.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. 🙂
  • 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!

VS 2010 Performance Improvement

I was working on testing some bugs out on my BizTalk 2010 beta computer and encountered a popup in VS 2010 advertising that it would run faster with the addition of a certain patch for the Windows Automation API. I usually skip these on a test VM but sometimes VS 2010 does run pretty slow when you only allocate 1.5 GB for the whole VM. 🙂 So I clicked on it and downloaded it and was surprised that VS 2010 does run a lot faster even on only 1.5 GB of RAM.
This hotfix does not mention VS 2010 at all in the description: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/971513. This hotfix was created prior to VS 2010 RC so I guess it was suggested as a fix when the RC intellisense issues came up. I was using VS 2010 RTM Premium. This blog post mentions that the fix was already forward applied to VS 2010 RTM (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/visualstudio/archive/2010/03/02/second-patch-now-available-for-intellisense-crashes-in-vs-2010-rc.aspx), but this was not the case for me. I was not exactly encountering blocking performance, it just took a long time for VS 2010 to load and do things. I did not initiate the popup – it just appeared and I followed it so I am guessing this functionality to advertise the hotfix was a backup plan in case the VS 2010 RTM fix failed. Here is the Connect link for the original performance issue for anyone interested: https://connect.microsoft.com/VisualStudio/feedback/details/532783/very-slow-intellisense?wa=wsignin1.0.
Anyway, I recommend applying this hotfix for faster VS performance. Interestingly, this hotfix comes in a different download for XP – http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=cd55456d-9703-42a0-b982-8a8a89ca0aa3&displaylang=en. This may even improve VS performance for previous VS versions before 2010.

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