What's the deal with certification anyway? I've been contemplating this for years but am so torn about whether or not I should take the time and spend the money. My company has even offered to pay for certification tests (like they give me the time) and I still don't really care too much.
I have worked for and with many people that brag about their certifications (like MCSD, MCSE, etc.) and, frankly, know little or nothing at all. I've also worked with a number of truly bright and talented people that aren't certified. Is it just that we spend too much time actually developing code to study? Heck, look at my posting record and profile. I know what I'm doing yet newbies with questions like, "What does method X do?" are getting certified.
Studying is also necessary. After taking a few of these practice exams for fun and curiosity, I realize that it's full of nit-picky stuff that no one cares about. For example, "what do you call the process of putting X, Y, and Z togther?" I don't care what it's called, I only care about the problem I'm trying to solve by doing so and with the solution that results from said operation. Isn't that what's important?
The only real reason I can see to get certified is that too many managers care about such things. They think that because someone is certified they know what they're doing. Yeah, right. I can give them hundreds of counter examples from both perspectives. Test applicants by having them solve a problem instead of answering text book questions and the truth will come out.
There are similar comments made about getting a college degree, but I think they still hold a similar basis for their reasoning. Determination, yet with a certificate or a degree you add measurable determination. While there are people out there that do not have a formal education; there are many which are extremely bright in their area. Certifications provide a quicker mechanism than a typical degree and this is one reason I feel they have grown exponentially in recent years.
Given that, management must use certain determinates to select a new hire, these are typically an easy mechanism to use. You may not believe in them, however if this is what it may take to get a position your looking for, it maybe a good path to travel.
Heath Stewart wrote: Man, you leave Proplanner and get smart all of a sudden! I can't image what that might infer!
You were implying that I got smart after I left Proplanner! Anyway, I just got my software installed today, that was fun. Visual Studio, MSDN (2001 version ), Rational Rose, Crystal Reports, etc.... I didn't mention they had to reimage my machine on Tuesday, that was fun, I didn't get on it until 4:30 in the afternoon! Ah well, tomorrow is jean day.
That was a joke. You know, "what was a I supposed to notice?", or "what was there to notice?" I should've included a smiley but you know how I like to keep a straight face. Perhaps this would'be been more appropriate: Hehe.
Glad you got your computer up and running. Need me to come down and show you how it works?
Seriously, though, I'm guessing you have Visual Studio 6.0? That would explain the MSDN 2001 since the full-release version of Help 2 didn't supposedly come out until fall 2002 with VS.NET 2002. And you won't find newer versions of MSDN because they're all Help 2 now and VS6 has no idea what that is or how to use it. Bummer.
Heath Stewart wrote: Need me to come down and show you how it works?
Yeah, sure, I haven't quite yet figured out how to turn the thing on yet....
Heath Stewart wrote: Seriously, though, I'm guessing you have Visual Studio 6.0?
You got it, but we are using a product called Visual Enabler for source control (instead of SourceSafe), it's actually pretty good (so far). Maybe it's because we have a mix of C/C++, Java and VB stuff out there, I'm not sure if SourceSafe can handle Java or not (I guess it can at least do J++).
Heath Stewart wrote: And you won't find newer versions of MSDN because they're all Help 2 now and VS6 has no idea what that is or how to use it. Bummer.
Double bummer, I guess that's why it is always handy to bookmark Google and MSDN for quick searches.
Nick Parker wrote: Maybe it's because we have a mix of C/C++, Java and VB stuff out there, I'm not sure if SourceSafe can handle Java or not (I guess it can at least do J++).
SourceSafe - like CVS - is not tied to any one language, project type, or even development projects. Even the integration with Visual Studio isn't specific to Microsoft development projects. Any MSSCCI client - like FrontPage, Access, even SQL Server - can use it to store whatever it wants, and there is even a couple good MSSCCI providers for CVS. I've seen one or two other non-Microsoft products that are MSSCCI clients, but I can't remember what they were.
Nick Parker wrote: I guess that's why it is always handy to bookmark Google and MSDN for quick searches.
I still can't effectively use MSDN Library at work. I've reinstalled MSXML3 and 4 (both with latest service packs) every way I can think of and that is both documented and undocumented. No joy. I can't see the TOC and now I can't update my Platform SDK installation because it uses MSXML, too! I can't even consistently replicate the problem.
I guess I'll keep trying what I can. We have some licenses for Office 2K3 for us developers and I'm hoping that when I install that it'll fix the problems with MSXML (since it uses it, figured it'd install / fix it perhaps, too). Knowing my luck, however, the cool XML features of Office won't work because of the problems. I guess it's time for a rebuild, if I ever get the chance.
Heath Stewart wrote: I still can't effectively use MSDN Library at work. I've reinstalled MSXML3 and 4 (both with latest service packs) every way I can think of and that is both documented and undocumented. No joy. I can't see the TOC and now I can't update my Platform SDK installation because it uses MSXML, too! I can't even consistently replicate the problem.
The only other thing I could suggest is trying to run a Norton WinDoctor (part of Norton SystemWorks), this will scan the whole hard drive for various problems (you would be surprised at the number of problems it will find on a system you think is working properly) including the registry for invalid COM entries and "correct" them (I think it does more than just a regsvr32 command on the missing CLSID, more like resolving the correct path to the COM Server if unknown). It is actually very handy. If you don't have it I believe I have a copy at home and could stop by sometime next week if you'd like to give it a go (its always worth a shot).
Actually, this breaks up into a couple different clauses as well (in most cases from what I've observed). If you consider most trade schools that promote their college by telling people they can make more money and dump that dead-end job, they teach people "how to do". If you consider universities and other higher-level colleges, they teach people "how to research". This isn't absolute, of course, and people coming out of either can be just as good or bad, but in either case people must understand that they have to put their heart in soul into it - like with practically anything else - and do the actual learning outside of class, based on what they've learned or didn't learn. I noticed that many people didn't grasp this concept while attending a Uni to get that other pretty piece of paper!
