5 Useful IT Certifications

This one’s for the Computer Systems students. What our college doesn’t offer in IT certifications, it makes up for with comprehensive courses culminating in a degree. Despite all that, students have a hard time finding jobs when they graduate because more and more employers want their potential entry level techies to have more under their belt than just a degree.


CompTIA A+

One of the most basic certifications you can get in IT, the A+ certification is mandatory for Dell, Intel and Lenovo technicians and is held by over 900,000 IT Professionals. The A+ certification consists of 2 exams- covering topics like PC hardware, networking, operation procedure, operating systems, security, mobile devices and basic troubleshooting skills. This test has a little bit of everything, but IT hopefuls who can pass this exam will feel right at home in a help desk or support position while they figure out what they want to specialize in.

For more information, see:  http://certification.comptia.org/getCertified/certifications/a.aspx


CCENT / CompTIA Network +

Both of these are entry level networking certifications. The CCENT exam stands for Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician and “validates the ability to install, operate and troubleshoot a small enterprise branch network”. In English, you’re qualified to be a network support technician. The exam focuses heavily on routing and switching, but students in the Networking module (CST 3507/607/707) should have no problem passing the exam. The same goes for the CompTIA Network+ certification. Where the CCENT is focused on routing and switching, the Network + certification covers basic networking concepts, installations and configurations, media and topologies, network management and network security. Which certificate you pursue depends on what  you want to do. If you want to have a career as a network technician, you should consider taking both exams, making sure to pick up the CCENT. It is a prerequisite for the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), something any mid-level IT professional is expected to have. Whether you have the skills or not, like a college degree, if you don’t have that piece of paper, higher paying companies are much less likely to consider you.

For more information, see:




Microsoft Technology Associate

The MTA is recommended for most IT professionals. Like it or not, the world runs on windows – from help desk to CIO, you’re expected to know how to use it. The MTA certification can be earned by passing an exam in one of five areas: Windows Operating System Fundamentals, Windows Server Administration Fundamentals, Networking Fundamentals, Database Fundamentals and Security Fundamentals. This certificate is a prerequisite to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate a.k.a. someone certified to work with and troubleshoot for Windows 7 and 8. If you’re interested in specializing in the Windows OS, you should also look into becoming a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist.


For more information, see: https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/windows-certification.aspx


Apple Certified Technical Coordinator

There’s also a need for people with the skills to troubleshoot Apple products. The Apple Certified Associate certification is for entry level tech support and lower level system administrators. Obtaining it proves that you can (at least on paper) provide support for Mac OS X users and maintain Mac OS X Server. It requires two exams (Mac OS X Support Essentials & Mac OS X Server Essentials). Like the Cisco and Microsoft Certifications, this certificate is a prerequisite for something more advanced. Having an Apple Certified System Administration Certificate verifies that you are a system administrator capable of managing large multi-platform networks utilizing Apple products.


For more information, see: http://training.apple.com/certification/osx


Red Hat Certified System Administrator

This isn’t necessarily an entry level certificate, but it will definitely earn points when you put in a resume. Very few people bother learning to use Linux or UNIX but having the RHCSA tells employers you’re capable of doing everything in Linux you can do in Windows. This includes: Understanding essential tools, working in a command-line environment, booting into different run levels, controlling virtual machines, configuring system files, deploying and maintaining systems, services and installations, managing user groups and managing security in a Linux environment. Unlike almost every other certification on this list, the RHCSA is a performance based exam. You aren’t just given a question on a hypothetical situation – you’re given a live system and are judged on your ability to accomplish a task in a timely fashion.

For more information, see: http://www.redhat.com/training/certifications/rhcsa/


Depending on whom you ask, certifications may or may not be necessary for starting on your path to a career in IT, but it’s a double edged sword. Yes, you run the risk of being overqualified for a position if you go grabbing up certifications. You could also have someone unexpectedly test you on topics from the certification you‘ve earned during an interview. However, outside of internships, students are not always luck enough to get a job in their field. Certifications are essential for job seekers in IT trying to get a foot in the door, especially when they don’t have the 6 months to a years’ worth of experience most employers want. To test or not to test – is it really a question?


One Year Anniversary of Hurricane Sandy

a car submerged in hurricane water

One year ago, Hurricane Sandy crashed into our coast, killing 285 people, leaving millions without power, and wrecking thousands of homes and lives in the process. Estimates, as of June 2013, assess damage to have been over 68 billion dollars, a total surpassed only by Hurricane Katrina.

Last week, officials announced that more than $2 billion from the U.S. will be sent to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to fund homeowners and businesses recovering from Sandy. This means that even a year later, people still remain homeless, and jobless due to the storm.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to tour the city and see the repair in progress, including a dune installation in Staten Island, and tidal gate installation in the Rockaways, and the Coney Island Creek.

