Oracle now offers online proctored exams

When signing up for a cert exam from Oracle (via PearsonVUE), you now get asked whether you want to take it “at a local test center” or “at my home or office.”

The online option sounded interesting so I clicked on it and went to the Online Proctored exam page. The gist is that if you can meet certain requirements, you can take the exam from home.

Computer requirements

Computer requirements are pretty standard. Any modern computer with Mac/Windows/Linux should be fine. Don’t take it over the corporate network though; it doesn’t play well with corporate firewalls.

Room requirements

The room requirements are where this falls apart for me. You have to be a walled room with a door. I live in New York City.; apartments are small. My apartment has two doors – one to get into the apartment and one for the bathroom. Everything else is one big room.

You also have to use your webcam to show that you aren’t in arm’s reach of books/notepads/post-its/papers/pens/pencils/etc. Additional monitors must be unplugged. Looking around, I have *a lot* of stuff within arms length. It would take a while to move things even if I had a room with a door.

Privacy

You have to be alone in the room. So prepare your family/roommates.

No Breaks

Ou are not allowed to take a bathroom break. I’ve never needed one during the exam. But it is three hours and some people do. In an exam center, you are allowed to go to the bathroom. It counts against your time, but you can go.

No writing

You aren’t allowed to write anything down. At the exam center, you can trace variables, write down questions to go back to etc. You have to return the paper at the end. Since this can’t be done at home, I understand why they can’t let you write anything down. However, I think it would be really hard to take a Java cert without writing anything down.

My thoughts

While I can’t do this, I think it is a good option for folks who have more space and/or live further away from a testing center. The not writing things down limitation would be hard though!

Jeanne is a Java Champion!

On Tuesday 6/23//19, I became a Java Champion. If you aren’t familiar, there’s a good overview of the program. To me, it’s an amazing peer recognition award! As of right now, there are 287 Java Champions. (Andres Almiray maintains a list of Java Champions)

One of my friends took video of the announcement. It was fun. I was the track lead of the Modern Java Innovation track. When I got up to explain the track, Wes (the MC) said there was a mistake on the slide. He then explained the Java Champion program and announced me as one.

Shortly after that came the official tweet

You might be wondering what I did to become a Java Champion. Many things including speaking, writing, volunteering with a robotics team, community contributions like CodeRanch and more.

A year ago at conferences, I started getting asked if I was a Java Champion. I was not, but it motivated to organize my accomplishments. I stood up a Google site to list what I’m most proud of: http://jeanneboyarsky.com/. Time to add Java Champion to that list! (and yes, I know how to make a website; I choose google site so I could focus on content)

[QCon 2019] High-Performance Remote and Distributed Teams

Randy Shoup @randyshoup

For other QCon blog posts, see QCon live blog table of contents

Remote

  • You to not often interact face-to-face with the people that you work with
  • Models- single site, multi site, remote first
  • Anti-pattern; Centralized HQ control. Most things and all decisions done at HQ. Others get work doled out to them
  • Anti-pattern: Site + Satellite Remote – One or several site where people work every day and one or two on own
  • Remote first – everyone on video and slack. Model that Ok to interrupt b/c net slow

Benefits

  • Larger talent pool
  • Take advance of localized supply and demand
  • Parallel hiring – can grow teams in parallel. Not tied to a recruiting team. Each site can hire in parallel
  • Geographic hedge – can hire more in one region if things slow down in one
  • Diversity and inclusion – flexible location/hours, geographic/cultural, neurodiversity (b/c communication styles vary)
  • Retention – can live different places, employee satisfaction, productivity
  • Little/no commute
  • Flexibility
  • Personalize work environment
  • If at HQ and work with remote people, more flexibility because your teammates are remote
  • Ensure each team full stack so not relying on team in another country for communication
  • Follow the sun. Round the clock triage, on call handoffs
  • Close to customers. Local presence, customer empathy, local implementation/customization

Challenges

  • Local laws (hire/fire/severance)
  • Local recruiting norms
  • Local compensation – pay everyone as if at QA or by local market. But must be consistent
  • Local currency – do you pay in US dollars or local currency
  • Local regulation – laws, taxes
  • More travel. Problem to never see teammates
  • No commute == no exercise
  • Solitude/isolation
  • Time management. Easy to keep working
  • Best to be single site or remote first. That way don’t have onsite conversation and inform (Or forget) remotes later
  • Don’t have one site dole out work. That’s outsourcing
  • Managing time zones – respect time zones over others. Watch DMs off hours. Trade off inconvenience. Use overlapping hours well

Onboarding

  • Possible to do remotely, but better to bring in a bunch in person
  • Bond with cohort
  • Instill company/team culture
  • Mentor/buddy system – ideally two role/team and culture
  • Structured onboarding that can do at own page – ex: recorded training

Workspace

  • Video
  • Audio
  • Internet Connectivity – mifi hotspot good in rural areas
  • Comfortable desk/chair/etc or coffee shop or co-working space
  • Quiet/child proofed space

Timing

  • Maker’s schedule – want chunks of uninterrupted time. Try to have meetings close together to preserve time.
  • Manager’s schedule – mostly meetings
  • In a remote environment, blocks of time mater more
  • Block out calendar, office hours

Management

  • Good to have remote manager. Sets example, shows career advancement possible, empathy
  • Clarity on goals
  • 1:1 are sacrosanct, not a status meeting, praise in public (can be slack)/correct in private. Don’t have management by walking around so won’t see implicitly

Trust

  • The half life of rust is 6 weeks
  • An interaction reinforces it

Tools

  • Video
  • Chat
  • Collaborative docs

Communication

  • Be really explicit about “what is the problem you are trying to solve”
  • Clartify the “why”
  • Straighforward language
  • Repetition – a lot
  • Culture of “ask in public” – remember to model this
  • Also model “when in doubt ask”
  • Be open to feedback when write doc and be specific about the feedback want
  • Clarify the purpose of meeting
  • Pre-reads. Or read doc together if can’t do before. Feels weird first time, but gets everyone on same page
  • Template agenda for common meetings
  • Cancel meeting if no agenda
  • Have senior person moderate to stay on topic
  • Allow time for chatting/social bonding

Summits

  • Did quarterly
  • Primary goal was social bonds and connections
  • Do high bandwidth communication
  • Planned well in advance
  • Rotate locations
  • Spent a day learning together
  • Prioritizing fun and team building
  • Hackathon with theme
  • Internal Conference
  • Structured activity about coding

My impressions

This was great. I’ve heard much of it before, but hearing it again helps reflect. And there were some that were new to me

Note: Randy mentioned his collegue’s 2017 QCon presentation a few times. Here is a summary