Umm … Just Call Me Chuck

Hey Everybody!

I guess you might have been wondering what happened with Career Factor & me. 

To put it succinctly, perhaps you’d like to call me Chuck Cunningham?

If you aren’t familiar with the Cunninghams on the TV show “Happy Days“, Chuck Cunningham was Richie’s older brother that was around for only a couple of episodes. He went to play basketball one day and never came back to the show.

That is similarly what has happened to me and Career Factor.

It boils down to this: I work in the public sector and Microsoft wants to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

Since there are literally thousands of public sector entities across the world with which Microsoft does business, it is next to impossible for them to keep up with what is permissible for employees from one jurisdiction to another.

As a result, Microsoft doesn’t permit public sector employees to participate in contests and programs such as Career Factor.

This was not known by the staff at Microsoft running Career Factor nor me prior to my joining the cast.

I had permission to participate from my management and have done nothing wrong.

Unfortunately, this was just one of those things. It blows but what can you do?

I laid low while Career Factor was running because I didn’t want there to be any sort of conflict. Frankly, I don’t know what conflict there could have been but one never knows.

I certainly have no ill feelings about what happened. I’ve been following what the gang has been doing and it is some great work. I’m proud of them and what they’ve accomplished.

My hope is that should Microsoft run Career Factor again and should I be in a position where I could participate, I would like to. We’ll have to see.

Since then, lots of stuff has happened in my life.  In the coming weeks, I’ll get you caught up on that stuff.

In terms of content here, there are a couple of things going on.

First, I am going to continue pursue my IT certifications. I’ll chronicle the processes of the various certs that tickle my fancy.

The other thing is, I have decided to continue in the family business! For those who don’t know, I come from a long line of writers. I’ve started my first novel and will be blogging about that process as well.

So, lots of great stuff coming down the pike. Stay tuned.

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Well, isnt’ this interesting???

So, when I started this blog, (Yes, I realize that this is only the second posting!) I wanted to start with Microsoft certifiactions but wasn’t sure how I was going to do that. 

I had some Lotus and CTT+ stuff in the pipeline but didn’t have anything figured out for Microsoft.

Well, it would seem as if God has smiled upon me yet again. He handed me THE greatest oppuntity a couple weeks ago.

I’ve been selected for Microsoft’s online reality show “Career Factor”. I’m going to be the “Career Advancement Seeker” meaning, I’ve been in IT for a number of years and am looking to transition my skills to the Microsoft skill set.

I’m really thrilled. The other candidates and I have been interacting for the past couple of weeks. They are all nice folks who bring something unique to the table.

We launch on the 18th of January so be sure to follow all of us at:

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Let’s see what’s out there!

Throughout the ages, there have been great explorers. From Pytheas to Columbus to Lewis & Clark to Armstrong & Aldrin to Drexler or whomever is your favorite explorer, they all did essentially the same thing: the left behind the old familiar world and boldly, courageously set up for an uncharted new one.

They had not the foggiest notion of what lay in front of them. They simply stood on their respective docks and said “Hey, all this partying is great but uhh … I’ve got to get outta here! I’ve got places to be!”

I am by no means one of the world’s great explorers. However, I need to look to them for some guidance.

For me, the world I am leaving is not so much a place I called home but a technology I have called home and with which I’ve grown comfortable. Working with it for over 15 years, has been great but it has become … kind of predictable.

The technology of which I speak is IBM’s Lotus Notes & Domino.

Frankly, predictability is what you want in your mission critical enterprise communication system. You just want that thing to work and never go down.

In a properly running Notes shop, that is what happens: Notes just works. That’s great for the enterprise but what about the guy or gal who runs it?

They get bored and want to do other things.

Astonishingly, unlike other technologies, Notes & Domino are still best in breed. IBM now packs more into a Domino license than ever before. As a result, with DB2, WebSphere, Quickr, Sametime and all the other things that are now included, there are so many new avenues of exploration available for anyone who wants to stick their toe in the water.

And that’s great and I’ve worked with all of them too … but what about when you enter your “Spock conundrum?” You know: Is this all that I am?

See, we IT operations folks are great problem solvers. We are happiest during outages when we are knee deep in it. When everything is hitting the fan, that’s when we thrive. It’s when we proudly say “Boss, jump on my back! Ride me … I’ll get this fixed!”

When you have a stable product, outages don’t happen too often. So, what does an ops guy to do?

For starters, boredom usually sets in about 15 minutes after lunch the day of the outage postmortem. You’re now bouncing off the walls just looking for the next thing to do. Usually, that is the point when someone says “Hey why don’t we migrate to Exchange?”

And, the other bored ops folks and you say “Yeaah! Let’s grab some old desktops, and make a lab! We can set both Exchange and Domino up in ‘the lab’ and get them talking to each other!”

At this point, both those in “the lab” and I now rejoin the aforementioned famous explorers, standing on the docks.

Here’s where I am.

Recently, I was asked to take on the task of building an IT training program. I’ve started with Notes client training and will be adding courses shortly. It’s been great fun building the program from the ground up.

While building my program, I discovered the various certified trainer programs (i.e. IBM Certified Instructor for Lotus Software, the Microsoft Certified Trainer and others). In a nutshell, if you want to utilize official, authorized courseware, (and who doesn’t?), you need to obtain both the certification you want to teach AND a separate training certification. The best part about that is the training cert required by both IBM & Microsoft are the same; which means less work!!!

I have always had a love of certs. Mainly because there is a lot of a minutia that you have to learn, study and keep in your head long enough to regurgitate on the test.

I’ve spent the past 15 years working with Notes & Domino mainly on Windows based servers. In that time, I’ve obtained a few Notes-Domino certifications: R5 Sys Admin, Advanced Sys Admin in 6/6.5 and 7 and App Dev in 6/6.5 & 7. I’ve taken Microsoft MCSE courses but never sat for the actual tests.

All this means, I need to get studying and pass some tests!

For starters, with the sun setting on the ND7 level certs, I figured I spend this last month of eligibility working on my ND7 Advanced App Dev – LotusScript test. Historically, LotusScript has been my Everest. It has tripped me up for years. Even though there are other sexier certs I could obtain to get my Advanced App Dev, I’m kicking LotusScript’s ass!

Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to work my tail off, pass the LotusScript test, and write about what I’m going through.

After that, we’ll continue the certification journey and talk about everything related to IT certifications as I go through the process of earning them.

Come along with me on this nutty, wacky trip. Come with me on my journey of technological discovery … my exploration of this bold new world. Follow me as I experience all of the highs and all the lows that come with the bold pursuit of certifications.

Follow me here and on Twitter. As I go through my journey, I’ll blog and tweet about what I’m learning. That way, maybe you’ll learn something new or be reintroduced to a long lost friend or … who knows what fun we’ll have along the way.

This journey is definitely not one sided. If you are pursuing certifications, feel free to share with everyone here what you know or are learning. I love the exchange of ideas.

So, in the spirit of a fictional yet popular explorer, none other than one Captain Jean-Luc Picard, as he said at the end of “Encounter at Farpoint” and the start of TNG, I say “Let’s see what’s out there!”

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