I have been off the site for nearly a year now while I was trying to decide which goals to pursue. Learning about SQL Server is something I have always wanted to do and passing on the opportunity 12+ years ago to manage out SQL Server team at Schwab is something I regret. I still have a yearning to learn the ins & outs but the technical scope and depth of SQL Server is still enormous and easily measured in years which bumps me up into the old man category.

Back in 2014 I  felt that my day trading was not going to be able to provide me with any financial resources and as a result picked up a part-time job which soon turned into a full-time job. Well being the never-ending pragmatist I decided if I am going to work 40 hours a week then I should move beyond my current $10/hourly wage and last summer started toward a teaching certificate. I am now certified to teach math!! I have been subbing since January while studying for my SQL 70-461 certificate. 🙂

While all this was going on I have been enthralled or entrapped, not sure which, on the latest in “cognitive learning”. To make sure it is the latest analysis I actually check the copyright for the books I read. I wish I would have known this while I was going to college or even could have had the opportunity to teach the ideas to my sons. Alas, I will take the knowledge and skills recently gleaned from the 12 or so books to help myself prep for the SQL exams and teaching school. I feel the cognitive strategies will help me become a better student of SQL Server sooner.

I will in the next few days start posting my reviews of the cognitive learning books and my approach to getting ready for the Exam 70-461.


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Slow progress

Numerous distractions to date. Just getting started w/the review of book SQL Server 2008 – Database Development. Hoping the drive over to the library will help me stay focused.

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Back at it

After an inconsistent performance spanning 6 months with my day trading I have opted back into the SQL Server world. I have put together a SQL Certification Chart I will probably be following along with. Starting with Exam 70-433 SQL 2008 Database Development since this is a closer match to my background. I will then follow it up with Exam 351. After talking with a MS rep it seems the idea of a DB Developer certificate is dying off with SQL 2008. It is in part being rolled up into the 2 SQL 2012 MSCE paths: DataPlatform and BI. Since I am on a deadline (end of July 2015) after Exam 351 I will jump over into DB Admin with Exam 432. The deadline will help provide focus and priorities.

I recently joined PluralSight to basically get my feet wet in each topic area. They offer some eLearning for exam 432 and exam 433. Then I plan to work thru the individual MS exam books most of which I have in hard copy. The other topic areas I have an interest in are SQL’s internal structures which was a big requirement for me when writing my own proprietary DB Engine for Charles Schwab. Then at some point I would like to learn PowerShell since I see a future of repetitive tasks :).



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SuperMemo and Anki – memorization tools

I realized when initially locating the materials for Exam 70-450 that there will be a TON of material and special situations or scenarios to remember. So I was looking around for a way to improve my ability to remember technical information for long periods of time. I did not want to learn the memorization techniques for cramming for an exam which seems to be associated more with mnemonic memorization techniques. This is also about the time I decided to switch over to studying for Exam 70-433.

The programs that seem to do this best were SuperMemo (v.16 for $60) and its watered down cousin Anki(free-ware). After spending a day plus with SuperMemo just trying to locate how to do simple things like importing .png files for both questions/answers and using templates I went back to Anki and found it’s simplier user interface was just cut&paste. So I moved the 50+ cards from SuperMemo into Anki and now have built up about 100+.

SuperMemo (be sure to check out the author of the product) is very powerful and probably the only thing holding it back is the helter-skelter users only documentation. There was from my hours of searching no definitive place to start learning. The company doesnt provide any help with the 16 or so versions and the user’s created online documentation has turned into a spaghetti bowl of linking to older versions.

Anki seems to have the most important pieces on SuperMemo and a simple way of building a deck. Though I was unsuccessful at getting the SuperMemo data exported in a format to import into Anki I just added them to Anki.

Another thing that makes building the category decks easier is having a Safari account ($20/mth after 10d trial) which allows you to build your knowledge cards via cut&paste from the books. A lot less typing 🙂



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SQL MTA Exam 98-364 Passed

Passed this exam last week w/a 88% score. I spent a few days after the exam locating and organizing the materials for exam 70-450 (a PRO:DB Admin exam) which is scheduled to retire on July 31. After a few days of this I decided instead the transition to 70-433 would be significantly easier for me to accomplish. I will postpone SQL DB Admin certification until after I finish the 2008 SQL DB Developer ones.

The exam was fairly easy and the majority( 75% ?) of my studying came from the MeasureUp practice exams in Study mode. Whenever there were explanations to answers I didnt know I would make notes in a Word doc with links to the online article for later reviewing. Also there are a few MVA(MicorsoftVirtualAcademy) videos I went thru and took the assessments offered there. The only other resource was the MTA Student Study Guide.

The exam itself I felt was actually simpler than achieving 2 90+ scores at MeasureUp in certification mode. Achieving this at MeasureUp and then failing the exam entitles you to a refund from them.


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I have been spending the past 3-4 weeks looking at a few different trading strategies that would be possible while learning SQL Server. This needed to be a simple swing strategy that requires minimal attention once the position is “on”, i.e. I can study SQL server. The overall weekly+monthly targets are small, it is more just to supplement income at this point. I started it off on a positive note today. I am still holding some longer term (2-6 months) positions to capture dividends.

I decided it is time to dedicate more time to my mental and physical health. It is quite easy to become lazy at home without some purpose and goals. Today I started off with a nice 45minute workout. I will add in some meditation practice, stretching, work on improving my reading comprehension and reflexes. I think I will be happier and more productive over the long haul if I can maintain a balance between studying and my overall health.

I tend to forget I am in a unique situation and feel like I have been squandering a lot of my precious time.

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Exam 98-364 objectives & links

The exam skill objectives are covered here.

Here are the My Learning links and a few others.

MyLearning links:
Step 1
Step 3
Step 4
Step 5
Step 6
Step 7 – Exam signup

YouTube Search SQL-Tutorial1 and SQL-Tutorial2

How To Learn SQL blog

MVA Database Fundamentals link

SQLBrit’s blog on Becoming a DBA

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