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Thread: A Newbie’s Challenge

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    A Newbie’s Challenge


    This is my first tutorial of any kind and I am a little bit apprehensive as to how it will turn out and how it will be viewed by others. Here goes any way!

    This write up is more of a personal radical blueprint for upgrading my status on the IT and IT knowledge scale. Putting it in writing and posting it here not only clarifies my mind on the task ahead, but it might just be of help in assisting someone else shade their newbie status. Also it invites helpful feedbacks from the rest of the AO community.

    I had set a life time goal for my self: To become an IT ‘super-expert’, particularly in the security field. (In personal abilities and skills more than in paper qualifications.) The obvious obstacles are finance and time. Being a fresh graduate and financially on the low side right now, I cannot afford a formal training, but I have a lot of free time on my hands now. My plan now is: SELF-EDUCATION. (The formal education can come later and easier too!). This decision constitutes no problem, since naturally I had always been the Follow-Your-Passion-Achieve-Your-Dreams type.

    So I want to DIY it? But, how? It’s easy to set magnificent goals, but remaining faithful until fulfillment is where the difficulties lie. The degree of the difficulty can be said to be linearly proportional to the length of time to fulfillment, so when the goal is for a life time the difficulty is expected to be prohibitively great.

    There are stringent requirements necessary for every major undertaking to become a success. Now what are the requirements for the task I impose on myself? Taking up my pen and paper I came up with these:

    (1. A passion for my objective (An obsession perhaps.)
    (2. Determination.
    (3. A clear roadmap.
    (4. Initiative.
    (5. Persistence and perseverance (dedication to my goals).
    (6. People networking (the right kinds).

    The requirement of relevance here is (3). The rest are more of personal preferences and out of scope here. Simplified my roadmap looks like this:

    Newbie-----> (1) ----->Knowledgeable-----> (2) ----->Expert -----> (3) ----->Super-Exert.

    As you can see I have three gaps to bridge to get to my ultimate objective. IMHO the most difficult and significant is gap (1). This is because one can easily be distracted and thus derail. Secondly, the initiation and success of the whole scheme is dependent on it.

    To narrow my focus still further, my concern for the rest of this write up will be on bridging gap (1). How do I become knowledgeable, acquire a coherent and solid IT and IT security knowledge base that will facilitate the acquisition of the subsequent higher goals, DIY style? THE INTERNET TO THE RESCUE!

    Truly, the Internet offers instant access to practically inexhaustible sources of knowledge (though of varying qualities) on almost, if not all topics one could think of. But it has two major drawbacks: Information overload and Poor organization of information as a whole. Given this scenario my question now becomes: How do I ‘tame’ this ‘wild beast’ and ‘ride’ it towards my destination?

    I was exploring the AO site when a chain of ideas sparked off in my head. Specifically, I was looking at the Tutorial Forum Index page. Skimming through the major headings in this page, I realized that it encompasses pretty much all of the topics relevant to my objective.

    • Newbie
    • IRC
    • Hardware
    • Operating System
    • Networking
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Web
    • Miscellaneous

    Drilling down further to the subheadings, sub-subheadings and the individual threads listings, I started to entertain the idea that with these tutorial threads and their numerous links and references as a guide, I could tackle and master these subject headings. Then may be I would be ‘playing’ in the ‘premiership league’ (Trading posts comfortably in the Non-tutorial threads) with likes of JP, MsMittens, Negative and Tigersharks… I suddenly realized that I was actually looking at my bridge from being a newbie to being knowledgeable!

    NEWBIE--------> (Tutorial Forum Index + Links + References) ------->KNOWLEDGEABLE

    Now, all of the above were just ideas. How do I translate them to action terms? Starting from the Tutorial Forum Index, I began saving all the tutorials to my Hard Drive, into folders corresponding to the major headings and subheadings on the Index for easier later access (I don’t have a personal Internet connection.)

    NEXT: I would start working my way right from “Newbie” to “Miscellaneous”.

    Can I do it? YOU BET!

