Frequently Asked Questions about my Classes (Last update: May 16, 2013)

47. What is an Annual Subscription?

If you think you may take 4 or more courses with me in one year, it may be cheaper for you to subscribe to an Annual Subscription rate. Take any (or all) of my courses for one full year for $1000. By the way, I'm flexible with that ending date.

46. Did I see this correctly? You can repeat your courses at a reduced rate?

That's right. If you have previously taken a course with me, you can repeat the identical course for $50 ($45 if paying my Paypal.)

45. On average, how many hours will I need to put in each week to successfully complete your courses?

For Introduction courses, I estimate a total of 5. 2 hours of reading each week, and approximately 3 more hours for the assignments.

For Intermediate and Advanced courses, I estimate a total of 8 to 10. More reading more difficult assignments.

44. What's a Military Scholarship?

If you are an Active Duty Military Member (United State or US ally) you can take any (or all) of my classes for free. Only 1 class at a time, and you must find a way to prove it. This does not include the cost of your course book.

43. I notice that your Regularly Scheduled Group Classes feature a weekly chat. Are they mandatory?

Absolutely not--chat attendance is entirely optional and most students do not attend even one of them.

The courses are set up in such a way that all of your work can be done whenever you want.

Most students take classes with me because they either can't, or don't want to, be at a certain place at a certain time. Requiring chat attendance sort of defeats the purpose of that.

42. Do I need to pay any extra money to access your Electronic Classroom web site apart from your advertised course fee for joining internet class ? Please also mention any taxes or hidden charges if there is any.

The course fee covers everything.

I use Moodle, and I host it myself, so there is no extra charge.

41. If I miss a routine class for any reason can I still access that lecture later?

You can't 'miss' a class. There are no lectures. All of your work is done on your own, and virtually all interaction is done with me through the Electronic Classroom. However, there is a 30 minutes live chat each week if you need to speak with me live.

40. Can I see any Demo class before joining any course ?

Yes. Follow this link to the classroom

Once there, select the course entitled

VB6 Database Programming (DEMO)

You will be prompted for an enrollment key---it's


Have a look around the classroom.

39. I am interested in taking your Intermediate VB.Net course starting July 25 and have looked at the course outline. I was wondering (and could not find on your website) How exactly do your online classes work? I see there is a textbook for it, is it all out of that? Do you have a "project" like in your books? Are their lectures online we read/view?

During a typical week, I will ask you to read 1 or more chapters out of the textbook.

In addition, I will ask you to respond to 3 discussion questions, and to complete a quiz drawn on material from the textbook.

The "value added" that I provide is a series of Margin Notes for each chapter that guide you through the material. It's not as voluminous as a dedicated lecture, but does draw your attention to important points, clarify difficult to understand topics, and provide links to 
additional material.

Any questions that you have are posted in the electronic classroom---I respond to them within 24 hours. Everyone can see your questions and my answers--and you can see others also, which is one of the big benefits of this type of learning. That, plus you don't need to 'be' somewhere at a particular place and time.

The only coordinated meeting time we have is one hour per week, usually Thursday evenings at 9PM or Saturday morning at 11AM. Generally, half the students 'meet' for these. Most people enjoy learning on their own, and having the freedom to learn whenever they want.

For the Intermediate VB.Net class, I have 15 small projects that are assigned throughout the class.

I post weekly notes and Margin Notes for each chapter---the majority of your learning will come via the textbook, the completion of the projects, and your interaction with me and the other students.

I hope this helps.

38. I need more info on your classes

Classes generally run 8 to 10 weeks, and are hosted electronically on, a scholastic electronic bulletin board, from which I lease a classroom for the duration of our course.

Except for a 1 hour scheduled live 'chat' each week, all communication between you and me (and the other students) is done using an Electronic Bulletin Board---basically, a message board.

Each week, on Sunday evenings, I post notes, assignments and projects for the following week. 

You access this material using the Electronic Bulletin Board, and post any questions and replies. 

Once each week, using alternating Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, we have a scheduled half hour chat using's Chat room. Chats are entirely optional, and most students do not attend.

37. Is it too late to register for a course? 

Generally, I open registration for my courses several weeks before their announced start date and you may continue to register for most courses after they have begun.

36. Can you reduce your class costs--they're too expensive.

Not everyone thinks so--many students comment that, in comparison to Technical Seminars, Trade Schools, and College and Universities, my classes are a bargain.

