Last year I bought the “Exam Replay” certification voucher with a one-year expiration date, a free retake exam and a 30-day practice test for $265 USD. My initial plan was to take the retiring Microsoft Windows 7 exam before April 2019. When that exam came and went, my revised goal was to take the new Windows 10 exam. I had to wait until summer for the new study guide to come out. That left about six months to get Windows 10 certified.
Plenty of time, right? Uh, no.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I failed to show up at the testing center to take the exam before the voucher expired last month. That flushing sound you hear in the background was $265 USD going down the toilet.
When I bought the voucher a year ago, I thought having a deadline would be enough to motivate me to take the exam. Not having a deadline didn’t get me certified in anything in recent years. Not the Cisco network certification, CWNP Certified Wireless Network Administrator certification, CompTIA Security+ certification, or the Microsoft Windows 7 certification. All these certifications have been on my “to do” list for years.
Those certifications were relevant to whatever job I had at the time. When I did PC refresh projects eight years ago, it was Windows 7. At Cisco six years ago, it was network and wireless. When I started my government IT job five years ago, it was Security+. I’m now studying for Windows 10 because its replacing Windows 7 at my work, fundamentally different than Windows 2000 that I certified on 15 years ago, and the Microsoft exams are relatively inexpensive.
A video that I made about buying the voucher accumulated 3,200 views, 121 hours of watch time, and 36 new subscribers over the past year. In fact, one-fifth of my current subscribers came from watching my Microsoft certification—or, lack thereof—videos over the last two years. A big thank you for everyone who watched my videos and subscribed to my channel. With a public commitment to getting Windows 10 certified in 2019 or January 2020, it should have happened.
Alas, it didn’t.
I could have blamed my government IT day job in Silicon Valley. A coworker transferred to a different department after training his replacement for six months. When the replacement figured out that he wasn’t going to collect a paycheck for doing nothing, he quit the same day that my coworker transferred out. My workload doubled from 18,000 workstations to 36,000 workstations. I still delivered a 95% or better completion rate, month after month. With that many workstations to attend at work, I don’t have much time to study for the exam.
Having a YouTube channel doesn’t help either. Each video takes about eight hours to script, record, edit and post. I went from making 1+ videos per week for the last two years to 2+ videos per week in 2020. All I do on the weekends is make YouTube videos.
And then there’s the retro computer I’m building based on Ben Eater’s 6502 videos. Let me know in the comments below if you want me to make videos about my own efforts with the 6502.
With all that going on, I really don’t have much time for anything else. But being busy wasn’t my real problem. I could have simply changed my priorities at any time.
No, it was my mindset:
- My last certification exam was 15 years ago;
- I’m 50 years old and getting older;
- and, learning large amounts of technical material is difficult.
That’s correct—but also wrong. It made it easy for me to want to do anything else than study for a certification exam.
My mindset should have been:
- Windows has paid my bills for the last 25+ years;
- My current job has been exclusively Windows for the last 5+ years;
- And, everything I’m unfamiliar with on the exam I’ve touched upon at work.
That focuses on what I do know about Windows and I just need to fill in the gaps of what I don’t know.
What does this mean for getting Windows 10 certified in 2020? I’m planning to take the exam in about two months. I just recently activated the 60-day practice test that I bought on Black Friday that I should have done sooner. I won’t be getting another voucher this time around. I’ll just pay $165 USD for the certification exam and schedule the appointment. This time I should get it done.