Saturday, 30 August 2008

IP Expert Blended Learning Solution

My IPExpert Blended Learning Solution arrived today, well that is not strictly true as it was delivered yesterday but I was at work so missed delivery. I phoned up to find out about re-delivery and found out that the warehouse was open for collections on Saturday, but only till 11am. So I rushed across town trying to beat traffic found the warehouse and got my parcel just before the warehouse closed phew.

I was surprised how light and small the parcel* was, as the previous parcel I have received from IPExpert was pretty huge but then again that was the old CoD and printed manuals. At first I thought I had been given the wrong parcel, however I checked my name on the front and the fact that it had an IPExpert logo on it so it was definitely mine.
When I got home I removed the FedEx envelope and discovered an IPExpert branded box inside. Inside the box was a little note saying that the drive had been checked before shipment. There was some instructions for the drive itself which appears to be a diskGO EDGE 2.5" inch portable drive. As I picked up the drive it felt really light and I must say a little bit cheap. It comes with a double USB lead and although you do not need to plug in both USB connections on my Mac or any of my PC's.
The disk has options to run both a PC and Mac version of the software. When you start the software you get a menu screen as shown below.

The workbooks are not included on the hard disk you have to access these from your online account. This information on the drive tells you this is to ensure that you always have the latest versions of the workbook. When you click on the Video on Demand option you are presented with the screen below. Then when you start a video you get Scott Morris in all his glory :-) as shown below.
Finally be assured that unlike the previous version of the IPExpert Video on Demand you get to see the CLI utilized as well.

I intend to post notes on the various videos and I will do a review of the BLS when I have had more of a chance to use it.

(*I decided against using the word package due to all the unwanted attention it would bring to my blog ;-) - warning you might not understand this if you do not live in the UK)

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Great Post comparing IT Training and the Olympics

Greg at Ethereal Mind has written a great post comparing IT Training and the Olympics. Get your manager to read it or if you are a manager then read it by clicking here.

Trainsignal is 6 Years Old!!

Trainsignal in case you have never heard of them are an IT training company and it is their 6th birthday. They do not produce CCIE level training materials they work in a similar space to CBT Nuggets. That is they focus on Microsoft and Cisco Associate and Professional level training. They do make some great training products and as it is their 6th birthday they are doing a massive giveaway so click here to check them out.

Internetwork Expert FREE Technology V-Seminars and CCIE Interviews

Thanks to cciepursuit for pointing this out to me but Internetwork Expert are now offering FREE Technology V-Seminars. The upcoming ones tend to be heavily focused on the Voice track but there is one on multicast coming up and several recorded ones that are to do with the Routing and Switching track. Anyhow click here to check them out.

While on the topic of Internetwork Expert Brandon Carroll's blog pointed me in the direction of this IE blog post on possible CCIE lab interviews. If it is true then I think it would be a pretty good idea although I am not sure what would happen if someone just passed the lab but did not pass the interview. What would their score report say? So what does everyone else think?

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Comparing Configurations

I was reading David Bombal's "Cool IOS Commands Networking Tips Newsletter*" the other day and in it he has a link to a video showing you how to use ExamDiff to compare configurations. I had never heard of ExamDiff before and so decided to compare it to the file comparison tool that I use. I must say that ExamDiff is a very nice little tool. It has a lot of sophisticated functions and in my opinion it displays the differences in configurations nice and clearly, which is a must when you are scrolling through hundreds of lines of configuration at 3 in the morning and your eyes are stinging like hell. My only problem with it is that you need to upgrade to ExamDiff Pro at a cost to be able to compare directories.

Comparing directories of configuration files is a feature that is very important to me. I use this feature to download all the configuration files I am working on before a change and then download them after a change and compare directories to see the differences. So for the moment I will keep using Microsoft's WinDiff which allows me to compare directories and is still free. On the downside it has a lot more of a basic feel to it compared to ExamDiff (see below). Does anyone else have any configuration comparing utilities that they can recommend?

* If you have not subscribed to the newsletter then head over to and subscribe. David Bombal is also the guy who produces the CCIE command memorizer and I was thinking of getting it. I have seen a couple of blogs asking people for their opinions on it, so I will join the club has anyone else used this tool and if so what did they think?

