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Archive for desember 2012

A week with Firebrand – SQL Server 2012 Student Review | Days 1 – 3

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Firebrand student Rowan Troy took time off each day during his intensive 7 day course to blog about his experience at Firebrand. He successfully gained his MSCA.

Day 1
It was an early start for the first day, breakfast waits in the hotel restaurant and if it’s like it was last time I was here, it’ll be very good. Firebrand will serve you a cooked breakfast but as always they don’t recommend it – personally I don’t take them up on the offer as I agree, it isn’t good for the brain if you are attempting to learn at the accelerated pace that the course demands.

We managed to get through 7 modules today, if you did that on the traditional course, you would be out the door by the end of play on day 3 and most training establishments ask you for five days of your time for just one exam track! Microsoft do have a tendency to pad things out but Firebrand take away the repetitiveness of the official curriculum and give you the bits you need to know. Angela, our no longer M.I.A trainer, has been impressive in her knowledge of SQL and the demonstrations have been practically flawless. She needs coffee though I think!

The clocks go back today so we do get an extra hour in bed which is a first for me being on a course. It is needed though as reading takes up your time once you have completed the labs. It is 2300 now so it’s time to get some sleep before day 2 starts.

Signing off!

Day 2
Day 2 is always a crunch day for me even though I have been here 5 times now. You wake up realising that you’re still here, wondering whether you actually learned anything on the first day and whether you remember anything. My fellow alumni are also feeling the tiredness that comes with self-study and staying up all the hours God gives to get as much knowledge in your over-worked brain. Good thing to do is recap the modules you covered at the start of the day as it does help to jog the grey matter. Breakfast was great again, just in case you were wondering.

We managed to get through 8 modules today which are just staggering. I know there will be some readers who think that isn’t possible but I implore you to take a look at the padding out that does happen with some modules and condense that information into one single module. You’ll soon find out that it is quicker and that you repeat things quite often. Talk of the first exam has already begun and although we are a day away still, everyone is keen to understand just how difficult it is.

The course doesn’t come with as many books as I would like. Firebrand always provide you with the Training Kits that come from the Microsoft Press or the Administrators Companion as both are valuable tools to self-study with when you’ve completed the labs (or just fed up with them) and you want to go back to your room to study in your own way and in your own time. Unfortunately the course and exams are so new that even Microsoft is somewhat behind in producing suitable reading material. I was not amused to receive a revised release date for the 70-461 training kit as it will now arrive on 3rd November – too late for me so I cancelled that a while ago!!! Firebrand have fortunately taken the time to research alternative books to the above and provided them instead.

Day 3 is coming and again its 2300 so time to hit the sack and get some energy back ready to finish off the first exam track and begin the revision…

Day 3
Day 3 started off pretty well, continuing with the course content and knowing there isn’t much left to cover does give you this sense of build up to the first exam. I happen to be carrying the joys of winter with me when I came up here and unfortunately haven’t managed to shake it off so I felt somewhat unwell throughout the day. Unknowingly though, performing complex tasks in the labs (they actually make you think now instead of giving you step by step instructions – that is until you look in the very back of the book of course) somehow made me forget about my cold and gave me something to focus on. It’s true what they say, doing something continuously that engages the brain non-stop allows you to forget the world around you. With the clocks going back it does, at the moment, make the day feel longer so you do have to wonder how your brain can cope with this pace and having an extra hour to squeeze in!

I haven’t mentioned lunch or dinner yet as breakfast is, in my opinion, the most important meal of the day but as always it is superbly prepared food and I hope that it continues to stay that way. You need it after the brain work out that is Transact SQL and the numerous windows and pop boxes that we face as IT bodies every day. It doesn’t get any easier it would seem to keep up with the fast pace moving world that is Microsoft technologies.

The exam is tomorrow so I am signing off just a little earlier as I need the sleep. I will be up very early to get myself reading again before the 9:30am meet up time and 10am exam. I came here with nothing but if I leave with an exam under my belt, it would mean a lot and would be a bonus. I know some people come here and their performance is monitored by their employer, fortunately mine isn’t so I don’t have that added pressure that some of my alumni do.

Good night!


Written by Readynez

desember 17, 2012 at 8:15 am

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What is the CISSP certification?

