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February 27, 2009

Better Than Minesweeper

A little while back, Eileen Brown from MS UK posted her experience with a new online distraction from MS Learning called, aptly enough, Are You Certifiable?

Are you certifiable? I know I am!

First off…this isn’t the typical online quiz game you’d prolly expect from MS. The stuff this thing throws at you are TOUGH! Unlike a real exam, you have unlimited time to look at a given question, but only 60 seconds to sift through the possible answers once you tell it “ready.” Some of the scenarios were as complex as items I have seen on real exams, without a doubt.

Over the course of a couple days, I ended up finishing the full IT Pro half of AYC. That was a grand total of 400 questions. Yes, there were shiny badges aplenty to be had.

Achievements really are the bane of completist, borderline OCD folks like me. Especially when there are broken or unachievable Achievements (like the damn Voucher Saver and Socialite badges, which are busted or impossible).

And I’ve yet to see anyone even close to my final score of 152,720.

Believe it or not, I found this thing to be a much more effective stress-relieving break than anything else. I don't smoke tho. I'll bet the inhalation of carcinogens still beats this for pure relaxation. But there are no nasty 'Hey...what are those spots on my lungs' side-effects to worry about in the following years.

But that wasn’t what kept me going to the end. The fact is, AYC was an amazingly handy way to kickstart my brain while taking breaks from working on other stuff. During mid-morning breaks and lunch I’d run through AYC questions instead of dragging cards in Solitaire or wasting time on Facebook.

I found that when I got back to “real” work, I was able to chop through thorny issues like a hot knife through butter.

I chalk that up to the instant feedback (right or wrong), which let me know right away areas where I was weak, and where I wasn’t. On top of that, I learned almost 2 dozen things about SQL Server during the course of rolling through AYC. Stuff I’ve used in the field since. Things I’ve been able to bill people for.

Which is the whole point of an IT career. If you aren’t committed to constant learning and then turning that knowledge into solutions that make a difference, you might as well get out of the business now.

And if you’re gonna try your hand at some AYC, do yourself a favor…

Just click that speaker button to mute the jingly muzak. Unless you really really like that sort of thing. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Turn off the background music before you start trying to answer questions. Just trust me on that one.

|| posted by chris under business, game, it pro, timekiller || comments (3) || ||

February 5, 2009

Running Antelope Rides Again!

My amazingly kickass freelance writer of a wife chalked up another cover story this month, this time about the living legend of NASCAR, Jeff Gordon…

The modern NASCAR would never have become the modern NASCAR if it hadn't been for this guy, who totally changed this sport into a Tier 1 draw.

Of course, she interviewed him back in the summer during a weekend event. Which just so happened to be the same weekend as the Brickyard 400. At Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As in, Indy. THE Indy.

And knowing how much I follow and enjoy NASCAR…did she invite me to go along on this one? That would be a big neg-a-tory, good buddy. Not that I’m bitter or anything about it.

Enough of my sob story…there are some pretty sweet giveaways attached to this. First, a lasagna recipe from Jeff’s mom, Carol, so you too can enjoy the pasta of champions.

Second, there’s a giveaway contest. Up for grabs?

  • Grand prize: A 1:24 scale fantasy die cast car from the Jeff Gordon Foundation
  • Runner-up prize: Pit Stop in a Southern Kitchen, a recipe book authored by Martha Earnhardt (wife of Ralph, mother of Dale, and grandmother of Dale, Jr.) and Carol Gordon Bickford (Jeff’s mom)

As always, you gotta be in it to win it, so enter before 2.28.2009 if you want to be in the running.

|| posted by chris under epiphany, freebie, media, motorsports, travel || comments (0) || ||