Is Cramming For The PMP/CAPM Exam useful?

I am often asked by my students which study technique to use, which technique is better, and which technique will guarantee a pass.

I can’t guarantee a pass, much as I can’t guarantee a win when you enter a marathon race. I can coach and encourage and give some pointers on preparation, but that is all. However, I read a lot about the subject and every now and again I come across a gem of information by the experts which I like to share.

Such happened recently when I was reading (a 7 minute read btw) “The Art and Science of Remembering” subtitled “Key techniques for creating a lasting memory” by Robert Roy Britt in Elemental. You should bounce over and check it out.

He makes many good points, such as involving all your senses when you study and taking regular breaks. I know from my own studies that I write down and make notes and summaries which all helps me remember.

My take-away from the article is to reinforce what I was told by my elders and teachers, and it sounds counter-intuitive: Take a nap. Yes, do some studying, and then let your brain figure out the remembering. Your brain knows what to do if simply given the right opportunity.

Bet you didn’t know?

Hamming from the ISS

Hamming from the ISS

The picture was taken on the International Space Station (ISS) and shows Doug Wheelock, KF5BOC, Expedition 24 flight engineer, operating the NA1SS ham radio station in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station (courtesy Wikipedia).

My initial thought was Wow! A hobby aboard such an expensive science experiment – don’t they have more important things to do!

Until I gave it some thought. Ham radio (amateur radio) is not a hobby, but a service. The origins are vested in the original desire to get messages out when the public (or even governmental) services are under strain. The title of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), which is the national association for amateur radio in the USA (SARL in my country South Africa) gives the secret away: It was a radio relay service that passed important messages around.

In just about all the major disasters around the globe, the ham radio operators were there first to establish an emergency communications network.

Now it makes sense. While the guys on the ISS are sometimes playing, it is serious playing. It is like keeping the skills sharp with a smile. And if all else fails … the ham radio will be there.

On The Way Out Maybe?

Next Wave

Next Wave

It is Monday morning, the beginning of a new week, and I have a few days off between projects which I use to catch up / read the news / ponder trends. So it strikes me: Is Project Management still the buzz it was 10 years ago, or is it fast becoming just another management skill to be diifused into the corporate fabric?

The discipline of planning and scheduling is almost embedded in the Microsoft Office Suites, and almost anybody with no idea of management can be trained to point and click and produce something that looks like a graph of activities.

The skill of cost estimating and budgeting has narrowed its focus into the Cost Engineering fraternity where they shun anything that even looks like a project manager, opting instead to play with their calculations and spreadsheets.

The art of risk and change management has become a no-mans land, where only the most daring of individuals tread with their powerpoint presentations in hand. Companies have become so risk-averse in general and perhaps rightly so. Multi-billion dollar claims for personal injury or loss is not uncommon and class-action suits appear more regularly in the news.

So what is the next emerging management trend? If project management was riding the crest of the wave ten years ago, what is the new wave? Are we for example retracting into a “safe” world where the accountants smile and there are no identified risks (but no great rewards either)? Or are we sidestepping the really interesting new emerging technologies in favour of old established patterns? Either way I think your competition might spot a weakness in your armour to exploit, and then?

But that wasn’t the question. The question is: Who are the next generation of creators of wealth? Who are the guys that will plan, organise and execute on the brilliant ideas of the inventors and entrepreneurs? What are we going to call that discipline, and what tools are they going to use? Their tools will define them, because it appears to me that we have managed to generalise all the important tools (Excel, MS Project, PowerPoint, etc) to the point where you no longer need a specialist with a big laptop to operate them. The existing tools can do everything we want to do.

It is time for an inevitable change. The old is done, the new is waiting in the wings. But what does it look like? Do you want to take a guess? Comments are welcome!

Windows Phone 8 Review



I had the opportunity to use a Windows 8 phone for a few days. Specifically the one made by HTC, the smaller 8S. I picked up and held the 8X, but it was about as heavy as my existing HTC One X, so I thought it would be nicer to play with the 8S.

It is the cutest-looking phone on the market today. Hardware and sexyness gets a full 10 out of 10. The rest is bad. Very bad.

After unpacking the box I spent 6 solid hours trying to get it going, and I am deeply disappointed. I feel like a Groom on the first honeymoon night when the Bride tells him she is very willing but sorry, she doesn’t have all the important parts yet. Yes, it is that serious.

This Windows 8 phone is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an upgrade from anything. It is too low on the scale.

For example, it has maps. OK. But not turn-by-turn voice directions. I found that out on my way to an important appointment.

Then there is the total lack of storage management. The phone itself leaves the user with just over a Gig or memory – and that is no problem. I inserted a 4Gb micro SD card and guess what – I can still not manage my storage my way.

Then there is the really interesting story of syncing your data. The new syncing situation is this with WP8.

1) You cannot sync over WiFi. WP7/Zune users enjoyed this feature from day one of the release. Even Zune 8 and Zune HD users had this ability. In Windows Phone 8, on both Win7 and Win8, you now are restricted to a wired sync.

2) You cannot sync Podcasts at all. The Windows Phone App on both Win8 and Win7 does not support podcasts. The only podcast support is via OTA updates on WP8 and they do not sync at all. You wrote a column yourself on this topic recommending iTunes of all things to work around this.

3) You cannot sync playlists to WP8 from Xbox Music. There seems to be a bug in the WP App that doesn’t recognize Playlists in Xbox Music. There is no way that I can find to create a playlist in the WP App.

4) WP8 uses different DRM than Zune making downloaded content incompatible.

5) WP8 supports fewer file formats than WP7 and there is no feature to convert content when syncing.

These are just a few of the biggest and most obvious issues. XBox Music loses a lot of the functionality that existed in Zune Music meaning that many of the Syncing features that depended on them are gone, specifically the concept of Dynamic playlists and auto-fill. The file browser in the WP App is really terrible and without filtering it’s really painful to get through music catalogs that are thousands of songs long. Organizing photos is no better.

The PC syncing situation with WP8 is nothing short of a disaster.

Did I mention that I cannot update my DropBox directly with my critical notes? Oops.

No MS, I think you have to go back to the drawing board. This phone is cute but useless.