    Now, can YOU do it? Do you have what it takes?

    How’s this for a plan? Perhaps I’m CRAZY!
    :-) d iceman cometh!

  2. #2
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Sounds like you are motivated. Don't limit yourself to only online references.

    If you have the resources, pick up some books. There is no replacement for some good books. There is a forum dedicated to books that you may be interested in. If you don't have the finances... and you have a borders or barnes and nobles or even a library... camp out there. I can name numberous rainy weekends where I've gone to borders and gotten the unlimited coffee cup and sat down with books.

    Also, don't forget hands on. You can read anything you want as many times as you want. No matter what the book says... there are going to be differences. Each setup and situation is unique (for the most part). What works for me might not work for you.

    Setup whatever hardware you can get your hands on. You can still work with the low end PIIs and PIs. People are just throwing them out nowadays. They are good for (home) firewalls, routers, proxys, web servers, mail servers, etc. Just anything you can setup to get experience. Hopefully you'll have a use for it too. It won't do you any good to setup an IRC server if you're not going to use it.

    I still consider myself a newbie. I have a lot I could learn. I do my best to tackle projects on my very long todo list. Then again, in this field... you'll never stop learning.
    Quitmzilla is a firefox extension that gives you stats on how long you have quit smoking, how much money you\'ve saved, how much you haven\'t smoked and recent milestones. Very helpful for people who quit smoking and used to smoke at their computers... Helps out with the urges.

  3. #3
    ********** |ceWriterguy
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    The more you learn in this field, the more you realize exactly how much you don't know.
    Even a broken watch is correct twice a day.

    Which coder said that nobody could outcode Microsoft in their own OS? Write a bit and make a fortune!

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Thanks phishphreek80 for your sound and timely advice.

    Your reply reminded me of and important part of my plans that I left out of my post: hands-on experience! Am about to procurre three systems(A PIII, a PII and a PI hopefully), a switch(or hub) and the necessary cablings and others. Am setting up a home network and really get down dirty on all am about to learn.

    Unfortunately, I don't have access to such libraries you mentioned, but I'll try to buy a few relevant books.

    Here's a url I am presently mining for knowledge: www.linuxexposed.com

    Thanks fokes!
    :-) d iceman cometh!

  5. #5
    AO Ancient: Team Leader
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    The more you learn in this field, the more you realize exactly how much you don't know.
    Never has a truer word been spoken with regard to computer security.... Nice one Black... I stare blanky at log entries every day and think.... "WTF was that all about".... or... "sneaky little bastige"... ..... and then I think exactly the same as you....

    Iceman: As phish says, (and phish is a good guy), you seem motivated.... but you will find with time that there are distractions to 1) that will manifest themselves all to frequently as life goes on. They are the test of your passion.... You may be distracted for a while but if your passion is really a passion you will "fall" back into it quite easily..... (I had a hiatus of some 5 years but because I had learned a lot in my first "burst of passion" I found it quite easy to catch back up..... Though my first burst had been 5 years so I did have plenty of time to learn).

    While your plan looks "rigid" on paper I hope it isn't in real life... Give yourself time to have a life and other interests... gals are usually a good distraction - try to find one that likes computers though or you'll be having a hiatus because of a cute body sooner than you think.... Some things take longer to grasp than others... Some things are easy.... If you try to make a schedule out of it then you could end up becoming discouraged.... Relax a bit.... The knowledge comes.... Since everything is laid out in RFC's it means the "rules" are fixed... Thus, in some ways the "landscape" isn't changing.... so you can gain knowledge about the core of the subject, take a year with that "cute body" and the "rules" are still the same...

    OTOH, the techniques are fluid and require attentiveness.... But that's a whole other subject....

    You have the 'plan".... manage it well, remember that there is a life outside computers and that periods of inactivity won't put you too far behind the "curve" and you will be a more rounded and therefore better security expert in the end....

    Good Luck
    Don\'t SYN us.... We\'ll SYN you.....
    \"A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools.\" - Thucydides

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