Everything stated on this site is, of course, MY opinion / statement / thought, unless specifically stated otherwise. You knew that.


PLEASE NOTE: I'm *slowly* combining my blogs into this single site. If you are looking for Lotus Notes content from my old site, please EMAIL me at: jrlitton at gmail dot com and tell me the link or the content you were seeking. I will try to email you the content within a day.

- Joe

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Learning SharePoint: my plan...

In this post I'll list the resources I'm using to learn SharePoint, my reasoning for the order in which I'm doing things, and a little of my background (which I'll post first, so you can feel free to skip past that :)

I started working in IT in the mid 80's. It was a DEC PDP installation running the RSTS/E operating system. Don't worry if you've never heard of that. Within a year or so we migrated to a DEC VAX/VMS system. I was sent to a lot of training, and spent many, many hours at night reading through ALL of the manuals that occupied my 4-foot wide, 6-foot high bookcase in my office, dedicated solely to VAX/VMS. One of my college instructors had said that whenever we started a new technology, we should bring a manual home every night until we'd read the whole thing, and keep doing that. After a time, one would become The Expert. It worked. I was promoted to System Manager, and knew these computers quite literally inside and out. I could swap out or add CPUs, hard drives, etc, handle all of the operator duties, code programs for our insurance business, and patch the O/S at the lowest levels. Then we were acquired by a larger organization and switched to completely different architecture. All of that DEC-specific knowledge was meaningless.

And at first I really missed the community of fellow VAX/VMS folks I'd come to know.

There have been other technology shifts along the way. I've spent the past 17 years very heavily involved with Lotus Notes. I've had every developer certification offered since version 4 (current version is v9), and co-authored the certification exams for a number of years. I'd followed the same strategy my college instructor had prescribed, and literally bought my own set of manuals and would re-read them cover to cover each year. And I of course was spending my days entrenched in the technology.

And the community! The community of fellow Notes geeks was and is phenomenal the point that folks who have moved to other technologies take time off and spend personal funds to go to the location of the main annual conference and spend a little time visiting with many who are very real and cherished friends.

So now I'm adding SharePoint to my skills. OK, it's not a skill for me yet, but it will be. And one of the most important things to me is that I'm finding that the SharePoint community is - as I found with the VAX/VMS community and with the Notes community - a welcoming group of wonderful people. That means as much to me as the technical aspects. Maybe more. And is a big part of that.

OK ..on to the task at hand: learning SharePoint.

I want to build a very solid foundation of understanding. I need to really grasp the architecture, the design, behind SharePoint before I can then really learn how to develop proper applications. So I'm first going to learn the technical bits and do the hands on practice needed to pass the Microsoft 70-667 exam (Configuring Microsoft SharePoint 2010). I'm also doing a little with Office 365 and SharePoint 2013 for work (and for fun), but SP2010 is my main focus.

The tools:

  1. MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-667): Configuring Microsoft® SharePoint® 2010 (link) cost: US$40
  2. Trainsignal SharePoint 2010 Administration (70-667) 3-DVD course (link) cost: US$49/mo or approx US$400 to purchase
  3. LearnDevNow video courses (link) cost: US$100 (often discounts are available)

There are free resources as well. In fact, Microsoft offers a largely free study guide (there's a couple of pieces that are US$50 each), there are many sites that have great tips, etc. But I do well with a plan, laid out exercises, etc. I already failed the exam once after thinking I'd studied enough, and knew the material. I learned that I need a lot more practical exercise to truly know the material. So I'm starting from scratch.

I have a home machine running Windows 7 (a tower PC), with 16GB RAM, 500GB internal HD and 3TB of USB drives. My starting point is the Training Kit from Microsoft (it's a book with a disk). I've created some VMs using the free version of VMWare, and am now going to continue through the rest of the lessons. This time, I'll do all of the exercises. And watch the 15 hours of video from the TrainSignal course. And go through the SharePoint lessons from LearnDevNow. With the 3 resources I list above and the memory I added to the PC, I've got about US$600 invested in this (plus the cost of the exam I failed and the one I'm going to take in 2-3 months). So my total investment will be about US$1000. But I will have a solid foundation of the architecture of SharePoint 2010. And then I'll dive into the dev. And then SharePoint 2013. I've learned a number of technologies before, and I'll do it again.

And I'm very glad that I've found a community with which to share my journey, to whom I can ask questions, and among whom I can hopefully be answering questions before too long.

Cheers :)


Sweet! MSDN license means 1yr O365 license

This was a nice first email to see this morning:

We’re excited to announce a new MSDN benefit – a 12 month, single-user Office 365 Developer Subscription...

This is perfect timing. I'd been considering paying for a license in order to explore Office 365. Now I'm glad I waited a little. There's several things I want to play with, but one of them involves creating a small database with MS-Access and then publishing that to Access Services in O365.

Things just got easier :)


Learning SharePoint (old dog learning new tricks)

My IT career started in the mid-80's, so of course there's been a number of technologies in the mix over the years. I'm now learning SharePoint, but over the past many years have seen me dabbling or deeply immersed with C, Smalltalk, VAX/VMS, RSTS/E, BAL, Pascal, BASIC, FORTRAN, COBOL, OS/2, DOS, mainframes / minis / PCs, a number of proprietary languages, Lombardi, Java, VB, C#, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, many types of hardware, etc., etc., etc.

So although I'd been primarily working in the Notes arena since the mid 90's (and that work continues), I started delving into SharePoint around autumn of 2011. It's time for me to get serious, and I've learned that the best way for me to learn something is to write and talk about it. Just as with my earliest forays into blogging about technical topics, this SharePoint blog serves as a place for me to store content that is meaningful to me. My hope is that a few others may also find this useful.

And with that... Time for me to get writing.

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