Packet Pushers

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Todd Lammle was interviewed on the Packets Pushers podcast (Show 90). I had just recently heard about this podcast and listened to my very first partial show the other night on the way home from school. They were getting into some heavy OSPF vs. IS-IS discussion. When I updated my podcasts earlier today I noticed the latest show had Todd Lammle guesting. Definitely good stuff. For Network+, CCENT, and CCNA candidates this show is probably too advanced but it is still great stuff from the little bit I have checked out.

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More N+ Progress

I made a good bit of progress this last weekend and managed to knock out chapters 11-15 even with the distraction of red carpet and Oscar shows on television Sunday. Today, I’m working through chapter 16 (WANs) and hope to get into chapter 17 before my Unix class tonight. Being that there are 20 chapters in this text, I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been completing and saving the written labs and review questions at the end of each chapter in a folder on the desktop. When I complete the text I plan on using it as a study guide. I’m thinking that I should combine all 20 review questions documents into one document, unbold the answers I marked, and try taking it as 400 question test as part of my final prep for the exam.

Network+ Progress

I completed chapter 10 of Todd Lammle’s Network+ book (for the N10-004 exam) last night which covered routing protocols. A lot of this Network+ material seems applicable to Cisco’s ICND 1 exam as well. We’re talking OSI model, subnetting, routing protocols, and physical/logical network topology. However, I think the CompTIA test will be significantly different. For example, I just took the sample test on CompTIA’s web site and scored 77%. A passing score is 80% so this doesn’t give me a lot of confidence at this point except for that the fact that I am only 1/2 way through the material. There was not a single subnetting question which is hard to believe. Nor were there any questions on routing protocols or switching. Thus far my experience with CompTIA questions leaves me wondering who wrote these obscure, confusing, and irrelevant questions. I’m hoping the real exam questions are much better. Once I finish the book I’ll seek out more practice exams.

Kindle and E-Books

I find 800 page books to be intimidating. When you hold one in your hands it is like holding a log. (Log as in a piece of a tree as opposed to a file with events — for us geeks) I bought the CISCO CCNA Exam #640-507 Preparation Library Set back in March of 2002 (yes, 10 years ago) and received 3 books that totaled 2000+ pages of text. The simple truth is I probably read less than 150 pages before becoming frustrated and getting caught up in other life events. Sadly, I never picked them up again. One of those books alone was around 1000 pages. The problem with reading a 1000 page book is that when you are 50 pages into it you literally feel the weight of the other 950 pages behind page 50. It is intimidating. I am an able reader and it is not as if I cannot read a book that size, but it is a formidable task that requires additional time and commitment.

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However, I have a great solution if you are like me and are intimidated by 800 page printed books. It is called Kindle! Technically, I used the Kindle application on iPad and Mac and not an actual Amazon Kindle hardware device but the principle is the same. A couple of months ago I read the Steve Jobs biography over a 2-3 day period. I was looking at some reviews on Amazon.com and it caught my attention that it was a 656 page book! Wow! I read a 656 page book in almost no time. Yup. I was really interested in the topic so I suppose I might have got through the printed version of the book but not as fast. You see, I read it on the iPad and I read it a chapter at a time. I never felt like there was a long way to go because the iPad weighs/feels the same with a 100 page book or a 1000 page book.

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This may be a small mental thing, but it definitely makes the Cisco Press and various other certification books more approachable and less intimidating. I just dig in and start reading without regard to the text size. In fact, many Kindle titles to not have page numbers at all and only show a location bar. I find I am able to tear through material faster. I have found other advantages as well. For example, I can read in the dark or in low light situations. I can read in places where holding an 800 page book would be an issue. (you figure that out on your own) I can zoom diagrams, make notes in the text, and put the errata into the text easily.

I currently have all of my certification study books in either Kindle or iBooks format. I couldn’t possibly carry all those books around in printed format! I believe this new medium is going to be a huge asset in my certification studies. It is also helping me stay dedicated to the cause and better at studying. I highly recommend this method if you have been put off or intimidated by the sheer volume of the printed materials. 🙂

The beginning (sort of)

Events have been in motion for a few months now but I am now reaching the stage where it is time to start really preparing for the certifications I want to achieve.

My Goals

1. CompTIA Network+
2. CompTIA A+
3. CompTIA Security+
4. Cisco CCENT
5. Cisco CCNA
6. Decide which Cisco certification to work on next

My background

I was a full-time uncertified Network Engineer working for a Fortune 500 company when I decided to pursue an opportunity with a small Mac software developer doing support, marketing, documentation, etc. I spent 3 years working in that capacity and when things did not work out I found myself out of a job. After being out of networking for 3 years I was finding it tough to break back in. Employers seemed to be more concerned about college degrees (which I do not have) and IT certifications. So I decided to go back to school and at least pick up an Associate’s Degree in Data Networking. A local community college offered this program and was also a Cisco Networking Academy. Many of the classes in the program are designed around IT certifications so it was exactly what I was needing. I’ll pick up a degree and IT certifications along the way!

Where Am I Now?

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