May 21, 2011

Passing the CompTIA A+ Exams

Due to a requirement on a job application, I earned my CompTIA A+ certification with only two weeks of studying for it.

I studied for two weeks, and took both the 220-701 and 220-702 tests back-to-back on 5-20-11.  I scored a 765 (passing=675) on the 701 Essentials test and a 700 (passing=700) on the 702 Practical exam.  I will explain how I was able to pass both exams and my thoughts of the entire process.

These are the two resources (yes, only the two) I used and I'll tell you what I thought of each.  I personally read the entire first book and then went onto the second in that order.
CompTIA A+ Exam Cram by David L. Prowse (4th Edition)
ISBN-13: 9-0-7897-4242-1
ISBN-10: 0-7897-4242-X
ISBN 978-0-7897-4242-1

My thoughts:  This is an excellent book to get you started if you have no idea where to begin.  I purchased it as an ebook, but it on my computer and my phone and studied everywhere I went.  I'll throw in one caveat right away though and that is it claims there are not questions about the Windows 7 operating system.  The test has been revised since then and there are a couple questions regarding Windows 7.  The book does not cover material about this operating system other than it exists.  There are many "Exam Alerts" that are good to know.  I focused my studies around them mostly.  *The physical book contains a CD that the eBook does not provide.

CompTIA A+ Exam Cram Practice Questions by Patrick Regan (4th Edition)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7897-4791-4
ISBN-10: 0-7897-4791-X

My thoughts:  If you only have a week to study, I would recommend spending 80-90% of your time going over the sample questions in this book.  They are GOLD!  Some are even found on the tests.  The book contains an overview of each chapter, its weight on the test, a plethora of questions and immediately following the set of questions are the in-depth answers.  I found a couple grammatical errors here and there and a couple solid errors where the quick answer letter was not the actual answer.  If your studying time is limited, choose to work on either all odd or even questions rather than the first or second half as they're broken up into segments.

Overall:  I did get frustrated with a few conflicting recommendations from each of the authors.  Hopefully by addressing them now they won't affect you when you're going through the books.  The first is whether or not Windows 7 was going to be on the test.  It is so keep that in mind.  The other is whether or not you should use vacuums to assist you in cleaning out dust within a computer.  The first book by Prowse claims to absolutely not as it can create static, however, in some practice questions in the second book by Regan, it says that using a 'computer vacuum' is alright and in fact better than gently blowing dust out using your mouth.

If you're taking the exam I wish you the best of luck!

Additional info about me:  I scheduled a date to take the exams in two weeks thinking they would be no problem.   Four months ago I earned my BS degree in Information Systems and figured my knowledge with computers was pretty good for my age.  I registered to take the two exams because a job I was applying for required that I was CompTIA A+ Certified.  After picking up the first book (by Prowse) I realized I had some studying to do.  I'm pretty strong on the software side of computers and not so much with the hardware and knowing the technical names of internal components of a computer system (such as how many pins does an IDE ribbon for a FDD have or what are the pixel dimensions of a WUXGA).  After reading the first book by Prowse I took the two 100-questions practice exams at the end and was not satisfied nor felt prepared to take either of the two exams.  I picked up book #2 by Regan on a Tuesday and went through all 400 pages of practice problems in the following two days.  If that isn't cramming I'm not sure I know what is.  I would spend an hour and a half or so per chapter, take a break, and go at it all day long for two straight days.  I went through every question in chapters 1-5, and realized I didn't have enough time to cover every question in the remaining chapters so I did every odd question in chapters 6-10.  By the end I could barely read the instructions on setting up my newly purchased UPS (Universal Power Supply).  If I had additional time I would cover the remaining even numbered questions in chapters 6-10 in book 2 by Regan and then start to hit up the practice questions on the CD at the back of the book.  I barely made it through the 202 practical exam and I'm pretty sure my score would reflect a higher number if I had additional time to study the questions I missed out on.

Dec 17, 2010

Final Reflective Blog

This will be my last post relating the Digital Civilization course I've been in at college this semester.  Whenever people ask me about this class I usually tell them a couple things.
1) that I spend more time in it than any other class
2) that it is probably my favorite class because of the way it's administered
If we have more time to talk I continue to tell them about how we do our own research for our weekly topics and make blog posts on them and then read other class members blogs and after that network beyond our class and make connections in other places.  It is time consuming in that there's a lot to do, however, it's somewhat fun because we get to choose where to go to study or connect with the places we desire.

For anyone reading this who isn't already familiar with the class, it's an honors western civilization class that integrates modern-day computing technology to enhance education (mostly via the internet).  While in class, the students participate just as much (sometimes more) to our learning as they report on their findings or experiences.  One blog entry that I particularly remember being intrigued in was when I was doing focused research on one of the first computer programmers in the nation.  Her story was fascinating and I even found (and linked) an hour long video of her in an interview explaining what life was like back-in-the-day.  Click here to read the blog post.

There is order in that the professors say when we need to move on or if we're getting off the important subject matter at hand.  One thing that makes a class great, doesn't matter if it's at work, church, or school, is that the person teaching it cares about doing their best and has a passion towards what it is they're teaching.  Our professors Dr. Burton and Dr. Zappala not only showed these qualities in their styles of teaching, but they also respected their students.  I can't speak for other students, but I know that for myself, I want to work harder when I know the work/research I do is significant to those whom I'm doing it for.  This isn't just applicable to school, but to life in general.

Another thing this class has taught and focused on that no other class really has in my college experience is the significance and importance of networking and making connections with people outside our normal circles.  Coming from a private university that's mainly criticized with not having a lot of diversity, I'm surprised these types of classes aren't stressed more to get more diversity into the classrooms.

