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What Are the Prerequisites for the CCNA?

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The CCNA is a Cisco certification required for most IT professionals. There are actually a few versions of the exam, but the most common is the CCNA Routing and Switching certification. This exam can be taken at the Associate level, so there aren’t many concerns as far as prerequisites go.

The only real limitations are that a person under 13 years will not be permitted to take it, and a person between 13 and 17 must have parental consent. For those 18 and older, there are no restrictions, as Cisco does not require any previous exams to become eligible for the CCNA.

Still, just because there are no real prerequisites, this doesn’t mean the exam isn’t challenging. It’s a 90-minute test consisting of both multiple-choice and performance-based questions. Anyone taking the exam will have to thoroughly prove their knowledge and problem-solving skills in a limited time. It can be stressful, and it’s recommended to have both theoretical knowledge as well as practical networking experience before taking the test. The following are the best ways to prepare for the CCNA.

Study materials

There are plenty of study materials that can get you started. These range from official study guides, video courses, labs, and more. There is a list of Cisco approved materials for those wishing to follow that path, though there are a variety of options from other vendors as well. Regardless of whether you pursue free or paid options, you’ll need to do your best to cover all of the content that could appear on the exam. The methods you choose will likely depend on your learning style.

In general, it’s recommended to take a self-paced video course, regardless of your knowledge level. These will generally measure your knowledge at the start of the course to ensure you aren’t bored with concepts you already know nor overwhelmed at the beginning with unfamiliar ideas. You’ll likely need some additional materials, however, as it can be easy to miss some ideas when watching videos.

There’s an official Cisco Certification Guide available in ebook and hardcopy forms which many argue to be the best study guide available. It’s also impossible to replace hands-on experience through any number of study guides or lab courses. Luckily, modern simulation tools like GNS3 can let you practice the majority of performance-based content you’ll see on the exam.

Practice tests

To get a better idea of what the real exam will be like, you’ll need to take some practice tests. While no practice test can show the same questions that will appear on the current exam, there are many tutoring packages out there that include a CCNA practice test with real questions from past exams. These questions are obtained directly from Cisco and Pearson and can give you a good idea as to the structure of the exam. If you’re able to complete these in the allotted time, you should stand a better chance at the real thing.

Additional preparation

No matter how you decide to prepare for the exam, you’ll likely be doing some combination of self-study and seeking outside help. External training options like expert boot camps and live courses may be just what you need if you require a more personal touch. These options generally include several hours of live instruction, and boot camps will let you schedule appointments with an expert instructor.

The real key is that you need to understand your own learning style and pace, something you’ll hopefully have good experience with from previous classwork. Luckily, you can have a combination of everything you think will work for you before you attempt your exam.

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Use Real-Time Captions for Your Business Zoom Sessions

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Live captioning has made the virtual world connect in more profound ways with their captions and event recaps in the form of transcripts.

When hosting virtual events and sessions on Zoom and other platforms, the need of the hour is real-time captioning to make your session accessible and inclusive.

Earlier this year, Zoom rolled out closed captioning support to even free accounts to make the service more accessible. For those working from home, attending virtual events and conferences, and figuring out newer ways of collaborating in the pandemic era, this was a boon.

Accuracy in subtitling and inclusivity via multi-lingual captions have made captioning the go-to service for virtual events. In this article, we delve into the world of real-time captions.

What Are Live Captions?

Everything that is spoken during a live event, a virtual event, a seminar, or a hybrid event (real-time + virtual) can get captured in live captions.

They are powered either by human captioners or by AI technology such as ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) and accessible via internet-enabled devices e.g. smartphone, a computer, or a tablet.

Positives for Media File Transcribing

Basically, a media file (audio, video, or podcasts) gets transcribed to satisfy several end goals:

  • Better comprehension for the hard of hearing
  • Maintain records of the event in a simplified text format
  • Downloadable transcripts for those unable to attend live
  • Add another layer of accessibility for those who might want to consume the content in their native/preferred languages

Why Use Live Captions for your Zoom session

With Zoom’s roaring success in the past year, it has become even more critical for companies that enjoy a global presence to activate captions and translations for their live events.

Translating a Zoom event into specific languages opens up the world further, allowing people to consume and witness these events in the languages closest to home. From a business perspective, this makes sense from a comprehension and application standpoint.

Plus, content consumption has pivoted to vernacular in the digital space, with regional content players ruling the roost, so this is another reason to use live captions in your video content.

