A long list of scheduled Windows Server 2003 and 2008 retirements.
- SQL Server: Likewise on 7/31/2013, look for these SQL Server 2008 exams to go bye-bye (70-433, 70-450, 70-451, 70-452).
- Virtualization: Same date (7/31/2013), the previous Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V related exams go up in smoke (70-659, 70-669, 70-693).
- XP: the old 70-270 exam will also finally begone on July 31, 2013 as well.
- Older (2007) Lync Server, Office Communications Server, Project Server, and SharePoint Server based exams are most retiring on January 31, 2013 (if they haven’t been retired already; see the retirement list for details).
This represents a pretty thorough cleaning out of older certifications, and tells me that MS is very serious about moving its customer base up to the latest Windows Server iteration, along with the major platforms — SQL Server, Lync Server, SharePoint, and so forth. Given the normally slow adoption of new server versions this strikes me as a fairly aggressive policy, but is perhaps Microsoft’s best bet for moving customers along in the next two to three years. We’ll see if this works, at any rate!
October 12, 2012 2:21 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Infographic title block puts words in front of a network diagram.
Working with Infographic clearinghouse Visual.ly, Cisco has recently produced a fascinating infographic entitled “Demand for IT Networking Professionals in USA” (click the link to see the whole thing; I’ll be including bits and pieces of this work throughout my blog post here). Overall, it’s a colorful, intelligently-populated, and artfully produced collection of information bound to be of great information to this blog’s readership.
The rest of the piece is broken into various sub-panels that address the following topics and information:
- Compound annual growth rate for network traffic by class of device, including PCs (26%), TVs (77%), Mobile-2-Mobile (86%), Smartphones (119%), and Tablets (129%).
- Top Technical Skills in demand from the “what CIOs want” perspective and in terms of the fastest growing IT jobs, where network and computer systems administrators, information security analysts, Web developers, and computer network architects, along with computer systems analysts, all lead the pack with annual growth rates of over 20 percent.
- There’s also an interesting chart of 2012 Salary by job function that shows a surprising number of job titles with top ends above $100,000 per year, including titles related to the job roles mentioned in the previous bullet item.
- The graphic concludes with 2012 top Cisco Certifications by Salary, which I’ll reproduce for your perusal here:
All of the entry-level certs appear in this list, because they are biggest by size — not pay!
Even so, the pay levels shown for these junior credentials aren’t at all bad, and argue forcefully that those who earn more advanced Cisco certs must surely be making more still!
October 10, 2012 2:14 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
On September 28, I posted a blog entitled “A Tale of Two Entry-Level, Vendor-Neutral Storage Certs” which compares and contrasts CompTIA’s Storage + (Powered by SNIA) credential against Hitachi’s Storage Technology exam (HH0-050) and credential. In that blog I mused on possible reasons why Hitachi — a member of both SNIA and CompTIA — might find it necessary to launch its own, lower-cost entry-level storage certification. This morning, I came across more evidence of Hitachi’s seriousness in making this credential accessible to any and all interested parties at a very affordable cost, as shown in this Amazon Listing for the company’s Storage Concepts: Storing and Managing Digital Data (Vol 1) trade paperback book (Amazon link).
HDS not only has an exam, they have a book to go with it.
The book costs $55 at Amazon, which is a little on the high side for exam study guides including usual discounts, but not unreasonably expensive. The publisher is listed as “HDS Academy, Hitachi Data Systems” where the HDS Academy is Hitachi’s training and certification arm. Hitachi also positions the book as a general entry-level reference to storage, as well as a preparation guide for its HH0-050 certification exam. The book is also available online at Amazon’s CreateSpace.com subsidiary (but I can’t find a link to it there, though it’s no problem at the parent Amazon.com site), and at the Hitachi website www.storageconcepts.net, and prices are the same everywhere. A Kindle version is also planned as well.
I very much like it when I see a cert program sponsor step up behind their credentials to make them affordable and accessible. I’d love to know more about why Hitachi decided to do this, but it’s clear that they’re taking their credential to the global market and are pushing to get more IT professionals up to speed on storage technology. This only affirms my earlier suspicion that they’re seeking to make this kind of information more accessible to the Third World, by lowering the cost of entry (and certification) in this fast-growing IT niche.
October 8, 2012 4:36 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
One of the great things about having a blog of one’s own is that one can occasionally depart from the usual topics to reflect on the trials of daily life, or to vent one’s spleen about various and sundry aggravations. Today, I will do a little of both and explain why I love Caller ID, and how it’s changed my telephonic behavior forever and very much for the better.
If you don’t identify yourself, I probably don’t want to talk to you, either.
I work at home, and everything I do is on a deadline. When an incoming call gets to ringing, I no longer pick up the phone and do my own call screening by trial and error. Instead, I look at the caller ID, and use what I do — or don’t — see there to decide whether or not to pick up. And even when I do pick up, that information often guides my subsequent and immediate behavior. I can sum this up in two simple rules:
Rule 1: If I don’t know you, or you won’t tell me who you are, I probably won’t pick up
I get countless calls labeled as “anonymous,” “unknown caller,” or any of a wide variety of toll-free numbers (from the 800, 888, and other 8** exchanges). Other calls are simply identified by location: I just found ”Santa Monica, CA,” “Plano, TX,” and “Gilroy, CA” in my 100-number caller ID log. 9 times out of 10 I don’t pick any of these calls up, knowing that I don’t want to hear what they want to tell me anyway.
Rule 2: If I do pick up on a no-name caller, there better be a live person on the other end of the line
The one time out of 10 when I do pick up a suspect number, I’ll listen for a human presence when I pick up the phone. If there’s any delay at all — while the auto-dialer detects “Hey, we’ve got a live one!” and switches me over to an available call-center employee — I’m already hanging up the phone. I usually wait until the switchover occurs and I hear the line go over from a dead state to a live one (background noise kicks in), and that’s when I hang up before the call center employee has a chance to launch into his or her script.
Why do I do this? I’m sorry if this seems rude to those readers who may be interested in my blog but who also work in a call center, or know somebody who does, but my time is all I have to sell to make my living. I try to max out my charitable giving every year, and I’ve learned to ask those charity callers who get through my screen the first telling question in that game of chance “How much of your donations goes to the actual beneficiaries?” (I won’t give to any organization that gives less than 80-85% to the beneficiaries; recently I got a call from some “Kid’s wish” outfit that gives only 13 percent — yes, THIRTEEN % — to the kids). But I just don’t have time to spend on the phone listening to pitches I’m likely to decline anyway. So I try to steer around that stuff.
As for calls that come in after normal working hours, I won’t get near any numbers I don’t recognize. That goes double for incoming calls while we’re sitting at the table eating dinner. Take a lesson telemarketers: Caller ID is the consumer’s friend. Don’t expect us to give you our time any more, unless you treat us like normal, decent human beings. Tell us who you are, what you want, and let us bail if we don’t want to hear any more. It would also be very nice if the national do not call list really worked the way it’s supposed to, too!