Friday, 31 October 2008

Splashing Out Some More

Okay so I managed to get the discount code for the Internetwork Expert Dynamips Volume 1 labs the other night, and finally took the plunge and made the purchase. I intend to work my way through the Volume 1 lab which is rated a 5 this next week just to get an idea of where I am.

As I previously mentioned I was looking for something to boost my mastery of the individual technologies and so I tried to contact Micronics training 3 times via email. Narbik might write excellent workbooks but no one at Micronics seems to want to sell them to me as I do not recieve 1 reply. So I got a bit fed up and after last nights announcement decided to investigate upgrading to the Internetwork Expert end-to-end program instead. After contacting a very helpful IE sales rep I got a quote for my upgrade and although they discount my existing products the bill was still a little bit steeper than I was expecting (My maths must be worse than I thought as they do publish all their figures) especially when you are paying for the training yourself. (Hint to myself I might have to move back to South Africa and apply for the developing world discount that is if SA gets it :-) ) So now I am pushed back to thinking about Narbiks books so does anyone know of the best way to get hold of a sales rep from Micronics?

Peace at Last?

Just as I was about to do a post about how boring the CCIE vendor wars were becoming and that it was time for all the vendors to put their handbags away, it looks like peace has returned to CCIE training land. I did read a good post by Wayne Lawson on his view on the Cisco 360 program and then read Matt Brooks reply to Internetwork Expert's CCIE 2.0 announcement video. While Matt did raise some valid points about contradictions in Brain Dennis announcement, I think most people who listened to the broadcast would have realised that Brian was passionate about his company and probably not sticking to a prepared script, so there were bound to be some contradictions in his statements. While the CCIE training wars were amusing at first, it did become boring rather quickly and I think this really excellent post from Brandon Carroll sums things up. Now children get back to what you both do best namely producing top quality training for your customers and we will decide who the best training company is!

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Oops!... They Did It Again

Okay so I missed the Internetwork Expert live announcement but I used my valuable study time to watch the recorded session and I am glad to say it was well worth it.

There has been plenty of new about the Cisco 360 program but in my opinion Internetwork Experts announcement is even bigger news, especially if they pull off even half of the things that were mentioned in the video. If they do they will blow Cisco's 360 program out of the water.

For those of you that do not feel like sitting through the video I will go through the high points for me.

IE tried to work with Cisco they tried everything they could to partner with Cisco but they just could not agree. It seems to work with Cisco IE would have paid a very high price, they would have had to have become a Cisco Learning Partner (CLP) to join the 360 program. Being a CLP means you cannot sell or market outside of your region so that would be North America (NA) in IE's case which would have been very bad for me, a whole heap of other people, and IE themselves as 50% of IE's customer base is outside of NA. They would have had to scrap their existing products and utilized the authorised training materials. As well as this the emerging markets discounts and the whole ethos of the company would have had to have changed.

So the Brians (I did not realise what a big Cisco fanboy Brian Dennis is wait till you hear his product evaluation process :-) ) and consequently IE have decided to go it alone. Great decision I say as I never wanted IE to join the 360 program anyway, and based on all the reasons stated in the product announcement it seems it was a no brainer from IE's point of view.

