Well, these first 4 weeks of study have not gotten off to a great start. Poison sumac, getting bounced between doctors for sleep and digestive issues, unforeseen personal issues that have drained me emotionally, mentally, physically and took a good chunk of my time, have all put me behind the 8 ball with where I’d like to be in the coursework.
As it stands, I’ve only got about 1/3 of the exercises done and reported on, but I have learned some valuable things on the way. First up:
Make a timeline.
Starting on day 1 I should have done a quick review of all the material, noted the exercises that needed to be completed and given myself a due date to keep myself on track. Yeah, I’ve had some health problems, family responsibilities and personal difficulties come up, but in the end, I still could have managed my time a little better and not gotten so behind. Making a timeline on day 1 would have helped me to plan on how I would get things done and left time for personal things and unforeseen occurrences as well. So if you’re reading this and haven’t scheduled your exam, this is the most important piece of advice I can give. The second, like it is this:
Don’t over-complicate the exercises.
Yeah, some of them are simple and can be done quickly. While we are all doing this course to learn new skills, spending 6 hours writing a scripting framework that you’re never going to use again just to prove that you can do it is probably not the best use of your time. Maybe limit yourself to an hour and go back and write it later if there is time. I learned this the hard way after spending a few days on the same exercise just because I wanted my script to work like nmap, when the script didn’t add anything that nmap doesn’t already do better. Having a timeline should help keep you on track with this. So if you’re sticking to your timeline and have time to write up a framework for something, great! If not- stick to what the exercise is looking for and move on. The third and final point also rolls into the first two:
Let some exercises run in the background, they’re going to take a while.
Now, this is probably about the most I can say on this, but when you’re doing that initial run through of the coursework, notice some things that will take time to run/setup that you don’t have to actively monitor. You can run some of these in parallel with other exercises, or plan your ‘down time’ around it. Like right now I am running something that will take about 30-45 minutes to do, that I can’t interact with. So I’m using that time to be productive and update this blog (like I’ve been meaning to do for the last 4 weeks!).
Anyway, despite my setbacks, I’m working on refocusing my efforts and doing my best to get the lab/course work done within my 90 days of study. I already know that I’m going to be missing 3 weeks of that time coming up for various personal reasons. So really, that gives me just about 40 days to complete everything I have left to do. Is it possible with a busy life and health problems? Well, I guess we’ll find out with how things work out with my new road-map. But I have a better plan now, more drive and hopefully if things go right….