Free Cyber Security Short Course

Lately, I have found myself very interested in cyber security. Looking for resources, I discovered Heimdal Security’s Cyber Security Course for Beginners.

Every couple of days they send a new lesson (more like a highly informative email) on a cyber security topic. The topics range from basic vocabulary to selecting a AV software.

Although not the most technical or advanced introduction to the topic, seems to provide a nice introduction for non-techs interested in the topic. It would be just about perfect for your grandma.

Normally when I agree (reluctantly) to have things sent to my email, I am disappointed. Usually it is “spammy crapola” of little value. The experience ends with me unsubscribing. This has been different, I have enjoyed getting the email lessons every two days.

Disclosures: Heimdal Security does sell products. The email lessons have not pitched their products, but have offered a variety of security solutions and tools — many of them free and available online. In 7 lessons there has been only 1 or 2 links to their products. So, nothing to spammy and sleazy! Just good information.

 

At the Crossroads

Personally, I feel as if I am  at the crossroads, both personally and professionally. Having undergone some very intense personal life changes — Divorce. It feels good to say the “D word,” I have been avoiding saying it and now it is on the internet (even if tucked away on a blog no one reads). This is a big change in life and also a great opportunity on a few different levels.

Professionally, my current position is becoming out-of-sync with my values and ideas. Even though the check clears, it makes it a little tougher each day. Over time, it has become less rewarding and more of a struggle. I don’t want to exactly jump out of bed and run their in the morning excited to get started.

Both personally and professionally, it is time to start “value-syncing.” If you “value-syncing” becomes a thing, you heard it here first, unless of course you heard it elsewhere first!

At the crossroads, choice made.

For your listening enjoy Robert Johnson, “Crossroads.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Learning Journal Entry – Fundamentals of Programming

February 13, 2016 Leave a comment

I have decide to use one of my learning journal entries as a blog post. For My course Fundamentals of Programming at University of the People, I am required to do a learning journal. Even though it is required, I think it is a good idea regardless. The learning journal provides an opportunity to write about a variety of related topics to the course content and learning process.  I have tried to keep the tone a little informal and reflective on the process and topic.

My week three learning journal entry will touch on a few different topics. The first is the graded quiz. It was definitely a little tougher than I would have expected. I did okay, scoring a 92% not my best work, but a reminder to study and keep up with everything. I found it particularly challenging given the time constraints. I expect to be more prepared for the next quiz. To accomplish this, I intend to spend a little more time reviewing the non-graded quizzes.

Second, I am currently working (procrastinating) on the second programming assignment. I downloaded and installed it with the intention of using it for the assignment. Opening the program and playing around with it, I found myself becoming obsessed with lining up shapes, boxes, and more concerned with formatting and appearance. While having the flowchart looking visual appealing or at least professional, it should not take away from the ideas. I would prefer to spend time thinking about the code, how it might work, and not whether my boxes are perfectly lined-up. I still have not decided if I am going to use pseudo code or the flow chart. I think it is just easier to user pen and paper or a white board. I am leaning towards using the flow chart.

I think spending some time thinking about the code and the steps that need to be done is very a good idea. Obviously, it can be helpful for even the longer exercises. I am slowly coming to the realization that coding/programming is not just something that happens at a keyboard, but also on paper, using DIA, or a whiteboard. Preparing to code is equally as important as what happens at the keyboard. Again, I think there is a very strong parallel to writing. One simply does not sit down and compose a course paper or a Master’s thesis. It takes some forethought and planning. It may not always be apparent, but even with my learning journal entries, I brainstorm a few ideas and notes about things.

Thus far, I have enjoying the class and find the topic interesting. Concurrently, I am also taking Programming for Everyone at Coursera. I believe (especially for beginners) having as much exposure to the language and programming is a necessity for becoming proficient. I call it the “ABC Method,” “Always Be Coding.” While it is important to understand the logic and concepts, it is also important to be able to understand the syntax and be able to write simple “if/elif/else” statements without looking it up. I think for beginners (this holds true different areas) it is imperative learn and over-learn the fundamentals. Fundamentals provide a foundation for advanced concepts and ideas. One has to know how to compose a sentence before they can write a novel.

University of the People…completed semester (Sort of)

January 12, 2016 Leave a comment

It was a pretty tough semester at University of the People (U of P). I certainly could have been more organized and prepared. I think I missed on the final exam in an Introduction to Online Learning class, which will result in me failing the class. I should have taken greater care and thought, I did believe I would have until the 13th to complete the exam, since that is the last week.

It was not a good semester for me, having internet connectivity problems early on and some major life changes were initiated at the beginning of the semester.  This coupled with the holidays and 2 birthdays, I just couldn’t pull it together. I should have waited a semester.

