Training and Certification

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Archive for March, 2010

Free Silverlight Training on Channel 9

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 30, 2010

Gerry O’Brian shared the information on Free Silverlight Training for Developers at Born to Learn Blog. See below for detail:

Channel 9 is offering a free Silverlight 4 Training Kit. The training kit includes a whitepaper explaining all of the new Silverlight 4 features, several hands-on-labs that explain the features, and a 8 unit course for building business applications with Silverlight 4.

The business applications course includes 8 modules with extensive hands on labs as well as accompanying videos that walk you through key aspects of building a business application with Silverlight. Key aspects in this course are working with sandboxed out of browser features, elevated trust out of browser features, the new RichTextBox control, implicit styling, webcam, drag and drop, multi touch, validation, authentication, MEF, WCF RIA Services, right mouse click, and much more.

Start developing on Silverlight today! 


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By popular demand: More time to evaluate Windows 7

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 30, 2010

Just found out from Ken Rosen’s Blogpost (Born to Learn) that Microsoft extended the availability of their Windows Enterprise Trial program. We can now download a 90-day evaluation version of Windows 7 any time between now and December 31, 2010!

He also mentioned, “this is a full working version of Windows 7—it just expires after 90 days, so you’ll need to do a clean install at that point. If you’re studying and practicing for an MCTS or MCITP exam, however, 90 days should be plenty of time.”

For more information, see the Springboard Series blog.

Enjoy the freebees!

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New book: Windows 7: The Best of the Official Magazine

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 30, 2010

9780735626645fWe’re happy to announce that Windows 7: The Best of the Official Magazine is now available. Today we offer an excerpt from the book. First, here’s a quick a description of it:

Explore the practical, fun, and creative things you can do right now with Windows 7—with expert guidance from the editors of the only officially endorsed magazine for Windows 7. This guide comes packed with smart-and-simple tips-and vibrantly illustrated how-to’s-on everything from navigating the Windows interface to taking advantage of new operating system features to fun projects for home, school, and work. Topics include boosting your productivity with Windows Live and Windows Internet Explorer 8, thwarting hackers, organizing your photo and music collections, making movies, streaming to an Xbox 360, controlling your TV from your PC, using Windows Calendar to get organized, setting up a home network in 10 minutes, and more.

The excerpt comes from Chapter 2, “Your First Hour”:


Introducing Windows 7

Discover the new features of Windows 7, and personalize the settings to your liking

The first time you load up Windows 7, you might not think that much has changed since its predecessor, Windows Vista, but you’d be mistaken. Although on the surface Windows 7 hasn’t been radically altered, there are many great new features.

As the previous pages have shown, the Taskbar now becomes the place to launch your programs. Once you’ve got a few programs open, just hover the mouse over the icons and a thumbnail preview window will pop up to tell you what’s open. An additional user-friendly
feature is Jump Lists. When you right-click a program icon, a menu will appear, giving you the option to open old files you’ve been working on or websites you’ve recently visited, along with the ability to quickly change settings.

Many other things in Windows 7 have been made easier to use, but before you start delving into all the new features, your first port of call needs to be
Windows Update. It’s always worth checking if there are any new downloads available to keep your PC running at its best. Updates are typically set to install
automatically via the internet.

If you’ve bought a new PC with Windows 7, and you still have your old PC running an older version of Windows, you’ll probably want to import your old files and settings. The Windows Easy Transfer route makes this easy – find out more on page 200. Over the course of
installing and transferring, you’ll notice many systems options are now behind a security prompt, flagged with a shield icon. Click through the prompt (or enter your password) to continue. It can be a chore during the early stages but they become less frequent, and your PC is safer as a result. You can change how many notifications you receive by clicking the small flag icon on the Taskbar, selecting Open Action Center ➜ Change User Account Control
and adjusting the slider to suit, although it’s recommended you leave it at its default setting for security reasons.

For advice, click Start ➜ Help and Support in Windows. You can also find further guidance at the website for Windows: The Official Magazine –

Let me stop there. This kind of excerpting doesn’t do this book justice. Instead, I’ll take a few snapshots of these same pages so that you can take a much better look at the book.

Continue reading at the Microsoft Press blog.

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MCDST’s – 70-682 is now available!

