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One of the biggest challenges faced by senior IT professionals in organizations is the choice of the right software vendor. In the highly competitive enterprise software industry, there are lot of vendors who claim to offer the best software for the problem and it can be really daunting to narrow down the best choice. Additionally, enterprise software costs can often run into millions of dollars thereby leaving very little margin of error. The real cost of choosing a wrong software can often result into losses much more than the cost of the software itself as highlighted by software disasters experienced by leading companies like HP, Nike etc. In such a scenario, senior IT professionals despite years of expertise can find it very difficult to choose the right business software vendor for their organization.

Here are some of the proven ways of short-listing and selecting the right business software vendor for your organization,

·         Understand and Define The Exact Need First: Before embarking on a journey to select the software vendor, it is critical to understand and define the exact problem you want the software to solve. The paramount question to be asked is what business objective does the software need to solve. Is the software required to “reduce costs” or is it to “improve productivity”? Extracting and defining this fundamental question is the bare minimum but necessary step to go searching for the right vendor. It will then form the basis of comparing multiple vendors on this very need that your organization has and will help drive the selection process going forward. The detailed approach involves creating a set of parameters that the software needs to meet in order to be considered. In fact, consider categorizing these parameters further in “must-haves”, “good to have” etc. which will help you assign relevant weights to these parameter and how the software’s fare on each of these parameters

·         Building The List of Vendors Who Meet The Need: Once you have defined your need and distilled that need into various parameters, it’s time to built the list of vendors who you think will meet the need. This is akin to a lead generation model wherein you want to identify a large enough pool and then filters your list down to the best ones. There are multiple ways of building a list of vendors and more often than not, you must use a combination of these methods to build a good enough list.

o   Use Industry Reports: We discussed the IT intelligence offered by leading industry firms Gartner and Forrester in How To Keep On Top Of Latest Trends In Information Technology. These firms based on their access to leading software vendors and CIO network publish vendor comparison research reports across specific verticals as well as specific technologies. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and Forrester’s Wave are a very good starting point to get an insight into the best software vendors. For example, if you were looking for a CRM solution, you could look for Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM and look at the vendors that make the list. These reports can be pricey but well worth the money if you are going to invest hundreds of thousands in the software. Having said that, you don’t have to trust these report blindly because how these firms define the best software may not match how you define the best software for your organization

o   Competitive Intelligence: If you are a smart professional, you are already keeping tabs of your competition. Chances are that if you are a big organization, you might see a Press Release either from your competitor or their vendor announcing the implementation of new software. Extrapolate that across 5-10 key competitors of yours and you might discover the vendors that your competitors are choosing. This gives you a good indicator that the vendors used by your competitors must be offering something right.

  1. The IRS is enabling taxpayers to download their tax transcripts over the internet from the Internal Revenue Service. The official secure URL for the transcripts download followed immediately after The White House fact sheet confirmed the decision. According to the Tech Crunch You Can Now Download Your Tax Returns From The IRS  article, there are some minor bug issues when registering. Given that security has long been problematic with the IRS, the best course of action for the public is to take some precautions when downloading personal information on mobile devices, pc’s and laptops. Installing disk encryption software on all your devices will protect your files reduce risk
  2. Have an awesome Start-Up with products in ‘stealth or private beta” that you want like to pitch for a chance to get a table at Disrupt NY? TechCrunch is heading to Atlanta and New Orleans February 18th and 20th 2014 and will host a beer fest night in exchange for your thoughts and pitches. Tickets are $5, and all entrepreneurs, investors, dreamers or tech enthusiast are welcome.
  3. Cloutex, a cloud computing future enabler has just secured their first round of seed funding.  Cloutex is an Estonian tech startup, which connects and syncs various web applications such as e-marketing, CRM and accounting tools under one convenient hub. The United Partners, SmartCap and EstBan business angels seeded the start-up with $6000, 000.
  4. Could you get everything important that you need to know about living successfully from a computer program? Ryan Dube seems to think so. In his 6 Life Habits That Programming Could Teach You Today  he speaks in flow charts, loops and program modules, in the same breath as paying off debt or buying a house.  How can your programming skills help in life skills by modeling some of the same principles?
  5. 10 Incredibly Simple Things You Can Do To Protect Your PrivacyPassword protect your devices.  Put alerts on your name in Google; simple tasks that can be significant in protecting your privacy.
  6. Adobe Brings 3D Printing Support to PhotoshopAmong the latest updates in Adobe, Photoshop users have the ability to design 3D models from scratch as well as being able to toy around with color, shape and angles.

