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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: CCNA Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide, 4th Edition (640-801)
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Todd Lammle, Sybex
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
A Head Banger!

Now in its 4th edition, which is almost identical to the 3rd edition, which is...well you get the idea. I wanted to
like this book, but I can't. I work at the "CCNP" level and was asked to review this book for a local college, the
results are disappointing at best, a waste of money at worst. And like many others here I found that Todd's failure
to go any further in-depth on the OSPF subject is a discredit to his customers. If you are new to subnetting the
section on subnetting Class C is good, but when it comes to Class A forget it. It's as if the author wasn't really knowledgable in this subject himself! VLSM is tricky for almost everyone and if you don't have a firm grasp of basic subnetting then you won't understand VLSM or router summerization. The authors "unique method" of using lengthy "charts" to calculate VLSM were, to me anyway, confusing. Furthermore, he suggests that you "memorize" these charts! He almost arrogantly runs through this subject at light-speed so any student planning on taking the CCNA had better learn their VLSM from other sources.

Techical inaccuracies: more than I have room to mention here and going to the Sybex website to grab their errata sheet is of no help at all.

The CD: even the CD included with the book is a waste of money. Period. The author suggests going to his companies website (www.routersim.com) and purchasing their product "Network Visualizer 4.x", not a bad product unless you need to create a lab using a slot-based router. Each virtual device uses only pre-set interfaces with no room for expansion. Therefore, when the student attempt to build something like a WAN, they are limited to two serial connections and two Fastethernet connections - there is no room for growth here.

We used the third-edition of this textbook in our CCNA classes and, out of the 9 students in that class, all nine failed the CCNA on their first attempt. One could assume that none of these students had any prior experiance on routers and/or switches, or that they were all just moronic idiots but only the later half of that statement is true :)! Indeed, 7 of these students had over 15-years working as Networking Professionals and the other 2 had over 20-years as Network designers who's companies were making them go back for their CCNA!! I hope that is of some comfort to those of you who have used this book, took the CCNA test, and failed it: now you know why.

So what would I suggest?

I would suggest an offering from Cisco Press entitled, "CCNA Certification Library (CCNA Self-Study, exam #640-801, Sixth Edition which is written by Wendell Odom. Mr. Odom is the best author of CCNA exam books on the planet (in my not-so-humble opinion!!) and beats the author of this book hands-down when it comes to explaining all topics regarding the CCNA. Furthermore, even if you were to purchase an older editon (as far back as his second writing, which is the de-facto standard in the CCNA world) of Mr. Odem's title you would still be better off than you would reading Todd Lammle's latest edition. However, be advised that Mr. Odom is completely devoid of any sense-of-humor what so ever and, in fact he is down-right dull IMHO!! But we don't use these books as a joke, we use them to learn and that is what makes Wendell Odom my favorite author in "CCNALand".

Another good text on CCNA is brought to us by Boson who is the publisher of several CCNA books by the author Richard Deal. The latest edition (published by MH for Boson) isn't perfect but is much better than Mr. Lammle's offering AND it includes a CD which has some excellent applications on it as well!Applications like the "lite" version of Boson's Netsim v5.25 as well as Flash Cards and some useful utilites and ON that note: Boson's Netsim....I do recommend this simulator if you cannot afford a couple of low-end Cisco routers. I have to admit that true, it does have some "bugs" in it, but even with these bugs it beats Routersims "Network Visualizer" in most areas (which does, by the way, include Todd Lammle's course-work which tends to follow the Sybex book, 3rd editon) of study. Furthermore, the Boson product is downloadabe in its "Full Version" with a 30-day, limited trial. Boson also has their "new" Netsim v6 CCNP product available for download for those of you who care to continue in the education and become a CCNP. I can't recommend this latest version however because it is still in Beta...but so far, after testing it now for three-months I find it quite good to excellent and well worth the time it would take you to download it and give it a spin!

No I don't work for or have any interest in ANY of the above parties, thank you very much :)!!