In general, my classes are priced at $25 a week---I think this is reasonable. Interestingly, I've offered full and partial 'scholarships' to students in the past, and I've found that students who pay for my classes do much better.

35. Do you still offer courses on VB6?

Yes---you can take One-On-One Self Paced Visual Basic 6 classes with me at any time.

I no longer offer group Visual Basic 6 classes---there's simply not enough of a demand for them.

For more on Individual One-On-One Self Paced courses, follow this link...

34. Please offer Data structure and algorithms using one of the languages (C++, VB.Net, VB or Java) 

I'd love to, however.... The courses you mention are traditional type Computer Science classes, and experience shows that only a small number of students would be interested in them.

33. I'm lost with Visual Basic.Net.

That's why you should take my Introduction to VB.Net class.

With my class, using my easy to read and learn Visual Basic.Net book, you can't go wrong.

32. Do you offer SQL 2000 programming?

Yes, in conjunction with VB.Net and ADO.Net, I do. This is part of the Intermediate VB.Net and ADO.Net courses.

31. What about books? And particular software? What do I need?

Books and software depend upon the course and the language you are learning.

Just about all of the Introductory courses I offer use books I have written which you will need to purchase.

As far as software, Java classes require that you download and install Java from the Sun Microsystems Website. Java is free, and there's nothing else to buy.

C++ classes require that you download and install the free C++ compiler from Borland. The compiler will run on just about any PC, so cost is minimal.

VB.Net and C# classes can be taken using the Express Editions of VB.Net and C# available for free from Microsoft (of course, if you want to, you can also purchase the Professional or Enterprise Editions of these languages.)

The Intermediate VB.Net class utilizes ASP.Net and ADO.Net. ASP.Net is available with modern Windows Operationg Systems, and ADO.Net is installed along with VB.Net or C#.

30. I am starting my Masters program, so not sure how much time I would have to devote to this class. 

Just like any other course that you wish to seriously pursue, time is an issue you must consider (this is one reason I charge for my classes---I desire serious students who have the time to learn).

In general, I estimate that you will need to devote at least 10 hours each week for your learning. If you have less time than that at the present time, it would be better to put off taking the class until you do.

29. Why aren't you offering any more VB6 classes.

I am, but only as One-On-One Self Paced Courses.

28. I'd LOVE to see something to do with PHP

So would I--I'll consider it for the future.

27. Are your courses Instructor Lead or Self Paced?

All of my courses are Internet-based classes. Some are regularly scheduled Group Classes. Others are One-On-One Self Paced Classes, almost like tutoring sessions.

Either way, there are weekly guidelines as to what you should be studying, but you can fall behind a bit without a serious problem, so long as you catch up by the end. So, in a way, the course is self-paced.

The only time you will 'see' me is during our weekly 30 minute Office Hours chats.

26. Can the course be taken at night ?

Because all of my courses are Internet based, they can be 'taken' at any time. You don't physically need to ' be' anywhere, or logon at a specific time (unless you want to partake in the 30 minute weekly optional chats which are held at a pre-determined time each week.)

25. How many nights a week is the course?

See above.

24. Is there a completion certificate issued for completing the course?

Yes, if you participate fully in the class (answer discussion questions, post answers to quizzes, and do assignments), you will be mailed a Certificate of Completion. In addition, I also offer Continuing Education Units (CEU's) with successful completion.

23. Will I need IIS installed on my pc?

For some of the Intermediate VB.Net classes, you will need IIS installed. IIS is a component that is shipped along with most versions of the Windows Operating System.

22. Will there be any grace period for dropping the class?

You may drop the course up until the Friday before it begins. You will receive your fee minus a $5 registration fee.

Once the course begins, I can't issue you a refund---although if you need to drop the course for a legitimate reason, I'll permit you to enroll in the next scheduled class at no cost.

21. What is the mode of payment?

You can pay either by credit card, Pay Pal, or by check or money order mailed to my business address at

Smiley and Associates
PO Box 2062
Riverton, NJ 08077-2062

20. I am looking to take the Visual Basic 6 Certification test this year.

That exam was retired in June of 2004--take the VB.Net Certification exam instead.

19. What's the difference between C# and C++?

I'm afraid the answer is too involved to give you here. Suffice to say they are two different programming languages. C# looks a lot like Java.

18. Learning anything .Net is time well spent--do you agree?

Absolutely. .Net (VB.Net or C#.Net) are the standard development languages for Windows PC's.

