Goals 2013

In order to fully attain my merit badge for renaissance man, I am going to state a few goals of mine that will be started this year and may take until the end of next year to complete (mainly because I have to care for my daughter, which is a full-time job). These goals are in varying disciplines, but fulfill things that I have always wanted to learn as well as something that will help me in life (sooner or later). I don't mind learning information that I may never use in life* but if I am going to spend money on learning I am going to ensure I get a positive ROI from it. These goals also dovetail into the new business opportunies that my company, JustPlainSimple Technologies Inc. would like to explore. In no particular order, here they are:

  1. Learn Arduino;
  2. Launch my startup: Storigible;
  3. Obtain my Canadian Securities Course certification;
  4. Obtain my CEH certification.
  5. Obtain my CISSP certification;
  6. Hone my writing skills.

I will delve into each of these goals in more detail below. By detailing each goal I will be ensuring that I have fully thought out the reason for spending the time and money.

Learn Arduino

This has been a goal of mine for a number of years. Well, not the Arduino specifically but computer hardware in general. It wasn't until the Arduino was released that I really felt the urge to tinker with electronics. Before the Arduino's release I wasn't sure where to start or what to build because it is quick a large hurdle to get a microprocessor to work with digital/analog pins. Enter the Arduino, it solves this problem by providing me with a complete board that I can hack on quickly and easily, with simply a USB cable and a breadboard. Easy peasy.

I purchased an Ardiuno Uno last year when I was passing through Oregon (I love no sales tax!). I was able to plug it in and play with the IDE, telling its surface-mounted LED to switch on and off. Wow. But I put it aside when I realized that I had lost a lot of knowledge from my Computer Engineering days at UBC (I was in Engineering for 1 year before switching to Computer Science; at the time, I wanted to work on software and not hardware). I had forgotten so much that I had difficulty reading a circuit diagram. I had to reteach myself what diodes, transistors and servos did.

At that moment I realized that I need to commit to re-educating myself on electronics so that I can realize some of the nifty ideas floating in my head. I purchased a Sparkfun Inventor's Kit from a local electronic's store as well as a couple books on Arduino. Armed with these resources I intend to learn all I can about computer hardware to make a few projects (maybe even a robot).

At the end of learning the ins and outs of the Arduino, I am going to purchase a Raspberry Pi to continue my education. It is basically the same as an Arduino except that it is a fully-functional computer.

In order to record my progress while attaining this goal, I will be writing about my experience (both the ups and downs) building various projects while following the books I have purchased.

Launch My Startup

I decided to stop consulting jobs for awhile in order to focus on building and launching my startup. It is called Storigible and it is a way to manage your storage. And that is all I'm going to say about it. For now.

Canadian Securities Course Certification

Finance and economics has always interested me, but in university I was never able to take any of these courses because I was usually taking lots of other weird courses (anthropology, geography, food science). The time for learning about the economy would have to wait until I was older. Thankfully (and yet, unfortunately for some) the Global Financial Crash of 2008 helped to serve as an instant education for how financial markets work. I had also started investing 3 months prior to the crash (yeah, ouch) so I also received a hard lesson in how markets work (or, in this case, don't work).

Through the creation of my corporation, and investing in the stock market, I learned about shares, equity, dividends, bonds, and a whole slew of other interesting things that literally make the world operate. When the GFC bottomed out in March 2009 I was able to take advantage of the recovery, making about 10% per year. Pretty good for someone with no formal education in markets; however, much of that I will attribute to the recovery and not necessary my smarts. As such, I knew that if I wanted to continue investing in the stock market I should at least get accredited so that I can talk about the markets.

The Canadian Securities Course is the first step for anyone that wants to do anything in the financial sector. Basically, it tells everyone that you at least know the bare minimum about the markets and, more importantly, you have been taught what you are allowed and not allowed to say about financials (for example, it is against the rules to promise future gains or profits). I know the certification will be difficult to obtain, with a lot of studying and memorization involved, but I believe that I will be able to leverage it when doing any investing in the future.

CEH Certification

I love computers and I love security. In fact, I've loved security since before I started using computers (I wanted to be a spy, like James Bond). When I found out about magazines like 2600 Magazine and conferences like Defcon I knew I had found my calling. Here was a subculture that truly understood me, and I understood it. There was no (well, little to no) pretense and knowledge was shared openly (even if it was taboo).

The Certified Ethical Hacker certification is, from what I've heard around the watercooler, sometimes not looked upon favourably. However, it is a way for me to formalize my hacking skills and show measurable progess with a goal at the end for me to achieve.

CISSP Certification

This certification goes in line with the CEH certification, but instead of actively targeting areas, it is looking at how to lockdown and secure buildings, software, hardware, and people. It is the corporate side of security which I know is very much lacking in today's workplace. I've seen countless security violations at companies and even overzealous security professionals that think that locking everything down will somehow magically solve all problems. I would like to split the difference and find a happy medium with my knowledge of corporations, security, programming, computer hardware, and computer systems.

Hone Writing Skills

This is a basic skill that I have let lapse. I'm more of a talker/listener kind of guy, and I don't like putting ideas or thoughts down on paper for… well, I don't really know why. That lack of knowledge is precisely why I am going to start writing more often. Like anything, writing is only perfected through practice and not necessarily by reading prose from good writers. My goal is to write one article each day for a year, about anything that comes to mind.

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