Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Q and A with CompTIA Caribbean's Leonard Wadewitz

Does CompTIA have a physical presence in Trinidad or the Caribbean?

CompTIA does not have a physical presence in the region. We have a network of learning partners and I visit the region to support the learning partners and build awareness of CompTIA, the association, and of the value of CompTIA certifications. We can touch many more people through our social media communication and our learning partner network than having a physical presence someplace.

I visit the region frequently when invited and when there are opportunities to increase the awareness of CompTIA. In fact, I already have plans to visit Trinidad in May and Grenada in June, and I know that I will be visiting the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Jamaica. I’m writing this message to you from the Dominican Republic and we already discussed my return in the near future.

Are there any stats for the region that you can share?
  • Someone from every island in the region gets certified every year.
  • CompTIA has local authorized learning partners in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados.
  • CompTIA certified professionals are hired by Digicel, Clear Harbor, GBM, Fujitsu Caribbean and other regional companies in the Caribbean, and by global IT companies such as Ricoh, Dell, HP, and Xerox.
  • As a combined region, the Caribbean ranks in the top 10 certification consumption markets for CompTIA.
Why are there no web developer or mobile app developer related CompTIA certs?

Developing any kind of software development certification is an extremely difficult task because of the scope of such a certification. CompTIA tried multiple times but it just becomes overwhelming. CompTIA develops certifications in response to the needs of the IT industry, and we haven’t been pressed for these types of certifications as we have for the infrastructure support certifications.

I read somewhere that CompTIA is "vendor-neutral", can you expand on this?

"Vendor-neutral" is what makes the CompTIA certifications unique. Not only are the certifications "vendor-neutral" but CompTIA, the global IT association, is "vendor neutral", meaning we are not influenced by any company or government. CompTIA is an independent association.

"Vendor-neutral" means that CompTIA certifications focus on the skills that are needed by the IT industry not the product. By focusing on the skills CompTIA is responding to what the industry needs in IT professionals … skills. An excellent example, is the CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) certification that was launched in 2017. It focused on the skills needed for the relatively new "security analyst" position that appeared in the global IT industry about 2-3 years ago. The "security analyst" must be able to use the new analytical tools that have been developed to find the new security threats such as "Advanced Persistent Threat" (APT), where the intruder sits inside the infrastructure watching and gathering data. Security Analysts use new tools to find aberrations that can point to an APT and other threats. No other certification does this. The focus is on the skill, not a product.

Another certification is the new CompTIA Cloud+ certification that was launched in January. It was completely re-vamped to reflect the new jobs and the new skills that are now needed in the data centers … not on a specific cloud product. It is the first step before going into product specific cloud programs.

As a result, a CompTIA IT professional has the skills to work with products from every manufacturer in any IT environment, globally. This makes CompTIA certifications an excellent investment for companies and individuals.

Also read that CompTIA is "non-profit", why so?

CompTIA is an association and created as a non-profit organization under the US tax code. Here is a hyperlink to our story. CompTIA is the only global IT association for the IT industry and for the IT professional. Nobody does what CompTIA does.

Can you talk about the "industry studies" that are released annually?

CompTIA has a research department dedicated do studying trends and the state of the global IT industry. Our goal is to keep the industry informed.

Here are two very interesting reports published in 2017 about some key megatrends, Building Digital Organizations 2017 and A Functional IT Framework. Every IT professional needs to understand and be aware of these trends because what is very clear is that just being technically competent isn’t enough. You need to understand all aspects of the organization for which you work including accounting, finance, marketing, logistics, products, etc.

Here is a hyperlink to find other CompTIA research. CompTIA’s mission is to be the "go to" place for information about the global IT industry.

How long does a certification last for?

It depends on the certification. Most CompTIA technical certifications need to be refreshed every three years. CompTIA Project+ and CompTIA CTT+ are good for life. Here is a link to understand how to keep your technical certifications active.

Are there any future certs coming from CompTIA?

Yes, we are very excited about the impending launch of the CompTIA PenTest+ certification later in 2018. Here is a hyperlink to the information page about this certification including information about the beta exam that will be launched on January 31. Contact me in a month and I will have much more information on this certification. Additionally, monitor the CompTIA-Caribbean Facebook page and LinkedIn group to find announcements in future information. Other certifications will see updates launched this year.

What advice is there for students preparing for a CompTIA exam?

Self-study should not be the first method of study to prepare for an IT certification exam. We know statistically, that over 70% of the people who use self-study are not successful. CompTIA certifications are very comprehensive professional certifications and many people underestimate them. I would only recommend self-study for a working professional with a minimum of 1 year of active IT work experience.

If you do self-study, invest in good, published study materials. The easiest way to find them is to contact me and I can point you in the right direction. Be careful of "free materials" and "samples". They are not complete and probably wrong.

Look for a CompTIA Authorized Learning partner. Yes, unfortunately, there are "wolves in sheep’s clothing" i.e. unauthorized training programs that claim to be an authorized partner. Again, contact me for guidance.

