Sunday, October 9, 2011

Thank you Lord

Those were my first thoughts this morning.

Yes yesterday wasn't the day I wanted it to be. I did try and follow Karen's advice (FROG) and to an extent it worked. Lunchtime I felt like giving up, everthing had gone wrong. I even text Karen to say please pray. I did though spend the 30 minutes lunch break, listening to worship music and talking to God. By the time I went back in I was much calmer, and yes I still didn't pass, it's not the end of the world, and I also listened to worship music most of the afternoon whilst completing what I could of the lab. God was with me, and given my first thought this morning was "Thank you Lord" says I am really in the best place.

I also thanked him this morning for my wonderful wife. I don't know how she puts up with me. Odd phone calls at the end of the written exam and then again last night (for me, early morning for her) when I got back from the meal/drinking session with the rest of the class!

Now just about packed and ready to come home, for which I can also thank the Lord :)

Kicking myself

I failed the qualification lab :(

I am kicking myself, I spent almost 4 hours on the first part (of 5). I ended up down a rat hole, not sure why things wheren't working, eventually spotted it. In all this meant I ran out of time. I was over half way through part 4 by the finish, and everything else went relatively smoothly. Yes there were problems to solve etc., but not things I felt I couldn't handle, or got particularly stuck on.

Overall only 3 people passed the qual lab, out of the 14 of us. People get stuck in different places. Rumour is that Thomas (another consultant in MS I know, who has taught part of the course, he is an expert on one of the areas) also got into the same rat hole, he was retaking his qualification lab this week, and passed, which does help a bit.

Most people came unstuck somewhere, just shows how tough it is.

At least I can look forward to coming home and seeing my family :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

1 down 1 to go

Well somehow I managed to pass the written exam today. It was a lot lot tougher than I expected, which is perhaps a good thing as I really had to rely on God. 4 hours 80 questions and I only just finished in the time. Normally on these things I finish with plenty of time to spare. I felt utterly exhausted afterwards. I hope Karen forgives me fot the quick non-sensical (I think that's a word) phone call I gave her immediately afterwards. I just wanted to share with her that I had passed, but everyone was coming out trying to find out who had passed and failed, so it might have been a bit odd from her end. Only 7 out of the 14 of us passed. Fortunately that includes Tim who is sharing the apartment.

Had a quick(ish) lunch, and then went to a  gigantic electrial store (Fry's) with a few others. Really just something to do to try and chill out. Back to the apartment for a bit of TV time and then out for an evening meal. The qualification lab (8 hours!!) is tomorrow and there is really not any revision to be done for it, so it is just trying to stay calm, get to bed at a reasonable hour - No I will not be staying up to watch England :(

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lessons over

I can't believe the time has gone. We have reached the end of classes and labs, and not just study and exams left. Tomorrow is a full study day, I will go into the classroom like everyone else so I can access the labs to check things out I am unsure of etc. As with last time, I know it will be just as intense as any other day. I am sure we will also do some group study, which can also help.

I am still worried by the exam and qualification lab. I am sure deep down that I know it somewhere, but can I remember it. I have been going over some of my notes this evening, and it is surprising how much just from last week I had "forgotten". When I say forgotten, I new it really, I just had forgotten that we had even covered it.

Please pray for me (and the others here) that we will remember all that we have learnt. My exam is 9am-1pm (PST, that is 8 hours behind the UK) on Friday, and then the qualification lab starts at 8am-4:30pm on Saturday (8 hours plus a 30min break for lunch).

On a separate note, the sad passing of Steve Jobs. I know Microsoft and Apple are seen as great rivals, but there is actually a lot of respect for each other (unlike some other competitors). Competition is a good thing as it helps drive innovation, and for all there may be things I don't like about the way Apple do some things they have been great at innovation. Steve Jobs was key to that success and he will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It must be getting easier??

either that or the beer/wine is helping!!

Sunday was another tiring day. Did webcam to Karen/Sarah first thing, it was good to be able to see them. Then it was studying for the first part of the morning, then a quick food shop to stock up for the week, before lunch and then more studying in the afternoon. Went in to the classroom late afternoon to meet up with others and do some lab study. Breaking up the day and different study methods helps.

Went out for a quick chinese (and 1 beer) and then watch a little TV before hitting the sack.

