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Live! 360 Day 1 and Day 2 TechMentor vs Tech Ed

Live! 360 Day 1 and Day 2

Live! 360 activities unofficially started on Sunday, November 17th at Loew’s Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando. Early registration opened and a group was formed for the Dine-A-Round event at Universal’s City Walk. The Dine Around began at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville for appetizers and drinks. From there, groups split up based on interest. I joined […]

TechMentor vs Tech Ed

On Twitter, @bbnetman asked this question: “How does TechEd differ from TechMentor?” I attended Tech Ed back in 2007 and 2008, but I have never been to TechMentor. I was afraid to reply in a tweet and send a wrong answer, so I decided to do a little research. First of all, Tech Ed is […]

Microsoft Certification Exam Offer: Save up to 25%

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Microsoft is currently offering a promotion where you can save 15 to 20 percent off select Technology Specialist exams and 25 percent off select Microsoft Certified Professional exams.

To be eligible for this special offer, you must register with Prometric and obtain a discount code.

Register for your discounted voucher code (Prometric.com)

This offer is available worldwide and customers must register, schedule, and purchase their discounted exams by December 31, 2009. This offer does not include the popular second chance retake option. The discount does not apply to academic priced exams.

For further details and a complete list of eligible exams, go to Microsoft’s web site:

Career Campaign: Certification Exam Offer

Microsoft Certified Masters Program Update and Special Offers

Microsoft introduced the Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) programs in June 2008 to provide seasoned IT Professionals the opportunity to enhance their design, build and troubleshooting skills (previously available only to Microsoft employees) and to provide a credential that would allow them to differentiate themselves from other seasoned experts.  Training for this credential involves a 3-week immersion into server technologies led by top subject matter experts and industry-renowned instructors. Originally, MCM programs were only available for Exchange Server 2007, SQL Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 Active Directory.

Milestones:

  • More than 350 of MCMs have been earned by IT pros from over 20 countries and 30 companies
  • In its first year, the net satisfaction of the training, rated by attendees, averaged 179 on a scale of 200
  • The program has expanded to include MCM for Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007
  • Microsoft will introduce MCM programs for Exchange Server 2010 and Office SharePoint Server 2010 in early 2010

New Offers:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 offers 11 days of training that culminate in two written exams and one 8-hour long lab-based test. Content focuses on core directory services that builds off of pre-reading and prerequisites that maximize classroom time.  For those who’ve earned their MCM on a previous product version, options exist for ensuring they are up-to-speed on new versions.  Register before January 1, 2010 for a $1,000 discount.  
  • Microsoft is offering a 20% discount for all other MCM programs until January 1, 2010.  More information is available here.

The Microsoft Certified Masters program is definitely at a different level than the MCTS and MCITP. It is also very expensive. However, for those that need the advanced skill level that this program offers, it is well worth it. From Microsoft’s web site, the latest numbers worldwide for MCMs are:

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 79
Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 146
Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 21
Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 15
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 2
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 39
Windows Server 2008 Directory 48

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-overview.aspx#tab5

World Wide Imagine Cup 2009 Finals

Finalists from countries around the world will soon compete in the World Wide Imagine Cup 2009 finals, July 3-7 in Cairo, Egypt. As the world’s premier student technology competition, some of the world’s best and the brightest leverage technology to develop innovative solutions for real world problems including famine, healthcare and education.

Of the 149 teams advancing to the worldwide competition, 10 percent attend schools that are members of the Microsoft IT Academy program that enables academic institutions including colleges, universities and primary and secondary schools to purchase the latest software tools and Microsoft curriculum at affordable prices.

This year, Microsoft Learning extended several of IT Academy program tools to registered participants in the Imagine Cup 2009 competition.  Students responded with enthusiasm, with more than 3,500 tapping Learning Plans to help them meet their goals, more than 9,500 students logged almost 2,000 hours using e-reference libraries from Microsoft Press to dive deeply into the technologies in play. 

Winners of the U.S. Imagine Cup Finals (from left to right) Mark, Jimmy and, Luke Dickinson.
Winners of the U.S. Imagine Cup Finals (from left to right) Mark, Jimmy and, Luke Dickinson. Team Name: MultiPointWeb

For an article about students and faculty participants from this year’s competition, check out “Microsoft Gives Students the Tools to Build Skills and Make a Difference.” It provides insight into how the Microsoft ITA program is helping students develop skills that not only enable them to compete at a global level, but also compete in the real world of work.

You can follow the Imagine Cup on:

  • Imagine Cup blog
  • Imagine Cup on Twitter
  • Imagine Cup on Facebook
  • Imagine Cup Virtual Press Room

     

    The Imagine Cup is in its seventh year. You can find a listing of all the Imagine Cup 2009 Finalists here.

