Scott's Weblog The weblog of an IT pro specializing in networking, virtualization, and cloud computing

Mid-Year Project Update

In early January, I posted a 2012 project list. To summarize, here are the four broad goals that I set for myself for 2012:

  1. Learn to script in Perl.
  2. Learn to speak German.
  3. Become very familiar with the Xen hypervisor.
  4. Pursue CCNP certification.

Now that we are halfway through the year, where do things stand? Here’s a quick update.

  1. My Perl skills are still really elementary. The biggest challenge I’ve found is that without some sort of task or process to try to automate, trying to write code in Perl is kind of “disconnected.” Yes, you can walk through the sample code and the exercises in the book, but to make it real you need a relevant challenge. I’ve been searching for some common tasks to try to automate, but haven’t had a great deal of success yet.

  2. My German is progressing, but ever so slowly. I’m right now about one-third of the way through the Rosetta Stone modules I have.

  3. Learning Xen is also progressing. I do have a Xen Cloud Platform (XCP) system up and running in my home office; I’ve been installing and re-installing it so as to get a better feel for the intricacies involved. It’s currently broken—time for another rebuild!

  4. I have created the study framework for key topics on the CCNP ROUTE exam and am now adding content to the study framework. I haven’t yet taken any exams, so I guess you could say I haven’t really made any measurable progress on this goal.

All in all, I haven’t made the progress that I would have liked to make, given the timeframe. Not to make excuses, but there are two factors that have affected me more significantly than I had anticipated: travel and my video training project with Train Signal. Of the limited progress that I have made, most of it was in Q1, before I started my Train Signal project. Since I started the video training series, my travel has also picked up, and I’ve found that it’s extremely difficult to work on the video series while I’m traveling. Thus, the video training series has taken a lot more of my time than I had originally expected, and has stalled progress on my other initiatives.

So is a “mid-course correction” necessary? I think that it is. Here are the changes I’m making:

  1. Learning Perl: At this point, I’m putting my Perl efforts on hold. For me, the biggest obstacle in learning to script in Perl was having relevant tasks that need to be scripted, and that’s where I came up short. I simply couldn’t find tasks that I wanted or needed to automate in Perl. A number of readers commented on my original article that my choice of projects wasn’t particularly synergistic, and perhaps that is what is being reflected here.

  2. Learning German: To help encourage me to work on my German more frequently, I’m going to change the OmniFocus actions so that I need to complete modules on a more regular basis. (As I’ve written before elsewhere, I use OmniFocus to help keep me on track with projects and responsibilities.)

  3. Learning Xen: I’m continuing with Xen. Progress has been slow, but there has been progress. Several readers suggested I focus on KVM instead, but for now I’m going to stick it out with Xen. The primary challenge here has been finding good sources of information. Don’t be too surprised to see some blog posts as I wrestle through certain areas; perhaps these posts can be helpful to others.

  4. Pursue CCNP: My pursuit of CCNP will continue. I already have study framework documents created, and I hope to turn up a router simulation environment (using GNS3 or similar) soon. From the beginning I never intended to actually attain CCNP by year end (that’s 3 exams), but simply to make measurable progress (1 exam passed).

That’s where things stand, halfway through 2012. Perhaps these goals are ambitious, but I do believe that it’s necessary to challenge ourselves, to never remain static and dormant—otherwise we risk becoming irrelevant in a fast-paced world of changing technologies.

I welcome any suggestions, thoughts, or criticisms (courteous and constructive, of course!) in the comments below.

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