Showing posts with label Guest Blogs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Guest Blogs. Show all posts

Friday, 7 December 2012

A week with Firebrand – SQL Server 2012 Student Review | Days 4 - 7

Rowan Troy took time off each day during his accelerated and intensive seven day course to blog about his experience with Firebrand Training.You can find days 1, 2 & 3 on the following link: http://blog.firebrandtraining.co.uk/2012/12/a-week-with-firebrand-sql-server-2012_6.html

Rowan successfully gained his MSCA at the end of his course.
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training
SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training

Day 4

So it is exam day today.  Not looking forward to it myself.  My chosen topic, which I did stupidly choose to accept, is SQL Server 2012 and particularly the DBA elements.  I set out on this course knowing I probably wouldn’t pass the exams.  This is NOT, I will add in huge bold letters, because Firebrand isn’t good enough to get me through, far from it.  It is because like with all things new, I haven’t had a chance to get real world experience with the product and you do need that.  I have knowledge of 2008 which I thought would be helpful and it has proven to be a bonus as I least can drive the main interface of SQL.  One of the pre-requisites for any Microsoft course is now to have 2 years’ experience at least.  Unfortunately 2012 has only been out since Q3 so fat chance of that!  After 3 days of material I was really confident I would score well, when I set out from home I was certain this was not going to be the case!

I went to breakfast fairly early so I could spend a few hours before our exam slot revising some key components.  When I met up with the rest of my course alumni there was a lot of nerves being thrown around and people wondering if they will pass or not.  I went in with the expectation that after 3 days of material I stand a 50/50 chance of passing.  Alas that 50/50 turned into about 5% once I sat down and read through the first ten questions!!!  It was an extremely tough cookie and unfortunately I was defeated on this occasion.  Man Vs. Exam – Exam Wins!

I have sat many Microsoft exams in my time; I think I am almost at 20 now, but this one slayed me rather harshly.  I couldn’t blame the course content, nor the training kit book as that’s fairly new.  I could only put it down to my lack of real world experience and I believe that Microsoft is making it very tough to get past their exams without that element.  It does make the certification seem a lot more real and less paper like so when you finally complete the track, you’ll have achieved something worthwhile.  Exchange 2010 was also one of those that knocked me down a peg and I have a vast amount of real world experience with it but the exam was a true master at putting me in my place.  I did pass it on the second time of asking which is what I plan to do with this SQL exam. 

I’m off to sleep early tonight so I can get some rest now that first exam is out of the way.  Who knows I may even pass it the next time but having seen the exam, I now know what I need to research.  With free resits at the moment, there is panic!!!

Signing off…

Day 5

Well I passed on my second attempt.  I went back to my room after dinner and spent a lot of time reviewing the material, spoke with my trusty DBA at work for an hour (or maybe it was two can’t quite remember) and re-read huge chunks of my training kit and a lot of MSDN pages it recommended I do.  In doing that, I was up until gone midnight and had to get up early doors to be in the exam room.  Fortunately for me Paul Templeton, who you’ll meet when you come Wyboston lakes, did me and two of my fellow alumni a huge favour in getting us into the exam room again before our course started on Day 5. 

Having seen the exam once and then having a second shot gave me a bit more confidence in passing.  I went in with the wrong attitude; that I was going to fail, and had I changed that attitude, and read what all that material the night before my first attempt, I would have probably passed it then.  Even if you think that you don’t know much, you will be surprised, as I was, with what I did know.  Take your time reading the questions, ensure you have truly understood what they are asking for.  I do sit Microsoft exams rather quickly and it has always paid off in the years gone by.  Now though I believe that due to the changes in the courses and exams and the technical difficulty within them, you really need to read the questions.  I had my thumb up against that monitor, ensuring that I read every word before I answered.

Lots of people have different techniques but I have had to adapt mine.  It takes longer to complete the exam but I am safe in the knowledge that I have read everything right.  So what I once thought was impossible, is now possible.  We continued the material for the next exam track and I only missed thirty minutes due to my re-take.  There is still a long way to go but I have at least conquered part of this course.  Onwards and upwards as they say…

Signing off….

Day 6

I had an early night last night so I feel refreshed today as we continued with the content and labs.  I still have to reiterate my comment about breakfast, that you will feel better for having just cereal and toast and not opting for the full fry up.  You really do need your brain fully engaged each day so take this as the best advice I can give you.

