Stanley Skarshaug

Bilde © Stanley Skarshaug

Bilde © Stanley Skarshaug

Are you curious about who I am, and what background I have? Well, then you have come to the right page! In this article, you can get some insight into who I am, and what I spend my time doing.

About me

Technical enthusiast - and driven

Ever since I was a child, I have had an enormous interest and fascination with almost every creative discipline. My parents were very encouraging and allowed me to pick everything I owned apart in an attempt to "repair" them. As I grew older, I got my i386 desktop computer from an uncle that ran Windows 95. This computer was my gateway into a youth filled with an obsession with computers. A 128kb ISDN modem enabled me to connect to the mid-90s internet where every (expensive) minute was spent exploring the internet with friends.

Much to my parents' delight, my technical interest was also outside the computer. I loved to make things out of wood and metal, making simple tools and modifying electronic gizmos and later car interior components.

Education

The road to Rome, and beyond?

Despite having a strong passion for IT and electronics, I did not choose to pursue an education in those disciplines. My choice of high school education was mechanical vocations. More specifically, automation mechanics (the art of building industrial robots). Due to many funny and strange coincidences, I became a refrigeration engineer apprentice. After the apprenticeship, I moved to Trondheim and completed a 2-year vocational college education in refrigeration system design. Once that education was over, I went back to the refrigeration industry, working as a project manager and engineer. After a few short years, I started working as a department manager and CEO.

In 2018, while I moving from one job to another, I had to complete a paid non-compete clause. This clause allowed me to finally take a deep dive into Linux, programming Arduino, Android, and Web applications. In addition, I spent a whole lot of time learning about electronics and radios by building FPV drones and having a blast. When I was not wholly geeking out, I spent a lot of time learning more about sociology and psychology. This was a fantastic year of personal growth and development.

After under a year as CEO of the new company, I quit my job to follow my dream of becoming a programmer and working in IT. Finally, after about 13 years in the refrigeration industry, I dared to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an IT professional.

I found a company crazy enough to hire me, and since then, I have been having a blast playing with computers all day long, programming web applications, running cloud servers, and learning as much as possible.

Parallel to working full-time as a full-stack web developer and sysadmin, I have been a part-time student in the Network and Information Security program at Noroff Vocational College since August 2020. Thanks to fantastic colleagues and a great boss, I have had the opportunity to use what I learned during my studies on the job.

Certifications

Formal IT certifications

As part of my Network and Information Security studies, I try to get deeper knowledge in all of the classes by reading books that cover certifications that follow a similar path. I like to follow certification paths because I think that certification represents a standardized and more quantifiable amount of knowledge gained that school programs sometimes lack.

Below is a list of Certifications I have achieved.

Cisco

Cisco's well-known and respected networking certifications provide certificates that validate hands-on skills and theoretical know-how.

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Cisco CCNA 200-301 (Cisco Certified Network Associate)

Basic, but broad certification in network fundamentals, design, and configuration using Cisco networking equipment.

Though the certification is vendor-specific it uses Cisco equipment to teach practical implementation and theory on general networking concepts.

"This certification made me realize how big and deep networking really is."

Huge, and broad certification that forced me to learn a lot about networking theory, design, and hands-on configuration of Cisco equipment.

I went old-school and built a physical lab, using old Cisco equipment, and gradually moved into virtual appliances using "Cisco Packet Tracer" and other labs and study tools like "Boson NetSim".

This certification made me realize how big and deep networking really is. I also learned a lot about how to perform basic layer 2 and 3 hardening to defend against network attacks. As a side-effect of studying for this certification, a lot of the mysterious parts of web development, and the sysadmin world became clear to me. Even though I don't plan on working as a network engineer fulltime, this certification made me a much better IT professional and programmer.

This was a beast of a certification exam that I'm very proud to have passed. The CCNA was the very first IT certification I passed. During my studies, I learned a lot about how and what makes me learn IT-related material. This insight has helped me a lot during further studies and defined how I tackled future education and certifications.

29. October 2021 - 499t

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Cisco CyberOps Accossiate 200-201

Theoretical basic principles of network and information security. A nice big step beyond CompTIA Security+

"This certification really boosted my confidence in security-related topics."

I learned a lot and could make solid connections between the security theory I learned in school, the networking I learned during CCNA, and my experience as a sysadmin and web developer. As my first cybersecurity-focused certification, I learned many concepts that other learning paths assume previous knowledge and insight about.

This certification really boosted my confidence in security-related topics.

15. January 2023 - 213t

OpenEDG Python Institute

Python Institute provides certificates that validate insight and experience with the Python programming language.

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PCEP - Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer

Foundational and thorough certification on foundational Python lexis, syntax, and semantics.