However, don't forget Java and C+. And for that matter, mobile development.

17 I would love to take your class--how do I sign up?

Registration links for Regularly Scheduled Group classes and One-On-One Self Paced classes are available via this web page

16.  I have never taken an online class before, are they as good as regular class? 

Having taught 'regular' brick and mortar classes for several colleges since 1985, I can say that for most people, they are just as good, and can actually be better. Ultimately, that depends upon you, and your motivation.

If you are a person who needs a lot of structure (that is, you never learn anything new or study unless someone, like a teacher, is badgering you), then Internet based courses are probably not for you.

On the other hand if you can learn and be motivated without someone badgering you, and you would like to learn at your own pace, wherever and whenever you want, and can deal with having live contact with your instructor just 30 minutes per week, then online courses are definitely for you.

15. I would like to see an outline for the Introduction to VB.Net and Intermediate VB.Net classes. 

Outlines and syllabi for all of my courses are available for your review here.

Once there, click on the Syllabus link. 

You can also access a demo course by following this link to my Electronic classroom

Once there, select the course entitled

VB6 Database Programming (DEMO)

You will be prompted for an enrollment key---it's


Have a look around the classroom.

14. I heard that C# is a hot programming language.

Hot is a matter of what hiring managers want---and are willing to pay for.

C#, VB.Net, Java, you can't go wrong with either one of them.

13. Does a person have to be a Visual Basic 6 programmer to learn VB.Net? 

Not at all--all of my Introductory courses presume no prior knowledge of any programming language--and I firmly believe that I can teach anyone to program.

12. I am interested in taking Intro to VB.Net and ASP.Net courses in the future. However, I will not be able to take these courses the next time they're offered. Will you offer them again?

No problem--I'm not going anywhere. I've been teaching for 30 years, and I'll be teaching for the next 10. 

If you miss the next scheduled Group offering of a course, there will be another one in a few months.

And don't forget, you can always take the One-On-One Self Paced versions of the course.

11. I am not really sure which course I would like to take. I have an interest in your ASP.Net course, but I am also interested in Intermediate VB.Net, and in ADO.Net. In fact I was hoping that all this would have be covered in your Introduction to VB.Net class.

Covering ASP.Net And ADO.Net in the Introduction to VB.Net course is asking a bit too much.

For a quick look at these topics, check out my Intermediate VB.Net class---we spend about a week or two on  each one. If you want to learn about them in even more detail, check out the dedicated ADO.Net and ASP.Net courses.

10. I would love to take the VB.Net Introduction class. Please email me and let me know when you will have it, if you do, I love the way you write in your books. ) 

The best way to keep informed of my classes is to check this web page periodically

and click on the 'Notify me' button. The next time the class is offered I'll notify you.

You can also join my mailing list by following this link...I'll send you my monthly newsletter.

9. Although I have never used VB.Net, I would like to take your Intermediate VB.Net course because I am quite familiar with Visual Basic 6. Do you think that one needs to start with the Introduction to VB.Net class?

Everyone (even those people who have just completed the Intro to VB.Net) will find the Intermediate VB.Net class challenging--it's just the nature of the topics.

If you choose not to take the Introduction to VB.Net course, I greatly encourage you to pick up a copy of my Introduction to VB.Net book, and familiarize yourself with the changes to the environment and the IDE in VB.Net.

8. When is your VB.Net Database book coming out?

I've been working on my VB.Net Database since 2006. I'm not sure I'll ever finish it. In the meantime, I can recommend some good VB books (that I haven't written) for you.

7. Dealing with Com Components in Visual Basic 6 is my biggest struggle right now is there any components classes you offer?

I offer a course on Visual Basic 6 Objects---that's the closest I have to what you want.

6. When will you write your next book, perhaps an Intro to ASP?

I'm not sure.

5. Hopefully, in the future you'll have a class for Intermediate C# 

I do. Check it out here

4. I'm not convinced that On-line classes are the way to go. 

See #16 above.

3. I would take more classes with you if the cost per class were reduced.

See #36 above.

2 Are you sure Microsoft is still offering certification in Visual Basic 6?

No, the Visual Basic 6 Certification exam has been retired. You'll need to take the VB.Net Certification exam instead.

1. Do these course prices include your book?

No, my classes do not include the text book.

Many of my courses use my own textbooks---the eBook version are very affordable at $13.95.