Thursday, 6 December 2012

A week with Firebrand – SQL Server 2012 Student Review | Days 1 - 3

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training
SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training

Firebrand student Rowan Troy took time off each day during his intensive 7 day course to blog about his experience at Firebrand. He successfully gained his MSCA.

Day 1

It was an early start for the first day, breakfast waits in the hotel restaurant and if it's like it was last time I was here, it'll be very good.  Firebrand will serve you a cooked breakfast but as always they don't recommend it - personally I don't take them up on the offer as I agree, it isn't good for the brain if you are attempting to learn at the accelerated pace that the course demands.

We managed to get through 7 modules today, if you did that on the traditional course, you would be out the door by the end of play on day 3 and most training establishments ask you for five days of your time for just one exam track!  Microsoft do have a tendency to pad things out but Firebrand take away the repetitiveness of the official curriculum and give you the bits you need to know.  Angela, our no longer M.I.A trainer, has been impressive in her knowledge of SQL and the demonstrations have been practically flawless.  She needs coffee though I think!

The clocks go back today so we do get an extra hour in bed which is a first for me being on a course.  It is needed though as reading takes up your time once you have completed the labs.  It is 2300 now so it's time to get some sleep before day 2 starts.

Signing off!

Day 2

Day 2 is always a crunch day for me even though I have been here 5 times now.  You wake up realising that you're still here, wondering whether you actually learned anything on the first day and whether you remember anything.  My fellow alumni are also feeling the tiredness that comes with self-study and staying up all the hours God gives to get as much knowledge in your over-worked brain.  Good thing to do is recap the modules you covered at the start of the day as it does help to jog the grey matter.  Breakfast was great again, just in case you were wondering.

We managed to get through 8 modules today which are just staggering.  I know there will be some readers who think that isn't possible but I implore you to take a look at the padding out that does happen with some modules and condense that information into one single module.  You'll soon find out that it is quicker and that you repeat things quite often.  Talk of the first exam has already begun and although we are a day away still, everyone is keen to understand just how difficult it is.

The course doesn't come with as many books as I would like.  Firebrand always provide you with the Training Kits that come from the Microsoft Press or the Administrators Companion as both are valuable tools to self-study with when you've completed the labs (or just fed up with them) and you want to go back to your room to study in your own way and in your own time.  Unfortunately the course and exams are so new that even Microsoft is somewhat behind in producing suitable reading material.  I was not amused to receive a revised release date for the 70-461 training kit as it will now arrive on 3rd November - too late for me so I cancelled that a while ago!!!  Firebrand have fortunately taken the time to research alternative books to the above and provided them instead.

Day 3 is coming and again its 2300 so time to hit the sack and get some energy back ready to finish off the first exam track and begin the revision…

Day 3

Day 3 started off pretty well, continuing with the course content and knowing there isn't much left to cover does give you this sense of build up to the first exam.  I happen to be carrying the joys of winter with me when I came up here and unfortunately haven't managed to shake it off so I felt somewhat unwell throughout the day.  Unknowingly though, performing complex tasks in the labs (they actually make you think now instead of giving you step by step instructions - that is until you look in the very back of the book of course) somehow made me forget about my cold and gave me something to focus on.  It's true what they say, doing something continuously that engages the brain non-stop allows you to forget the world around you.  With the clocks going back it does, at the moment, make the day feel longer so you do have to wonder how your brain can cope with this pace and having an extra hour to squeeze in!

I haven't mentioned lunch or dinner yet as breakfast is, in my opinion, the most important meal of the day but as always it is superbly prepared food and I hope that it continues to stay that way.  You need it after the brain work out that is Transact SQL and the numerous windows and pop boxes that we face as IT bodies every day.  It doesn't get any easier it would seem to keep up with the fast pace moving world that is Microsoft technologies.

The exam is tomorrow so I am signing off just a little earlier as I need the sleep.  I will be up very early to get myself reading again before the 9:30am meet up time and 10am exam.  I came here with nothing but if I leave with an exam under my belt, it would mean a lot and would be a bonus.  I know some people come here and their performance is monitored by their employer, fortunately mine isn't so I don't have that added pressure that some of my alumni do.

Good night!

Click here to see days 4 to 7 of Rowan’s SQL Server 2012 experience with Firebrand Training: