.NET 4 WCF Certified!, Why I take Beta Exams

I just found out this week I passed a .NET 4 beta of the WCF exam. I had taken 2 of the betas for .NET 4 and was lucky to have passed one. It is a nice honor to be in the charter group for this exam. I had previously passed the .NET 3.5 WCF exam about a year ago.
About 5 years ago I took and passed a couple of the .NET 2 betas and it was a very fun experience. Here are a couple reasons you should take beta exams any time you have the opportunity:
  • It is one of the biggest challenges – there is basically only MSDN documentation, VS samples, and the exam outline to study from. There are usually not books, Transcenders, or specialized test taking materials available.
  • If you are ever worried about all those brain dumps out there, take the exam before any brain dumps become available. If you pass before anyone could accuse you of cheating, there is practically no way to say you do not deserve the cert.
  • You gain a credential few people can say they have for a period of time. It is a big cool factor too. ūüôā
  • It really tests your test taking endurance. If you are studying for a very long test like the CISSP, a Microsoft beta will help you extend your endurance. The betas usually take about 3 hours to do.
  • You help improve the tests by providing valuable feedback on exam items, translation, and other details.
  • Often times you earn a certification voucher good for another exam.

There are not that many times you can take beta exams so if you find an opportunity, go for it!. One way to find out about them is to go to the register page on Prometric, find a Microsoft exam with 71-* in the name, and then search the web for this exam to find the free code to get the test free. I love beta exams because they are the lowest cost opportunity to earn a certification. Thanks Microsoft for offering these!

Multiculturism and IT Certifications

Today at TechEd I attended a session on the techniques and policies Microsoft employs for managing the security of the Microsoft certification process. If you know me, I have quite a few certifications and am a staunch believer that a considerable burden of certification security is in the hands of the person seeking certification. I often get a lot of comments from people who for some reason believe that the problem of braindumps is exclusively a Microsoft corporation problem. Today I learned a little more about how a person’s worldview and culture can affect the way they perceive cheating like on IT certification exams. In college I studied missiology, which involves a considerable amount about cultures and the effect that worldview has on beliefs and truths. I do not want to make this post too philosophical and look at the values or ethics of cheating; but it was very interesting to me to hear someone from Microsoft talk about how situation ethics in some countries results in "ethical cheating" and how Microsoft approaches this on a business basis (Technically, this is not a PC post but it’s close).
The most interesting aspect of the session I attended was the way in which Microsoft was approaching the problem, which I found to be valuable. The problem was discussed as a cultural issue, which made sense to me. A lot has been written on IP (intellectual property) and the challenge of using IP in foreign legal contexts but it was quite informative to explore how company policies had to be updated to deal with multicultural issues. Definitely in certain foreign contexts where software piracy is a big problem, one of the key approaches involves education of end-users or consumers on IP, and the impact on the software environment in which IP is not respected. Similarly, education of the test taker becomes of chief importance. For these reasons, I assert that in so many ways the future security of certifications relies heavily on the test taker.
Last year when registering for a certification exam, the Prometric site had a bold text note that exams could not be registered at all for Pakistan and I had initially assumed this must have been a service outage due to an internet cable being severed or some other technical problem. Today I learned this was because Microsoft shut down all certification testing in this country for a time because of the problem of the certification security issues occuring there. The approach of closing test centers based on multicultural issues is huge. This example is related to the changes Microsoft has made to its certification program bans as well as test center closings in the US. Its interesting seeing things that occur in developing countries affecting Microsoft policies. I suppose this is another example of the nature of our global economy.
My apologies if we were too philosophical today, but I thought it was an important topic to discuss.

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