Programming with the .NET Framework, Part 4
I’ve entirely lost track of my concept of time. I had to look at the calendar today to figure out it’s Thursday.
It being Thursday means that I only have one more night here and then I go home tomorrow after class. It’ll be nice to get home, to sleep in my own bed, to see Jenn and my kitties again. I will admit I’m a little lonely sitting in my hotel room at night, but the flipside is that I don’t have any distractions while I study.
Speaking of studying, I took a practice test on SQL Server last night. It took about two hours to go through 50 questions (I was in “learning” mode, so I was reading about WHY certain answers were right or wrong). When all was said and done, I got around 60% correct.
I was pretty confident about my SQL Server skills before I took that practice test. Taking the test showed me that I don’t know jack squat. Now I’m feeling pretty disheartened about my whole learning experience because I thought these classes I was taking would prepare me, or at least better prepare me, for the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer tests. I’m not so sure about it anymore. I mean, I’m learning a lot of stuff. The problem I’m having is that tests are not real-world. When will I ever be programming when I don’t have access to the help docs?
So, needless to say, I’m a little down today. I told Jenn about it and she was all, “Doesn’t it make you happy that not everything comes easy?” No, I’m not. It’s about the unrealistic nature of the tests. It’s about the fact that everything I do anymore is an uphill battle - work and school. It’s that this is exactly everything I hated about high school and college. It’s all of this pressure and all of this “challenge” all coming crashing back on me and inducing fits of anxiety, stressing me out.
I feel like I’m a good programmer. I think there are people out there who would agree with that. I also think that I’m really going to have problems with these tests, and at $125 a pop, I really can’t afford to fail.
I went cruising Amazon to see what sorts of study aids they have in print. There are all sorts of books, priced $25 - $40, none of which looked like they were “foolproof” or “all-inclusive.” I then see random boot camps and schools that promise certification “in 8 days - guaranteed.” It makes me wonder if that would have been a better investment. But then, I think I’m probably getting some better, more well-rounded knowledge out of these classes.
I’m just wondering if it’ll help me pass these tests.
Have you ever said a word over and over enough times that it starts sounding funny and you don’t remember what it means? The word of the day is “dispose.”
I was thinking about this (while sitting in class)… my job has made me a programming Sisyphus.
I just went through a lab on memory management (making sure your program doesn’t eat all of your computer’s memory) and while I understood it, and I think I could implement it myself, I didn’t like the lab very much. The way things were written/phrased, it was really difficult to figure out what they were trying to get you to do. I ended up having to refer to the solution, and I haven’t had to do that for any of the class labs I’ve had yet.
It reminds me of that game where you give a friend a pencil and a piece of paper and you have a picture of something that you’re looking at (and your friend can’t see). The object is to describe to your friend what they need to draw on their paper so they come up with a picture that looks like the one you’re holding. If you’ve never done that, try it. It’s harder than you might think. For simple stuff (a house, a flag, a can of cola), it’s not too bad - you can sort of refer to simple shapes (“draw a circle, then draw a couple parallel lines coming from the sides of the circle…”). If you have something more complex, like an office chair, it gets a heck of a lot harder. This lab was like someone trying to describe to me how to draw a Picasso piece. Crazy.
Still panicking about the exams and my lack of preparation. I went looking to see what Microsoft offers as far as test preparation material - lists of what they’re asking questions on, suggested preparation materials, etc. - and there’s nothing I can see that would help me. The lists of question topics are sufficiently vague that they may as well say, “We’re just, you know, testing you.” Thanks.
You’re probably tired of reading about my study anxiety. I’m tired of thinking about it. It’s just sort of sitting at the front of my mind, though, and it’s hard to get away from.
Finally, an old person who realizes that sometimes you do get too old to drive. And one who didn’t figure it out soon enough. My 80+ year old neighbors who drive these gigantic antique Cadillacs should read these articles.
That’s the end of today. We just did an interesting lab where we created a simple server app that can accept connections from clients and sends information. Just a little thing, but it demonstrates that you can do some powerful stuff in a simple way with .NET.
Just watch - I get this, but it won’t be on the test. The stuff I don’t get will be there.