This morning I began training to test for the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification. I am in a class offered by GlobalNet Training in northern Virginia. My company ManTech agreed to pay my way, as they support sending engineers to a week's worth of training per year.
My instructor is Todd Lammle, author of the recently updated CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate, Deluxe Edition (640-801) study guide. Two weeks ago I saw Todd was personally teaching this class, so I immediately signed up. I'm probably not the easiest student to have in a networking class. When Todd asked if HTTP uses TCP, I felt it necessary to mention Universal Plug and Play Protocol (UPNP) which runs HTTP over UDP. I also mentioned that DNS uses TCP to answer queries when the response is larger than the 512 byte limit on UDP responses. Todd's tolerating me so far, but he said I have to provide a copy of my book. :)
Why am I studying for the CCNA? Once in a while I find myself working on Cisco routers and switches, and it's been almost seven years since my last formal training on either platform. I believe the CCNA is a fairly well-respected certification, as far as entry-level certs go. By attending this class I also get a free copy of the latest deluxe study guide edition, which is tough to pass up when you're a book reader and reviewer!
Todd told me today that he's sold somewhere between 600,000-700,000 copies of his study guides over the last five years. That is absolutely amazing, considering that a technical book which sells more than 10,000 copies is regarded as a big hit. I will be reading and studying this book in preparation for my CCNA exam, which I plan to take some time next week. Todd is an excellent instructor, and he's already improved my subnet addressing skills by an order of magnitude. In other words, subnet questions which might have taken 60 seconds to answer will probably take about 6 seconds. This speed increase is important, as candidates have about a minute to answer each question. They can't return to skipped questions, so it pays to answer as rapidly as possible.