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Certification Watch (Vol. 16, No. 10)

News about Uncle Sam's tech implementation woes, the Department of Defense's potentially savvy software gamble, and more.

Latest Government Technology Bumbling Is Par for the Course

Gardeners who have a knack for coaxing great growth and impressive yields from their plants are said to have a green thumb. Now what we need is an equivalent expression for technologists who are good at inducing peak performance from systems, networks and software. Maybe we could refer to such deft data pushers as a having a silicon thumb. A digital thumb? Whatever you call it, a guest editorial in the New York Times this week suggests that Uncle Sam doesn't have one. The editorialists point out that that the flawed launch of the website intended to help people secure insurance coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is only the latest in a string of fumbled federal IT rollouts. Apart from having better-trained (and certified?) workers handling the government's IT, the Times piece recommends a cabinet-level position to coordinate and improve future technology initiatives.

Calling All Java Experts

No, this is not a shout-out to people behind the counter at Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. We mean the other kind of Java, the programming language that provides the backbone for oodles of cool web tech — and has more holes than a cheese grater. The future of Java is an open question, but Oracle's large-scale efforts to make it more secure (a massive patch kit was deployed earlier this month) are probably one factor in the company's plan to reshape its Java Enterprise Edition certification exams. Oracle University wants current Java experts at all levels to "help shape the scope and definition" of two forthcoming Java EE 7 exams. Oracle University is asking any and all Java know-it-alls to participate in its Java expert survey. Now if only you could get free coffee and donuts for taking the survey ...

Exam Cram for IT Auditors Available

Just in time for Christmas, how about filling your head with, well, no, not visions of sugarplums. I mean, sure, knock yourself out on the candy dreams — 'tis the season, almost — but what about beefing up your enterprise security credentials? IT governance group ISACA is hosting a nationwide two-day exam cram Dec. 7 and 8 to help IT professionals prepare for its Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam. Here's were we tie it all into Christmas: Surveys have shown that the CISA cert can help secure top-shelf earning potential. And who couldn't use a raise or a better-paying job just as we head into the biggest consumer spending spree of the calendar year, right? The CISA exam crams are being held in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, New York and San Jose.

Get Your Next Linux Certification in Sunny Florida

On the topic of tight turnarounds for certification exams, the Linux certification group Linux Professional Institue is hoping to get more IT pros from start to finish of its LPIC-1 exam during the upcoming SUSECon gathering in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. SUSECon, an annual Linux convention, is being held at the Coronado Springs Resort, but if you want to do more than just put your feet up between sessions, then you can power through an exam lab on Nov. 14 or 15 during the four-day event. SUSECon runs Nov. 12-15, so you'll still have plenty of time for other activities.

A Nice Little Bank Account Starter

We saved the best for last. The U.S. Department of Defense is having a contest, with a prize and everything. The Cyber Grand Challenge is being directly sponsored by DoD's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, and the winner will take home a cool $2 million. All you have to do is design a self-diagnosing, self-patching security system to protect computers that store sensitive data. Yeah, we know, right? It's kind of crazy that someone hasn't just done that already. Good luck to all the participants, and whatever you do, don't let the team from Cyberdine Systems submit the winning entry. Because we all know what happens when self-aware technology from Cyberdine Systems gets a foothold in the defense department, right?

That's all for this edition of Certification Watch. Please keep your certification news and tips coming to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..