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Welcome to my website

Bob Baxter, CISA

Skilled technologist, leader, presenter with a can-do outlook backed up by years of IT experience. Certified Information Systems Auditor with skills in IT compliance reviews and audits, data center and process automation, document imaging and workflow, backup systems, event notification, data center relocation, file servers, application servers, and databases. Windows, Unix/Linux, midrange & mainframe

I am a skilled motivational speaker and presenter of technical, non-technical and leadership subjects. I can speak to your group or business on subjects such as leadership, technology and society, information security, presentation skills plus a variety of other subjects. I will tailor my presentation to your needs or I can help you write and deliver your own presentation.

I can also help you manage Information Technology in your large or small business. My 30 years of information technology experience covers data center management, systems and database administration, and application development.…

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RCA RPJ116 Multimedia Projector for PowerPoint Review

I saw this projector in Walmart for $89. I’ve been wanting a projector for PowerPoint presentations but didn’t want to invest several hundred dollars for something I wouldn’t use very often. I wasn’t sure if this projector would do the job but I knew I could take it back if it didn’t work out. I discovered the output is a little dim but would do a half way decent job in a dimmed room.  The projector is OK for me, but I wouldn’t recommend it for someone who gives frequent presentations.  See the YouTube video for details.…

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How I Passed My CISA Exam

The company I work for has been sold. Most of the technology associates expect to lose our jobs in the upcoming months. Fortunately, the companies are offering a generous severance package. As the days counted down towards business close, we were also offered in-house professional training on a variety of subjects, many of which included vouchers for certification tests. Due to low demand, CISA training was not available for in-house training but the company offered to pay for independent study classes. The company would reimburse us for the certification exam if we passed. I took several of the instructor led classes and was approved for an independent study class for the CISA.

CISA Training Classes

I selected the CISA class from Alan Keele at www.certifiedinfosec.com. The class is a self-paced 180 day subscription at a cost of $449.95. He does offer a free trial lesson consisting of a pre-assessment test, training class, and a post-assessment test. I found the trial was a good representation of the general courseware. Keele’s training consists of assessment tests and narrated slides. One of the nice things about the class is the instructor is available to answer questions via phone or email. The instructor promptly answered emails, and promptly responded to a voice-mail I left.

The class is broken down into the five CISA domains plus an extra series of lessons for “Consolidated Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Topics”. Each domain consists of multiple lessons, each with assessment tests and a final assessment test for each domain. The class offers four final exams consisting of 150 questions each (As of this writing, the CISA exam is 150 questions). You can take the assessment tests more than once, but the order of the test questions will vary each time you take the test. The final exams are random questions from a pool – each time you take the final exam you will get different questions in a different order. The recommended passing score is 95%. I passed all my assessment tests with 95%+ but did need to take a few more than once. My final exam scores ranged from 85-93%.

The material seemed to be geared towards helping the student answer test questions. The slides are narrated and  consist mostly of a bunch of test answers without the questions. When I spoke with Keele on the phone, he told me that was the strategy for helping students pass the exam. Since the exam is multiple choice, if the student could recognize the answers, the student will be able to recognize the answer even if the questions were unfamiliar. The CISA test is multiple choice – only one correct answer per question. The assessment questions from the class are in multiple formats including multiple choice, true-false, matching, and “select all that apply” (multiple answers for a question). Although not all class questions are multiple choice, the instructor told me his question/answer format is an easy way of combining multiple questions into one.

After the student answers an exam question, the instructor would provide text and narrated answers. In most cases, the instructor read the correct response, but did not provide much of an explanation. In some cases, the instructor would point out questions and answers that were plain silly and that ISACA’s answer is not always the same the way as an experienced professional would answer. I noticed this when I took the test and I’ve heard the same thing from other people who have taken the exam.

The wording on the narration and slides were quite formal. This format was useful for some of the test questions but not helpful for a true understanding of the material. I found myself going to Youtube to get a better understanding. In my search, I found a series of short lessons from Hemang Doshi. Doshi has a very thick accent and my first inclination was to stop watching and look for another video. I decided to watch his video and found his video very helpful for an understanding of the material. Doshi’s videos do an excellent job of explaining the concepts in very simple terms. He uses a keyword approach – “if you see this keyword”, then “look for this answer”. Doshi’s videos are simple – a question, keyword, answer approach compared to Keele’s formal approach. I found both classes together to be instrumental in my passing of the exam. I did find the practice tests and material from the two to be very similar, but the approach used in the lessons were quite different.

