William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

NS Skills Competition

7:43am - Am in the assigned room at Waterfront Campus. The Waterfront Campus buildings are gorgeous. The whole place feels a bit like an airport, though that might not be to your tastes. They had a guy in the parking lot telling people to go to the nearby Aviation Institute parking lot and get the shuttle bus from there to here. Wish I'd known that because I'd had my Breakfast of Champions™ at the Tim Hortons next door.

Huh. Apparently all students except for authorized carpool groups and mothers with children in the day care here must park in that Aviation Institute lot, every day, and take the shuttle. So I'm happy to be an IT Campus student. :-)

I have no idea how this is going to go. The competition category is "IT Software Solutions for Business". Here's the list of possible things that could be tested. It's probably going to be a bit of a gong show for me because the focus of my education has been programming and systems much more so than Microsoft Office minutiae. (This is kind of germane since my school is paying my registration fee for me.) Someone who's taking a pure business program will probably clean up with me. This is also a really really bad time for me to have to do this, as I'm juggling the ends of six courses (out of seven - one mercifully ended on Monday this past week) and am burning the candle at both ends and sticking it a frying pan. But I'll try my best. I joke that they'll probably ask me to prove Fermat's Last Theorem in real-time using an Excel PivotTable. If I'm not able to, hopefully they won't exclaim "How dare you not be able to do this?"

The instructors / judges seem pretty caz, though. They want people to have fun, so I'm not going to cry about this.

I guess I'd better put on my t-shirt!

Noon - Now lunchtime! Have now finished the Word and Excel portions of the competition. Word was ridunculous - not so much that it was hard, but there was a lot. Excel was much shorter, but the things that needed to be done were more complicated. Both were fun, though - I learned about a lot of features I didn't know existed while I was poking around. Generally, there's always something to do, so you won't waste a lot of time being stuck.

During the short break between Word and Excel, I was running for the toilets when I noticed a series of booths along the corridor. I half-thought they were port-a-johns, and was tempted to open a door and see! Kidding. Kind of. Anyway, it turns out they are portable soundproof chambers meant for imprisoning unruly captives practicing music. Remind me to get one if I ever take up an instrument or get a kid who does. Heck, they might even be good to sing in.

I didn't blog on the break because there wasn't really time (only 20 minutes) and we were chatting with each other in the hall anyway. I'm probably being a little antisocial by writing this.

As for the nuts-and-bolts of the competition, we have special logins (so, no, you can't load up your network drive with cheat sheets and other stuff! :-) and the assignments are copied from the network and delivered back to the network to a designated drop folder.

Lunch was delivered to the room on a cart - you grab a bag with a sandwich (different kinds), juice, fruit, and cookie. Pretty cool. Should be like that every day. j/k Apparently we'll have a full-blown pizza party at 4:00. But every time I think of "pizza party", I think of this. :-)

3:30pm - It's all over. At 5:00 we'll find out who won. I'll give you a hint - it ain't gonna be me. What was really funny was how I'm presently pulling above 100 in my database course and yet I can barely do anything really useful in Access. I thought about writing my queries in SQL, but I'm not used to Access' quirks and the stuff that they wanted me to do in Access might be beyond the stuff I'm doing manually with Oracle through SQL. Worst of all, they didn't leave enough time for a coffee break between "OK, PowerPoint's over" and "Start Access now". So I was dog-tired all through Access and I just wanted the day to be over.

The PowerPoint portion was kind of fun - I hadn't done animations before, so that slowed me down, but with another half-hour or so, I probably could have scored close to 100%. But the same could be said for the other participants, too. :-)

The folks I've met today are pretty cool. You probably couldn't go wrong by taking a businessy IT program here. You'd learn all kinds of mad skillz. It's kind of lame, actually, when I say my program is "IT" - it doesn't sound very specific at all. Maybe that's the point?

Anyway, this is a good time to explore for a little bit before pizza time. Though I see some guys coming in with them right now, carrying 7 or 8 boxes per person. Good time to logoff. Probably won't update again until I get home. And it'll be happening with a tall, frosty can of Sapporo, I can guarantee you that.

7:40pm - True to my word.

A few comments about the Waterfront Campus: The height between floors is astonishing. When you climb some stairs, signs speak of half levels. The ones that go directly from floor to floor without a turnaround landing rival in scope the escalators of Kyiv's deep-tube subway stations.

Also, the washrooms seem to be such a long way away from anything that popping out to use the washroom might be a 2-minute endeavour at the Institute but at Waterfront it might take you closer to 10. j/k

Pizza party: Didn't really merit or need the "party" appellation. "Pizza in the cafeteria" would have been sufficient and accurate.

Around 5 we had the medal ceremonies in the theatre. The MC announced at the beginning that, you guessed it, the "IT Software Solutions for Business" results weren't in yet. But we understood and we didn't envy the judges the tedium of clicking into each and every one of our file to see and test the work we completed. Anyway, I assume they were rushing to complete the evaluations* while the early medals were being presented because they did have the results ready.

* Allowing for some shortcuts - for instance, if I come out of the third part of the evaluation with only 40 possible points ahead of me to get and the current potential bronze is 41 or more points ahead of me, there's no point in even looking at my fourth part.

There was a new IT category this year, "Web Site Development" (ugh... c'mon guys, it's "website" already). My classmate Iman got a gold medal, overcoming the most fearsome and dogged competition imaginable - himself. Yes, I could have and probably should have done Web and given Iman a run for his money (he's talented, and so am I) rather than competing against a dozen people who've to a person taken advanced courses in the Office components I struggled with all day! Now Iman's going to go to Skills Canada, and I'm left wondering what could have been. But I'm happy for Iman because he likes web development more than I do, and if I get an Explore bursary that schedule-conflicts anyway it'll all have worked out. :-)

I told Iman I'd give him a ride home and so I listened to the nuts-and-bolts talk a coordinator gave to the gold medal winners. I was bemused to hear that they wouldn't be letting participants check a bag unless it was a toolbox, since they needed all the checked baggage allowance for skills with a lot of overhead (e.g. hairdressing). The coordinator even handed out Skills Canada carry-on bags... and said that she'd chase after people to get them back if they decided they weren't going to go! :-)

Finally, Iman and I ended up walking back to the Aviation Institute parking lot because they naturally stopped the parking shuttle before the event was completely over. But it was a pleasant walk in the sunshine, and I had the opportunity to point out the "NS", an important part of Nova Scotian culture.

Man, I hope I get that Explore bursary. :-) I got an e-mail today saying my status had changed, but it was just a false alarm - it was a delayed notification. I'd already signed on and seen that I was waitlisted, and nothing had actually changed.
Tags: competitions, it, microsoft office, nsskills
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