Network+ Post Exam wrap up

I took and passed the Comptia Network+ exam the other day (Friday March 14 2014) . My score was 820 on a scale of 100-900, passing being 720. This blog entry is a brain dump of what was on the exam, some opinions regarding it and a review of the materials I took during my study of the exam.

Background

I started my career in IT as a Computer Technician and took the Comptia A+ exam early in my IT career.  Not longer after that I changed  paths to systems development, since then I have had plenty of exposure to production support type of issues but not in a Network Admin type role. Never having taken a deep dive into the networking world, I found preparing for the Network+ exam pretty rewarding. I gained knowledge that will be well utilized as I move into  Architect type roles. I highly recommend individuals looking to advance their career in IT take this exam.

Disclaimer:

This is my experience from the test, obviously everyone’s will be different so take this all this with a grain of salt.

Section 1 of the Exam; The Simulation questions

My test began with 7-10 multi-part, interactive, drag and drop/fill in the details Simulation questions. By far this was the most difficult section of the exam, the worse part about this is their are so many little points to these questions and it is unclear how its graded. Dealing with these questions first was a little jarring, none of the online or book based practice exams contained these types of questions. By the 10th question or so I was convinced I was going to fail the Network+ exam. Eventually this simulation questions where over and the familiar multiple choice questions started. Looking back the fact that these are front loaded is probably a good thing, relatively speaking they are the most stressful part of the test.

Section 2; The Multiple Choice questions

The Network+ exam covered a diverse range (as expected) but their are 2 points that I noticed from this exam.

In general, the questions did not dive as deep as expected.  Considering the size of the content covered this should not be too surprising.

Some of the more modern networking subjects were not covered. For instance I do not recall any questions pertaining to IPV6, MPLS, Multicasting, Failover technologies or Virtualization.

Materials I used to prepare for the test

3 books where the foundation of my studies

  • The Comptia Authorized Network+® Certification Guide eBook authored by Kevin Wallace was a good general guide to the test and subject material.
  • Network Warrior by Gary O’Donoghue;  I found this book to be a great supplement whenever I needed some deeper understanding of a subject. I highly recommend the Network Warrior book in particular.
  • CompTIA Network+® Certification Practice Exams by Robb Tracy; This eBook is a collection of practice questions with an explanation of all the answers. I found the questions to be more difficult than most of the other Exam prep books and the exam itself.

From these I created my own study guide for the exam, this can be found here.

There were a number of websites and mobile apps I used that offered practice exams

Brain dump of the exam

1 question regarding recognizing a topology

A few basic switching questions

A few VLAN questions, one in particular about improving a VOIP situation by moving the VOIP traffic into a VLAN.

Nothing about STP, autonegotiation, trunking or multicasting,

A couple related to RJ45 standards; One question was a drag and drop that asked to put T-568B in the proper order, I was confident regarding the active cables Orange stripe, Orange, Green Stripe and Green at slots 1,2,3 and 6 but did not bother to memorize the blue and brown locations.

1 or 2 Power over Ethernet questions

Decent amount of Wireless LAN questions, In fact one of the simulations was a scenario to set the appropriate antennas for connectivity between 2 building and for the floor plans within the buildings.

Wireless LAN, VPN and Security in general  were well represented on the test but none of the questions where deep dive type of things.

There was an APIPA question

No Netbui or IPX questions

There was 1 or 2 routing protocol questions comparing the different types,

There was a question about NATing with Ports, answer being PAT

There were 1 or 2 Identify the device and its usage, for instance a TDR to identify a short in a cable. But there were no questions where an image of a tool or connector was displayed on the screen and the testee had to identify what it was.

1 RAID question

I was asked to identify ports for DHCP, SSH, DNS, SMTP and SNMP this was a drag and drop type questions where the question was the “useage” and drag the protocol and also its correlating port to an empty slot.  Example: Protocol used to securely connect to a terminal, one would be required to drag ssh and port 22 to the correct slots.

1 Email protocol and port questions

There were 2-3 voip related questions,

A couple of network troubleshooting questions where deciding on the correct order of steps was required

2-5 questions related to IP and subnets, some were easy (identify the class) others where the trickier subnetting type of questions. There was also a  CIDR question

 There was at least 1 identify the difference between cache engine, load balancer, type of questions.

There was a Syslog question

 I don’t recall if their was a single command line question, if their was it was so simple it wasn’t memorable.

There was a multiple choice tools question where NMAP was the answer

There was a RADIUS/TACAS+ question

Dont recall a single “Identify the attack” security question

There was an IDS question

1 or 2 Identify the Connector questions

A SONET size question , 1 DSL question, not a lot of WAN questions in general though.

