Category Archives: Miscellaneous

PMP: Study Material

Earlier posts in this series: PMP: The Plan

I referred to just two sources for my PMP preparation.

1. PMBoK

This one is fairly obvious. PMI conducts the PMP exam and if it publishes a book and names it Project Management Book of Knowledge, you better use it for preparation. This book is the bible for PMP exam. It contains the list of Knowledge Areas, the processes contained within each Knowledge Area and the ITTOs (Inputs, Tools & Techniques, Outputs) for each process. There are 10 Knowledge Areas, a total of 47 processes. You are better off if you can memorize the table that details out the Knowledge Areas and their processes categorized according to phases.  I will go one step further and say memorize the ITTOs too. I know it is not easy, but it is doable. I did it developing my own mnemonics and it helped me a great deal in the exam. I had more than 30 ITTO questions, so do not take this lightly. It took me 2 days to memorize the ITTOs and once I had it down, it was revising it everyday for 20 minutes to make sure I can reproduce it from memory. I hope to cover the memorization process I used later in the blog.

2. Rita Mulchay’s PMP Exam Prep

If you are not very confident of your PM experience and still want to ace the exam, this is the book for you. The unique thing about this book is while it prepares you for the PMP exam, it also teaches you a lot of things about project management. There is an exercise at the end of every chapter and this helps in identifying your gaps. For the chapters where you score low, make sure you revisit and re-read and retake the exercise.

The study method I followed was like this. I read PMBoK once to know what PMP is all about. At the end of this, I had a fair idea where I stood. I memorized the process chart. Then I started the second round of PMBoK, focusing on the ITTOs. I would read one chapter from PMBoK, memorize the ITTO, read the corresponding chapter from Rita’s book and then answer the questions. One knowledge area would take me 2-3 days because I would go deep into each topic to understand. Rita’s book helped me a lot in understanding why the ITTOs were used for the process. The logic plus the memorization was a big help. Apart from these two books, I often visited Edward’s PMP Notes to see if there was something I should know which wasn’t covered. If I came across something, I would google and learn it before proceeding further.

After I finished this cycle, I took up mock exams, which helped me identify my weak points and revisited these in PMBoK and Rita. There are many sites online which help you answer questions from a particular Knowledge Area, which I used to fill the gaps.

A few other books which I often saw recommended are Head First PMP and How to pass PMP in your first try. I did not read these books because I didn’t have these books and I didn’t want information overload. In hindsight, it was a wise decision because I did not see any ‘out of scope’ question on the exam.

More than the studying itself, I owe a lot to the mock exams. They really helped me in filling gaps and improving my confidence. It also helps to know what it takes to sit at a place for four hours for the exam.

PMP : The Plan

I decided to pursue PMP as it would give me the required push to take the big leap from technical to project management path. And I don’t mean just job opportunities wise. Though I did have some PM experience when I took up PMP, I realized while I was preparing for it that I had lot of gaps which I had to fill. The preparation for the exam helped me identify and fill these gaps which will help me in my work. While textbook learning is not the same as hands-on experience, it equips you with the knowledge and tools required to do the work.

I gave myself 60 days of time for preparation. I arrived at this number based on the suggestions I saw on the internet and my personal evaluation of how much time I would need to prepare. I based this on PMBoK and Rita Mulchay’s book (details later in the post). Once I had the exam date in hand, I made a detailed plan. I made a list of the things I had to study and the different mock tests/exams I had to take. This is what I ended up with:

Study material:

1. PMBoK

2. Rita Mulchay’s PMP Exam Prep

I know there are many books out there which are highly recommended. Some names I heard were Head First PMP, How to pass PMP on your first try, but I didn’t read those. I found PMBoK and Rita to be sufficient.

Mock Tests/Exams:

While I limited my study material to just two, I more than made up for it in mock exams. I went the whole mile and took whatever exams I could find. The complete list:

1. Simplilearn exam

2. Head First PMP Exam

3. Oliver Helmann 75 questions

4. PMZilla 30 tough questions and 200 tough questions (the latter is not free)

5. Exam Central

6. PMP For Sure (Register to access the free exam)

8. Tech FAQ 360

9. Prepare PM

10. BrainBoK

11. PM Champ Quality Questions

12. Christpher Scrodo (Available to PMI members. Access the URL after logging in to PMI)

13. Exercises at the end of every chapter in Rita Mulchay’s book

Of all these, I found Rita and Scrodo to be very similar to the actual exam questions in terms of structure and difficulty. The other tests helped me find my weaknesses so that I could focus on that.

