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Microsoft Certs, are the books any good?

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  • User profile image
    webmonkey

    I'd quite like to do the MCTS Web Apps certs.

    I suspect when I ask my employer I will be told they won't pay a penny towards it.

    Ideally I'd like to do the classroom led training, but it's rather pricey at £1k for 3 days.

    Seen as I actually want to learn the content rather than just pass the exam, are the books any good?

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    Short anwer: "you don't".

    It's dishonest, but braindumps are how practically everyone does them thesedays.

  • User profile image
    Lloyd_Humph

    webmonkey wrote:

    I suspect when I ask my employer I will be told they won't pay a penny towards it.


    *cough* A-s-s kissing time. Maybe even a few licks. :O *cough*

    If Blackberrys are addictive cellphones, Channel9 is the ultimate addictive website.
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  • User profile image
    dahat

    Some of the books are good and teach to the exams while not being dumps... others (especially those from Microsoft) teach everything but what is on the exam on the theory (IMO) that the book plus many years of experience will help you pass the test (which is the preferred route).

    Best thing you can do is start with a book, learn it inside and out and then go off on your own and explore, build, break and rebuild. Living and breathing a technology (aside from a dump) is your best way to pass any test.

    One little warning though… on some MSFT tests just knowing the tech isn’t enough... you also need to understand pretty well how MSFT thinks like the evil that is any design test like 70-300 which took me 3 times to pass.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    dahat wrote:
    One little warning though… on some MSFT tests just knowing the tech isn’t enough... you also need to understand pretty well how MSFT thinks like the evil that is any design test like 70-300 which took me 3 times to pass.


    Questions like what naming conventions to use on private fields, despite massive inconsistencies inside Microsoft's own codebase?

  • User profile image
    irascian

    I've never used braindumps. I've only ever used books. Not failed an exam I took yet.

    Webbo's viewpoint is ridiculously cynical. He's talking for the "cheat" crowd and yes, people can cheat but that doesn't necessarily mean everyone's doing it. Just like there are some of us who actually pay for our music, DVDs and software and don't sit on BitTorrent 24x7 stealing everything for free.

    Certification is worthwhile if only to set yourself areas to examine and then test yourself on. Most employers, especially those who need a certain number of staff to have a certain number of certification points to get their Gold Partnership, will also appreciate employees who are certified.

    The Microsoft Press "training kits" used to be identical to what you got on the Official Curriculum courses anyway (including the same mistakes Sad) so not sure if that's changed. But paying over a grand for a course when if you're a self-starter a £40 book can get you the same knowledge seems over the top. Guess it boils down to whether you prefer to have someone lead you by the hand all the way.

    If you regard the training kits as a good starting point I think they do an excellent job of making clear what areas you need to cover and what you need to know, but you need to do more than just sit and read and follow up on some of what they teach you.

    The Microsoft Press kits also supposedly give you a 15% discount on the exam fee. This consists of a voucher number inside the book that is a scratch card. This is a very sore point with me because I just tried to book the 70-536 exam only to be told the voucher number I'd just scratched clear had already been used. Prometric just tell you to call Microsoft "toll free" - not from the UK it isn't. Also they won't let you use the voucher in conjunction with the current "Second Pass" offer so effectively they're charging you 15% insurance against failing on your first take if you were stupid enough to buy the training kit based on saving money on the exam.

  • User profile image
    dahat

    W3bbo wrote:
    Questions like what naming conventions to use on private fields, despite massive inconsistencies inside Microsoft's own codebase?


    I can't get into specifics (due to the test NDA's)... however much of it is based on the Microsoft Solutions Framework (for programming related design tests at least).

    Take a look at the 70-300 requirements page and read in horror and see that they aren't talking about variable names... but processes and standards.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    dahat wrote:
    Take a look at the 70-300 requirements page and read in horror and see that they aren't talking about variable names... but processes and standards.


    Ugh, sounds more soul-draining than GCSE ICT coursework.

    I wonder how many Microsoft employees had Microsoft's own certification/qualifications before they got hired.

  • User profile image
    odujosh

    W3bbo wrote:
    
    dahat wrote:
    Take a look at the 70-300 requirements page and read in horror and see that they aren't talking about variable names... but processes and standards.


    Ugh, sounds more soul-draining than GCSE ICT coursework.

    I wonder how many Microsoft employees had Microsoft's own certification/qualifications before they got hired.


    I  disagree with W3Boo and question whether he is even a MCP. Sounds like the general noise people make when you talk certs. Which again is not helpful and makes you look less creditable. Exspecially when you have to use phrases like MCP 'sounds like' LOL.

    70-536 book is very very good. I suggest it even for people not interested in Certs. Goes over stuff any .NET dev should know. Even paper dragons like W3bbo is talking about.

