CCSP!

Saturday 18 September 2021

A few weeks ago, after several months of study and hours of practise tests, I was scheduled to sit the Cloud Certified Security Professional (CCSP) on 28 August. To build my career and prove my skills, I wanted to earn a globally recognised cloud security certification. But the testing centre had some issues with the roof, the testing centre cancelled the test last minute, and I had to reschedule for 18 September. I was disappointed but went back to preparing myself for the exam which I took this morning.

I PASSED!!!

CCSP
I PASSED!!

After the ISC2 officially validates my test score, I'll update my LinkedIn profile.

But this is the worst test-taking experience I have ever had. The testing centre is inside a small office in the Princeton Forrestal Village.

The Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village
The Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village | Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1/1800 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 6400

The reception staff asked us to wash our hands as soon as we entered the testing facility, which is not a CDC recommendation for preventing the spread of COVID, so I suspect this is just Security theatre. But what the hell? Clean hands are not a hassle. We had to be vaccinated to take the test, but the testing centre required that we wear a face mask while in the waiting room (30 min) and during the exam (3 hours). That was a challenge.

I get anxious when my face and mouth are covered. Even when I had my radiation treatments for Graves Eye Disease (2019) and had to wear a mesh mask over my face, it was only possible because they dosed me up on Xanax first. I do not recommend taking Xanax before sitting an exam.

At one point, while in the waiting room before the exam, my heart started racing. I got up and went outside. By wearing the face mask, I added to my usual test anxiety. Fortunately, I remembered my deep breathing exercises from when I had hyperthyroidism (2018). That, combined with an intense focus on the test questions, helped me make it through. That is the longest I have ever worn a face mask. PearsonVUE determines these safety requirements.

We endured a pre-exam authentication procedure that made me feel like a criminal. I endure two palm vein scans, two scans for each hand, presented two forms of identification (I used my passport and New Jersey drivers license), sat for a photograph (the type they use in mug-shots), removed all clothing not attached to my body, locked them in a locker, turned out my empty pockets to show that I had no hidden items, etc. The admin told me that sometimes they also do a pat-down.

Then after that first authentication procedure, we were asked to get into another queue behind an opaque wall. We had to show ID again, turn our pockets again, and have our palms scanned again. The exam proctor informed us that the exam room had audio and video recording. I was allowed to enter the exam room with my insulin pump (federal ADA laws), but not my blood glucose testing kit or hard candy (in case I got hypoglycaemia). Before the test would start, I had to read and acknowledge a non-disclosure agreement regarding the test itself.

The ISC2 determines the authentication requirements for sitting the exam.

At the end of the test, I raised my hand, got the proctor and bolted for the exit. The admin staff reminded me to get my stuff from the locker and handed me my test result. I crumpled it up, stuffed it in my pocket and got out.

If they insist on in-person testing, then the ISC2 needs to find a mask-less process. I recommend they move the exam online.


Bhavana and Shaan were excited about my accomplishment. We decided to visit Flounder Brewing for a celebratory ale and rustic pizza from Testo.

Bhavna and Shaan
Bhavna and Shaan | Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 20 mm | 190 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 640
Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1340 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 640
Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1340 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 640
Corn and bacon | Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1200 sec at f/6.4 | ISO 640
Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1350 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 640
Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1210 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 640
Testo Pizza
Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 160 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 1600
Testo Pizza
Saturday 18 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 32.1 mm | 160 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 1000

Friday 17 September 2021

Friday 17 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 140 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 12800

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Wednesday 15 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 1280 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 640

When Kiran was born, Bhavna and I were sleep-deprived zombies from taking care of her "still in a diaper" 18-month-old sibling, Shaan. Bhavna had a long exhausting labour experience. My right hand was nearly crushed by providing father support. Father's are so useless. When the nurse requested that I complete the requisite birth registration paperwork, I ended up with some creative spellings for our newest experiment's name.

I spelt Kiran, a gender-neutral Hindi name meaning "ray of light", with a "y", as Kyran, an Irish Celtic male first name meaning "little dark one". Oy! Not at all flattering and the opposite meaning of what we intended.

Kiran learned to spell her name with the "i", which caused issues when she started kindergarten. Why are Americans, predominantly white and black Americans, so bad at pronouncing non-Western normative names? It's not like Asians haven't lived in the USA for centuries. Our district is nearly 40% Asian, so this bothered me. She had more problems later on at college with paperwork, etc.

