Saturday, August 12, 2017

New FAQ

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1. What kind of Questions should I expect to see on the CCNA exam?

All the information that is known about the exam is available on the Cisco Certifications pagerelating to the exam in question. The Cisco NDA forbids us from telling you anything more. This includes how many of each type of question we saw, whether or not a specific topic is covered heavily, and what specific questions we were asked.


2. How much does the CCNA exam cost?

You can find the cost of the exam in your country at the above mentioned site where you register. Again, don't take anyone else's word for it. You're going to pay Pearson Vue to take the exam, not me. So it only makes sense to see what they say it costs, right?

3. How do I register to take the exam?

Cisco exams are proctored Pearson VUE. You will find everything you need to know about registration and exam locations on their site. Don't just take the word of some random person on Facebook, get the information directly from the authoritative source.


4. What book should I read for the CCNA?

I've blogged about this before very recently, and you can find that post elsewhere on my blog. But to summarize, I'm always going to recommend the Official Certification Guide from Cisco Press. I don't care if someone said Wendell Odom is too dry, or the books are too long. There's a lot to know, and you may as well understand now that there are no shortcuts.

Many like Todd Lammle's book because it's shorter and it reads more like a stand up comedy routine.  First, Lammle assumes you have a certain level of knowledge already before you pick up his book.  Odom doesn't.  Lammle gives you the bare minimum needed for the exam.  Odom doesn't.  If passing the exam is your only priority, you're in for a rude awakening on your first day on the job. The router that's down isn't going to go easy on you because the root cause wasn't a CCNA exam topic.

You can find a large list of free resources around the Internet to assist your studies.

5. I have a question about my final results.

There's a great post over at the Cisco Learning Network titled Demystifying the Cisco Score Report. It says it's posted by the Certs & Lab Admin, so I'm going to assume this is legit. And while this particular breakdown is for a CCIE Written exam, pretty much everything that is said in the post applies to any written exam.

6. What degree should I get for networking?

Nobody can speak for every hiring manager out there. Every one is different, so there is no answer for this. In my experience, a college degree was a yes/no question without too much focus on what the degree was in. Some hiring managers don't care about a degree while others only care that you have one, and others still want it to be something specific. I chose a degree that closely matched the work I wanted to do in the future. You can't go wrong with that way of going about it. One thing I can guarantee is that nobody is looking specifically for somebody with a masters in Botany to work in their NOC.


7. Why did I get banned from the CCNA group?

The group has rules, and the rules are enforced. Its nobody else's fault that you either posted without knowing the rules, or you knew the rules but chose to disregard them. Every Facebook group, Website, Online Forum, etc. has rules and it's up to you, the user, to seek them out and follow them. This is true with anything you do in life.

8. Will you do my homework for me?

No, we absolutely will not do your homework. Do your own homework. I already know the material and your homework is one of the steps involved in your education. You want to pas the exam and earn the certification? Then you need to learn this stuff, not just write down what I told you. Obvious homework questions will be deleted, and the poster will be mocked. I don't care if you say it's not homework, we know homework when we see it.

Besides that, half of the "answers" I see given to homework questions are wrong anyway.

9. Which certification pays more, Cert A or Cert B?

Follow your heart, not your greed. If you want to strike it rich, maybe come up with the next Google or Facebook.  Every certification path has great opportunities, and you'll be paid well in any IT specialty if you do your job well. And you will do your job a lot better if you're doing something that you actually enjoy doing. If you don't know what you enjoy doing yet, you should be spending more time getting a job and gaining experience and less time worrying about 3 jobs ahead.

Bottom line, if it wasn't a marketable job skill, Cisco wouldn't bother maintaining a certification program for the skill.


10. What is router?

This question, and any basic question like it, doesn't have any place in a Facebook group or an online forum. It's something that you can easily Google, and not waste everyone's time. In case you're still unsure how, I wrote a post on how to Google things. Try it sometime, you may like it.
"What is the CCNA" is especially offensive. Why did you join our group if you don't even know what it is? If you don't know, then Google it.

When in doubt, try this post on how to ask better questions. Better questions get better answers. Take note when you will not show any router configs but still want us to figure out why can't ping across your 5 router topology.

