CompTIA Network+ Exam & Cisco 1 Class

I took CompTIA Network+ exam last year; unfortunately, I didn’t pass.  I realized that I didn’t know the material well enough to pass the test.  I began to re-study Network+ books and re-watch Professor Messer’s Network+ videos, but the material just wasn’t sinking in.  This fall (just a few weeks away) I will begin a Cisco 1 class through a local community college.  My hope is that getting some hands-on experience in the classroom as well as formal teaching will help to really learn the material.  For those interested, the optional textbook for the class is Introduction to Networks v6 Course Booklet.

Cisco Book - Introduction to Networks



Review: CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Cert Guide, 4th Edition

The CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 exams can be overwhelming especially for test-takers who don’t have years of experience in the technology field.   So, the test-takers first dilemma becomes where to start learning the material.  Luckily there are a few books on the market that cover the exam material.  One of these books is the “CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Cert Guide” where you’ll find lots of photos, screenshots, quizzes, and tables. In addition, when test-takers purchase the book, they will also get access to the companion website which includes the Pearson IT Certification test engine and study materials.

If you started studying for the 220-801 and 220-802 exams with the “CompTIA A+ edition 220-801 and 220-802 Authorized Cert Guide” but now you’re planning to take the 220-901 and 220-902 exam, you’ll find a few updates to this edition.  New and expanded material includes: Linux, OS X, MacBook, UEFI BIOS, mobile devices, Windows 8/8.1/10 features, and mobile devices.


The new OS X and Linux section covers backups, system updates, patch management, and other tools.  Basic Linux terminal commands are also covered.  The OS X operating system is the primary focus of the section, but Ubuntu and Fedora also are briefly mentioned.

The section on laptops includes both Windows and Apple computers.  Photos show the different features on an Acer V5-571P (including power jack, proprietary header port, eject button for rewriteable DVD drive, USB 3.0 port, Kensington security lock port, cooling vent, HDMI A/V port, USB 2.0 ports, headset jack, Ethernet port, and VGA port) and an Apple MacBook Air (including magnetic power connector (MagSafe 2), USB 3.0 ports, headphone jack, flash memory card reader (SDXC, SDHD, and SD card), Thunderbolt 2 I/O and A/V ports, and microphones).  While the Acer V5-571P includes a DVD drive, the text notes that thin laptops (Ultrabooks) don’t include rewriteable DVD drives.

The Basic Input/ Output System (BIOS) is being replaced by the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) on newer systems. On today’s systems, you might encounter a text-based BIOS or a mouse-drive Graphic User Interface (GUI).  BIOS settings can change the boot sequences, disable ports, overclock the system, enable Wake on LAN, etc.  This section also walks readers through how to flash the BIOS.

While the “CompTIA A+ edition 220-801 and 220-802 Authorized Cert Guide” included Windows XP, Vista, and 7; the “CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Cert Guide” includes Windows 7, 8/8.1, 10, 10 mobile, and Vista.  It’s a lot of material, so the tables for operating system differences and command-line tools will come in handy for test-takers.

The mobile device section focuses on iOS and Android devices; however, Windows 10 devices are briefly mentioned.  Screenshots show the differences between IOS and Android devices for operating system version numbers, creating folders, airplane mode, and Bluetooth.

VERDICT  The CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 exams covers a lot of material – finding a good study guide is to crucial to learning the material.  The “CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Cert Guide” makes studying easier with photos, screenshots, quizzes, and tables.  In addition, the companion website includes the Pearson IT Certification test engine and study materials.  Between the book and the website, test-takers get a lot of bang for their buck!

Note: This review is made possible through Pearson IT Certification Review Program.  

Microsoft’s Free Resource: Microsoft Virtual Academy

As an Information Technology professional, on-going learning is critical to keeping up with the latest technology and learning new skills.  Whether you’re studying for a certification or learning about the latest software release, you’ll find resources for both on Microsoft Virtual Academy.  In the constantly changing information technology field, it’s often a struggle to keep current with the latest technology.  Books used to be the way to learn about technology years ago, but by the time a book is published, the information may already be out-of-date.  Microsoft has responded to this dilemma by offering free resources on Microsoft Virtual Academy.





Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) includes videos, learning plans, live Q & A, and access to free e-books.  The MVA website can be overwhelming for the new user, so be sure to start in the section that most applies to your area: Developers, IT Pros, Data Pros, or Students.    If you sign into your Microsoft account, you can add courses to your learning plan which will make it easy to locate courses the next time you sign-in.  Some of the videos are short and others are long.  For example, if you’re studying for Microsoft’s 70-346 Exam, the video Managing Office 365 Identities and Services covers the exam topics and includes 9 hours of videos.  Be sure to sign-up for MVA’s emails on the Born to Learn blog.   If you’re on Twitter, MVA is very active on Twitter and if you post a Tweet with the @MSVirtAcademy hashtag, they’ll respond to you and ask how your studying is going!