The original article was posted by Michael Veksler on Quora

A very well known fact is that code is written once, but it is read many times. This means that a good developer, in any language, writes understandable code. Writing understandable code is not always easy, and takes practice. The difficult part, is that you read what you have just written and it makes perfect sense to you, but a year later you curse the idiot who wrote that code, without realizing it was you.

The best way to learn how to write readable code, is to collaborate with others. Other people will spot badly written code, faster than the author. There are plenty of open source projects, which you can start working on and learn from more experienced programmers.

Readability is a tricky thing, and involves several aspects:

  1. Never surprise the reader of your code, even if it will be you a year from now. For example, don’t call a function max() when sometimes it returns the minimum().
  2. Be consistent, and use the same conventions throughout your code. Not only the same naming conventions, and the same indentation, but also the same semantics. If, for example, most of your functions return a negative value for failure and a positive for success, then avoid writing functions that return false on failure.
  3. Write short functions, so that they fit your screen. I hate strict rules, since there are always exceptions, but from my experience you can almost always write functions short enough to fit your screen. Throughout my carrier I had only a few cases when writing short function was either impossible, or resulted in much worse code.
  4. Use descriptive names, unless this is one of those standard names, such as i or it in a loop. Don’t make the name too long, on one hand, but don’t make it cryptic on the other.
  5. Define function names by what they do, not by what they are used for or how they are implemented. If you name functions by what they do, then code will be much more readable, and much more reusable.
  6. Avoid global state as much as you can. Global variables, and sometimes attributes in an object, are difficult to reason about. It is difficult to understand why such global state changes, when it does, and requires a lot of debugging.
  7. As Donald Knuth wrote in one of his papers: “Early optimization is the root of all evil”. Meaning, write for readability first, optimize later.
  8. The opposite of the previous rule: if you have an alternative which has similar readability, but lower complexity, use it. Also, if you have a polynomial alternative to your exponential algorithm (when N > 10), you should use that.

Use standard library whenever it makes your code shorter; don’t implement everything yourself. External libraries are more problematic, and are both good and bad. With external libraries, such as boost, you can save a lot of work. You should really learn boost, with the added benefit that the c++ standard gets more and more form boost. The negative with boost is that it changes over time, and code that works today may break tomorrow. Also, if you try to combine a third-party library, which uses a specific version of boost, it may break with your current version of boost. This does not happen often, but it may.

Don’t blindly use C++ standard library without understanding what it does - learn it. You look at std::vector::push_back() documentation at it tells you that its complexity is O(1), amortized. What does that mean? How does it work? What are benefits and what are the costs? Same with std::map, and with std::unordered_map. Knowing the difference between these two maps, you’d know when to use each one of them.

Never call new or delete directly, use std::make_unique and [cost c++]std::make_shared[/code] instead. Try to implement usique_ptr, shared_ptr, weak_ptr yourself, in order to understand what they actually do. People do dumb things with these types, since they don’t understand what these pointers are.

Every time you look at a new class or function, in boost or in std, ask yourself “why is it done this way and not another?”. It will help you understand trade-offs in software development, and will help you use the right tool for your job. Don’t be afraid to peek into the source of boost and the std, and try to understand how it works. It will not be easy, at first, but you will learn a lot.

