Back on track… Stay tuned!

Back on track…  Stay tuned!

CCIE exam, I’m coming your way!



Late July Update…

Well, it’s been a whole week since I sat in the CCIE lab in San Jose. I was so spent both mentally and emotionally that I needed a week to recover from the lab and the three weeks of dedication prior.

I went into the lab on Friday ready to do my best. If it was good enough, then it was. If it wasn’t, I would walk out knowing that I did everything I could do. I guess you could say that I was OK with either outcome.

The lab environment was almost exactly the same as it was the last time I was there, except I sat one seat over from where I was last year. I was able to take in my colored pencils without an issue. I really didn’t even ask, I just had them in my hand the whole time during the introduction speech by the proctor and just carried them with me to the desk. It seemed like the proctor wasn’t too concerned.

The lab started at 8:25AM and stopped for lunch at 11:00AM. This threw me off a bit, because I wanted to have all of my IGP done by lunch and I was just starting my redistribution tasks. I felt like I was behind. Half way threw lunch I realized that I had over 5 hours left, so I felt better about where I was. I completed IGP after lunch and then hit all the “low-hanging fruit” after lunch, including the switching non-core tasks. After completing BGP and multicast, I went for QoS, which seemed overly difficult for me at the time for some reason.

At 3:30PM, I was mostly done with all my tasks, except for a few IOS Features that I needed to look up in the DocCD. I was kinda stoked at this point because I very rarely finished IEWB Vol2 labs within 8 hours.

When the proctor came around and gave up the 10 minute finish-up warning, I felt pretty good about where I was at. I did leave the 3 tasks unattempted; they were 2 Security tasks and 1 IOS Feature task that I never heard of in my life, totally 8 points. I felt like this gave me a 12 point buffer to pass.

After leaving Cisco’s campus, the waiting game started. The proctor told us to not expect our results until 48 hours later, but I checked the web site around 10PM before going to sleep. The results weren’t posted by then. I went to bed with the thoughts that the results were out of my hands, otherwise I would have never gotten any sleep.

When I awoke at 5AM to get ready to go and catch my 8AM flight, I thought I would check and see if the results were there. After I logged in, I saw the FAIL and just closed my laptop. It really didn’t sink in until on the flight on the way home. My wishes were to be finished more than anything else. I was tired and exhausted. Three weeks before the lab exam, all of my time was consumed with studying and doing practice labs from morning to late night. I just wanted to be done.

When I got home to my very supportive family, I looked up the details of the sections in the score report. After averaging out all the sections, I got a 74% overall. I was OK with that score as I had hardly ever gotten such a score in my practice labs. It’s hard to believe that I theorectically only needed 6 points to pass. I felt pretty good about my score and now knew that I could pass this test. I know I will nail this test on the next attempt. Below is the breakdown.

Attempt #2 Scores

Attempt #2 Scores

With blazing colors in multicast and switching, the QoS really creamed me. I also knew that Security would be low, since I didn’t do 2 of those tasks. I figured that I would leave them unattempted as to not break anything else on my topology.

Areas that I need to work on:

  • QoS – especially on the Catalyst 3560
  • Verifying connectivity to backbone routes with IGP and BGP
  • Implementing security in a configured network
  • Making the DoCD my very best friend

Now I know I won’t get the same test again and I should expect different everything, but if I first work on the above things, it will help solidify the areas that I felt week in on this attempt.

I did have a scare about 30 minutes from the end, though. I was missing one route in all my routers, preventing end-to-end connectivity when I ran my final ping scripts. I verified that the routing protocol was configured correctly for this particular interface, I verified VLAN assignments and trunking, and verified that the interface was up and running, all still a nogo. After killing 15 minutes and with 15 minutes to go, I was sweating it. Something told me to just shut/no shut the interface, so I did it. Low and behold, it was being advertised again. I have no idea what was wrong and why that worked, but it did. Whew! What a scare…

All in all, I feel good about my progress. I really would have liked to be done with all the studying, especially for my family. I am taking 2-3 weeks off to recuperate and reconnect with my family before I go at it again.

Thanks to all who have been supportive and understand this process. I especially am grateful for a wife who sacrifices so much to help me accomplish this. She is a diamond in my eyes.