1 DNS question regarding identify the usage A name, PTR record, MX, etc..

No Active Directory, Windows user account questions

Quick guide to building Maven archetypes

Overview

Maven archetypes are project templates that offer a quick and easy way to start a new software project that is consistent with an organizations best practices. This blog entry demonstrates the technical steps one can take to convert a skeleton project to a Maven archetype, to store the archetype into a Nexus Repository and finally to test the archetype by generating a new Maven project from the archetype. In a previous blog entry I covered setting up a Nexus Repository click here if you have an interest in that material, it is somewhat relevant to the content in this blog entry.

Pre-requisites

A JVM and Maven should be installed on the developer machine, Java and Maven should both be available on the systems/users path variable.

1. Create a project skeleton

The best way to start any new project in Maven is to utilize an existing archetype. To see a list of available archetypes from a specific repository type the following command.

mvn archetype:generate -DarchetypeCatalog=http://localhost:8081/nexus/content/repositories/bcn-archetypes

This command triggers Mavens archetype wizard.

The example archetype created in this document used  a pre-created “basic-java-app” as a starting point, this archetype existed in a local Nexus Repository but it is very similar to the publicly available archetype “maven-archetype-simple”

Running through the archetype wizard will create a basic skeleton Maven project.

After Maven has created the project,  edit it to the desired standards of the archetype.

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The example project is created for the purposes of generating a batch archetype for my employer. The original skeleton project was edited to add dependencies related to the  organizations database framework library and to test database connectivity.  The table below demonstrates the file changes done to the skeleton project.

Initial skeleton Maven Project Edited skeleton project

From a file layout there was NOT much change, the bulk of the changes where implemented within dependencies of the projects pom.xml. Once again edit the skeleton to fit the needs of the archetype you need to create.

From $SKELETON_PROJECT_ROOT execute the following command to confirm the skeleton project compiles and executes tests successfully

mvn package

2. Create Maven archetype project from skeleton

When satisfied with the skeleton project, generate an archetype project from the skeleton by running the following command at the skeleton projects root.

mvn archetype:create-from-project

3. Copy generated files into a new Maven project location

After step 2 has executed it will create the archetype project at the location $SKELETON_PROJECT_ROOT/target/generated-sources/archetype, copy all of the files at this location into a separate directory outside of the Skeleton project.

This new location is the root of your Archetype project. It should look similar to the screenshot to the right.

Note: “$ARCHETYPE_PROJECT_ROOT/src/main/resources/archetype-resources” contains the initial files that will be generated when the archetype is called. Nothing should have to be edited in this section.

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4. Edit the new archetype project with the desired settings

Open “$ARCHETYPE_PROJECT_ROOT/src/main/resources/META-INF/maven/archetype-metadata.xml”,  this file declares the files and/or file-types Maven will perform search and replace activities on during the build process.  Make changes based on the archetypes requirements.

An example edit maybe to add support for more file-types in the “resources” directory.

<fileSet filtered="true" encoding="UTF-8">
 <directory>src/main/resources</directory>
 <includes>
 <include>**/*.txt</include>
 <include>**/*.properties</include>
 <include>**/*.resource</include>
 <include>**/*.conf</include>
 <include>**/*.xml</include>
 <include>**/*.xsd</include>
 </includes>
</fileSet>

Edit $ARCHETYPE_PROJECT_ROOT/pom.xml file with the desired name and description details for the archetypes and add support for the Maven “deploy” goal, the deploy goal change allows the archetype to be stored into the desired repository.

<distributionManagement>
 <repository>
 <id>my-repo</id>
 <url>http://localhost:8081/nexus/content/repositories/my-archetypes</url>
 </repository>
</distributionManagement>

 

5. Build the archetype project and deploy to the repository

From $ARCHETYPE_PROJECT_ROOT run the Maven commands to build and store the archetype into the repository.

mvn clean install
mvn deploy

6. Test the new archetype

a.  From a location outside of a an existing Maven project execute the maven command to list available archetypes (remember to point to the repository where the new archetype has been installed).

mvn archetype:generate -DarchetypeCatalog=http://localhost:8081/nexus/content/repositories/my-archetypes
b.  Run through the archetype wizard to populate the project.  This should result in the creation of a Maven project in the current directory with the desired directory layout
c.  change directory into the “artifactId” value entered at the archetype wizard prompt
d.  Execute “mvn package” to ensure the new application compile and executes tests successfully