Know what complexity is, and how to calculate it. Avoid exponential and cubic complexity, unless you know your N is very low, and will always stay low.

Learn data-structures and algorithms, and know them. Many people think that it is simply a wasted time, since all data-structures are implemented in standard libraries, but this is not as simple as that. By understanding data-structures, you’d find it easier to pick the right library. Also, believe it or now, after 25 years since I learned data-structures, I still use this knowledge. Half a year ago I had to implemented a hash table, since I needed fast serialization capability which the available libraries did not provide. Now I am writing some sort of interval-btree, since using std::map, for the same purpose, turned up to be very very slow, and the performance bottleneck of my code.

Notice that you can’t just find interval-btree on Wikipedia, or stack-overflow. The closest thing you can find is Interval tree, but it has some performance drawbacks. So how can you implement an interval-btree, unless you know what a btree is and what an interval-tree is? I strongly suggest, again, that you learn and remember data-structures.

These are the most important things, which will make you a better programmer. The other things will follow.

Another blanket article about the pros and cons of Direct to Consumer (D2C) isn’t needed, I know. By now, we all know the rules for how this model enters a market: its disruption fights any given sector’s established sales model, a fuzzy compromise is temporarily met, and the lean innovator always wins out in the end.

That’s exactly how it played out in the music industry when Apple and record companies created a digital storefront in iTunes to usher music sales into the online era. What now appears to have been a stopgap compromise, iTunes was the standard model for 5-6 years until consumers realized there was no point in purchasing and owning digital media when internet speeds increased and they could listen to it for free through a music streaming service.  In 2013, streaming models are the new music consumption standard. Netflix is nearly parallel in the film and TV world, though they’ve done a better job keeping it all under one roof. Apple mastered retail sales so well that the majority of Apple products, when bought in-person, are bought at an Apple store. That’s even more impressive when you consider how few Apple stores there are in the U.S. (253) compared to big box electronics stores that sell Apple products like Best Buy (1,100) Yet while some industries have implemented a D2C approach to great success, others haven’t even dipped a toe in the D2C pool, most notably the auto industry.

What got me thinking about this topic is the recent flurry of attention Tesla Motors has received for its D2C model. It all came to a head at the beginning of July when a petition on whitehouse.gov to allow Tesla to sell directly to consumers in all 50 states reached the 100,000 signatures required for administration comment. As you might imagine, many powerful car dealership owners armed with lobbyists have made a big stink about Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO and Product Architect, choosing to sidestep the traditional supply chain and instead opting to sell directly to their customers through their website. These dealership owners say that they’re against the idea because they want to protect consumers, but the real motive is that they want to defend their right to exist (and who wouldn’t?). They essentially have a monopoly at their position in the sales process, and they want to keep it that way. More frightening for the dealerships is the possibility that once Tesla starts selling directly to consumers, so will the big three automakers, and they fear that would be the end of the road for their business. Interestingly enough, the big three flirted with the idea of D2C in the early 90’s before they were met with fierce backlash from dealerships. I’m sure the dealership community has no interest in mounting a fight like that again. 

To say that the laws preventing Tesla from selling online are peripherally relevant would be a compliment. By and large, the laws the dealerships point to fall under the umbrella of “Franchise Laws” that were put in place at the dawn of car sales to protect franchisees against manufacturers opening their own stores and undercutting the franchise that had invested so much to sell the manufacturer’s cars.  There’s certainly a need for those laws to exist, because no owner of a dealership selling Jeeps wants Chrysler to open their own dealership next door and sell them for substantially less. However, because Tesla is independently owned and isn’t currently selling their cars through any third party dealership, this law doesn’t really apply to them. Until their cars are sold through independent dealerships, they’re incapable of undercutting anyone by implementing D2C structure.

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Canada since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about CompTIA programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized CompTIA experts
  • Get up to speed with vital CompTIA programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
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