Recently, I went online looking for how to legally change her name to set her right before things got worse.

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Pachira aquatica
Pachira aquatica | Tuesday 14 September, 2021 | FujiFilm X-T3 | XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm | 150 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 6400

Like Phillip Caron, I too have an intense dislike of games of chance.

All games that are luck driven are strictly a waste of time after the age of six. Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Trouble, and War are all on the list. I’m on a warpath against these games. Now, I do play these games on occasion. I have a four year old. These games serve their purpose to introduce young children to games. Children can learn basic rule structures socially and technically. There is nothing better to teach them about the unfairness of life. Having them lose at something that they had no control over anyway.

Beyond that they are useless.

Have you ever seen someone get excited when they beat you at one of these games? Pathetic. You won at a game… of pure chance. There wasn’t a shred of skill used in that victory. Can you even call it a victory? I could have played that game by myself. Your presence wasn’t even required for my loss.


The John Clyde Memorial Native Grassland Preserve, formerly the Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve, is a nature reserve and bird reserve located in Griggstown, an unincorporated community within Franklin Township, New Jersey. I visited the Preserve for the second time last November and for the first time in February 2019. This time Bhavna accompanied me. I have finally got around to posting the images.

The Preserve's meadow is 102 acres, and another 345 acres is woodland. The Preserve connects to 218 acres of the Ten Mile Run Greenway - the Bunker Hill and Franklin Park Natural Areas. It is home to many migratory birds and dozens of other birds and animals that make their permanent home in the surrounding wetlands. Some species found on this meadow include:

  • Grasshopper Sparrow and Bobolink (both New Jersey state threatened species)
  • American Kestrel and eastern box turtle (both New Jersey special concern species)
  • Short-eared Owl (New Jersey special concern species - non-breeding)

The township has engaged in extensive habitat restoration activities to assist these species, including removing 5,800 feet of fence and hedgerow - a vital step in creating 102 acres of meadow. The meadow is restored with a mixed planting of native grasses and native wildflowers. The Preserve has six trails through restored grasslands and mature forests.

Some local Eagle Scout projects have included constructing a kiosk, trail construction and marking, building a Barn Swallow nesting structure, and placing Bluebird and bat nesting boxes throughout the western portions.

There are no restrooms on-site.

Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve | Saturday 21 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1280 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 400
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve | Saturday 21 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 500
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve | Saturday 21 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1600 sec at f/4.5 | ISO 400
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve | Saturday 21 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 800
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve | Saturday 21 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 | 1/1250 sec at f/2.8 | ISO 400

This is another set of images that I forgot to post. I don't remember all the details but one day in November, after we expected that some of the snow had melted and that the ground might be dryer, Bhavna and I took a hike around the Meadow, Pond and Stony Brook Trail Loop.

Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | Apple iPhone 11 Pro | iPhone 11 Pro back camera 6mm f/2 | 1120 sec at f/2.0 | ISO 20
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1350 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 200
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 3200
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 640
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 2000
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 2500
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1/2900 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 400
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 500
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 1000
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 12800
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 10000
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 1250
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 640
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 3200
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 150 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 12800
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1/2000 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 400
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1350 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 400
Stony Brook Trail Loop
Sunday 29 November, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | 80 mm | 1250 sec at f/8.0 | ISO 1000

Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve

I walked on the path cut into the grassland, encountered ice and swamp-like mud. I slipped and slid, twisted and hurt something in my right foot. But I didn't know that at the time. Just a lingering feeling that I had overdone it. That something wasn't right.

Planes crawled across the sky over Franklin Township, travelling to and fro Newark Liberty International Airport. I walked on the path cut into the grassland, encountered ice and swamp-like mud. I slipped and slid, twisted and hurt something in my right foot. But I didn't know that at the time. Just a lingering feeling that I had overdone it. That something wasn't right.

I learned about the Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve while perusing the REI online store. I was checking out the sales items and saw a link for the REI Hiking Project. Thirty minutes later, I had downloaded the Hiking Project app and looked at a list of nearby possibilities for a hike. I decided to try the Griggstown Native Grassland because it was close to home. A grassland hike would be different from my usual hikes in the Sourland Mountain Preserve.

