Saturday, December 14, 2013

The worst-laid plans of mice and men...

Oracle beta exams have their good points. However I normally prefer to wait for the production version. In this case, though, one of the winners of the 1Z0-062 voucher contest I held on this blog a couple of months ago got one through their employer after the contest was finished. The contest was over and there were no other valid entries to give it to. A brother of one of my coworkers had expressed interested in becoming Oracle certified, so I offered it to him. He considered it, but eventually decided not to. With time running out on the beta and an unused voucher, I decided to take the exam myself. The test does nothing for me since I am already an 11g OCP, but taking it could be useful in preparing my study guide for the exam.

That said -- what possessed me to schedule the exam on Friday the 13th?

Even before I realized what I had done, I knew that the beta was not going to be pretty. Normally I make sure I am well prepared before I ever schedule a certification exam. In this case, the first draft of my guide for 1Z0-062 is only about three-quarters complete.  However, with December 14th being the last day of the beta, I had to schedule it or lose out on the chance. The Pearson Vue center I normally use is not open on Saturdays, so that left Friday (I didn't really pay attention to the day of the month). I did a quick read through on the sections I have not researched yet and hoped for the best. For the record... this is an extremely bad plan.

Normally (there's that word again) when I am taking a certification exam, I make sure that I arrive at the testing center thirty to sixty minutes before my scheduled exam start. I check in with the desk to ensure I am in the right place and everything is set up, and then spend the time until the exam doing some last minute cramming. Yesterday, events conspired to keep me from leaving the house until I had just enough time to make it to the center. I thought it wouldn't be a problem. The testing center was at a community college where I have taken several exams previously. On this occasion, once I signed in at the desk, rather than taking me in to start the exam (as they have every time before), they sent me out to the lobby where about fifteen people were already waiting. I sat there for about twenty minutes watching other people get called in before one of the proctors came out and indicated that there was a problem. More people were in the room than they had on their list.

It turns out -- I (and many other people in the room) were in the wrong building. We were scheduled at the other testing center located halfway across the campus. After a hike and some time waiting in a different room, I finally got to start my exam -- exactly an hour after it was originally scheduled.

Regarding the exam itself -- John Watson contacted me after he took the exam three months ago and said he thought it was harder than it has been in the past. I would have to agree wholeheartedly. I would also add that it is even more difficult when you are not well prepared and are in a really foul mood before hitting the 'Begin Test' button.

It was not until after I got back home that it dawned on me that 'today' was Friday the 13th. It would be nice if I could point to that and seriously believe the problems were not my fault but were instead just a matter of 'bad luck'. Unfortunately, that was not the root cause here. I did not properly prepare for the exam and I did not follow my normal procedures for ensuring everything was correct at the testing center. The only positive factors are that I took the exam for free and that the results will not impact me one way or another. One thing is for sure -- I will make sure to plan better before scheduling my next certification exam.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Oracle Certifications -- What do *you* do with the certificate?

In a recent thread on the OTN Certification forum, a poster was asking about getting the paper copy of his certificate and whether he would get one of the little cards for completing his OCA. That thread, plus a couple recently on LinkedIn about people who have lost their paper certificate and wanted a new one got me thinking. What exactly do people do with the hard-copy of their certificates? Between my certifications from Oracle, CompTIA, Microsoft, and Novell -- I have a couple dozen paper certificates. All of them are sitting in a file cabinet and only see the light of day when I pull them out to put a new one in. I could not imagine taking them in to a job interview. I add the certifications to my resume and my Linked In profile so that employers know I have them. If any ask me to prove that I am certified, I would use Certview's ability to send credentials to a third party before I would use the certificate itself.

The thought of hanging the certificates on the wall or in my cubicle just calls to mind this old Dilbert strip. I am not embarrassed of having the certifications by any means, but displaying them feels like boasting -- and about the wrong things. There are several instances where one of my coding projects has saved my employer huge amounts of money. Those projects are something that show what I am capable of -- except that I did not get a certificate for them. :)

Even more puzzling to me than the certificates are the cards. I really do not see any use for them. Mine are in the same file cabinet folder as the certificates. The cards seem to be sized for carrying around in your wallet, but I cannot imagine doing so. Between credit cards, health insurance cards, auto insurance cards, and so forth -- I have enough stuff in there already. When exactly do you use one of these cards? I envision being present at the scene of a horrific database crash. Everyone is running around in circles screaming until I whip the card out and announce that everyone should keep calm because I am an Oracle Certified Professional. Or... not.

So the whole point of this post is that I am curious about you -- the person reading this article. If you have Oracle certifications -- what do you do with your paper certificates? Do you have any suggested uses for the cards? Comment away, please. Inquiring minds want to know.