I hope this helps because I too have in the past tried and failed to pass the dreaded CCNA exam and, after 26-years in the IT industry that can be a humiliating experiance. I do highly advise you to NOT go into this exam without some hands-on experiance either via an actual Cisco router and switch OR through at least a good network simulator!!

There are at least two "simulation" type questions on these tests, maybe several by now and they can be tough if you have had no experiance with a simulated lab so be warned!!!! And remember fellow underlings: DO NOT OVERLOOK THE SIMPLE!!!! Its the "little things that kill" in most of these kind of tests so if you are a Wizard at WAN and can't seem to remember how to subnet or ADMINISTRATIVE DISTANCES (uh...hmmmmmmmm :!!! wink!!), you know, THE BASICS then don't expect to gurggle-and-cew your way through this test it simply WON'T HAPPEN!!

One last thing and no it is not about how bad this book is but rather a probelem with Cisco, I believe and that is their tendency to cater to their Cisco Academy "cadets". These "cadets" are sometimes given a "test" with a LOT of
questions on them but YOU CAN'T really FAIL this test!!! How do I KNOW this? Because I watched in horror as, what has got to be THE worlds dumbest living Carbon-Based, bi-pedal human being, obtain his CCNA after attending the Ciso Networking Academy for one-year. I won't mention any names (like, "Dan E. Boltjes at School District 11, Colorado Springs, CO) but here is a guy who's technical prowess had been confined to that of a VCR Technician and who had a tough time spelling "IP", pass this so-called "test" on his first try! Unlike "The Rest of Us", who must have a firm grasp on networking subject-matter, it would seem that these Academies have somekind of "in" with Cisco and in order to make themselves look good want to make sure that their students succeed - at any cost. So hang in there, study
hard, practice a few subnetting problems EVERY DAY FOR AT LEAST A WEEK BEFORE YOU TAKE THE TEST and I'm sure you will do fine BUT, if you DON'T pass it first try do NOT DISPAIR because, believe me, you "are not alone" and you WILL eventually pass this exam IF you don't GIVE UP!!!

Best wishes,

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Mobile and Wireless Design Essentials
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Martyn Mallick, Martyn Mallick
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Mobile and wireless computing 'must read'...

Anyone dealing with mobile and wireless computing needs to have this book on their desk. It is a great reference, providing a comprehensive and non-biased overview of the different facets of this market space.
It is uniquely written in such a way that it can be read, understood and enjoyed by a wide variety of readers. From any IT sales staff needing to understand the competing technologies - to project managers needing to implement optimized mobile and wireless solutions - to the hard-core techies looking for an introduction into new technology - this book will apply...
Read this book if you want a competitive advantage in mobile and wireless computing...

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming Perl (3rd Edition)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen, Jon Orwant
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Overall, it's a disappointment

This book almost immediately moves to the full essence of Perl programming. Thereby violating all rules of "good writing." The start is VERY difficult to understand. But I stuck to it and read it over and over again, carefully. When I finally understood the first chapter, I understood Perl. Learning the rest was mostly details. So this "immersion" style worked, at least for me. The later editions do not begin this way, so my review applies only to the first edition.

Product: Book - Textbook Binding
Title: Cisco LAN Switching (CCIE Professional Development series) (The Cisco Press Ccie Professional Development Series)
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: Kennedy Clark, Kevin Hamilton
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A very detailed and very useful overview.