The city is expressing it’s gratitude to MTA customers, who suffered disruptions to their commutes for months following the storm, by sponsoring free rides for certain A and R train riders.

As a resident of the Rockaways, I remember having to live almost a week in my house, with no power, heat, or hot water. It’s a time in my life that I will never forget.

5 Rules to Prepping for a Midterm

Tis the season – for exams that is. Midterms are in full swing now marking the middle of what has been proving to be a fast moving semester. While it’s highly hypocritical for me to give study tips to anyone (my study habits are atrocious), hopefully the tips below will leave you one step closer to that A+ you’ve been working for.


Don’t cram.

It goes against every instinct we have as students before a major exam, but cramming does more harm than good. While it’s true you can pick up a topic you didn’t quite understand at the last minute, you also run the risk of blanking out on an exam – forgetting everything you crammed along with a sizeable chunk of the topics you had completely down.


Find an appropriate place to study.

Personally, I need the occasional distraction to study effectively. As backwards as that sounds, doing something completely unrelated to studying once every half hour or so actually helps me to better focus on my work. On the other hand I’ve met people who seclude themselves in a dark corner of the library, forgetting all their friends and family in favor of studying. It’s up to you. Choose wisely.


Eat Right.

This applies most the day before and the morning of the exam. Eating foods that are high in sugar or caffeine can lead to crashing later in the day or during your exam. Students should eat a light breakfast (e.g. toast, eggs, bacon or cereal with nuts or grains), and carry a snack to eat between classes. Fruit, nut mixes and drink plenty of water. Never skip a meal before an exam. Skipping out on food can leave you hungry during an exam. Nobody wants to focus on their empty stomach during a calculus exam.


Don’t stress out over your exam. Spending more time worrying over an exam, means spending less time focusing on the material covered on it. Like cramming, excessive worrying over an exam can cause you to forget everything you’ve studied for. When in doubt, find a peaceful place and take deep relaxing breaths. Listen to a calming song or browse Facebook. Whatever gets you to your mental happy place.


Be Prepared (Bring a pencil).

Bring a pencil. Or a pen. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve sat down for an exam and watched my classmates sweat because they forgot to bring a writing utensil. Not everyone will have a spare pencil or pen for you to borrow. Not all professors will be nice enough to let you ask to borrow one. While it doesn’t seem like much, the stress of forgetting little things like a pencil or a calculator can throw you off enough to cost you serious points on an exam.

When in doubt, take a deep breath, and relax. Midterms aren’t the easiest time of year to get through and you’ll have to do it all over again later on this semester for finals week but I wish everyone the best of luck!

Lose the Weight

I know what you think. Even though many of us students have gained weight over the past few semesters, I won’t be preaching about the importance of losing that extra bulge I have enough that I need to lose myself. (Also, in most cases those who need to lose weight wouldn’t realize that I was talking to them, and those girls whose BMIs are close to a scary 15 will think that I am telling them to lose even more.) I’m talking about the weight outside yourbody that you carry with you all the time. And while many don’t know this, that heavy load in your back is apt to hurt you just as much, although in different ways, as the extra layer of blubber that you carry around your waist.

My first semester of college, I bought myself a nice suede bag. I felt that since I am an adult I shouldn’t be using a backpack. Of course, I made sure that the bag was roomy enough for at least two textbooks, a laptop, a looseleaf, notebooks, my planner, lunch. Basically it was a suitcase that I could carry on my one shoulder. However this is even worse because at the rate of what I was putting in to it, I would probably have to pay an overweight fee. I’m sure that at least the ladies reading this know that there is a law regarding handbags. The size of the handbag you carry, is always directly proportional to the things that you will NEED to carry.

By the end of that semester, I realized that something had to be done. The first thing that I did was purchase a more reasonably sized bag. However, there were still some things that I had to bring. I’m one of those students who comes to class prepared. I cannot quite understand those students who show up to class with one piece of paper and not even a pen. How do they plan on writing on that paper? However, by the end of that semester, I also realized that most classes won’t use the textbooks in class. I finally got packing my bag down pat.

The next semester I was thrown a wrench. Not only did my professor want us to bring our books, it was the heaviest book of the program that she wanted us to bring. All of the sudden, I started seeing the tablets, Nooks, Kindles, iPads… in class. Right away that jumped to the top of my school supplies “wishlist”.

I just got a Nook after all this time. It is a miracle. Finally I don’t feel like I’m falling over from the weight. I can actually exercise on my way to school.

If you’d like your schoolbag to join mine on its diet, let me know. I’m sure my bag would love to give your’s some support!

