Tuesday 24 April 2012

How I managed my CCNA Certification

Walking tall
It has been quite a while that I have had the pleasure of a spring in my step, a sense of achievement that has come from hard work where doubt and uncertainty has swirled around like they were going to consume me.
In the midst of this is determination and resolve, I have decided to just continue doing what I know best and eventually things will come good.
Course for courses
When I took off to India in December for courses, it was to reacquaint myself with developments, some quite new as well as obtain new knowledge that might well presage a different career path.
It was really a last-minute decision to tack the Cisco Certified Network Associate curriculum to my activities where Koenig Solutions had planned on delivering the complete material in 6 working days and expect me to master the content in order to pass the certifying test. [I have noticed that the curriculum has now been extended to 9 days.]
There are many who just about scraped through doing the main CCNA composite test after practicing test questions and other sometimes suspect material. In my case, I felt I needed practice, study and more understanding of the topics such that no matter how difficult the question, I will know what to do to answer the questions correctly.
My scheme
So, I planned on splitting the CCNA test into its component parts, the ICND1 test leading to the CCENT which provides an entry level qualification and the ICND2 which completes the CCNA certification requirement.
Along with the Cisco Official Exam Certification Guides (ICND1 & ICND2), I had the use of both the TrainSignal CCNA CBT Course and the CBT Nuggets ICND1 & ICND2 CBT Courses. I gravitated towards the CBT Nuggets offering, the structure and delivery of the material was better suited to my study habits and the trainer’s demeanour was just right.
I also found that it was better to load the videos which were in AVI or WMV format into a media player playlist than having to click through each course, one could use the media player features to control the pace and bookmark sections through the course.
Now, I must commend my trainer at Koenig Solutions for have the prodigious ability to recall every single aspect of the CCNA curriculum without referring to the books and we did have a few spats on the content, but it was entirely worthwhile.
Tough, rough but done
I will be the first to say both the tests were probably the most difficult that I have taken; my management of time was not perfect by any means. On the second test, I remember looking at the clock with 12 questions to go and 10 minutes left. Did I not silently pray that the remaining questions be basic multiple-choice questions rather than simulations requiring extensive configuration or troubleshooting?
My prayers were answered as I was left with 100 seconds when I ended the examination and waited almost interminably for the score, the screen that said Pass.
Yes, it is done and I am told after this first hurdle, you can chart where you want to go next and none of this would have been possible without the help of friends who paid for the tests and encouraged me when I appeared to flag or despair.
Thank you – on to the next challenge.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Social Engagement: The menace of texting distractions

The distraction of mobile communication
I will be the first to say that to my observation mobile phones have become a major social distraction that users of such devices are somewhat oblivious of.
Too many times, I have watched people on a phone call or sending a text message walk ahead of me but never in a straight line, though they think they are fully aware of their surroundings, they may not walk into pillars and rarely into people just because others are more aware and take consideration of others.
I have found myself barking at cyclists to put their phones away when riding in Amsterdam because at the speeds they are moving they rarely are able to anticipate sudden changes in their pathways either in terms of on-coming traffic or those who intend to overtake them – you can just tell from about 20 metres who is not looking ahead of themselves.
Control and consideration
When it comes to driving cars the hubris of those who take calls without consideration to stop and attend to that distraction cannot find expression, we now have instances of people who have lost their lives in accidents for engaging in such stupidity.
I will contend that sending text messages is definitely more distracting than just being on a phone conversation but both are serious distractions that endanger all in the proximity of the offender.
When I was in India, I thought I had seen the worst abuse of phone usage when in control of a vehicle because the culprit was reversing his car round a bend on a busy road whilst on his mobile phone – I stood my head in wonderment and resigned perplexity as I wondered aloud how that behavior was ever possible.
This is just beyond the pale
However, one must never eliminate the prospect of surprise on the matters of social interaction that entails complete distraction endangering life as those concerned despite their experience so soon forget their core responsibilities and duties.
A flight that was about to land did not have its landing gear down because the pilot was busy in the social interaction of texting. Now, I thought we were at least in Europe told to switch off all transmitting devices during flights because they might interfere with flight avionics. There is no particular engineering science that supports this claim but in the remotest cases there might well be some interference.
I am however glad that we do not have to endure the propinquity of business types permanently on their mobile phones throughout the flight striking deals and feeling so self-important as if any of us care if there are making billions or begging for farthings – the time of the flight is just one of those last bastions of peace away from everyday distractions that we face elsewhere.
No sanction is high enough
To then read that the pilot was texting at the one of the most critical times of a flight that was in descent, with all the alarms at full volume and yet they left it so late that the approach had to be aborted at 392 feet (119.48m) is the height of criminal irresponsibility that should have sanctions as serious as both captain with 13,000 flying hours and 1st Officer with 4,000 flying hours lose their licenses.
I think this illustrates in stark terms the barely averted disaster that could have had a 220-passenger aircraft plunge into the ground due to what many think is inconsequential and what they think they can comfortably do multitasking motion either ambulatory or in control of a vehicle with being partly pre-occupied with a phone.
It goes without saying that you should stop to use a mobile phone and basically if you are in control of an aircraft you must never have your mobile phone on except where communication systems on the plane necessary for its safe operation have failed when communicating in relation to the primary task of operating the aircraft.