CCIE Pursuit Blog

December 2, 2008

Status Update: Back From The Dead

Where I’m at? Two turntables and a micro….damn you Beck!

It’s been a bit since I last updated the blog.  I’ve been busy as hell the last few weeks.  We’re approaching an end-of-the-year “change freeze” at work.  For a little over a month, no changes can be made without [insert favorite deity here]‘s direct approval.  That’s great except that during the weeks right before the change goes into affect we get slammed because everyone is trying to install everything that they can before the change freeze begins.  We’ve also lost some staff and they have not been replaced so we’re taking on their work.  Our stock is in the crapper and the US is in a recession (since December of last year it seems).  Needless to say, work has not been fun.

On the home front, I’ve been catching up on projects that were on hold during the summer due to my studies.  Winter is now here and that means a bunch of home projects.  School is in full effect, so I have to make sure my son spends more time studying than watching Cartoon Network and playing Lego Star Wars (not an easy task).  There are also my kids’ sports and other extracurricular activities that I need to support/attend.  Throw some holidays into the mix and you’ve got an even bigger time-suck.

Did I mention that winter is here?  I fucking hate winter.  I love Minnesota, but only for 9 months a year.  I had thought that by now that I would be used to winter, but that’s not happening.  It’s a cold, dead, miserable season and it bums me out to no end.

I haven’t really been able to get good traction on my studies.  For the last few weeks I simply haven’t had the time to do much studying.  I’m still setting aside weekends for my studies, but even good chunks of those have been eaten up by on-call and other issues.  I’m losing my knowledge in some technologies.  I have done two complete labs since my failed lab attempt.  I have been working on technology-based labs, but my CLI sessions have been few and far between.

I’ve also been pulled in a number of different directions with my studies.  My boss is really stressing “convergence”.  Which, to him, means that we need to learn voice technologies.  Not how to troubleshoot existing voice implementations in our network, but rather learning generalized, low-level voice technologies.  To placate the boss man, I have been studying for the CVOICE exam.  I plan to take either that exam or the CCNA-Voice exam sometime before the end of the year.

The good news is that the worst is over.  The freeze change starts next Monday so work will quiet down.  I’m (mostly) caught up on my home projects.  I should have time available once again to jump into my studies.  I have to sit down and create a study plan and stick to it.

I recently installed Dynamips (via GNS3) on a laptop running Ubuntu.  It’s duo-core 1.5Mhz (I think) CPU with 2 gigs of RAM.  I was able to get the full IE topology running.  I now have the Dynamips Workbooks from IE as well.  Everything was rocking until I got to the BGP section of the lab.  My CPU(s) maxed out and I was seeing EIGRP neighbors randomly dropping.  I mucked about with different idlepc settings, but I couldn’t get the CPU load to drop.  I was disappointed because I really want to use Dynamips so that I have a virtual rack available at any time.  So I bought myself a Christmas gift: 

Combo w/ Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4GHz – 1066FSB – 8MB Cache)
  Asus P5N73-AM
  Basic Fan / Heatsink
  White Thermal Compound – 1 Use Packet
  4GB – PC2-6400 (DDR2-800)
  (Dual Channel Memory Kit)
  Okia 600 Watt Power Supply (Dual Core Certified)

It cost just over $300 and should arrive this Thursday.  Of course right after I ordered this I found a tutorial on how to run Dynamips across multiple boxes.  Oh well, I need/deserve a new box anyways.  :-)

This will give me a box to run a full IE Dynamips topology on so that I can lab during any free time I get at home.  I’ll still be using my rack at work during weekends as well as occasionally renting rack time, but this should help me maximize my free moments.

Anyhoo…I’m back on the CCIE train and I will be blogging more frequently going forward.

September 23, 2008

Status Update: 9 Days Left – Going Dark

My iGooglepage has a countdown widget on it and it tells me that I’m down to single digits.  Yesterday was my last day in the office (might have to pop in on the weekend) and the remainder of my week is dedicated to labbing.  I’ve booked a ton of lab time this week and a couple of mock labs.  I’ll be spending over 50 hours on the CLI this week.  This weekend I may try to wire up my work lab to work on the CCIE Routing and Switching Practice Labs.  At the very least I’m going to read through them.

I’m a whole lot more relaxed now than I was a couple of weeks ago.  I am working on my many and varied weaknesses.  I’ve accepted that I’m not going to go into the lab as an expert on all of the technologies, but I do have a good grasp of the core stuff and some of the none-core stuff.  There are some technologies that still give me trouble if the task goes too deep, but hopefully I’ll be able to use the DOCCD to get those points.

