Blog Archives

CompTIA Network+ Exam & Cisco 1 Class

I took CompTIA Network+ exam last year; unfortunately, I didn’t pass.  I realized that I didn’t know the material well enough to pass the test.  I began to re-study Network+ books and re-watch Professor Messer’s Network+ videos, but the material just wasn’t sinking in.  This fall (just a few weeks away) I will begin a Cisco 1 class through a local community college.  My hope is that getting some hands-on experience in the classroom as well as formal teaching will help to really learn the material.  For those interested, the optional textbook for the class is Introduction to Networks v6 Course Booklet.

Cisco Book - Introduction to Networks



Review: CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Cert Guide, 4th Edition

The CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 exams can be overwhelming especially for test-takers who don’t have years of experience in the technology field.   So, the test-takers first dilemma becomes where to start learning the material.  Luckily there are a few books on the market that cover the exam material.  One of these books is the “CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Cert Guide” where you’ll find lots of photos, screenshots, quizzes, and tables. In addition, when test-takers purchase the book, they will also get access to the companion website which includes the Pearson IT Certification test engine and study materials.

If you started studying for the 220-801 and 220-802 exams with the “CompTIA A+ edition 220-801 and 220-802 Authorized Cert Guide” but now you’re planning to take the 220-901 and 220-902 exam, you’ll find a few updates to this edition.  New and expanded material includes: Linux, OS X, MacBook, UEFI BIOS, mobile devices, Windows 8/8.1/10 features, and mobile devices.


The new OS X and Linux section covers backups, system updates, patch management, and other tools.  Basic Linux terminal commands are also covered.  The OS X operating system is the primary focus of the section, but Ubuntu and Fedora also are briefly mentioned.

The section on laptops includes both Windows and Apple computers.  Photos show the different features on an Acer V5-571P (including power jack, proprietary header port, eject button for rewriteable DVD drive, USB 3.0 port, Kensington security lock port, cooling vent, HDMI A/V port, USB 2.0 ports, headset jack, Ethernet port, and VGA port) and an Apple MacBook Air (including magnetic power connector (MagSafe 2), USB 3.0 ports, headphone jack, flash memory card reader (SDXC, SDHD, and SD card), Thunderbolt 2 I/O and A/V ports, and microphones).  While the Acer V5-571P includes a DVD drive, the text notes that thin laptops (Ultrabooks) don’t include rewriteable DVD drives.

The Basic Input/ Output System (BIOS) is being replaced by the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) on newer systems. On today’s systems, you might encounter a text-based BIOS or a mouse-drive Graphic User Interface (GUI).  BIOS settings can change the boot sequences, disable ports, overclock the system, enable Wake on LAN, etc.  This section also walks readers through how to flash the BIOS.

While the “CompTIA A+ edition 220-801 and 220-802 Authorized Cert Guide” included Windows XP, Vista, and 7; the “CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Cert Guide” includes Windows 7, 8/8.1, 10, 10 mobile, and Vista.  It’s a lot of material, so the tables for operating system differences and command-line tools will come in handy for test-takers.

The mobile device section focuses on iOS and Android devices; however, Windows 10 devices are briefly mentioned.  Screenshots show the differences between IOS and Android devices for operating system version numbers, creating folders, airplane mode, and Bluetooth.

VERDICT  The CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 exams covers a lot of material – finding a good study guide is to crucial to learning the material.  The “CompTIA A+ 220-901 and 220-902 Cert Guide” makes studying easier with photos, screenshots, quizzes, and tables.  In addition, the companion website includes the Pearson IT Certification test engine and study materials.  Between the book and the website, test-takers get a lot of bang for their buck!

Note: This review is made possible through Pearson IT Certification Review Program.  

Review: CompTIA A+ Complete Video Course 220-901

Note: This review is made possible through Pearson IT Certification Review Program.  If you’re an information technology professional, this  program is a great way to read Pearson books or watch Pearson videos in exchange for your review.  