So what are they doing to compete with the 360 program, well they are releasing their CCIE 2.0 program. (Why does everyone use this 2.0 crap I get so bored of reading about Web 2.0 and I have no fecking clue what it is really about, besides if IE deliver they should call their program CCIE 3.0 because that is how far ahead of everything else out there it is.) So what is the CCIE 2.0 program all about well there are loads of components some of which I will list below :
  • They will release perpetual product updates and so sections will be released as they are done. Easier for IE as for example individual labs can be released as they are ready rather than having to wait for 10 or 20 labs to be complete to release a whole workbook. It is great news for the customer as well as will will keep getting constantly updated content.
  • They will release assessment products that recommend what areas you need to brush up on and what products and books will help you.
  • There will be a new series of CoD's that will sit between the current two CoDs that delves much deeper into individual topics in 15 to 30 and maybe 40 minute sections (about time somebody realised that 45 minutes is about the longest most people can pay attention for and that 3 hour videos are not really the best thing for working people)
  • You will have access to instructor drop in sessions where you can join an instructor online and watch them do a lab or join in a class (good for seeing the different approaches of the different instructors)
  • Printed products and DVD's will still be available they will just be a snapshot of the product release at certain time periods.
  • Polymorphic labs (Poly-Labs) will be available that will expose your weak points and ensure that you find the areas you are not a hot shot. (these sound awesome)
  • They will have customer relationship managers that get in touch with you and see how you are getting on (Personal Trainers for the CCIE world, work those labs baby work those labs :-) )
  • A service that recommends which parts of the documentation or Ciscopress books you need to read to brush up on areas you do not understand or are weak in.
  • There will be associate and professional level training released in the future (CCNA, CCNP, CCVP, etc)
There is a lot more to it (might be best to watch the video I am rubbish at summarising things) but they main problem they are trying to solve with this program is probably the most difficult thing about studying for the CCIE namely "where are you in your studies and where are you going/needing to go". The dynamic feedback mechanisms, contact with instructors and assessment products are designed to give you this feedback and therefore save you time in preparing for the CCIE. (I almost think they wrote this whole program especially for me, because I am stuck in "where am I and where am I going land". As well as the fact anything that cuts down the number of hours I need to study for the CCIE and consequently reduce the complaints about how much time I spend on my computer has to be very good thing for my marriage at least :-) )

The last point to mention is that all this stuff is available free of charge to people who have purchased the end-to-end program. For those of us (I am included in this) who have some of the products you will be able to upgrade to the end-to-end program and receive discounts for the products you already own. If you do not need all the extra stuff (the instructor interaction, Poly Tech labs and all that jazz) your existing products will still be upgraded free of charge under the investment protection program.

One final thing if you are planning on doing your CCIE Voice order IE's Voice CoD + Workbooks now and Brian D will upgrade you to the full Voice end-to-end program when it is released which will save you some major cash. (By the way he does say this in the video but please double check with IE before you buy just to be on the safe side).

I am hugely excited about this news and am now thinking of which of my wife's jewelry I can sell to raise the funds to get my account upgraded to the end-to-end program. On second thoughts I better think of something of my own to sell as touching let alone selling my wife's stuff is a LTM (Life Threatening Move).

Monday, 27 October 2008

CCIE Shorts 27/10/08

I was supposed to do this post on the weekend but some how I lost it in Blogger somewhere. Thanks to cciepursuit I learnt more about Cisco's CCIE 360 training program. The main thing is it looks like the 360 program will be utilizing the NetMasterClass materials. This was a bit of a relief to me as I was worried that there would Cisco would be producing training materials that would virtually ensure that if you used their materials you would pass the exam. This fear has thankfully proved unfounded, but my belief that Cisco was in this for the money rather than for than their claimed higher calling of cleaning up the CCIE training market seems to have been correct. It looks like they are putting a 100% mark up on the NetMasterClass products according to ccieguru. Anyhow if you want to read the full scoop on the CCIE 360 program head over to cciepursuit who has a very informative post on the whole thing. I swear the man missed his true calling in life he should have been an investigative journalist :-)

In other news cciepursuit (who else) has pointed out that the Internetwork Expert Scholarship program is back on. So if you can think of a brilliant essay on why you want to be a CCIE send it to me so I can apply :-) No seriously this is a great opportunity so head over to the Internetwork Expert site to apply.

Finally the other news I forgot to post about is that David Bomball released a new version of the CCIE Command Memorizer about a week ago. It might have been two weeks ago but unfortunately his email got caught in my spam folder and I did not check it for a few days. Anyhow the new version as well as some fixes includes new sections on DHCP and Miscellaneous Commands. I have upgraded to the new version but have not had much of a chance to use it yet due to work being hectic, boy I am looking forward to the Christmas change freeze :-) Anyhow once I have played with it for a bit I will share my experiences with you.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Technologies Workbook Advice

A reader of my blog (yup it surprises me to but it turns out there is quite a lot of them, must be a lot of very bored people in the world :-) ) asked me my opinion on whether if you had the IPExpert BLS it was worth getting the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 workbook. So rather than reply in the comments field I thought I would do a long winded post on the topic :-)

Before I start and I hate the fact that the world has come to this, let me add my disclaimer. What will follows is my opinion and my opinion has been formed by using both the Internetwork Expert and the IPExpert Volume 1 workbooks as well as reading about and sampling some of the other workbooks. I am happy for you to disagree with my conclusion if you are nice and polite but if you cannot do me that courtesy then well you can *&%$ off in the nicest possible way of course :-) Also I have no interest in joining the CCIE vendor wars so please do not drag me into them.

