Japanese Lesson Update Week 4

I just finished my 4th week’s lesson and all the sudden I feel like the learning is about to get serious. Why is this? Well. we started to talk about Hiragana with Diacritical Marks, Transcribing Contracted Sounds, double consonants, and finally long vowels.

My instructor directed me to new course materials.

Genki -An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese Book

Personally, I found the Diacritical Marks the ga,gi,gu,ge,go… the hardest to pronounce. That is because it doesn’t pronounce like a G, but another sound that I can’t quite describe.

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Japanese Lessons Update Week 3

I feel like I am at a plateau. Since I asked my instructor to start me from the begining. My progress is faster because I’ve been self studying with lots of different apps. However, I do not feel like I am making huge progress right now. This week we are close to finishing the original sounds for the Japanese phonics. It was easy for me since I’ve already know most from studying from the different apps.

I am hoping that this is a build up week and I have to keep myself motivated so I don’t slow down my learning momentum.

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Japanese Lessons Update Week 2

So I’ve been working on learning Japanese. I had my second Amazing Talker lesson this past Sunday and it was great my 50 minutes lesson just flew by. Even though I am just going over the basic phonics with my instructor, I’ve learned that I’ve been pronouncing a lot of different Hiragana characters incorrectly. My instructor was extremely patient and encouraging. We spend a lot of time working on my writing and pronunciation of the characters, we also worked on a few new vocabularies based on the characters that we learned.

Overall this is a baby step week.

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First online lesson

Few years ago, I decided I want to take some Japanese classes, so I decided to sign up for an intro Japanese class at the local community college. I thought that would be a great idea and was hopeful to jump start my language learning. Unfortunately, that was not the case. The problem with learning from CC instructor, was that she was teaching the language to Americans and she was teaching the language using romaji only. With works sound like Chinese, it really was very difficult. So when I am ready to try again, I want to find an instructor that can speak Chinese (from Taiwan), English, and Japanese. The reason for the three language requirement is because I think this will be the best to help me find the short cut to pick up the new language. So the question is how do I do that?

Enters Amazing Talker !!!

So there are couple of online language learning sites, but I decided to go with Amazing Talker because of my research based on youtube. Also because of the number of Taiwanese Chinese speakers that are instructors on Amazing Talker. So with that said, I signed up for a trial and gave it a shot. So yesterday was my first lesson.

The first lesson was only 25 minutes instead of 50, but it get you an introduction to the instructor. As I stated in my previous post, I’ve been self studying the Japanese phonics for a while and I thought with my flash cards and APPs I was doing well. However, when I was working with the instructor, I realized that I don’t know anything. I guess it is the pressure of speaking in front of another person, I would panic and stress trying to identify the characters and sounds.

All in all the first lesson ended pretty quickly, mostly cover the basic sounds and also did some basic writing. The instructor provide homework to work on my writing skill and understanding skills. As for the effectivensess of Amazing Talker? I don’t know yet. I will keep you guys updated.

But if you want to give it a try yourself, try using my link below. The link will give you $20 credit which means intro session will be FREE!!! and it also give me $10 credit so I can continue my quest!!

CLICK HERE FOR $20 to Amazing Talker!!

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Learning tools for Japanese

So the year is 2019, I don’t have to learn Japanese like it’s 1985, that was when I was learning English. (with flash cards and listening to cassettes over and over. So let’s look at some of the modern tools that I am currently using to help me with my quest to learn Japanese.

The current immediate goal is to able to read and understand the basic phonics, in other words, read Hiragana (平仮名) and Katakana (片仮名).

So I decide to do the following:

Duolingo – app on my iphone
MEMRISE – 2nd app on my iphone

I am using the free version of both apps currently. I am still seeing if it is worthwhile to do the paid version or not. Stay tuned for an update.

Flash Cards
Originally, I was planning on doing some old flashing index cards, but since I had some printable business cards, I figure why not create a flash card with these printable business cards and guess what, they turned out amazing!!! So the best part is that the PDF is below and feel free to use them.

Also if you need the printable business cards, just buy them below.
Avery Printable Business Card (5871)

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Update (7-23-2019):

Flash cards!!!
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Learning Japanese

… Few years later … 🙂

So I’ve been thinking about learning Japanese for few years now. I even bought 3 books in the past about learning Japanese. I even took a intro to japanese class in the local community college, which was a total waste of time. My problem is that I am a native Chinese speaker. Alot of the Kanji are easy for me and I am having a very hard time switching my mind to Japanese.

With some motivation recently, I decided to give it a go. I mean, I got my PE and CISSP by myself. I am sure I can do the same with Japanese. Ok maybe it will be like tennis I need some help from tutors and coaches but I think it is doable. So I will try to document my experience here similar to my previous CISSP experiences here in Cert Circus. The difference is I am not going to take any exams. I don’t need that kind of stress in my life. But I hope my experience, will be helpful to others. Please feel free to leave comments to let me know if it was helpful.

So as with all things, everything should begin with a goal!!!

