Monday, June 30, 2008

Microsoft Certified Master

Microsoft is working on and has announced a new certification program called the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM). This is not a replacement for the Architect program and it is not an enhancement to the existing programs like MCITP.

From Trika's blog, you can see that this certification is not for the light hearted. It costs 18,000 for 3 weeks of training and 3 exams and a lab exam. It is hard for many people to be able to go to this training in Redmond for 3 weeks straight. But this is the only the first time it is offered. I would love to be able to do this, but 3 weeks is a LONG time to be away from work and family.

I was really looking forward to this certification, but it might be more than I am willing to do right now. Well, on to the next set of certifications that I am studying for, MCPD and a few MCTSs.

FREE Microsoft E-Learning Course Offer

Microsoft is currently running a promotion that allows anyone to try out one of its many E-Learning Courses for free! This offer expires today, the 30th of June, 2008. So, if you're interested you'd better hurry.

You can register to obtain your promotional code for a free E-Learning Course by navigating to this webpage. One prerequisite is that you have a Windows Live ID. If you do not have one, then you can learn how to get one here. Once, you have registered using your Windows Live ID, you will receive a promotional code. Using this code, you can take your pick of one of many applicable E-Learning Courses and sign up for it for free! I believe that the subscription to this course will last you one whole year. So, it's definitely worth getting the code even if you don't have the time to spare at the present moment. Whats more is that... It's free!

If you have no idea what I mean by an E-Learning Course, you can read more about it here or, take a tour and sit through a sample course here (requires Silverlight). I sat through one and found it to be quite well rounded.

One more thing to be aware of is that the code will expire 30 days after you register for it. So, don't wait too long to pick a course if y ou plan on it. Since I plan on appearing for the 70-502 Cert in the not-so-distant future, I will registering for a WPF E-Learning Course. So, I'm off to do that and grab a bite to eat at the same time.

Happy Learning!


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Exam 70-536

I recently passed my first Microsoft Certification Exam - Exam 70-536: The .NET Framework 2.0 - Application Development Foundation. I thought I'd blog a bit about my experience preparing for the exam, lessons learnt and the exam in general.

The Exam

The 70-536 exam is a gateway exam of sorts for most .NET Developers looking to earn an MCTS or MCPD certification for Windows, Web or Enterprise application development. Currently, it is a prerequisite for 3 .Net 2.0 Certs and 6 newly added .NET 3.5 Certs. I am pursuing an MCTS Certification for WPF, which is why this exam was a logical starting point.

The Exam tests a developer's skills as related to working with the .NET Framework in the following 7 areas.
  1. Developing applications that use system types and collections (15 percent)
  2. Implementing service processes, threading, and application domains in a .NET Framework application (11 percent)
  3. Embedding configuration, diagnostic, management, and installation features into a .NET Framework application (14 percent)
  4. Implementing serialization and input/output functionality in a .NET Framework application (18 percent)
  5. Improving the security of .NET Framework applications by using the .NET Framework security features (20 percent)
  6. Implementing interoperability, reflection, and mailing functionality in a .NET Framework application (11 percent)
  7. Implementing globalization, drawing, and text manipulation functionality in a .NET Framework application (11 percent)
So as you can tell, if you plan on giving this exam, you'd best be prepared in all the sections listed.


The Microsoft Learning Website makes a few suggestions for resources that one could use when preparing for this exam. You can check them out here.

I used the MS Press Book - MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-536): Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 - Application Development Foundation.

The book does a good job of covering the 7 skills sets you will be quizzed on. It comes with a companion CD that you can use to install practice tests on your machine at home. These practice tests are very helpful if this is your first certification exam as they give you a good feel for how the questions on the final exam will look like.

The CD also contains code samples that you can use to complete the Labs detailed in the book. If you do not own a copy of Visual Studio .NET or 2005, fear not... the book also comes with its very own copy of Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, licensed to you for 6 months from the time you install it.

Another interesting resource that I found was this Live Meeting from Microsoft. It is titled "Cram for Exams! 70-536" and thats exactly what it does. In one hour, it gives you a brief overview of the exam and the various sections as I mentioned above. The Speaker also works out some sample questions and has some good tips for the exam itself.


Code, Code and then some...

I cannot stress enough the importance of exploring the .NET Framework yourself by writing your own little test applications. Nothing sticks in your head as a line of code that you wrote. A majority of questions on the test will be code-based and there's a good chance that you will see some classes or structures for the first time at the Testing Center if you haven't been coding regularly. So again, take the time to understand what the Framework has to offer by writing a little code yourself.

Happy Learning!!


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Silverlight 2.0 beta2 is out!!

Last weekend Silverlight 2.0 beta 2 was released by Microsoft. Overall it has some nice features like the new tab control, but existing Silverlight 2.0 beta 1 code might need a few changes to get things to work. One things that I wanted to tell people about is the SDK is be a pain for me to install since I had the beta1 SDK installed. I have to remove a patch to VS2008 but to do that you need the CD/DVD that you installed from to get it to work. Well I did not have that disc with me when I started to put the SDK on and I have been very busy and have not had a chance to get this installed yet.

I will post more as I play with this new version. There is a go-live license so people can start commercializing this now.