Study plan for #CISSP

Just like any studying in whatever level, you need to have a plan. Of course, a lot of efforts are required to follow up with the plan and most importantly to make things work. In my opinion, studying for professional certification should not be harder than getting a PhD but it still requires a lot of effort in studying. Although not as tedious and long process as getting a PhD, CISSP is considered one of the toughest examination (where its coverage being infamously quoted as “an inch deep and a mile wide”) that requires serious studying to pass the certification.

Due to its enormous coverage, studying all the materials takes a very long time. For a start, choosing which study guide to start with has already taken me months. Many who have passed the certification have recommended a long list of books and study materials to improve the chance of success. However, none of these books they recommended are less than 1000 pages and many actually recommended a read from cover to cover for at least one of the study guides, not once but twice. Taking their advice, my first step is to decide which study guide to invest in and I chose this All in One CISSP Exam Guide by Shon Harris.

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I found this boxed set in one of my local bookstore which I’m thankful for because sadly most of the good books are generally not available in my country, so when I found this I was elated and bought it right away. After reading on and off about CISSP for a few months, I actually fell in love with Shon Harris books. She was a great author with her well explanation in everything. Her book is the most comprehensive, therefore some may feel it is simply too much information to study. I decided on this because this book can serve as my dedicated reference guide even after the exam, so it is a good investment. Furthermore, this boxed set comes with Practice Exams which is valuable. One cannot just study without some practice for the exam.

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See, I’m not joking about the thickness of this book. A total of 8 domains with 8 chapters and I’m supposed to study them cover to cover so I need a good plan to infuse studying of CISSP into my daily routine. It is not going to be easy with my heavy teaching hours during the semester but I believe it is doable with proper planning. I must learn to work with smaller chunks of free time in between teaching and admin workloads.

So before I can begin with the plan, I must first set a realistic timeline, i.e. when will I be ready to sit for the exam? I estimate to study 2 domains in one month so I need at least 4 months to complete everything so I set July to be the month to take the exam. Sound realistic enough? Should be for now.

Here is my study plan for the next 4 months:

studyplanOverall Tasks:

  • Read and make notes especially all the important concepts and terminologies
  • Complete practice exams at the end of each domain
  • Revisit areas of wrong answers
  • Cross reference with at least one other official study guide

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CISSP (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional Official Study Guide

This study guide has 21 chapters and it is more than 1000 pages long. What I value most of different study guides is the practice exams at the end of each chapter where I can try different type of questions and see how ready will I be.

Now that my plan is set, next should be to make sure I follow the plan. Wish me luck!

 

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Exploring OneNote for Extraordinary Productivity

I’m happy to be back to office from my Chinese New Year break. I have to admit that I had been living a ‘pig’ life during this break where I only ate, slept, and watched TV every day. Anyway, I’m happy to have time to sit here and update a post. Today I wish to share about Microsoft OneNote and how I use it as part of keeping up with the Extraordinary Productivity.

When I first tried out OneNote, I was quite impressed with all the options available to customise my Notebook. I can create multiple notebooks which I can switch one to another easily. Each notebook can contain multiple sections (just like divider/folder for physical file) and each section can contain multiple pages. Let’s take a look the options to make my page:

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There are simply so many tags to choose from and a search/filter can be done through these tags. I’m a big fan of To Do list, of course. They are very easy to create with keyboard shortcut Ctrl+1. Putting a tick to each task simply makes me happy.

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Here is how they are look like on a page.

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If you prefer to have real notebook feel with rule lines or grid lines, fear not! You have various options to choose from.

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Finally, here is how I use OneNote. I created JennNotebook where I keep sections of Writing Ideas (where I keep ideas in various pages for writing blog post like this), Academia (where I keep track of things to do during the semester), Cool Tools (links to online tools I want to try out more), and Meeting (where I keep notes of meeting). I literally transfer my extraordinary productivity method from physical page to online OneNote. The best thing is this OneNote sync to my phone or any device with OneNote on mobile. I do not carry any physical notebook with me now, though occasionally I still like to scribble on the paper for some impromptu notes.

