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Archive Monthly Archives: September 2016

How To Get CCNA Certified And Boost Your Earnings

How To Get CCNA CertifiedThere is no doubt that obtaining CCNA certification is an important first step for anyone aspiring to create a career in IP networking.  In this post I describe how to get CCNA certified and boost your earnings as you climb the ladder.

All it takes is a little planning and commitment.  Commitment is the motivation to keep going after the initial rush of enthusiasm wears off.

When I first passed the CCNA exam in 1999 it was a test that proved a basic understanding of IP networks, subnet addressing, the OSI Reference Model and several other core subjects.  In the years since the CCNA has evolved to reflect the rapid changes in technology and there are now nine different types of CCNA.

Unless you are already certain of your path you will probably choose the CCNA Routing and Switching exam. This is the original CCNA updated for modern times.

Cisco CCNP Study Bundle SWITCH blue

Why get CCNA certified?

Passing the CCNA exam takes effort, time, and expense, so why bother?

The CCNA certification is an industry recognised benchmark.  It demonstrates an appreciation of the fundamentals of IP networking and proves to any prospective employer that you have the necessary knowledge in this area.

Not everyone who passes the CCNA becomes a Network Engineer who configures and troubleshoots Cisco devices on a daily basis.  It is also the certification that opens doors for Network Administrators, Customer Managers, and many other roles.

Obtaining this certification is an assurance to the employer, the company’s customers, and yourself that you have reached a level of understanding that will enable you to do your job.

It gives you an advantage if you’re competing with others for a position.  It is also leverage for a pay rise if you’re already employed.

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How to get CCNA certified

Let’s assume you’ve elected to go down the Routing and Switching route.  There are no prerequisites and you can take the exam whenever you feel ready.

  • Take the 200-125 CCNA exam -Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices: Accelerated (CCNAX)

Alternatively you can take two entry level exams which combine to give you the certification.

How to prepare for the CCNA exams

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”500″ identifier=”1587205815″ locale=”UK” src=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/515662BKV79L.jpg” tag=”bensblog888-21″ width=”406″]When I first started studying for the CCNA exam in 1999 there were very few resources available.  Today there are too many to list.  Of course it’s a big advantage to have so many options online but in order to make your exam preparation efficient you should choose one or two resources and stick with them.  Jumping from one to another will only distract you and waste time.

Cisco themselves offer several e-learning options.  There is free content to get you started but to view the full courses and all the videos you will need to pay one-off fees or subscriptions.  It’s high quality training material straight from the people who provide the certification path so you know you’ll be getting the best tuition.

Independent online training is available from companies like INE.com. They have online courses for most Cisco certifications right up to CCIE.  However, I see that another long standing provider has gone out of business.  IP Expert is now offline.

Global Knowledge provide classroom courses all over the UK and in many other countries.

Personally, I find there is nothing better than the tried and trusted method of having a book in my hands.  Let’s assume I was about to take the CCNA Routing and Switching exam again (I last did so in January 2014).

  • [easyazon_image align=”right” height=”500″ identifier=”1587205882″ locale=”UK” src=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/51E8zou2B4QL.jpg” tag=”bensblog888-21″ width=”333″]Buy the latest CCNA Routing and Switching 200-125 Official Cert Guide Library by Wendell Odom (CCIE #1624) or a similar selection of CiscoPress.com guides. Make sure you’ve chosen the latest edition as they are revised and reprinted as the exam changes.
  • Review the contents and work out a study program
  • Set aside study time each day or at least 2-3 sessions per week
  • Stick to the schedule and establish the routine
  • Review the previous material before going on to the next
  • Repeat until all the material has been covered
  • Answer all the practice test questions
  • Whether your answers are right or wrong make sure you understand the answers before moving on
  • Other Ciscopress books are available.  The [easyazon_link identifier=”1587205882″ locale=”UK” tag=”bensblog888-21″]Portable Command Guide[/easyazon_link] is worthy supplement to the main study guides.

The above method works if you are renewing your certification or if you already have plenty of experience on Cisco IOS devices but you might be approaching the CCNA exam for the first time with little experience.  In that case you will probably benefit from some training.  I’ve listed a few options above.

You can self-sponsor or you might be able to persuade your employer to pay for a course, either external or online. External courses are the most expensive option.  As well as the course fee there may be accommodation and travel costs as well.  However, there are advantage to classroom study that cannot be obtained from e-learning. Being able to put questions to an instructor and have things explained until you fully understand them is invaluable.

Sitting the CCNA exam

Everybody loves taking an exam, right?  OK, maybe not but there are some ways in which you can reduce the stress levels.

  • Choose a time for your exam that suits you.  I’m a morning person so I always choose exam times that are mid morning or thereabouts.
  • Make sure you know how to find the testing centre and where to park. I once went to a testing centre in an unfamiliar town and spent anxious minutes driving around looking for somewhere to park only to find each car park was full.
  • Allow enough time for your journey, parking, and going through the reception area.  You may have to check in at the front desk, walk across a campus to another building and check in again in the testing centre on another floor.
  • Don’t forget your ID.  To prevent exam fraud you have to prove your identity with some photo ID like a passport or driving licence.
  • Relax.  Practice some deep, abdominal breathing.  You’ve put the hours of study in so you will be able to answer most of the questions.
  • Read the question slowly and read it twice.  I say again, read the question twice.  Like many others I have been caught out by questions that read differently on the second pass.
  • Remember, these are questions about Cisco products and IOS.  There can sometimes be a conflict between what you understand to be the answer and that which Cisco expects you to mark as correct.