MY GOAL is going to Japan at the end of 2019! I want to understand Japanese while I am there. Now, the detail of that goal, is floating, but that is the ways to start.

So what’s the game plan??

1. Learn the Japanese Phonics (Hirakana, Katakana)
2. Get an online tutor and work with them weekly
3. ???

Just kidding of 3 and 4… I think 3 and 4 is really TBD (To Be Determined).

More to come soon!!!

… so for I know when I created this site, it was designed for technical certs, and even though I am at the stage of my life that I want to do more than improving on my technical certs, I think this is still a good place to update my adventure.

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You’re Almost There !!!

So after 6 month of studying and 2 weeks of intense studying, I passed my CISSP exam, yesterday.  Since I am under NDA, I can’t share any specific questions or answers but I can talk about my experience.  To be honest, even now I still don’t know which are the correct  answer to some of the questions on the exam.  They are like this post I saw on Reddit.

Which of the following add up to six?

A: 9-3

B: 0+6

C: 4+2

D: 12/2

Like many people have already talked about, the exam is more management exam than technical, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t a specific technical question popped in there once in a while.  So just be prepared and really read the questions twice before answering.  if you can’t understand it the first time, skip for flag it and come back.  you will get it after about 150 questions later.

First, I have to apologize for not keeping up with this blog.  The intention was to post my learning as a way to refresh myself, but as work got busy, I fell behind.  But I may continue to post things I learned about security on this site to help others.  So let’s talk about what I used to study for this exam.

As I stated from my previous post, I started to use the following books.

NOTE:  The Eric Conrad book was only $1 dollar!!!!! Yes!!! $1. Use the link above and use promo code: ONESALE!!!  What a great deal.  [1]

  •  I also used this website for my practice test questions


My study process and exam experience:

After I signed up the the CISSPexampractice.com, I’ve been working on at least one exam every week.  I made a note book of all the topics that I miss on the exam and I try to review those every morning.  However, the reality is that process did not really happen until 5 days before the exam.

So, I finished the CISSP in 21 days and the God awful Shon Harris’ AIO book around 1.5 weeks before my exam, I then started to do nothing but practice exam questions. I also did every section exam in Shon Harris’ book and Eric Conrad’s book and the free exam on Eric Conrad’s website.  I was consistently getting around 70%.   As I miss one, I research the topics and read the other books to get the answer.  I write the specific topics to my little notebook for my daily review.  At times it feels that I was jamming so much stuff into my brain that I was about to explode.  Around the last few days I started to find a pattern and a grove to the material and I thought I was ready.   I think I must have done over 1000+ questions.

The day before the exam, I took a day off to study and relax I was going to stop studying around 4 PM and just chill and get ready for the exam, but I ended up studying and finding areas that I am still a bit unsure until 11PM.  I could not fall asleep and I needed up waking up at 5:30 AM for my 8:00AM exam.

It took me 15 minutes to drive to my exam site (I was lucky that there is an exam site really close to where I live).  I tried to hype and psych myself up by listening to some awesome pump up music to get me into the zone… the “DANGER ZONE”.    However, when I got the the exam site, the registration process really mess up my excitement and snap me back to reality.

During the exam:

I am not the best exam taker so I was very nervous, I feel like I know the material but for the first 20-50 questions, I felt like I really did not understand what they were asking.  I marked all the exam questions that I was not sure and I just continue to push through.  I felt a little bit better around question 150, but still uncertain.  I took a short pee break around question 125. There are times during the exam, I really felt that I’ve failed and I will need to think about retaking and when I can retake.  But I continue to take deep breath cool my head and continue to answer the questions (thinking like a consultant and an advisor).  I also was expecting to finish in about 2 1/2 – 3 hours based on my practice tests, but ended up taking 5 hours.  For the last hour, I went through all the flag questions first and then use the remaining 20 minutes to just go through as many questions as I can.

Finishing the exam and receiving my results:

By the time I was done, I was so burnt out I really thought that I failed, even through at the end going through the questions I felt those were the best answers that I can choose.  When the proctor hand me the results sheet, I read the middle of the page and saw “You’re almost there!!!”.   I thought to myself… “DAMN, I failed”.  But for some reason, I could not find my score on the page.  Then reread the page from the beginning and it said “… you passed the CISSP exam”.  Woo hoo!!!   The “You’re almost there!!!” was just referring to that I must get my endorsements submitted before I am officially a CISSP.

I drove home shaking and excited, it’s finally over I can finally sleep 😀 … so time for some beer!!!

My Thought on the different books and study guides

I used both ebooks and hard copies.  I have all 3 main books (AIO, Eric Conrad’s Study Guide, and CISSP CBK) in ebook format.  I have the AIO 6th edition, Eric Conrad’s 11th hour study guide, and the CISSP in 21 days.  I found that iBook on my Macbook pro is extremely helpful in finding the explanation of a particular topic.  I try to search for the topic of my missed questions on all 3 main books.

