My Rambling Random Thoughts

Just a bunch of words written down in spare moments








mcse shenanigans - 7.27.2004

I'm so angry right now about stupid MCSE certifications...

I've been working toward getting and MCSE 2003 certification for the last couple of months and I'm so damn tired.  I'm learning how to do things 'the microsoft way' just so that I can get a certification and improve my chances of landing a good job.  It's been going OK until yesterdays experience at Unitek Information Systems in Fremont, CA.  I had chosen the Unitek site as my testing center because they gave Pearson VUE tests, an VUE has a deal right now that if you take a certification test and fail it, they will let you retest for free. 

Here the deal.  I was taking the 70-291, "Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure Implementation, Management, and Maintainance" test for the second time.  I had failed the test with a 693/700 a week prior and I'd spend the week preparing and practacing and I felt pretty confident.  I don't understan how they grade these tests and everyone who asks is told that it is a Microsoft secret.  Sheesh.  But I digress.

I showed up at this Pearson VUE testing center and the staff was pretty confused.  Aparently the are a 'career training' center and are not used to people just studying at home and taking the tests instead of giving them thousands of dollars for training.  After they finally figure it out they take me to testing room with about twelve stations and nobody else taking tests besides me and they sit me in front of a computer.  Except that it doesn't work.  After trying all the workstations the test 'proctor' gets one of the tech support guys to jump start one of the computers and I am left in the room by myself to take the test.

As I click through the initial screen with the NDA and test rules I notice that one of the screens mentions something about beta questions.  I didn't give it much thought at the time but I did notice that it said that ungraded questions would be inserted randomly with the regular questions.  I proceeded to take the test and since I am given a whole notepad instead of a dry 6 inch by 6 inch dry erase board that I'd been given at the Prometric testing center where I had taken the previous tests, I made sure that I made little notes for myself on each quesion, in case I had to go back and recheck my answers.  I was also using it to keep pace since I had not had not found the question number in the right top portion of the screen like my previous exams.  And so I went along merrily on my way and then I noticed that I was on question 30 of the 35 that I expected and I had not yet seen any questions about DNS, unlike my first time.  I continued answering the questions until I got to question 35.  As soon as I clicked the button to confirm my last answers I leaned back after a long grueling ordeal.... Exept that I was presented with another question.  At that point I thought that maybe I had miscounted the questions and so I answerd question number 36.  And then I was presented with another question.  When I got to question number 38 I began to realize that it was not my inability to count that was the problem, but that something else was going on.  I scanned the screen carefully until I found at the bottem left corner in small type: 38 of 55 questions answerd.  Holy shit. 38 of 55 questions and only 20 minutes left to go.  I sped through the rest of the exam and wound up taking the last five minutes to randomly choose the answers for the last five of six questions,  I barely had enough time to read the answers, let alone the questions and so I was sure that I had missed many of the last questions.  When I finally 'completed' the exam I was confronted with a score of 612 out of 700.  I got up from the my chair and walked up the hall to the front desk.

When I got to the desk I had to flag somebody down because the lady who was supposed to be my 'proctor' was no where in sight.  I told them that I had just completed the test.  The lady walked up to the printer and said, "Oh, he failed" to somebody else in the office.  She handed me the paper and sent me on my way.  I went to my truck and sat ther fuming and just punched the dashboard and grunted and cursed.  What the hell had just happend.

As I drove back to my home I had plent of time to think about it.  I kept wondering, why did I get 55 questions instead of 35?  Why did I get beta questions?  Why was I not at least warned that this was going on?  Why, after preparing better for this test than any other test, was I done in not by the content of the questions, but by the delivery of the test?

When I got home I jumped on my computer and searched the web for "MCSE beta exam".  On the microsoft website I found that beta exams were given free of charge to specific certified professionals so that Microsoft could take tweak their  tests.  More questions popped into my mind.  Why did I get a beta exam anyway?  Why did they charge me for it?  What the hell just happened to me?