    You can also check out this video for a taste of the excitement that is the Imagine Cup.

  • My MCAS Test Experience

    Recently I took my first Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS) test. I found the experience to be quite different from taking an IT Professional test, so I thought that I would share my experience. Throughout my description, I am going to compare my experience with Prometric testing, since that is what I am used to. However, if you are just interested in MCAS certification, you can ignore the comparisons and still find out how to take a MCAS exam.

    First of all, what is a Microsoft Certified Application Specialist certification test. An MCAS test will test you on Microsoft Office applications or on Windows Vista. It is certification for the office worker. There are tests available for:

    • Word 2007
    • Excel 2007
    • PowerPoint 2007
    • Outlook 2007
    • Access 2007
    • Windows Vista

    MCAS tests are administered by Certiport, not Prometric. Registration for the test is completely online. In order to take a test, you must first purchase a voucher to take the test. That voucher is good for any of the tests for Vista or Office 2007. You must purchase a different voucher if you want to test on previous versions of Office. At this time, each test voucher costs $89.

    Note that at this point, all we have done is purchase a voucher. We still have not scheduled the test. To schedule the test, you must call the testing center directly. To find a testing center, go to http://www.certiport.com/Portal/Pages/LocatorView.aspx. Make sure that when you call the testing center that you specify that you are taking a Certiport test. This is because some Certiport testing centers are also Prometric and/or VUE testing centers which expect you to call the vendor to schedule a test. The testing center may charge you a proctoring fee to take the test. This fee will vary from center to center and is in addition to the test voucher fee.

    image

    My test consisted of 26 mini tests where I was given one or two tasks to do. The time allowed for the entire exam was 59 minutes. To get a feel for how a test looks, go to this web page: Test Demo The sample tests use Adobe Shockwave. The actual test uses a live version of the application that you are being tested on. (note: the only exception is the Vista test). Even though the sample tests are for Word 2002 and Excel 2002, the test format is still the same. The top portion of the window is a live version of the application, while the bottom portion shows the tasks that you must accomplish.

    During the actual test you can skip a section. That section will be presented to you again after you have gone through all of the sections once, if you have remaining time. Unlike the Microsoft IT Professional tests available through Prometric, you cannot go back to a previous question once you click on the next button. My tip is if you get stuck on a section, skip it and go on to the next section. That way if you have time, you can try it again. Tasks are marked as correct if you have achieved the end result of the objective. For example, if the objective was to bold some text, it would not matter how you went about bolding the text. One test candidate may have made the text bold by right-clicking on the selected text. Another test candidate may have selected the text and pressed CTRL-B. Both test candidates would have the objective marked correct. The test would just check that after you hit the next button, the requested text was bold.

    For help in studying for the MCAS certification, I highly recommend The Microsoft Certified Application Specialist Study Guide. This book is a study guide for every MCAS test except for Windows Vista. I found this book valuable because it highlighted the features of the program that are tested, but I do not use on a regular basis. If you need a book that will teach you the programs beyond just the test objectives, I highly recommend the Microsoft Press Step by Step series. For MCAS Applications, the books are:

    You can become a Microsoft Office 2007 Master by passing the tests for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

    For more information on the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist, please check the following links:

    Microsoft Business Certification (Microsoft.com)

    Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (Certiport.com)

    Microsoft Office 2007 Master (Certiport.com)

    Microsoft Releases Windows Vista Service Pack 2 to Windows Update

    As I booted up my Windows Vista laptop today, my Automated Updates icon was trying to get my attention. There was one update waiting for me. It turned out to be Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Vista. A version of Service Pack 2 for Windows Server 2008 was also released.

    As I searched the web for articles on the service pack, one thing became clear. Microsoft had been struggling with a release date for this service pack. Noted Microsoft watcher, Mary-Jo Foley, wondered  in her blog why, as of  May 21, had Microsoft not publicly released the service pack. Microsoft had released SP2 to manufacturing on April 28. In the Microsoft Update Product Team blog, it was announced on May 20 that the update would be available “in the coming weeks.” The service pack was also released to TechNet and MSDN subscribers.

    System Administrators need to be aware of this update. If they do not want to deploy SP2 at this time, they will need to use the Windows Service Pack Blocker Tool Kit to prevent their users from installing it.

    For more information about Service Pack 2 for Vista and Windows Server 2008, Check out this page on TechNet:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/dd262148.aspx

    For a summary of notable changes in service pack 2, see this link:

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd335036.aspx