There are some excellent distance learning programs in English and Spanish for some CompTIA certifications. So, if you have difficulty with attending in-person training, you have distance learning as an option. Again, contact me for references.

If you are taking a formal training course, stay away from courses that are taught in the “boot camp” style, 5 days, 40 hours in one week. This is not a best practice in instruction and you will not be ready for the tests at the end of the course. Look for programs that are delivered over multiple weeks allowing you to prepare and digest each session. Basically, when you leave the last session of the course, you should be able to walk into a testing center with confidence.

Make sure the instructor holds the current version of the CompTIA certification that he/she is teaching. That is a requirement of the CompTIA program. Ask them to confirm that they are. You can contact me to confirm this.

Additionally, if the training program is not using published learning materials, be aware. Every CompTIA learning partner should be using published learning materials, not home-made materials. CompTIA is now a publisher and going forward you will see more about CompTIA Official Study Materials.

Always download the exam objectives for any certification for which you are preparing. The objectives tell you what is covered in the test and they are an excellent study tool. Additionally, if you are taking a class and the instructor doesn’t give you the exam objectives on the first day, ask for them. The instructor should be following the objectives to ensure that everything is being covered.

Finally, when you are ready to take the test, contact me for a discount coupon. I have had an initiative now for a few years to provide discounts to anyone who is taking a CompTIA certification exam.

Anything else you would like to add?
  • To begin, when in doubt, contact me directly. (*Blog editor's note - LATAM homepage which I linked to where "contact me" was mentioned has Leonard's number, skype and email. His linkedin is here.)
  • CompTIA certifications are globally recognized professional certifications. They are difficult and require hard work, but they also prepare you for your job and get you the interview.
  • Above I provided links to our social media pages. These are excellent resources to keep you current and to get accurate information. There are a lot of Facebook pages and other social that are misleading and many times, dead wrong. My favorite are the people who hate their jobs and blame everyone for their situation, influencing young, uninformed people by their narrow-mindedness. If you want to know about CompTIA, go to an official CompTIA page.
  • Finally, my job is to help new and current professionals grow in their careers. I am here to help.
Friday, 26 January 2018

My Takeaways from the TTIGF 2018 Forum

Here are my takeaway notes (sometimes paraphrased) and what I got out of the conversations and speeches from the event which I shared on twitter under the hashtag #TTIGF2018. Contact TTIGF/TTMAG if you would like to get involved in the work they do. The stream was recorded and should be on their YouTube and Facebook. The organisers did a good job including a stream that worked mostly well and they are easy to engage with online. Also share your thoughts with me in the comments below. Persons were urged to complete the survey and feedback form that will be circulated post event.

Welcome and keynote

  • The empowering benefits of the internet but there are challenges like the chunk of persons still without internet access.
  • Another key issue is Digital Rights (defined on wiki as "the human rights that allow individuals to access, use, create, and publish digital media or to access and use computers, other electronic devices, or communications networks.")
  • Trinidad and Tobago is very active in the CTO (Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation) and supportive of their agenda.

Panel - Digital Financial Services

  • How blockchain and other digital developments can be used to tackle the problem of the unbanked.
  • Internet Governance Forum is multi-stakeholder, bottom up and open in tackling issues and finding solutions.
  • I appreciate what is being done locally like WiPAY but I also want to see support for the global options like PayPal and Samsung Pay.
  • Lack of widespread info on ecommerce options and what needs to happen locally (plug for the importance of tech bloggers).
  • Education and about safeguards key to getting public buy in for digital payment solutions.
  • LINX not an ecommerce payment gateway because it is not seen as a (main) strategy point for the banks (at this point) and would also require agreement from all banks (the owners of LINX).
  • Businesses. Web development and ecommerce should be seen as business development and an investment. Prioritize it in your budgeting.

Panel - Gender Activism Online

  • Citizen lobby is key to changing things and social media and tech tools can drive this.
  • Online is not disconnected from offline and our cultural traits would apply to online behaviors.
  • Social media is empowering because of how accessible it is especially compared to traditional media but should be used responsibly.
  • We have to be careful about the vanity of social media and the ridiculousness. We can steer the conversation and be solution oriented.

Panel - Blockchain

  • Blockchain has the potential to change how things are done and this is across industries.
  • We need to delink the concepts of blockchain and bitcoin. Blockchain can be used otherwise.
  • Blockchain for solutions for areas like the unbanked and referendums and transparency.
  • The role of the central bank in regulating blockchain and crytocurrency
  • Is there chance of monetary union in the Caribbean and where is blockchain in that picture?
  • How do we overcome the hesitation by country decision makers to fix things and use tech in that regard?

