Monday, June 30, 2008

TED: Benjamin Zander

Benjamin Zander talks passionately about Classical Music and his definition of success.

A great talk.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Passed My 24th Exam

Yesterday morning I took exam 70-431, SQL Server 2005 Technical Specialist, which I passed with flying colors: 940 out of 1000 points.

This was also my first encounter with real simulation-based questions! I have to say, it felt a bit uneasy at first and I backtracked a couple of times to make sure I answered my questions just right. It is soo easy to make additional unintended changes.

But in conclusion, I have to say that I like those questions. They test your knowledge of the technology in a much more real-world like fashion. And about those gradual changes like these in exam setups? Well, suffice to say that there is much more in store where that came from...

On a side note: the next exam will be a milestone! That will take me to 25 Microsoft Exams taken so far. I just have to choose a nice one. And I don't mean milestone. I'm open for suggestions.

By the way, if you take a look at the numbers of Microsoft Certified Professionals worldwide, you'll find that there is a great difference in numbers. A short list of some of the certifications I currently hold:

Certification Worldwide achievers

MCTS SQL Server 2005

29,038

MCTS MOSS Config

6,384

MCTS Team Foundation Server

315

MCITP Enterprise Admin

819

And for the bright ones among us: there is something odd about that page... can you spot it? The first one who tells me about it will get a candy bar if you're in the neighborhood.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rob Miles on the Micro Framework, also coming to DevDays

Rob Miles, a typical British lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at the Hull University and a Microsoft C# MVP, has a cool video about the .NET Micro Framework. He will also host a session called Embedded Development on DevDays next week. I can't wait to attend this session!

See the video: What's the Micro Framework? | Posts | Channel 8

 

And here is another nice video about the .NET Micro Framework where an application gets written (Space Invaders to be exact) and is deployed on a board based on a FreeScale i.MXS microprocessor.

I looked at the site of FreeScale and saw that they are also selling the HC11 microprocessor! I've worked with these processors in the past. I can still remember the juggling of registers, setting of flags and staring at byte opcode.

Talk about a blast from the past...

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Friday, May 16, 2008

TED: Secrets of success in 8 words, 3 minutes

Richard St. John has a nice little talk featured on TED where he talks about the secrets of success. He interviewed several members of TED and came up with the following list of features:

  1. Passion, love for what you do
  2. Work hard and have fun
  3. Practice
  4. Focus
  5. Push Yourself
  6. Serve
  7. Ideas
  8. Persistence, through C.R.A.P.

Crap stands for Criticism, Rejection, Assholes and Pressure.

Never knew they could say words like that and publish them.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Splitting TechEd US into two weeks stinks for SharePoint professionals

Andrew Connell, a MVP on MOSS, is not pleased with splitting TechEd into two weeks: "The problem I have with it is that you go to one of these major conferences, as an attendee, to get good exposure across the board. ...professionally I think it's a bad idea to separate the two because it almost tells devs/admins they don't need to know about the other's world. In some apps this might be true (for instance, I [possibly incorrectly] consider Exchange more in the admin/IT pro camp than I do in the dev camp), but for SharePoint it isn't. Even if you are a dev like me, you need to be aware of some concepts and how they work such as site collections and splitting up content databases or how admins view CAS and such. Admins need to understand how developers utilize CAS and deploy custom code."

I totally agree with him. Developers and IT Professionals should be working with each other. Especially with products like Sharepoint. There will always be a cross-over, and widening the gap is not the answer.

Besides going to the usual IT Pro events I also attend more development-centric events like MSDN Intracks and the upcoming DevDays, scheduled in May, including the Geek Night! I wonder if there will be someone from the team Coding4Fun, would like to have a chat with them. Anyone else going as well? Give me a ping!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Phobot, the phobic robot

A team of the University of Amsterdam have built a phobic robot, called Phobot, using LEGO Mindstorms NXT and an additional sensor.