Written Moved

The last few weeks have been pretty brutal with work and family commitments. I did a change last night that went on for 7 hours and have had 3 hours sleep so far. This has ment I have slipped a bit in my CCIE written preparation and so have moved the exam till the middle of September. I should have a couple of weeks coming up where I can put in a lot more study time and get myself to a level that I feel will enable me to pass the written.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Study Update 25/08/08

Studying this weekend has been non-existent due to helping out with some family issues. I managed to finish the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 BGP labs before the weekend which was good practice. I will go over some of the last labs again as I need to drum things like advertise-maps and as-sets into my head. I also have one more chapter in Internet Routing Architectures to read and will publish a review on the book when I have finished.

I have also decided to upgrade my IPExpert workbooks to the Blended Learning Solution as I will be going away in a few weeks and will probably not have Internet access. So I will not have access to my Internetwork Expert CoD as I only have the online version and not the DVD version. Also my IE CoD was playing up this morning as I could not get the CLI on the first IPv6 video to display. Since I had a couple of excuses to upgrade and decided to go for it. I will write up a review when the BLS arrives and have got round to using it.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Mike Down Leaves IPExpert

Mike Down for those of you who know who he is has left IPExpert. For those of you that do not know Mike was not a famous triple CCIE trainer, he was just what IPExpert call a Training Advisor. So someone who helps you choose what CCIE products you will buy from IPExpert. However Mike had a higher profile than other people in a similar postition as he launched his own blog which I have listed at the bottom of my page he also started contacting candidates about placing IPExpert logos on their blogs as well as doing a lot of other promotional work.

So Mike is the reason for the glut of blogs out there with IPExpert logo's on them. Hey he is even the reason that this site has an IPExpert logo on it even though I did not recieve any benefit for it. I enjoyed communicating with Mike and so I decided to place a banner on this site for IPExpert. The reasons Mike left are obviously confidential but there is a post on his blog thanking him. So I would like to say my own thanks and good luck Mike whatever you decide to do.

IPExpert did seem to need a bit of a pick up after Scott Morris left and Mike did seem to raise their profile in the CCIE community after Scott left. So lets hope that IPExpert can do it again and that neither of these events will prove to much of a distraction to them providing top quality CCIE training materials. We need competition in the CCIE training community as it helps improve the quality of the products and keep the prices down.

Finally does anyone have an opinion on the IPExpert Blended Learning Solution? I am thinking of purchasing it to get a different perspective to Internetwork Expert. I am mainly interested in people's opinion's on the CoD as I already have the first two workbooks. I have the Internetwork Expert Advanced Technologies CoD and their first two workbooks so maybe this is enough. Anyhow any opinions would be appreciated.

New Blogs

While browsing the web the other day I found a new technical blog that I had not seen before so I have added it to my blog list. It compares favorably with my favorite technical blogs Cisco IOS Hints and Tricks and Packetlife. So click here to check it out. I have also just found The Packet University site which also looks really good.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

CCIE Wireless Beta Exam

I have just received the email below from Cisco. So for those of you who are interested in Wireless here is a new track to pursue. One track is enough for me so I will not be taking Cisco up on their kind offer :-)


Cisco is now soliciting beta candidates for Cisco's upcoming CCIE Wireless Written Exam. We are looking for an exclusive set of professional and expert level Wireless Networking Engineers who can dedicate 3 hours of their time to take the beta exam.

The CCIE Wireless certification, to be launched later this year, will validate that professionals have the expertise to design, manage and support mission and business critical wireless networks and the job skills and technical knowledge required of expert level network IT practitioners. This written exam is the first step in obtaining the CCIE Wireless certification. Successful candidates will have mastered broad theoretical knowledge of wireless networking and demonstrated a readiness for the CCIE Wireless lab examination. Be one of the first wireless professionals to get a peek at the new CCIE Wireless exam.

  • Location: Pearson Vue Testing Centers, Worldwide
  • Registration Date: October 7
  • Last Test Date: November 14, 2008
  • Cost: $US50
  • Exam Number/Name: 351-050 CCIE Wireless Beta Written Exam

To learn more about the exam blueprint, job skills and reference material, please go to

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

CCIE Shorts 19/08/08

Just seen a post at cciepursuit about Graded Labs introducing Workbook Scaffolding. I think I may have an email somewhere in the depths of my inbox about it. However cciepursuit does a pretty good job of explaining what it is so rather than re-inventing the wheel head over to his blog by clicking here to read more. It does look an awesome feature and it certainly will make rack rentals more attractive well it will for me. I plan to book some Internetwork Expert rack time in the coming months so when I do I will let you know how I get on.

Also I see Ted Romer passed his R&S CCIE so head on over to his blog by clicking here to congratulate him.

Colin McNamara posted an excellent presentation entitled "who moved my brain" so click here to go read it.

