RHCE: Second time's the charm?

This week I'm attending the RH300 course at Red Hat, the "Rapid Track" course for the Red Hat Certified Engineer qualification, named by CertCities.com as The Hottest Certificate of 2006. The course has the recommended prerequisites of RH133 Linux System Administration and RH253 Networking and Security, and the only reason RH300 can be considered "Rapid Track" is that it is a review of the material covered in the two former classes.

Having had both prerequisties over the last five years plus having taken the RH300 course once before last year where I did not pass the six hour exam, I still feel that my head is ready to explode after the second day. The information is being received better this time, and is sinking in deeper, but still the volume of material is massive. My plan of attack includes having a RHEL4 test box and test network setup at home so that I can rush back from class to practice all the labs several times over on the nights leading up to Friday's exam. A misconception that I'd heard about the class is that during the performance based exam there are no man pages nor any documentation available. In fact, the instructor just today noted:

A good System Administrator is not defined by having things memorized but rather by being able to look things up in a reasonable amount of time.


While that's great for the real world, under the pressure and time constraint of the exam, my money is on having things memorized and well practiced.

Update: How did the 3rd time go?

Stanton Finley's Fedora Core 5 Linux Installation Notes

If you're a Linux expert or novice you'll surely find this user's guide to installing and configuring Fedora Core 5 Linux useful. Stanton Finley provides carefully written step-by-step instructions and relevant reference material.

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Computer Security Program at Stanford

Computer Security, Stanford
Today I was notified by the Program Manager for the Stanford Center for Professional Development that I've successfully met the requirements for the Computer Security Certificate Program, and my certificate is being processed. The online program consists of three courses:


  • Computer Security Principles
  • Introduction to Cryptography
  • Secure Programming Techniques


The Cryptography course was the most interesting, and now I have a better understanding of block ciphers and stream ciphers in symmetric key cryptology, as well as differences between symmetric key standards such as DES, 3DES, AES, and RC4. I also learned more about asymmetric cryptology including RSA, how a buffer overflow attack works and how to code to avoid them, and more about hashing algorithms MD5 and sha1.

The Stanford program built on related knowledge I've accumulated over the years of working with web technology and from other courses including Network Security at Brandeis, Networking and Security Administration at Red Hat, and Intro to Cryptology Bootcamp at BNUG.

Stacking up the IT Certificates

If you're in Massachusetts, you might want to know that the Boston chapter of the IEEE is holding a 21 hour course on an Introduction to Java Servlets and JSPs, using Head First Servlets & JSP as a guide. This local chapter of the IEEE has a fantastic continuing education program. This Servlet and JSP class will run on Monday nights from late April to May at the Sheraton in Lexington, right off Rt 128. The price is very reasonable at around $550, a bargain at less than $22/hour.

The course perfectly complements the Java and J2EE certificate program that I'm taking at Boston University on other nights. In fact, the IEEE course on Servlets and JSP overlaps with the BU classes on JSP and Servlets.

Using these complementary courses to propel me, I expect to take the Sun Certified Developer and Sun Certified Web Component Developer exams at the end of June.

In mid-April I'll retake the hottest certificate exam, the RHCE. (Update: Mission Accomplished!)

In May I'm scheduled to finally attend the Moving Up to ColdFusion MX 7 and Advanced ColdFusion MX 7 at RemoteSite Training, and I'll follow that up with the ColdFusion MX 7 certificate exam, too. This will be the first time I've had ColdFusion development classes since 2000 with Fast Track and Advanced CF4.5.

On a couple upcoming weekends I'll be taking the Stanford Computer Security Certificate Program, an 8 hour online course in Computer Security Principles, Introduction to Cryptography, and Secure Programming Techniques. The course is concluded with an online exam.

Once these Server and Programming courses are over, I'll add to my 40 hours of Photoshop CS2 training from TotalTraining and try to knock out an Adobe Photoshop ACE certificate this summer or fall.

I feel like I've been progressing well on many related technologies, ... getting my ducks lined up, so to speak. This will be the year to knock them all in.