Doshi has quite a few videos, here is a nice sample of several of his videos:

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-best-approach-to-preparing-for-CISA-examination-without-prior-knowledge-of-auditing

Doshi also has a mostly free site. The site consists of videos, flash cards, study material with assessment test for each domain, and a final 150 question test covering all domains. The site also has a “30 day strategy for CISA Success”. The 30 day strategy is a series of 10-20 questions to be taken one test per day over a period of 30 days. He asks for $30 for the “30 Day Strategy” to be paid upon passing the exam. No credit card or registration is required to take the lessons. Just pay after you pass the exam. I opted for this training, but in hindsight the site offers so many practice tests, it probably wasn’t really necessary to take the 30 day strategy. Since I did use the material and passed my CISA, I did pay the $30 upon receiving my score.

WARNING, WARNING, WARNING, WARNING

The site is supported by pop-up ads and I received virus warnings when some of the ads displayed. The site itself seems to be fine but the pop-ups may not be. My recommendation is to have a good virus checker and close the pop-ups before they have a chance to populate. I would have recommended a pop-up blocker but the practice tests don’t work properly with a pop-up blocker on.

WARNING – Be careful when going to the …

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Book Review The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee is an account of Brian Regan, a dyslexic Air Force Master Sergeant who downloaded thousands of pages of highly classified information then tried to sell the information to foreign governments. The book begins when the FBI intercepted a coded offer to sell secrets to the Libyan government. The FBI didn’t know who sent the message, but this person must be caught. If the information fell into the wrong hands, there would be immense damage to the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus. Cracking the codes would be key to determine who the traitor was.

Due to his dyslexia, Brian Regan never learned to spell properly. He performed poorly throughout his school age years. Ostracized by other students, Regan was an outcast who barely made it through school. When it came time to graduate high school, he was given an opportunity to take an exam for entrance into the military. He passed the exam by cheating, and received a high enough score to be admitted into a school for Military Intelligence. In spite of his inability to spell and poor performance throughout is school years, Regan did well in Military Intelligence. Regan’s dyslexia was actually an asset because people with dyslexia are able to see patterns that would be difficult for people without dyslexia to see. Regan excelled and advanced rapidly through the enlisted ranks, achieving the rank of Master Sergeant. That’s when his advancement began to stall. As a Master Sergeant with a family, Regan’s debt started to get out of control. The resolution of his debt problems and his path to financial security and was to offer the nation’s secrets for sale. Regan printed off thousands of documents, smuggled them out of the office, and hid them in the woods all without detection.

The subtitle of the book is A Dyslexic Traitor, an Unbreakable Code and the FBI’s Hunt for America’s Stolen Secrets. As an intelligence analyst, Regan received basic instruction on secret messages and codes. Code breaking was not Regan’s primary specialty but he did use his training and self instruction to develop his own secret codes. Coded messages are a major part of the story as the book provides history lessons and instruction about codes and cyphers and the FBI’s efforts to crack Regan’s secret messages.

The agents were able to track the messages to Regan and catch him in the act of espionage, but that wasn’t the end of the story. There would be a trial, and the agents still needed to find the thousands of documents Regan had hidden – before they fell into the wrong hands.

It seems the United States government doesn’t know how to keep its secrets. Time and time again we hear of people who download thousands of pages then leaked the secrets to WikiLeaks. Although The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell is the story of Brian Regan, it does briefly mention other notorious spies who stole sensitive information. Why do all of these people have access to information they don’t need for their jobs? Why do these things happen over and over again? Why was Regan able to print off and smuggle thousands of documents out of a secure facility – All without detection? How can a person unable to manage their debt maintain their security clearance? The book doesn’t answer these questions. These are questions the government should answer.

The Spy Who Couldn’t Spell was well written, informative, and held my attention throughout the book. Anyone interested in secret codes, stories of espionage, traitors, and FBI investigations, should find this to be a captivating book.…

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Pitney Bowes stamps on QL-700 no monthly fee

I recently purchased a Brother QL-700 label printer on sale at Staples for $39.99. A pretty good deal. As I was reading through the promotional material, I discovered that I could sign up for the Pitney Bowes pbSmartPostage service for no monthly subscription fee. I’ve always wanted to be able to print my own stamps, but I could never justify paying a monthly subscription fee. This was my chance. I went to the Pitney Bowes site to sign up. Hmmm, there’s nothing here that lets me sign up without paying a fee. It took a Google search to find the “free” sign-up link. That’s.

www.pb.com/brother

I went to the site and was redirected to the sign-up URL. Sign-up was pretty easy, It didn’t ask even me for a credit card. Just enter a few personal details such as name, email address, and physical address (no PO Boxes allowed). I don’t know if I did something wrong, but during the process it said they were going to send me a free welcome kit, then proceeded to display an invoice showing $0.00 for the welcome kit with $10.00+ shipping charge. How are they going to get the shipping charge from me? Didn’t ask me for a credit card. Well, they never charged me but they never sent me the kit either.

