Saturday, March 29, 2008

User Conference Exams just $25

Hopefully you are attending the MySQL Users Conference and are going to take advantage of the very deeply discounted exam prices. Normally the exams are $200 but we offer them at the UC for $25.

There will be two sessions each day of the three day conference. The session are at 10:30 and 13:40 for ninety minutes. And there is a special Exam Q&A Session will be held in the Magnolia Room, Tuesday from 1:00 pm - 1:30 pm.

We will be offering the Developer I & II, DBA I & II exams, and the Cluster exam. Please remember the Cluster exams is for those who already have the DBA certification.

The website omits mention of the Associate Exam but we will be offering that one also.

All exams will be administered in the Magnolia Room on the lobby level of the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara (adjacent to the convention center).

In order to attend an exam, you must bring:

* Payment voucher (obtained at the registration desk)
* Photo ID
* MySQL Certification Candidate ID number. If you do not already have a Certification Candidate ID number from earlier exams, you must obtain one HERE.

Because time is at a premium, please make sure you have met those requirements or you could miss an exam session.

And if you have all your certifications, please drop by and say 'hi'!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

MySQL Certification Newsletter

Apologies to those on the MySQL Certification Mailing list but I am posting here what went out today to that list. But I wanted to make sure the information was available to all who may be interested. You may consider adding yourself to the list and a link is provided at the end of this entry to help. It is a very LOW bandwidth and heavily moderated list.

MySQL Certification News -- March 2008

2007 was a great year: MySQL Certifications had a great year last year. Over 45% more exams were delivered than in 2006 and certifications earned were up by almost a third! The new Associate Certification is proving to be very popular. Thank you on behalf of The Certification Team and MySQL.

Users Conference: Once again you can take a MySQL Certification Exam at the Users Conference for $25. We will have six exam sessions over the three days of the conference. This is in addition to the tutorials, sessions, and great attenddes. Be sure to drop by the exam area to find out when we are going to have an informal reception. Signup at

MySQL has its own planet?!? If you have not discovered, you are in for a treat. The best blogs on MySQL and related subjects can now be found in one place.

Free exam voucher for those who attend MySQL training for a limited time. Details at

How can we help? We are looking for ways to help you earn your MySQL Certifications. The exams are tough for a reason and we are not going to make them easier. So we are looking for your input on what we can do to help you. Do we run virtual study groups? Set up a special online form for each exam? So, what can we do for you? Let us know at Certification@MySQL.Com

MySQL 6.0 Exams: Next year MySQL 6.0 will take the world by storm and the MySQL Certification Exams will be upgraded to match the new release. The MySQL Certification Team would like to hear your thoughts on then next generation of exams.
Do we retain two exams (DBA-I & DBA-II or Dev-I & Dev-II) for the DBA and Developer exams? Or do we need to go to three exams to cover Falcon, partitioning, and all the other new features? Could the material be covered on one very long exam?
So please help us design the 6.0 exam by sending your ideas to Certification@MySQL.Com with the subject line set to '6.0 exam'.

Thank you for your support of MySQL.

You can unsubscribe (or get any interested co-workers to subscribe) to this list at

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Warning for MySQL exam takers at the User's Conference

One of the best deals at the MySQL Users Conference is the deep discount on certification exams. For a mere $25, you can take exams that are normally $200. But those of you planning to take your exams next month need to know some facts before your arrive.

First: All the really hot sessions with the great presenters who will fill your skull with knowledge just by their presence (and tell all the best SQL jokes) are scheduled at the same time as the exams. There are only six exam session and the six hottest presentations just happen to be at the same time. I am not sure if this is karma, bread slice falling butter side down physics, or part of an intricate plan but it falls into the 'it is a feature not a bug' realm. So read the agenda and plan your exam schedule. Trying to hurry through an exam to catch the end of a presentation will do justice to neither activity.

Second: Know the exam material BEFORE you sit down for the test. The exams are not easy and spending time in six test session to pass one exam is not the best use of your time. You have an opportunity to meet some of the smartest folks in the world at the conference and may miss it by cramming for the exam.

Third: Sign up as a certification candidate at Pearson Vue if you are not in the certification system. Your score will be returned to you much faster if you are in our database. This step costs you nothing but time now. At the conference, time is too valuable to spend on administrivia.

Fourth: Do not judge your exam experience by others taking exams at the same time. Some folks are fast. Some folks are not. Some are going to pass while others are not. Work at your best pace, which should be seventy questions UNDER ninety minutes. See the second item above again. You will not be sitting near anyone take the same exam as you so do not judge your pace by those around you.

Fifth: The User Conference is an amazing event. You will be exposed to a multitude of new ideas, new friends, and will see the MySQL world through a different set of eyes. As much as I personally love to have people take the MySQL exams, it is only a tiny part of the UC.

There will be an informal 'reception' one night in the exam room (look for details at the UC). Please drop by if you have a chance. Some of the authors of the Cluster Study Guide are planning to be there. This is also a good way to give us your views on certification.

Monday, March 17, 2008

DBA Interview Questions

Snappy Interviews: 100 Questions to Ask Oracle DBAs is one of those valuable books that you need to have in your library if you interview Oracle talent or are a technical recruiter.

I am neither right now, but author Christopher Lawson has some great advice for interviewers. There is an art to asking questions and this book is skillfully written to show this art.