I have seen OneNote being used on Surface with the Surface pen and the usage of OneNote is so much and the only limit is our imagination. I’m so tempted to buy one just for that! Maybe I should just get one in the hope to increase my productivity. Haha!

 

Reflections on 2016

I hope I’m not too late in writing my reflections for 2016. Writing anything nowadays is becoming quite hard. My thoughts are rather incoherent and I’m quite distracted with the endless tasks at work. Or is it simply the Internet? I’m stealing some times away now since the semester has ended and I can try to relax a bit before the examinations start and the grading madness begins.

So here are some of the things that happened in 2016 that I would like to reflect on.

Career

It’s my third year working in academia and I have accustomed to the academic environment by now. I have also established my own specialisation in information security and computer networking areas. I’m working hard to become more expert in these areas. It’s just the beginning but I guess it’s a good start. It’s also a good thing that I know what I want to specialise in. I have seen many academics are rather lost in finding their area of specialisation which in the end they are always teaching something that are not in their interests. Anyway, I’m glad I had been given various opportunity to improve myself including a sponsored CISSP training paid by the faculty that literally reinforced my area of interest.

Early in 2016 I had been given an opportunity to conduct a public course on computer networking for working adults. Although I had to work on Saturdays, the pay was pretty good and the experience was the most valuable for me. Teaching working adults was so different from my usual playful adolescent students. These people were paying good money to learn from me and I did my best to share my knowledge and skills.

2016 had been a great year for me in attending conferences. I attended one in Langkawi beginning of the year and I attended another one in Sandakan near to the end of the year. I had also visited branch campuses in different states beginning of the year. I would say working in academia has increased my travelling for work as compared to my many years working in the industry. I guess it’s a good thing to be able to travel and meet new people and learn from the experience.

I also would like to note that I attended a free workshop conducted by my ex-student who is now a talented trainer in that company. The proudest moment as a lecturer to experience first hand how well my student has become after graduation. What a satisfying moment as an educator!

Personal

On this level, I would want to reflect briefly about my father’s passing in March 2016. He had been bedridden for more than 14 years due to stroke attack so honestly I felt his passing was not a bad thing for him or for the family. I was not very close to him but he was a great dad.

In May, I got the longest semester break ever due to readjustment of semester dates. I took the opportunity to travel with the husband to Taipei, Taiwan and we shopped and ate so much. We continue to our island holiday in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and we experienced our first steam train ride from North Borneo Railway. It’s not cheap but the experience worth it.

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Gaya Island

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North Borneo Railway

It’s the best longest holiday ever for me and I won’t get another chance at that now because the semesters are back to back with maximum 3 weeks break for the students. For academic staff, we get much lesser due to meeting and other workload.

Writing/Reading

Writing was scarce in 2016 and I feel very bad about it. I have to admit it’s my bad time management and I seriously hope I can improve my writing productivity this year. I actually had a lot of writing ideas but sadly I didn’t get the time to really sit down and put my thoughts to words.

For reading, I actually did some but mostly CISSP books or information security related topics for teaching purposes. The only book I managed to finish reading in 2016 was The Art of Deception by Kevin D. Mitnick (also related to information security area that I teach).

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I started leisure reading other books such as Spam Nation by Brian Krebs, Impossible to Ignore by Carmen Simon (recommended by Scott Adam), and The 5 Choices but I still haven’t finished any yet.

Teaching & Learning Tools

On the tools that I used in my courses, I had explored a bit more in blogging as part of students’ assignments presentation where I also encouraged peer assessment as blog post comments. I had also extensively used Google Form for conducting online quizzes. I really would like to share more on these tools one of these days. I have also started using Microsoft OneNote and I kind of like it. I have customised it to improve my productivity based on the Extraordinary productivity method. OneNote is also a very good tool for ideas collection and creation because you can easily create different notebooks and within them you can create different categories in pages and in tabs, just like you have in physical file. I would like to share about this too soon.

I guess that’s all I have for now. Not bad for a start with more than 800 words today. Haha!

 

Merry Christmas & Happy 2017

The year is coming to its end. Today is Christmas eve so I’m taking this opportunity to wish everyone who read (or stumble upon) this blog, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. May the year 2017 brings you more happiness, better health, and greatness in your academic works.