Now that I had access to the site, I was able to get an idea about how the plan actually worked. I already knew I had to buy my label rolls from Pitney Bowes. The choices at this time are $17.99 for 200 labels or 39.99 for 1000 labels. Plus tax. Do the math. $17.99/200 + Tax = more than $.09 per stamp. The other options are less expensive but still add quite a bit to the cost of the stamps. The labeler detects the kind of rolls, so the software won’t let you print stamps on “unapproved” rolls. You do get ½ cent discount on postage but the discount does no good when you’re paying such a high price for the supplies.

If you’ve seen pictures of the printed stamps, you may have noticed an orange stripe at the top that says pbSmartPostage.com. The stripe comes pre-printed on the rolls. That’s fine for the stamps, but if you intend to print both stamps and labels on the same roll, then your labels will have the orange stripe too. The alternative is to switch rolls every time you switch between labels and stamps.

I later learned that you can buy stamp sheets for $7.49; 5 sheets, 25 labels per page, 125 labels in all. You can print the stamp sheets on a regular laser printer. The gotcha is the sheets come with serial numbers. In order to print on the stamp sheet, you need to enter the serial number of the sheet.

You end up paying for the “free” service by paying and inflated charge for supplies. If you pay the hefty charge for the fee subscription, then you can print the stamps directly on the envelope and avoid the hefty charge for the stamp rolls and sheets.

Ordering supplies is relatively easy, just enter your credit card number and order. Pitney Bowes didn’t charge me for shipping, but they did add tax. I ordered the $17.99 roll on the weekend and it arrived in the mail on Thursday.

In order to pay for stamps, you need to fund your account. When you click on “Add Postage”, it will tell you have no funds. You can set up a Reserve Account or enter your credit card information. THEN you can fund your account. It gives you several options for funding with specific dollar amounts of $20, $50, or $100 or you can enter your own amount. BUT… the amount needs to be in even dollar amounts and it won’t let you enter an amount less than $10.00. It does maintain your account in ½ cent increments. When I printed a single stamp, it decremented my account by 46 ½ cents.

I was really disappointed when I discovered the available postage classes were very limited. It allows various types of first class mail up to 3 ounces and media mail. That’s it. One of the main reasons I signed up is so I can print Priority Mail stamps. Tech support informed me Priority Mail requires a bar code, and bar codes go on the address label. Since the basic service doesn’t print address labels, no Priority Mail.

If I knew then what I knew now, I probably wouldn’t have signed up for the service. Printed stamps are very expensive, and the types of mail you can send are very limited. The only thing you MIGHT get is the convenience of not having to go to the post office to buy stamps.

 

Check out my YouTube video

CoTrip Webcams C470 – US285

CoTrip Webcams C470 – US285

I 70 & Kipling

I70 & 32nd

I 70 West of 6th Ave

C470 & Alameda

C470 .9 Miles West of Alameda

C470 & Morrison Rd

C470 & US285

US285 Indian Hills

US285 near Windy Point

US285 Conifer

US285 Kings Valley

US285 Shaffers Crossing

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How I got to WordPress

Several years ago, I led a three state district of a worldwide communication and leadership organization. One day I received a call informing me our website was being used as a base to attack other websites. We were hacked. We immediately shut down our site and began investigating alternatives for a new website. We rehosted our site and choose Joomla as the Content Management System. As I was learning about Joomla, I decided to build a personal Joomla website. Once I got my site going, I rarely updated it. Eventually my personal Joomla site was hacked (vandalized). Luckily it was a simple fix to restore the site. I changed the password but over a few months it was hacked two more times. When I eventually updated the version of Joomla, the hacks stopped.

Then I got a call from my hosting provider. They encouraged me to upgrade to a new hosting plan. They offered me a “deal” to switch. In order to switch plans, I would need to rehost and rebuild my site. I was apprehensive about that idea but eventually decided to make the switch. I allowed a couple of weeks before my old plan expired to convert to the new plan. The conversion was actually fairly painless. I got my new site up and running with plenty of time to spare.