Virtual PC: Switching between virtual pc and host pc

Once you start using your virtual PC, how do you get control back to the host PC? The help document of VPC says to press the host key, but what on earth is the host key? It’s the right ALT key of your keyboard. Not any ALT key, but the RIGHT ALT key. Press it and the mouse control comes back to your host PC.

You can launch your virtual PC in full screen mode. Once you have done that, how do you quit full screen mode? Again, press host key and enter. That is RIGHT ALT + Enter.

Simple, yet it took me some time to figure it out.

Hello World

After a short hiatus, I am back again into this corporate world. So, it’s hello to the world all over again.

As I play with some new tools, expect some posts on WCF, WPF and Silverlight in the coming days. Watch this space.


Got a good chuckle…

when my desktop dictionary application popped this window up.

Going by its standard, I do not qualify for it pro version. Sulk Sulk.

Attensa: RSS Reader for Outlook

Working in a company which does not allow employees to use any other email client but Outlook, I was forced to look for an RSS reader which can plug in to Outlook and let me read the interesting blogs on my list.

A quick google pointed me to Attensa. Trusting a few google results, I downloaded Attensa and installed it. I haven’t regretted it. I like the simplicity of it. It sits as a plug-in in my Outlook and has a similar interface as Outlook mailbox. Each RSS feed has its own folder (not mandatory, this is configurable) and all posts will be listed under their respective folders. The frequency of checking for new posts is configurable and so are the alerts. Attensa supports Outlook’s desktop alerts.

The one thing that I hate about Attensa is it’s ‘River Views’ or some such thing. They have tried to give a view from which you can read all new posts of all your feeds. There is so much information on this page and it’s so messy, the moment you see it, you will change the view. If designed well, this view can actually be helpful.

For anybody who is still using Outlook and looking for an RSS reader, Attensa is a good choice.

Where did you find that?

Attensa had been troublesome since yesterday and I finally decided to re-install it. With a registry clean-up (thanks to my husband’s guidance) and a three finger salute (I admit I didn’t press CTRL+ALT+DEL, but I did reboot my machine), Attensa is finally up and running. This made me realize I have around 20 feeds in my list. My mind wandered off to how I came about having these feeds on my list.

I have my own blogs on the feed list. This I do to ensure my blogs are ticking fine. Few belong to my friends, who voluntarily gave their blogs’ links. Not considering those 8-10 feeds which include my blogs and my cousins’ or friends’ blogs, I still have around a dozen to account for.

Worse than failure: I know where I got that from. It was listed under the Time’s Top 50 websites for 2005 (was it 2006?). I think I discovered Lifehacker too in pretty much the same way.

Scobleizer: One will bump into this blog someway or the other, one can’t miss it. In my case, the credit goes to WordPress dashboard.

Zen habits: Lifehacker linked to one of the articles on this blog, which I religiously followed. I have learnt quite a bit from it.

I can look at one or two more feeds and vaguely remember my friends’ recommending it or my boss forwarding it or my husband pointing it out. But the rest remains a mystery. I have no idea how I came across that blog and when. All I know is every single day, I come to my workplace, check my official mails and spend at least half an hour in glancing over these feeds. They do make my day. I keep discovering or learning something or the other everyday.

It is just amazing how, against all odds, you land up on one particular blog which grabs you. The first post impresses you so much, you just have to have that blog on your feed list. With more than a dozen wonderful blogs which I thoroughly enjoy reading, I can’t help but wonder, how many more gems are out there in the world of web which I am yet to discover. That is one more reason why I take my feed list so seriously. I hope to be introduced to yet another interesting blog through this.

Every day is a new discovery, thanks to my feed list. And this list keeps growing.

It feels so good…

to be back!

IE: Losing steam?

While trying to download the Beta 3 of Internet Explorer 7, I noticed something really funny. It has a snapshot of its rival browser, Firefox! Does this count as healthy rivalry?

I read this when I was installing IE 7 Beta 3.

We recommend that you backup your important files and close all programs.

That’s when I changed my mind.