Hey MJ… I got your note on my whiteboard. Thanks for the encouragement. Most of all, thanks for not taking all of the switches from under my desk! 🙂

Mid-July Update…

Well, I’ve been doing all Cisco for the last two weeks and boy has it been a confidence roller-coaster. Some days, I feel like I can conquer this beast, but others I get shoved deep into the depths of humility. Some days my soul prays for a test where I am solid with all the topics so that the torture will cease, others I pray to have it all thrown at me to keep the validity of the prize, regardless of the outcome of my personal battle against it.

From what I have read on other CCIE candidate blogs, this IS the nature of the beast. It’s a tough one to conquer. I’m starting to think that dedicated CCIE candidates are sick in the head. So much sacrifice is given deep in the trenches to understand networking’s inner crevices and be able to apply this knowledge in an insane display of performance to hopefully appease the beast’s desires that day. Often, it seems that the beast can chew you up, even while you are thinking you have the upper hand, but in reality the digestion process has already taken place before you hit its gut.

OK, I needed to use the creative side of the brain for a bit. My logic part of my brain is just plain shot. It has been tough though. For a confidence level, I feel like I am at a 7 out of a 10 scale (10 being able to walk in, slap the beast silly and have it on the roasting fire for din-din minutes later). OK, with that scale and description, I feel I’m at a 5 (see what I mean about the confidence roller-coaster?)

I have been concentrating on mostly level 8 and 9 practice labs this week. I have learned a bunch about smaller topics and some deeper things on the bigger ones. I have been also formulating my “attack” plan as I have been going along. When doing research on the Internet, I have found some who have elaborate checklists and procedures for taking this exam. Others I find a bit more simple. I was impressed with Brian Dennis’ approach to taking this test.

R&S Attack Plan – Pt I

It is a simple, but quick and effective approach. I will probably use most of his ideas, but will be doing a deeper look at the lab document before starting. I want to know the redistribution points and other IGP issues I will be up against like backup links, etc. I never have been one for remembering detailed procedures and this sure isn’t the place for me to do so, when I have hundreds of other things I have to recall.

I got the results back from my last two mock labs and they aren’t too impressive. On IE Mock Lab #3 I got a 48 and IE Mock Lab #5 I got a 29; disheartening to say the least. These were some of the downer times.

I did IE Mock Lab #6 yesterday and did about the same I think. I really got stuck on a redistribution question that had an error in it. It was telling me to redistribute two protocols, but one of the didn’t exist on the router at all. At first I thought it was an error, but assuming not, I used a tunnel to get the non-existent protocol to the router and redistributed there. That created all sorts of havoc that I didn’t anticipate. After pulling my hair out and feeling like quitting the lab, something told me to just get end-to-end reachability and move on. I burned a lot of time, but I tried to scramble to get remaining points with the time I had left. Later in the evening I read this from Brian Dennis in the IE blog about a complex redistribution task:

First off this task is only worth 3 points but will take most people 45 minutes to 1 hour to complete due to the fact the requirements create a routing loop. This means that it’s really not worth 3 points in the real lab due to the fact you’re giving away 1 hour of your 8 hours for just 3 points. In the real lab most people would be better off just getting full IP reachability and moving on. Think about it like this. If you could give up 3 points in every lab and implement you own solution to obtain full IP reachability would you be better off?

InternetworkExpert Blog – Advanced Route Redistribution by Brian Dennis

In the real world, you can’t just let an issue go. You have to fix it, since the pressure is on. This might be one of those things that causes experienced network engineers to not do so well on this test sometimes. It’s a way different mentality. If I would have done Brian’s advice, I feel I would have completed the mock lab and done respectably. Man, that was a hard lesson to learn.

Well, I have four days to go. My family will be home in two days and I will leave for San Jose the next. I have missed them terribly and phone calls are not enough. I especially miss my wife’s hugs when things are especially going rough. I miss my kids, especially since their birthdays are today and another in two more days. I will be so happy to see them again at the airport.

My uncle, who is the only sane one on my father’s side of the family has offered to fly and meet me in San Jose to go do something the day before the exam. This way I can get my mind off of anything technical, so it will be fresh for the battle arena the next day.