Since I hadn’t made any updates in quite a while, I decided to make some changes. I ran into a technical issue and called tech support. Customer Support did manage to help me resolve my problem but they told me they don’t get many calls for Joomla. The majority of their customers were on WordPress. I was still running on a very old version of Joomla so I decided to upgrade. I spent quite a bit of time searching for a new Joomla template but couldn’t find one I liked.

“Can’t find a template I like”

“Most of their customers are on WordPress”

“I’ve been hearing a lot more about WordPress lately than Joomla”

The organization I belonged to switched to WordPress a long time ago, and a friend’s site was on WordPress.

I decided to make a switch. I purchased a couple of “temporary” domain names to use while I built my new WordPress sites. My primary Joomla based domains remained active while I learned, installed, and customized my new WordPress, sites. Then I copied the articles from my Joomla site and posted them into my new WordPress site. When I got new my WordPress site looking the way I wanted it to, I pointed my primary domain names to my new WordPress site. My conversion to WordPress was successful.

Getting my WordPress site has been quite a learning experience. I couldn’t have done it without a couple of my best friends. Google and YouTube! See my YouTube videos about how to build a WordPress site on Godaddy.

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Do You Fear Public Speaking?

Fear of public speaking is a very common ailment. There’s actually a name for it: glassophobia. Maybe fear isn’t always the exact word. How about aversion to public speaking? Anxiety? Discomfort? Stress? “Just not your cup of tea”? Do one of these apply to you? Why?

Fear is a normal human emotion. Fear warns us of danger – it’s a survival instinct. Consider the fear of riding a motorcycle down the highway during rush hour at 110 mph with no helmet. What would failure entail? Loosing control of the motorcycle? Crashing? What would be the result? It would probably be serious injury or death. Now, that would be a rational fear.

Now consider a public speaking engagement. What would failure at this engagement entail? Putting forward a poor performance? Making a mistake? Freezing or forgetting? What would be the result? Embarrassment maybe, but serious injury or death would be very unlikely. This does not necessarily mean glassophobia is an irrational fear, but the fear of public speaking is definitely not part of the human survival instinct. Not in the life or death sense anyway. Therefore, consider fear of public speaking as an unnecessary fear.

Fear of public speaking can be detrimental to your career. Think about what would happen if you were called upon in a meeting and couldn’t speak. What would happen if you had that “great idea” and couldn’t present it – or worse – someone else, a rival, could and did? These are examples of why fear of public speaking can hinder your corporate survival.

The best way to overcome an unnecessary fear is to face it. Start by selecting a topic you know about or would like to know about. Then prepare a speech. Research the topic thoroughly so you know it inside and out. Then practice in private. Practice over and over and over. One of the key elements of overcoming the fear of public speaking is preparation. The keys to preparation are to thoroughly research your topic, then practice, practice, practice. When you are comfortable with your speech and your material, practice in front of in front of family or a few close friends. The more prepared you are, the less fear you will have. You will likely find practicing in front of even one or two people can be completely different than practicing by yourself. Ask those people for feedback. Even if they don’t understand technical material, they may be able to comment on your delivery. They may notice idiosyncrasies you weren’t aware of. Then ask a trusted colleague to listen to you practice. Your colleague may be able to comment on your technical material. As you receive feedback, revise, revise, revise, then practice, practice, practice.
Listen to the advice of your family, friends, and colleagues but remember you are the one giving the presentation. If the advice makes sense, follow it. If the advice doesn’t make sense or doesn’t match your personal style, don’t follow it. If you receive contradictory advice, use the advice that makes the most sense to you. Use your judgment and be comfortable in your own skin. Being comfortable in your own skin is an important step in overcoming the fear of public speaking.

As you practice, revise and improve your speech. Eventually you will know your material inside and out. Then you can begin to put aside fears of failure. Imagine the audience listening attentively. Imagine the applause you will receive at the end of your speech. And you WILL receive applause. As you imagine success, your confidence will grow. Ever hear the advice for nervous speakers to imagine the audience members in their underwear? If that works for you, then use it, but better advice for most speakers is to imagine success. Your audience is on your side. They want you to be successful. Almost as much as you do.

When the day of your presentation comes, don’t worry about being nervous. Keep in mind that even experienced speakers will feel some degree of fear and nervousness. A little nervousness is actually desirable. Your nervousness will cause your body to release adrenaline. That adrenaline will help get you “pumped”, which will help your passion and enthusiasm shine through.…