Feb 9, 2013

I'm back, this time a CCNA

Look at that... nearly a YEAR since my last post. That's sort of amazing and sad at the same time.

I have much to tell, but will not bore you with every detail of the last year. Only enough to let you know why I was away and perhaps where I'll be taking this into the future.

My last post was about the success of the ICND 1 exam. This was quite an achievement for me. I took about a week off from studying and was confident that I could take on the 2nd half, so I scheduled my next exam for a week later. I didn't study much up until the exam date- in fact I believe I only crammed the night before the exam. Needless to say I failed miserably. The 2nd exam was much more challenging than the first. I had an idea it was going to be more difficult, but I also thought I knew the material better than I really did.

I was pretty bummed out after the failure but determined to pass this exam. I began studying again the next day. Re-reading all the same material. (same material as mentioned in previous post). Let me give you a tip here- I believe the only place you'll find all the answers to most CCNA exam questions will be in official Cisco Press books. I encountered questions that where not in any of the books I've read. The only books I didn't consult while studying for the CCNA where the official Cisco Press ones...

At any rate I continued to study, I worked through numerous labs including everything in the GNS3 Workbench. I could complete all objectives on labs at freeccnaworkbook.com without reading through the instructional. To be honest I could do that prior to failing the exam the first time. It's extremely frustrating when you can do the work but can't answer the questions.

After a while I thought I was ready again so I scheduled the exam again... failed. This time scoring at like 100+ more points, and maybe a few questions short of a passing grade. I was pretty torn up about this one. I had studied hard and didn't get it. I was really starting to doubt myself. But I had invested so much time into this already. I really didn't want to give up. Further more, this is my career. So I went back to my books for the 3rd time.

This time I also consulted howtonetwork.net. I had found this site long before my first exam attempt but was very hesitant about it. It's a paid site and the layout is pretty bad. Years prior I was very interested in web and graphic design. I judge the quality of a companies product based on their website. I'm sorry, but this website needs an overhaul... But there were many testimonials that appeared to be legit. They guarantee you'll pass if you follow all their course work. I signed up and began their course- start to finish. I didn't skip anything. Even content I already knew by heart. Most labs build off the others. I worked through all these. They do a very good job making complex topics understandable. So finally just like most other Cisco study material, this site is an excellent supplement next to another study guide.

What helped me the best on their site was the forum. There are many people in the same situation I was in. Some having a more difficult time that myself. Most inspiring was one of the authors of the site named Farai E. Tafa. This is a very humble guy, who I have nothing but respect for him. He told a story about how he use to work in a department store selling shoes. One day some business men came in chatting next to him talking about Cisco. He tried to make friendly conversation and was interested in what they were talking about. They told him something to the affect of "you and your people will never be smart enough to understand Cisco". He left work that day determined to prove them wrong. He bought a Cisco book and began reading. He ended up failing the exam 5 times before he finally passed. His story continues to inspire me when he explains how he worked, went to school full time and studied every night. This man is now a CCIE, not to mention has worked with many technology companies.

I get annoyed when people see me study and say, "I wish I had the time". What I hear is, "It's not important enough to me". If it was, you would make time. When something is important to you, you'll make time. I have a full time job, I have a wife and kids. I can guarantee my schedule is busier than most of the people who make these comments. Though I still make the time because this is important to me.

Aug 12, 2011

ICND1 was a success!

I know it took me a while to update you with the results. For the 2 people who might read this, the test was a success. I bet you were thinking.. poor guy, he didn't post back because he failed. You'd be right I probably wouldn't have. As promised heres what I used to study.
.
Books  & Videos:
CBT Nuggets ICND1 & ICND2 series (video series)
CCNA Study Guide by Todd Lammle (6th edition)
CCNA Practice Questions (Exam 640-802) (3rd Edition) by Jeremy Cioara
CCNA Portable Command Guide by Scott Empson (2nd edition)

Applications:
GNS3
Packet Tracer

Equipment:
Cisco 2500 x2
Cisco 2900 x1
Cisco 831

I started of by completed the entire CBT series. Afterwards I read through Todd Lammle's book, completing all the labs as I worked through the book. Having already watched the CBT series I had a much better understanding of the material I was reading. After completing the entire book I had purchased both the CCNA Practice Questions book and the CCNA Portable Command Guide. I worked through the questions in Jeremy's book while reviewing the portable command guide.

