CISSP and Writing

CISSP logo

Since just before the start of the new year I have been studding to get my Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification. My goal is to be well versed in all the CISSP information and get certified within five months (hopefully sooner). I have been delving deep into giant study tomes on CISSP and taking several legal pads worth of notes in the process. I have learned a lot from reading this study information and I have also had a lot of ideas and principles I already knew reenforced. But in the end I still have to pass the test and I am just as nervous about that as anyone else in my shoes would be.

I have also been making time to keep working on my second book that I have recently titled ‘Mirror Through Time’. Several days a week after work I have been visiting the local library to get in a couple of hours of writing in. Because I am studying for my CISSP work has slowed down on my book, but not stopped. Not in the least. In fact, I have recently started the second draft of ‘Mirror Through Time’ and I am so excited to finish it and get some other eyes on it for feed back.

Root For The Bad Guy

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s there was a great band located in Oak Harbor, Washington that went by the name of Wearing Black. My own band at the time, Kira’s Modern Mourning, was occasionally lucky enough to play gigs with them in and around the Oak Harbor area.

Wearing Black originally consisted of two acoustic guitar players and an electric bass player. Their music was amazing and it was guaranteed that whatever venue they where playing at, they would fill it up.

‘Root For The Bad Guy’ was one of Wearing Black’s’ popular songs. People at the time loved to hear it and would sing along with the band when they played it. The song is an anthem to all evil doers and bad guy in fictional genres.

The band eventually disbanded leaving only a few recorded songs on-line for their fans. About a year after the band broke up it’s lead singer and guitar player, Saul Nathaniel McCartney, recorded a solo version of ‘Root For The Bad Guy’. Well, I really liked the song a lot. So, over the last 8 months I worked on a type of music video for it and uploaded it to YouTube. I hope you all enjoy it.

Happy New Years

I had a pretty amazing 2011 and I hope you did too. I would like to spend this blog post reviewing some of the amazing things that I have gotten to do and experienced over the last three hundred and sixty five days.

  • I Lost 30 Pounds!

2011 started off with a book, ‘The 4 Hour Body‘. This book had a huge impact on me. Because of this book I have lost thirty pounds and I have kept it off! This is amazing to me because my weight is something I have struggled with my whole life. Now, I don’t feel like I am struggling anymore. I feel like I have it all under control.

  • I Got Married!

As far as importance goes, my marriage should be the first thing on my list. But I have decided to do my 2011 list in chronological order rather than importance.

In April, I got married to my beautiful wife Hannah, and I can’t think of another person I would rather spend the rest of my life with. After being together for seven years we had an amazing wedding with our family and friends. We can’t thank everyone enough for showing up and supporting us on our special day. But please know we are thankful and grateful for each and every single one of you.

  • I Wrote My First Book

In 2011, I wrote ‘All That Matters’, my first book.  I wrote it and self-published it all in the same year. Its now available on Amazon.com and Barns & Noble. From start to finish creating this book was an amazing process that I have learned so much from. I am eagerly working on my second book which I hope to have out soon.

  • My Most popular Blog Post

In 2011 I wrote a blog post entitled ‘Ikea Comic Book Photo Frame Hack‘ which has become the most popular post on my blog. Its pretty impressive that something I wrote on how to display comic books cheaply has become the most popular post on my whole blog in less than a year.

  • 2012
2011 was an amazing year with memories I will carry with me forever. I have nothing but great hopes and dreams for 2012 and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Thank you all for taking the time out of your busy days to follow my little blog. I hope you have found it entertaining, if not useful. I wish you all lots of luck and happiness for the new year.

Writing A First Draft

When I sit down to write the first draft of a book, I like to create a document for each chapter. So in whatever wordprocessor you choose, start by creating a new document and save it as ‘Chapter 1’.  Then using the the outline you created earlier, copy the outline for chapter 1 and paste it into your new ‘Chapter 1’ document.

Lots of people have their own ideas and techniques on writing. I just like to write using the outline as my guide. The key word there being ‘guide’. While you are writing chapter 1 your thoughts and writing may go in a whole other direction. Some aspect of the story may grow out of your typing organically. That is perfectly fine and I encourage you to follow that flow. I find that a lot of my writing is till very organic and spawns lots of ideas. But by the end of it, I have touched on all of my outlined points. If something I have written was not a specified in my outlined point and it turns out to be really good I will add it to my outline should I ever need to reference the chapter I put it in.

Remember that your first draft should just be used to get your ideas out. To write the story. The first draft for me is more of a brain dump. Ernest Hemingway said “The first draft of anything is shit”, and that is how I treat it. Not until the second draft do I scrutinize over everything letter, word, and comma.

As far as words are concerned and how they should be used, I will not waste your time. The truth is that far greater writers than I have written wonderful books on how words should be used. I encourage you to seek out at least one of these books and read it before you start writing your first book. My personal favorit is ‘On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft’ by Steven King.

