December 12, 2017
It has been a while since I blogged about this and I wanted to circle back and give my summary in retrospect of my certification process.
First of all, I passed the Java SE 8 Programmer I exam! Cool!
I started studying in January of 2017. Admittedly, I wasn’t as diligent or disciplined as I could have been or should have been. Overall, I probably put in about 200 hours of study time. The book I used was the “OCA: Oracle Certified Associate Java SE 8 Programmer I Study Guide: Exam 1Z0-808” by the publisher Sybex. It was an okay book. There were a few things that I didn’t like about it. I felt the examples on lambdas were confusing and the chapter on a major portion of the test, polymorphism, was inadequate. Fortunately, there are lots of other sources of material that you can pull from. Probably the best thing about this book was a companion app in the Apple app store. I had to buy it (about $8) but it let me review tests and take full tests from my iphone and my ipad. For me, this was hugely helpful!
What about the effectiveness of the information? Did what I learn help me in any way be a better java developer? Well…that might be debatable. While I think it was good to go through the process of learning and filling in gaps in my own understanding, I think there are portions of the exam that are just silly. The exam will make you study things that just don’t matter because you will never use them in the real world. In fact, there are sections of the book where the authors literally say “Don’t do it this way in real life. Just learn it for the test and know you CAN do this, but don’t really do this.” I won’t get into specifics here. If you want to have a discussion about the specifics, let me know. We will set up some time to discuss it.
So, what does this mean? Is there any significance in my day to day life after having my first certification? From a functional standpoint, there is probably not much difference. I know a little bit more than I did when I started, and that is always a good thing. Probably the biggest difference is that I now have this on my name. It has become a part of my personal brand. I don’t want to brag about it, but it is a thing that does distinguish me from those who don’t have the certification. It is a badge that I wear that says “I value my personal and professional growth enough to put the time into becoming something more than I used to be.”
I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to put the time and effort into it. It will only make you better and, honestly, it wasn’t THAT hard. It’s not like it is a master’s degree or even a course. It is probably about the same amount of work as a college level undergraduate course. Spend a semester studying it. Then register for the exam. Then work your way toward the exam. If you want some help and guidance on how to plan it out, let me know. I’m happy to help!
December 12, 2017
I’ve been doing a lot of studying lately to prepare for the OCA Java SE 8 Programmer I exam. I wouldn’t say my study schedule has been vigorous, certainly not the kind of studying I would do for a college-level exam, but more than an hour a day on average. My exam is coming up this Friday and I feel pretty good about it. I get at least 80% on all of my practice exams and I’m starting to get to the point where I “might” be over-preparing. Not a bad thing for having a few more days to wrap up my efforts.
But all this work has me thinking, “Is it all worth the effort?” What am I going to gain by having a certification? Should I continue on with the Java certification track? Should I diversify in something else? I have been doing Java development since 2001. I should be pretty good at it by now, but I am finding little things that I never knew. So, it isn’t as if I’m not learning anything, but is that enough?
A number of years ago, I was at a No Fluff Just Stuff conference. During the Birds of a Feather mixer, I struck up a conversation with one of the speakers who was also an author of several well known books in the Java domain. Our conversation eventually led us to the topic of the Java certifications. His response was “What’s the point? I don’t have mine.” So, is there a point? I guess I can understand if a person is fairly new to the Java space or if they are new to the industry. They would want to show prospective employers they know what they are doing. A certification might demonstrate you have sufficiently studied the material to achieve a one time passing score. Is that exam good enough to prove that you have the basic knowledge to code at a certain level an employer is looking for?
Without standards, an exam is just a way to show you have studied some arbitrary material and can remember it long enough to pass a test. If that exam is recognized by industry leaders as a measurement of skill in that industry, that’s a whole other argument. But, in the case of the OCA exams, it is not there yet because there are no industry standards. If there were, we wouldn’t have to have coding tests during interviews.
We like to think we are engineers, but, let’s face it, we’re not. Until we get some standard measures of skill to back up what we do, we might as well call ourselves artists. If we want to be an engineering industry, we should take a page from the other engineering disciplines like electronic engineering or mechanical engineering.
I’m still planning on continuing with my certifications. I’m just not 100% convinced they are worth all the effort and cost. Any thoughts about this are welcome.
March 30, 2016
A native bash she’ll is coming to Windows 10 this summer!? What does it mean??
March 28, 2016
And then this happened… http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/23/npm_left_pad_chaos/
September 11, 2014
Predictive answers. Check it:
September 10, 2014
My first impression: it’s pretty!
Somehow, the fonts are smoother. The colors seem a little more crisp. I can hardly wait for the new iPhone 6 hardware to see it for real!
Some of the cool new features are:
• double tap the home button to see a list of frequent contacts at the top of the screen
• there is a voice feature built into iMessages. Think “Voxer”.
• there is also a picture of the person you are chatting with in iMessages.
• finally, (for now…) there is an enhanced keyboard. New predictive text bar instead of the stupid bubble.
So far, I’m a huge fan!
September 10, 2014
What makes Apple Pay revolutionary? How is it different than Google Wallet/PayPal?
Well, Apple Pay is NOTHING like google wallet. The iPhone 6 has a piece of hardware that stores your payment card info encrypted. Your bank has to be able to process Apple Pay payments because, when you pay with your phone, that security chip in the phone generates a one-time use token, sends that token via NFC to the Apple Pay enabled point of sale. The point of sale sends that token to the merchants payment gateway which sends it to your bank. Your bank decrypts the token into your payment information. From there, it is a normal payment.
So, it operates a little like public-private key encryption. Your bank holds the private key. The security chip holds the bank’s public key. ONLY the bank can decrypt the information and you have your own public key. But, more than that, your fingerprint (more biometrics coming later) is the password (the salt in encryption terms) to unlock that public key on the device.
This means, if you lose your phone, you simply deactivate the public key on the phone with find my iPhone.
Google Wallet works like paypal. It fronts the real payment info with a pseudo account which can still be stolen and used without authorization.
September 7, 2014
Does anyone else think the timing of the iCloud breach is just a little too coincidental to the reported new security features that are built into the new iPhone devices?
September 7, 2014
A journal system: this seems very viable and useful.
A music server: Perhaps a bit more ambitious, a system where I can serve music (maybe more and different content later) that I can serve from a central server and stream the content to a client.