Pendulum Heroes Free Weekend is Here!

You know, I was envisioning a pretty amped up post on this day, but now that it’s here I don’t have much to say beyond what’s already in the title.  I gotta say something right?  Ok, here goes… extra exclamation caps mode activate!

TOTALLY FREE!!  PENDULUM HEROES FOR YOUR READING PLEASURE!!! 4.7 STARS ON AMAZON!!!! CLICK THIS LINK HERE TO START THE ADVENTURE!! GET IT NOW OR YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY GONNA PAY ME 5 BUCKS LATER WHEN YOUR SAVVY FRIENDS TELL YOU HOW AWESOME IT IS, SO DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE!!!1!

Seriously though, you all enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend. If you’d like to support this vet here, it’d mean the world to me if you gave my fun fantasy adventure a try.  Here’s the link to get it for FREE.

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Reminder: Chosen One Contest still open til Thursday

Win this thing!

For those of you who want to win a physical Advanced Reader Copy of Pendulum Shift, the Chosen One Contest is still open until Thursday morning, 7 A.M. Eastern.   Just sign up for my mailing list to be entered.

You know exactly why I named it the Chosen One Contest if you’ve read the first book.  If you haven’t, you can still enter the contest to win book two without fear of missing all the action, adventure and magic of book one. No one wants to start someone on Star Wars with Empire, right?  Worry not, because the day after the contest I’m giving the first book away on Amazon all weekend!

Free download this thing!

So you can potentially get two free books before this week’s over.  But only if you’re the Chosen One.

And for those of you who prefer ebooks and rather not ruin your minimalist aesthetic by introducing paper into your environment, preorders for the Pendulum Shift e-book are live right now!  I’m the last guy who’d get mad at you going green with your fiction.

Stay tuned for updates!

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Pendulum Shift drops May 31! Bringing Contests and Giveaways with It!!

The next installment of the Pendulum Heroes series is around the corner. It feels like a long time coming, and I’ve had several readers pinging me to see what happens next, mostly in the form of “What about Rich?”  I’m not going to spoil anything here, but I will tell you the answer involves witches, vamp-beasts and cutthroat discounts for marble art.  No spoilers because the wait is *almost* over.  Pendulum Shift arrives May 31.

Some of you may have missed the start of it all, my debut novel Pendulum Heroes.  Well, to celebrate the arrival of book 2 and get you up to speed, I’m hosting a free giveaway weekend on Amazon.  If you’re signed up for Kindle Unlimited it’s already free, but for those of us who spent our KU membership money seeing Avengers Endgame (guilty!) you can still get it free from May 24 thru May 27.

And the book 2 celebration doesn’t stop there! Already read the highly rated (4.7 stars on Amazon!) Pendulum Heroes? Can’t wait for the second book? I got you too! You can win a free Advanced Reader Copy of Pendulum Shift before it’s publication date.  Just sign up for my newsletter and you’ll automatically be entered into my Chosen One Contest, where Destiny (i.e. a random number generator) will choose the lucky subscriber on May 23.  The ARC has a back and spine, which means more custom artwork featuring this handsome reject:

 

Sign up form for the newsletter is either at the top of the page or you can just click here. I’ll drop more updates as the contest and free weekend approaches as well a link to preorder the e-book (apparently Amazon isn’t keen on setting up preorders for paperbacks).

See you all in the trenches and on the other side of the portal.

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uCertify Review

NOTE: For all those who come here because of my fiction, this is not one of those posts. That said, stay tuned as I have BIG news coming very, very soon.

I’m an IT guy by trade and I was recently approached by a representative from uCertify, a site that specializes in Computer Based Training (CBT) to use one of their training modules in exchange for an honest review.  Never one to shirk from either the chance to learn something for free or the opportunity to run my mouth, how could I say no?

My concise summation for the short attention span crowd: uCertify is decent. There are pros and cons but overall I’d say it’s worthwhile.

Here’s a more in depth review for those of you who are either genuinely interested in uCertify or are morbidly curious to see if this departure from my blog norm is still somehow a ruse.  There are a lot of CBT programs available to the IT community, one of the biggest and most known being CBT Nuggets and then newer competitors such as Udemy.  I hadn’t heard of uCertify before being approached by their representative, so I can only assume they’re one of the newest kids on the block and want people with contacts in the community to spread their gospel.  As a fledgling novelist, I can relate.

uCertify has an impressive array of courses to choose from.  Basics such as Security+, Linux Essentials and Microsoft Word 2013 to more in depth training like Certified Ethical Hacker and Oracle Database Administrator are present in their course list.  You can look through their most requested courses here.

It appears all of their courses are designed to prepare you to take and pass an associated certification exam. For those unindoctrinated to the world of IT, these certs serve as credentials that you know your stuff… it’s resume gold. Security+, for example, is required for nearly any type of government IT contractor.

I tried out the Python programming course.  I didn’t know Python before, having only experience in bash scripting and maybe dissecting the Perl scripts of others.

The interface is quite clean. Take a look.

They keep track of your progress and are perpetually evaluating your readiness to take the certification test based on your progress with the lessons and performance with the labs and tests.  The Chapters & Lessons section is the bulk of where I was during my stint with uCertify. Again, a very clean interface with quick access to labs, quizzes and flashcards.

I had zero problem and felt very comfortable navigating the site. My biggest issue came from their labs. I found them both daunting and buggy.  The Python Basics (Chapter 2) coursework was basically being able to type a line or two in Python and have the output spit out “Hello World.” It talked about the different types of data types such as integers and strings (basically not numbers).  Coursework was quite easy to follow and  included examples, charts and even videos. But here’s the very first lab:

Keep in my that this “def” thing doesn’t actually get talked about in the coursework until like Chapter 4.  This is the very first lab, which is labelled 2.1.24.  That in itself made me feel like for Chapter 2, lesson 1 there were 23 other labs that should’ve been included before I even got to this one. I honestly didn’t know what to put into this lab that wasn’t already there to make it run.  This is the daunting part.  The buggy part happens when you actually do run the program, see where you’re wrong, fix it according to what you need to succeed only to run it again and it still fails.  For a large percentage of their labs, you can copy the entire correct code from their assessment page, plug it in exactly as they gave it to you and it will fail.  I’m assuming the mileage on lab bugginess will vary depending on the course and coding, including Python, isn’t inherently a “this is right and this is wrong” sort of thing but more of a “what’s the best path to get what I need” endeavor.  You can overcome the bugginess by just running Python independent of the lab and testing their results but you won’t really be able to overcome the fact that the uCertify course is still saying you’ve failed to code the lab properly and not give you points toward completion.

I found the more I ignored the labs altogether and just focused on progressing the coursework, the more the prior chapter labs felt less daunting.  Perhaps it’s how they had to code the lab checks, where the only way to make it halfway workable was to incorporate Python elements that the student hadn’t even covered yet.

Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of learning style and cost.  If you’re a step-by-step completionist, uCertify may not be the right thing for you, if my experience with the Python course is any indication.  It was rather frustrating to have a hot zero for chapter 2 labs while I’m green on chapter 5 coursework.  If you’re a whole picture type learner who mostly cares about how it all looks at the end, then you may benefit the most from it.  And of course, perhaps the cost is also a motivating factor.  While I’m not sure about Udemy prices, I know CBT Nuggets is subscription based per month.  uCertify is an ala carte affair, each course I clicked on cost $139.  I think that’s better suited for folks who don’t quite know what life is going to throw at them and may not get around to studying for certification properly for weeks at a time.

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