 

Writing A Time Travel Book

About a month after I released ‘All That Matters‘ on the Amazon Kindle and the Barns & Noble Nook, I started working on a second book. A fictional story about time travel.

I get so excited just talking about it because I really think it is an amazing story that everyone is going to enjoy. Anytime I am asked what my second book is about, and I tell the person “time travel”, their face’s light up and tell me they can’t wait for it to be release so they can read it. Receiving this kind of enthusiasm only motivates me more to finish this book as soon as I can.

When the idea to tell a time travel story came to me, I started by drafting out a 21 chapter outline. This does not mean that the final book is going to be 21 chapters. It could go over, or it could be under. Thats just a result of the organic process of writing.

At the same time I started the outline for this book, I also started a character list to jot down names and descriptions of all the characters on to. Again, another organic process for me that is constantly evolving and reshaping its self in new and exciting ways.

When I started writing ‘All That Matters’ it was in the beginning of 2011. I had few distractions in my life and was very much focused on completing the book. As I am writing my second book in this later half of 2011 and on into 2012, I am faced with more distractions and obstacles then I had with my first book. Holidays have been one thing that have been a distraction for me. My day job is another. So to say I have been busy would be an understatement.

All this outside pressure from work and the holidays has resulted in a very loose first draft of my book. Looser than I would like to have. What this means is that I am going to have to take a little more care, time, and effort when I take on the second draft of this story. But once the second draft is done it will be sent off to my editor.

I am the kind of person who likes to post to Twitter and Google+ how many words I have written each day. I like the idea of telling the world how many words I have written because it keeps me motivated and accountable. Its a practice I have not been doing everyday because I don’t get to write as much as I want to everyday. I write everyday, but its mostly just a couple of hundred words. Not the thousand plus words I like to write.

By an extension this blog is also helping me remain motivated. By talking about what I am writing and what I want to write I feel like I am being held accountable to finish this book. Anything I can use to help my motivation is a good thing.

Lossless Audio

I really love music. All of my life music has played a big part in it. I remember at a very young age listening to vinyl records on my father’s Sony turntable home stereo system. I would listening to records for hours and hours. When CDs first came out I started buying them. To this day I still buy CDs and have a pretty large collection.

When MP3s started to make an appearance in the 90s they had one large advantage for the causal listener and one large disadvantage. The advantage being that file size of an MP3 file was is very small. You could store hundreds of MP3 encoded songs on one CD. This was huge and lead the way for music players like the Apple iPod.

The big disadvantage to MP3s for people like me was that since the audio was compressed to be a smaller file size you could hear the compression or the missing audio data when listening to an MP3. This drove me nuts!

I have friends that to this day swear up and down they can not tell the difference when listening to a song on a CD or when listening to the same exact song from an MP3 file. To me the differences have always stuck out like a sore thumb. Which at times I can’t even believe since I have been a rock drummer for so many years and I have to be experiencing some form of hearing loss by now.

So, because I can tell the difference between the lower quality audio as a result of an MP3 file and a CD I have just always bought CDs.

Very recently I have been educating myself on the virtues of the Free Lossless Audio Codec, or FLAC for short. Because FLAC is a lossless audio format it sounds just like my CDs sound. I can not tell the difference when I am listening to a FLAC audio file verses listening to the same song on CD. Everything I have educated myself about FLAC says that there really is no audio difference between the CD audio file and the FLAC audio file. The lossless audio codec was specifically designed for audio and the resulting file will drop down to at least 50% if not more of the original audio file from the CD.

So, why do I care about all this? Why don’t I just continue to listen to my CDs? Well, I do still listen to my CDs at home, but we now live in a world with lots of portable devices that were made for our connivance. I would like to take full advantage of my devices.

When Apple announced the iPhone 4S, I ordered one right away. At the same time I started researching FLAC audio files as a solution for my portable music listening pleasure. I found the following FLAC audio encoding guide and FLAC audio player ‘Golden Ear‘ for my iPhone. I also ordered a pair of really great headphones that I can’t say enough good things about right now. Sony Dynamic Stereo Headphones MDR-7506 Professional.

Based on the audio guide I found I started encoding my CDs right away. I received my headphones a few days later and then my iPhone 4S arrived. I purchased and loaded a copy of ‘Golden Ear’ on to my phone and transferred over a few songs to test out the application and my head phones. I was amazed! Every song sounded wonderful and crystal clear. The ‘Golden Ear’ audio player works a lot like iTunes for the iPhone. You have the quick access controls from the home screen as well as a play list of music to scroll through and choose from.

If you are really into audio quality like me, I can tell you I am so happy that I found this solution. I wish I had found it sooner. It would have saved me years of frustration.