While building a LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot a is not an earth-shattering event by itself, the amount of emotion and interaction the robot conveys is quite astonishing! I did a little test and showed my daughter a video of the robot. It told her the robot was afraid of big robots and needed assurance and confirmation in order to be brave enough to approach the big robot. "And oh look! Now it starts dancing! Isn't that cute?"

Well, she immediately asked me to build it overnight so that she could play with it in the morning, it was so cute!

I have contacted the team, they told me that they were quite overwhelmed by the media attention they had gotten. And who can blame them. After things calm down a bit they would look into sending the code and perhaps the building instructions, which they haven't gotten around to just yet. Ork, if you're reading this...?

Anyway, take a look at the site and video. Be warned, the video is in Dutch. 50 seconds into the video there is a good demo of the robot, which is self explanatory.

Update: Ork just contacted me, we should expect the code and building instructions to appear very soon! That's great news! Thanks Ork.

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Windows 2008 MCITP: Server Administrator Charter Member

Looks like the results for the exams 70-646 and 70-647 are finally coming in: Prometric tells me I passed exam 70-646, Server Administrator. Another certification to add to the list. The certification doesn't show up on the MCP web site yet.

Still waiting on Enterprise Administrator though.

Update: I've passed 70-647 too! Yay! A refresh did the trick. Now only for that pesky Vista exam and I can put MCITP Enterprise Administrator on my personal Wall of Fame too.

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Picture with Trika, Richard and William

Trika put up a picture of us at the Microsoft Visitors Center when we met up with her. If anyone asks what happened to my face on the picture: I have no clue. Perhaps it was the excellent -and HUGE- steak we had at Daniels Broiler the evening before. Or the great food at the Microsoft cafeteria next to Building 40. Heck, it remains one of life's mysteries.

When I find some time I'll post a bit of info of the time I worked at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Teaching with an Edge

"MIT professor and Web star Walter Lewin swings from pendulums and faces down wrecking balls to show students the zany beauty of science.

"It took me a decade to come to the realization," says Lewin at his MIT office, "that really what counts is not what you cover, but what counts is what you uncover."

"You have to challenge [students]. You have to be a little fun. I could make them sit on the edge of their seats, I could make them wet their pants." — Walter Lewin

People of the Web - High Wire Act - with video.

I still have vivid memories of one of my professors at Leiden University. His class in Physical Chemistry took us on an engaging journey from the most primitive laws of Physics to the modern day laws. And it was the way he led this journey: not with a dry summary of dates and figures, but by asking simple but provoking questions which would lead us eventually to the next law. Wow. Seeing all these laws being linked together on the canvas of history was quite a revelation!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Windows 2008 MCTS Charter Member

Yes! I just got the results back from the three Microsoft Windows 2008 TS beta exams: I passed all three of them! And oh how do I just love the 'Charter Member' addition. It just gives you that extra warm and fuzzy feeling...

  • Exam 070-640 Technical Specialist: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory
  • Exam 070-642 Technical Specialist: Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure
  • Exam 070-643 Technical Specialist: Windows Server 2008 Applications
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    Tuesday, March 04, 2008

    Being a Gentleman in Business

    handshake Differences should always be solved with the best interest of the client in mind. This will ensure a good  relationship with your client from which both of you will benefit. It is often that I see people or companies struggling and fighting however. Fighting to keep the client which they tend to see as solely theirs, obstinately refraining their employees from transferring to the client and putting their feet in the sand in spite of sound judgement which should be telling them otherwise.

    And you know what?
    It is okay to defend your hard earned rights and that which you have worked hard for to let grow and flourish. It is okay to not let other people willfully take advantage of that what you have created. It is okay to keep people to their end of the bargain, promise or obligation! But... does this include hanging on to agreements which will end up hurting everybody, including yourself? Blindly clinging on to that -what you perceive to be- opportunity which you alone have seized and is by birthright now solely you and yours alone? The client you're squeezing every penny out of because it is your belief that he or she is yours alone for the taking? The employee who you helped to blossom and now whishes to go over to The Dark Side, leaving you alone in the cold?