  1. First Shon Harris’s AIO book is a good reference guide, but it is not a good book to read.  I’ve went through the entire 1456 pages and it sucked!  She is very very wordy some of the concepts are not very clearly explained and some are just confusing enough that it maybe wrong (e.g. polymorphism).  She is also a sexist, all most all the good security scenario examples in the book are referred to by the pronoun “she”, and the bad scenario examples are referred to by the pronoun “he”.  I think the book can probably be written more concisely and reduce about 700 pages.  But with all that said, it is truly an ALL-IN-ONE book.  It really has just about everything and the kitchen sink that you need to know and may need to know for the exam.
  2. The Eric Conrad’s books (CISSP Study Guide, 2nd ed., Eleventh hour: CISSP study guide) are much more straight forward, cleaner layout, and much easier to read.  It was much less confusing than Shon Harris’ book and the examples are much better for a technical guys like me than Shon’s book.    I actually really like the 11th hour CISSP Study Guide for quick reference and few key materials.
  3. CISSP in 21 days is worthless.  The good has so little material and useful information, it is like a very high level outline, without other books there is no way that a person taking the exam for the first time can ever pass with that book.  DO NOT BUY IT!!!

My Final Recommendations: 

If I were to do everything all over again,  here is what I would do.

  1. I would still maintain a schedule for covering all 10 domains.  It is alot of materials
  2. DO NOT USE  Shon Harris’ BOOK as your primary study guide!!!! Use the Eric Conrad’s book.  You will have many less headaches, but do use the AIO book as a reference.
  3. Do lots of practice questions to get the different concepts relating to the 10 domains in your mind.


I am thinking of using my study experiences and help people understand CISSP topics.

I hope this write up helps.  If you have any more questions please let me know.


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Registered for my CISSP exam!

So, today I am officially a register candidate for the CISSP exam.  I am about halfway through my studies and I am consistently getting around 70% on my review questions.  That is not good but it is not horrible.  My exam date is on November 15th, 2013.

The process for sign up was pretty straight forward.  I just followed the steps at ISC2 and after $599 I was registered for the exam.

So counting down T-73 days until my CISSP exam.

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CISSP training 2 months later…

So it has been about 2 month since I seriously started to study for my CISSP exam.   I am about half way there.  I am planning to take my exam in November which is only 2 and half months away or 10 weeks away.    This post is an update of what I am doing for my study so far.

As you are probably aware from my previous posts, I am using the following books and resources for my study.

Primary: Shon Harris’ CISSP All in One book

Secondary: Eric Conrad’s books both the study guide and the 11th hour cram book.

I am also using DreamVoice as my primary text to speech reader to get me through the huge amount of material in Shon Harris’ book.

I was also doing the IT Masters free short course on CISSP, which I just took the final exam last night.


I started to use  http://www.cisspexampractice.com  as a way of tracking my progress and my level of understanding.

The bad news is based on my current assessments, I’ve been getting an average around 70%.  Which in the school world it is a C and in the real world it is not good enough to pass the CISSP exam.

The good news is, I still have 2 months and most of what I missed are sections that I haven’t read or studied.  I am hoping that by the time I get to October, I should be able to get 80% or higher on most of my practice tests.

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Hacking Toyota Prius

While I was walking my dog this morning, I was listening to one of my favorite podcast: Science Friday.  They talked about something I found really interesting.  The topic was about hacking, in particular hacking a Toyota Prius from remote.

White hat  hackers (a.k.a. the good hackers)  at Defcon 2013 was able to show and demonstrate ways to hacking into a Prius from a Bluetooth connections or other external connections.  But the interesting thing was that once they are hacked in to the bluetooth connection, they were able to do damaging task such as preventing the brakes from functioning or turn off all light or display consoles or present false information.
Because of my current study in security and information assurance, this  is really brought in some insight on the interviewer’s comments.  The whitehat hackers suggesting using a layer approach for security, but currently the automakers are simply using security by obscurity.  Both concepts were talked about in detail in my CISSP studies and security by obscurity is a definitely a NO NO.   So the objects for future auto computer systems should be designed around a layered security approach and by minimize the  connections between the different computing system and have a way of logging the events.
This podcast reminds me of the following:
First, it  reminds me of Battlestar Galactica,  where  Battlestar Galactica was an old ship with everything is  communicated by by hand or by by wired and nothing wireless or over the computer network, this is to  prevent hacking from the Cylons.
Second, the podcast mentioned how they were able to duplicate  and inject  control signals/commands in to the system communications bus which can cause events to happen (e.g. shut down all lights, or disable breaks).   With all this intelligence or computing power in a car now, maybe it is time to implement some basic security rules… almost like the 3 laws of robotics?  humm… not exactly but something to think about.
so I think I should go and find a 1969 Mustang and forget about all this high tech stuff … what do you think?

— Ref:
NPR, Science Friday, Hacking Under the Hood and Into Your Car,  http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/08/02/2013/hacking-under-the-hood-and-into-your-car.html

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