How to deal with exam failure

How to deal with exam failure

Exam failure is not the end of the world

I know the feeling. Been there, done that, got several t-shirts.  Over the past 17 years or I’ve taken many Cisco exams.  I don’t like to count how many I’ve failed.  The important thing is that eventually I’ve gone back and taking the exam again and passed it.

That’s true of most of them.  There are a few that I didn’t re-take due to changes in funding, position, and other circumstances.

Failure is disappointing. There is no way of sugar-coating it but as the old saying goes, it’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get up again that counts.

If you fail your Cisco exam take break from the studies and do something you enjoy.  Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t give up, but take time to relax and have some fun.  Forget about studies for a little while but don’t leave it too long.  Take a short break but not so long that you lose momentum.

When you’re ready, pick up the score sheet and go over the feedback you received.  It will give you some idea of where your knowledge was weak and you will probably know yourself which questions and what subjects you found difficult.

Work on those areas while checking that you are still comfortable with all the other subjects.  Eventually you will feel ready for another attempt at the exam.

Conclusion

Passing the CCNA exam could be the first step in an IT career that lasts decades.  With the evolution of networking technology there’s never been a better time to achieve this goal.

Please share this post with anyone you think might benefit from it and leave your experiences, feedback, and study tips in the comments section below.

Good luck with your exams!

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Dakota Access Pipeline – Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee

[easyazon_image align=”right” cloak=”n” height=”500″ identifier=”0099526409″ locale=”UK” src=”/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/51poVaokAyL.jpg” tag=”bensblog888-21″ width=”329″]If you’ve read anything about the history of the American West you’ll know that it’s a long and sad tale of human suffering. Dee Brown’s classic Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a compelling account that summarises the history from the arrival of Columbus to the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.

You may be aware that wars were fought and lost. Treaties were signed and broken. Friends were made and betrayed. The accounts of the massacres will make your blood run cold. The injustices and maltreatment of survivors will make your blood boil.

Perhaps you’ve read nothing but you’ve seen films that give you some idea of the tragedy and betrayal. Dances With Wolves is one such film. For once the cinema had managed to capture something of what we had read in the history books.

We reservations about our reservations

American Indian Teenage Boy PortraitSo you might think that with the Indian Wars receding into history and Native Americans taking their place in American society, politics, business, and culture all is well.

Except it isn’t. In fact, the brutal treatment didn’t end with Wounded Knee.

Once the tribes were defeated militarily they were confined to reservations on what was then regarded as worthless land. The intention was to to provide them with the means to survive but suppliers and middle men ripped them off.

Their remaining children were forced through a schooling system designed to turn them into Americans. They were beaten for speaking their own languages. Their culture, stories, and prayers were forbidden.

Despite all of this the tribes and their cultures endured and survived, though not without many casualties along the way. Alcoholism and suicide on reservations is all too common.

Dakota Access Pipeline

Crow Agency - United States, May 21, 2012: Two headstones mark the location where two Cheyenne warriors were killed on June 25, 1876 while defending their way of life. General George Armstrong Custer and 267 of his men were killed and 55 were injured when attacked by Lakota and Cheyenne warriors.

Headstones mark the location where two Cheyenne warriors were killed on June 25, 1876 while defending their way of life at the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Once again American politics and business is riding roughshod over the Native Americans. The Dakota Access Pipeline is being driven like a lance through the heart of the land.  With comes a high risk of pollution through leaks and spills into the water supply.

They are driving bulldozers through ancient and sacred tribal burial grounds. Can you imagine the outcry if they did that through Arlington Cemetery?

Those who protest are being treated like criminals and private security firms are setting their dogs on them.

However, this outrage has had an unexpected effect. it has united the tribes of the USA in a way that hasn’t been seen for centuries. They are coming from all over the USA and beyond to show their support.

Social media has spread the message far and wide, and the world is watching.  Video footage of the protest and the reaction of those paid to guard the construction sites is there for all to see.

Supporters of the pipeline are well funded.  They are exploiting social media to spread their message too.  They have pointed out that the intended route of the pipeline doesn’t actually traverse any Indian reservations.  Thus they demonstrate their failure to understand how all things are connected.

From an ecological point of view what is over there is connected to what is here. Fences and lines on a map don’t mean a thing.

Leader of the Free World

Native American WomanOn the one hand this this may seem like yet another example of the US government looking the other way while the Indians are abused by a powerful corporation.

But it’s much more than that and it has rallied tribal people and others from all over the USA and beyond.  There is no political agenda.  All people want to do is safeguard their access to clean water.

When I hear the President of the United States referred to as the ‘Leader of the free world’ I can’t help but wonder, “Free from what?  Free for whom?”

Would it be too much to ask that the USA sets an example to the rest of the world?

Give the tribes a break.  Demonstrate to the watching world that you can live up to the principles and ideals that you boast are your bedrock.

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