We have been working on T-SQL, which is something I have little knowledge of but I was actually understanding terms and syntax, much to my amazement.  I have often looked at this 'stuff' during my career and just assumed aliens wrote it and people who write it now have some sort of disposition that they want to talk in a foreign language for a living.  But it is exactly that, another language that requires definitions.  I knew this part would very tough and take a lot of reading and practice so I hope that with the hours I have put in it will pay off.

Once again it's past 2300 so time to get some sleep, second exam tomorrow and possibly the hardest of the three!

Signing off..

Day 7

Early start again to get the last minute revision of my notes and the training materials.  Exam two is sometimes the hardest but if you have never sat a Microsoft exam you'll find out that most of them are just multiple choice with drag and drops but this one actually requires you to type the answers.  The first time I have sat an exam like this and I have to admit the nerves were getting to me.

I had an early breakfast with a few of the alumni who were just as concerned with the fact we had to actually type the answers out.  We were bouncing off revision and tips off each other which does help when you have to remember so much.  Sometimes it's the conversations you have with those going through the same training and exam as you that you can actually get the answers you need.

We started the exam at around 9:30am and I used 2 hours of the 3 hours available to pass with a very reasonable score.  I was told there were 10 questions that you would have to type the answers, I completed 2 that I knew were right and the syntax was correct (according to the checker within the exam of course, albeit it doesn't like spelling).  I was certain two more were right but the syntax checker was doing its usual trick of telling me I was wrong.  I made sure I put comments on those questions to tell Prometric, the exam company, that it needs tweaking.  The rest of the questions I gave it my best shot and with all that I did get my pass.

Unfortunately I had to leave today, missing the last two days of material and the final exam to complete my MCSA.  Fortunately Firebrand, as always, were understanding and gave me my exam voucher so I can go and take the exam when I get the opportunity.  The experience, again, has been very rewarding, although my brain is absolutely stuck in the world of T-SQL and I am exhausted but I have learned so much and in such a short space of time I could never have done this anywhere else.  I want to personally thank everyone at Firebrand, including Angela for being a great trainer and Paul Templeton who I now consider 'The Don', who once again went above and beyond for me - all your hard work is very much appreciated by me and I am sure by everyone who visits.

Signing off for the final time..

Congratulations Rowan gaining your MCSA in just 7 days.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

A week with Firebrand – SQL Server 2012 Student Review | Days 1 - 3

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training
SQL Server 2012 - Firebrand Training

Firebrand student Rowan Troy took time off each day during his intensive 7 day course to blog about his experience at Firebrand. He successfully gained his MSCA.

Day 1

It was an early start for the first day, breakfast waits in the hotel restaurant and if it's like it was last time I was here, it'll be very good.  Firebrand will serve you a cooked breakfast but as always they don't recommend it - personally I don't take them up on the offer as I agree, it isn't good for the brain if you are attempting to learn at the accelerated pace that the course demands.

We managed to get through 7 modules today, if you did that on the traditional course, you would be out the door by the end of play on day 3 and most training establishments ask you for five days of your time for just one exam track!  Microsoft do have a tendency to pad things out but Firebrand take away the repetitiveness of the official curriculum and give you the bits you need to know.  Angela, our no longer M.I.A trainer, has been impressive in her knowledge of SQL and the demonstrations have been practically flawless.  She needs coffee though I think!

The clocks go back today so we do get an extra hour in bed which is a first for me being on a course.  It is needed though as reading takes up your time once you have completed the labs.  It is 2300 now so it's time to get some sleep before day 2 starts.

Signing off!

Day 2

Day 2 is always a crunch day for me even though I have been here 5 times now.  You wake up realising that you're still here, wondering whether you actually learned anything on the first day and whether you remember anything.  My fellow alumni are also feeling the tiredness that comes with self-study and staying up all the hours God gives to get as much knowledge in your over-worked brain.  Good thing to do is recap the modules you covered at the start of the day as it does help to jog the grey matter.  Breakfast was great again, just in case you were wondering.

We managed to get through 8 modules today which are just staggering.  I know there will be some readers who think that isn't possible but I implore you to take a look at the padding out that does happen with some modules and condense that information into one single module.  You'll soon find out that it is quicker and that you repeat things quite often.  Talk of the first exam has already begun and although we are a day away still, everyone is keen to understand just how difficult it is.