At the Chinese we got fortune cookies. Mine said something like "you will succeed at something that another has failed at", the obvious though around the table (there were 3 of us) was that this meant I would pass the exam. Now here is the deep thought for the day. Given that I don't beleive in luck/fortune telling etc. does this mean that I will pass or fail. If I pass is it down to the fortune cookie, and if I fail is it because I don't believe in them? - answers on a postcard please :P

Today was again lectures and labs, although not quite as deep as last week, or it may be that as it was scripting, which is something I have been doing for the last few months I found it easy. Home for tea and then more studying. I am now on my second glass of wine!!

I am still worried about the exam and qualification lab. I am sure I most probably know it, but will I remember it, so prayers please.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

End of second week!

I'm not sure if being the end of the second week is good or bad. I am still not sure I know enough to pass the exam :(

Early finish on Thursday was nice, but it left Friday a bit of a squeeze and today we had a practice exam and then the second half of the migration lab. I am now very tired, although as tommorrow is a day off (ha! ha!) a group of us went out to eat. It now means I still have to catch up with my revision/write ups.

Being very tired also meant no chance of trying to watch the England game, although having scanned the news reports, perhaps that was the best thing.

Tomorrow is a day off, but in fact means study/revision. Most of us plan to get together mid afternoon to do some group work after doing individual study in the morning. Next week is a slightly different week, 3 days of sessions/labs then Thursday is revision day, Firday is exam day (4 hour exam in the morning), Friday afternoon is recovery time before Saturday which is an 8 hour qualification lab. Then retire to a pub to celebrate or drown our sorrows.

I am now just very tired and missing home, but only a week to go.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Early finish!!!

Well sort of.
5pm finished in the classroom, but still had to write up notes/revise. It makes up for yesterday, which was another long day (hence no blog). It does mean I should get some well needed relaxing time later this evening.

I am starting to think I might actual know things again!
It is a strange experience, coming here as an "expert", then realising that you know "nothing" and then learning loads, and realising that you might be an "expert" again.

I am feeling better about the prospect of the exam and qualification lab at the end of next week. I will still need to do loads of revision, but I am starting to feel I might actual know what I need to know. Whether will be able to remember enough to pass is another matter.

Now the big question is can I find a way to watch the England game tomorrow night. (that will be Saturday morning for the UK).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mango :)

The latest version of Window Phone (codename Mango) has downloaded and installed on my phone :)

For some reason I had some spare time tonight as I thought I had copied the slide decks for today to my laptop, but when I went to look at them to write up my notes they weren't there :( It now means double work tomorrow night. It did mean though that I got to play a little with the update :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How can time pass so quickly?

Another full on day. The longest (in the classroom) so far. Doug (the instructor) was brilliant, but where did all the time go? We had presentations/discussions for the first part, until 3pm and then went into lab time. Suddenly Doug says it 7pm does anyone need any help before he goes!! I was well into the "extra" tasks by then, but still didn't finish until 8pm.
If was a very clever lab, complex enough without being over complex and also in such a way to keep some things easy. For me it was an area I know well, so I found the lab fairly easy. In fact I spent some time helping out the person next to me.

Then home and time to eat, before revision, was great as I suddenly had a eueka moment, and now I know how to work out Erlangs !! For those not into how voice works (well all the people reading this really) it is a measure of voice traffic that allows you to work out how many phone lines you need.

On the subject of food, I have been staying "relatively" healthy, except today in the canteen I had "junk" food as the queue for the sandwich bar (deli) was very long. For tea it was curry, as I said relatively healthy. We have been doing meat and cook in sauce, pasta/rice type stuff, or meat and veg etc. I would like to know though where you can get Naan bread in the US, as they don't seem to do it in the shops we have been in. We have adapted what they call soft taco, which is like we have as fajita, but Naan and popadoms are no where to be seen (I don't count popodoms which are just Pringle type crisps!!).

Monday, September 26, 2011

A day off ????

Well today was meant to be a day off, and in some ways it was. I did a bit of studying this morning and then went out for lunch, did some shopping, watch some NFL and then a bit more studying. By 5pm I was feeling really tired!! so went and had a lie down for an hour. For those that know me, you will know this is unusual. Some more NFL, evening meal and now watching some TV.
So as a "day off" it has not been too bad, a combination of some studying and some relaxing. but given there is 2 more weeks of this I will be exhausted by the end. I also had a good chat with Karen on the phone this morning, which was a great way to start the day :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

so much in 24 hours!!

I managed to watch the rugby last night, an no not on the porn (pay to view) channel. I rigged up a proxy to the UK so I could watch it on ITV player. (not sure how much spam I will get from the registration, but I used one of my junk email addresses so not to worried). Great game, England playing at last. It meant though I didn't get to bed until 1am :( I really didn't want to get up this morning.