The Soda Ban Is Back!

several sizes of Coca Cola

A few months ago, I wrote about the City rejecting a possible Soda Ban by Mayor Bloomberg. The law would have barred restaurants, movie theaters, and food carts, from selling sodas and other sugary beverages, larger than 16 ounces. In March, just one day before it was to take effect, a state judge found the policy to be illegal. But it looks as though Mayor Bloomberg couldn’t leave well enough alone, and has continued his fight to get this bill passed. His attempt to limit the size of sugary drinks in New York City, is set to be reviewed by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. This will be his final chance to salvage a plan, that has twice been rejected by judges, as improper.

What’s the good news for you soda lovers? Well, The Court of Appeals is not planning to take up the case until next year, when Mayor Bloomberg is out of office, leaving the decision to pursue the case up to the next mayor. While Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee, has supported this bill in the past, he has now changed his tune, choosing to remain ambiguous. The Republican nominee, Joseph J. Lhota, on the other hand, has said that if elected, he would withdraw the city’s appeal, allowing the proposed regulations to die.

Mr. Bloomberg and the soft drink industry both issued statements, each saying it was confident that it’s side would eventually prevail at the Court of Appeals.

You’d think with all the problems going on in the world, so much focus wouldn’t be on SODA!!!

A Slice of Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi - single board computer

Raspberry Pi – single board computer

Not a dessert, or a bad math pun, Raspberry Pi is one of many the many single board computers available on the market today. The device was created by the Raspberry Pi Foundation – a UK based charity founded in 2009 and dedicated to promoting the study of basic computer programming in children. Their ideal is to start from the bottom up. If children are given tools to learn to program early on, they spend less time learning basic programming techniques in college and can move on to acquiring skills that will help them efficiently work in the computer industry. To all the CST majors, think of how much easier Java or C++ would be to pick up if you’d at least touched on the subject in grade school.

That’s not to say the Raspberry Pi is limited to just kiddie stuff. While it was developed to work with Scratch, an educational programming language, the Pi is capable of running operating systems including Debian, Arch Linux, and a custom made OS optimized for use with the Raspberry Pi known as ‘Raspbian’. Various programming tools are available from the ‘Pi Store’ with everything from apps and games to development tool. Programmers who can write in Python, C and Perl will feel right at home here.

Despite being the size of a credit card, the Raspberry Pi boasts some decent specs.

Model A Model B
CPU 700 MHz ARM1176JZF-S
GPU 250 MHz Broadcom VideoCore IV
Memory 256 MB 512 MB
USB 2.0 Ports 1 2
Video Input CSI input connector
Video Output Composite RCA, HDMI, DSI
Audio Output 3.5 mm jack, HDMI
Onboard Storage SD / MMC / SDIO
Onboard Network None 10/100 Ethernet adapter
Power Rating 300mA (1.5 W) 700 mA(3.5 W)
Power Source 5 volt (via MicroUSB or GPIO header)
Operating Systems Arch Linux ARM, Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Plan 9, Raspbian OS, RISC OS, Slackware Linux, Firefox OS, Android 4.0, Haiku, Unix

* Both cards are 3.4 x 2.2 inches and weigh 1.6 oz.

Raspberry Pi also has a wide range of uses. One such use was creating a homemade, networked, motion sensitive, HD surveillance system. British native Christoph Buenger used a model B Raspberry Pi, a Raspberry Pi camera module, a housing for the camera, a power supply, an SD card and a Wi-Fi USB adapter (around $100 worth of equipment) to create a system just as capable as one that would cost thousands of dollars. The instructions are available here, and video recordings can be stored to a folder on a computer or viewed as a live stream online via computer or mobile device.

Another person made a Halloween project using a variety of items including a model B Pi, cheap rat toys, red LEDs lights, servo controllers, power regulators and solderless breadboards. Known as the ‘Ratsberri Pi’, the project (with instructions that can be found here ) makes creates creepy glowing eyed rodents that move according to programming.

All in all the Raspberry Pi is a gadget with potential limited only by a person’s imagination. We’re a technology college with plenty of students and faculty capable of coming up with some awesome projects. I’m making one of these an early Christmas present for myself, but what can you guys come up with? Let’s see some projects!



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What Do Deadlines Really Mean?

Even though this happens frequently, it always irks me. The paper has a deadline. On the first day of class, your professor told you when the term paper is due. It’s written on the syllabus ands on Blackboard. Why is it that students still use the excuse that they didn’t know it was due?

We’be been discussing this assignment since day one. In fact, you knew about it before the semester, so why do you feel like you’re I entitled to an extension?

I understand that not all students do their work in advance. I know that cramming the night before an exam or trying to write a term paper the night before it’s due is fairly common among college students, but if that’s how you workdo why does it entitle you to an extension?

And for all those professors who grant extensions, don’t you know that you’re doing your students a great disservice? Are they going to be guaranteed extensions in the job? And what about those students who diligently adhere to all your deadlines. How do you think they feel when their deadline is adjusted to accommodate procrastinators?

