Book Review – Stop Wasting Time

Stop Wasting Time

Stop Wasting Time: End Procrastination in 5 Weeks with Proven Productivity Techniques is the type of book that I should’ve years ago. While indeed I read the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (book review pending), this book takes a more practical approach rather than a motivational one. Not to say that I wasn’t motivated from this book, far from it. Instead this book is well structured into a five week program with useful techniques to get over the incredibly tough hurdle of procrastination.

This book starts by identifying what causes procrastination, and what type of procrastinator are you, and the different reasons why we procrastinate. I think we’ve all heard the phrase “I don’t have enough time to do this..”, practically as an excuse to not do such thing. Well, theirs a reason for such behavior and this book outlines the causes, and its solutions.

To get the most of of this book, you’ll have to follow along the exercises covered in it. The requirements are simple, just a notebook and the willingness to have a drastic lifestyle change. In my case since I’m a digital junkie, I used a slightly different approach to follow along, ie using a private Doku Wiki site and GitLab’s Project management features (awesome free tool that makes it really easy to create Kaban-style boards!)

At just under 200 pages, this book is one where you can easily re-read again, to keep your mind refreshed and in tracked. It’s not the silver bullet to end procrastination, but definitely a good resource to break that terrible habit!

Yet another HR friendly document


As I start to delve into the world of Microsoft’s Azure cloud, and being what it seems to be an IT certification hoarder, I’ve decided to take the beginner level AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam to start my Azure certification journey. The exam is equivalent to the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and the cloud neutral certification CompTIA Cloud Essentials+, both of which I have. Since I’m completely new Azure, this served as a perfect starting point to start learning this awesome public cloud. I’ve recently started a new job that requires me to have extensive Azure skills, so I’ve been using the platform professionally for just under a month. The exam preparation was literally my introduction to Azure.

For the study material, Microsoft offers some really good self-paced training for the exam, free of charge. In addition, I also used the Udemy AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam Prep course. Given that the exam objectives are regarding the core Azure services at a high-level, I think these two training materials are more than sufficient for anyone who already knows another cloud platform like AWS, and wants to have the core foundational knowledge to be successful in Azure and pass the AZ-900 exam.

The exam itself was recently updated a few days ago, so I studied using the old exam objects. I did, however reviewed the changes and made sure I was completely familiar with the changes. Thus said, this has to be the most easiest IT certification exam that I’ve taking so far, it was also the shortest. I finished the exam in about 35 minutes!

This is just the beginning, my goal is to obtain the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate and Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate by the end of this year. Both of which will be much more difficult to obtain.

Guts, The Black Swordsman – Prime 1 Studios Statue

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Guts, The Black Swordsman Berserk has surpassed the Sauron Sideshow Premium Format as my favorite statue in my entire collection. Being my first 1/3 scale statue, can I see why people love this scale over any other. The majority of my collection consists of 1/6 and 1/4 scale statues, and this one completely towers over all pieces in my collection. It has such a massive presence in my room, it’s definitely the center piece in my collection!

Long sold out, I originally I eyed this statue back when it was still available at the Prime 1 Studio website. At that time, I opted to not buy it, and instead purchased the Threezero Guts Berserker Armor 1/6 figure. After watching many unboxing and reviews on YouTube, I later completely regretted my decision of not buying the 1/3 scale Guts, The Black Swordsman Berserk by Prime 1 Studios statue. So my hunt for this statue started. My biggest mistake of not purchasing the statue back when it was still available was just a start, I soon realized how I under looked the massive cult following Berserk has. This manifested itself in people asking for outrages prices for this statue. I was certainly not going to be paying what eBay sellers were asking, so this meant I was going to find this statue either by a local seller or by a Facebook statue collector group.

As luck would have it, someone was selling the statue on a Facebook statue collector group for a really good price. Buying from a Facebook statue group seller, you have to do your due diligence. Since unfortunately scammers are real problem. In my case, the seller was from California and his profile looked legit; a quick Google search I was able to confirmed that I was dealing with a real person and not a scammer. Also, the seller was including an option to pickup the statue. So given that the seller was in California, I choose the option to pickup the statue. Unfortunately I soon realized that my car was not big enough to fit the two massive boxes! This lead me to go for the shipping option. The seller was very quick informative and commutative, so just two days later I had the statue in house. Overall, I was extremely lucky that I buying from a trusted seller.

About the statue itself. It is my favorite piece in my collection! I have 442/600 Deluxe Edition. The statue comes with four head sculpts, each head sculpt has its own stand if you want to display them along side the statue or anywhere else.

