Faill to Pass

You Didn’t Pass Your Certification Exam – Now What?!


It’s happened to most of us. We have gone through countless hours of studying, training, practicing, learning, etc. We have spent long nights watching videos, reading whitepapers, practicing in labs, and taking practice tests. We thought we had this; we KNEW we had this! But when the test was completed, we hit submit, and we get the dreaded score, which is less than what was required for the Powers That Be to award us our certificate. Four of the seven stages of grief pour over you in rapid fire:

“What went wrong?!”

“I can’t believe I just wasted this money!”

“Maybe if I write to the testing board, they’ll understand that they’re wrong.”

“Ugh, this is so laaaaame!”

But, it’s done. It’s time to take this experience, learn from it, and come back and crush this exam! (more…)

How Can You Contribute to OpenStack? Let Me Count the Ways…

If you’re into OpenStack, you’re probably very well aware that our community is supported by thousands of individual contributors from all over the world, who volunteer their time writing and reviewing code. Now that you know how to get certified, the natural progression – not only to increase attractiveness to recruiters but also create relationships with other ‘Stackers – is to get involved with a project or 20. (more…)

Which OpenStack course is right for you?

What OpenStack Certification Should You Get?

So you’ve realized you might want to get certified in OpenStack, but you’re not sure what the benefits might be or even which one you should take. Looking at the Linux Academy website, you know there are several certification courses you can choose from, but how do you know which one is right for you?

Each exam makes several different assumptions whether it’s job role within the company, how much experience you have, or even what operating system you work with. So let’s break it down: (more…)

Congratulations! You’re Certified – Now What?

Starting a new career can be overwhelming. Becoming certified in your field of expertise is a great start, but where do you go from here? There is an overload of information on resumes, interviews, and general career advice within a specialized industry like technology, and you need to be able to differentiate yourself from other candidates. Here are some tips to help you on your career journey. (more…)

Tips and Tricks: Taking an AWS Cert

Tips & Tricks: Taking an AWS Certification Exam

You have spent months studying, watched hours of video lessons, and passed all the quizzes and practice exams. You can run through each Live! Lab scenario with your eyes closed and can recite every note card front-and-back from memory.

You are feeling good, even confident, as today is Test Day. You finally get to reap the benefits of all your hard work, and in a few short hours, you will have that shiny new AWS certification.

Then things start to go awry…

There is traffic on the way to the testing center. You start to think that maybe you will miss the scheduled start time. You rush into the testing center, thankful that you just made it in time.  You are handed piece of paper to sign, and told to read it word-for-word. Legal terms, NDA requirements, and cheating consequences suddenly cloud your thought process. Everything you brought with you – keys, cell phone, purse, wallet, watch – all get locked away. You are asked to turn out your pockets to prove you aren’t hiding anything to cheat with. And finally, you are escorted into the quietest room you have ever been in. As you walk to your testing station, you pass others taking exams and you can feel the tension in the air. You were already anxious from the traffic and sign-in procedures, and before you had a second to relax and breathe, you are now sitting at the exam terminal. Finally trying to collect your thoughts and get into an exam mindset. You hit the “start” button on the exam, notice the timer in the upper corner start to count down. You read the first question and have no idea what the correct answer is – and panic sets in.  The next thing you know you are staring at the results screen, with the worst word in the English language staring back at you – failed.

How did this happen? You spend months studying, you knew all the terms, definitions, processes, concepts, and passed all the practice exams. As it turns out, you forgot one very important thing – a game plan for test day.

Game Planning

The scenario described above is fairly grim (I know); however, it does represent real-world things.

To help avoid any of these potential downfalls, I am going to outline my test day game plan, and a few tricks I use to give me an edge on the exam.

1.) Getting to the Testing Center (Arrive Early)

Oh, someone telling me to arrive early – I haven’t heard that a million times before. If you are saying that to yourself right now, that’s fine. This piece of advice is so cliché that I should be laughed out of the room just for mentioning it. However, I take a slightly different approach with it. I don’t show up at the testing center early. I put my physical location within a five minute walking distance (of the testing center) one hour early. It allows for two things:

  • I have a large time buffer if something goes wrong (i.e. traffic, flat tire, bus/subway delay, or the random Stay Puft Marshmallow Man attack).
  • Assuming my buffer time wasn’t used due to an issue, I find a café/restaurant, sit down, order some coffee/light food, and relax. You can use this time to review notes for the exam or just clear your mind. And do NOT drink more than 8oz of fluid 1 hour prior to the exam.

Now I have no worries about being late. I don’t have to rush.   And I can focus on what is important – the exam.

2.) Walking in the Door (Arriving at the Testing Center)

I still aim to arrive at the testing center about 15 minutes before my scheduled start time. However, before I check-in I do one (very) important thing – go to the bathroom. However much (or little) you have, just get it out.  So whatever happens, you should be walking into the sign-in area 5-10 minutes before your start time.