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 30, 2010

Upgrade your MCDST certification to an MCTS or MCITP certification on Windows 7 with one exam! (this one)

Microsoft Learning is proud to announce the availability of exam 70-682, Pro: Upgrading to Windows 7 MCITP Enterprise Desktop Support Technician.

Get more information on the exam and how to prepare here.

Exam 70-682 is currently available at Prometric test centers.  Localized versions (Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, German and Japanese) will be ready in early April, with a French version in the works for May 2010.

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CompTIA certification helps businesses meet CRC rules – 24/03/2010 – Computer Weekly

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 25, 2010

CompTIA certification helps businesses meet CRC rules:

CompTIA is offering an IT-energy/green tech training and certification program aimed at helping enterprises meet mandates established by the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme, which comes into play next month. The program will assess skills ranging from knowledge on disposal of hazardous materials to virtualization technologies. The training also aims to educate tech professionals on IT strategy, and standards and assessment tools.

via CompTIA certification helps businesses meet CRC rules – 24/03/2010 – Computer Weekly.

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Received 4 medals at MSDN Forums!

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 23, 2010

Yesterday, I achieved four medals status at Microsoft MSDN Forum (Community).  Some of you may be wondering what these medals are. Here is the explanation:

What are these little medals under my Display Name?
The Forums now include a basic recognition system to gauge your participation in the community. Based on your actions, you are awarded points. Based on the number of points you earn, you get the medals.

How are my points calculated?
You earn points based on the action you perform on the site. The following table lists the points that you earn for various actions.

You reply to a question started by another user –  2 Points
Your reply is marked as the answer – 10 Points
Your reply is voted as being helpful – 5 x (# of votes) Points

How many points do I need to get a particular star rating?
The following table lists the points for each star rating.

1 ~ 750 Points   –  1 Medals
751 ~ 2000  Points –  2 Medals
2001 ~ 7500  Points –  3 Medals
7501 ~ 15000  Points –  4 Medals
15001 +   Points –  5 Medals

I am shooting for the fifth/final medal. It will take a while since another 7500 points needed to achieve that status.  Hopefully by end of this year. Wish me luck. 🙂

Posted in Microsoft | Tagged: , | 4 Comments »

Seven Steps to Certification Success by Michael D. Alligood

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 22, 2010

Before writing this article, I posed a question to many certified individuals. The question I asked was, “What was the hardest part of your certification journey?” You would expect to hear that the hardest part was the exam(s) themselves. However, many people responded that the most difficult challenge was that they simply did not know how or where to start. They would describe how they heard of a certification, bought a book and started studying. There was no research performed, no plan established, and no evaluation afterword to debrief and learn from the experience.

When I created the seven steps to success outlined below, I did so to help guide myself through my day-to-day activities and work; certifications played no part in the creation of any of these steps. However, over time I noticed that these steps could be applied to the achievement of I.T. certifications. Although these steps can be used with any day-to-day activities, it is my goal to provide you with a structured agenda to assist you in the achievement of your certification goals. 

It should be strenuously noted that nothing compares to actual hands-on experience. Studying using books, computer-based training videos, and even instructor-led training should only be a supplement to working with the product and technology you are hoping to be certified on. Certifications are designed validations only. Being certified in a specific technology only means that you have successfully negotiated the required exam(s) as prescribed by the vendor. In short, your certifications should compliment your proficiency, not substitute for it.

One question you should ask yourself before traveling down the long and costly road of I.T. certification is, “Why do I want this certification?” What is the end result you desire? Many individuals new to the I.T. field hear about certifications and seek to acquire them, with little thought about why they are doing so. Without asking this basic question, you run the risk of wasting valuable time and resources on a certification that may not serve your needs. This pattern can prove detrimental to both yourself and the certification program. Certifications do not carry any promise. By achieving them; you are not guaranteed a job, a promotion, or even respect. Your proficiency (combined knowledge and experience) is your money card. Without that, certifications are only worth the paper they are printed on.

The second step of this process will help you determine if you qualify for your desired certification. Almost every certification vendor lists an audience profile on their website. This profile provides information to candidates outlining recommended experience in order to see if they are qualified. If you do not have the recommended experience with this technology, it is possible to still pursue it, but it is not recommended. Remember, experience leads to certifications – not the other way around. With that said, let’s begin reviewing the seven steps to certification success.

