Where next?

3 11 2011

Been in a bit of a no mans’ land since passing the ICND2, in terms of what to study for next.

I’ve so far purchased:

* CCNA Voice CBT

This is mostly a “need” – the member of my team that administers our Call Manager phone system is leaving, so thought I’d swot up on it. Unfortunately, I’m finding it pretty hard going in terms of keeping my interest – too much “historic voice” stuff which I’m not too interested in. In addition, the 2008 syllabus focusses on Communications Manager Express and the UCM 500, whereas I have the full blown Communications Manager, with an Express in our satelite office for failover purposes.

I’ve now swapped this video series out for the 2011 series, which apparently has less of the historic voice stuff, and also includes the full blown Comms Manager.

* A CCNA Security Book

This was purely out of interest – security training’s never going to be a waste of time, after all. This is keeping me much more engaged than the above, even though it’s a book, and the above is CBT (my favourite training method).

* A Linux Professional Institute book

This exam was one of my learning objectives for the year – going broad on learning rather than deep (which I think I’d prefer – that’ll be the objective for 2012) – wow, much harder going than even the CCNA Voice – certainly for the first chapter. Just a million file manipulation commands to memorise to start with – snore! Seems to get a little more interesting within a few chapters though. I highly doubt that I’ll be getting myself up to exam standard for this (apart from the fact there’s only about 6 weeks til Christmas) – I just find the Cisco stuff much more engaging.

* Practical Packet Analysis with Wireshark

I was obviously aware of Wireshark, but hadn’t really used it for any more than interface familiarisation purposes. But during the process of troubleshooting some firewall issues with my firewall consultants, I began to see the true potential of it. Wireshark is amazing – used it to help troubleshoot and fix various issues now, when before I wouldn’t have even thought of it. This book was great in helping to understand the various functions, and focusses on really useful real world scenarios.

I also have the CCNP SWITCH and TSHOOT videos from CBTNuggets – the SWITCH syllabus is great, as you have to go to that level to learn about L3 switching and all the cool redundancy / load balancing features. TSHOOT is great too, an amazingly valid way of testing knowledge.

I think I’ll be hitting these guys next year.

So quite a mish-mash of different subject areas. I think I’m going to continue to watch the 2011 syllabus CCNA Voice videos, whilst reading the CCNA Security book – before deciding which exam to do and really get down to studying for it. I’ve already read through the Wireshark book several times – and I envisage there being quite a few more as a refresher.

Thanks a bunch, Measure Up!

11 09 2011

So, got the ICND2 exam on Tuesday, and thought I’d buy the online practise tests from Measure UP as I’ve done for numerous exams previously.

Imagine my disappointment when I logged in to my “Learning Locker”, after having added the ICND2 practise tests to my Basket, when I saw that I had to download Silverlight to proceed. This is not compatible with iPad, iPhone or even the full blown Mac OSX.

The thing I liked most about Measure Up was the fact that I could access the practise tests from a number of platforms – my work desktop, laptop, iPad2 and even iPhone (although this was pushing the boundaries due to the screen size).

Now, I was forced to boot my PC just to write a complaint to them. I will be looking for alternatives now, but I fear that there may not be any. I’d quite possible rather go without than have my hand forced with regards the platform I use.

70-646 exam passed!

30 06 2011

Took the 70-646 exam re-take yesterday, and passed. Whoohoo!

The day seemed to come very quickly – somewhere in my skewed logic, I’d decided to listen to my CCNA (and a few CCNP TSHOOT) videos during my days laying by the pool at the villa in Cyprus, rather than the 70-646 material. I figured that waiting til I got back to smash the studying would result in the material being fresher in my head.

I hadn’t figured though, on the first day back being a write-off due to getting home at 8:00am, and that the day of the test didn’t really count as a study day due to the travel etc! This left only Tuesday to hit the study, for which I used a slight change of tack and used the 70-646 Official Study Guide, which I have in PDF format on my iPad.

Although this is pre-R2, much of the material is relevant. On the train on the day of the exam, and then while I was waiting at the test centre, I used another PDF, “Introducing Windows Server 2008 R2”, to swot up on the new features. I knew from last time that these would be heavily tested on.

Took the test at QA Ltd in Holborn, which was a much more pleasant experience than ADA, and pretty easy to get to – I’d built resilience in to my route planning, which came in handy as the Circle line had heavy delays 😉

A very similar experience to the first test, the Testlets are still a great way of testing in my opinion; they put you much more in the shoes of a consultant. This really works in terms of making the tests different to the TS level ones.

I did find that it was not always necessary to read though the whole of each testlet scenario; each question specifies the section that you need to comply with, i.e. “Propose a solution which complied with the company’s “Technical Requirements” or “Proposed Changes”; in many cases, reading just these sections gave the answer.

Some of the questions (generally non-Testlet ones) were quite vague, and it was one of those cases where I genuinely didn’t know if I’d passed until it popped up on my screen. I also ran out of time before hitting Next on the last question in the standalone questions – luckily it was only one question!

So now I’m back on the the ICND2, to complete my CCNA. I’ll be using Trainsignal CBT, CBTNuggets, my Cisco Press ICND2 book, and the Chris Bryant Ultimate CCNA Study Package, all of which are already purchased.