First I will go through the history of my product purchases to try and give you some insight into how I have formed my opinions. I bought the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 workbook while doing my CCNP to help give some structure to my labbing for the CCNP.

Then later in the year I bought the original IPExpert Volume 9 material because they were having a sale where they included their original CoD as well as the audio bootcamp and the printed workbooks (in my opinion unless you have access to a big printer or are happy to read off a computer screen all day the electronic workbooks are a false economy) for round about $600. Although I was not ready at the time I had just finished my CCNP and had not even looked at the CCIE written material, the dollar was nice and weak and so it seemed to good a deal to pass up. I was away on holiday when the material was delivered and then I was working quite extensively on QoS (I must not be normal because QoS is my favourite topic :-) ) when I got back, so I did not look at the material for quite a while. When I did decide to look into the material I found the going a bit tough.

IPExpert took the approach of offering 18 mini labs on the various technologies at this time and this is still the approach they take although the mini labs are up to 22 and they have been changed quite significantly. Now the IPExpert approach seems to be to throw you in at the deep end, with wording and restrictions similar to what you would expect on a full scale lab, except that these are technology focused mini labs. For me this was a bit overwhelming at first and along with the fact that I did not have a home lab to run all this stuff on I decided to go back to the Internetwork Expert volume 1 lab.

Internetwork Expert approach their Volume 1 labs (I am talking about version 4.1 here) in a different way. They give you a bit more hand holding to get you up to speed and this is what I needed. The other bonus was that you can run their Volume 1 labs (except switching) on Dynamips and they give you the Dynamips topology to do this. The downside to the Internetwork Expert stuff was that some of the labs were to simple and the explanations seemed to disappear the further you got through the various labs. In fact the explanations are not up to the standard of the other workbook vendors. However the good news is that Internetwork Expert seemed to have realised this and are working on version 5 of the Volume 1 workbook. A lot of the version 5 sections are now available in a beta form and if you purchased the version 4.1 volume 1 workbook you get immediate access to them without having to pay any more money.

My situation at the moment is that I am working on both the Internetwork Expert labs in Dynamips and using some of my Proctor labs sessions to do the IPExpert stuff. I still get stumped on a lot of the IPExpert stuff and refer to the solutions guide more than I would like. However it is teaching me the thinking involved in the CCIE lab and how to use the documentation to look things up. As for the Internetwork Expert stuff I am mainly working on the version 4.1 stuff till I can get near a printer to print out the new version 5 labs that have been released. I have also been having some problems getting the initial configurations to work in Dynamips which is slowing things down.

So now we have been around the houses a bit back to the original question. If you have the IPExpert BLS would you recommend purchasing the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 workbook?

The answer is it depends how comfortable are you doing the IPExpert Volume 1 labs and what are your timescales for completing the CCIE lab?

If you are struggling like I was with the IPExpert stuff and are in no rush to get your CCIE, then I would recommend Internetwork Expert as your second vendor. The version 5 labs are a huge improvement on the version 4.1 labs. They have detailed explanations and notes in the solutions sections which is what I have been looking for all along. When version 5 is finished and providing the standard of all the other sections matches what I have seen so far, then I am sure Internetwork Expert's Volume 1 workbooks will be right at the top of the introductory lab workbooks pile. However the problem is that they are still in development and that's why I say if you are in no rush to get your CCIE because I am not sure what the timescales for completion are.

However if you do not want to wait around and you own either IPExpert or Internetwork Expert Volume 1 workbooks then I do not recommend you buy the other vendor's products. Based on the samples I have seen and what I have read on the other blogs the best Volume 1 level workbook to teach you the technologies out there at the moment is the Advanced CCIE Routing and Switching - Technology Focused Workbook by Narbik Kocharians. It is a workbook that I am seriously considering buying even though I really cannot afford it and have shelled out on enough CCIE training material already. You only have to look at the sample pages on the Micronics website to see the level of detail Narbik goes into in his explanations (in my opinions when you are trying to master a technology explanations and show commands that show you how to verify things are the most important component of any level 1 workbook). Then there is the best recommendation of all the fact that three newly minted CCIE's (Ethan, Baroq and Matt Hill) recommend it.