Open Forum

  • Internet Governance Forum aims to be open, inclusive, transparent, bottom up and non-commercial (not to be confused with donations and support with no strings attached).
  • Tricky question. Should the government have some control of our internet access in Trinidad for whatever reasons especially sovereign issues? (Personal feeling - I would say no and that the openness of the internet is very valuable).
  • What happens after this forum? This will probably be a key feature of the next TTIGF and a reminder that this has only been the 2nd such forum in Trinidad.
  • Suggestion was made for an internet hall of fame for Trinidad (*ahem* Section for tech bloggers please).

Useful Links

  1. Trinidad internet penetration stats
  2. Launch of national ecommerce strategy
  3. Photos from ISOC Canada/Glenn McKnight
  4. WIPAY, Local Payment Platform
  5. TTIGF 2018 recorded livestream
  6. EFF talks about the IGF
  7. The blockchain as business lubricator 
  8. A tipping point for the Internet: 10 predictions for 2018
  9. e-Estonia — We have built a digital society and so can you
  10. TTIGF 2017 meeting summary report
Saturday, 20 January 2018

Q and A with Peter Van der Gracht - Keynote Speaker for upcoming ICT Pro TT Conference

Their website describes the upcoming conference as a regional Technology Conference hosting an array of like-minded ICT and Business Professionals. It is a two day event for knowledge sharing and networking involving presentations and exhibitors. Breakfast and lunch will be served and there is a party at the end of day 2.

There is a call for session speakers on the website - the theme is Ignite Your Digital Transformation. I reached out to Peter (keynote speaker) to share some words by answering some questions. Peter is a successful start-up veteran with many years experience and recipient of numerous awards for entrepreneurship and innovation.

Briefly tell us about yourself and your participation in the ICT Pro TT event?

I have a forty year history as a serial tech entrepreneur with seven startups and five exits.

Can you give a hint at what your keynote will be about?

I will talk about "digital disruption" and how companies can prosper rather than suffer.

What are 5 concrete things that any business can do today to achieve "transformation with ICT"?

One, a recognition that every business is at risk, it is not someone else's problem.
Two, think big. What big changes could change you business.
Three, focus. What is first?
Four, don't use an RFP to select innovation partners. RFPs are too prescriptive. Use outcomes based evaluations.
Five, get everyone's buy-in and don't punish bumps along the way.

I came across an article where you said "we think work should be fun", can you expand on this in today's context?

See #5 above. Change is unsettling but will also be exciting.

What do you know about the ICT space in Trinidad and Tobago?

Not much. I am keen to meet the ecosystem and learn.

And with that knowledge, where and how do you think we (Trinidad) need to use ICT?

I think the focus should be on industry sectors with the most acceptance of innovation. With a few early successes others will follow.

Do you think 3 mobile providers is too much for a country the size of Trinidad and Tobago?

No comment. It took CANADA decades to get beyond three.

What are some future trends that you think businesses should follow?

Digital disruption is everywhere. Buckle-up.

Anything else you would like to add?

Embrace innovation. It's coming regardless.
Friday, 19 January 2018

UIKit Collapsible and Toggle Dropdown Menu On Mobile

I rebuilt my professional website from scratch (no template) using the latest UIKit. It got a performance grade of "A 98" and load time of 1.17 seconds when tested on pingdom tools. One of the things I needed to do was make my navbar menu collapse to a toggle dropdown menu on smaller screens. UIKit defines smaller screens as less than 640 px. Below is how I went about getting this done.

I looked at the documentation and the "open test" examples and copied the toggle drop down code from there. This gave me a dropdown with a margin and drop shadow and white background. I needed to change this. I looked in the UIKit css for all references of "uk-navbar-dropdown" and found "uk-navbar-dropdown-dropbar" that removes the margin and shadow. To get a background that matched my navbar I used uk-background-muted.

For the menu to collapse on mobile I had to create a flat menu and a toggle menu and specify visibility for both. For the flat menu I used class="uk-navbar-nav uk-visible@s" and for the toggle menu I used class="uk-hidden@s". Then I wanted to align the menu items to the right using uk-text-right. You can view source on my website to get the source code.

Any questions or comments just message me. It is not that complicated but I did not find this documented exactly anywhere and from my Google searches persons have been asking about this functionality (like here).
Thursday, 18 January 2018

WASA Mobile App Launched

The Water and Sewage Authority has launched their mobile app. Not surprising the UI is old fashioned and stocky. It does offer some key functions like ordering a water truck supply and reporting a leak on the map. Unfortunately it does not allow me to see my bill details but only a balance due and it is only available on Android at the moment. Personally I prefer to pay all my bills through online banking instead of exposing my credit card details on various websites unnecessarily. I feel like in Trinidad you have to incentivise these things to push it forward quicker e.g. a chance to win a smartphone if you perform a transaction through the app and website. Also, is the WASA app dev team speaking to the TTEC app dev team to learn from each other? I have contacted the WASA app admin to get their input.

Link to WASA's app here play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.utility.app&hl=en

Please share your thoughts with me as I am working on a review of this app. See my last app review here - Magna Rewards App Review and checkout this report in the Newsday - WASA launches app…easier to pay bills.