Although this book is designed for readers whose goal is to become CISCO CCIE certified, it could still be read profitably by anyone who needs to understand in detail the design and operation of LANs using CISCO technology. It could even serve as an introduction to general LAN networking technology, even though the book is dedicated to CISCO equipment. As someone involved in the mathematical modeling and simulation of networks, my interest in the book was to obtain knowledge of LAN network configurations and behavior in order to gain insight into performance issues that arise in these types of networks. The book is very detailed, and has exercises at the end of every chapter with answers given to all of these in the Appendix to the book. The emphasis of the book is on both the theory and practical issues that arise in CISCO LANs and how to administer them properly. Since the interest of this reviewer was in performance issues, I only skimmed briefly the discussions on LAN administration.
Performance issues are addressed in the book, such as those that arise in Ethernet. The authors show how to calculate the theoretical frame rates for Ethernet, and also give advice on when to judge whether or not an Ethernet network is functioning well. That judgment will be dependent on subjective factors such as user perceptions, as well as quantitative measurements taken from the network. The authors also stress the need for being aware of the hardware limitations of the client when increasing the network bandwidth. Clients could handle a Fast Ethernet for example, and there are times when such bandwidth is needed. However a Gigabit Ethernet connection could actually slow down a typical client workstation due to software interrupts. They elaborate on the Fiber Channel technology when addressing these issues also. Also discussed are the differences between copper and fiber optic media and what kinds of configurations they are best suited for.
The authors give the reader insight into the need for LAN segmentation, and compare collision and broadcast domains. They are careful to point out the need for actually measuring the average and peak bandwidth consumed by the applications, rather than just relying on the quoted theoretical bandwidth. All of the network configurations that the authors discuss can be modeled by commercial simulation software available on the market today. This software can complement the book in that the reader can see just what can happen when making network design changes as specified in the book.
Large enterprise businesses frequently need to make use of VLANs and the authors discuss in detail the justifications for using them. These include network security and privacy, broadcast distribution, bandwidth utilization, network latency from routers, and complicated access lists. The authors though emphasize that VLANs may not be as simple to manage as some network administrators believe. The complexity of the network may in fact increase with the use of VLANs, due to the nature of the Spanning Tree algorithm and the dispersive characteristic of broadcast domains. The desire to have a "flat" network via "end-to-end" VLANs ran into issues with scalability, due mostly to the Spanning Tree algorithm.
Due to its importance, the Spanning Tree protocol is discussed in great detail in this book, with two chapters spanning 136 pages devoted to its elucidation. It is introduced as a loop-prevention protocol that allows bridges to communicate with each other with the goal of discovering physical loops in the network. An example is given of a feedback loop that resulted in 2.4Gbps of traffic in 45 minutes, in order to convince the reader of the severity of feedback loops. All of the examples discussed in these two chapters illustrate the need for great care when implementing the Spanning Tree protocol in LANs. Also discussed is the tricky task of doing Spanning Tree load balancing, which must be done if one is interested in creating a network with optimal performance. Root bridge placement, port and bridge priority, and port cost are the techniques discussed for doing Spanning Tree Load Balancing. The role of VLANs in the creation of multiple Spanning Tree domains over a single physical infrastructure is readily seen in all of these techniques. The advantages and disadvantages of each technique are summarized in detail by the authors.
Networks rarely exist in isolation, with connections between them being the norm rather than the exception. The authors therefore discuss different methods of doing the interconnection, via AIM, FDDI, or Ethernet. This is called "trunking" and is discussed in great detail in the book. As pointed out by the authors, trunking has more scalability then access links since a network administrator can distribute the VLAN connectivity without the need to use a large number of cables and interfaces. One of the most useful of trunking technologies, at least to this reviewer, is EtherChannel, which can give trunk speeds on the order of FastEthernet and Gigabit Ethernet without the need to use another technology. The authors discuss the advantages of using EtherChannel, its ability to function as both an access or a trunk link, and its ability to bundle segments so as to offer more effective bandwidth than any one of the individual links. The authors also discuss the proprietary CISCO link negotiation protocol called Dynamic Trunk Protocol, which reduces the possibility of incompatibility when links are being configured. The trunking capabilities of ATM technologies are also discussed in the context of their long-distance capabilities and their ability to carry different types of traffic, such as voice and video. For readers not familiar with ATM, the authors give a fairly detailed review of it, and an overview of Emulated LAN (ELAN), the latter of which is a special type of VLAN, namely a LAN emulated over ATM. This motivates a treatment of LANE, and then a discussion of trunking in a Catalyst environment, with Multiprotocol over ATM (MPOA).