As others that have experienced this trek, I can tell you that this is a lonely uphill road to forge. No matter what they say, of the people who you talk to about this process, very few understand. Those who do understand, live in a virtual community that exists in the very networks that we are trying to conquer. I have had the privilege of meeting IE’s Brian Dennis and Brian McGahan, but other greats like Scott Morris, Narbik, Ethen Banks, Keith Tokash, and others I have come to admire in this process are and have been “virtual” study partners, even if they haven’t known it. I feel like I especially relate to Keith, since he seems to think like I think. I can be a lonely crusade.

On the other side, people who don’t understand really don’t “get” how great it is when you pass. Some think, it’s just another vendor certification, but let me tell you… it’s far beyond that. You’re not only learning networking, you gain determination, persistence, self-confidence from nothing, tenacity, self-discipline, faith and most of all you learn what you abilities are and how to exceed them.

This is my rant for this week. By this time next week I will know whether I have killed the beast or my practice and training for another battle in the war continues. Thanks you everyone for everyting you’ve done thus far…

Early July Update…

OK, MJ. I was a bit over-zealous… I do get up between 7:30 and 8:00AM to exercise. Staying up until 1:30AM to read over the DocCD has a bit to do with that…

Just so everyone knows, MJ is a buddy of mine who works in IT infrastructure at my company (who I wouldn’t mind working with someday, at my present company or otherwise). One of the emails I got from him lately has been some flack about my proposed schedule for my time off, mostly getting up at 7AM to exercise. So that’s what prompted that above comment.

My “vacation” has officialy started. I am now in full-time study mode. I took my wife and son to the airport on July 1st to go to Denver to stay with the mother-in-law. My daughter has already been there a week. I just have myself and the dog to take care of (my dog, Maezy is easier to take care of than myself 🙂 ). The house is quiet, but a wierd quiet without the sounds of kids; I really miss that. Well, I’ve determined that if I keep busy and studying, I won’t have much time to miss them. I think I still will though…

This week was rough to let work things go. One of my projects had a “blow up” right before I left. It’s a long story, but I was on a long conf call on Thursday to mitigate the situation and come up with answers for my management, which were out of the office at the time, luckily on thier boats on the lake or goofing off wherever. The issue wasn’t on me, but a misjudgement and miscommunication between my project manager and the support teams who we provide training for. Plus, the support teams had a new training liason, who didn’t know how things work, so he got higher level management involved, etc. Kind of an embarrassing moment for our dept., but I helped the resolution as much as possible. There’s only so much you can do from the bottom rung. After this, I promptly turned on my Out-of-Office e-mail notification and left work (and hopefully all the worries behind as well).

Well, it nice to have time to dedicate to just studying and practicing labs. I’m getting to the point where I am finishing end-to-end connectivity at around 4 to 5 hours on level 6 and some level 7 IEWB Vol2 labs. I feel good about this, since I have had this goal a lot. I got the results from my mack lab (#3) last weekend and got a 48%, an improvement from last time. This time and last time, both mock labs were level 7. As I went through the results and the proctor comments, I counted 30-35 points that I could have gotten if I was able to take a step back periodically and look at the whole picture. Some of the items that I missed are below:

