To pass the CCNA exam and earn this coveted certification, you must master the OSI model. In Part 1 of this seven-part series, learn all about the Physical Layer from Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933.

Cisco CCNA Certification Exam Tutorial: The OSI Models Physical Layer

Cisco CCNA Certification Exam Tutorial: The OSI Models Physical LayerTo pass your CCNA exam and earn this coveted certification, you've got to master the seven layers of the OSI model and what each layer does. For those of you taking the two-exam path, you can expect quite a few OSI model questions on the Intro exam. In this seven-part series, we'll spend some time taking a look at each of the OSI model layers, starting with the Physical layer.Often, CCNA candidates ask if the OSI model has any practical uses for network administrators. I used to wonder the same thing, and I can now tell you that the answer is definitely yes!The OSI model isn't something you want to memorize and then forget about, as using the OSI model gives you a structured approach for troubleshooting. Whenever a network device isn't working properly, I always say to "start at the physical layer". The Physical layer is Layer One of the OSI model, and this is where troubleshooting should always start. Is the device on? Is it properly connected? If everything is fine at Layer One, you just move up to Layer Two, and continue in this structured fashion until the problem is identified. The Physical layer is the layer at which bits are transmitted over the physical media. There is no routing or switching going on at this layer. The data has been broken down into more manageable pieces until the data takes the form of ones and zeroes at the Physical layer. Even though there's no routing or switching at the Physical layer, CCNA candidates should be familiar with a couple of network devices that work at Layer One. A repeater is a device that regenerates an electrical signal, allowing the signal to travel longer distances without fading. (The process of an electrical signal gradually fading in strength over distance is "attenuation".) A hub is basically a multiport repeater, and both of these devices are considered Physical layer devices. Ethernet and Token Ring both operate at the Physical layer as well.Learning the OSI model's Physical layer isn't just important in your CCNA exam studies, it's the first step in any network troubleshooting. After all, your network's end users are going to have a tough time sending print jobs to a printer that's turned off!

Cisco CCNP / BSCI Exam Tutorial: 10 ISIS Details You Must Know!

Cisco CCNP /  BSCI Exam Tutorial: 10 ISIS Details You Must Know!

Earning your CCNP certification and passing the BSCI exam depends on knowing the details of many Cisco technologies, ISIS chief among them. To help you prepare for exam success, here's a list of ISIS terminology and basic concepts that will help you pass this tough exam. Enjoy!ISIS Terms:Domain: section of the network under common administrative controlArea: logical segment of the network composed of contiguous routers and their data linksIntermediate System: A router.End System: A host device.The four levels of ISIS routing:Level 0: ES-IS routing in the same subnet.Level 1: IS-IS routing in the same area.Level 2: IS-IS routing in the same domain.Level 3: Inter-domain routing performed by InterDomain Routing Protocol (IDRP).ISIS Adjacency Possibilities:L1: Can form adjacency with any L1 in the same area and any L1/L2 in the same area.L2: Can form adjacency with any L2 in any area, and with an L1/L2 in any area.L1/L2: Can form adjacency with any L1 in the same area, L1/L2 in any area, and L2 in any area.A router interfaces SNPA (Subnetwork Point Of Attachment) is its highest DLCI number if its on a Frame network, and its MAC address if the interface is on an Ethernet segment.ISIS Hello Types:ESH: ES Hello Sent by End Systems to discover a router.ISH: IS Hello Send by Intermediate Systems to announce their presence. End Systems listen for these.IIH: IS-to-IS Hello Send by one IS to be heard by another IS. These hellos makes IS-IS adjacencies possible.Best of luck on your CCNP exams!