Greg at etherealmind posted about his blogging ethics and is looking for some feedback on them so give him some feedback by clicking here. I do not have any ethics so not really a post I could make :-) in fact my none of my posts could never compare to Greg's. In my opinion he writes some of the best opinion pieces on the web so if you have never been to his site I would really check it out.

Finally Networkers is being held in Johannesburg this year and Deon of Network Ninja has already booked his place. I would love to go to Networkers but I have never worked at a company who would pay for me to go. As it is in Johannesburg I would even be prepared to pay for the plane ticket as I could tie it in with a holiday to visit family. Hmm maybe I will have to try my luck at work and see how I get on.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Study Update 18/08/08

I had a really busy weekend with a change we were doing on the network. I got to work through Saturday night which was fun not :-) Anyhow studying has picked up a bit as I am making my way through Internet Routing Architectures. I have also been making good progress through the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 BGP labs. I am finally approaching the end of the labs which is good news as it has taken me quite a while. I have been going through them quite thoroughly and have learnt quite a few new things that I did not know about like BGP Outbound Route Filtering (ORF). My general approach at the moment is to read and work on the CLI at the same time. I find that this helps me remember the stuff I have read about, well to an extent anyhow.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Learning Perl

Okay so you might think what the hell has learning Perl got to do with my CCIE. Although it might be a bit of a distraction from my CCIE studies I believe that learning Perl will help my networking career. The senior engineer where I work now uses Perl to go out to all of our routers and automatically back them up. There are tools like CatTools and so on that already do this for you but he also uses it to interogate configs make changes and generally make managing the whole infrastructure a whole lot easier. So I think that Perl will really help me in my career, now the only problem is how to go about learning it. I am not really a programer at heart and I think that a book will be the best way for me to go about learning Perl. The book I am leaning towards is Learning Perl 5th Edition by O'Reilly so if anyone has any experience of this book or any others that would help me learn Perl, then please let me know.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Pesky Frame-Relay Interface DLCI Command

I just read an excellent post by Scott Morris of Internetwork Expert on the frame-relay interface-dlci command. Most of it was just reinforcing what I already knew but what I did not know about was the sub-command under the frame-relay interface-dlci command. I mean check it out below more options then I knew about. To read Scott's excellent post click here. Meanwhile I need to go research all these commands.

Rack1R2(config-if)#frame-relay interface-dlci 205
Frame Relay dlci configuration commands:
auto Configure Automation
class Assign a mapclass to a dlci
default Set a command to its defaults
exit Exit from FR dlci configuration mode
load-interval Specify interval for load calculation for a dlci
no Negate a command or set its defaults
vofr Voice over Frame-Relay
x25-profile Assign an X.25 profile to a dlci (Annex G Service)

TCP Timeout on IOS

Greg at Etherealmind has done an interesting post on the TCP Timeout command in IOS. I had read about it before many moons ago but it is one of those commands that I tend to forget about. Anyhow Greg's article is a good reminder so click here to read it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Study Update 13/08/08

Have not had much of a chance to get any studying done today as work is exceptionally busy at the moment as I am preparing for a big network change this weekend. It looks like it is going to be an all weekend job, including working through Saturday night. The misses will not be best pleased as I will probably not be much use as I will be completely worn out when we finish. In fact the studying will not be best pleased either, although on a positive note the bank balance should improve once the over time payment makes it's way into my account. I feel a bit more positive today after reading through the struggles of a few other people on their blogs and I did get a chance to do a NetMasterClass practice exam which I got 73% on. I am okay with that score for the moment as I still have a few things I need to brush up on and I made quite a few silly mistakes. Anyhow lets hope I can survive the weekend and find some more time to type up my notes and get on with my studies.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The path ahead looks very long and hard indeed

Today has been a pretty hectic day and a soul destroying one in that. The path to my CCIE is looking very long and hard at the moment. Stuff that should be bread and butter for a CCIE is just not going into my head. The time I need to study just is not there, what with family commitments and work getting very busy again. At moments like this I do feel like giving up and I have only just started the journey. I remember reading a stat some where that only something like 3%* of the people who start out on the CCIE journey actually finish it. I have felt like this before when I was first doing my CCNA and I could not figure out the CiscoPress book or when I was doing my CCNP when I felt it each time I started studying for a new exam. My strategy for coping is to remind myself that I have felt like this before and it does eventually get easier and things fall into place. However at the moment this mind trick is not working. The stuff I read is just not sticking, stuff I learnt I have forgotten and now have to re-learn. Then just to top off my depression you meet people who passed their CCIE's a long time ago and have actually gone inactive because they do not rate the CCIE anymore. They can knock up scripts that can get a router to do anything you could ever want and produce project plans and documentation that is simply out of this world. I get stressed that I will never be as good as them and that my dream of one day working for myself will remain just that a dream. However I must pick myself up and get back on the horse tomorrow is a new day and I cannot afford to waste all that money I have sunk into training products.