  • Tasks 1.5 & 1.6 Redundancy – I don’t know why I didn’t go back and fiinish this one. It was using a backup interface and end-to-end keepalives to maintain the FR circuit. After looking at the solution, it was an easy one.
  • Task 1.6 PPP – Man, I just couldn’t get this to work. I later figured out that I was using the wrong authentication method on the wrong ends. The task asks for PAP on one end and CHAP on the other, but I was putting the same method for requesting and answering on the same side. Duh..
  • Task 2.1 Trunking – I had the VLAN that the task stated that needed to be the native VLAN as tagged on the trunk links. I’m going to have to lab this one up and see if you can have a VLAN native and tagged on the same trunk link.
  • Task 2.6 STP – This was a simple STP traffic flow task. I was adjusting the port priority instead of the root cost on this one. I need to look at the wording of the task better on this one.
  • Task 3.2 OSPF – This is a classic example of one task affecting others. This task asks for authentication in all links in area 0. I totally forgot about including the tunnel link connecting a non-zero area through a transit area into this authentication requirement. This led to missing task 3.1 (two neighbors not adjacent) and 3.10 (redistribution – incomplete reachability). Arrrg… That was 9 points right there from not doing a 3 point question correctly. This is what I mean by taking a few seconds and looking back at the whole scenario, making sure all is covered.
  • Tasks 4.1 & 4.2 Multicast – This is also another area where looking at it from a step back would have been needed. I missed a RPF check that needed a static mroute and also to configure broadcast-to-multicast-to-broadcast transmission.
  • Task 5.2 IPv6 Tunneling – I just forgot to set the tunnel mode to IPv6IP. Uggg…
  • Task 7.1 Traffic Filtering – This was a continuation of QoS. It was using rate limiting to mitigate a DoS attack – slick one guys. Use another technology in a section that seems like nothing to do with it.
  • Task 8.1 SNMP – I thought I had this one in the bag. I find SNMP tasks fairly easy, since there isn’t too much to them, but I forgot to enable SNMP trapping. I could kick myself for this one.
  • Task 8.2 RMON – OK this one royally pissed me off. The command wouldn’t take the description string. No matter what I did, if the string was not a connected string (all continuous chracters), it barfed at me. I ended putting in the string with underscores between the words, hoping that would be sufficient, but no… I will look this one up and see if it’s one of those questions that needs a specific order of the subcommands.
  • Task 9.1 DHCP – I thought this would be a no-brainer too, but a few things I didn’t think about. I would have gotten this in a real situation, but again I needed to take a step back and look at it from a higher level. I needed to add a helper command to the remote router so the DHCP server I was configuring could service the remote network. I also forgot to specify exclusions for the router IP addresses in those subnets that DHCP would be used on. Lessons learned…
  • Tasks 10.2 – 10.4 BGP – I sacrificed some of these points to get other easier tasks. It was a decision I had to make since I had about 1 1/2 hours left.

My plan is to do quite a few more labs, especially focusing on getting my core as fast as possible and finding stuff in the DocCD (Cisco Documentation) very quickly. I want to be able to do as much as I can from memory, but I still want to use the resources as much as possible.

So, in order to focus, I have taken the advice of many others when they went through the final preparations. I have:

  • turned off all email and messenger, including the Groupstudy list (this has been the hardest)
  • turned off all TV (except for those satellite music channels that I can chill-out to)
  • committed to no extraneous web surfing, just direct study related (like, etc.)
  • committed and started to exercise everyday with taking extra vitamins
  • simplified my life to keep focus on the task at hand
  • been asking the higher power, several times a day even, for help and answers (which I have received!)

Basically, I have checked out from the world for three weeks or so (with the exception of this blog).

I have visions of what it will be like when this process is complete and I have achieved my goal of obtaining CCIE. I hold onto those visions as a motivator. i know there is something out there waiting for me and my family, but I just have to get this big step accomplished first!

Last half of June Update…

Well, I changed part of the above plan just a bit. I felt inspired to go back and really hammer BGP, Multicast and QoS, my three weak areas. So, I used the time during the week to completely go through the topic-based labs (IEWB Vol I) for these topics. I spent several hours on creating the labs, configuring it like the book says, then running “what-if” scenarios. For instance when studying Multicast, “what if I mode the RP to this location?” or “what if I make some groups static and some use Auto-RP?” or “How will Auto-RP interoperate with BSR?”, etc. This has helped a lot to understand what protocols will do and how to predict areas that may need further troubleshooting.

I attempted Mock Lab#3 yesterday. In some ways I am so pissed and others I am cool about. Here’s the breakdown.

  • I got so mad at doing a backup interface for backing up a FR link to an ethernet segment. I know I was configuring it properly, but when I disabled the FR interface, the backup went into disabled state, never to full up state. I messed with that for too long and eventually frustrated at being brought down by such a simple task. I just removed it and went on. After later looking at the solution after the lab, I have the exact right syntax, which leaves me to ponder what was going wrong…
  • I also got so mad at configuring PPP over a serial link. I have never seen where I have configured PPP configured, PAP on one side and CHAP on the other, and not had it work. I did run the debug ppp authentication and debug ppp negotiation commands, I couldn’t stop the output (I forgot about that) and had to reboot the router to get control again. Once I regained control again, I reconfigured it all again. Man, I must have been missing something, because something so simple was making me so angry. After too much time, I took the authentication off of PPP and went on, marking my list to go back and fix when I had time.
  • I was happy to get the redistribution working, I made it so one router wouldn’t take OPSF routes into the routing table at all using AD values and to prefer EIGRP instead. That worked out good. I did have a freak out about 30 minutes to the end when one of my OSPF routers wasn’t getting any routes except connected ones. I kinda freaked out myself which led to me supplicating with the divine powers to find the break. Well, the heavens were listening. I “discovered” that I had redistributed connected all my interfaces on an ASBR except one and it was a crucial one. A self-induced mistake. I’m sure glad I did go back and run some ping scripts close to finish time.

