Gamification – Not just a game but a movement

Last week we deployed Gamification at the Cisco Learning Network under the name Achievement Center and I encourage everyone to check this out. Under the hood, it runs on bunchball_logoBunchball’s Gamification module that also runs on top of the Jive Social Business platform. Both platforms are their respective leader in the industry, Jive being the leader in Social Business Software and Bunchball being the industry leader for Gamification.

What is Gamification? First of all, it is not pronounced Gamma-fa-cation which would lead someone to believe it has something to do with the Incredible Hulk. Pronounced Game-if-acation, it is the act of giving a social website a more  game like experience. One of the biggest challenges of social community websites is getting community members to engage. Gamification allows you to create challenges for your community members that directly relate to whatever you are trying to promote. The main components consist of Levels and Missions, where people earn badges for getting to the next level or for completing these missions. It is an ideal way to engage with Generation X and Generation Y members who all grew up with video games and almost expect these type of features within a community.

Return to Computer Networking

cisco_badgeRecently I was asked if I was interested in writing a blog for Cisco about my story to get CCNA Certified. Since I am relatively new to blogging, I decided to put my personal blog to use and start writing about my journey here first so I can practice before moving to the big time. The Cisco Learning Network is an award winning website and has over 600,000 members, so my blogging skills need to be on point.

So, first here is a little about me and why I might be a good person to write a blog about networking. I started my IT Career kind of by accident. I was attending the Academy of Art College back in 93’ and decided to get a part time job while I was going to school. I found a job working at CompUSA and worked my way up from a cashier to be the assistant manager of the Tech department. While I was at CompUSA, I was able to get my A +, HP Laser Printer, Apple Macintosh, Toshiba and Compaq certifications which allowed me to order parts and pretty much work on any computer or laptop.

After CompUSA I worked for some big companies like Sony where I got Lotus Notes certified and Novell Certified. I then worked for a few small and medium sized companies such as CMP Media, Robert Half and Juniper Networks as an IT Analyst, Coordinator, IT Manager and IT Director. I also received my ShoreTel VoIP certification along the way and a Juniper Networking certificate.

For the past several years my focus has been more Web related, managing a Robert Half e-learning portal for two years, then managing the partner portal for Juniper for 4 years and the past several months has been spent as a Sr. Web Developer and Site Administrator for the Cisco Learning Network community.

At first the idea of writing a blog for Cisco seemed farfetched but then I realized that many people are probably just like me. Beginning the journey to get CCNA Certified many years ago, and then re-launching the quest to get CCNA certified. Maybe it’s a career change in focus, or a company is downsizing and you would like to have this in your back pocket. Whatever the reason, the first thing to note is that things have changed in the Networking world during the last several years. Unified Communications and Data Center is all the rage now, Fiber is much more common, and everyone has broadband at their homes. Dial-up is a dead dinosaur for the most part and Wireless is everywhere.

One thing that has not changed through the years is the fact that Cisco Certification is still the holly grail of IT certification and I am thrilled to get a chance to support and maintain this award winning site.

Network + vs CCENT

A while back I created a thread on the Cisco Learning Network asking people which path should I choose. I have been out of Networking for several years, even though I had been around it working for Juniper the past 4 years, it was not part of my daily responsibilities or focus. I received some mixed reviews from the community. Some people thought it best to start with CCENT and some thought that Network + would be worth more as an overall certification since it was not vendor specific.

BOOTP vs RARP and Old School Networking

I remember using BOOTP back in the days when I was working as an IT Analyst at Sony Electronics. We had it on our boot disks that we used to boot up a PC or laptop and then connected to the network to the NetWare 3.1 file server. This was before NetWare 4.11, and when Microsoft Windows for Workgroups was a very poor option compared to Novell. I really miss IPX/SPX and SYSCON… you old school IT managers know what i’m talking about. Anyways, back in those days we had the original version of Norton Ghost with the image loaded onto a Novell file server, which was the best way to image a PC and how we managed hundreds of PCs.

Our boot disk also used IBM Dos 7 which in my opinion was way better than MS DOS. I am reading that RARP (Reverse Address Resolution Protocol) was supposed to be an alternative method to BOOTP before DHCP became the standard but I don’t remember every using RARP. Anyways, let me know if you had some experience with RARP, i am interested to see if it was any good or if there is any reason why someone would have used it. As I understand BOOTP was routable versus RARP, which only worked within a single LAN. I believe that we used BOOTP with thin clients for our dumb terminals that connected to the Cobalt mainframe we had back then. Supposedly they both RARP and BOOTPcame about in the 80’s and I used BOOTP primarily in the mid 90’s.

CNT 52 or CIS 60 Networking Fundamentals

Checking to see what my local community college had to offer, I decided to take a class at Las Positas Community College called CNT 52 Networking Fundamentals. My instructor Moh Dauod was extremely helpful and made the challenge of going through the material fun.

This class will prepare me to take the Network + exam and it also helped me refresh my study habits and put me in a classroom environment once a week that forced me to focus on nothing but networking for 4 hours a night once a week. I think that is one of the biggest challenges when trying to get back into studying after working professionally in the industry for years.

Network+ Guide to Networks is the book that we will be studying.


Study Plan for the Network + and other Certifications by Exam Topics

My study plan has basically just been to adopt what works and discard the rest. For those who know me, I am a huge fan of Bruce Lee and his philosophy for Jet Kun Do is similar. What worked for me was to basically focus on one topic for a week. Read the Chapter, review the material and ask any questions to a senior Networking Engineer or post a question in the community. Take a practice test on the material and go back and re-read anything that you missed.

The nice part about taking a class was the fact that our instructor made us read one chapter a week, and then review the material in class, do some labs related to the chapter and then take a weekly Quiz on the chapter that we just studied. This worked really well for me. I was able to absorb about 85 to 90% of the material each week which was reflected on my grades for the quizzes. When studying for the Network + or any other certification, I have adopted this strategy and we will see how this works at the end of the year when I take my exam.

What is a CMS?

A CMS is a Content Management System that allows the owner of a Web Site to have an easy way to update the content on a website without requiring any programming knowledge. In order to setup a CMS, you must have a few things in place as well as the knowledge to setup and manage these things:

  1. Have a Web Host
  2. Create a database on a Web Server
  3. Have a domian (
  4. Upload a website software platform to your web server or advanced programming knowledge to create your own
  5. Knowledge of HTML and the programming language for your CMS in order to Customize the site

WordPress is the most popular CMS and is a Blogging platform with a large user and development community. The benefit of a larger community is that many Plugins, Themes and Extensions are built for the application and bugs are worked out quickly making it a more stable platform.

Does Time Heal All Wounds

What is time to you? I mean what does TIME really do for you? Time is nothing but a moment in space, someone that is traumatized or can’t let go of something can have years and years of “time” go by but still be stuck as if it happened yesterday. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, don’t buy into that either, what heals all wounds is the inner strength an individual has to accept the now and move on. So basically acceptance heals all wounds. Things work out best for people who make the best out of situations in life. What has time done for you? It really isn’t about time, it is about accepting your life the way it is and continuing to keep on pressing day by day to make it better! I still feel that time does aid in the healing process, but now I have a better grasp on the concept of “moving on” and “letting go”. I think that I have been able to let go because I accept my life for what it is now and I have the strength to move on and a love for life.