Also the statues has two poses, one where Guts is holding the massive Dragon Slayer sword posed behind his back and the other where he is holding the Dragon Slayer sword in front of him. I opted with the latter display, however this is going to be one of the few occasions where I’m to be switching displays as both are equally good. In addition to the different head sculpts and sword display options, the statue comes with two variants of Puck that go on top of Gut’s left shoulder. For this display option I opted to not use it at all, mainly because just trying to put in the Puck into Gut’s shoulder, I was scared that I was going to break the statue! I like the cloth cloak that the statue comes with, however this makes it extremely difficult to insert Puck. Lastly, the base on this statue is extremely heavy!

The only negative thing I could find with this statue is that the Brand of Sacrifice is not bright red as it was shown in the prototype. I’m not a big fan of battery powered light-up features on statues, and this case is not the exception. I would’ve like that the Brand of Sacrifice to be bright red without the need of a light-up feature.

I can’t wait to receive my 1/3 Geralt of Rivia statue by Prime 1 Studio as both statues will pair beautifully and more importantly both will showcase two of my favorite protagonists in all of Fantasy.

Book Review – ¡Santiago y cierra, España!

¡Santiago y cierra, España! (St. James, Close, and Spain) is the third and final volume by
José Javier Esparza on the Reconquista. This book starts after the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa. This particular era of the Reconquista (1212-1492) is really well documented, so I was surprised to see that this book was not as massive as the previous volume Book Review – Moros y Cristianos. This is my only negative view of this book, as it could’ve easily been another 1,000 page chunker, but it was barely half of that.

In this book we get to read about the epic crusades waged by James I of Aragon and Fernando III of Castile and Leon, the crusades to capture the straight of Gibraltar in the 14th century, and concluding with the crusades to conquer The Kingdom of Granada. If their is one era of the medieval Spain that I’m somewhat less knowledgeable in, is the 14th century (1300-1400). So to me this book was an introduction to that century, or terrible century since now I know why that century didn’t really made much progress in the expansion in the Iberia Peninsula. In addition, I learned the involvement and collateral damage The Hundred Year’s War caused in the Spanish realms.

The subtitle of this book “El nacimiento de una nacion” (The birth of a nation), is rather interesting since the latter portions of this book make the argument on why all Christian realms of Iberia Peninsula (including Portugal) end goal was unification.

To conclude, I must mention that the term “¡Santiago y cierra, España!” is originally a battle cry shouted by Spanish crusaders. Thus said, contemporary this phrase is also used (or high-jacked) by ultra far-right fascists in Spain. While I don’t know what are the author’s political beliefs, not once did I had an impression that these books were written with a biased political views associated with them. Of course theirs some nationalism associated, but this doesn’t affected how the historical events are presented to the reader.

If you want to learn about the epic events of what is known to history as the “Reconquista”, I would definitely highly recommend anyone to read this book series.

Book 1: La Gran aventura del reino de Asturias
Book 2: Moros y Cristianos
Book 3: ¡Santiago y cierra, España!

As the cliché phrase states “Something ends, something begins”, with this book the Reconquista ends, and new era begins and that is the “Age of Discovery”. Of which this had already manifested long before the fall of The Kingdom of Granada, with the expansion of Portugal into Africa, and of The Crown of Aragon into the Mediterranean. Knowing how everything is interconnected gives me more appreciation to how fascinating history is.

Yet Another HR Friendly Document


Over a year late, but I finally managed to complete my AWS Associate level trifecta certifications by passing the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator exam this past Friday. I obtained the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification on November 2019 and the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification on September 2020. The Solutions Architect certification is by far the easiest of all three, while the SysOps Administrator is the most difficult of all three.

As far as the study material, I used Stephane Maarek’s Ultimate AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate 2022 and Neal Davis’ AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associate 2022 courses. Both courses, are a combined of almost 40 hours worth of training material. I come from a moderately heavy AWS background, so I think anyone with at least an intermediate to advance level experience working in AWS environment, really only just need these two great courses to pass the exam. Thus said, unlike the Solutions Architect Associate and Developer Associate, I feel this certification does require to have real world experience or at least substantial hands-on training before taking the test!

One thing about this certification in particular, although not in its entirely, but at least it’s finally using actual hands-on AWS labs scenarios, instead of the entire exam being the traditional question and answer test. I love this new hands-on approach, since in my point of view, its truly the only way it can solidify whether or not an exam candidate is competent sufficient to actually solve AWS related problems.

What’s next?
My AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification expires on November 2022, so my next goal is to obtain the more advanced AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional before the Associate level one expires.

Templar’s Reign Statue

Templar's Reign Statue

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Templar's Reign Statue

Given that Sideshow’s new policy of their rewards points expiring, last year I found myself with about $80 worth of credit available to use before it completely expired. At first, I thought about using my available credit by purchasing an art print. However somehow within the Sideshow website, I happened to stumbled across The Templar’s Reign statue by Quarantine Studio. I instantly became excited because I’m a big medieval history geek, in addition also the first thing that peaked my interest was the fact that it was listed as an 1:6 scale statue. I immediately thought this would be a perfect fit with my current 1:6 Elder Scrolls statue collection, and boy it sure does!