3.) The Check-In Process (What to Expect)

If this is your first time taking a proctored exam, this all may seem a little weird. When you check-in, you will need to provide your government issued ID, and a testing “code” that will have been provided to you via email when you registered for the exam. So you will need your wallet/purse and the code with you at this point. (I have prematurely locked my wallet in the provided lockers, only to have to go get my stuff again for this step. So don’t be a noob like me). Next, they will hand you a form to sign with a lot of legalese regarding NDA, cheating, etc. If this is your first time, read it, sign and return the form. At this point, you may have a few minutes before being called into the actual testing room. Use this time to put ALL your personal belongings into the provided locker.  At this point – go the bathroom again (if you need to or didn’t earlier). Then wait to be called.

4.) Entering the Testing Room

When your name is finally called, several things will happen. First, the proctor will ask you to turn out your pockets to make sure you don’t have a cheat sheet hiding in there. Second, you will be handed two pencils and several sheets of blank paper (these items are key to success – more on that in a minute).

When you enter the testing room, things will be eerily quiet. Others may be taking exams – or the room may be empty. Regardless, follow the proctor to your terminal.

5.) The “Mind Dump” (Pre-test Pro Tip):

When you sit down at the terminal (after the proctor leaves), on the screen you will be asked to verify your name and the test you are taking. Afterward, there will be another lengthy disclaimer form that you can read before choosing to start the exam.

It is here where we have an advantage…

At the very least, you are provided with a few minutes to read the test instructions/disclaimers before starting the exam. You have anywhere from 5-10 minutes (but I have never pushed it that far before starting the exam). What I do during this untimed period before I start the exam is “dump” as much information as I can onto the sheets of paper that were provided to me by the proctor.   Formulas, limits, step-by-step procedures, architectural diagrams (yes, I memorized and hand drew the entire basic VPC architectural setup). I really focus on getting all of the memorized numbers and procedures onto the sheets of paper. Now I have my own study/cheat sheet I can use for reference, and I did it all without using any of my allotted testing time.

Once I have my notes flushed out on paper – I then click the button to start the exam.

6.) Taking the Exam (Managing Stress and the Timer)

Ok, it all comes down to this. You clicked the button to start the exam, and now there is a little timer on the screen counting down the time you have remaining. All I can say about the time is this – don’t be afraid of it. It may be really intimidating at first, especially if the first few questions take a long time to answer. But all you need is a few quick questions (which there will be), and you will have time in the bank to burn on harder questions. If you can’t answer questions after a minute or so, mark it for review and move on. You can always come back to it at the end and give it another shot. And you may find that you know the answer when you come back to it.

After you have answered all the questions, you will have the opportunity to go back and change the answer of any question. The questions you have marked for review will be highlighted.

Once you are done with reviewing, submit the exam, and wait for what feels like an hour (but is only about 5 seconds) to see the result.  Hopefully, you will see the words you have been preparing all this time to see – Passed.

AWS Labs

Tux Hired!

How to Get a Linux (Related) Job

Working in Information Technology over the last twenty years (and the last ten or so as a senior engineer or team lead in various organizations) has exposed me to a lot of resumes over that time. Over the last five years, one of the more common questions I am asked is “how can I get a Linux related job?”. I will attempt to address that in this space.

The most important thing to remember is that your quest for a Linux position at any organization is really no different than applying for any other I.T. position. Once you have identified the company and the posting (and a great place to get an idea of who is looking for Linux talent and with what experience, is The Linux Foundation), you need to focus on the attributes and experience you have that are directly applicable to the position you want. Your resume should then be tailored to highlight that experience throughout your career as much as possible.



Managing your pictures in Ubuntu

Ah, the holidays.  For me, the holidays are about getting stuff: getting fat, getting happy and getting lots of good pictures of your adorable nieces and nephews to embarrass them with when they become teenagers.  But now that you’re on Ubuntu, what program should you use to manage the evidence pictures?    Well, here is my review of some of the more popular (and free!) offerings available to Ubuntu users.



Ten things I wish I knew earlier about the Linux command line

We all learn new things over time as we use applications with a vast amount of possibilities. Of course, some of those things would have been so useful if we had known them earlier. Here are 10 command line tricks that I wish I had learned much sooner.

Note: these tricks apply to bash, which is the default shell on most Linux systems. If you’re using a different shell, they may not work for you. If you don’t know which shell you have, it’s probably bash, so go ahead and try them!



Changing The Time Zone In Linux (Command Line)

There are several different ways to manage time in Linux. This quick tip will show you how to quickly change the local time to the correct time zone for the server. In this Linux tip I’ll show you how to change the localtime to your (or a) current time zone.

Location of the local time file
Linux looks at /etc/localtime to determine the current time of your machine. This can either be a symbolic link to the correct time zone or a direct copy of the time zone file.