I decided to confront the Microsoft's MCP department and Pearson VUE but I had to wait until the next day because their offices were closed.

The next morning I called 1-800-636-7544, the MCP Program Info line.  I told the guy my story and he listened respectfully and talked to his manager a couple of times as I told him my story.  He asked me if the questions were appropriate to the test, and wether or not I thought any of the questions were too hard.  I answered his question and consulted his manager again.  He told me that there was nothing he could do, that they would investigate the incident, but that I was pretty much on my own because the test that I had taken was the right test.  He told me that they offer three different tests.  A 'standard' test.  A 'long' test.  And an 'adaptive' test.  He told me that the test itself would have anywhere from 30 to 70 questions.  That was not what I expected to hear.  I asked him if it was standard practive to give regular MCP candidates beta questions and he conceeded that it was not.  Armed with the information I decided to confront VUE next.

I called VUE and the guy was pretty attentive and receptive to my situation.  That's one thing I can say both the Microsoft guy and the Pearson VUE guy were very good at handing the situation.  I've been on the other end of the Customer Support line and I know how hard it can be to handle irate customers.   And I was irate.  After I expained the situation to the VUE customer support representative, he informed me that he was going to pass the information to his manger for her review.  He said that he was going to recommend that I get to take the test again for free.  He told me that they were going to pull my test and review it and that I would be called back within a week.  Now I wait.

After I hung up I reviewed my exam report.  I compared it with my previous exam report and I noticed something else that shocked me.  The objectives were different on each report.  Both reports had the objectives:

Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining IP Addressing

Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining Name Resolutions

Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining Network Security

Maintaining a Network Infrastructure

The 35 question version had Implementing, Managing, and Maitaning Routing and Remote Access, and the 55 question version had Managing and Maintaining Physical and Logical Devices.

So what was going on?  Had the Microsoft objectives changed in the last two weeks.  And if so, why did my books not list the 'Managing and Maintaining Physical and Logical Devices' objective and why had Microsoft not updated it website?

Obviously, I had been screwed of my time and my money.  If it wasn't for the fact that 50% of the sys admin out there wont even look at your resume without MCSE certification and that I need to find a good job soon, I would give up on this quest for MCSE certs.

And so now I wait patiently, but still angry.  I don't expect to hear back from Microsoft but  I will keep on Pearson VUE so that the very least they let me take the test again.  Hopefully they can get it right next time.

a tale of heros - 7.01.2004

I was just verifying that all the pages looked alright and remembered that the header image on the a tale of heros section is a little thing that I put together in photoshop and it has a funny story behind it. The three silhouettes in that picture were made from two separate pictures, one of some black panthers and another of Jesus Christ. In the header i tried to make them look like a wizard and two warriors... go figure. You can look at the picture by clicking here.

new site -

So I finally registered a domain name and have a place to put my files and random junk up on the web for the world to see. It feels a little bit like hanging your clothes out to dry in a clothesline. Yeah, you think they are clean but maybe your neighbors or random strangers will see them as they wander by and condemn you for the brand of clothes, or your sense of style, or maybe how many holes you have in your socks. So I guess what I'm saying is that can't put out your S&M outfit out to dry on the clothesline... unless you are looking for some down and dirty action.

I started putting up some content on this site. I figure if I'm going to be paying a montly hosting fee, I should put some stuff that's useful here instead of just using the space for narcisistic purposes. So far, I've got a little software review section and a posting of my friend Tim's write-up of a long D&D game that we played. Yeah, it sounds nerdy but it was a pretty neat time playing the game and since he wrote up all the sections, I figured I'd put it up here and share it with people.

I plan on adding another section with some useful links to websites, a book review section, and possibly use some of this space as a collaborative journal where me and some friends can post some of our writing and poetry. Also, I like to create just random little webpages and maybe I'll just put up some stupid little things here and there.

I guess the other thing that I want to do here is is just learn a bit more about putting web pages together so I will probably be hand-coding all these pages and they may look a little crazy at times but hey... whatever.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?