1.)Start. How often have you said, “I’ll get around to it”? How many times have you procrastinated in doing the things you actually want to get accomplished? Starting is a huge step and one that many people fail to do. Ironically, your chances of failure are the highest during the Start and Finish steps of this agenda. The failure rate is high during these stages because we try to Start and Finish everything in one enormous motion. We look at a single ominous task and come up with every excuse in the book to not get started. These are normally excuses made out of laziness or fear of failing, because starting something means you’re committing yourself to a project.

2.)Research. I spend a great deal of time in the public and moderated Microsoft newsgroups. Many individuals new to the certification world post the same questions day after day. I do not mind answering these questions, but the questions baffle me because it is so much easier to review a vendor’s website than to post questions on a newsgroup. I highly recommend that you visit the vendor’s website for the certification(s) you are interested in achieving. By doing so, you can obtain key information such as recommended experience, required exams pertaining to your desired certification, and other vital information to help you make an informed decision. Do the research beforehand, and then ask questions to confirm your findings or clear up confusion.

A popular question that floods the newsgroups is, “What is the best study material?” This is a question that is open to interpretation and opinion. What works for one may or may not work for another. Some individuals can read through technical books without much effort, while others cannot get past one chapter without rereading it three times. If you are interested in technical manuals or training kits, visit or your local bookstore and examine the differences between the publishers of training kits. Keep in mind that books contain errors. It would be wise to visit the publisher’s website to check for an erratum. An erratum is a list of errors and their corrections inserted in a book or other publication, usually on a separate page or slip of paper.

Classroom instruction is always an option. However, there is the issue of time, cost, and what institution to consider. If Instructor-Led Training (ILT) sounds appealing to you, open the yellow pages and see what centers are in your area. Visit these facilities and talk to some of the students, instructors, and Account Executives. Make sure that these centers are accredited or certified learning partners with the vendor of the certification you are interested in achieving.

There are also “virtual classrooms” known as CBT (Computer Based Training) videos. With CBTs you can learn at your own pace and on your own timetable, revisit lessons that you did not fully understand, and skip lessons that you already understand. Although you can enjoy the comfort of viewing the courses ‘on demand,’ they can be the same cost as classroom training without the benefit of a live instructor to answer questions. Visit the websites of a number of CBT providers and check out their demonstrations. If they do not offer demonstrations you need to decide whether you want to invest your money in a product that you cannot sample first.

Research can be performed without spending a dime. Asking questions and performing research will save you time, money and frustration. Remember, at this point, you are simply researching – nothing more. 

3.)Plan. I am certain you have heard the saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Achieving your certification(s) will not happen overnight. There is a lot of information to consume and process. Take the time to properly plan your studies. Unless your employer has set a specific date to achieve your certification(s), there is no rush. So grab a calendar, open up Outlook, or get out your day planner and map out a reasonable timeframe to complete your studies. You might want to consider scheduling your exam(s) at this time. You increase your odds of passing by 50% by simply scheduling your exam(s). One thing to keep in mind concerning your plan is that it should be fluid, meaning it can change and adapt. Allow for this and adjust accordingly, because there will be times when life will interfere. Situations that are not conducive to studying will come up. This is where proper planning comes in. When your scheduled plan hits life’s potholes, do not toss out your entire plan; simply adjust to the changes and keep moving forward.


4.)Perform. This step involves executing your plan. You have started a project, researched your goals and options, created a plan, and now know what needs to be done. Just do it.

5.)Finish. This is another step individuals forget to perform. They may start, research, plan and perform but never finish. One reason people never finish is because they are scared to. If you finish, that means you must “know it all, and be ready to take the exam.” That is when self-doubt creeps in. You begin to question if you can pass the exam(s) because you don’t “know it all.” Therefore you adjust your plan to reflect your fear of sitting for the exam(s). When this happens you begin thinking, “This sucks. I will never learn all of this. I might as well just quit.” By not planning to finish, how can you finish your plan?

