October 2010

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A while ago I had been thinking to do something about the amount of comments on my blog.  When I divide the number of comments by the number of visitors, I’m getting a really small percentage.  So small that the first two digits following the decimal separator are zeroes!

Maybe that’s because I’m not frequently asking people to actually comment on what I write.  Everyone is free to comment, but I’m not asking for it explicitly.  Most people will only post a comment when they don’t agree with what I wrote, or when they have an issue that might (or might not) be related to the post’s subject.  And some people will post a comment when they’re really satisfied with what I wrote, for instance because it saved them some/a lot of time.  But only a minority of visitors are actually doing that.

And that’s okay, I’m not expecting everyone to post a comment every time they read something here.  On the other hand, that means that I don’t know anything about you besides what the web statistics tell me.  All I have are some numbers indicating things like “most visitors are coming from the US”, or “post A was the most read post in the last X months”.  But it doesn’t really say anything about you: what’s your name, what are your daily activities, who do you work for, and so on.

But, Who Are You?

Then I came across a blog post by Adam Machanic, where he’s doing exactly what I’d been thinking.  His post is titled Who Are You?.

Following his example, I’m asking you now to post a comment here.  Tell me (and the world) something about yourself, anything.

In case you want to know something about me, I’m sure there’s plenty to be found on this very site, for instance in my About page.

If there’s something about me that you couldn’t find and want to know, post a question here and I’ll answer.

And How Do You Stay Fit?

Cube Reaction Pro Now that I’m asking for some interactivity from you, let’s add one more question.  Given our profession, we’re probably not getting enough physical activity during our regular daytime tasks.  So, what are you doing to stay in shape?

I tried running for a while but found that I couldn’t get myself into those running shoes frequently enough.  Then my eldest daughter started to take swimming classes.  And I decided to go swimming as well while she’s being kept busy by the swimming instructor.  So every Wednesday evening I swim for about half an hour.  In that time I can do 700-800 meters.

And recently I’ve added an additional sport to the list: mountain biking.  I try to get on the bike once a week, either Saturday or Sunday.  Distances so far reach between 25 and 55 kilometers.  Terrain so far includes small paths through forests (known as single track), mud, roots and trunks, cobblestone, sand, paths through agricultural fields and also regular road.  The region where I’m doing this is not flat either, so physically this requires quite a bit more than swimming.  But I really like it, it gives me a sense of freedom and I get to see some nice landscapes, and trees from real close-by.  Currently I’m using a second-hand bike which I have bought for a good price from my brother-in-law but by next year’s Summer or so I’m planning to buy a new one.  So the MTB on the picture is not my bike yet, but it’s one of the possibilities on my list for next year.  I’ve got official dealers for Cube, Trek and Specialized close-by so it’ll be a difficult choice :-)   If you happen to know one of these brands and you’re happy with it, do post a comment to share your experience!

With these two sports on my list of sports activities, I’m happy and I can feel the difference as opposed to no extra activity at all.

How about you, what do you do to keep up the shape?

Looking forward to those replies!

Valentino.

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Not that long ago I posted an item showing off my third Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certificate on SQL Server 2008.  With the MTCS certificates all in my pocket, the time had come to start on the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification track.

Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), Database Developer 2008Yes, I’m happy to announce that I have passed the 70-451 exam.  For those who are not familiar with the numbers, it’s the exam to get the MCITP Database Developer 2008 certificate.

Obviously I can’t say anything about the content of the exam, but what I can do is explain the questioning style with a fictitious example.

Fictitious MCTS Question

If you’ve done one of the MCTS exams, you know that there’s quite some focus on syntax stuff.  Here’s an example.

Question Example

Select the answer that completes the following sentence:

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 is a …

A. floppy drive system

B. Beta Ace Service

C. Database Server

D. Operating System

(Correct answer is C.)

Obviously this is fairly simple.  Now, imagine that the question mentions an incomplete query and you need to select the right answer to complete it.  And there are two (or more) similar answers that seem plausible to you.  Until you start thinking, sometimes thinking hard.  And then it hits you: three out of the four answers contain something to invalidate the query because of a syntax issue.

That’s the MCTS style.  I don’t really like it to be honest.  In real-life, when I’m not sure of the syntax, first of all the Management Studio will tell me .  If that’s not enough, I do a quick search in the Books Online and I’m good to go.  Obviously you won’t be able to answer these questions if you’re not familiar with the statements.  But then again, if you read about the syntax an hour before the exam, you’ll probably still remember it, and you will be able to answer the question.  What does that prove then?  I’ll leave the conclusion to you.  To be fair I need to mention that not all questions are like this.

Fictitious MCITP Question

The questioning style for the MCITP exam is a bit different.  There’s less focus on syntax details, or just one single detail, and more on the broader picture.  Again I’ll demonstrate with an example.

Question ExampleYearling T-bone steak

You’re hungry and you need to do something about it by method of eating.

What answer will solve your problem, taking into account that:

  • you need to be able to do sports in an hour time
  • you don’t have a microwave oven
  • you’re allergic to certain types of fruit

A. a T-Bone steak (500 grams) with a creamy pepper sauce accompanied by French Fries

B. cold pasta that you really don’t want to eat unheated

C. hot pasta with meat and zucchini

D. cold pasta with onion, apple and tomato

(Correct answer is C.)

Do you notice the difference?  You need a much broader knowledge to be able to solve these types of question.  For our example, you need to know that a microwave oven can be used to heat up food and you need to know that zucchini is not fruit.  Furthermore you need to be aware that answer A would be in conflict with the ability to do sports an hour after eating.

I prefer these types of question over the MCTS style.  I believe these require more knowledge of and on-the-job experience with the product.  And after all, proving that you have some knowledge about it is the whole point of the exams, right?

For another great story related to the 70-433 and 70-451 exams – that’s the MCTS and MCITP for the Database Developer 2008 credential – check out Brent Ozar’s blog post: MCM Prep Week: Microsoft Exams 70-433 and 70-451.  He wrote it while preparing for the MCM certification track.

That’s it for now, have fun!

Valentino.

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SQL Server Day 2010

SQL Server Day 2010

For the third successive year the Belgian SQL Server User Group (SQLUG.BE vzw) and Microsoft are teaming up to organize the yearly Belgian SQL Server Day.

After the successful event of last year, SQL Server Day 2010 will again be the biggest event focused exclusively on Microsoft SQL Server in Belgium and Luxembourg.  Join us for sessions on SQL Azure, SQL Server 2008 R2, the Microsoft Business Intelligence platform and to connect with your peers.

This time the event will happen at San Marco Village in Schelle (Antwerp) and the date of the event is Thursday, December 2nd, 2010.  Book those calendars now!

Why would you want to be there?  Well, because there are going to be great speakers!  We’ve got some Belgian speakers and three (that’s right, 3) speakers from abroad!  Have you ever heard of Donald Farmer?  If you have, you’ll know that you want to be there.  If you have already seen him, you definitely know that you’ll want to be there.  And if you don’t know him: be there and you’ll see what I mean!

And he’s just one of a superb list.  The other speakers are Thomas Kejser, Chris Webb, Nico Jacobs, Wesley Backelant, Dirk Gubbels, Karel Coenye, Nico Verbaenen and Werner Geuens.

Furthermore, the full-day event will cost you zero euro.  So, what more do you want?  Free food??  Well, even that won’t be a problem!

One more thing: register now!

And as usual, have fun!

Valentino.

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