These were the quick ones that I saw immediately when looking through the solutions guide before stopping all Cisco activities for the evening. Man, when I finish a mock lab, I am so spent afterwards. When the console windows closed from the remote routers, I was cooked, well-done. Over the next 3 weeks, I want practice so much that going to the final lab in San Jose will be “just another day doing practice labs”.

Now my plan is the following. I hope to keep to this schedule as close as possible, since I have 3 vacation weeks off from work focus.

  • 7-8AM exercise
  • 8-9AM shower, dressed, b-fast, etc.
  • 9-10AM CoD videos
  • 10AM-12PM lab work
  • 12-1PM lunch, brain-breather
  • 1-7PM lab work
  • 7-8PM evening meal, brain-breather
  • 8-9:30PM speed labs, more CoD, read DocCD
  • 9:30-11PM do necessary life-sustainments (laundry, grocery shopping, etc.)
  • 11PM in bed

This will be altered for a few things, but not too much (I do have to go to church if I want the big man’s help with all this). I have mock labs scheduled for July 12th & 19th, so those will be different days as well. The last week, lab work will be changed up with speed drills and such.

My family will be in Denver visiting my mother-in-law starting July 1st. I will miss them so much, but I hope to be so busy as to not think too much about it. It will just be me and the dog, so hopefully all will be well around the fort. I figure we can’t do too much damage around here.

I was wondering why I am doing all this – torturing myself to do all this, using all my time to study, giving up hobbies and interests and focusing like I have never focused before. Well, I feel like I have been led to this point. I have been given all I need to do this – equipment, books, workbooks, training, vacation time, enough airline miles to pay for the flight to SJ, enough hotel points to pay for 2 out of 3 days stay, networking projects have all come my way at work, opportunities to work periodically with our IT network infrastructure team, a great family that understands, and especially a wife that puts up with the whole process. Without her, all this would not be possible. Someone once said, “Behind good man is a great woman.” Someday, I hope to be that good man behind a great woman as she desired to reach her goals.

I have been so blessed with so much and the path has been laid before me. Something is going to come of all this. I’m not sure what, but I know something will. 🙂

IEWB Vol II Ver. 4.1 Lab8 & 9 -or- June Update…

I’ve been hitting the CLI almost every night, so blogging has been taking a back seat. I have been managing to keep track of my total hours on the routers, though. See the CCIE Prep Hours section.

I have completed IEWB Vol2 Lab8 and am working on Lab9. The labs are both at level 8 and seem to be getting a bit easier.

I came up with a plan for the month of June that I have been following pretty well. This plan has been keeping me from going outright nuts (and I would with the stress). As follows:

  • Weekday evenings, 4-5 hrs a night – IEWB Vol2 labs (level 7 & 8 working slower through, verifying everying, checking answers, working on details)
  • Saturdays, 4 hrs – complete IEWB Vol3 lab of choice to build speed
  • Saturdays, 4-6 more hrs – bone up on topics that were twisted to me during the week using IEWB Vol1 labs
  • Sundays, 2-4 hrs – review finished IEWB Vol 2 and 3 labs, see mistakes that were made are research answers

I will do this schedule until July 4th and at that time I will see where I stand and what needs to be addressed. As part of this plan, I have the following Mock Labs scheduled as well:

  • May 31st – Mock Lab #2 L7 – score: 32%
  • June 28th – Mock Lab #3 L7
  • July 12th – Mock Lab #5 L8
  • July 19th – Mock Lab #6 L8

I am not too down about the first Mock Lab results. I figured that I got 30-40% after looking through the solutions guide for it. Some were just dumb mistakes like using 11:59 for 11:59PM instead of 23:59, for example. I also was unsure about multicast and and a few BGP items. QoS was a bit challenging as well.

My main topics I need to work on are QoS calculations, BGP traffic engineering, multicast troubleshooting (reading that blasted mroute table), and believe it or not EIGRP variance. That varience stuff kicked my whitey butt this past week (my butt don’t get no sun sittin’ in a office chair all the time).