6.)Test. Now comes the big day – the event you have been working toward. What last minute advice do you need? Simply put: relax. Remember the Karate Kid, “Win, lose no matter. You make good fight.” Here are the facts – you will either pass or fail. If you pass, congratulations – pop the bubbly. But what if you fail? When planning, you need to consider that you may not pass the first time — and this is okay. You evaluate your score, find your weaknesses and start again. Failing an exam is only truly a failure if you do not learn from it.

7.)Evaluate. This is another step individuals seem to skip. You have started, researched, planned, performed, finished, and tested; now you have to evaluate. Sit back and reflect on what went right and what went wrong. Learn from your experience and use that experience to assist you in your next goal. Evaluating forces you to debrief. Performing this crucial step allows you to review, tweak, change, or adjust your future plan for your next goal.

Well there you go – the Seven Steps to Certification Success. Obviously I cannot promise you that by utilizing this process you will pass every exam every time. However, it will help structure your studies and relieve stress by having an organized process to follow. Each one of the steps relies on the one before it and the one after it.  How you perform each step is up to you; however, I recommend that you use all seven steps in order. I designed the steps themselves as mini-goals for you to achieve – providing satisfaction throughout the entire process.  By completing each step you move closer to your desired certification with the confidence of knowing what has been accomplished and what needs to be done. By using the Seven Steps of Certification Success, you know instantly where you stand on the path to completing your certification.

I truly hope you have found this article inspirational and informative. My goal has been to help you assess and achieve your certification goals by providing you with a structured process to assist you along the way. The road to certification will not occur overnight, and it will not come easy. Remember that certifications are merely by-products of your proficiency. Respect the integrity of the certifications by not cheating the program or yourself by taking shortcuts just to be certified for the sake of being certified. By doing so you devalue the certifications, your trade, and yourself. Good luck and passing scores…


Michael D. Alligood,
MCITP: Enterprise Support, MCTS: Vista Configuration,
MCSA, MCDST, MCP, A+, Network+

Posted in Certifications, Microsoft | 2 Comments »

Canceling Lifetime Certifications (CompTIA) – Certification Magazine

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 22, 2010

By Daniel Margolis

Earlier this year, CompTIA announced it would start requiring certificants — even those already holding CompTIA certifications that had been billed as lifelong — to renew their certifications.

Two weeks later, the association reversed this decision somewhat, saying that previous CompTIA certification holders and those studying for its exams this year would be certified for life. Effective Jan. 1, 2011, all new CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certifications will be valid for three years from the date the candidate becomes certified.

via Canceling Lifetime Certifications – Certification Magazine.

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Windows 7 – Deployment Learning Portal Pilot

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 22, 2010

I heard about this cool pilot project that I would like to share today. It addresses the following challenge: ‘With 39% of IT Pros intending to deploy Windows 7 in the next year how can Microsoft remove the skills barrier to adoption?’

The UK AMM team have developed the Deployment Learning Portal designed to help IT pros identify the strengths and gaps in their knowledge around Windows 7 deployment and provide targeted learning to help them gain confidence in their skills and accelerate deployment. 

What is the Deployment Learning Portal?

The Windows 7 Deployment Learning Portal has been designed to assess the level of skills and readiness to deploy and provide personal learning recommendations to IT pros in customers and partners. Helping IT Pros to focus on the training in the areas they need.

All training modules were created by the team that wrote the Windows 7 certification exam, including Preparing your deployment, Configuring a Windows 7 image, Migration, Compatibility testing, making this assessment really robust and a true test of skill.  At the end of each module the user will receive learning recommendations based on their score, these recommendations direct IT pros to the most relevant resources across Springboard, MS learning and TechNet, and provides clear next steps to certification.

This is for now a 6 month pilot that runs in the UK, we’ll let you know when we hear more!


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Free Windows Azure event for developers

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 22, 2010

Want to learn (more) about our cloud computing platform? Windows Azure FireStarter is a full day event for developers, packed with information to help you build and deploy your first application on to the Microsoft Cloud Platform – Windows Azure.

This full day event has rock star speaker–like Steve Marx from the product team—revealing what makes Azure so compelling to developers.

This is a free event on April 6th from 8:30am to 5:00pm (Pacific Daylight time), and you can either come attend in person on Microsoft’s Redmond campus or view it online. The entire event will be broadcasted live!

Learn more and register here


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