"...great certification exam that tested me on the understanding of foundational Python lexis, syntax, and semantics"

A great certification based on the fantastic PCEP course from the OpenEDG Python Institute. The course, and certification helped me stay motivated to learn and really understand what makes Python special compared to other programming languages.

This was a great certification exam that tested me on the understanding of foundational Python lexis, syntax, and semantics. The exam did not quiz me on pure memorization, but a combination of remembering and understanding how a Python program is written and executed.

5. May 2023 - 188t

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PCAP - Certified Associate in Python Programming

A certification that in combination with PCEP verifies that the student has learned and mastered all the basic building blocks in the Python3 programming language.

"By achieving the PCAP certification in combination with the PCEP certification I can confidently say that I do know the basics of Python."

The PCAP certification covers Object Oriented Programming, exceptions, and exception handling, string manipulation, building and using packages (PIP) and modules, interacting with files both text-based and binary, and interacting with the operating system.

The certification exam was a major step up in difficulty compared to the PCEP certification exam and required me to really rely on a deep understanding of and practical know-how of Python3. Even though this was a multiple choice exam it really made me stop and really analyze and evaluate each option.

The exam questions on object-oriented programming concepts encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism were formed in a shockingly good way to measure real-world insight. I especially struggled with the exam questions on exceptions and exception handling. While preparing for the cert exam I became a lot more skilled in using and analyzing code snippets with exceptions and exception handling.

I'm amazed at how humbling and good this certification exam was. By achieving the PCAP certification in combination with the PCEP certification I can confidently say that I do know the basics of Python3.

The only issue I have with this certification is that the learning material provided by the Python Institute was in no way shape or form enough to learn enough to pass this certification exam. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon videos on YouTube that warned me about this issue. The questions on the exam did go way above and beyond the learning material.

23. June 2023 - 122t

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PCPP1 - Certified Professional in Python Programming 1

The perfect follow-up from PCEP and PCAP certification. This massive certification made me dig deep into advanced topics in Python and helped me discover the deeper details of how Python works under the hood.

The details covered by the certification are something I think every professional programmer needs to be familiar with and be able to implement.

"The exam forced me to become really familiar with advanced OOP concepts and implementations."

A massive certification that made me dig deep into advanced topics in Python such as magic methods, decorators, encapsulations, abstract classes, and metaclasses, It also covered file processing using SQLite, JSON, XML, configparser, and using the logging module. This certificate perfectly complimented the PCEP and PCAP certifications and builds upon the foundation established by those certifications.

I especially loved the part on GUI programming using TKinter. Even though I had some experience with Tkinter, the course gave me a much deeper insight into the fundamentals and details of how to build maintainable GUI applications with Python. The networking part of the course covered generally everything a programmer needs to know when starting to build web services from the ground up and made me realize the power of the requests package.

The certification helped me structure my learning in a great way and made me learn a lot of concepts I probably never would have learned on my own. The exam forced me to become really familiar with advanced OOP concepts and implementations.

The only issue I have with the certification is that the learning material was not nearly enough to pass the certification. Thanks to practice exams on Udemy I was able to spot where the certification expected me to dig deeper than the free official learning material provided by the Python Institute on edube.org.

16. October 2023 - 139t

Microsoft

Microsoft provides certifications to validate insights and experience with their Cloud computing platform Azure.

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Microsoft AZ-900 (Azure Fundamentals)

A basic introduction to the services offered by Azure, and how to connect on-prem services to azure.

"It was an eye-opener to get first-hand experience on how easy it was to navigate and do stuff in Azure compared to other cloud providers..."

This was a very light and easy-to-follow certification and learning material provided by Microsoft on their own learning platform.

The learning material did an excellent job of covering all the fundamental cloud concepts and terms that are both vendor-neutral, and Azure-specific. It also forced me to get my hands dirty with the basics of the configuration and setup of containers and VMs.

It was an eye-opener to get first-hand experience on how easy it was to navigate and do stuff in Azure compared to other cloud providers like AWS.

14. August 2022 - 42t

Cyber Security experience

Capture The Flag and daily work

Rank:

World: 950

Score:

56 539

Badges:

42

Completed rooms:

341

CTFs provide a fun way to learn about Cyber Security, System Administration, and IT in general. They provide a safe and harmless way of testing and gaining experience with tools, techniques, and procedures. I focus my time on TryHackMe because it has proved to be more beginner-friendly and educational than other platforms. In many ways, TryHackMe's gamified learning feels like a real-world role-playing game where I level up my own life.

At work, I try to implement what I learned during my Noroff studies and on TryHackMe. If I learn new concepts that benefit my workplace, I take the initiative to challenge colleagues and management to implement them.

Coding challanges

Gamified problemsolving to learn and hone programming skills

HackerRank is an excellent place to upskill in computer science and programming. The platform provides free coding challenges that help me hone my programming skills in a fun learning environment.