Red Hat Linux's RHCE Certificate is Hottest Cert for 2006

CertCities.com published their ranking of the most influential IT certificates for 2006, and the RHCE has jumped out ahead as the #1 IT certificate, pushing aside the Cisco and Microsoft Security certs. Their results are derived from a combination of reader surveys and staff buzz ratings.

CertCities.coms 10 Hottest Certifications for 2006


Next month I will attend the RH300 four day course with one day exam for the second time. How'd I do on my third try? Last October I attended this course and narrowly missed passing the 80% requirement for the six hour performance based exam . This time I've ramped up on my deficiencies and hope to do better. In 2003 I earned the intermediate level of RHCT (Red Hat Certified Technician), which is a three hour hands on exam .

(Update: Mission Accomplished!)

Red Hat Certified Engineer Program
RHCE and RHCT are performance-based tests that measure actual competency on live systems. Other training programs teach students to answer multiple choice questions instead of how to perform on real-world systems. Red Hat training and testing focuses on practical hands-on skills. No wonder Red Hat's RHCE Program has been called the "crown jewel" of Linux certifications. A recent Independent Survey ranked RHCE highest quality training and certification in IT!

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Fedora Core 5 Linux Released

The Fedora Project announces the fifth release of Fedora Core, available for the i386, x86_64, and PPC/PPC64 architectures. DVD, CD and network installation are available.

Fedora Core is an operating system and platform, based on Linux, that is always free for anyone to use, modify and distribute, now and forever. It is developed by a large community of people who strive to provide and maintain the very best in free, open source software and standards. Fedora Core is part of the Fedora Project, sponsored by Red Hat, Inc.


IT Conversations Podcast on Understanding Linux

I recommend this 40 minute podcast of Peter van der Linden on the topic of getting started with Linux to any Linux novice or any Windows user a change to considering Linux. Peter describes the history and culture of Linux, with comparisons to Windows, as well as how to understand what makes a Linux distribution and how to choose one to suit your needs.

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Kurzweil Keynotes Bio-IT World; Interview in CIO Mag; Using Text-to-Speech

The Bio-IT World fifth annual Life Sciences Conference and Expo on Biotechnology and Bioinformatics is to be held in Boston the week of April 3, 2006 (which coincidentally happens to be at the same time and location as the Linux World Expo). The conference will begin with a keynote lecture "Reprogramming Biology" by Ray Kurzweil, one of my favorite technology luminaries whose ideas constantly fascinate and inspire me.

"Reprogramming Biology" is the title of noted inventor Ray Kurzweil's opening keynote address. Kurzweil will expound upon themes in his latest book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, in which he predicts the next few decades will see the merging of human biology with the staggering achievements of "GNR" - genetics, nanotechnology and robotics - to create a species of extraordinarily high intelligence, comprehension, and memory.


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Outlook for my professional development

Since I began supporting ColdFusion customers for Allaire many years ago I've taken a wide range of computer and web development courses in local universites and vendors, as well as many internal training classes on Macromedia products. Except for a few vendor certifications though, I have no advanced degree or similar milestone to demonstrate my aptitude and achievements in computer or web technology.

I'd like to be able point a tangible and definitive milestone to demonstrate my technical level to others, as well as to satisfy myself when reflecting on the subject. To address this need, I've committed to a 6 month Master's Certificate in Java and J2EE from Boston University. I think a Certifcate from an accredited university carries much more weight than most vendor "certifcates", so much so that I wish the naming convention was different because you can't compare a 60 minute multiple choice test with a 6 month program. At any rate, the BU Master of Java & J2EE Certificate includes the following sequence of courses which could be broken down into two sub-areas:

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Red Hat to certify and support web application stacks

Beginning in 2006, Red Hat will begin offering subscription models for web application development stacks, including three levels starting with the basic LAMP stack for $599, as an add-on to Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscriptions. This means that not only will you be able to run a fully supported enterprise class distribution of Linux but that you could also run one of the web application stacks and expect the same level of updates and other support for the software stack from one vendor.

The three stacks range from LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, Perl/PHP) to a Java (LAMP + Tomcat, Ant, Lucene, etc) and Enterprise Java web application stack (Java stack + Red Hat J2EE Application Server).

Read more from Red Hat and this c|net news article.

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