Friday, January 18, 2008

Passed another Microsoft exam

This time it was the dreaded 70-529, dreaded because I seldom use the techniques included (Web Services with and without WSE, .Net Remoting, Serviced Components, MSMQ). Well, of course I've used Web Services but never had the need to apply WSE (Web Service Enhancements) which makes things a lot more complicated and, by the way, is nowadays outdated by WCF. Nevertheless I've learned a lot and if I had knew what I know now, I would probably have solved some challenges in the past differently.

Another sign of me finding this exam pretty tough, other than using adjectives such as dreaded, would be the time spent on studying. Roughly about 3 months. Obviously not at full rate, but I mean... 3 months!!! This is probably the first time I've completed all the lesson reviews, labs and included practice tests (in this book). But, hey! It paid of. If you are thinking I over-studied, you're absolutely right! I scored 905 out of 1000. 700 is needed to pass. Well, ok for 70-300 I read 2 books and a whole lot of online articles but was never close to 905.

OMG! What about the level of detail on those exams. It's crazy! You actually have to know stuff like the entire schema of every imaginable XML based configuration file and just about every namespace, interface, class, method and associated signature in the entire framework and then some. One has to stretch ones imagination quite a bit to find the reason.

Picture this: You're stranded on a deserted island with nothing but your laptop. Somehow the laptop took a beating and all the sectors where Visual Studio was installed got demolished (MSDN included). That could happen!

Now for the not so likely part. In all you're desperation, being on a deserted island and all, you find the sudden urge to put together a nice .Net app. Your toolbox: notepad and one VB.Net (what else) standalone compiler. No problem 'cause you're certified! You know everything there is to know by heart.

Come on, seriously! Hook me up with MSDN, Intellisense and Reflector and give me your best shot.

I think the big advantage you got, as a certified developer, is knowledge about what's available, in your toolbox if you will.

Anyway, now it's time for my little ritual that I've been looking forward to for some time now. It's nothing much but it always feels nice. It includes:

  • Bringing all books to the office and putting them in our overly crowded bookshelf and adding them to a list (Sharepoint of course)
  • Deleting any practice tests from the laptop
  • Finally, showing the certificate to the boss to collect some bonus

My long term goal is to become MCPD Enterprise Application Developer but if any exams for WCF, WF or WPF becomes available I will take them first. Not in beta though. I did that mistake once and was actually one question away from succeeding with 70-510 Visual Studio 2005 Team Foundation Server. Imagine a customer seeing that and hiring me to set up their TFS for their worldwide organization of developers, CCM, project managers, testers and so on. Wait a minute! Haven't I found myself in that situation before? Nah, not likely for a consultant ;)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Do you need a progress bar to go with your site?

Are you in a quick need of a progress bar and tired of being bullied by proud designers? Some of them will actually order you to stand behind a line, singing I Will Always Love You like Whitney Houston while doing the Macarena just to think about helping you. Tell them gently to stick their attitude where the sun don't shine and then follow these simple steps:

  1. Aim your browser to
  2. Choose one of many templates (indicator type)
  3. Choose background color (or transparent) depending on your site
  4. Choose foreground color to go with your site. If you want a new color, why not try one of many color scheme tools. Here's one for you
  5. Click Generate it ! - Voilà