I am using the next Mock lab on June 28th as the next step. I am just looking to that one and concentrating on it, trying to not see further than that for the time being. I am trying to take this one step at a time. Studying every day has become habit and I don’t know what to do with myself if I am not touching the routers every day. It’s almost like the droning sound of the equipment is a comfort.

I am so grateful for my wife for hanging in there through this process. She needs to be commended and given the WOTY (Wife of the Year) award. It would be more like for 4-5 years running! She has buffered the family from me when I have needed to hit the books or have quiet to concentrate. She wouldn’t let me become a cop or go in the military, but I don’t think she thought going into IT would be like this!

The wife and kids will be in Denver visiting Grandma from July 2nd to July 22nd and I will be home jammin’ on the routers all that time (I am taking July 2nd through July 28th off to concentrate on studying). This will help a lot, although the dog and I may get sick of each other.

May update…

I haven’t been posting because I have been slacking. Not with the studying though… I have completed 2 additional IE Vol2 Level 7 labs and have moved on to the Level 8s.

On May 14th & 15th, we had major threats of serious thunderstorms and had tornado alerts. I shut off the routers both evenings to avoid lightining damage (I paid too much for these things to have them go up in smoke in a half second). This is one of the few times that I felt we needed to take shelter in our storm closet. Needless to say, I didn’t get much studying done those nights.

I am doing better and grasping the concepts. I now can read a good majority of the tasks and know what the solution is. Implementing the configuration can be another story. Like most candidates, noticing and not forgetting the details can be the challenge.

I did my first IE Mock Lab (#2) yesterday. I had two goals; I knew I reached one of the for sure. I wanted to get end-to-end connectivity before lunch (4 hr) and I did it. This includes switching, FR, PPP and IGP. I think people include BGP, but I didn’t. It all I needed was reachability for BGP as well, it would have only been 15-20 more minutes. My second goal was to get at least 60 points. After going through the solution guide, I’m pretty sure I didn’t get that many, but I did get probably 30-40. I’ll know when I get my score report tommorrow. Overall, I felt pretty good about the attempt and I know I have a lot of work to do.

I have July 4th through 28th off from work (3/4 of all my vacation) to work on this full time for two weeks. My 2nd Mock Lab is set for June 28th and the remaning two are set for July 12th & 19th. I am pulling out all the stops this time. I not only want to pass on this attempt, but I need to pass it for many, many reasons.

IEWB Vol II Ver. 4.1 Lab5 & 6

Boy this lab had its ups and downs. I am getting the L2 stuff pretty down pat and pretty quick. It’s all the other stuff… 🙂

  • One plan of attack for me is to do my Etherchannels and then my trunk links before even worrying about VLANs and VTP.  This way I have infrastructure and will have minimal hiccups with VLANs.
  • I’ve also figured out that there are only so many way to configure FR, PPP & HDLC. These have been exhausted so far in the labs so far, I think. I even took a small peek at a level 10 lab scenario and the FR , PPP and similar stuff is roughly the same as the level 6-8 stuff.
  • Multicast got me this time. I need to get good at creating multicast ACLs, especially how to configure a range of groups for RPs or MAs. Quite a bit of filtering in this lab.
  • IPv6 was not bad, but I didn’t do the IPv6 BGP. One of the proctors announced in the Cisco forums that there wasn’t any IPv6 BGP and so I stopped studying it. I skipped these and just gave myself the points. I hope he was right about it being gone from the lab test.
  • I have been concentrating a lot in my book and lunch-time studies on QoS. The QoS questions are making sense to me now and I am starting to solve these easier. I did get one out of the three tasks wrong (RTP header compression), but I didn’t pooch the FRTS or the interface shaping with MQC. I was definately happy about that.  I did learn that you can apply RTP or TCP header compression on the frame-relay map statement. I used the interface-dlci mode, but I guess it wouldn’t have worked since the interface wasn’t on a PtP link.
  • I spent a good amount of time trying to figure out and configure privilege levels. I eventually did do it, but it took me a whole evening to get how it works and to do it. I am going to find where this is located in the DocCD, so I don’t have to remember it.

All in all, I didn’t do too bad. I deleted my configs off my router rack too early, but as I went through the tasks to see what I would have gotten, I figured it would be right around a 73, give or take 5 points. I am doing about the same as the other labs, so I need to figure out what I need to do now to improve. I am finding that I get the L2 and IGP done in a good amount of time, but all the other topics are the time killers. This isn’t so bad now, since I am taking the time to learn and get these topics under my belt.

