Well not a real lot really. We’ve had a few interesting discussions at work on the value of certifications. To be honest, while it is nice to add them to the resume, I don’t think they would make much difference as to whether I got a job or not – certainly I think experience is much more important in that respect.
So why bother then? A few reasons come to mind..
They’re free (well they are if you manage to get vouchers or take beta exams as I’ve managed to do for every exam so far)
You do get a nice feeling when you find out you’ve passed.
You get nice certificates in the post that impress family and friends.
It can be a useful gauge of how well you know a particular topic, and highlight weaker areas. Sometimes you might even learn useful new things along the way, or clarify something you weren’t sure about.
Finally, I do seem to get the occasional email asking how I passed my exams (and whether I could tell the person what the questions were).
Apart from a couple of exams where I have studied a bit, for the most part I just rely on my actual real-world experience, and when that fails, try to look at the answers logically and pick the one that looks the most likely. That seems to have worked pretty well for me so far.
And no I won’t tell you what the questions are, so don’t bother asking!
Last Friday I joined over 7,000 other cyclists to again take part in the Challenge Tour, riding the stage 4 route that the Tour Down Under professionals would also complete.
The last few years, I’ve ridden with my Dad, but this year due to recent surgery he was unable to participate. As we’d also been away for a couple of weeks my preparation was not what it could have been, so instead of attempting the full 155km course from Burnside Village to Angaston, I elected to just do the 97km starting from Mt Pleasant.
I took 4 hours 45 minute to complete the ride (including breaks) which I was quite happy with. It was only forecast to be 28 °C which is much better than last year, and this time I tried to drink a lot more regularly.
There was a sad note to finish on – unfortunately my bike did not travel well on the drive home. Somehow the front forks were bent sideways. Due to its age, I don’t think it’s worth repairing. I had been hoping to get a new bike later this year, but maybe those plans will have to be fast-tracked.
For some unexplained reason, the DVD drive on my home computer disappeared. Not physically – it’s still mounted in the case! But logically. A bit strange, as it was still listed in the BIOS at startup, but Windows XP didn’t show it under the local drives and the following message was in the System Event Log:
Event Type: Error Event Source: Service Control Manager Event Category: None Event ID: 7026 Description: The following boot-start or system-start driver(s) failed to load: Cdrom
Opening up Device Manager revealed the drive was listed, but had a problem - “Windows cannot load the device driver for this hardware. The driver may be corrupted or missing. (Code 39)”
I don’t know how this happened, but KB Article 314060 describes a resolution that worked for me.
This wasn’t actually the first thing I tried. Thinking that it may be hardware-related, I bought a new Pioneer DVR-216. Being a SATA drive, I then installed this into Dad’s video editing machine (which also meant I could do away with the extra IDE card and just use the motherboard IDE slot) and took his old PATA DVD drive and tried that in my older machine. As it turns out it didn’t make any difference to me, though Dad has probably ended up better off.
Coming back, we followed a similar route, however we came back via Glen Innes (slightly longer, but less windy). We also stopped over at Coolah and Moulamein. Both of these towns are slightly off the main highway, but the cost of a cabin was a lot cheaper.
So how does a family with 3 kids (including a 7 month old baby) who only have a medium-sized sedan survive driving these kinds of distances? Things have improved a bit since me and my sister and Mum & Dad used to head off on family holidays many years ago. A critical innovation has revolutionised long-distance car travel – the portal DVD player!
Narelle wisely suggested we purchase one for our previous interstate trip, and it really did make the difference to the younger members of the family, who aren’t quite up to the stage of curling up with good book to while away the hours.
Not wanting to take all the original discs, I made copies of a few of the kids’ DVDs. In addition Narelle borrowed a few talking book CDs from our local library (more for the benefit of those in the front seats).
Copying DVDs isn’t always straight forward. I’ve got a copy of the final version of DVD Decrypter (no longer under development) which is pretty good, but I read just before we left that SlySoft (who also produce the very useful free ISO mounting utility Virtual CloneDrive) had a special on their AnyDVD HD tool. AnyDVD works at the driver level to transparently remove protection from DVDs (including HD and Blu-Ray). I could then use ImgBurn to copy and burn the “travel” copies. For any dual-layer discs, I made use of DVD Shrink 3.2 to squash everything down to fit on my single-layer blank discs.
I also copied a few of the kids’ favourite ABC Kids programmes that had been recorded using Media Center and burned a couple of discs with those. For some weird reason I couldn’t get Vista Movie Maker to work with the DVD drive, but I found a decent (and free) alternative – DVD Flick that did.
We did survive the trip there and back (also aided by Narelle’s folks who also drove up with us in their car), and had a nice time in Yamba too, managing to be in the pool or at the beach every day!
If you’re dining out, have coffee and cake at the Marina Cafe, and try some fish and chips or hamburger from the Fish Shop on Wooli St.