The course doesn't come with as many books as I would like.  Firebrand always provide you with the Training Kits that come from the Microsoft Press or the Administrators Companion as both are valuable tools to self-study with when you've completed the labs (or just fed up with them) and you want to go back to your room to study in your own way and in your own time.  Unfortunately the course and exams are so new that even Microsoft is somewhat behind in producing suitable reading material.  I was not amused to receive a revised release date for the 70-461 training kit as it will now arrive on 3rd November - too late for me so I cancelled that a while ago!!!  Firebrand have fortunately taken the time to research alternative books to the above and provided them instead.

Day 3 is coming and again its 2300 so time to hit the sack and get some energy back ready to finish off the first exam track and begin the revision…

Day 3

Day 3 started off pretty well, continuing with the course content and knowing there isn't much left to cover does give you this sense of build up to the first exam.  I happen to be carrying the joys of winter with me when I came up here and unfortunately haven't managed to shake it off so I felt somewhat unwell throughout the day.  Unknowingly though, performing complex tasks in the labs (they actually make you think now instead of giving you step by step instructions - that is until you look in the very back of the book of course) somehow made me forget about my cold and gave me something to focus on.  It's true what they say, doing something continuously that engages the brain non-stop allows you to forget the world around you.  With the clocks going back it does, at the moment, make the day feel longer so you do have to wonder how your brain can cope with this pace and having an extra hour to squeeze in!

I haven't mentioned lunch or dinner yet as breakfast is, in my opinion, the most important meal of the day but as always it is superbly prepared food and I hope that it continues to stay that way.  You need it after the brain work out that is Transact SQL and the numerous windows and pop boxes that we face as IT bodies every day.  It doesn't get any easier it would seem to keep up with the fast pace moving world that is Microsoft technologies.

The exam is tomorrow so I am signing off just a little earlier as I need the sleep.  I will be up very early to get myself reading again before the 9:30am meet up time and 10am exam.  I came here with nothing but if I leave with an exam under my belt, it would mean a lot and would be a bonus.  I know some people come here and their performance is monitored by their employer, fortunately mine isn't so I don't have that added pressure that some of my alumni do.

Good night!

Click here to see days 4 to 7 of Rowan’s SQL Server 2012 experience with Firebrand Training: http://blog.firebrandtraining.co.uk/2012/12/a-week-with-firebrand-sql-server-2012.html

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Guest Blog: Firebrand Training Day 8

Martin Spears is an alumnus of our CompTIA A+/Network+ course. He took to sharing his experience with the world on his blog. Each day, for 8 days, we’ll add one post from him where he describes how his day with Firebrand went, what challenges he went through and how in the end, he achieved the certification.


Martin's final day at Firebrand Training centre - he passes the exam. He is a CompTIA A+/Network+ certified professional.


Friday, 25 November 2011

Guest Blog: Firebrand Training Day 7

Martin Spears is an alumnus of our CompTIA A+/Network+ course. He took to sharing his experience with the world on his blog. Each day, for 8 days, we’ll add one post from him where he describes how his day with Firebrand went, what challenges he went through and how in the end, he achieved the certification.


Martin's final day before the exam, after which he can return to "normal life"


Read more: Martin Spears: Firebrand Training - Saturday (Day 7)

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Guest Blog: Firebrand Training Day 6

Martin Spears is an alumnus of our CompTIA A+/Network+ course. He took to sharing his experience with the world on his blog. Each day, for 8 days, we’ll add one post from him where he describes how his day with Firebrand went, what challenges he went through and how in the end, he achieved the certification.


Martin slogs through another 12 hour day, as he gets used to having classes after dinner.


Read more: Martin Spears: Firebrand Training - Friday (Day 6)

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Guest Blog: Firebrand Training Day 5

Martin Spears is an alumnus of our CompTIA A+/Network+ course. He took to sharing his experience with the world on his blog. Each day, for 8 days, we’ll add one post from him where he describes how his day with Firebrand went, what challenges he went through and how in the end, he achieved the certification.


Martin passes the A+ exam, and immediately starts preparing for N+.


Read more: Martin Spears: Firebrand Training - Thursday (Day 5)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Guest Blog: Firebrand Training Day 4

Martin Spears is an alumnus of our CompTIA A+/Network+ course. He took to sharing his experience with the world on his blog. Each day, for 8 days, we’ll add one post from him where he describes how his day with Firebrand went, what challenges he went through and how in the end, he achieved the certification.