Reflection: Switching Careers

It’s been over 1 ½ years since I left the library field and entered the technology arena. The pay cut was the certainly a bitter pill to swallow. As an Assistant Library Director, I made over $50,000; my initial switch into technology yielded a pay cut of about half my income. I had to make some hard choices such as downsizing my car and apartment. My salary has since increased about $10,000 annually, which makes it possible for me to make student loan payments and make payments on my credit cards. Overall, working in a field that I enjoy makes all the difference!










Public Domain image courtesy of


Some weeks at work are stressful, as they would be at any job, but even during those weeks, I still enjoy the work and that makes my smaller budget worthwhile. I was very fortunate during my career switch that I was able to find a job in the same organization – I basically switched departments – I work with the same co-workers that I worked with at the library. I was also very fortunate that my current Director was willing to hire a librarian for a technology job – not every hiring manager is able to look beyond the job titles on my resume and see the possibilities of hiring an employee from another field. Changing careers was truly a leap of faith: I believed that my pay would increase and that I would be happier in the technology field – I’m happy to report that both turned out to come true!



Review: CompTIA A+ Complete Video Course 220-901

Note: This review is made possible through Pearson IT Certification Review Program.  If you’re an information technology professional, this  program is a great way to read Pearson books or watch Pearson videos in exchange for your review.  


CompTIA A+ Complete Video Course 220-901 includes four modules, 34 lessons, quizzes, and performance based exercises.  If you’ve picked up the CompTIA A+ Exam Cram book, you’re already familiar with the author David Prowse. These videos provide an excellent compliment to the information that you’ll read inCompTIA A+ Exam Cram. While you get enough the information in the Exam Cram book to pass the exam, these videos provide a much needed video compliment to the material. CompTIA A+ Complete Video Course 220-901 covers the CompTIA A+ objectives (including motherboard, CPU, RAM, storage, BIOS, network troubleshooting tools, etc.).

New technicians with limited work experience will find it helpful to see videos for the installation of a motherboard and CPU – while these videos don’t take the place of real-world experience, they are helpful to demonstrate how to correctly install these technologies.

Prowse provides lots of helpful advice (mini videos within lessons called “Tech Tip!!”) such as how verify that a case fan has been installed correctly, use the paper test: put a piece of paper against the fan to see if it’s pulling or pushing the paper.

You can watch the entire series from beginning to end or just watch certain sections.  After you finish watching a video, a yellow check mark will appears next to the video which is a helpful feature if you only have enough time to watch one video at a time.

VERDICT Whether you’re studying for the CompTIA A+ Exam or just refreshing your knowledge, these videos cover the information that you’ll encounter on the CompTIA A+ exam in bite-sized videos.



ND Cyber Security Conference 2016

The ND Cyber Security Conference is held during Spring Break at NDSU.  The Conference brings together cyber security professionals, students, and anyone interested in learning about cyber security. It’s a rare opportunity to network with K-12, university, private sector, and government professionals. Below are books and websites that were mentioned during the conference.

North Dakota Cyber Security Conference 2016 ND Cyber Security Conference 2016 2








Reading List


It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

If you’re looking for leadership inspiration, look no further! It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy should be required reading for managers – whether you’re a new manager or a seasoned leader. This book presents common problems that managers face daily and creative solutions. Readers may wonder how a captain in the Navy can make positive changes in an organization steeped in politics, bureaucracy, and hundred of years of tradition. The amazing story of Captain Abrashoff’s leadership of the USS Benfold is that a Navy ship isn’t much different than your organization. There are plenty of policies and procedures that you may never be able to change, but if you focus on your staff, there’s plenty of ways that you can create positive changes. Full of antidotes, this management book includes sections on leading by example, creating a climate of trust, take calculated risks, and improve your people’s quality of life.

It's Your Ship







It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy

Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

Upgrading to Windows 10

Is your computer ready?