I will give it one more try next semester, before pulling the plug on it. Reflecting back (even though semester is not even over). I could have:

  • Set Gmail calendar reminders for when stuff is due. Stuff moves very very fast. The pace of writing was very intense. I don’t think I have ever had a pace like that even in my upper level graduate courses. I would almost make the recommendation to cut some of it and focus on learning and absorbing the material. I hope the pace of future classes will allow for this. I spent a lot of time, constructing short essays and papers. I now have the superpower to write decent shit on short order.
  • Set-up a work space (will be doing now, since, I am unable to take final).  I definitely should have set a better spot. Even a basement could be a little more inspirational!
  • Consider purchasing or upgrading on an APA citation program. Although I agree with the logic, I found it cumbersome to site everything. In online learning it really does make sense. I will be prepared next time.
  • Do a better job getting to know and even networking with my classmates.

More than likely I will have to take the same class over. This sucks, some (like 98% of) the blame is mine. I should have a set calendar reminders and provided some accountability to for myself. Although there was some intervening issues, I could have and will do better…..next semester.

All things considered, this wasn’t my semester and that’s okay. I hate to fail a course, but I will do better next time.

Categories: Uncategorized

#Twitter Purge 2016

Well, I am back to being active on Twitter. It is has been a love/hate relationship. I think this time, I am back and committed to it.

This seems typical of most resolutions. They start with enthusiasm and then it wanes and by March and the person is back to their old habits. …but we’ll see. I even changed my avatar and background.

Regardless, I was reviewing my string and did some purging. It felt good to remove some of those people/organizations that I followed.

 

Purge is a harsh word, I “unfollowed” the following types:

  • Large news organizations (I’m just not going to use twitter for breaking news).
  • Financial and real estate sites were unfollowed. This reflects a shift in interests.
  • People with annoying names. For example I unfollowed one “freak” and another with “fart” in their names. I just couldn’t handle it.
  • Unfollowed were those that kept spamming me ads and pitches to buy stuff.
  • Deleted were those that bombard me with inspirational and motivational messages about change and improvement. Apparently they motivated me!

I tried not to unfollow those who were individuals or those that posted with things relative to my interests such as geekdom, tech, science fiction, and e-learning. Unless they just annoyed the shit out of me.

The truth is, I am pretty excited about having a cleaner feed and about getting information about things, I am interested in and want to pursue.

 

Why * 5

Currently, in my Online Education Strategies at University of the People (U of P), we are covering the 5 Whys technique.  I have also encountered the tool while a student at Northern Michigan University (NMU) and have used it at work a few times.

I think it is a simple and great technique that even the most brain dead of managers can use. Simple, powerful, and effective.

The technique involves the following steps:

  1. Stating the problem
  2. Asking why?
  3. Asking why?
  4. Asking why?
  5. Asking why?

At this point, the root cause should be able to be determined.  A good example can be found here.

While it is a great tool, easy to use, and can help get to the root cause of the problem, I have found that most managers do and prefer to treat the symptoms.  This is often easier, quicker, and a cheaper way to get to the solutions.

So, managers will “lay into” their teams about not working hard enough, not focusing, not caring, and so on. This does two things. First, it gives the manager a chance to shift the blame to their team. Second, telling some one they “need to work” harder is usually cheaper than implementing a root cause solution.

The 5 Why tool can help managers quickly get to the root cause of an issue, but does not help with solution implementation. There has to be a will and desire to change.

Categories: Uncategorized

Stalled Career? The pit.

December 22, 2015 Leave a comment

We have all been there at some point. The feeling that your sweet gig has become just another career dead end. Lifehacker offers four tips to tell when this is happening.

All good pieces of advice. However, I can’t help but to think they forgot a key one. That is the “pit.” The “pit of doom” (PoD) that lives in your stomach day everyday you go in and sometimes the day before. the PoD makes you say things, “like I would rather stick my hand in a bag of poisonous snakes than go into work today” or “I hope I get hit by bus, so I can get out of it.” Extreme, yes, but we have all been there.

The PoD kind of looks like Sarlaac from the Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

Sarlacc-Pit

From time-to-time, we have the PoD, but it matters how often and how intense. Sure it could be the burrito from the food cart or the dread that you will spend the next few decades toiling on this unfulfilled venture.

Its sometimes difficult to tell if it is the PoD or just a little bit of anxiety. A few questions can help.

  1. How intense is the PoD?
  2. How frequent do I feel this way?
  3. Is there a particular thing (performance reviews, missed project deadline) that is making me feel this way?  Will it go away?

Remember to answer honestly. You know yourself…..kinda. It is sort of like being the “One” you just know.

 

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