This is the material I used and the exact order I worked through it all. It took me some 9-10 months studying 1-2 hours a day. I often read stories of people who study and pass the exam in 2 weeks... it's very frustrating to read those types of things... I just continued to study at my own pace making sure I knew the material. I want to really KNOW it, as I expect to be hired by someone who intends to put my skills to work. I don't want to be given a job I can't do because I only studied to pass the exam.

Jun 4, 2011

ICND1 here I come

many months of preparation all boil down to this moment.. well maybe not this very moment, but a moment I will experience in a couple days.
I've reviewed and reviewed all my study material to the point where it's difficult to pick up the same material. I've built numerous labs and simulation. It's become repetition but its ingrained in my brain. I am ready to learn something new. It's funny how I'm already trying to decide on my future certifications when I haven't even completed the ICND2 yet.
I hope to come back with good news in a few days... I'm not sure how I'd handle failing this exam, especially after how long I've prepared.
It was only toward the last couple months of my self study where I really began to put together a solid study plan. I'm going to take that same plan and dedicate it to future studies. If I pass I'll share how I prepared for the exam.

Sep 12, 2010

New job first impressions

This department deals with a great deal more than I had ever imagined. From a field point of view the techs don't think these guys do much. So I had a sort of this'll be a piece of cake mindset.

I couldn't have been more wrong. The amount of multitasking going on here would blow your mind.

They are troubleshooting with customers on the phone while answering emails and IMs. Sometimes they'll have someone on hold basically switch hitting these calls.

All these things while keeping up with 3-4 email inboxes which are flooded all day. So while your doing everything else you have to keep up with these emails, as they pertain to relevant issues throughout the day.

Everyone has dual screens setup at their locations to assist with 10+ windows/applications  you have up throughout the day.

I think I'm only touching the surface here but I think I've given you a good idea of what I've stepped into.

I don't regret it though. I'm already having fun there and am excited to work on the network side of things for a change.

What I'm most excited about is working with the DMS all day. I remember only reading about switches back in the day. Now I get to control them. Or at least do testing from them. I'm hoping to learn as much as I can.

Tomorrow will be my first day riding solo, hope it goes well.

Sep 6, 2010

Saying goodbye to the field

It's been almost 8 years now- working on telephone poles, in attics, crawl spaces, in homes and businesses. I'm about to try something new.. well actually- I'm very familiar with it, I suppose its better to say I'm just leaving the field. Hopefully for good.

I'm going to be working in a call center for the telephone company I'm currently employeed with. I look at this as a great opportunity to learn a lot from people who have similar interests as me.

It's also going to afford me the time to go to school and continue my education. Something I put far to little value on in the past.

Working as an I&R tech has been great, but for me it seemed like a dead end career. Kudos for you guys who have 20+ years in the field. I think the game changed when IPTV rolled out though. I'd love to troubleshoot cable pair issues all day, but instead it was working on TV installations that took an entire day. It's fun to watch them come together at the end, and think- damn I did all that, but it's also an ass whip day after day. It's taken something I loved and turned into something I can't stand to look at.

Most nights I dream about work. The dream generally won't end until after I've either fixed the customers issue, or finished the installation... So here I work 10-12 hours, come home and chill for a short time before going to bed, then dream about work. Ugh is all I can utter.

So I've exchanged the labor for more of a mental ass whip. Fact is I'm good at this (tech support). And irrate customers don't effect me on a personal/professional level. It's just a job, I do it and I do it well.

Well that's it. I'll try to keep you in the loop about whats going on industry wise, as well as what's up with me. I'm going to make a seperate post here in minute to just touch on where I've been, etc..