Cisco CCNP Certification / BSCI Exam Tutorial: Floating Static Routes

Cisco CCNP Certification / BSCI Exam Tutorial: Floating Static Routes

Passing the BSCI exam and earning your CCNP certification demands that you add greatly to the networking skills foundation you created when you studied for your CCNA certification. You learned quite a bit about static routing and default static routing when you passed the CCNA test, and it does seem like that should be all you need to know about static routing, right?One thing you'll learn as you continue to earn Cisco certifications is that there's always something else to learn! You may have heard the term "floating static route", which does suggest some interesting mental pictures. "Floating"? Floating on what?In a way, a floating static route is "floating" in your routing table. A floating static route is a route that will be used only if routes for the same destination but with a lower administrative distance are removed from the table. For example, you could be using an OSPF-discovered route as your primary route to a given destination, and the floating static route would serve as a backup route that would be used only if the OSPF route leaves the routing table.Now, how can that happen? After all, OSPF has an administrative distance of 110 and static routes have ADs of one or zero, depending on whether it's configured with a next-hop IP address or a local exit interface. One way or the other, 1 and 0 are still less than 110!When you want to configure a floating static route, you must assign the route an AD higher than that of the primary route. In this case, we've got to create a static route with an AD higher than 110. We do this by using the "distance" option at the end of the "ip route" command.R1(config)#ip route ? <1-255> Distance metric for this route name Specify name of the next hop permanent permanent route tag Set tag for this route R1(config)#ip route 111The number entered at the very end of the "ip route" command is the AD of that route. If there is an OSPF route for /24, that will be the primary route, and the floating static route will not be used unless the OSPF route is taken out of the routing table.Floating static routes aren't just a good thing to know for the BSCI exam and your CCNP certification pursuit - they're very practical in the real world as well.

Cisco Certification: The Importance Of Building Your Own Home Lab

Cisco Certification:  The Importance Of Building Your Own Home Lab

CCNAs and CCNA candidates hear it all the time: Get some hands-on experience. From my personal experience climbing the Cisco certification ladder, I can tell you firsthand that there is no learning like hands-on learning. No simulator in the world is going to give you the experience you will get cabling and configuring your own routers. Whenever I mention this to one of my students, they always say it costs too much. The truth is, it is cheaper now to build your own CCNA and CCNP lab than it has ever been. The secret? Used routers. The word used turns off a lot of people not many of us buy used computers or used servers. Cisco routers, though, are robust I personally own a Cisco 4000 router that I use as a Frame Relay switch in my lab that Ive had for about four years, and Ive never had a problem with it. The good news for current CCNA and CCNP candidates interested in building their own labs is that used Cisco equipment has never been more plentiful or cheaper. eBay is a good way to get an idea of whats out there and what the prices are, but you dont have to assemble your lab one piece at a time. Many eBay vendors who sell used Cisco equipment sell ready-made CCNA and CCNP labs for one price, including cables. I personally recommend for your lab needs, and there are many other vendors as well. And should you desire to sell your lab after you complete your certification, you can either negotiate a price with the vendor who sold it to you, or you can sell it yourself on ebay. Its my experience that 95% of candidates who earn their CCNA go on to pursue their CCNP within one year, though, so dont sell it too quickly. In the end, you spend only a few hundred dollars, and you gain invaluable experience and knowledge that will help you both in your certification quest and your job performance. Having been there, I can tell you that you will learn much more from actually configuring and cabling your own equipment than you ever will from any simulation of the real thing. Chris BryantCCIE #12933

Don't Be Left Behind: The Right Computer Skills Can Make All The Difference

Kelly Dodson knows firsthand why companies value the ability to use computers and software. An administrative assistant in Kansas, Dodson used to keep her CEO's calendar by hand, until one day an important meeting slipped through the cracks. That painful experience compelled her to seek training in the effective use of the company's scheduling software. And today she feels she couldn't do her job as well without it. As early as 1999, the Progressive Policy Institute estimated that 75 percent of employees use computers in their work, and that figure continues to increase as computers make their way into more and more aspects of individuals' lives. Since just about every job today is connected to computers and software in some way, employees who lack the ability to use that information successfully are finding themselves increasingly marginalized. The effects of this evolution for individual workers are real, and they show up most vividly when it comes to the bottom line. Research has shown that workers with the right computer skills can earn 17 percent to 40 percent higher wages than those without, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and California Journal. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Office of Productivity and Technology agrees, emphasizing, "It is not merely the employee having a computer on his desk-but rather having complementary computer skills-that causes wages to increase."Commenting on information workers' adoption of technology, Laura Stack, productivity expert and author of "Leave the Office Earlier," said, "The people who succeed are those who take the time to figure it out rather than struggling each time, doing it the hard way, or taking too much time. Employees who self-educate themselves will experience a performance boost from using the full range of available functions."That is to say, whether you're an administrative assistant, auditor or staff attorney, having the right computer skills can make a difference in your career and your paycheck. So what can you do to get those skills? Dodson was lucky enough to develop them on the job, with support from an understanding employer. But without basic computer literacy, it can be tough nowadays to get a job in the first place. The Web offers a myriad of courses and programs on a range of technical skills, from basic computer literacy to complex programming and IT training. "Software training is evolving into a just-in-time approach," Stack said. "Many workers complain about the slow response from the company help desk or lack of available training. It's more efficient for workers to access self-help online resources, such as Microsoft Office Work Essentials, to allow them to find answers to problems they are experiencing in real time."Microsoft Office Work Essentials is a comprehensive resource with occupation-specific tools in programs such as Microsoft Office Excel, Word and PowerPoint. The site has hundreds of free templates, how-to articles, product demonstrations, tip sheets and other resources. Available 24/7 at, it helps professionals in more than 30 occupations-including auditors, project managers, sales managers and human resource professionals-find tools to help them improve their skills."Local computer superstores and community colleges also offer inexpensive courses on many common software packages," Stack said. "The day I spent at Comp USA learning PowerPoint saved me much time and frustration of trying to figure it out myself.