More Accessibility

Now that Zooming had become the de facto verb of the year, it necessitated a next logical step. This step was a huge advantage for multitaskers who have to participate in the meetings while also taking notes.

Remote working

While it may seem strange to some to consider reading through captions during a Zoom event, you’ll be surprised at how imperative it becomes in the context of the home office. It can, in fact, be a lifesaver to those whose attention may be divided while juggling both office and home responsibilities from home.

Plus it is easy to activate the captions during a Zoom call, via the meeting controls so there’s no interruption to the live event.

The captions allow you to scroll through to the parts you may have missed. You can also download transcripts of the session, a feature that closed captioning services provide.

AI Captions Are Catching Up

Human captions versus AI live captions which is more accurate? (Hint: Not AI)

Google introduced its Live Captioning in 2019. While automatic speech recognition has many advantages in logistics, there is still that little gap to consider between the human versus AI. For example, machines don’t understand languages, inflexion, tone, nuances in speech, and humans.

Human captioners

Human captioners have greater adherence to accuracy in capturing speech. Human captioners are skilled at deciphering human speech and precisely reproducing the words they hear. Human-generated captions have greater accuracy, up to 99%, compared to AI-generated captions for this very reason.

AI

AI technology works on bridging that gap between speech and captioned text and it is the future – just not yet!

Summary

Zoom now only allows users to send one language to their platform. Before the event begins, the host can determine if which language captions to use.

However, rather than just one language, you can get multi-lingual captions with a captioning service like SyncWords. Plus their blog has a guide to activating captions for Zoom: Zoom Real-Time Captions.

So, if you’re thinking Zoom, think real-time captions and what they can do for you and your business.

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3 Common IT Challenges Small Businesses Face

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Technology is the enabler for most businesses today, and SMEs rely on IT apps and systems in most departments, from finance to sales. There are a few common challenges with technology, and in this post, we review what they are and how to turn them into strengths for your business.

Top Most Common Tech Challenges

Thankfully there are a lot of sources online to assist with the accuracy of our content. Starting with TechCrunch. They rank IT security as the top challenge.

IT Security

The pandemic did not pause cybercrime, and reports say cyberattacks increased with malware, phishing, and ransomware being the most common cyber threats to businesses. Remote working has added to the stress.

Companies need to ensure devices and apps used to share data and access business systems are secure. Staff at home are less accessible. The need for ongoing knowledge transfer and user training requires planning and resources, which is an added cost SMEs would prefer to do without.

Malware Attacks

Out of all types of data attacks, malware is among the most common. Malware attacks are simple and happen when a piece of malicious software is installed on someone’s computer or a network. The malware will then perform specific actions as desired.

Some malware is there to disrupt. Other malware can do things such as catching admin credentials for financial information, for instance. These can be very serious and put your whole organization at a standstill, so they cannot take them lightly.

Another thing you should know is that malware attacks are rarely made without the cooperation of a human in your organization. And, in most cases, they weren’t even in on it.

Attackers will often use social engineering techniques to pose as someone in authority. The receiver will have no idea as everything will be made to look like it’s coming from that person.

But this isn’t the only case where humans can become a liability. As a matter of fact, humans are the single biggest IT vulnerability.

You may have a remote or hybrid workplace, and one of your employees loses a device that could be found and accessed by a hacker. From the device, your whole network at risk.

It’s in the Cloud

Getting your head around cloud computing and how to adopt it company-wide is challenging. Vendor agreements are different, and the model is user pays, which is a far cry from buying a server and having it in your office.

Lack of In-House Skill

This is one of the biggest challenges for any business. Finding people who have IT skills and the type of skill you need can be complicated. Someone may understand certain things, but if you have an issue that needs a particular set of expertise, you might find your business stuck and hitting a dead end.

This is why many businesses decide to outsource their IT department. This way, they have a team at their disposal that can deal with everything that they need. They can also do things such as maintaining your licenses to make sure that they’re in order and that your patches are all up to date. Or they might be able to help you recover your systems quickly if there’s an unexpected error or breach.

Emerging Tech

Getting to grips with AI, robotics, Natural Language Processing, and matching learning is challenging to most businesses. When do you adopt systems that may replace your staff? There’s no escaping change and technology evolution. Some apps already use AI, and automation is used in many mundane tasks within the business.

Chatbots use AI and machine learning are the norm on many websites that offer services and online purchases, i.e. eCommerce stores. 64% of users say the 24-hour service is the best feature of the chatbot. As a consumer, you rely on instantaneous response, especially when you’re in the midst of an online purchase.