* For some reason 3% sticks in my head but I could be wrong if anyone knows the correct stat please let me know.

Study Update 12/08/08

Study has been moving along but slowly and if I am going to do my written at the end of August then I need to get a real move on. I have quite a few chapters in the Certification Guide still to read and I need to spend a lot of time on the Boson exam questions you get with the book and the NetMasterClass practice exam I bought. So still a long way to go although at this stage even though the next couple of weekends are a washout with work and helping family. I will probably move the date but I do need deadlines to speed myself up. In terms of lab time I am still working on the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 BGP labs. I have been having a bit of a nightmare getting a few things into my head by repeating them but soon I should be pretty solid on most of the basic BGP commands. It will take a lot of work to get me to the level where I can do multiprotocol labs and spot the issues before I crash into them, but I intend to try and build a very solid base and then move slowly up to the more challenging labs. Anyhow time for bed and provided I do not have to waste to much of my day tomorrow messing arround with GBIC's and fibre leads then hopefully I will be able to get some more studying done tomorrow night.

Monday, 11 August 2008

New Blogs for CCIE's

Just seen Mike Down's post that Jared Scrivener the IPExpert instructor passed his third CCIE so congratulations to him. Dam I wish I could just pass one :-( He still has some catching up to do though if he wants to catch Brian Dennis of InternetworkExpert. Anyhow as well as passing his third CCIE he has also setup a blog, so go take a look by clicking here. I am sure there will be a lot of useful info on there very soon.

Also Mike posted about Emmanual Conde the CCIE recruitment agent who has setup a site the CCIEFLYER. It looks to have a lot of interesting articles which I will probably read in my lunch break tomorrow. That is if I am not running around a huge comms room trying to look for an LX GBIC which we will probably not have in stock. Anyhow I digress so check out Emmanual's site here.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

ip bgp-community new-format

Hmm today I discovered another command I did not really know about and probably should have. The ip bgp-community new-format command. After looking it up on the Cisco website I found the following:

To display BGP communities in the format AA:NN (AS-community number/2-byte number), use the ip bgp-community new-format command in global configuration mode.To re-enable the previous display format for BGP communities (NN:AA), use the no form of this command.

ip bgp-community new-format

no ip bgp-community new-format

Usage Guidelines

RFC 1997, BGP Communities Attribute specifies that a BGP community is made up of two parts that are 2 bytes long. The first part is the autonomous system number and the second part is a 2-byte number. In the most recent version of the RFC, a community is of the form AA:NN. The Cisco default community format is one 32-bit number. The ip bgp-community new-format command changes the community format to AA:NN to conform to RFC 1997.


The following example upgrades a router that uses the 32-bit number community format to the AA:NN format:

Router(config)# ip bgp-community new-format 

The following example shows how BGP community numbers are displayed when the ip bgp-community new-format command is enabled:

Router# show ip bgp
BGP routing table entry for, version 4
Paths: (2 available, best #2, table Default-IP-Routing-Table)
  Advertised to non peer-group peers:
  35 from (
      Origin incomplete, metric 10, localpref 100, valid, external
      Community: 1:1
  Local from (
      Origin incomplete, metric 0, localpref 100, weight 32768, valid, sourced, best 

Written Booked!!! Well for now at least

Well I have just parted with a huge £160 of my hard earned cash and booked the CCIE R&S Written exam for the end of the month. I think I am being a tad bit unrealistic as I still have a lot of reading and practice exams to do and several busy weekends coming up. Anyhow I need a bit of a deadline even an unrealistic one just to get me moving in the right direction. I will probably move the exam but hopefully not by to much as I really need to get this one out of the way and focus my efforts on the main event.