CompTIA A+ Complete Video Course 220-901 includes four modules, 34 lessons, quizzes, and performance based exercises.  If you’ve picked up the CompTIA A+ Exam Cram book, you’re already familiar with the author David Prowse. These videos provide an excellent compliment to the information that you’ll read inCompTIA A+ Exam Cram. While you get enough the information in the Exam Cram book to pass the exam, these videos provide a much needed video compliment to the material. CompTIA A+ Complete Video Course 220-901 covers the CompTIA A+ objectives (including motherboard, CPU, RAM, storage, BIOS, network troubleshooting tools, etc.).

New technicians with limited work experience will find it helpful to see videos for the installation of a motherboard and CPU – while these videos don’t take the place of real-world experience, they are helpful to demonstrate how to correctly install these technologies.

Prowse provides lots of helpful advice (mini videos within lessons called “Tech Tip!!”) such as how verify that a case fan has been installed correctly, use the paper test: put a piece of paper against the fan to see if it’s pulling or pushing the paper.

You can watch the entire series from beginning to end or just watch certain sections.  After you finish watching a video, a yellow check mark will appears next to the video which is a helpful feature if you only have enough time to watch one video at a time.

VERDICT Whether you’re studying for the CompTIA A+ Exam or just refreshing your knowledge, these videos cover the information that you’ll encounter on the CompTIA A+ exam in bite-sized videos.



CompTIA Project+ Exam Tips

I’m studying for the CompTIA Project+ exam.  If you have experience working on projects, a lot of materials is going to sound like common sense.  But mixed in with the common sense, you’ll need to memorize some terms, lists, and formulas.  Below are a few tips that I found helpful while I was studying.

9 PMBOK Knowledge Areas 

Remember this phrase: “I saw two cows quietly having coffee and reading poetry”.

Credit: Matthew Sorvaag






Human Resources




Project Charter vs. Scope Statement

Rather than memorizing the list of items that are included in the project charter and scope statement, memorize the items that both have in common: assumptions / constraints, objectives, and deliverables.  Then memorize the items that are unique to the project charter and scope statement.

Project Charter Scope Statement
Assumptions / Constraints



Problem Statment

Project Approach



Cost Estimates


Assumptions / Constraints




Acceptance Criteria




There are a few formulas to memorize for the exam.  While watching CompTIA Project+ videos on CBT Nuggets, I heard some good tips for memorizing cost and schedule formulas.


  1. The variance and indicator formulas all begin with EV.
  2. The variance formulas are subtraction.
  3. The index formulas are division.
  4. The cost formulas end with AC.
  5. The schedule formulas end with PV.

Cost Variance (CV) = EVAC

Schedule Variance (SV) = EVPV

Cost Performance Index (CPI) = EV / AC

Schedule Performance Index (SPI) = EV / PV

Laser Printing Process

If you’re studying for the CompTIA A+ exam, you’re also studying the laser printing process. Knowing the mechanics of the laser printing process will make it easier to troubleshoot issues.  For the CompTIA A+ exam, you’ll need to memorize the steps and what occurs at each step.


The 7 Steps


Step 1: Processing

The page is sent to the printer’s memory

Step 2: Charging

The Primary Corona applies a negative charge to the drum

Step 3: Exposing

The image is written with a laser

Step 4: Developing

Toner is added to the charged areas of the drum

Step 5: Transferring

Toner is moved from drum to the paper

Step 6: Fusing

Heat and pressure are applied to the paper

Step 7: Cleaning

The excess toner is removed



After you’ve learned the laser printing process, now it’s time to memorize the steps so you can easily recall them during the exam. The phrase below was really helpful for me, but feel free to make one up – it doesn’t need to make sense – make it memorable!











Mr. Cartridge: How a Laser Printer Works

Printer Blog: How a Laser Printer Works

Professor Messer: Understanding Laser Printers

Wikipedia: Laser Printing