Journey’s progress–early January


Well before the old year ended I had built up a good roll of momentum on my techknowledgy goals of Security+ certification, a working understanding of Python, and learning how to use Dreamweaver. Among all of the tech available to learn, I chose these three carefully for their immediacy of implementation, their property of being the next logical step, and the quality of being foundational to something else I want to do/learn.  Something that makes achievement work for me is the accountability factor, so here is a progress report on these three goals:

Security+
I’ll start here because this one has the heaviest career impact. I have one main book I am reading, and I have just finished Chapter 6, of a total of 15 chapters. I also have the predecessor to this book. Let me explain this, the book is not outdated, completely, but the exam has changed a bit, as the CompTIA exams do from time to time to reflect the changes in the technology they are certifying for. According to CompTIA’s website:
“The new exam covers more of the approach that organizations need to take to proactively address security risk control and mitigation,” said Terry Erdle, executive vice president, skills certification, CompTIA. “We’ve also included more content in areas such as forensics, cloud computing and virtualization. The focus is on the proactive elements like designing network security to accommodate cloud and the potential threats associated with it.

I am reading the old book aloud into Audacity, which produces a recording. I am exporting the recordings into mp3 files, and bringing them into iTunes as an audiobook. I can read along with the book as I listen to the recordings.  I have finished eight of these recordings, each about an hour in length, and that book has a total of 12 chapters, so I am two-thirds of the way done with that. So far the main difference I’ve seen between the two versions is the organization of the material, and it’s possible that there may be very many differences that I don’t notice because I’m being exposed to such a broad bunch of material.  If I really buckle down, I may record the new book as well, to give me a more thorough read-through of all the material.

I also have a bookmark to the Security+ entry in Wikibooks. This was a valuable find, because, although the material in the entry itself refers to the previous version of the test, it contains external lnks to other sources, and those sources have been updated to reflect the latest test changes.

A friend at work as the CBT Nuggets training videos. CBT stands for Computer Based Training. This is like sitting in a classroom with an instructor. He’s finished with the exam, having passed with a score of 850 out of a possible 900. Yeah, I’ll use his study material.

After I have read through all the material I have, one time, then it’s time to start taking practice tests. I have one test engine on my computer, and there are a BUNCH of them available on the web, most offer enough questions at a time to give provide a good indication as to how well-prepared I am.  The weak scores will tell me where I need to go back and re-read, or maybe seek out some deeper information.

I have a long way to go on this but I feel like I’ve picked up some speed and some torque.

Python

I’ve finished Chapter Two in my book Python Programming for the Absolute Beginner. I really got hung up on variables the last time I tried to learn this stuff, but—my gosh the web is a wonder! I found a website that had a free download to a book called Snake Wrangling for Kids, an introductory book to Python aimed at middle-school-aged kids, and I was able to break through that mental block. I’m about halfway through Chapter Three now, I’m taking my time on this one because I really need to put my focus onto the Security+ training. But I do get kind of a kick when I write a piece of code, it doesn’t work, I track down the error, fix it, and then it runs! Python is very good about telling you what it doesn’t like about your code, in a general sense. It will highlight the error in the development environment if you’re using one, and it will tell you WHAT is wrong, but not necessarily how to fix it. Good practice, it helps me to learn the syntax better when I have to figure out why the program doesn’t like what I’ve written.

Dreamweaver

Adobe has put out a lot of very good material to help people use their products. They should—some of these products are very expensive. Relative to what they can do, and relative to the kind of money to be made with them, they aren’t really all that costly, but if you can’t monetize the product’s output, it’s hard to justify buying them. The series I have from Adobe is short lessons on how to navigate each product. I guess I’m just going to have to get in there and do it in order to really learn how to use it, but, like Python, it’s kind of something I do at a slow pace because the focus is on the big project of Security+. I just finished the sixth of 29 lessons. I expect that I’ll have to get some more project-based lessons to really learn this stuff. It’s out there, but it’s not Priority Number One yet.

All in all….

I feel that 2013 is off to a great start. I haven’t set a target date for the Security+ exam, because my primary job is MOM, and I don’t know from day to day how much of my time that will take. When I finish the material the first time through, I’ll take one practice exam, and then I’ll set the date. The nearer that date looms, the less my family will see of me as I go into final-prep mode. But it’s a journey worth taking.

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