Niche questions seeking very arcane knowledge do not test the breath of skills and knowledge of a interviewer. A few questions on minutia are fair game. But you want to quickly access what is in the candidate's skull as relates to the job at hand and not ascertain if they would be a good partner for Trivial Pursuit.

Question the understanding of concepts. The ability to recite rote memorized lists usually fails at three o'clock in the morning. And ask about the entire breadth of the position, just not one small segment.

These have been unstated goals of the MySQL Certification exam questions. We do not ask for a lot of SYNTAX or ask for a series of mouse clicks. The goal is to test how well you know MySQL products.

So if you are interested in this book, use 'snappy oracle' as search words at Amazon or head to

Every company seems to have 'those' interview questions that is designed to put interviewees in exceedingly nervous mode. 'Can you name the former Presidents of the United States that are not buried in the United States?' Microsoft had a reputation for this type of questions. Sometimes they are funny. Too often they fall into the James T. Kirk/Kobiashi-Maru level of trivia.

Anyone have any of these questions to share?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How hard is that MySQL Certification test?

"So hard hard is that MySQL DBA Certification?" I was asked by two different individuals just a few hours apart. The first was a prospective candidate asking for study guidance. The second was project manager who has the general view that certifications are not worth the paper they are printed on and only represent someones ability to regurgitate answers previously fed to the test taker.

So how tough is the test? Forty percent of those taking the DBA-I fail. DBA-II only fails twenty four percent.

I would hope that simple regurgitation would provide more than a sixty percent pass rate.

The Developer exams have a 72 and 75 percent pass rate. The Associate exam has a 77 percent pass rate and the cluster is just over 80 percent.

The MySQL DBA exams are tough. I had been using MySQL since the days when you downloaded it from when I took the exams last year. The study guide and sample questions were pretty well reviewed. And still some of the questions made me doubt how well I new the product.

You are expected to have six months to a few years hands-on experience for the DBA and Developer exams. Pilots will tell you there is no substitute for 'seat time' or time spent doing. I have spent a lot of time on analysis of the certification test results and it is fairly obvious when someone skims the certification guide and tries to wing it. You are not passing go and you are paying $200.

So for the potential candidate I mentioned, I gave him the same advice covered in earlier editions of this blog. There are no shortcuts and he is in for a lot of hard effort.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

SWSX Meetup; Which cert for PHP types

We had the Meetup in Austin featuring Zack Urlocker on March 9th. He was in Austin for the South By Southwest Festival. Part of SWSX was Sun's sponsored concert by Seven Mary Three and the Smithereens. Plus there was the added bonus of meeting members of the local community and SWSX conference attendees. And it was a good opportunity for the Texas MySQL-ers to gather together. Long story short is that we had a great meal, met some very nice people from Sun, and head lots of great music. Look for the Sun/MySQL Meetup/Mashup near you. The people are great and the events are a lot of fun!


I was asked which is a better certification for the 'average' PHP developer : The Developer or DBA? Most of the PHP shops I know of (or have employed me) are very small and one person has to cover a lot of territory. This brings us to a 'which came first, the chicken or the egg' type dilemma. Do you follow the strict developers tract and learn to squeeze all you can out of your schema or a DBA path to keep your servers running at the peak of performance? In a small shop, you are going to probably be responsible for both.

I would recommend the DBA certification first followed by the Developer. It is easier to write good code in a properly running environment than in a situation where you can not tell if your code or the sever is at fault.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tales from the DBA wars, Part I

Humorous Pictures

Good database administrators have to plan for the worst. You make a script to backup your data, make sure the script runs properly under cron, store copies of the backups off site, test to make sure you can restore from an old backup, and you still are almost comfortable with the safety of your data. Something in recesses of your mind whispers an almost audible message that you forgot to check one thing. 'What could it be?' you ask yourself in the sleepless hours spent looking for your Achilles Heel.

A friend sent me an email this morning to tell me he wanted to pull back an old copy of a large database that he had backed up months before. The backup was in a file named DEPT072-may-06.sql. So he did the following:

Linux> mysqladmin create scratchdb
Linux> mysql scratchdb > DEPT072-may-06.sql

And then he walked away to get a fresh cup of coffee. When he returned, he was surprised to find out the restore was still running. But it was a big database. Big databases take time to restore. A little while later he glanced over and was dumb founded to find that the restore was still running. Then he spotted the problem.

Or should I say, the first problem.

He meant to type:

Linux> mysql scratchdb < DEPT072-may-06.sql

He corrected the '>' and then found his second problem. The backup file he need to restore from was now a zero length file. D'oh!

So a word to the wise -- Good DBAs plan for all contingencies AND pay attention to what they are doing to avoid making a mess.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Austin Meetup

Hey Texans!

This Sunday (3/9) Sun will be hosting an event at La Zona Rosa in Austin and has invited MySQL'ers and community members. Music will be from the Smithereens and Seven Mary Three. And Zack Urlocker will be in attendance.

We up in Dallas are trying to get a group to head South and hope to see you there.

If you are in the Austin area or can get there, this is a great opportunity to socialize.

Addressing your address

Attention MySQL certification candidates and those of you have earned your certifications: Please let us know if you have a new address or email.

First: This keeps us from sending your certificates to your old address. Tracking down your certification package can be very expensive in time and money.

Second: Our recent purchase by Sun means that our certification data will soon be rolled into Sun's certification database. Please help me out by having your data up to date.

So how do you update your address? You can update your data at Pearson VUE's website or send an email to

Please take two minutes today to save hours of very hard work in the future!