Completely free IT training resources to help diversify your IT career

Scope and overview

Inspired by Don Jones‘ excellent “Don’t Get Stuck in Your Job” blog post, I’ve taken some time to compile a bunch of online IT training to help people diversify their IT knowledge, for free.

This post covers a selection of free IT training that I’ve found on my travels. Topics are diverse, and include topics such as: Virtualization and Cloud, Networking, Security, Linux, Storage systems, PowerShell, to Programming and Database fundamentals.

I believe that as IT Professionals, the more aspects of IT that we understand and appreciate, the better we’re able to meet the needs of business. I’d really like this to evolve into a community resource for anyone who wants to diversify their IT knowledge. If you’ve found other free IT training or resources that aren’t mentioned here, please feel free to mention it in the comments and I’ll endeavour to add it (I’m particularly interested in official training from vendors).

If you’re left wondering where on earth you’re going to get time to study all this, remember that it only takes about 20 hours to pick up a subject/skill, and that’s merely a month of Lunch-times!

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Getting Started with the NetApp PowerShell Toolkit


This post takes a quick look at the NetApp PowerShell Toolkit: a set of PowerShell cmdlets which can be used to query and change settings on NetApp Storage Systems, paving the way for automation of common tasks or generating regular reports. It runs through installing the PowerShell toolkit, and running a few basic commands against a NetApp storage system.

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Thoughts on learning-procrastination, and the myth of 10,000 hours

I have a problem. And it’s stopping me from learning.

I’ve swallowed the line that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, and it’s scared me off learning new things.

I am naturally curious. I want to learn, but I put off doing so because I know I’ll never be an expert in that field. So instead I pottered around the fringes and play with things half-heartedly.

That was, until I watched this TEDx video: The first 20 hours  (20 minutes)

In it, Josh Kaufman discusses why you don’t need to burn 10,000 hours on a subject, why 20 hours of focused practice is “good enough”, and how to overcome the inertia that prevents you from learning new things in the first place.

It’s well worth a watch, especially if – like me – you’re putting off learning because you’re scared of the amount of effort it’ll take to be good. Because 20 hours is good enough :)

A quick summary of what I picked up

20 hours in perspective:

  • 20 hours is only 45 minutes per day, for a month. That means you can pick up a new subject/skill in around a month of lunches! How’s that for motivation?

4 steps to rapid skill acquisition:

  1. Deconstruct the skill
    1. Decide what you want to do when you’re done
      1. Example: be proficient in setting up and managing VMware vSphere
    2. Then break down the skill into chunks/pieces, that will get you to that total goal
      1. Example: VMware vSphere. Break it the learning down into individual components and focus on those. Install, Configure it, and troubleshoot. Also focus on day-to-day management tasks like setting up Datastores, troubleshooting performance issues, and  setting up vMotion.
  2. Learn enough to self correct
    1. Once you start learning, you can begin to self-correct yourself based on earlier learning.
  3. Remove practise barriers (distractions)
    1. TV, Twitter, email client, mobile phone.
  4. Practice at least 20 hours. Don’t give up!
    1. Break through the initial frustration barrier, where things feel like they don’t make much sense or that you’re not making much progress. Stick with it, long enough to learn it properly and you’ll be pleased with the results.

It’s been a while (Updated my CV/Resume)

So, having been at Broadcom nearly three years, I thought it was about time to update my CV/Resume.

Here it is below, in case you’re curious:

Phil Wiffen, Resume 2014, Web Edition (Updated 2014-07-09)

It took a lot more effort to update than I anticipated. Turns out pruning old stuff (to keep page counts down) and figuring out how to describe your current role takes quite a bit of time :)

I suspect it’ll need more work, but I’m a believer in fast publishing and iteration ;)