Day 4: More studying, preparing for the exam the next day...


Read more: Martin Spears: Firebrand Training - Wednesday (Day 4)

Monday, 21 November 2011

Guest Blog: Firebrand Training Day 3

Martin Spears is an alumnus of our CompTIA A+/Network+ course. He took to sharing his experience with the world on his blog. Each day, for 8 days, we’ll add one post from him where he describes how his day with Firebrand went, what challenges he went through and how in the end, he achieved the certification.


Martin gets used to the life at Firebrand's training environment on day 3...


Read more: Martin Spears: Firebrand Training - Tuesday (Day 3)

Friday, 18 November 2011

Guest Blog: Firebrand Training Day 2


Martin Spears is an alumnus of our CompTIA A+/Network+ course. He took to sharing his experience with the world on his blog. Each day, for 8 days, we’ll add one post from him where he describes how his day with Firebrand went, what challenges he went through and how in the end, he achieved the certification.


Martin attends his first lecture with Firebrand. He experiences what 12 hour days are all about and what we mean when we say our training is 'intense'...


Read more: Martin Spears: Firebrand Training - Monday (Day 2)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Guest Blog: Firebrand Training Day 1

Martin Spears is an alumnus of our CompTIA A+/Network+ course. He took to sharing his experience with the world on his blog. Each day, for 8 days, we’ll add one post from him where he describes how his day with Firebrand went, what challenges he went through and how in the end, he achieved the certification.


Martin reached our training centre in Wyboston Lakes, Bedfordshire on Sunday evening. He talks about how he mentally prepares himself for a 7 day marathon study session...


Friday, 21 January 2011

Part 6: How To Become a Better Digital Forensics Investigator - Contribute Every Day

For the last fortnight, Rob Lee from Digital Forensics Magazine has taken over the Firebrand blog. Rob has been taking a look at how Digital Forensics Investigators can develop themselves, and the profession itself:

So, trying not to be too repetitive, we really do need a few good forensicators to step up to the challenge. Our field will continue to grow at pace and we need additional leaders and mentors to aid in the transformation from backroom niche profession to a digital forensics becoming the cornerstone of the security profession.

Even if you are new, participation, seeking a mentor and asking questions is the best way to engage in the community. Do not be caught on the sidelines. Help us. Contribute today.

Digital Forensics Magazine is a quarterly features and news magazine, from the world of computer and cyber crime and digital forensics. To mark Rob's takover of the blog, Firebrand Training is offering half price EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (C|HFI) certification, if you book the Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) course at the same time. Call us on 080 80 800 888 and join the Digital Forensics community!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Part 5: How To Become a Better Digital Forensics Investigator - Volunteer

For a fortnight, Rob Lee from Digital Forensics Magazine is taking over the Firebrand blog. Throughout the next two weeks, Rob will be taking a look at how Digital Forensics Investigators can develop themselves, and the profession itself:

Reach out to your local law enforcement and see if they have a digital forensics unit. Ask if you could volunteer your time there to help with the lab, cases, or even to give small briefings on latest trends in the field.

Local law enforcement units are the professionals on the front line and tend to be the most likely to have small cyber crime labs; however, they are also thwarted by limited staffing and often too busy to keep up with the latest news and techniques. I have many examples of friends who are currently volunteering with local police; it is very rewarding.

Friday's post will look at how you can contribute to the Digital Forensics profession every day.

Digital Forensics Magazine is a quarterly features and news magazine, from the world of computer and cyber crime and digital forensics. To mark Rob's takover of the blog, Firebrand Training is offering half price EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (C|HFI) certification, if you book the Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) course at the same time. Call us on 080 80 800 888 and join the Digital Forensics community!

Monday, 17 January 2011

Part 4: How To Become a Better Digital Forensics Investigator - Advocate

For a fortnight, Rob Lee from Digital Forensics Magazine is taking over the Firebrand blog. Throughout the next two weeks, Rob will be taking a look at how Digital Forensics Investigators can develop themselves, and the profession itself:

Reach out to professional groups in your area and join these groups. Membership organizations such as Infraguard, HTCIA, and ISSA are consistently looking for new members. Join these groups, become a member. Share your experiences. Participate.

If you have a topic to share, consider becoming a speaker and submitting your idea to one of the regular community conferences. Join Twitter. Join LinkedIn. Join community email lists. Start a blog or contribute as an author to an existing one.