I had rented a Fujinon XF27mmF2.8 pancake lens for a weekend trip to visit my brother in Charlotte, North Carolina. We had to postpone our plans, and while I was able to cancel my flight and hotel booking, I forgot about the lens rental. I felt I had to get some value from the lens, so I decided to put it on my Fuji X-T2 and bring it with me on my hike. With a ~41mm field of view on a 35mm full-frame sensor, the XF27mmF2.8 provides a field of view roughly equal to that of the human eye. On this hike, the photos would provide a "Khürt's Eye View" of the hike.

Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200

I drove along Canal Road, and despite using Google Maps, I almost missed the preserve entrance. The entrance is via a narrow dirt road that winds it's way around to the trailhead. Hikers have parked two other cars. I grabbed my stuff and walked over to the information shed to look for a map. I could not understand the map on the back of the shed.

I pulled out the Hiking Project app, which has GPS to pinpoint my location. One thing to note about using a GPS app on a smartphone. They are only accurate to about 50 feet. To increase accuracy, these apps often use cellular or Wi-Fi signals. The Hiking Project app uses the GPS information from my iPhone and the cellular signal to place my location on its map of the preserve. If you are in a location with a poor (or no) cellular signal, the hiking app won't accurately place you on its map. Your phone knows your coordinates, but the app does not.

Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200

I got some information about the two gentlemen who were preparing to hike in the preserve. There was a small Blue Trail and a larger Red Trail. I decided to take the Red Trail.

The trails are not well marked. I walked across the wide grassland trail and felt a sense of openness. This is rare here in New Jersey. I walked across a bridge and around a path that took me to an abandoned shipping container. Ironically the words, Evergreen, were printed on the side. I continued walking and realized that I had just walked in a circle.

Remember what I wrote earlier about GPS and cellular signals? I consulted the Hiking Project app and realized I had walked off the trail. I walked back across the bridge and re-entered the trail. This part of the trail was very wet, soggy, and muddy. It didn't help that the trail path is cut through the grass. I was walking on wet grass on top of wet soil.

Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200

I walked up this hill, slippery from water frozen into shoe prints leftover from another hiker. At the top was a park bench, and I stopped for a moment to take in the Sourland Mountain Range view. It looked so small in the distance.

Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200

I consulted the Hiking Project app and realized that I was almost done with the red trail. Ahead across large patches of ice lay the path to the Orange Trail. I slid my way across, slowly crawling to the other side. The path ahead was again soggy wet. Arriving at the fork in the path to start the orange trail I saw, even more ice and wet, muddy areas. I reconsidered my options. Take the exit path back to the trailhead or complete the orange trail. I decided I had had enough and took the trail back to the car.

Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200
Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve
FujiFilm X-T2 | XF27mmF2.8 @ 27 mm | f/8.0 | ISO200

It was 3:30 AM when I uploaded these photos. I was in pain. I couldn't get to sleep because of the intensity of the pain. I uploaded the photos, posted a link on Frank's website's comments section, and went back to bed. This morning my wife took me to the doctor. I had a sprained tendon and will be wearing a boot for a few weeks.

The Tuesday Photo Challenge is a weekly theme-based challenge for photographers of all kinds to share both new and old photography.

Kingston Flour Mill

I got up this morning and looked out the window and saw a thick fog. It was just before 7 AM. I got dressed, grabbed my camera and tripod. My initial thought was to visit Carnegie Lake near the Princeton racing crew boathouse. But as I drove along Blue Spring Road, I thought that I might get a better set of images from near the Kingston Lock section of the D& R Canal State Park
.

KINGSTON FLOUR MILL—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 53.3 mm, f/11

The Kingston Flour Mill is a historic property and part of the Kingston Mill Historic District.

The Kingston Mill, built in the late 1800s is the most recent of several mills built on this site since the 1700s. Grist, fulling and flour mills were established here over Kingston Mill the past 300 years. The mill, now a private home, to many is a symbol of Kingston and its historic past.

I've photographed the mill and the Kingston Lock area around the D& R Canal State Park many times in the past, in all seasons. I think this is the first time I have photographed it in fog. I don't like the way it looks in the fog. It's too dreary. I think the building stands out more in the snow and in the spring.

KINGSTON FLOUR MILL—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 33.2 mm, f/11
KINGSTON FLOUR MILL—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 55 mm, f/4.5
KINGSTON FLOUR MILL—FujiFilm X-T2 + XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ 16 mm, f/22

I made a mistake with the first three images. I forgot the AUTO ISO on. The camera adjusted accordingly and some of the first three images were shot at very high ISO. I did one pass through Nik's Dfine 2.

Kingston Flour Mill ( historic ).