The Zune MP3 Player Versus The Leading iPod

It is not a surprise that a lot of people in our society don't even know what a Zune is, and there is one answer. Advertisement, Microsoft has done a horrible job of advertising their product. Even commercials, they tried to make the Zune seem so mysterious, but in reality, it just turned people off.I can understand wanting to hide such a movie like Hancock, or The Happening, something where giving away the plot or story might ruin the whole movie, but there is absolutely no point in not throwing the Zune right in peoples faces so that they aren't just looking at the iPod.Thats one reason why the Apple is far ahead of Microsoft's game. This also applies to Windows and MAC, you never see any advertising on Windows, now do you? Next thing you know, the MAC will be the mainly used computer for all of the United States, something I thought never would happen.But, lets get down to business. The Zune MP3 Player, is actually a very nice mp3 player when comparing it to the iPod. Of course, any arguments that you here are generally from someone with an iPod, doesn't know what the Zune is, or even looks like for that matter. Point in case, people believe what other people say way too easily.Do your research, and if your reading this article, I've done it for you. The Zune often gets better ratings than the iPod when it comes to being an mp3 player, unforunately due to the marketing ability of Microsoft to show people the Zune, half of the world doesn't know what the thing is.But thats okay, because you do. Now you can make a solid decision on whether you want an iPod or a Zune MP3 Player. One thing that I must point out is that the Zune has several features the the iPod does not have at all.The downside to that is, when they decided to release these new features, they were not polished at all, thus resulting in failed features or ones that had little or no effect when put into works. So, that means it looks good on paper, but essentially if something doesn't work, it doesn't work.On the other hand, iPod doesn't have as many features, but in the features that it does have, they are polished up quite well. You won't find any buggy systems or anything like that with the iPod, and the database, iTunes, where all of the music comes from is just massive.iTunes is consistently being updated, and made more user-friendly for the computer-illiterate people who don't know how to drag and drop a song from one folder to another. But that's okay, you can't expect much from people nowadays.There are also a few other points of competition as well. Accessories, that is one huge aspect. If there were absolutely not accessories for one of the two competitors, the Zune or the iPod, the opposing would win. Simply because what good does an iPod do on its own.You need to be able to plug into your car, plug a charger in at home, on the go, have a dock where you can charge and listen to at the same time, along with your standard company-brand headphones and earphones.Along with that, an fm transmitter kit, and the list goes on. Basically, all of these accessories make the iPod or Zune reusable and versatile in many situations. Having a travel charger while the other one doesn't, now allows for you to take your Zune anywhere you want, but the iPod will be dead before the day ends.That would be a huge difference maker had one of the companies not created the travel charger. You see, the mp3 player itself is already out, and now to make it stand out more than the opposing, you have to make accessories, ones that look nice too. You can't have ugly accessories and expect people to buy.This society is full of people who base things on looks, covers of books, people and how attractive they are, thats the first thing they notice. And with so many things to compare in this world, that seems like a viable and easy way to do it. That is where the iPod comes on top, looks. They have made their mp3 player, and their accessories look a little better.But that's okay, because for anyone who has gone and done their research knows that the Zune produces better quality sound, and for the price, even though very similar, the Zune is a better deal in the long-run, unless your an Apple fanatic.


To pass the CCNA exam and earn this coveted certification, you must master the OSI model. In Part 1 of this seven-part series, learn all about the Physical Layer from Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933.