At just $280, I think it is an absolute bargain. You get three head sculpts: the traditional crusader knight helm, a regular un helmeted portrait, and lastly an undead version.

The statue itself has a very small footprint. The templar is leaping from what appears to be some sort of stone wall, with a sword raised on his right hand, while his left hand has a wooden shield. Next to him is a banner of St. George. The paint on the statue is really good. The blood splatter on the cloak and shield is done really well, which helps to tell a story.

Overall, I’m completely happy with my purchase, it far exceeded my expectations. The statue is soldout on Sideshow’s website, but it appears Quarantine Studio to be still be selling it on their website. https://quarantinestudio.com/product/templars-reign-prepainted-statue/
My statue is 50 out of 200 edition. While it’s a very short edition size I’m kind of hoping the statue sells well so that the studio can do more medieval based statues with their unique horror element to it.

Reconquista Timeline and GitHub Pages

Website URL: https://alpha01.github.io/reconquista-timeline/
GitHub Repository: https://github.com/alpha01/reconquista-timeline

I’m somewhat of a Hispanic history nerd, particularly the Reconquista Era. I’ve read about 20+ books on this subject, have three regular journal notebooks scattered with lots of different notes. I love book journaling, however this form of research and study does have it’s drawbacks. The main one, my notes are not easily “searchable” and more importantly if I lose my journal notebooks, I lose my notes! While I’m still going to continue to use my book journal, I’ve started to migrate my notes to a digital format as well.

As I continue to port my notes to word documents. I wanted to also create a simple easy to follow timeline. While theirs some Reconquista timelimes out there, I wanted to create one from scratch. Solely based on my notes and research. I immediately recalled a cool timeline web-based app called “Life”. I’ve used this app a few years ago, and was a big fan of its simplicity. Although the project hasn’t been updated in years, it’s not using any web frameworks. So decided to use this application for my Reconquista timeline. As stated, the app doesn’t use any web framework, so simple changes can be done using plain vanilla JavaScript and CSS.

Simple, well sort off. I’m not a Web Developer, nor would I claim to be one. Thus said, I’ve done plenty of back-end web development in my previous jobs, so depending on the stack, I feel confident tackling complex problems.
While in the past, I’ve considered switching careers from a Linux Systems Adminstrator / DevOps / SRE Engieer role towards a more developer only focused role rather than a hybrid. The primary reason why I didn’t pursued this career change has because of how incredible complex (and ugly) are front-end technologies. Just working with JavaScript alone adds fuel to my disdain towards disdain towards front-end development (I’m not going to mention NodeJS and npm!). For just about any front-end related work that I do, I always find myself “Googling” my way through a problem!

Since the application is fully static, this gave me the perfect opportunity to try out GitHub Pages for the first time. I must say, GitHub Pages is awesome. The setup is dead simple, simply select the branch in the configuration settings, and GitHub automatically adds the corresponding event Action to build and publish site. Funny enough, GitHub Pages uses Varnish which is what I also use on my webapps for HTTP accelerator/caching proxy features. Making changes are instantly, I haven’t noticed any stale caches. GitHub Pages is an awesome service, and it’s free! (only for public repos)

Book Review – First Templar Nation

First Templar Nation

First Templar Nation: How Eleven Knights Created a New Country and Refuge for the Grail by Freddy Silva is a fascinating book. I consider my knowledge of the history of The Kingdom of Portugal to be fairly strong. Including the first county of Portugal (which is not mentioned in this book). However, I learned a ton of new stuff regarding the involvement of different people both in The Kingdom of Jerusalem and what would end up being The Kingdom of Portugal. Although the Templars were the focal point, this connection was definitely not just limit to them. This book does a great job introducing the important involved in the creation of The Kingdom of Portugal. In this book uou’ll learn about the first crusade, and the difference between a Templar and a crusader.

The author is a brilliant researcher, just about every important claim is well sourced. That’s something more historians need to do! My only problem with this book is that it lacked of a proper history editor to review it. For example simple things like confusing the Holy Roman Empire with the Byzantine Empire. Also, as a medieval Hispanic history geek, I don’t agree with some of the terminology used through the book.

Coming in to this book, I knew off the bat that it was going to be more of a contrarian approach. Even on the back of the book itself, it’s labeled under the “Secret Societies” category rather than “History”. There were certainly many “controversial” topics covered in the book, some of them are well connected, while others are completely out there and in my opinion don’t really have a good argument.