Please, check your schedules. Make sure you know when things are due and take responsibility for your assignments!

Pumpkin Maple Flan


( Adapted from Tiffany’s Treats)




1/2 cup maple syrup

1 tsp bourbon vanilla (this is most of the natural vanilla’s at the grocery store)

1 tsp espresso powder



4 eggs ( or egg replacer…follow box directions for 4 eggs)

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk ( or 1 + 3/4 cup milk of choice)

1 15 oz can pumpkin

2 tsp bourbon vanilla

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 cup coconut sugar ( I get mine at the health food store)

2 packets stevia


Kitchen Equipment:


disposable Foil cupcake pans ( enough to make at least 12 flan)



aluminum foil

roasting pan


directions:cake batter

  • Heat oven to 325°. Place all syrup ingredients (maple syrup, espresso powder, vanilla)  in saucepan and bring to a boil. When mixture begins to boil, remove from heat. Keep an eye on the stove, so it boil over as it gets foamy quickly!
  • Divide the syrup 12 equal parts among the cupcake pan(s). Set pan(s) aside. Meanwhile, blend all remaining flan ingredients in a blender for 2 minutes or until completely combined.
  • Slowly, pour the flan batter into the cupcake cups over the syrup that was placed in the bottom. Fill to the top of the cups. Place the cupcake pan  into a large roasting pan.

muffin tins

  • Fill roasting pan with 2 inches of water, careful to not spill the water into the flan. You can also put the water in first if it is easier, just allow room for the water to rise when you stick your cupcake pans in the roasting pan.
  • Bake for 50 minutes at 325°. When the flan is done, you should be ale to insert a toothpick and have it come out clean. Place flan in refrigerator to cool completely before eating.

baked goods

  • When flan is completely cool, cut the foil pans so that  each flan is now separated from one another. Loosen the edges of the flan from the pan with a knife.
  • Invert flan onto a plate, gently tapping the top of the foil pan to help it release. Don’t forget to let the syrup drizzle out on top!


Makes 12 servings.

Warning Labels on Advertisements

a cover of Glamour magazine

Today in my Graphic Arts class, we were told that legislation is trying to propose a mandate, in which all advertisements, whose images have been altered with Photoshop, bear a warning label alerting the public to the practice. The idea stems from scientific research that found that vulnerable consumers, particularly children and teens, might be fooled by the photos. That the photos might convince them that the models are really as perfect as the covers try to show, resulting in negative physical and mental health consequences.

Personally, I think if a person doesn’t have self confidence, they’ll continue to not have it, regardless of how a model or actress looks in pictures. If they are feeling this way, they should receive professional help, not take it out advertisements.

Sure beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but do you believe that people would want to buy a magazine cover if the person on the front is unattractive? And I was always under the assumption that everyone knows, regardless of a label, that editing is always done on advertisements.

No one in the world is perfect, touch ups in this type of business is a necessity, as the main goal is always to SELL, SELL, SELL.

Caffeine on Campus: A Hidden Danger

Drinks with Caffeine

Drinks with Caffeine

It’s been a few weeks since the semester has started so everyone should have noticed the new vending machines around campus.

We traded up (in my biased opinion) to Pepsi products allowing our vending machines a delicious variety of drinks including Starbucks Frappuccinos, Cherry Pepsi and Amp energy drinks. As a student completely reliant on caffeine, I often find myself visiting vending machines to get an iced coffee, or an amp energy drink – usually without thinking about the consequences of consuming them.  To all the people drink enough coffee to bleed caffeine: you should.


Amp is Pepsi’s attempt to compete with RedBull and Monster and it contains around 160mg of caffeine per can. On a bad day a student can drink

2 or more per day. That’s 320 mg of caffeine. The snack foods that are available on campus like Kit Kat bars and Snickers contain chocolate – another source of chocolate that can add between 8 and 20 additional milligrams per serving. There’s caffeine in the cookies, cakes and yogurts students eat each day as well. That’s quite a bit of caffeine when you consider the normal serving for adults is about 200 mg per day.


For anyone who wants to argue that caffeine gives you much needed energy, you’re absolutely right. A shot of caffeine can give a tired student just the boost they need to get through an exam or a cram session. It can also give you heart palpitations, headaches, anxiety attacks, tremors, seizures, vomiting and increased blood pressure.


That’s not to say people should swear off caffeine – in moderation, caffeine has been proven to have many beneficial effects on health. Regular coffee drinkers have been proven to be up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. Caffeine intake can also contribute to reductions in the risk of developing cirrhosis and developing gallstones.


Mark Twain said “Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anybody “. While I’m pretty sure he was talking about drowning, his wise words can be applied to caffeine intake just the same. When you eat or drink foods that contain caffeine in moderation, it can be greatly beneficial, but overindulging is harmful. Be careful what you eat.


















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