Splashing Out

Okay so the other night I decided to splash out and buy the Dynamips workbooks from Internetwork Expert. In some way I feel a bit conned because I already own the proper Volume 2 workbook and even though you get a discount for this, the fact that they divide the workbook into two still means you end up paying $195 for a slightly different product. If I was not so lazy I could probably have got away without needing to get the Dynamips versions but I could not face the hassle of re-engineering the Volume 2 workbook. I still need to get a voucher code so I can get the the first part of the Dynamips workbook. I also ordered a printed copy of the Volume 3 workbook because the printing facilities in my new job are not as accommodating as those in my old job :-) My old job was great for printing we had a whole department dedicated to printing and you got these lovely productions back. Even there though they started installing print monitoring software, big brother is every where these days :-)

It was the plummeting value of the pound that really forced my hand as I was looking into getting Nabriks Advanced Technology Workbook. However no one from Micronics replied to my email and as the pound fell faster than Aussie wickets in the second test (if it was falling as fast as English wickets do then we would be in serious trouble :-) ) it would have been too expensive anyhow. Besides I probably need to stay focused on the products I have.

I did receive a comment asking me if I would recommend getting the Internetwork Volume 1 material if you already have the IPExpert BLS and I though instead of just replying in a comment I would do a blog post later on today about this.

Now if you excuse me I am going to entertain myself for a few more minutes by reading about the cat fight between IPExpert and Internetwork Expert that Ethereal Mind pointed out. He did make a comment on Twitter that it was like watching $20 hookers fighting it out on a street corner over a punter which I must object to. I as CCIE mendicant (yes I had to look it up as well) feel I am a bit classier than being fought over by $20 hookers, $50 dollar ones at least :-)

Thursday, 23 October 2008

WTF??? Policing a Priority Queue

I was looking at how QoS on our routers at work is configured and I came across the following:

Policy Map QOS-OUT
Strict Priority
Bandwidth 2700 (kbps) Burst 337500 (Bytes)
police cir 2712000 bc 339000 be 339000
conform-action set-dscp-transmit ef
exceed-action drop

Now I was confused I had always thought that you did not need to police on a priority queue because policing was built in to the priority command. The way I understood it was that as soon as you typed priority and then the bandwidth, that was the maximum bandwidth that would be allocated to the priority queue and so there was no need for a policer. Am I wrong has anyone else seen this configuration before? Is it normal and a case of what is actually used in the real world rather than what you learn from Ciscopress? Also which command would take precedence the police or the priority command if you set them to different rates?

When I asked why it was setup this way, I was told the police command was better for producing logging as the priority command just dropped packets and did not tell you if your priority traffic was exceeding the bandwidth you had provisioned. Therefore you would not know if you needed to increase your priority queue bandwidth. At first I accepted this explanation but then when I thought about it a bit more and did a show policy-map interface I got the information below.

Class-map: VOICE-OUT (match-any)
151522 packets, 13014864 bytes
30 second offered rate 0 bps, drop rate 0 bps
Match: ip dscp ef (46)
151140 packets, 13001580 bytes
30 second rate 0 bps
Match: access-group name VOICE-OUT
382 packets, 13284 bytes
30 second rate 0 bps
Strict Priority
Output Queue: Conversation 264
Bandwidth 2700 (kbps) Burst 337500 (Bytes)
(pkts matched/bytes matched) 25068/1912731
(total drops/bytes drops) 0/0
cir 2712000 bps, bc 339000 bytes
conformed 151522 packets, 13014864 bytes; actions:
set-dscp-transmit ef
exceeded 0 packets, 0 bytes; actions:
conformed 0 bps, exceed 0 bps

Which to me showed that the priority command does show how many packets/bytes have been dropped. So I do not think logging would be the reason for adding the police command as well. I am leaning towards misconfiguration at the moment, but I would love to hear from people with more QoS experience than me to explain what is going on here.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