Summing Up

These are just some of the most common IT issues small businesses have to deal with every day. If you are one, make sure that you protect yourself against these risks and consider hiring an expert team for assistance.

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Marketing

4 Ways Tree Testing Can Benefit Your Business

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Designing a successful digital product is tricky and challenging. In the crowded space of the WWW, your product may not end up in search results, and this is why findability precedes usability in designing for the web. If your product can’t reach your audience, it has failed already.

Therefore the big question here is how do you ensure that your product is easily found and accessible by your target audience?

The answer to your question lies in information architecture. Design a superior user experience (UX) using a tree test.

Top 4 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Tree Testing

Still unsure of what a tree test can do to your design venture?

Let’s take a look into the true capabilities of a tree test.

Primarily, you would be running a tree test because of any one of the following reasons.

  • baselining an existing tree
  • detecting the problem area and points thereby establish a base score
  • experimenting test trees trying to solve existing information architecture problems
  • comparing each version against each other to find the best possible solution to the existing problems

However, a tree test also does a lot more for your product. Following are a few primary areas where a tree test can be beneficial.

Why It Pays To Use A Tree Test

1. Evaluate product navigation

A tree test can improve your digital product’s online findability. With the test tree, you can evaluate your product’s existing information navigation system. How? Well, users complete a series of tasks looking for items using the site structure. Using this method to evaluate your site structure, you have a way to measure how easy it is for users to find things.

Treejack is one of the most popular tools used for tree-tests.

2. Time-efficient

With a remote tree test, the users can be located anywhere, and they can take the test in their own time. You benefit from getting quality, quantitative data.

3. Cost-efficient

By using online test conduction, results accumulate from global users. Thus, it reduces the costs of on-premise tests.

4. Agile

The biggest asset of tree testing is that it is designed for experiments. The test sessions are concise, each test of around 15 – 20 minutes, having a maximum of 20 tasks per session.

This improves the success rate of completing the test by users significantly. These tests, like card sorting, are pretty much simple with low complexity that readily helps with the dropout rates.

Combined with remote access to the test, all this makes data collection fast and the data analysis process lean. This means whatever insights you derive from your test analytics, you can apply them in no time.

How To Optimize Your Tree Tests

Ensuring you get the maximum benefits out of your tests is one of the most important yet neglected design tests areas. But if you can make sure to ask the critical questions without fail, your tests will not fail you.

Following are a set of core questions that can ensure you make the most of tree testing.

1. What is the objective of your tests?

This is perhaps the anchor point of your complete questionnaire. This answer is going to help you achieve the hyper-targeted activities for your test. For instance, you may want to analyze the results of your design changes in the navigation structure.

2. Who is your target audience?

Answering this question right in the beginning can save you a lot of pain in the long term. A good practice here is to take some time out and think deeply about your product visitors.

If your answer is: “everyone”, then you are doing it wrong. Remember, if everyone is your audience, then no one is your audience.

3. Define the independent variables

Deciding on the independent factors that are dynamic can produce multiple end-results.

Use factorial experimental designs. This method enables you to examine each variable in isolation.

4. Define the dependent variable.

Dependent variables can also bring a lot of improvements to your overall user experience. To assess its impact, you have to observe its effect on its respective independent factor instead of the end-user interface result. For instance, you can examine the precision of an area locator for completing preset tasks.

5. What do you use while comparing trees, a control group or a treatment group?

Control Group acts as a benchmark. It is not vulnerable to changes. Here, comparing the altered results to the original group is possible. You can assess the degree of difference between the results of both groups.

6. While comparing testing trees, do you use a between-subject design or a within-subject design?

It’s important to decide whether you want the same group of test-takers to participate in all the versions of your test tree or anyone.

Whether you choose both strategies or not, both have their own merits. Therefore, it would be best if you decide based on your test goals. For instance, choosing a between-subject approach can reduce the test taker fatigue, and the learning effect could even prove to be time-efficient.

Parting Advice

The whole point of executing a tree testing activity is to ensure you stay updated about your target audience’s behavioral nodes. This means conducting frequent tree tests can boost the overall information architecture health of your digital product.

The above tips and tricks are definite to help you optimize all your tree testing campaigns, but the heaviest success metric still lies in your hands.

Ensuring you understand your target audience will make sure that your design assumptions walk the closest to reality.

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