Wednesday's post will look at volunteering.

Digital Forensics Magazine is a quarterly features and news magazine, from the world of computer and cyber crime and digital forensics. To mark Rob's takover of the blog, Firebrand Training is offering half price EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (C|HFI) certification, if you book the Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) course at the same time. Call us on 080 80 800 888 and join the Digital Forensics community!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Part 3: How To Become a Better Digital Forensics Investigator - Development and Feedback

For a fortnight, Rob Lee from Digital Forensics Magazine is taking over the Firebrand blog. Throughout the next two weeks, Rob will be taking a look at how Digital Forensics Investigators can develop themselves, and the profession itself:

Many individuals and groups write tools for both commercial and open source digital forensic platforms. Anyone can help here by providing feedback on the tools they use; just email the developers, vendor, or open source community. Developers are constantly looking for new ideas and improvements to their capabilities. Tight partnership with the community is crucial in providing operators updated capabilities and fit-for-purpose products.

Next Monday's post will look at the importance of becoming an advocate of the profession.

Digital Forensics Magazine is a quarterly features and news magazine, from the world of computer and cyber crime and digital forensics. To mark Rob's takover of the blog, Firebrand Training is offering half price EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (C|HFI) certification, if you book the Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) course at the same time. Call us on 080 80 800 888 and join the Digital Forensics community!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Part 2: How To Become a Better Digital Forensics Investigator - Research

For a fortnight, Rob Lee from Digital Forensics Magazine is taking over the Firebrand blog. Throughout the next two weeks, Rob will be taking a look at how Digital Forensics Investigators can develop themselves, and the profession itself:

The community is lacking dedicated researchers. We are looking for all aspects of research, both on digital forensic artifacts and new technologies. Most of the community has fallen into the habit of using existing information and extant tools; often with little validation or testing that ensures the science is true. However, scientists routinely make mistakes. As a result, we need more of you starting your own research projects and we certainly need more of you providing critical peer review of others’.

How can you get started? One way is to start by performing peer reviews of existing research already published. It’s true to say that there is more unknown in digital forensics than there is known and we could stand to have a few more individuals analyzing the myriad artifacts to ensure the analysis matches the science.

Friday's post will look at development and feedback.

Digital Forensics Magazine is a quarterly features and news magazine, from the world of computer and cyber crime and digital forensics. To mark Rob's takover of the blog, Firebrand Training is offering half price EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (C|HFI) certification, if you book the Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) course at the same time. Call us on 080 80 800 888 and join the Digital Forensics community!

Monday, 10 January 2011

Part 1: How To Become a Better Digital Forensics Investigator - Introduction

For a fortnight, Rob Lee from Digital Forensics Magazine is taking over the Firebrand blog. Throughout the next two weeks, Rob will be taking a look at how Digital Forensics Investigators can develop themselves, and the profession itself:

Our community is small. Similar to walking into your favorite bar and seeing your best friends there, attending conferences feels like a reunion. This will not last. We are growing at an increased pace. Last year, “Information Security Crime Investigator/Forensics Expert” was the number #1 coolest job for the SANS “Top 20 Coolest Information Security Jobs.” Every day, I see new individuals entering the field, from law enforcement to the intelligence community, from information security professionals to those involved in litigation. The reason is simple: our work is important and makes a difference. As a result, each of us should actively help foster community building to ensure that we grow smartly as a profession.

Estimates have suggested that there are approximately 30,000 digital forensic professionals in the world. As we continue to expand the field, many individuals are contributing back into the community to help further the profession. Individuals, such as Dave Hull, Ovie Carroll, Lance Mueller, and many others, routinely give up their own time to get involved and help many individuals on a daily basis.

However, we desperately need more dedicated professionals contributing this growing community. You do not have to be exceptionally talented, know how to code, or even spend money, if you want to contribute. You can simply join a professional organization, get to know your peers, and of course, most importantly, participate. My mantra now is simple: “What have you done to help further our profession today?”

So, how can you get involved? Wednesday's post will look at the use of research in the profession.

Digital Forensics Magazine is a quarterly features and news magazine, from the world of computer and cyber crime and digital forensics. To mark Rob's takover of the blog, Firebrand Training is offering half price EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensics Investigator (C|HFI) certification, if you book the Certified Ethical Hacker (C|EH) course at the same time. Call us on 080 80 800 888 and join the Digital Forensics community!