CCIE Shorts: Congratulations Matt Hill

The "I want to be a CCIE" blogging community seems to get smaller every day as more and more bloggers move into the illustrious "I am a CCIE" category. Anyhow Matt Hill is the latest to join their ranks so head over to his blog to congratulate him and read what must be the best post on someones lab experience I have ever read :-)

Monday, 20 October 2008


Training seems to be the theme of the moment in CCIE blog land. What with Cisco launching their own 360 degree training program and bloggers like Greg at Etherealmind talking about the value of certifications versus experience. Ivan at IOS Hints and Tips also did a great post on the different ways people get knowledge. I did get to try out one of NIL's CCNA labs when Ivan was looking for beta testers and I was very impressed. If my company ever decided to purchase some training courses for me they would definitely be one of the vendors I would check out.

On the training theme IPExpert have just released their latest newsletter which if you do not subscribe to you can read by clicking here. They have finally launched their CICE blog site and there is the usual list of special offers in the newsletter. There is also a report by the Tolly Group comparing Internetwork Expert versus IPExpert. I always wonder why companies still pay for these reports as I do not know anyone who takes them seriously.

I love lines like this "While this is a head-to-head review, the Tolly Group did not contact Internetwork Expert about it's product, because information utilized came directly from the company website." Lines like that just make me laugh. Anyway to save you all some time and because I needed a good laugh (studying is not going so well these days to many changes to be managed for work) I read the report so you did not have to. To summarise the report says both companies offer great training (which I can confirm since I use them both, however I have not passed my CCIE yet so there is obviously room for improvement :-) ) but that IPExpert is more cost effective.

To me there does not seem to be a great deal of difference in price between the two vendors, however there was one comment I do agree with. Namely the information on the rack rentals. It states that IPExpert tends to be more expensive for the rack rentals (which is why you should always buy their rack rentals when they have the double rack time special offers on) but that they tend to be easier to book. Where as Internetwork Expert rack time can be bought for less money, but trying to get a rack at short notice can be a bit of a problem. My personal experience does tie up with that view and I do prefer the fact that the IPExpert sessions are longer given that you normally lose up to half an hour just logging on to the rack and getting everything setup.

The other thing I did notice on the report that was a bit strange since it was about cost effectiveness was that it did not mention Dynamips. Probably because Internetwork Expert are the only ones with a Dynamips product :-). The cost savings of using only Dynamips are huge compared to renting rack time and it seems more and more people are passing using only Dynamips or at the very least using a lot less rack time because of it.

Finally the other thing to report on the training front is that Internetwork Expert are taking registrations for their Beta Assessment Lab which is designed to asses your knowledge of key topics and technologies. Apparently it will provide you with a study plan and recommend Internetwork Expert products to suit your needs. I have registered in the hope I get accepted and that it is ready to begin testing fairly soon.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

CCIE Study Update 15/10/08

Okay so it is a little while since I have managed to post a study update. My studying seems very disjointed at the moment as some days I make good progress and the next couple of days disappear in the hectic world of work and family life. Work is the real pain at the moment as all our changes need to take place in the evenings and the evenings are the only time I get to study. However with the credit crunch looking like it is beginning to bite the real economy, I feel it would be a serious mistake to turn down the overtime money at the moment. Besides I need it to pay off all the IPExpert rack sessions I have bought. I bought another 10 sessions the other day and got 10 more free using this special offer which ends Friday 17th October.

Although my studying has been a bit haphazard I have managed to achieve a few of my goals. I have finally finished watching all the IPExpert BLS videos, although I am not quite sure how much of it all I took in. I hope to get a review posted fairly soon if time allows but I can say over all I was very impressed. There are a few areas that could do with some work, the sound especially springs to mind, but I will cover all that in my review.

I also tried out a Proctor Labs session and that was good experience as well, apart from the fact that I had to get out of bed at 5 in the morning to start my session. Learning to sit still for 8 hours at a time also looks like it might be a bit of a challenge. I spent most of my time configuring switches which was good but even on some simple tasks I was looking at the solution guide a bit to much. Also since my workbooks are all in electronic format trying to divide the screen up got a bit annoying.

