About Steve

Steve recently retired as a full-time faculty member at Sierra College in Rocklin, California. He has transitioned over to the roles of Deputy Sector Navigator (ICT/DM) for Orange County and to Coastline Community College in Garden Grove, California, to serve as project director for a Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program.

220-1001 A+ Core 1 Exam Preparation

I was recently asked, in conjunction with my volunteer efforts, to hold four sessions focused on exam preparation for the CompTIA 220-1001 certification exam (more commonly known as the A+ Core 1 Exam). I begin with the first session tomorrow (September 14th) will follow-up sessions on September 17th, 21st, and 24th (Tuesdays and Fridays). The focal point of these sessions will be (1) to detail the information I provided in my February 2017 posting (intelligent guessing and time management) and (2) to show how to utilize the CompTIA exam objectives as the central document in exam preparation.

In my June 2019 posting, I discuss this exam and provide links to the worksheet I created. My updated worksheet can be viewed by clicking HERE. The Word version (in a zip file) can be downloaded by clicking HERE. I’ve learned that anything detailed in the exam objectives is “fair game” and you should walk into the exam booth expecting to be questioned on disclosed items.

The table below identifies the exam domains and the expected percentage content on the exam. I will be basing time spent on each domain based upon this percentage.

Domain                                                         Percentage on Exam
1.0      Mobile Devices                                                14%
2.0      Networking                                                       20%
3.0      Hardware                                                          27%
4.0      Virtualization and Cloud Computing                 12%
5.0      Hardware and Network Troubleshooting           27%

I will also introduce students to resources that are available at no cost, including the videos developed by Professor Messer for the exam. All-in-all, I think this will be useful for students as they work towards passing this certification exam.

You can access the videos for each of the exam preparation sessions by clicking on the links below:

Session 1 – September 14, 2021 – Completed Domain 1 (see Note 1)

Session 2 – September 17, 2021 – Completed Domain 2 through 2.6

Session 3 – September 21, 2021 – Completed Domains 2 and 3

Session 4 – September 24, 2021 – Completed Domains 4 and 5 (see Note 2)

Note 1: In Session 1 I could not recall another item relating to performance-based questions (PBQs). Unfortunately due in large part to complexity, they do not use virtual computers (more commonly known as virtual machines), and use a simulated environment. This makes the simulations a bit “wanky” but it also provides an opportunity to figure out the correct pathway because if you go down the wrong path it ends quickly (after a step or two).

Note 2: The focus for Domain 4 is “Virtualization and Cloud Computing.” As noted in our discussion, “cloud” is becoming an ever-increasing component of IT and cybersecurity. I encourage all of you to take advantage of a free line of courses and certifications provided by Oracle, a leading company in databases and cloud computing. To gain a more in-depth understanding of the “cloud” consider taking the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Foundations course (7 hour online course) and take the OCI Foundations Associate certification. Oracle is offering the course and this certification until December 31, 2021 at no cost. I also detailed the virtual network consisting of three virtual computers (Kali, Windows 10, and Metasploitable), created in VirtualBox as the hypervisor, for use in the free Metasploitable course.

 

 

Passed the Security+ SY0-601 Exam, Next Effort will be the CySA+ CS0-002 Exam

Today I managed to pass the new Security+ certification exam (see my transcript). Since I will be teaching the academic course that is aligned with this certification for Saddleback College in the fall, I decided to use this as an opportunity to evaluate CompTIA’s learning content that included their textbook and their virtual labs. I believe based upon my success that both of these learning resources were very useful in my preparing for the exam.

My next effort will focus on the new CySA+ certification. I expect to take the next month preparing for the exam, focused on the CS0-002 exam objectives. Just like I did for the new Security+ exam, I’ll be evaluating the content of CompTIA’s textbook and virtual labs for the CySA+ exam preparation. Following my usual practice of creating a worksheet for the exam that incorporates a table containing the exam objectives along with a space for notes, you can view the blank worksheet in .pdf format by clicking HERE, and download an editable Word (.doc) version by clicking HERE.

Focus on New Security+ (SY0-601) Exam

I’m focused on completing the new Security+ exam by mid-May. I started the process in my usual way, creating a table with the exam objectives on the left side, and a blank area to make notes on the right. Yes, it is 35 pages in length, but I’ve found it an excellent exam prep tool. You can download the .pdf version by clicking HERE. You can download the Word file in a zipped format by clicking HERE.

To assist in passing the exam I’m going to focus solely on CompTIA’s courseware. This is partially in an effort to determine if I’m going to adopt their learning products for use this summer and fall semesters for teaching. My recent experience has me believing it is best to do so, but I have not actually used their products for exam preparation.

I’ll update this post as I get more into exam preparation.

 

CompTIA Server+ Beta Exam – Next Effort

Thanks to my colleagues at CompTIA, I managed to get an exam voucher for their Server+ beta exam, and have scheduled the exam for March 26th. The draft exam objectives for the SK1-005 exam are available for download. I have developed a Worksheet that contains the exam objectives in the left column, with the right column available for input for specific objectives that I’m not comfortable with having a necessary depth of knowledge. I typically Google the objective and place information I consider important in the right column. This approach ensures that I have a depth of knowledge suitable for exam taking purposes. You can download the worksheet .PDF version. You can also download the worksheet .DOCX version in a zipped file.

Unfortunately, due to the California Governor’s emergency order due to COVID-19 situation, PearsonVue canceled my appointment and I learned I will not be able to take it.