11. Any question that conntains "Class A," "Class B," and/or "Class C".


Let me stop you right there. Classful networking is a relic of ancient days, and we simply don't use it any more. CIDR and VLSM aren't something that's off in the distant future (insert IPv6 or Duke Nuke 'em Forever joke here), they are the here and now. If your "practice test" or study guide that you obtained from some shady website talks about classful networking, you're going to fail.


12. I don't like the rules, who can I complain to?


Basically nobody. The admins set and enforce the rules. And as long as we do not violate any part of Facebook's TOS, that will not change. If you dislike the group that much, there's certainly other groups elsewhere that you would like better. Try one of them.

Of course, if you do want to scream at somebody, then by all means send me a private message on Facebook, even if it was a different admin that annoyed you. I've actually grown to enjoy the abuse.


13. I was treated unfairly by an admin, who can I complain to?

See question #12. I have nothing but respect for the other admins of this group, otherwise they wouldn't be admins. It's not very likely I'll take your side over them.

But again, feel free to scream at me all you want on Facebook.  I love the abuse.

14. Will the CCNA help me find a job?

The same goes for this as it does for the degree question. While experience trumps all, certifications and a degree will help you stand out from other similar candidates who you are otherwise similar to. But at the end of the day, it's up to the individual company to decide what they want in a candidate. Some want a degree, some want certifications, some want something else still. The job posting will tell you exactly what they're looking for in a candidate.

The bottom line is that having a degree and a CCNA helped me get my first job in I.T. Everyone had zero experience at one point, and yet the senior members of the group are all working in the field, right?

15. I has cert, job me now!

Sorry, but this isn't a jobs board, and these types of posts can and will drown out everything else if we allow them.. Since there's really no such thing as a "CCNA Job" despite what many posters say, there's no connection here. If you wish to explore career opportunities in your area, seek out a group dedicated to that topic.

16. I'm the network administrator or engineer and everything is broke. Help me!

Let me guess, you passed the CCNA by using Testking, and somehow lucked your way through the job interview. The hiring manager must have figured they could pay you less since you really didn't interview well. Now you see why you shouldn't have cheated. You can't afford my hourly rate as a consultant, so pick up a book and start learning. You're in for a long night.
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Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Elusive Java Sweet Spot

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If you've worked been on the Cisco cert train and/or worked with Cisco products (particularly their security products) for long enough, you know exactly what I'm talking about here.  My first taste of this came with Cisco's Security Device Manager (SDM).  I've never seen SDM actually used in production, but at the time that I was studying for the CCNA, it was still a required topic for both the CCNA and the CCNA Security.  The problem was that at the time, it was old.  It was old, and was not receiving updates as Cisco had moved on to the Cisco Configuration Professional (CCP) program already but had not updated the exams content yet.  Because it was old, it didn't work well with Java that was newer than JRE 6 update 43 (and didn't work well with many versions that were older than that either).

The first issue here is that we all know about the security track record of Java.  Being forced to use a version that is several years old is just asking for trouble.  Every month, the Nessus scan is updated to look for yet another new version of Java as the previous one has several critical vulnerabilities.  You can read all the gory details here if you care to.  I don't know what's worse, Java or Flash in this regard, and CCP just happens to use both.

And it's not just SDM/CCP that has given me fits about Java versions.  Most of the Cisco ASA's that I've installed were for small businesses (the 5505 and 5506-x models), so I have to set up ASDM for their use as there's never an actual IT guy on staff.  And since I'm rarely a party to the purchase of the ASA, I'm also rarely a party to the decision of which version of the ASA software it comes with.  Which means I rarely see the same version of the ASA software, and by extension the corresponding version of ASDM, on more than one firewall.  There was a firewall install that I literally spent 2 hours trying out different versions of Java on my computer in order to find one that would work with both the client's ASA 5506-x and my ASAv that I was using to study at the time.  Yes, I could just change out Java when I move to a different ASA, but I'm not trying to keep track.

Also using Java, though not as much of a headache is the Cisco Configuration Assistant (CCA).  Not a product that I particularly like, but good luck with Cisco support on a UC500 series PBX if you're not using it.
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