For instance, I knew of this girl that was probably near or at the top of our department. She knew her books but couldn't implement any real problems without a lot of help.
So I definitely agree with Self-Taught-Programmer = "Logic", although a college education can help with other areas and with how to deal with people a little better, which people in our field are typically not known to do very well!
Judging by the number of posts you answer each day the certification would be a snap to you. Besides each exam is like $125 (Your company would paying for it anyway). I'd take it for fun if I were you.
ps. For you its of little importance because you hold a nice job already.
>> I know what I'm doing yet newbies with questions like, "What does method X do?" are getting certified.
For some reason a certification means a lot to an employer.
AK wrote: Besides each exam is like $125 (Your company would paying for it anyway). I'd take it for fun if I were you.
ps. For you its of little importance because you hold a nice job already.
They offered before, but have never given me the time. There's several nit-picky things about the certification exams that I want to be sure I read through the books which they've already bought me. Times are tough now, though, so consider what that implies for that second statement!
AK wrote: For some reason a certification means a lot to an employer.
As someone explained earlier in this thread, it's because many employers that actually do the hiring don't know 1) an object from a class, and 2) don't know you as well as you're friends. Certification - much like a college degree (which also doesn't always prove anything) - is a way to catagorize the applicants and decrease the pool of potential hires. As much as this make suck at times, I do understand.
I wouldn't waste my time on certification. I want to spend my time learning and exploring new areas, not matching a "profile".
I can roughly divide my colleges at work into two groups: People like me, who have such a strong natural interest in programming, that they spend off-work hours doing it too. They don't have certifications. People know their skills anyway. And people who take programming as a way of earning money. They are usually certified, because they can't prove their skills any other way.
I used to be a professional musician. And I take some pride in that I am self taught. Or taught as I expressed music together with fellows in various bands, I might say. This is very similar to how I develop as a programmer. I would never take a programming class or certificate. My programming fellows are some people at work, numerous programming books and the Internet.
It's a wizard's wheel, I think. In order to get more easily employed, you should have a certificate. In order to pay for the studying and the exams on the road to that certification, you'd need to have a job
I haven't obtained a certificate for myself, and it shows. In every work opportunity or interview I get, I'm usually asked if I have any of them. Answering no always drops my shares. There have been instances, however, when I have been able to convince the employer that the certificates don't make a programmer. They just make it easier for managers to categorize people :I
P.S. Congratulations for the MVP nomination, I'm sure it was an earned one
The definition of impossible is strictly dependant
on what we think is possible.
It's been a long but educational road to reach 2000 messages, 1000 up from only a couple months ago. With about 99.9% of those being solutions or help finding solutions to programming problems, it's been mostly rewarding and - in some cases - educational even for myself.
Knowing and understanding the documentation is important, and knowing what's available can sure save you time finding a solution to a problem.
Keep it up Heath, I am starting to compile a bunch of standard questions that get asked in the C#/.NET Framework forums over and over so a C# FAQ style article can be written and constantly updated as new questions need to be added (similar to Mike Dunn's C++ FAQ). Your input on this would be great, I just need more of that mystical time that is float around.
While I was writing my GeekCode below, the signature lines reminded me of one of my favorite applications: PGP[^].
PGP is a multi-algorithm public key encryption system that uses a trust mechanism similar to our own social relationships rather than the hierarchical-based systems like X509. Developed by Phil Zimmerman in the late 80's and released in '91 on BBS's in the US, it's intended purpose was to give peacekeepers a secure way of communicating - one that the government - not even our own - could crack. To this day, the US government still can't crack RSA keys above 512 bits and the Diffie-Hellman is even better. Rest assured - when holes are fixed - the governments aren't getting in.
PGP was also intended to be free and still is, in its most basic form (which is for what it was intended) at www.pgp.com[^] and www.pgpi.com[^] (International). If you caugh-up some dough, you can get other advancements to PGP like PGP disk, a virtual, PGP-encrypted disk, firewalling and corporate LAN support and more. On linux, it is recommend you use GPG, which is a GPL'd implementation of PGP. Though Phil has resigned from Network Associates (not worthy of a link) for political differences, he currently consults for the OpenPGP alliance[^], which has authored several RFC's.
New to PGP? Everything2[^] has a great node[^] on it. Basically, you have a private and public key. The public key, as the name suggests, can be and should be shared with the public. You encrypt messages intended for others using their public key. The owner of the public key (the recipient) uses their private key to decrypt it. To authenticate messages, one signs their messages by encrypting the message hash (either MD5 or SHA1 is supported) with their private key while the recipient verifies the signature with your public key, thereby verifying that the message did come from you and that it wasn't tampered with (the reason for the hash).
So, before I post my public key here on CodeProject (it's available elsewhere and on the key servers, but I figured, "what the heck?"), let me conclude with a quote from Phil Zimmerman that sums-up why general encryption control and back doors are wrong: "If you outlaw privacy, only outlaws will have privacy."
I am most of the way through crypto by Steven Levy and I am in awe of the determination and raw talents of the minds that made modern cryptgraphy available. It just is amazing what happens when Geeks make up their minds and do something.
...and proud of it! The only thing that makes me feel like less of a geek is that I wear what I want and whatever feels comfortable - not that which society says is cool, or even the geek-coveted logo shirts. Yeah, I have a few, but I don't go to every conference I can just to get them. So, please forgive me. Jeans and a T-shirt or sweatshirt will do nicely. Mmm, warm and fuzzy!