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CISSP stands for Certified Information Systems Security Professional it is offered by the International Information Systems Security Certifications Consortium, or (ISC)2.CISSP_png

During this course you’ll learn the following key areas in security:

– Access Control
– Telecommunications and Network Security
– Information Security governance & Risk management
– Software development security
– Cryptography
– Security architecture & design
– Operations security
– Business continuity & disaster recovery
– Legal, Regulations, Investigations and Compliance
– Physical (environmental) security

CISSP professionals are in high demand and is one of the key certs employers look for to fill management-level information security positions. CISSP is also popular within the IT security community because it demonstrates that the professional has a strong understanding of security concepts as well as the specific methodologies involved.

But in order to obtain this certification, you must have a minimum of five years of direct full-time security professional work experience in two or more of the ten domains.

Many companies’ IT security positions now require CISSP certification. One key point to note about this certification is that it’s only valid for three years and must be renewed, either by re-taking and passing the CISSP exam, or by reporting at least 120 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits in that 3-year time period or since a prior renewal.

Written by Readynez

desember 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

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Exam tips and preparation: Cisco CCNA certification

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The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is the first level on the cisco certification path. In order to gain this certification, you’ll need to complete one of the following testing options: either passing both the ICND1 and ICND2 exams or passing the longer CCNA 640-802 exam.

The CCNA certification has received a Gold certification from the IPv6 Forum’s Education Certification Program. This means that if you gain this certification, you can display the IPv6 logo, which shows that you have attained IPv6 knowledge and skills.

The CCNA cert is very well known in the industry and is in demand. It’s also a stepping stone onto the more powerful Cisco certifications. The average salary is £38,000 in the UK according to

If your only interested in gaining a Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCNET) certification, you’ll only need to pass the ICND1 exam.

This exam covers the basic topics related to modern networks, this includes:
IP Routers
Ethernet LANs
LAN switching

The exam also covers the protocol knowledge of LANS, WANs, hardware basics, and subnetting. It also introduces the Cisco Command Line Interface (CLI) which is used to configure, monitor and trouble shoot problems on Cisco devices.

It will consist of 40 to 50 questions. They can be multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Unlike other exams, you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later. The exam time limit is 90 minutes.

This exam picks up from where the ICND1 exam left off, with more depth and a larger number of configurations.

This exam covers more advanced topics related to modern networks, this includes:
Advanced LAN switching – such as Spanning Tree Protocols, VLANs and VLAN Trunking
Advanced IP subnetting – including variable length subnet masks
Advanced routing protocol – like EIGRP and OSPF

It will consist of 40 to 50 questions. They can be multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Just like ICND2 exam, you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later. The exam time limit is 90 minutes.

CCNA 640-802 Exam
As mentioned before, you’ll have the option to take this longer exam instead of taking the ICND1 and ICND2 exams.

This exam covers topics related to modern networks, this includes:
IP Routing and addressing
Cisco router and switch CLI
LAN switching
Spanning Tree Protocols
VLANs and VLAN Trunking

It will consist of 45 to 50 questions. They can be multiple-choice, drag-and-drop and hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Just like ICND exams, you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later. The exam time limit is 90 minutes.

Tips for difficult areas

The following topics are the ones that seem to be the most difficult for students, so here are some tips to deal with them:

IP Subnetting – This is challenging because it is hard to interpret the terminology, mastering the mathematics behind it, such as remembering which processes to use and knowing how to use them and applying the IP addressing and routing concepts while working with the math.

Time – This is crucial to take care of. As already mentioned, you will not have the option to skip a question and go back to it later making each question more time consuming. The sim, simlets and testlets also take a very long time.

Hands-on – The sim, simlets and testlets require you to have a good understanding of hands-on application of typing commands on Cisco router or CLI.

Variable Length Subnet Masks (VLSM) – This introduces the possibility of subnets with overlapped address ranges which are not easily identified.

Spanning Tree Protocol – As most people have STP enabled and it works, so there isn’t much need of understanding it, so you must try harder to fully understand it.

Access Control Lists (ACLs) –Knowing how to match TCP and UDP port numbers, both source and destination can be quite difficult.

Preparation Hints

Before you start these exams, it is recommended that you practice using commands on the CLI. Become familiar with the configurations and spend time understanding the router and switch commands. It is also recommended that you practice subnetting. You should also take advantage of the Cisco learning network (

We recommend reading the CCENT/CCNA ICND1 640-822 Official Exam Certification Guide (ISBN: 1-58720-425-8) and the CCNA ICND2 640-822 Official Cert Guide (ISBN: 1-58720-435-5). Also, try and join a study group to study for the exam. Discussing the topics with others will help you remember the material.

Good Luck

Written by Readynez

desember 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm