It Really Is the Small Things

csvfileI spent a really dumb amount of time today trying to write a Python script to do what I could have done in minutes in Excel.  I created a .csv file with the header and rows populated.  It is a small thing, but I struggled, and the data I was sending wouldn’t go at fist, so I had to figure out why what worked for one type of data didn’t work for another.  Turns out, I just needed quotes.  But the point really is that I didn’t give up , I kept at it, and I finally accomplished this stupid small task!

I have so far to go it is hard to imagine ever being proficient, but then again, a week ago I wouldn’t have believed I could write a script that created and populated a spreadsheet!  All progress counts, right?

I want to remember today and that I can do it!  I am not dumb, and I can work through problems and come up with solutions.  I could have asked for help like I usually do, but instead, I can go back through what I know and see if the answer isn’t there somewhere after all.  I can code, and I can do this!  I am still working through Learn Python the Hard Way, but I am also working through a couple of other classes too and all together I feel like I am finally getting somewhere, after a good month of hacking away.


A Crazy Security Kind of Day

Today I had a plan for learning.  I was going to spend a couple of hours this morning (in whatever chunks my regular work projects allowed) on learning Python and a couple this afternoon doing some Web Development learning and building since I am trying to cram both into my brain as quickly and solidly as possible.  HOWEVER, it did not turn out that way.  I had a much more interesting day, and in hopes that I not forget anything that happened, I decided to document it here.  I am afraid all this will prove is that i for sure have a healthy dose of Adult ADD.

I should have known it was going to be a super special interesting day by the wild tangent of a podcast I started with on my drive in.  I have been obsessing this week on the CodeNewbie podcast, listening to episodes in no kind of order other than what sparks my interest at the moment (dangerous, I know).  It was a good episode, but the best takeaway for me was Zen Pencils!  Have you seen this?  You MUST check out this amazing cartoon if you haven’t, for me, it was life changing.

After printing off a few inspiring cartoons to plaster the walls of my cube with, I was able to work through my second round on chapters 13-15 in Learn Python the Hard Way and the next section from my Automating OSINT Python course before I was off to a really interesting webinar on ransomware that was sponsored by a CISCO user group in my area.  I expected the content to be more, techy, I guess, but it was still really interesting.  I finished that and was off to work on some other work tasks.

I am now back at my desk with a break and find myself Googling the speaker from my webinar and find his super cool site The Dark Knight.  I read that and then remember that he talked about some resources that helped him break down what was happening with his clients who hired him to help with ransomware.  That took me over to the SUSE site to read a really cool breakdown of hexdump and how to see the insides of a document. . .see . . . isn’t it kinda cool!


And suddenly I am in love with tech again and remember why I got into this “career” in the first place.  Now, if I could just find a tool to keep me focused on learning one thing at a time so I could actually feel like I am moving forward that would be great.

Still Learning

I’m still Learning Learn Python the Hard Way, but I have added some other sites and learning for fun too.  I heard a podcast with Justin Seitz as the guest and he was talking about Python and Security and so I went over to his site, Automating OSINT and saw that he offered a beginner Python class so I immediately signed up for that too.  I am sort of at a place in the LPtHW where I need to take a step back and go back through to solidify what I have learned so far anyway.  I love the new class, even though it moves a bit faster and is a bit more challenging.  I think it’s tricky in a good way that will really help me tie together some security and some programming skills.

I also just finished my first goal with security which was to get through one of the Security+ courses online.  I chose a free one first, since I think work will pay for a boot camp to pass the test anyway.  I know from past experience that I will pass the test from the boot camp, but I want to really learn and know the subject matter and so I will need a few passes for that.  The class I stopped on first was the one over at Cybrary.  I enjoyed it, but I feel like it was only a high level over view and now I need to dig in deeper.  For that I will be reading one of the Security+ books and probably listening to another online video class.

Learning a Language – Python

So it has been a couple of weeks since I sorta fell into a Python learning plan and I have to say that I am loving it!  I really thought that I could not learn or that I would not like to code, but I was wrong!

I happened upon two courses that really changed my mind.  The first was a class over at Code School, it was just a quick and free introduction to Python, but I was hooked.  Then, I did a search for free training and found a site that I really liked that let me try for free, Learn Python the Hard Way.  Now this site has been amazing.  I love the way Zed teaches.  I love that he puts so much emphasis on writing and rewriting code just to get a feel for it.  I also can really track better with his path than the one over at Code School, but that is personal preference.  I have no doubt that there are many ways to learn, but this is it for me.  I am on my second pass through the first 22 chapters and am picking up even more the second time in.

I know I have a really long road ahead, but my goal is to be a programmer.  Right now, I am thinking I will focus on Python and Security, but I am also working on another path that I will explain more in my next post.

