Code Camp hits Adelaide

July 7-8 is the date for Code Camp SA. If you're superstitious and seven is your lucky number, then it might be worth pointing out that the date is 7/7/7.

It's being organised by ADNUG, UniSA and the ACS, and you can find a full list of speakers here. I won't be there, but the Australian SQL Server User Group world is being well represented with David Gardiner, Greg Linwood and Greg Low presenting. It starts bright and early on the Saturday morning, and finishes in the afternoon on Sunday. It should be an excellent time for anyone who can get there.

For all the details, check out that speaker page. It includes information about the location and how to register.

An Adelaide icon waves goodbye

The State Bank building was built in Adelaide in 1988, and remains the tallest building in Adelaide. When the bank (not the building) collapsed in the early 90s, it became Santos House, and got branded with the Santos logo. It was like this when I first got introduced to Adelaide in 1994. It's the building where Microsoft have their Adelaide office, and Level 2 hosts the user-group meetings that I run. At Christmas there are green lights in the shape of a tree, and it displays a cross at Easter time.

In the last few weeks, the word Santos has disappeared. It now shows the red W of Westpac. I suppose it makes little difference to most things. I'm happy enough to refer to it as Westpac House, or whatever its new name is supposed to be. But I'm saddened. Santos is a South Australian brand. The 'Sa' at the start of the word is "South Australia" (and interestingly, the NT is Northern Territory, like the NT in Qantas). It's very disappointing that the branding associated with this important Adelaide building no longer reflects Adelaide. Something's been lost.

I have similar emotions about the branding of the Arsenal stadium at Ashburton Grove. I appreciate that Emirates Airline have paid a fortune for the naming brand. But it's a shame that this fantastic stadium, the third largest stadium in London (after Wembley and Twickenham) should have its branding rights sold, but to a company who doesn't reflect London at all. At least Wigan Athletic's JJB Stadium is named for a shop owned by the chairman of the club, a company which is based in Wigan.

70-431 exam tips, and congrats to Jos Verbaken – MCTS

Jos Verbaken was a student of mine a few weeks ago. He lives in Ballarat, and is known around the Melbourne SQL Server User Group circles. He did the 5-day course 2780 – Maintaining a Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Database. During the course, I encouraged the students to sit the exam 70-431, which the exam I wrote simulation questions for, and the exam which is half covered by the content in Course 2780 (the other half being from the 'Implementing' course 2779).

I did my standard trick of telling the students to take a chance on the exam without studying – just to find out what to expect from the exam, and to see which areas you feel you need to learn. Without the stress of feeling you have to pass, people are often more likely to get through it. Also, as the exams are designed to test your ability in the area, not just your ability to learn to pass the exam, you shouldn't have to study much. Most of all, the Microsoft certification exams are not like exams at university or high-school – you can try multiple times.

With 70-431, there are many simulation questions. The only real way you can learn about these is to use them. It's the best argument for doing a course as part of your study, because you get to use labs which cover lots of the GUI ways of doing things. I suppose maybe it helps being taught by someone who wrote the content, although I'm not about to give any hints about what you might need to know about to pass the exam. My biggest hint really is to just try it. Worst case you spend A$180 / US$125 and come out with a bunch of ideas about what you should spend time learning.

Of course, Jos didn't need to worry at all. He tried the exam recently and passed. That makes him a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist in the area of SQL Server 2005. Well done, mate!

My good friend Mitch Wheat (in Perth) passed some exams recently too, and is now an MCPD at least twice over. Thoroughly deserved, Mitch!