Pursuing A CISSP Certification

Security has become a focus of mine over the past 6 or so months. This interest sprung out of curiosity in my homelab. I began playing with things like Group Policy, routing between subnets, SNORT Network Intrusion Prevention System, Sophos Unified Threat Management software, MetaSploit and Security Onion Intrusion Detection System.

This interest in information security is also due in part to a project at work in which my company must obtain NIST SP 800-171 IT security compliance as a government subcontractor.

I’ve decided to become a Certified Information Systems Security Professional by passing the CISSP exam to learn more about how to properly secure information systems. This certification has become one of the gold standards in information security and those holding this certificate are becoming more and more in demand.

The CISSP test is pretty beastly: 250 questions on topics ranging from cryptography to network security to legal compliance and access control. The scope of this test is wide and requires a great breadth of knowledge. I’ve been studying for about a month or so and hope to feel confident enough to take the test this fall. More CISSP posts to come!

New Blog Format

I obviously haven't posted here in quite some time. There've been a few reasons for this.

Firstly, I primarily built this site as a learning experience and I've largely satisfied my curiosity in bootstrap responsive design, HTML5, and CSS3.

Secondly, the way I've formatted this site has made posting an onerous task since so much content must be created for each post.

Reducing the need to create so much content will result in more frequent posts. So I will no longer make individual pages for each blog post. Rather, blog posts will be added only to the site's homepage.

Lastly, I've become increasingly interested in information security and auditing over the past months. As such, there will be more posts about InfoSec such as learning opportunities, professional certificates, and technical methods.

Expect more frequent posts on information security in the coming weeks.

Developing a Graphic Design Portfolio

I’ve become more and more interested in graphic design over the past 4 years. This is largely because my current job role as a one man IT department requires that I wear many different hats, including that of a graphic designer.

Fortunately, I’ve grown very fond of doing graphic design and love taking up graphic design projects. Over the past few years I’ve designed logos, product handouts, posters, CAD drawings, stickers, magazine ads, website mockups, and so on.

I rely heavily on Adobe Illustrator as my main tool when generating graphics design materials. Illustrator has deep functionally and the vast resources that are readily available online make learning new techniques fun and easy.

Most recently, I’ve been partial to flat design, which uses a muted palette and minimalistic elements to create designs that have intuitive user interface. Click the link above if you're interested in taking a look at any of my design work.

Electronic Voting Systems, Fitbit, Google, and the Circle by Dave Eggers

I pretty much always struggle to get through non-fiction while traveling. Titles like “VMware vSphere 5.5 Cookbook” and “Nmap 6: Network Exploration and Security Auditing Cookbook” are less appealing when stuck on an airplane, without Internet access, for hours on end.

Instead, I find myself reading mostly science fiction by authors like Philip K Dick and Neal Stephenson. Most recently I decided to dive into Dave Eggers’ book “The Circle”.

This recently published book is a great a read that addresses themes that are incredibly relevant. The parallels between this book and current events, and to my personal life, are striking.

The book centers on an Internet and technology company called the Circle, which seeks to better humanity through data tracking and interconnectedness. The Circle’s founder are given godlike status by those inside and outside of the company, particularly politicians. And the company’s employees, called Circlers, are desperate to further the company’s goals to a cultish degree.

Specifically, the Circle seeks to eliminate anonymity and privacy in order to bolster personal safety, health, convenience, political participation, and interconnectedness. Does this all sound familiar?

How to Make an Affordable RetroPie Gaming Console

Remember the good old days when gaming meant playing the Oregon Trail on an old school Macintosh computer? Ever wish you could play the original Super Mario Bros on your home TV? Well, you can. And you can even do so for less than $100.

By taking advantage of an awesome project called RetroPie, you can make a console that will enable you to play any old school games that were released for nearly any video game system. Better yet, many of those great old games are readily available for download on the Internet.