Before you start the upgrade process, be sure your computer to ready. Visit Microsoft’s Specifications webpage – you’ll find both system requirements and upgrade paths.   During the upgrade process, Windows will check your system requirements, but checking the system requirements yourself will give you a little more reassurance during the process. Your computer needs to have: at least 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM (for a 32-bit operating system) or 2 GB RAM (for a 64-bit operating system), 16 GB hard drive space (for a 32-bit operating system) or 20 GB hard drive space (for a 64-bit operating system), at least DirectX 9 graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver, and at least a 800 x 600 display.  For Windows 10, Microsoft has limited the editions, so you should check-out the upgrade paths and be aware which edition you’ll have on your computer once your upgrade is complete. If you have Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, or Windows 7 Home Premium, you will be upgrading to Windows 10 Home. If you have Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate, you will be upgrading to Windows 10 Pro.

Backup your computer

The upgrade shouldn’t loose any files or programs, but in case there is an issue with the upgrade, it never hurts to have a back-up of your computer.

Upgrading to Windows 10

Now that you’ve checked your computer’s specifications, you’re aware of the Windows 10 edition that you will be upgrading to, and backed up your computer it’s time to start the upgrade! If your computer is eligible for the upgrade, you should see the Windows 10 icon in the notification area (near the date and time in lower right-hand corner of your screen). If you don’t see the icon, you can run the Windows Troubleshooter. Once you see the Windows icon, click on the icon and you’ll see a pop-window for “How to get Windows 10 for free!”. Click on the “Reserve your free upgrade” button. You computer will be added to the queue and will download automatically – this process could take a few hours or a few days. You can click on the Windows 10 icon to check on the upgrade. Once the download is complete, you’ll see a pop-up window for the software license terms – click “accept” at the bottom of the screen. Next, you’ll see a pop-up window that reads “You upgrade is ready to install.” You can select “schedule it for later” or “start the upgrade now”.   If you select “start the upgrade now”, your computer will restart and the upgrade will begin.  After the restart, the wizard prompt you to select your Internet connection, then you should see your new Windows 10 desktop.

Helpful Websites

Upgrade to Windows 10: FAQ


The “Get Windows 10” app doesn’t appear in Windows 7 or 8.1

Windows 10 auto upgrade from 8.1 process took me 5 hours (video)

CompTIA Project+ Exam Tips

I’m studying for the CompTIA Project+ exam.  If you have experience working on projects, a lot of materials is going to sound like common sense.  But mixed in with the common sense, you’ll need to memorize some terms, lists, and formulas.  Below are a few tips that I found helpful while I was studying.

9 PMBOK Knowledge Areas 

Remember this phrase: “I saw two cows quietly having coffee and reading poetry”.

Credit: Matthew Sorvaag






Human Resources




Project Charter vs. Scope Statement

Rather than memorizing the list of items that are included in the project charter and scope statement, memorize the items that both have in common: assumptions / constraints, objectives, and deliverables.  Then memorize the items that are unique to the project charter and scope statement.

Project Charter Scope Statement
Assumptions / Constraints



Problem Statment

Project Approach



Cost Estimates


Assumptions / Constraints




Acceptance Criteria




There are a few formulas to memorize for the exam.  While watching CompTIA Project+ videos on CBT Nuggets, I heard some good tips for memorizing cost and schedule formulas.


  1. The variance and indicator formulas all begin with EV.
  2. The variance formulas are subtraction.
  3. The index formulas are division.
  4. The cost formulas end with AC.
  5. The schedule formulas end with PV.

Cost Variance (CV) = EVAC

Schedule Variance (SV) = EVPV

Cost Performance Index (CPI) = EV / AC

Schedule Performance Index (SPI) = EV / PV

Is it Under Copyright?

“Is it under copyright?” is such as straightforward question.  There should be a straightforward answer, but Copyright Law is notoriously tricky.   You can read the entire law to can answer your question (“Is it under copyright?”); however, even if a work is under copyright, you may be able to use it under certain circumstances. How the work will be used and how much will be used are important factors in the use of copyrighted materials. Always consult a legal professional, but you may be able to answer some basic questions with the resources listed below.


Copyright Basics (U.S. Copyright)

Duration of Copyright (U.S. Copyright)

How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work (U.S. Copyright)


Copyright and Fair Use Cases (Stanford University Libraries)

United States Copyright Case Law (Wikipedia)


Copyright Law Amendments (David P. Hayes)

Copyright Law of the United States

Copyright Law of the United States and Related Laws Contained in Tıtle 17 of the United States Code

Title 37 – Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights

United States Copyright Office


Copyright (American Library Association)

Copyright Genie (American Library Association)

Copyright Law & Public Domain (NOLO)

Cornell University Law School: Copyright

Fair Use Evaluator (American Library Association)

Public Domain Slider (American Library Association)

Tree-View Chart on Copyright Law (David P. Hayes)