I also began work on changing the Internetwork Expert Volume 1 version 5 initial configuration files to work with Dynamips. I did need some tips from a helpful poster on the Internetwork Expert forums but things seem to be progressing well on that front. Finally I have still been trying to drum the BGP configuration commands into my head using the CCIE Command Memorizer whenever I can.

There is still a lot more to do but I am content that I am at least moving forward even if it is only inches at a time. Hopefully things will begin to stick in my head soon and I will get some more free time so I can step up the pace a bit more.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

CCIE Shorts 14/10/08

Okay first of all a belated congratulations to Jo Knight of CCIE Lab Preparation who managed to pass his CCIE on the 7th of October. Nice one well done Jo I have been meaning to write a post to congratulate you but work got in the way of blogging time. Anyhow if you move at the speed of a sloth like me then head over to his blog to congratulate him, or if you are yawning that is old news like most of you probably will be then make sure you check out his great posts on the lab. He even has a post on what he is planning to learn next which includes Turkish. Turkish or some other foreign language is what my brain seems to think half the IOS commands are written in :-). Anyhow nice one well done Jo!!

Next thing of interest that seems to be going on in CCIE land is the fact that Cisco is introducing it's own CCIE training program. Thanks to CCIE pursuit for pointing this out to me, head over to his blog to check out the full story. Now this is big news in my opinion and so is the fact that Cisco wants 3 million certified engineers by 2012 up from 1 million now.

Both the Cisco CCIE training program and the 3 million certified engineers are something I disagree with. According to the various articles Cisco is designing the program to compete head on with 3rd party bootcamps that are not up to par. So I wonder which 3rd party bootcamps are not up to par? Most of vendors that people seem to use in passing their CCIE's seem to have been up to scratch, as how have some many people passed their CCIE's up until this point?

Companies like Cisco and Microsoft survive and prosper because they have millions of smaller companies supporting their products and providing innovative products/solutions that address the short comings in their own products. Now when the demands for growth mean the Cisco and Microsoft's of this world start eating their own children so to speak then I get a bit upset. Innovation and product improvements do not generally come from large companies they come from small companies that spot a niche in the market. So surely these smaller companies should be rewarded by the corporate giants for supporting them rather than being trampled all over. I mean how much can the CCIE training market be worth to Cisco? Surely not that much where as to companies like IPExpert and Internetwork Expert it is their livelyhood. Also as soon as the corporate giant has established a monopoly in an area then they tend to innovate less which is bad for us consumers.

The other worry I have with Cisco entering the CCIE training market is will they develop a course that spoonfeds candidates? Previously Cisco guarded the intergrity of the CCIE and they did not actually produce any training material for it (oaky a few Ciscopress books aside). However now they have a program to sell they will obviously want to sell more of their training courses than the competition. So one of the best ways to do this is to have a higher pass rate than the competition and if you write the exam and the training material does this not mean that you might be tempted to load your training material with all the information to pass the CCIE? So could the commercial pressure of Cisco wanting to sell training programs lead to their program becoming a complete this course and you will be guarenteed of passing your CCIE type of program?

Would Cisco devalue the CCIE in this way? Do they really care about the CCIE or are they just intrested in getting as many engineers out there as possible who have knowledge of their products and thus act as marketers for their products? I mean why target a specfic number of engineers you want to produce? Instead of setting a target of 3 million engineers why do they not instead insist on improving the quality of the engineers they certify? I do not know what everyone else's experiences are but whenever a company I have worked for has wanted to recruit a new engineer we have never starved for lack of candidates. We have however had severe droughts of quality candidates. Even people who work at Cisco have admitted to me their problem is not the lack of candidates it is the lack of quality people. So what does everyone else think is this a good move by Cisco? Is there a shortage of engineers or is it the quality of the engineers that is in short supply?

Finally as for the demise of the USA that Network World seems to go on about in my opinion that is still a long way off. There is a inovative streak and a remarkable capcaity to reinvent itself in the eagle that the dragon and the tiger with their billion strong populations still have not achieved. On day they will get there but I do not think the US will be brushed aside just yet. Besides the US is still growing and it could hit half a billion people fairly soon, but I digress mental note to self this is a CCIE blog not a currnet affairs blog :-)

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Questions Questions and more Questions

I am struggling a bit at the moment to get my studies to have some structure. I really want to nail the technologies before I move on to full scale labs but then I wonder if it is better to try out some of the easy labs and that will help identify my weaknesses. What did everyone else do? Does anyone think it is worthwhile trying a low difficulty full scale lab just to help identify my weaknesses or do you think I should know how to configure everything backwards before I even try a full multiprotocol lab?