So how is this all possible? This is possible by using the tiny, yet surprisingly powerful, Raspberry Pi computer board. Raspberry Pis were intended to be used in projects exactly like the RetroPie

Making a RetroPie is very straightforward so there’s no excuse to let your nerdy side out and go buy the simple parts that you’ll need for your console. Not only will you end up with a great gaming console that will unquestionably be a hit with groups of friends at gatherings, but you’ll have learned a bit about computing along the way.

I’ve already put in the legwork by making 2 RetroPie consoles, now you just need to click the link above so that you can learn to make your own.

Converting Techsploits from WordPress to Flat HTML

Oh hey, what’s up Internet! It’s been a minute since I’ve posted here but I swear that I have a valid excuse. I’ve been working hard on rebuilding my blog from scratch over the past month or so. I’ve gone from using Wordpress to using flat HTML and CSS files with no Content Management System.

There are many reasons that I decided to rebuild Techsploits from the bottom up. Most importantly, it’s familiarized me with the latest front end web technologies and enabled me to better hone my development skills. Secondly, this new blog format gives me more flexibility when it comes to Search Engine Optimization, allowing me to more easily implement and test new SEO practices.

Building even a simple blog like Techsploits can be very time intensive, especially for a perfectionist like me. I first built the site to look good on desktop, then optimized for mobile devices, then optimized site speed and finally optimized onsite SEO, which will be an ongoing process.

Click on the link above to learn more about the process of building my blog & about the specific technologies that I employed in doing so.

How to Obtain Google Analytics Certification

If you’ve ever worked in web development or digital marketing then you’ve doubtlessly worked with Google Analytics. Google Analytics captures data about user interactions and conversions on digital properties. This is vitally important as the data from Google Analytics drives changes made to the digital properties.

Using Google Analytics is pretty intuitive. However, Analytics constantly changes as new features are added. So how can you learn about, and display your knowledge of, Google Analytics? Easy. Just look to the Google Analytics Academy.

Google Analytics Academy presents users with great information that is provided by actual Google Product Managers. This information is invaluable at giving an inside look into how Google Analytics works. Moreover, these courses enable users to become certified in Analytics by taking a certification examination. Are you interested in becoming Google Analytics certified? Then click the link above to get my take on the process.

Brushing Up on HTML & CSS at Jury Duty

I was, tragically, selected for jury duty for the first time a few days ago. I knew that the experience would at least be interesting since I’d never been selected for jury duty in spite of having interned in many courthouses back in my college days.

I unquestionably ensured that my Kindle was brim full of reading material for the hours I’d spend in the jury assembly room. Since I’ve been honing my HTML, CSS, and JavaScript development lately, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to read an ebook or 2 on those subjects.

The book I chose to read was Kyle Horne’s HTML and HTML5: HTML In A Day Bootcamp. This text was an easy read that reinforced many of the concepts that I’ve been learning through W3Schools, Free Code Camp, and Codecademy.

Build a Virtualization Homelab for Cheaper than a Macbook

Ever wanted to learn about server operating systems and computer networking but don’t know where to get started? I’ve always found that the best way to learn technology is through experiential learning and not through consuming books or even videos.

Simply put, the best way to learn about IT is to build a homelab and familiarize yourself directly with the technologies you’re interested in. But don’t worry if that sounds like an expensive task, because it’s not. In fact you can build yourself a very fast, practical computer lab for less than the current cost of an Apple Macbook.

Server 2016 Technical Preview on Gates the Hyper-V Host

Hyper-V is Microsoft’s native hypervisor platform similar to VMware’s ESXi. Hyper-V can very easily be installed as a role in newer versions of Windows Server to enable the hosting of Virtual Machines.

I’d had a server up and running that was intended as a Hyper-V host in my homelab for some time. However, I’d neglected to actually install the Hyper-V role and start spinning up Virtual Machines.

In this post I’ll install a technical preview of Windows Server 2016 Datacenter as a Virtual Machine in a Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter Hyper-V server.