Python

Rank: 112 696

Score: 625

Databases

Rank: 13 350

Score: 94

SQL

Rank: 273 550

Score: 570

The great thing about HackerRank is that each challenge enables you to get your hands dirty with small problems that force you to learn new concepts and methodology. In addition, you really have to think about error handling and time complexity since a lot of the challenges will fail if your solution uses too much time during execution, or is unable to handle invalid input.

Courses

Web-based courses to gain insight and knowledge

My hunger for knowledge is strong. Very little makes me happier than learning about new stuff in programming, system administration, system design, and Cyber Security. Below is a list of the three latest courses I have taken.

course logo

Python Django - Complete Course

- Dennis Ivy - 18t, 30m

Introduction course to building web applications using the Django Python web framework.

"After completing the course, I felt ready to build projects."

An excellent introductory course to developing applications using Django. When I took the course, a few things had changed with the framework. So, I had to do research to fix problems that surfaced. Thankfully the official documentation and the community online for Django is so good that i quickly solved them.

I think the course did an excellent job of helping me understand architecture and letting me know how to start using the framework for my projects quickly.

After completing the course, I felt ready to build projects.

- 20. April 2024

course logo

Computer Forensics

- Craig van Niekerk - 157t, 0m

A digital forensics and incident response introduction course covering the main topics and some of the more crucial tools used in the profession.

"...as a result of my studies, I do feel I have a much better insight into how the Windows registry works and is structured."

This course was led by an engaged instructor passionate about Digital Forensics and Incident Response. Although short, it had quality content that helped me familiarize myself with the most common and essential artifacts that could be used to collect evidence on Windows hosts.

I think the course gave us good enough insight into the profession to make us respect it and help us decide whether this could be a profession suitable for us or not. I found it equally fascinating and frustrating. However, as a result of my studies, I do feel I have a much better insight into how the Windows registry works and is structured. This cleared a lot of the mystery on Windows for me.

The exam had questions that were easy to answer but hard to answer well. It tested me well and allowed me to show what I had learned during the class.

- 23. March 2024

course logo

Learning Autopsy for Digital Forensics

- Bennett Hendrix - 1t, 23m

Introductional course to the Digitral Forensic tool Autopsy

"...a fantastic walkthrough of the main functions of Autopsy."

This Was nothing short of a great introduction and a fantastic walkthrough of the main functions of Autopsy.

- 4. February 2024

List of all courses I have reviewed

Books

Interresting books I have read and reviewed

I love video lectures, but I usually gain a deeper understanding of the topics by reading about them in a book. Below is a list of the last books I have read and reviewed.

book cover

The Unicorn Project

Gene Kim - 352 sider

This intense parallel story to the Unicorn project book is told from the developers' perspective showing how the organization implemented DevOps philosophy into their daily work to enhance productivity and make the organization a much better place to work.

"I think this book, together with The Unicorn Project, is an essential read for any IT practitioner."

This book was well written but failed to capture the same magic as the Unicorn Project. I loved and could relate to the story in the book, but the story was not as thought-provoking or exciting as the Unicorn Project. The concepts and implementations the developer teams used were, in my opinion, elaborated too little upon.

Where the Phoenix Project spent a lot of time elaborating on the problem and, finally, the solution to the problem in a way that convinced me that the solution was a good one, the unicorn project skipped a lot of the technical details. Because I have a few years of experience with software design, I was able to connect the dots. Still, I don't think inexperienced developers or non-developers will get the points like any IT practitioner will get the points from the Phoenix Project.

I loved this book and heard it as an audiobook when commuting to work. It truly made the commute enjoyable. I think this book, together with The Unicorn Project, is an essential read for any IT practitioner.

13. April 2024

book cover

The Phoenix Project

Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Spafford - 537 sider

An intense story about an organization having to modernize it's project structure.

"...an essential read for anyone interested in a more productive IT"

A friend recommended this book and said it would help me structure the server management process. He was right. Although my environment does not resemble the one in the book, this story made me realize what pain points I was struggling with and helped me connect the dots on how to build a better pipeline.

This is an essential read for anyone interested in more productive IT.

8. March 2024

book cover

SQL in easy steps (4th edition)

Mike McGrath - 192 sider

An introduction to the fundamentals of relational databases and SQL queries using MySQL

"The only problem I have with the book is that I did not read it earlier."

I have come to love the "In Easy Steps" book series. This was another great example of how to properly write a great introduction book to relational databases and SQL.

The author describes every topic in a clear and concise way by using clear and easy-to-understand language and using examples that made sense to me.

The only problem I have with the book is that I did not read it earlier.

20. October 2023

List of all books I have reviewed