I officially scheduled scheduled my first mock lab with IE for May 31st, about three weeks away. I am nervous, but I will just do the best I can. I have 3 more to do before lab day – one for June and two in July.

I have turned up the studying gas and really started to put hours in. I need to be done with this process, so life can get back to normal for me and my family. I am having visions of what it will be like when I pass and want them to come to fruition. With the help of the big man upstairs, I know I can do it.

IEWB Vol II Ver. 4.1 Lab4

OK, it’s been a wild time this week. My DSL went down for 3 days and took time to troubleshoot with Verizon. Waited to get a new DSL modem and all is well.

I started Lab4 this week, my 4th level 6 lab. I will be starting the next lab at level 7 to get used to the more difficulty. Things that are getting me this time:

  • Task 4.6 – triple paths between 2 routers. I didn’t read the task very well. It stated to load balance between two of them, but I somehow got it in my mind that it should be three, so I set the OSPF cost for all three. The next task states to use the PPP link as a backup. Well, I racked my brain on how to do this if they all were same cost – backup interface, IP SLA both went through my brain. Because I didn’t read the previous task correctly, I did unnessary thinking and spent unneccessary time doing research. I only needed to have the PPP link as a lower cost and either the FR or the ethernet link would have failed over.
  • Redistribution wasn’t bad this time. Just some summarization with it and metric manipulation with OSPF. It was nice to not have a monster redist lab.
  • I learned how to do IOS menus. Kinda cool feature, but this is definately a DocCD topic. I’ll take some notes try to remember where on the DocCD it’s at and let it go.

I am still working on this lab, so I have a bit to go. I am getting more and more comfortable with QoS, especially with QoS on the switches. Doing the project at work has been helping tremendously. I still get hammered with the traffic shaping forumla and how it is used and applied, but I think this will come with time.

The Cisco docCD site is doing a bit better. The web people recognized the problems with the 12.4 section and now have put back the old stuff, but alos have placed a link to the new stuff. I will be using the new links to get used to them. Now that there is some structure and order, I have more confidence in using it instead of my UniverCD reaped CD.

I think I will start including my time on Dynamips on my hours list. At first I wasn’t going to, but is still is IOS. I study at lunch once or twice a week with dynamips with the Vol III technology-based labs and it does help. I am planning on upping this quite a bit more very soon. I will become a hermit to the rest of our team until I pass the test, since I will be bringing my lunch and studying instead of going out with the guys. Honestly, there have been days where I haven’t seen or talked with anyone directly. I just come to work, go to our training lab, work all day and go home – all discussions by email.

Onward and upward…

IEWB Vol II Ver. 4.1 Lab3 finished…

Finally finished. This has a few difficult ones in the System Management section.

  • Getting an image from from another router in case of failure – I never would have figured this one out. I really didn’t even know where to look in the DocCD. I opened the SG and took note of the alias parameter for the ftp-server command. That one was a needle in a haystack.
  • Autoinstall – interesting concept. I guess the big this with this is being allowing the DHCP/BootP requests through and allow for directed broadcast on the subnet the DHCP server is on. I didn’t think to use the .255 when only the VLAN was given.
  • I spent a lot of time on the very last task in the lab. I was thinking of using the parser-view commands to get the only the needed commands for the user, but the solution was just using privilege level. I don’t agree since the “only” keyword was used, but anyways…

I got a 69 on this lab, better that my 50 on the last difficulty 6 lab I did (IEWB Vol 2 Lab 3). I am improving, but I need to move on to a difficulty 7 and see how I do. I have about 8 weeks to get really where I need to be to feel ok about this lab exam.

I have been hammering a lot of QoS – reading, configing (if that’s a word), and reading some more. It does help that I am writing a QoS Basics course at work. I do get somewhat mind-jumbled between the devices that I am writing the course for at work and Cisco QoS. I am really taking in the QoS for switches and now need to put the whole picture together. Man, just understanding the ratios, formulas and such can make my head spin.

I’ve already started on IWEB Vol 2 Lab 4. I spent too much time on frame relay, because I was so exhausted I couldn’t think. I need to get more sleep (and get my 18 mo. boy sleeping in his own bed). Maybe more solid sleep would help, ya think?