I have also been having some problems getting Dynamips to work properly with the new IE volume 1 version 5 labs. Has anyone else got these to work ? The main problems I have is with the initial configs for the various labs and in particular the switches. I have modified the router interfaces and that is all fine but what do I need to do with the switch configs? I could probably look at the various labs and work it out but as that would take study time I would prefer the easy approach of finding out if anyone else had set it up and what they did. So if you know and are prepared to help then please let me know.

The other thing I wanted to know about is Nabrik's workbooks. I am probably fine with all the material I have at the moment and should not be spending anymore money on CCIE study materials in the current climate. However after all the good things I read about Nabrik, I wonder if it will be worth buying his workbooks. So if anyone has used them then please can you let me know what you think of them and if they are worth buying if you already have IPExpert and Internetwork Expert? Also what do people do with setting up their labs for Nabrik's workbooks can you do most of it in Dynamips, do you use your own equipment, or is there any good cheap rack rentals for them?

Sunday, 5 October 2008

CCIE Shorts 05/10/08

First the bad news as you have probably already heard cciepursuit did not pass his lab on his first attempt. I was convinced he would pass and after following his blog religiously for over a year, he was the blogger I most wanted to pass. Anyhow he did not make it first time although I am convinced he will make it in January. It does show that this CCIE thing is no walk in the park and no matter how well prepared you are you could end up with a lab that hits all your weak points or as in cciepursuits case hits you with question interpretation issues. I have a hard enough time interpreting some of Cisco's normal exam questions so I dread to think what the CCIE will be like. Anyhow head over to cciepursuits blog to give him some encouragement for his next attempt.

On a happier note South African Networker passed his written. I am envious at the amount of time he has to study as he only works part time, (with the credit crunch a few more of us might find ourselves in that position soon, although I am not keen on unpaid study time :-) ) so he has managed to put in some fearsome hours. Anyhow head over to his blog by clicking here to congratulate him.

The other thing to mention is there should be an update of the CCIE Command Memorizer coming later this week that I am looking forward to. I will let you know some more on what has changed later in the week.

Finally Internetwork Expert have released a partial release of the new Version 5 IP Services section so I look forward to trying it out. By the way what does everyone else do with their electronic access workbooks do they print them out themselves or do they order the printed version? I need hard copies of a couple of my workbooks and I am not sure which is the best approach at the moment, so I thought I would find out what everyone else does.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Study Update 01/10/08

Apologies for the lack of updates but I only landed back in the country yesterday and did not really feel like posting. Before that I was in Zimbabwe for a few days and considering that their computers at the airport have been down for over a year, and I almost could not get on the plane because I had not printed my ticket. I was not going to be posting much from there. Besides I was enjoying some fishing as well as time with my family as we said our final farewells to my dad. Anyhow maybe more on that some other time.

As for the little bits of study I have been doing. It mainly consists of working my way through the IPExpert CoD and I have a little bit of day 4 and all of day 5 still to watch. It has been a really great learning experience. I have picked up a lot of tips that I think will really help me in my journey and my career. Once I finish it and week two of the Internetwork Expert CoD I hope to be able to do a review between both products.

Apart from watching videos the only other thing I have been doing is hammering the BGP sections in the CCIE Command Memorizer. When I come across a command I do not know I look it up on the Cisco website and try it out on Dynamips. There have been quite a few commands that are taking a while to get through my thick skull. However I believe the experience has been worthwhile and when you do not have a lot of time on your hands the CCIE Command Memorizer is about the best thing I have to make me feel like I have actually done something. I need to be in the right frame of mind and have total silence to read a book. I need silence and setup time to do a lab even a Dynamips one. The CoD videos tend to be quite long. So all I am left with is practice questions and the memorizer and that's what I use when I have a spare couple of minutes.

I need to schedule some longer time slots over the coming weeks but at the moment I am still sorting out all the paperwork that arrived while I was away. So I will probably be pretty quiet on the study front till next week.