    Well, wake up and smell the coffee!

    The client who needed your guidance has grown up and is ready for their next step. They don't need you anymore. And your employee, once a fledgling and now a fully grown soaring eagle, has found a better working environment: the client he or she currently works for. So what do you do?

    1. We're in it together. You recognize the fact that everything changes over time. You sit down with the client and try to find a solution from which you both will benefit the most. You nullify the contract with the client and even help them get everything adjusted. And after talking with your employee you find out that they really like working there and that he/she will get paid more. You suggest a settlement with the client.
    2. Me! You cry:"foul play!!" and think to yourself: this is rightfully mine! So you heed the client to the contract and threaten with legal prosecution if they don't execute their part of the contract. Sure, there is always a way out, but it will cost them. Dearly. After all, this is your money they are talking about! Apply same scenario for your employee.

    Now, what will you choose?

    Sadly, I've seen it more often than not that #2 is chosen. This is so bad. For a number of reasons. A sample:

    Luckily I've also witnessed some very applaudable behavior from several people and companies. And if you ask around, those companies and people will end up with a more stable base of loyal customers and employees. True, this approach can cost you some in the short run. But it will pay off in the long run. And you'll also sleep better at night.

    Addendum: Wharton University's Business Journal has a good read on the subject: "In the Game of Business, Playing Fair Can Actually Lead to Greater Profits", where the paragraph title 'Fairness over Profit Maximization' sums it up rather nicely.

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    Monday, February 18, 2008

    Working with Microsoft on Windows Server 2008 exams in Redmond #1

    Some time ago I got an invitation from Taj Heniser, the Program Manager from the Microsoft Learning Group in Redmond. They requested me to participate in the development of Microsoft Certification exams for Windows Server 2008 in Redmond as an Subject Matter Expert (SME). Well, it didn't take long to make up my mind. GrandMasters took care of all the paperwork and I was pretty impressed by their continued assistance and overall professional attitude. Upon discovery that I needed a credit card, which I didn't have at the time, they went even further and booked the room for me in advance. Excellent service! Thanks Lisa and Linda.

    (In the Netherlands you usually use a debit card for most of your financial transactions and bank transactions are not done by bank check but carried out by direct bank transfers. Use of credit cards is on the rise however.)

    GreenlandI met up with Frederic Lapierre and Olaf Hubel from Microsoft at the  airport and had a pleasant chat with them while we waited for our plane to arrive. They both were going to Redmond for the internal Microsoft Technical Readiness Conference. It was good to see the both of you again.

    The flight was pretty good and uneventful. We flew over Greenland, which made for some pretty nice pictures. And I made good use of my Shure Sound Isolating Earphones, which I bought just for an occasion like this. The isolating properties are magnificent and the sound is very clear and well-balanced. Only when I took the earphones off, I noticed the loudness of the flight, which quite astounded me! The price was pretty hefty, but they are worth their money in gold. Highly recommended.

    To be continued...

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    Monday, December 03, 2007

    TED | Inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers

    If you're not familiar with TED, here are two Webcasts from the site. I especially recommend the interview with Richard Branson. He seems a very happy and down to earth person and not at all someone what you'd expect a captain of industry to be like. The second one is an 8 minute talk about self aware robotics Cornell University, which takes an unconventional approach to robotics.

    Richard Branson: Life at 30,000 feet

    TED | Talks | Hod Lipson: Robots that are "self-aware" (video)

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    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Redesign

    I wasn't happy with the old design of my blog, especially the narrow width of the blog entries. I've switched to a new design which hopefully improves the readability and general overview of the weblog. Let me know what you think of it.

    In the meantime I'm keeping my eye out for Graffiti, a replacement for the Personal Edition of Telligents Community Server. A Beta is expected shortly.

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