Inside Cisco IOS Software Architecture

When I was browsing the Ciscopress website I saw that Inside Cisco IOS Software Architecture was under just released books. The published date was July 18th but it is still listed as the first edition. So I guess they are doing another publishing run and have not updated the book. Is this book still relevant as I am thinking of getting it? Thinking about it if it is being re-published then I guess there must be demand for it. So anyone who owns this book please let me know if it is worth buying.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Study Update 06/08/08

Work has calmed down a bit over the last two days so I have been able to get a bit more reading done. I am up to the configuration examples in Internet Routing Architectures and I actually think I made a mistake in just reading the book straight through. Even though the book refers you to the configuration examples when explaining the theory. I read the theory part straight through and have now arrived at the configuration examples. Anyhow at least I am making a little progress on the reading front although I will have to get a move on to finish reading the Certification Guide and Internet Routing Architectures by the end of this month. I also really need to learn how to do some proper notes and not rely on my memory as I have been doing up until this point.

On the lab front I am still working very slowly through the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 BGP labs and although they are quite simple I got stuck on one last night. I forced myself not to look at the answer when I thought I had configured everything right and struggled through trying to diagnose the fault myself. Although it took me a while to solve and I discovered that it was a typo after all, I did get some positives out of it. I got a chance to work on my trouble shooting skills.

I have to babysit some changes that are being made on our network tomorrow night and I have a hectic weekend with family coming up so there will probably not be much progress for the rest of this week. Any chance I do get I plan on trying to turn my BGP scribbles into some sort of proper notes.

Service Internal

I took the advice of Stretch from PacketLife and decided to research the various lines of our firm's routers configurations. So what happens first command I research I find it pretty hard to find out what it does. The command I was researching was service internal. After some searching round the web I found that it if you apply it in global configuration mode it causes some previously hidden commands to show up.

If anyone else has any knowledge on this command then please let me know.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Exam Security

I was browsing the blog on Cisco's Learning Network site and came across several interesting posts on exam security. To summarise the things I thought were important or interesting are as below:
1. No cheat sheets are going to get you through the technical interview at a new job. In fact I used to be a lot harsher on people who had certifications than those who did not when I was involved in doing a technical interviews. My reasoning was that the people with certifications were claiming a level of knowledge and so I wanted to see if they had cheated their way to that level of knowledge. However I obviously was not that harsh as some of the interviewers mentioned in the blog post as made some job candidates cry in an interview, ouch you know you are out of your depth when you get so flustered you start crying.
2. There is a lawsuit to do with the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). Never heard of it myself but the important thing about the suit is that the publisher of the GMAT tests have shut down a website that sold GMAT questions and answers. However that is not the really juicy bit the juicy bit is that the publisher was given control of the offending websites domain, and they gained possession of the hard drive containing payment information of anyone who bought cheat sheets from the site. So now they might cancel people's GMAT scores and ban them from future GMAT tests. Cisco is apparently watching the case with interest.
3. Getting someone else to take your test is not as much of a minority sport as I thought it was in fact it seems to be quite a popular way of passing the exams in some parts of the world. Never worked for me though I have problems finding anyone ugly enough to impersonate me :-)
4. People will cheat at everything I mean who would have thought that people would use an automated script to book their CCIE lab seats. This is against Cisco rules for those of you who do not know. I could not quite believe this one myself I mean you have got so far why risk getting your self in trouble with Cisco just to book a lab seat.
5. Testking the biggest brain dump vendor grosses an estimated $10 million dollars annually. So now wonder they keep doing what they do, it is big business, in fact it is scary how big a business cheating is. I mean $10 million annually, means that a hell of a lot of people are cheating.

The good news is that it appears that Cisco are finally taking all this stuff seriously and implementing security measures that I believe will make a real difference to improving exam security. You can read more about this on the Cisco Learning Network site blog.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Proctor Labs Deal

I just saw Mike's post on Twitter and then headed over to his blog where he is offering to match whatever number of rack rental slots you buy from Proctor Labs. So if you buy 10 sessions he will give you 10 free and if you buy 20 you get 20 free. So if you are in need of some rack time then I would head over to Mike's blog and check out his offer.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Study Update 01/08/08

Well once again this has been a bit of a washout for me in terms of studying. Work has been pretty hectic, with quite a few hours of overtime and to top it all off my son has decided that he will stop sleeping through the night, so I am pretty tired at the moment. I am still struggling my way through Internet Routing Architectures whenever I get a spare minute to try and improve my understanding of BGP. I also had a read of RFC1998 which was very interesting for a RFC and is what our designers are planning on implementing at work. I have not had much chance to continue with the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 BGP labs but hopefully I can do at least two some time this weekend. Hmm I need less things to do in my life, family and CCIE's do not mix well :-)

San Fran Network Admin Saga Not Quite Over

I thought the San Fran network saga was all over. Well it appears I was wrong and stupidity is indeed endless. Click here to head over to cciepursuit to read about the latest chapter.