Morning start with a practice test, and that didn't go too well. My only consolation is that was true for others, and also a fair bit was on stuff we plan to cover next week.

We then spent the rest of the day on a migration and merger lab. Basically speding lots of time implementing and fixing things. Very time consuming, and I managed to get to roughly where I wanted to be. (we complete the lab next Saturday). Didn't finish until 8pm though :(

A few of us decided as there is no class tomorrow to go out for a meal rather than eating in. Good idea, we really need some time to relax. Not sure what we are doing tomorrow, but I suspect it will be a combination of revision and some time out.

So the first week is basically over. It has been full on and tiring all week as I expected. I am worried about the test and qualification lab at the end as not many people pass both first time :( but I am coping with the pase.

I have missed not being there for the bible reading, although having the odd facebook update from Anne during the "night" stint has been fun. I like the pictures of the cupcakes Sarah made, again sad not to be there. That being said overall I am fairly happy with how things are going.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sunny :)

Today was very sunny, not a cloud in the sky :-)

Microsoft had their Company Meeting, which meant all the cafeteria's were closed. Good job Adrian arranged lunch for us.

The pace of the training is ok. We are on to the first part of the Migration Lab (all day tommorrow and also next Saturday!!). I have managed to catch up on writing up my notes as I skipped doing it last night. I had 2 beers last night :)

It was a bit of an odd day, as for some reason I was hit by the fact it would have been my sister Linda's birthday. She died back in 97, I don't know why it hit me, maybe just missing home. Also a good reason to have 2 beers. Feeling much better today.

The big question of the day is will I be able to watch England tonight. Not sure it is on free to view here in the US :(

Thursday, September 22, 2011

more of the same....

Not much to say about today. Another long day with great content, very heavy on the brain.
Had sausage, beans and mash US style for tea :)

Now to write up notes for the day. I am feeling that the pace is ok, although not much time for anything else. I only hope that I will remember everything come the exam.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Brain Hurts

It is only day 2, and already my brain hurts!! Even having done this before I had forgotten how intense it can be. All good stuff though. I now have 24 revision cards written, just from the first 2 days at this rate I will be revising over 200 cards for the exam.

Exams are slightly different to last time. Previously we had an exam each week and a final qualification lab, now it is one exam at the end and the qualification lab. I am not sure if this is better or not. It may mean I get a bit of time on Sunday as there won't be the presure of the exam. The theory of doing it this way is that you will really know it, rather than relying on cramming/short term memory.

Slept fairly well last night, woke once, but then slept till 5am again and dozed until 6. I have not been feeling particularly tired during the day (not feeling like I am almost nodding off), just normal strain from the intensity of the learning.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I had forgotten how long a day could be...

The long days have started. 8am to 7pm and yes we didn't finish until 7 :-(
Today was relatively light as the morning was all the usual intro stuff.
Good news was I slept well last night, from 11pm to 5am and then dozed until 6, so not much jet lag, but I am sure it will catch up with me at some point over the next few days.

Tim (who I am sharing the appartment with) and I are trying to eat relatively health, so went shopping for food. Spag bol for tea and yes I did add the Brombley magic ingredient :-) It will mainly be meat and cook in sauce type stuff so it is quick to prepare, but better than something and chips.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A long day

I am not sure why I decided I would do the "hop" and not fly direct. Big difference in cost and I felt it was the "right thing to do". Well, I am here in rainy Seattle. I spend all of 2 hours in Canada, which consisted of get off plane, pick up luggage, go through Canadian immigration, carry (or wheel) bag to US pre-flight immigration (means I didn't have to do it in Seattle), drop pack, go to gate, get on plane.

I am now at the appartment I am staying in, and have met Tim who is sharing the appartment with me. He seems ok (for an Aussie!!). Time to get some shut eye before the long days start tomorrow.

Monday, September 12, 2011

America here I come (again!!)

I started this blog when I had to go to America a couple of years ago for some intensive training (Microsoft Certified Masters). I have since then blogged occasionally. Well I am going back to the USA again for the same type of intensive training so I thought I'd better blog again so my family know how I am.

As Karen knows, I am really not looking forward to going, as last time my dad was dieing, and I even thought he might die whilst I was in the US. My mum is still in a nursing home and who knows how long she will last, but all this is playing on my mind. I have just re-read some of my posts from last time, and it reminds me of not only how little time I will have, but also how good God is, and how he looked after me last time.