Earlier this week I finally got something I’ve wanted for almost 15 years.

img-20161130-wa0013

It’s the Agincourt from Albion-Swords. It’s a little over 46 inches (117cm) long and weighs about 3lbs 7oz, or a little over a kilo and a half.

 

Back when I was a teenager and into my early 20’s, medieval living history was my driving passion. It isn’t anymore, but I’ve still wanted this blade since I started taking longsword lessons years ago. There are so many different types of swords, but European longswords have always been my favorite. They’re extremely versatile. They can be used with one hand or two and every part of the sword can be used as a weapon. They’ve got a long reach while still maintaining speed and you can switch to half-swording for close quarters.

I particularly like the Agincourt because it’s a nice balance between a cutting and thrusting sword. It’s got a tapered point but still enough mass to also be useful for hacking through things. The crossguard is slightly rolled outward, which I like as the sword can roll off your wrists more comfortably. The rounded pommel allows you to easily palm the back of the sword to swivel the tip around while maintaining a tactile sense of the orientation of the blade.

You can see some historical longsword combat in action here:

The discovery channel also did a cool segment on Albion Swords a while back for a show of theirs called “How it’s made.” You can find that segment here.

The most common question I’ve gotten so far is “what are you going to do with that?”

It’s a valid question, but I think it betrays an assumption that owning a sword is useless.

For me, the sword is primarily a work of art. Not just in the aesthetic sense, but also in the functional sense. I think it’s a very beautiful object, but is use is also a martial art. I might get back into European swordsmanship someday, but for now, I enjoy the mystic and romanticism of the sword and having an extremely well made and functional work of art.

Changing time periods from the medieval to the modern, I also just recently passed my CWNA exam. (exam objectives PDF)

The CWNA stands for Certified Wireless Network Administrator and is an exam given by a vendor neutral organization, the CWNP. Studying for the exam teaches you the physics and protocols of how wireless works, along with how to survey, deploy, and manage wireless networks.

Wireless has always been a bit of a mystery for me (and I think a lot of people don’t really understand how it works) and so studying for the exam was a big eye opener for me. Wireless technologies are only going to become more and more integral to our daily lives in the future, so I’m hoping this knowledge serves me well.

This was one of the first exams in which I made a fundamental change to my studying process. I was listening to the Clear to Send podcast and the host had an episode on his study habits when approaching the exam. He mentioned a site goconqr.com that does online flashcards along with his use of tools like evernote.

In the past I had always studied for exams in an analog way. I bought a physical copy of the book, wrote my notes down in a dedicated notebook, and made a stack of flashcards. I always told myself that the act of physically writing, as opposed to typing, helped me remember the information better, but I don’t really believe that’s true anymore.

There are just so many obvious advantages to going purely digital for studying. With goconqr I can make as many flashcards as I want, even flashcards with pictures on them, and they’re with me wherever I go. There’s an app for my phone so I can flip through my flashcards while sitting in the train or waiting for the bus. I don’t need to carry around a bag full of paper flashcards that I can lose or damage.

By switching to pdf versions of books, I can also read anywhere without having to drag a heavy book around, but most importantly, I can copy and past sentences or diagrams straight from the book into my notes and flashcards!

goconqr

By using evernote, I can also easily take my notes everywhere and paste in diagrams from the book that I’d otherwise have to spend a lot of time trying to recreate by hand on a paper notebook.

I found these tools really helped me get through the material a LOT faster than if I was constantly stopping to hand write notes and flashcards.

That’s great considering I’m now seriously working on my CCNP certification.

The CCNP consists of 3 separate exams: Switch, Route, Troubleshoot. Each exam has it’s own book and set of material to cover, and I’ll have to sit for each exam separately. The Cisco Certified Network Professional certification is the next level up from the CCNA that I have now and is a knowledge set that’s in high demand. I’m just starting to study for it now, but I’m really excited as it goes into a lot more technical detail on higher level topics that were introduced in the CCNA exam.

Still, 3 exams is going to be a bitch…

I really don’t have any choice though to push through and learn the material. I mean, I want to learn the material because it interests me, but god do I hate studying. I’d rather be doing anything else than sitting at my desk trying to read through the material, but it’s the only way I’m going to improve myself and improve my career prospects.

I’m dreaming of breaking out of the end-user IT support realm. I don’t want to have to fix problems for non-technical people. I don’t want to be in a direct service role for non-technical people. I’m tired of being a “digital janitor” for people who don’t understand technology and who look down on my like the repairman who’s come to fix a leaky pipe.

I want to focus on the field of technology I’m interested in and work in a technical role with other technical people.

It’s just a lot of work/effort/tedium to get there, but I feel like I’ll have a greater measure of self-respect if I can achieve it.