For anyone out there who hasn’t yet heard, the Humble Indie Bundle V is almost over. You have one day left to pay what you want and get some awesome cross-platform (Windows, Mac, and yes Linux!) games while giving your money directly to the folks who made them as well as some awesome charities. Please give what you can. These games are perfect for a study break. In fact, I feel one coming on right about now…

Free PowerShell v2 Workshop

I’ve always been more of a linux/unix/mac focused guy, but I have to say I’m honestly impressed with the direction Microsoft is heading with PowerShell. PowerShell scripting is SO COOL. Yes, I just said something Microsoft made was cool; zealots are setting phasers to stun kill about now. Check out this 4 hour PowerShell v2 workshop posted for free(!) on YouTube by Don Jones.

If you liked that check out his book Learn Windows PowerShell in a Month of Lunches or his PowerShell video training series.

Thanks for sharing Don!

Cert Get!

Just wrapped up studying for and passing Microsoft’s 70-680 exam “Windows 7, Configuring”. I had been told by various people it was a very difficult exam but the study materials I used made the exam seem pretty straight forward. As you can imagine, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I finally sat for the exam. So with a bit of my usual cockiness replaced by a small amount of uncertainty I clicked the big begin exam button. Unfortunately the Prometric software did not care for me and threw some kind of error about a file not being found at a totally bad path (something like F:FolderFolder/some other folder/something/test.exm). Whoops, looks like someone didn’t quite get the path correct there! Fortunately about 20 minutes later they had it fixed and I easily passed the exam with a comfy 850 score. Pretty easy stuff if you ask me! On to bigger and better things. My VMWare class finally starts on the 23rd. Really excited for this one. Might try to tackle something between now and then. CIW Database perhaps?

The Project+ Exam Studying Project Is Now Extinct

That’s right. I passed Project+ today. Really no surprises on the exam; it was pretty much what I expected.

On a side note, a friend linked me to a page describing “the two things” you should know about a variety of subjects. Ya know, the two most important things you can tell someone about a subject. It has this to say about project management:

The Two Things about Project Management:
1. The schedule will slip.
2. It’s about how you manage the schedule slippage.

So what are your two things?

Parkinson’s Law

Here’s an interesting tidbit from my Project+ studies. Parkinson’s Law states:

Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.

In other words, if you schedule “extra” time for work to be completed it will magically take exactly that long to do. People naturally pad to fill the available time. They might do this by wasting time and resources, or making a simple task overly complex, etc. The law was posited in a humorous essay for the Economist, but it really rings true. Be careful to manage any float time carefully, lest you or others fill it just because it’s there!

Passed Security+

I scheduled my Security+ exam last minute after getting my voucher late Monday to take the exam the very next morning. I was eager to get it out of the way before the holidays hit and I was sitting and spinning my wheels waiting for new appointments at the testing centers. So I woke up early and hit the road this morning,  sat for the exam, and passed it only missing about 2-3 questions. Now it’s on to the next task, Project+!

Waiting…virtually speaking

I’m on the wait list for a VMWare class online. I’m planning to take a vSPHERE 5: Configuration and Management class soon so I can go take the VCP exam. Virtualization has always fascinated me, but especially now that you can do some really powerful things with it. The idea that you can live migrate a virtual machine from one piece of hardware to another is just mind blowing. I’m sure those of you who see this all the time probably don’t think so anymore, but it still amazes me. Maybe someday it won’t, but come on…this is so cool!

This video is a little old now, but still a cool demo none the less. It shows how (in theory) you can switch off servers when load on your VMs is low to save energy but then spin them up in response to demand. From some quick research it looks like it wasn’t very feature complete in VMWare at first but they improved it to add iLO and IPMI wake up as well as scheduled spin up for when know when demand will increase and want to get out ahead of it. Not only does it allow you to save money and be more agile, but you can be greener too. What’s not to like? (yeah yeah, expensive VMWare licenses and support contracts…but still if the ROI is there, fantastic)

Security+ Exam Prep

I’m currently studying for the Security+ exam. Well, I’m done studying. I’m waiting to get my exam voucher from WGU now and go take the exam. Most of it is pretty straight forward stuff. If you have even a passing interest in infosec, most of it should be review. What I found most interesting while studying was disaster recovery and cryptography.

The DR was interesting just because I haven’t really given it a lot of thought before. I make onsite and offsite backups of my personal data and have read and (try to) live the Tao of Backup, but formal DR plans and procedures aren’t something I’ve done. I find it really interesting, especially from mindset of availability being one of a security officer’s responsibilities in conjunction with general IT staff.

My study also included some brush up on cryptography. I’ve always enjoyed learning about cryptography. I read Simon Singh’s “The Code Book” when I was younger and really enjoyed it (great book if you’re interested in learning about crypto and its impact on history). Even though math hasn’t always been my favorite subject, I always enjoyed reading about crypto and how it worked. Of course I knew about symmetric vs asymmetric cryptography and RSA/PGP, but I learned things like the differences between block and stream ciphers, how RC4 is used securely in SSL and insecurely in WEP, Twofish being beat by Rijndael for the AES standard, Blowfish was designed by Bruce Schneier (who I love), etc.

People on the Techexams forums have been singing the praises about Darril Gibson’s Security+ book. Though WGU provided adequate learning resources and only a dead tree edition is available, I decided to just go ahead and buy Darril’s book anyway. I wasn’t at all disappointed that I did, even if I bought it just before Amazon decided to drop the price from list price. 🙁 Hopefully a Kindle edition will be available soon. Last I heard from Darril in a blog post was sometime in the next 3 months. Anyway, you’ll find an excerpt from my review below.

I just finished reading Darril Gibson’s updated Security+ exam preparation guide “CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-301 Study Guide“. The book is well written and seems to throughly cover the exam objectives of the SY0-301 as posted by CompTIA. I haven’t sat for the exam yet, but feel completely confident I will pass due in part to this guide.

As with most exam prep guides, this book contains practice questions and exams. The one thing that sets this book apart from others is the inclusion of detail explanations as to the correct answer for each question. Sometimes you’re left wondering about the rationale behind a certain answer being correct or the “best” answer, but this book leaves no mystery with its detailed answer keys. This is one feature I’d definitely like to see in more exam prep books.