As I continue to explore the academic world, year 2016 has brought me great many academic adventures and I hope I would do proper reflection after the holiday. Sadly, 2016 has also forced me away from the blog as times were never enough in academia. I hope I would master better time management and see you again in 2017. 

ScienceDirect – Import to Mendeley

I attended a workshop on optimizing the use of ScienceDirect some times ago because our university has subscribed to many journals from ScienceDirect. Being a teaching oriented institution for so many years, moving toward research oriented will take some times, especially for us, the academics who have heavy teaching loads each semester. During the workshop, I was very impressed with the ScienceDirect website which has a great deal of useful functions that I may not have encountered them myself such as the advanced search function and how to find out if we have full access to certain articles and journals. I might have forgotten some of the things I learned that day but today what I want to share is the awesome function to import article to Mendeley from ScienceDirect and some useful functions we can find on the web version while previewing the article.

Here is one of the recent article that I found from a potential supervisor that I wish to explore PhD opportunity with (that will be another story for another post). I’m amazed with the just one-click of a button to import that article to Mendeley.

Once I click Save to Mendeley and log-in to my account, all the work will be done for me. It’s really very easy.

What I like about ScienceDirect when viewing the article on the web version is the additional useful information available to us when perusing the article.

Article outline section on the left is very useful to see in a glance what the paper is about. A click on Show full outline will give us more details and one click on the sub topic will bring us to the section of the article.

I also like this Figures and Tables feature, just below the article outline, that list all the tables and figures from the article. One click on the figure will bring us to the page and there is a function of Figure options available on the figure itself. We can choose to download full-size image or PowerPoint slide. Simply awesome features!  On the right side, there are some recommended articles related to the article at preview, which I found to be very useful to find out similar papers for reading.

There may be more great functions within ScienceDirect that I do not know yet but all in all, I’m very happy with what I use so far.

Are you user of ScienceDirect? Share with me other great features if you know more. Thanks!

It’s September?

I bet this post title is a bit too familiar. I can’t believe it’s already September and I have totally missed August. Semester has officially ended, hence I’m back to this blog. I’m also trying something new, hence the appearance of this post.
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I’m trying out another new wireless keyboard and I would say this is the most awesome one so far. It supports up to 3 devices at a time and switching from one device to another is just a push on the round dial on the far left. It supports almost all OSes from Android to MacOS and Windows, so basically all devices can work with this keyboard as long as it has bluetooth connecton. I’m typing this post using this keyboard and it’s simply awesome.

One semester has ended so it’s good time to catch up with reading before marking workload kicks in soon.

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I miss you, Mendeley! I haven’t sync my iPad for some times and recently I have found new interesting articles to read that could shape my near future research direction. I’m also updating my research folders in Mendeley to sort out my articles better. I also found the new version of Mendeley for iPad is much cooler now. I will definitely share another post after I explore more new features soon. 

Until then, hope everyone is doing well. 

Thinking is hard and it is slow

I couldn’t recall how I got to know about this book but I’m so amazed with it that I bought one from the bookstore many years ago. It’s one of my precious possessions. I actually started reading a few chapters quite some times ago and I forgot about it until today when I visited a page to listen to the author, Daniel Kahneman talking about bias in our reasoning. As a researcher and academic, reasoning is so important and we all know we are sometimes bias.

Listening to that interview reignites my interest in behavioural sciences where I always find it amazing how different people think and I sometimes wonder how we come up with certain conclusions that shape our lives. Anyway, I just wish to share with you this wonderful interview by Social Science Bites. I found this particular excerpt interesting when the author was asked why we don’t use System 2 (the slow and effortful thinking) more often.

Daniel Kahneman: Because it’s hard work. A law of least effort applies. People are reluctant, some more than others, by the way, there are large individual differences. But thinking is hard, and it’s also slow. And because automatic thinking is usually so efficient, and usually so successful, we have very little reason to work very hard mentally, and frequently we don’t work hard when if we did we would reach different conclusions.

And we thought we sometimes think too much. I guess we don’t think slow enough to mentally exercise our brain. Let’s start to think hard and slow today!