Anyways.  I've loved the class.  The final presentations were a success, and I've made some nice memories I'll carry around for the rest of my life.

Dec 1, 2010


This makes me laugh for some reason...

Nov 30, 2010

My blog post nomination

Here are a few blog post nominations that I feel have been very well put together.

1.  I was really impressed with Shuan Pai's article titled: "How Did All This Get Here?"  Shuan does an excellent job at tying in history with common political activity, focusing on civilizations as a whole.  She  uses attractive images to draw the reader in and throws in humor throughout.  It is evident she knows her topic well and backs it up with her own personal opinion on the subject matter.

  •  Learning outcome addressed:  Self-Directed Learning & Historical Content

2.  The next blog I'd like to give a shout-out to was written by Alex Gunnarson titled: "Master (Almost) Any Software with".  Alex covers the site really in-depth and provides multiple large images designed to walk the reader through a visual tutorial of how to work with and use the site to learn a very wide range of software programs and online tools.  He also provides a link to a video that shows you an example of what a typical tutorial consists of.

  •  Learning outcome addressed:  Computing Content
3.  The last blog I'd like to address is one that specializes in showing the personality of the individual.  It's written by Jeffrey Chen and titled: "Contemplating..."  In this post Jeffrey introduces who he is and what his ambitions are.  He uses a distinct and fun style to his writing including words in ALL CAPS and a lot of exclamation marks.  One fun line I like is found in the middle of his post where he writes:

  "Three "Enters" here, to allow you time to let all this coolness sink in...we good? moving on."
  • Learning outcome addressed:  Digital Culture via word choice and writing style.

Nov 16, 2010

Will Cell Phones Replace Our Wallets???

There are some days I feel as though (and I sometimes comment that) I need a murse.  That's right, a man purse just to simply carry my keys, phone, BurtsBees chapstick, & wallet.  It feels as though when I empty my pockets I'm like Jim Carrey on The Mask when he KEEPS on pulling random things out over and over again and there doesn't seem like there's ever an end.

I recently read an very interesting article titled Google: Android phones could replace credit cards  where they discussed functionality existing on Android phones that allow purchases to be made via your cell phone!  Some gas stations are already supporting the functionality.

To support the article I read, I've attended a couple presentations at college this semester that have talked about emerging technologies utilizing cell-phone functionality to make money transactions.  The areas being targeted at the moment are in countries such as India and Mexico.  The need for the technology in those countries is currently larger than in the US, but we'll shortly be next to integrate the new changes.

Smart phones will prove to change almost everything we do in our daily lives.  They're already beginning to eliminate the following:

  • A need to have separate GPS devices in vehicles
  • The need of physically dispersing paper tickets in raffle drawings
  • The portable gaming industry
  • A need to have a point-and-shoot digital camera
  • Video cameras (to an extent)
  • The need to carry a personal laptop on travel as email may be read via a phone.
I predict that in the future a type of evolution within smart phones will even go as far as wipe out the need to haul an old, heavy, and large portable laptop with a physical keyboard.  You may ask, "well what about screen resolution and having a large viewing window?  Computers are consistently improving.  Chips are getting smaller and smaller. It's no surprise that cell phones are already coming out with projectors embedded within them.  Here's a CNET article talking about turning cell phones into projectors.  I also predict that school attendance will be gathered via smart phones and class-administered exams and quizzes will all be performed through the medium of digital communication with smart phones.  

Think of the possibilities!  Imagine nationwide that the need of physical materials such as pencils. paper, text books, and calculators will be drastically reduced if not eliminated in its entirety.  

So in conclusion, sorry about deviating a little from my original subject, Smart phones are shifting the way we're doing business around the world.  The technology to use ones phone as a credit card is becoming a reality and if that's the case, there will be no need to carry a wallet with cash and/or credit cards.  It becomes burdensome and more of a risk of losing.  Wallets are becoming obsolete, along with the dozens of other mono-functional physical things we use in our daily lives.

What are your thoughts?  Are you excited for the drastic changes or do you see red flags and skepticism all over the place?  Leave it in the comments below.

Nov 14, 2010

Group Project Progress

This is simply a small post to link to the Google site explaining our group project in my Digital Civilization course. I've been working on gathering the tools/resources we're going to use for this project and listing them as well as explaining what it is our group is doing exactly.  Check it out at  Our team members may be found by clicking on "The Team" link in the sidebar.

This site is mostly for the professors to help in explaining what our project consists of but you're more than welcome to take a look.  Enjoy!

Mass Text & Email Program Written in Excel!!!

I thought I'd share with you guys a project I created at the beginning of the year in one of my technical classes involving Microsoft Excel.

MemoSend - Danny Patterson, Winter 2010

MemoSend has been created to fit the needs of multiple organizations and businesses, as well as small groups or families wanting to use it for personal reasons.

MemoSend is a program coded in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) designed to enable users to send out mass text and email messages. The idea was thought of after a realization that church groups continually perform the same regular and inefficient routine tasks of cutting out hand-out flyers and physically walking around to every apartment building to deliver them on EVERY door. This is time consuming, not to mention that not every roommate even sees the announcement before the event expires.

This program enables users to create & save lists of contact groups and then pull up saved lists from the past to send messages to. The saved lists are stored as text files within the folder or path that the workbook is stored under. Phone number format verification testing is performed and adjusted appropriately so it may be used to identify the initial phone carrier (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, ect...) the device was purchased with. Logical statements are thrown throughout to identify the specific addresses needed in order to send a text message via a simple email message.

MemoSend Program 

Project Write-up  

Please read the project Write-up document linked to above to learn how to use the program.  There are a few bugs still and I've listed the ones that have come to my attention in the "Disclaimer" section at the end of the write-up.

Let me know what you think of the program!  It is very beneficial if utilized for team projects.