September 22, 2006

What a difference a day makes

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by dgcombs

OK, It looked like I was a little down in the dumps the last time I posted. That’s because I was.

Well, I got some good news.

Back in the middle of August, I took this course to prepare me for the CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional). On day two of the five day course I got a quick text message on my phone from my CIO. That’s odd… He needed to talk to me urgently. So I quietly stepped out of the class and went next door to an empty conference room. I called him back at his desk. He abruptly let me know that my position “”had been eliminated”” in the second acquisition of the company in less than six months. I would have until November 1st to transition things over to the new IT organization.

Well, needless to say, that set the tone for the remainder of the course. I had a bit of motivation. The CISSP is widely recognized as a key certification for security professionals, consultants and Chief Security Officers. It also sounds nice when you say it fast – “”sissip!”” It covers 10 “”common bodies of knowledge”” from telecommunications, cryptography and security models to disaster recover, business continuity and physical security (what kind of fire extinguisher do you have in your kitchen?).

With a scant three weeks to study the material, I leveraged as much time “”on the job”” as I could researching facts. On Friday evening, September 8th I drove to Birmingham and spent a restless night in the Courtyard Marriott. I suppose in other circumstances those are comfortable beds. I got up the next morning, showered and shaved and put on my “”business casual – but comfortable”” clothes. I gathered two forms of ID and my admission letter and headed downstairs. I ate a breakfast. I’m guessing there were eggs and maybe bacon in there, but it all tasted a little like sawdust. I looked around the room and there were half a dozen people all chewing absent mindedly and staring into the blank space between their plate and coffee cup. I was in the right place.

On the plus side, I didn’t pour any water on the floor.

At 8am we lined up at the door, number 2 pencils in hand and waited…. and waited… and waited. At 9am (1/2 hour late) we were allowed into the room. I sat near the front. Close to the clock. The proctors sat at the back – so they could watch us. At 9:20 we got to open our booklets and start the test. We had to answer 250 questions multiple choice. Thankfully, we had 6 hours to do it.

I looked at the first question. Hmmmm…. didn’t remember studying that. Uh-oh… didn’t remember the second one either. So I took a quick gander through the booklet checking each question to see if anything rang a bell. Finally on page 20 I noticed something about cryptography and how DES (an encryption standard) works. OK – right test. I shook the cobwebs out of my head and the butterflies out of my tummy and buckled down.

Four and a half hours later I was done. I had circled the answers in my test booklet and was now ready to move on to transfering them to the little fill-in-the-circle answer sheet. As I went through, I checked each answer one more time. I changed two. One was right… the other was wrong. No harm, no foul I guess. I especially took note of question #220 which was missing a word. I got it right anyway. But when I registered a complaint to the proctor, he agreed with me.

There were 18 people in the room when I started. There was one frantic test-taker left when I got up. I was a little unnerved by that.

Then… I waited. It’s all paper and pencils and they don’t tell you until they’ve graded the batch. It took twelve days! TWELVE DAYS!! Finally I got an e-mail yesterday morning that started out with “”Congratulations!”” I read it twice. From two different computers. And then I printed it out and read it again. Woo-Hoo!

Of course, the elation comes at a price. I got a second e-mail indicating that I was randomly chosen for an audit of my resume, education and background. How lucky. Oh well, I passed!

Once I get through the audit (day or two or three) I’ll be putting one more line item in my resume.

Things are looking up!

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