 

TEEX Free Courses (Online and On-Ground)

As I continue my efforts relative to taking FEMA related courses, I become more and more convinced as to the value this FREE training provides. Earlier this month I took the AWR213 on-ground Critical Infrastructure and Resilience Awareness course in San Diego (see certificate below):

A table that I created that identifies a number of FREE online courses provided by Texas A&M University that focus on cybersecurity courses can be viewed, with link access provided. You can download the Table by clicking on the link.

Success for the AWS Solutions Architect-Associate Exam, Azure Administrator-Associate Next

Thankful that I was able to achieve a passing grade on the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam.

Study resources used for the exam can be found by clicking HERE.

Next on the horizon is a focused effort on the Azure Administrator-Associate certification. The problem is timing. With the startup of the spring semester and the return of faculty and students, my job role responsibilities may get in the way of completing the exam preparation by the end of January. This becomes evident with my goal of completing the four (4) free online courses provided by Microsoft, with a total of 25 hours 44 minutes in duration. Oh well, I guess I should stop complaining and focus on studying.

Next Certification: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

I’ve decided to focus my next certification efforts on the AWS Architect – Associate exam (SAA-C01), choosing it as my first associate-level target for a couple of reasons. The first is as a result of passing the AWS Cloud Practitioner exam, AWS gifted me a voucher that provides a 50% discount in the exam cost, effectively reducing it from the normal $150 cost to $75. The second is I’ve previously purchased two Udemy resources that come strongly recommended on the forums I visit to gain insight relative to certification exams.

The first resource is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Course. The cost for this and the other Udemy course vary depending on when you attempt a purchase. Today’s price, according to the Udemy website is $17.59.

The second resource is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate Practice Exams. Today’s price, according to the Udemy website is $14.29.

The course contains 13 hours of video lessons and additional resources that include two practice exams. I’ll be taking an additional six practice exams that are available in the second Udemy resource (Practice Exams). If successful my total monetary investment for this certification will be around $110. The option of taking this exam at home is not available and I am required to utilize PSI as the testing site vendor in order to take advantage of the voucher discount. There are not as many test sites available when compared with PearsonVue.

Because of workload conflicts, the first available date for taking the exam will be around January 20th. That gives me a little over three (3) weeks to complete study efforts before taking the exam.

 

Azure Fundamentals Certification Obtained; Next Move Towards Cloud Associate Certifications

There are some pains associated with the PearsonVue system that allows you to take certification exams from the comfort of your home, but overall it has been a path I’ll continue to follow when it is available. Beginning Tuesday and continuing through Wednesday (yes, Christmas Day), I focused on the free learning content available from Microsoft for its Azure Fundamentals certification. As a result of this effort, I received 9 badges and a “trophy” for completing the available course (there were 9 modules in the course).

 

The test as to the value of this content happened this morning when I raced through the 40+ questions in about that many minutes, obtaining a “pass” for the exam.

What’s next? Well, it will either be the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate or the Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate​. Today I’m undecided. Factors that have me leaning towards the Azure path first are:

  • The exam can be taken at home.
  • Microsoft has learning content that is available to the public at no cost that is specifically directed at their associate-level certification.

Unfortunately, neither of these benefits appears to be available, for the AWS associate-level certification. I’ll announce my decision later this week in another blog posting.

Report Out on AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification; Next Azure Fundamentals

I decided to rush through both the preparation and certification exam process, taking the AWS free online course on Saturday, December 21st, and scheduling the exam for Monday, December 23rd. According to the certificate (see below), the course duration was 7 hours.

I think that is a fair assessment relative to the course length. Since the (CLF-C01) Exam Guide lacks depth relative to the technical aspects of how to operate in an AWS virtual environment, and the online course didn’t provide an opportunity to complete hands-on labs in the AWS cloud environment, I felt safe not having actually spun up a single EC2 instance or create a single bucket (it’s likely you need to know those definitions but not how to use them). My sense was rewarded with an exam result indicating I had passed.

What I can tell you without violating any NDA is there simply wasn’t a need for me to spin up a single EC2 instance or create a single bucket. What was necessary, is completing training like the online 7-hour course, so I could identify roughly what AWS services were related to specific situations or needs. That’s pretty much it.

Next in the queue is the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals free online course. While a little bit longer than the AWS Practitioner course, I’m thinking I’m going to try to get both the course and the certification exam done by the end of December. Given I managed to effectively do that in three days for the AWS Practitioner, I should be able to meet that goal.

Time to Finally Focus on Cloud Vendor Certifications

Well, I finally have an opportunity to focus on the line of AWS and Azure certifications, now that the semester is over. Based upon some preliminary research I’ve done, the following details a roadmap for AWS, Azure, and Google “practitioner and associate” level certifications:

Practitioner Level Vendor Certification Resources

AWS Cloud Practitioner. Amazon provides a free 6-hour online course titled AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials. The course is designed to provide training for those seeking the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification (CLF-C01). The cost of the exam is $100. The certification expires after three years.

Microsoft Azure Fundamentals. Microsoft provides a free 9-hour 48-minute online course titled Azure Fundamentals. The course is designed to provide training for those seeking the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification (AZ-900). The cost of the exam is $99.00. The certification has no expiration date.

Associate Level Vendor Architect / Engineer / Administrator Certifications

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate. Unfortunately, there are no free online courses relative to this certification. Third-party resources from Udemy and others are available. The cost of the exam is $150. The certification expires after three years.​

Google Associate Cloud Engineer. Unfortunately, there is only classroom-based options from Google. Third-party resources from Udemy and others are available. The cost of the exam is $125. The certification expires after two years.

Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate​. Microsoft provides four (4) free online courses totaling 25 hours 44 minutes in duration, designed to provide training for those seeking the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate certification (AZ-103). The cost of this exam is $165. The certification has no expiration date.