Not really sure if this is the best place for this but I'll ask anyway.
Are all networking courses/exams full of theory?
I have a small - sorry, large problem in that if I can't see a particular use for something, it just will not sink in and motivation hits absolute zero. For instance, the Cisco stuff. You can't seem to get very far out of most courses (books, online etc) without having to go through some dribble like manual conversion of hex to bin etc.
So my question I suppose is, come any actual exams, is that sort of thing relied on for a chunk of marks? Is a level of awareness (I *know* how hex/dec/binary etc are made up, I just can't be made to understand how they convert to eachother) I don't want to waste time ignoring one bit to "get to the juicy stuff" to find that it's the bumf that carries the bulk! (And this, along with procrastination is the very reason I absolutely flunked my computing A-Level back in the day's of a school's single internet connected PC despite a level of comprehension, I'm told, far exceeded that of any of the IT staff within the school)
Are you talking about subnetting by any chance ?
Not in particular - that is actually rather important! I mean I've got several courses/resources and they all start with the conversion of binary to hexidecimal etc first. I can understand how IP addresses are made up (ipv4 anyway) and how the octets are derived from binary and base10 but it's just all the numbers that make it up.
The CCENT exam was mainly subnetting, ACL rules and practical (virtualised) setups, remembering and knowing how to set up the routers and switches.
There were a few examples of having to remember line speeds etc.
Getting started in networking requires a bit of a grind through some theory. It seems dry and useless, but believe me it is base knowledge that you will use for the rest of your career. I started and stopped the CCNA about 10 times because I couldn't get through the OSI model, but now that I've moved far past that I see how valuable it is. The same applies to subnetting, hex/binary/decimal conversion (IPv6 is ALL hex!), etc.
It gets better, and you get into the "fun" parts soon enough, but don't look for a quick way. Learn everything, be an expert. Fellow networking folks will be able to tell quickly if you rushed to get the letters after your name or if you really know your stuff.
Be prepared as you progress for more of the 'boring' fluff. Cisco especially is highlighting the importance of planning and proper implementation with their current track of exams. Learn their PPDIOO model, or expect to fail exams. :)
In short, the OSI model and subnetting theory are there to weed out the chaff. Are you chaff?
The difference is, I'm already fairly well versed in what you see. My problem isn't that I'm "chaff" (thanks very much for that btw) but it's that no matter how hard I try, that stuff doesn't sink in. I know full well what hex/bin etc is and how to use it. My primary concern is that any exam might expect manual conversion of it. Which is pointless but something I rather expect from exams, possibly falsely. I'm not looking for insults, I'm not looking to avoid anything boring, I'm looking to be able to get through such a qualification not being able to do manual conversions. I know the OSI model like the back of my hand and I certainly know subnetting. I'm either missing something (i.e. how manual conversion of bin>hex and vice versa is directly linked to practical subnetting) or people don't appear to be reading/understanding what I'm saying.
I suffer from a similar problem, although things like binary and hexadecimal appeal to my warped mind. It can be impossible to learn some stuff, can't it?
My knowledge of cisco is probably somewhat out of date, but I would think as long as you can calculate subnet masks for IP v4 and v6 without a calculator/computer, you would be ok. The binary to hex conversion is there so that you can understand whats going on at a low level. IE how does your router take an ip address and a subnet mask and work out the subnet address, and whether an IP address is on the same subnet or not. If its still the same, you will need to be able to do this pretty quickly in the exam.
Cisco is much more focused on proving you understand how the technology works, and not just how to configure it for a given scenario. Its one of the reasons why cisco engineers can earn more.
Sorry, I wasn't trying to insult you, it was more of a rhetorical/motivational question. Maybe it was my accent.
Originally Posted by synaesthesia
Do you need to understand and be able to manually convert binary/hex/decimal? Yes.
For the CCENT/CCNA - you aren't going to run into the hex conversions, but you'll need them later on for IPv6.
You say you 'certainly know subnetting' - so you already know that conversion of decimal to binary and binary to decimal is key fundamental knowledge for subnetting. Will you need to manually convert binary/decimal for the CCENT/CCNA - Yes.
Ex: Route summarization - I don't personally know a shortcut to summarizing routes. You have to break a network down into bits to determine where you are going to summarize, as in the following example:
Ignoring the first 16 bits as they are identical the third octet breaks down to:
You can summarize at the 6th bit, so your route summary would be /22.
Well this is what I'm trying to get down to. If you give me a range of a addresses I can tell you the relevant subnet mask immediately - but that's out of practice and time rather than any conversion. Any conversion of anything required, naturally, I'd have the disposal of a million and one tools on my phone/ipad/computer to do.
Cheers for the input, guess I just need to try harder!
(It's horrible, really. At the same time as flunking my A-Level computing I was simultaneously flunking and acing Maths. Statistics and equations would not sink in whatsoever for the very same reasons, regardless of how hard I tried and my mathematical genius friend helped, yet I was constantly the quickest and best at mechanical maths. Yet the end result wouldn't come without both :( I hate my mind sometimes! )