SQL MCM Day 1: The Ides of March

I know kung fu.

MCM Swag

SQL MCM Swag

Okay, maybe not, but day one of my Microsoft Certified Master training for SQL Server was pretty darned cool. I arrived to find my name on a spot in the classroom, plus my very own swag! We got:

  • A t-shirt that says “Microsoft Certified Master” – which I refuse to wear before I pass the final exams, or else I’ll be jinxing myself
  • A leather notepad that says “Microsoft Certified Master” – which, you might guess, I’m not writing in either
  • A USB key that says “Microsoft Certified Master” – but I had to break down and use that because our slide decks and scripts were on there
  • A bottle opener that says – you guessed it – “Microsoft Certified Master.”

This is clearly the right program for me because I like to wear clothes, take notes, and drink beer.

Our class of 11 attendees got to interact with Paul Randal (Blog@PaulRandal) all day. I didn’t use the term “lecture” or “listen” because it was a really interactive session with lots of questions, and I loved hearing some of the attendees launch off with their own answers. This is one hell of a skilled group. Only @SQLSoldier is on Twitter, though, and I was glad to hear Paul talk a little about #SQLHelp. I’m already looking forward to being able to give back to the community with the knowledge I’m gaining here. I had a few “Ah-HA!” moments where I put things together that would have saved me a ton of troubleshooting time in the past.

Unfortunately, I can’t share the slide decks or code samples, but I’d point you to the SQL MCM reading list instead. David Ikeda and Joe Sack have done a great job of compiling that list, and from what I’ve seen so far (and I’ve read ahead in the slide decks), the reading list really reflects the course material. I busted my rear trying to read all of the course material ahead of time, and it really paid off. I can’t imagine trying to keep up if I hadn’t read all of that, and furthermore, I’m going to have to go back and reread some of the C#/ServiceBroker/XML stuff again before next week.

The training proceeds at a breakneck pace. The slides are chock full of bullet points, and normally I’d abhor that, but when the material is this technically complex it makes sense. I’ll be rereading those slides (and Paul’s excellent in-deck notes) over the months to come. And no, I’m not kissing Paul’s rear in an attempt to pass – the exams aren’t administered by the speakers.

We finished up around 6:30PM, and we could have gone longer but some of the attendees were ready to call it a day. I grabbed something to eat, called Erika, and by now (8PM when I’m writing this) it’s time to crack open the virtual books again. The instructors assign optional homework that helps reinforce the day’s lessons. At a glance, I’m betting tonight’s would take an hour or two, but here’s the funny part – with the knowledge I gained today, I’m dying to go spend several hours digging into different servers. There’s things I want to go check on StackOverflow.com’s servers and on my clients’ servers right away. (And no, Paul, it’s not auto-shrink or Instant File Initialization, hahaha.)

Unfortunately, there’s only so many hours in the day. I banged out this blog post while eating dinner, and now it’s time to make some tough decisions. I could:

  • Do the optional homework from Paul for tonight – but at least half of it covers things I kinda know, and the other half I’m pretty confident I learned enough today to get me over the hump
  • Start digging into tomorrow’s material – which covers areas where I’m not as strong, but I don’t think I wanna tackle it without hearing Paul’s explanations first
  • Do the optional homework from David Ikeda (this rotation’s lead) for this week, a group exercise designed to help candidates help each other pass a difficult topic. I know that topic forwards and backwards, and I’m really confident that I don’t need any studying on it whatsoever. However, if I put a couple of hours into it, I’ll be able to help other people pass.
  • Start digging into next week’s topics, which are going to be much tougher for me to pass
  • Go to bed and get a full night’s sleep before the fun starts again tomorrow

My gut says I need to brew a pot of coffee and do the group homework. Tonight’s the last night I’m spending alone, though – tomorrow after class, I’ll kick start a group study session.

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MCM Day 0: No More Cramming
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SQL MCM Day 2: NDA Club

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