Lastly, this book is only focused on the Templar Order in Portugal. It doesn’t even mention the Order’s involvement in other Spanish Christian realms, like Aragon for example; where the Orders of The Temple, Hospital, and Holy Sepulcher were bequeathed the entire kingdom!

Yet Another HR Friendly Document

I’ve been naming these posts as “Yet another friendly HR document”, but now that I think of it, these really should be called “Yet another manager friendly document” instead. But I digress.

This time around, I successfully passed and obtained the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) certification. The majority of the exam overlaps the Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD), however what makes this certification apart is that it is more administrator focused, hence it is a little more difficult to pass. If you plan on just taking this exam with only course training material for the CKAD, then you’re most certainly to NOT pass the CKA exam.

I found CKAD to be a relatively easy exam to pass. The CKA in contrast, while it wasn’t to difficult, so I thought until I saw my actual passing score (73). The exam does require a higher knowledge of Kubernetes. One thing I really like about these hands-on lab exams is that either you know the content or you don’t. Exam crams of memorizing things is practically irrelevant, compared to other normal question and answer certification exams. There aren’t any trick gotcha questions, all questions are straight forward. Thus said, I did had one exam question that I’m convinced there was a mistake on the actual question or there was a problem with the cluster where I had to complete the task in to get credit.

I don’t watch any movies


People seem to get shocked whenever I tell them that I don’t watch any movies, this also includes regular (live acting) TV shows. Over the last 20 years, I’ve gone to a movie theatre no more than 5 times (at least that I remember), and I had some fairly good excuses to do so. All of which I didn’t wanted to take the initiative to do so but was to oblige given the circumstances. Like needing to kill off time while my car was having some major lengthy service, and accompanying friends while already being in a semi-drunken state.

Back Story
I really didn’t paid much attention why that was cause, but now analyzing, it’s quite obvious why I don’t find movies (or any sort of live action television program) interesting. The most obvious, I didn’t grew up watching them. Sure, I did watched the classic 90’s Disney movies (I’m a 90’s kid), but these were mainly in school or because of a family member that happened to own such movies. Again, it never really wasn’t my initiative to willingly go about to watch a movie, it was just the mere circumstances that made me watch them.

Movie/TV Alternatives: Music and AM Radio
So I didn’t watched any movies, the one thing I did do was to obsessively listen to music and AM radio. While both of these are polar opposites, the medium of such entertainment was listening and not a visual approach like a movie or TV show. For music it was mostly heavy metal, and for AM radio it was mostly soccer talk radio. The latter having the most profound impact on me. For starters it made be love the sport but more importantly, during the 90’s and up till the last 2000s, the only way to consume live soccer matches was through the radio. Not knowing this at the time, but this alone would have such a profound impact on me. I would literally picture the game in my head, where in my mind I felt like I was watching the game. Nowadays, practically all live soccer matches broadcasts are available (free or paid subscription), yet I still prefer to rather listen to YouTubers call the matches, similar to the old traditional radio format, than rather watching the match on TV!

Music is an interesting one as I no longer listen to any new metal music. But rather, I now obsessively listen to Epic and Neo Orchestra music. The beautiful irony with type of music genre is that this is what gets used on movie soundtracks! I found this type of music to be extremely beautiful and I also get to build a story in head based on the music that I’m listening too. It’s somewhat difficult to explain, but whenever I’m listing to this type of music (I can literally listen to the same song on loop for hours!), it stimulates my imagination up to a point where I can create a story with the help on what I’m listening too.


(A beautiful song that made me shed a tear to two)

Impact on me
The whole notion of creating stories (or soccer games) in my head has lead me to some rather weird hobbies. Like watching random YouTube Vloggers on mute, while listening to music in the background. All of this to build a story based what I’m seeing (YouTube) and what I’m listening to (music). Another quirky hobby that I enjoy is “people-watching”, again to also build stories in my head based on the behaviors that I see people doing. Lastly, the last weird hobby, and to me the most important, is just simply creating and writing stories.

The Exception to the Rule
The only movies that I willing sought to see were the Lord of the Rings, and Hobbit trilogies (both of which I own on Blue Ray). These movies are interesting. I can see why people love them, and I agree they’re visually great films. However, I found these movies to be “meh”, and lackluster compared to the novels. In fact, I now tend to believe that these movies are doing a great harm to the novels, since people tend to watch them first prior to reading the books (that’s even if they decide to read them!), and by doing so they’re letting their imagination be subjected to Peter Jackson’s vision rather than J.R.R. Tolkien.

Conclusion
In my opinion, the best form of story telling can only be done in a book; outshining anything a movie, TV show or even a video game to certain point (technically not all video games are live action, so it does have that layer fictional element). Even though movies or TV shows, may be visually beautiful, in my opinion that particular form of story telling does not stimulate my imagination the way a book does. I don’t watch any movies, nor am I planning to do so. At least not anything live action.