    70-528 (Web Client) is not as good. They really test your depth. You really can't fake it. Work as much you can with authenication, xml the old old way, ADO.NET, and the ASP.NET 2.0 features, and I can't interate this enough (questions that got me): Mobile Web Apps, Custom, Template and user controls and  Deployment options (XCOPY, PUBLISH, Copy through VS). They are pretty good at hiding the real answer. You have to have some depth.

  • User profile image
    odujosh

    webmonkey wrote:
    I'd quite like to do the MCTS Web Apps certs.

    I suspect when I ask my employer I will be told they won't pay a penny towards it.

    Ideally I'd like to do the classroom led training, but it's rather pricey at £1k for 3 days.

    Seen as I actually want to learn the content rather than just pass the exam, are the books any good?


    Don't waste your time with the classroom training. You will be no better off after 3 days. The objectives should be your check off list.

    Now if time is a constraint and forces you to get three days off to study go for it. But for most people I don't see the course helping. Either your disciplined or your not.

  • User profile image
    webmonkey

    Thanks all.

    I think I'll see if my employer will pay for the books then, if not I'll go and buy 70-536 and see how that goes first.

    Are they likely to be updated any time soon with .net 3.5? Or is it likely to be a good few months/a year?

  • User profile image
    irascian

    webmonkey wrote:
    Are they likely to be updated any time soon with .net 3.5? Or is it likely to be a good few months/a year?


    I don't think they've even done the beta's for .net 3.0 so 3.5 is a good long way off yet.

  • User profile image
    k2t0f12d

    irascian wrote:
    Blah blah blah


    Bloody good on you, mate.  I liked webbo's comments because they are realistic, and Im fscking convinced he wasn't singling you out in a bizarre attempt to cover up how perfect you are or slight your devotion to the media oligopolists.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    k2t0f12d wrote:
    
    irascian wrote:
    Blah blah blah


    Bloody good on you, mate.  I liked webbo's comments because they are realistic, and Im fscking convinced he wasn't singling you out in a bizarre attempt to cover up how perfect you are or slight your devotion to the media oligopolists.


    Uh..... I just meant in my experience, a lot of people braindumped their way through the MC** certificates. I don't know if they're a tiny minority, a majority, or anything; but I appreciate that braindumping has devalued the MC** (and other certs). I know of employers that consider it worth less than the paper it's printed on, but still worth having (since it's better than nothing).



    odujosh wrote:
    
    W3bbo wrote:
    
    dahat wrote:
    Take a look at the 70-300 requirements page and read in horror and see that they aren't talking about variable names... but processes and standards.


    Ugh, sounds more soul-draining than GCSE ICT coursework.

    I wonder how many Microsoft employees had Microsoft's own certification/qualifications before they got hired.


    I  disagree with W3Boo and question whether he is even a MCP. Sounds like the general noise people make when you talk certs. Which again is not helpful and makes you look less creditable. Exspecially when you have to use phrases like MCP 'sounds like' LOL.


    I never said I was an MCP, and I never said anything about "MCP sounds like LOL"

  • User profile image
    Lee_Dale

    The 1.1 ones were pretty bad from what I heard which gave the MS press books a bad name, I used Mike Gunderloys's books to pass all the 1.1 ones.

    I've read a couple of 2.0 ones now and they seem to be alot better and cover alot of the objectives although they do have quite a few mistakes, just gotta pass the upgrade exam from MCAD to MCPD now.

  • User profile image
    j0217995

    I would like to question how many people have actually braindumped there way to there MC* cert. I have been taking the tests for a long time and have seen vast improvment in both the quality of the question and the subject mattered asked in the question.

  • User profile image
    k2t0f12d

    W3bbo wrote:
    Uh..... I just meant in my experience, <snip>


    Yes, I also didn't see anything advocating braindumping, nor demeaning those who tested honestly.  And nothing whatsoever about bittorrent, which is only as relevent as the wild imagination of an off-put irascian.

  • User profile image
    irascian

    k2t0f12d wrote:
    
    W3bbo wrote:
    Uh..... I just meant in my experience, <snip>


    Yes, I also didn't see anything advocating braindumping, nor demeaning those who tested honestly.  And nothing whatsoever about bittorrent, which is only as relevent as the wild imagination of an off-put irascian.


    My imagination appears to be nowhere near as wild as yours (and although I can be rude and obnoxious when I want to be it looks like I have a lot I can learn from you Tongue Out)

    Webbo made a post that dissed certification in response to someone asking "books any good?" I responded. All you've contributed to the "conversation" is to try and pick a fight with me  with NOTHING concrete to back it up - to the extent that even Webbo had to jump in and correct you.

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