It may have taken me a while, but it is good to have a plan and some goals in place once again that align with my current job and my future goals!  I can see light on the road ahead and that is a bit new and exciting!!

A New Plan

It’s been a long strange road for me, my tech career.  I have taken some odd turns, made mistakes that change the trajectory of my course, and find myself today making a whole new 5 year plan that has me excited about my career for the first time in several years.  I will share that plan next week I think.  What I need to do here real quick is to jot down the key to my change so I don’t forget how and why I got here.

For a long time I have been trying to convince myself that I don’t belong here in the tech world.  I have wasted so much time trying to find a passion outside of tech.  I looked at writing, cooking, sewing, teaching, motor sports, entrepreneurship and house wifery (I made that up, don’t judge).  Nothing was a good fit and I just couldn’t get into any of them.  Finally, at a complete dead end, almost in tears and ready to just quit everything, I finally started looking at tech and trying some things just to see if anything fit.  And guess what, it did.  I started learning Python quite by accident and realized I love it!  I like to code.

I think I convinced myself early on that I could never code mainly based on my interactions early in my career with some folks I considered to be smart coders.  Looking back, I think they were hacks, and certainly awful people, but I allowed a couple of bad eggs to ruin my entire perspective.  I have spent so many wasted years running, it is time to stop, dig, and put down roots.  I have to take a breath, relax, and start learning.  My posts over the next few months will most likely be about the new classes I’m taking and all that I am learning.

Windows 7 – Outlook/AD Password Lock Issues

I sure hope there is better information out there than this, but I am documenting a nagging problem for us here with Windows 7 and Exchange 2013.

Once we rolled out Windows 7 we started having multiple calls in to the helpdesk about accounts randomly locking out and AD passwords not working. We have a 3 month password change GP setup, so about 3 months after the conversion the calls started rolling in.

We would reset passwords and delete user mail profiles with some limited success, but we did have some stubborn issues. A search on Google turns up lots of advice, but for us, clearing out the stored credentials is the only lasting fix. Here’s how to do that:

Go to Control Panel
Click User Accounts
Click Credential Manager
Look under Generic Credentials
“Remove from vault” all credentials listed here

Printers disappear randomly on Windows7

I have a user who called in because her printers keep disappearing.  They are still installed on her pc (I can see them all via the control panel) but in some programs there are none listed, and the spooler keeps going on and off.  A quick google search turned up this article about this print spooler issue.

This was the fix that did it for me:

Clear Printer Spooler Files and Enable the Spooler Service


1. Click Start, type “Services.msc” (without the quotation marks) in the Search box and press Enter.

2. Double-click “Printer Spooler” in the Services list.

3. Click Stop and click OK.

4. Click Start, type “%WINDIR%\system32\spool\printers” in the Start Search box and press Enter, delete all files in this folder.

5. Click Start, type “Services.msc” (without the quotation marks) in the Start Search box and press Enter.

6. Double-click “Printer Spooler” in the Services list.

7. Click on Start. In the Startup Type list, make sure that “Automatic” is selected and click OK.

Personal Help Desk Tips

It’s a new year, a new day, and I’m feeling fine.  So I am going to start posting here again and use this space as a personal help desk of sorts.  Some of my help tips seem to really help people, so I am going to jump in and start posting again at least once a week.  I will post helps and fixes and general PC help tips.  At my current day job, we are on Windows 7 using Office 2013, so most of my tips will focus on that general area of helps.

I am a second level support person, so I will also share programming and network tips as I discover them.  .so stay tuned and welcome aboard!

Windows 7

We finally have a licensed copy of Windows 7 that I can install and use, and I have to say that I really like it so far. I know I am behind the curve a bit, but better late than never!

We never really embraced Vista, so most of our systems have remained on XP. And while I am a bit nervous about moving everyone to Windows 7, and having to answer tons of questions about where everything has moved to, I have LOVED installing it so far.

I am finding that even on my really old systems most of the drivers installed by default work quite well and I haven’t had to use multiple computers yet to track down, download and then upload a network driver. A common problem on an XP install.

I have yet to use it a ton. . .but so far I really like what I see. It seems quick, responsive, and much less bulky than Vista or even XP.

Moving Over – DBA

The progression of my IT career has been awkward, strange, and amusing altogether. I find myself now transitioning from doing mostly desktop support and user administration along with network support to full blown DBA.  Given, I am starting small with a few fairly complex Access Databases, but the company has big plans to move those all to SQL and web applications. YIKES!

So, here I go again on my own. . .jumping into Access, VBA, SQL and .NET, it sure is a good thing I like to learn, teach myself and go through trials by fire!  I am trying to start slow. . but am already getting questions and having to fix things. . .surely this is madness and there are more “traditional” ways to advance my career?!  “Thank you sir, may I have another” seems to me by MO.

If anyone has any great learning resources or recommendations on any or all of the above, please feel free to share!

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