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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  1. karlochacon’s avatar

    nice maybe the only to way to pressure yourself is to create a post about it I should do the same thing (well I should start by opening a blog)….. anyway mine are

    - Learn portuguese. Just started Rosseta Stone.
    - Get my LPIC-2

  2. Zulf’s avatar

    Interesting, it always seems straightforward when goals are set at the beginning of the year…but as the months roll by you get a more realistic picture of what your expectations should be. For 2012 i set myself:

    1. Learn vSphere 5, pass VCP – 50% – half way there! yay!
    2. Learn Hyper-V, pass 70-659+246 – 100% – done!
    3. Get a grip on Citrix XenApp/Desktop/Server – 0% – not yet started
    4. Learn Arabic properly – errr abot 3%! – brushing up old knowledge, not yet cranked out the mp3s!

    I use a reward system for motivation. If I want to buy something, or go somewhere I note down objectives I must complete prior to ‘earning’ that reward. Even as simple as go on a night out with friends. Simple is best!

    I also sue mind mapping software to keep track of progress, noting down milestones as i branch out on a particular target. Freemind is good for that!

    Good luck!

  3. slowe’s avatar

    Karlochacon, Zulf, best of luck to each of you with your respective goals!

    Zulf, I like the idea of a rewards system. I might have to try that and see if it helps.

  4. Delano’s avatar

    Scott – good going, I can relate to your goals situation.

    By the way, any dates for the TrainSignal release?


  5. Sriram’s avatar

    Very good self assessment. I think the best step is that you shared your goals and are holding yourself accountable since you shared with a wide audience.

    This has motivated me to share one of my goals. Will be posting it to my blog.

    I agree with your assessment of Perl. I feel most programming languages and technologies need some sort of underlying project to help accelerate and maintain the course of learning. That approach seems to be working for me.

  6. Preetam’s avatar

    I’m great fan of @Brain Tracy and the way he explains how to set goals. After reading your progress I can conclude, your position is much much better than who have set nothing for 2012. As you have progressed by some percentage it actually means, you have reduces that percentage from the total. In simple words if you’ve taken 100 steps towards your goal, your 100 steps have reduced. Thanks for the post it is very inspiring, I’m pursuing VCAP-DCD5 and planning to post mid-year review soon.

    Also a side note on TrainSignal release, Please do every thing to explain the source of formula and how they work in real world. Book from you on vSphere design provides lot of formula but it needs to explain what those variables are and where do you get values for those variables. If needed I can provide you example from the book.

  7. Vishal’s avatar

    Why not learn Python instead ?

    Python is much easier to learn and can achieve almost all tasks that you can do in perl.

    Something like pyexpect can help in automation where login/passwords; command and responses are needed.

  8. Yasmin’s avatar

    I agree with you Vishal!
    It´s much easier to handle and you can execute the commands in a very easy way.


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