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The Portable Command Guide Series: What Is It, and Why Should I Buy a Book from It?

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When you are looking for a book to support your certification study, your daily work, or a new project, it is easy to get lost in the sea of titles; which do you choose? Sometimes, you don’t need the whole story; this is where the "Portable Command Guide Series" comes in. Series creator Scott Empson offers an inside view to this handy series and introduces its features.
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So there you are, standing in front of a wall of books in a bookstore (or maybe looking a screen of hundreds of titles in an eBook Store) looking for that one special book. Maybe it’s a book that will help you prepare for that certification exam that you want to pass; maybe you need something to help in your day-to-day activities at work; maybe you are looking for some help on a new task or project that you have been assigned.

Your eyes pass over a title that maybe you’ve never seen before: The Portable Command Guide Series.

Hmmm. Interesting. Those words catch your attention. Portable sounds good. Big bulky books are a pain to carry around. A Command Guide is always helpful. And it’s a series? I wonder if they have what I am looking for.

As the series creator and one of its authors, let me try out my best Al Pacino impersonation and “introduce you to my little friend”—the Portable Command Guide Series of books from Pearson Certification.

As an instructor of IT Technologies (mostly Cisco), I was always being asked by my students for the syntax of various commands. I found that the commands for the most part are easy to remember, but that there are just so many of them that it can become a bit overwhelming. So I created for myself something to help remember not only the command, but other info such as the location of the command. I called it my Engineering Journal.

I have long been a fan of my Engineering Journal—a small, portable notebook that contains little nuggets of information such as commands that you forget, the IP addressing scheme of some remote part of the network, and little reminders about how to do something you only have to do once or twice a year but is vital to the integrity and maintenance of your network. I only teach some of these concepts every second or third year, so I constantly need to refresh my memory of commands and concepts, as well as learn new commands and ideas as they are released by Cisco. My journals were the best way for me to review, as they were written in my own words; words that I could understand. At least, I had better understand them, because if I didn’t, I had only myself to blame.

I presented my Engineering Journals to Cisco Press in 2004 and pitched the idea that these may be of use to other IT Professionals. They liked the idea and The Portable Command Guide was born. That one book grew into a series of several books covering the CCNA and CCNP areas of certification. In 2010, Pearson Certification expressed an interest in expanding the Series into other technologies. Now here we are about to launch Portable Command Guides (PCGs) into the world of Microsoft and Oracle. Other areas are being explored as well.

So what is a Portable Command Guide?

  • A PCG is Portable. Small and light, it is meant to be carried around with you.
  • A PCG is about the Commands. It is the practical application of the theory, which is presented elsewhere—other books, websites, the classroom, etc.
  • A PCG is a Guide. It is not exhaustive, and it won’t contain everything.
  • A PCG is organized around either the objectives for a specific vendor certification exam (for example, The CCNA Portable Command Guide) or some other industry recognized set of skills (if no exam exists).
  • A PCG limits theory. Theoretical learning knowledge comes from those really thick books that sit on your shelf behind your desk or are stuffed in your locker.
  • A PCG is a complement to all the other resources out there. It is not meant to be a single source of all information on a topic.
  • A PCG is full of pictures and charts. Since we are focusing on commands, there aren’t a lot of words explaining the theory of the concept
  • A PCG can provide the reader with scripts to follow for basic operations. For example, in the CCNA Portable Command Guide there is a section on turning your Cisco router into a DHCP server. After listing all of the commands needed to turn a router into a DHCP server (including optional commands), there is an example with a diagram showing devices interconnected (along with IP addressing), and then a script of commands to follow to set up a router as a DHCP server. Not all commands from the DHCP section may be used, as some are optional, but you now have a set script to follow if you want to create the same server as practice on real gear.
  • A PCG includes blank, lined pages as an appendix called “Create Your Own Journal Here.” You can customize the guide to suit your own needs by including commands not in the book, something specific to your own job/network/program, etc.

That, in a nutshell, is the Portable Command Guide. It has been my constant companion for the past 10 years and has made my life a whole lot easier when configuring or troubleshooting my network. We here at Pearson Certification hope that you will find them of value as well.

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