I fly out Monday and will be spending the first two nights in San Francisco.  Those will be interesting days as I will be doing the tourist thing with my wife.  This will either be a much needed respite before the lab or it will be a complete disaster as I will piss my wife off because I’ll be too obsessed with the lab to enjoy the city.

The good thing about San Francisco is that you can walk between a lot of the attractions.  I’m planning on doing as much walking as possible so that I will be physically tired and (hopefully) more likely to sleep the night before the lab.  Even as I type this I know that I’ll probably be too nervous to get much sleep. 

Anyhoo…this will be my last blog update until after the lab.  My next post will either be my digits or my three month plan for my second attempt.

September 3, 2008

Status Update: 30 Days Left

The final push towards my date with the lab exam has begun.  I have 30 days left.  I’ve scheduled every bit of my vacation allotment over the next month.  I don’t want to have any regrets (“If I had taken a couple more days to study”) after the lab.  By draining my vacation days I’ve pretty much ensured that I either nail this sucker on the first attempt or I won’t get to it again until next year. 

My cell phone is powered down and I’m only checking email once in the morning and once at night.  Too often a “quick call” from work results in hours of lost time.  I won’t be VPN’ing in or checking my work email.  The days that I have to work will probably be absolutely fruitless as they’ll be spent battling my inbox, but I couldn’t convince my employer to grant me a leave of absence.

No podcasts.  No sports (I’ll miss the Vikings’ opener – against the hated Packers no less – for the first time in a decade).  TV ist verboten.  Pas d’alcool.  I’ll still hit the gym, but only for a quick workout prior to sitting on my ass all day doing labs.  I do plan to do a little bit of fishing to clear my mind, but I’ll be listening to CCIE lectures on my iPod whilst I battle bass.

My wife, [insert preferred deity here] bless her is onboard and is making sacrifices of her own in order to ensure that I can dedicate as much time as possible towards my studies.  I’ve been an absolute (even more than normal – which is hard to do) asshole the last couple of weeks due to stressing over this damned lab.  My family has been very supportive and I love them to death for that.

I’ve mapped out my last month of training.  I’ll be on a rack every day that I can.  I’ve booked four IPexpert labs, two Cisco Assessor labs, one Internetwork Expert proctored lab exam, and I plan to mix in a couple more IE Mock labs if I have time.  I’m making my push through all of the IE labs (Volume II and III).  If I have time I plan to do the two labs in the recent Cisco Press Routing and Switching practice labs.  At the very least I plan to read through those two labs.

I’ll pop up when I can but blogging will be light to nonexistent over the next 30 days.  I will be posting a ton of links to other CCIE blogs over this time.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done this and there are a ton of new blogs out there.

Anyhoo…back to my studies.

May 28, 2008

Internetwork Expert Graded Mock Lab 5: First Impressions

Filed under: Cisco,Cisco Certification,Mock Labs,Status Updates — cciepursuit @ 10:22 pm

Wow.  I feel completely dead.  I finished Mock Lab 5 and felt like I had just gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson (circa 1988).  I knew that I did not get 80 points, but I was feeling pretty good about breaking 60.  I just went through the solution guide, and I will be lucky to break 40 points.  Between points left on the board and simple mistakes, I probably lost 40 points.  There were a lot of tasks that I had the right idea, but missed a single line of configuration. 

For the second mock lab in a row, I fucked myself over by spending way too much time on some optional (non core) tasks.  Right out of the gate I tripped all over myself on this one.  I WAY over-thought (and under-thought?) a dot1q tunneling task.  I lost about 40 minutes and had to rip out all of my configuration and reload the switches.  I eventually caught back up on time.  I completed IGP redistribution with 3.5 hours left.   Since BGP was already built, I should have been able to finish the lab with some time to spare.  It was not to be.  I spent another 30 minutes trying to match a BGP debug output.  I should have just moved on, but I kept thinking “Oh, this HAS to be it”.  I CANNOT allow myself to do crap like that.  I have this stupid personality trait where I’ll spend time on something if I think that “I’m just about to get it”.  In real life that type of persistence may pay off, in the lab it’s just a long, dark rabbit hole to failure.  Needless to say, I missed out on the points anyways.  I could have used that time researching ‘service nagle’.  :-)

I always seem to lose it around the 6 hour mark.  I have no idea why that is.  I start getting punch drunk and making stupid mistakes.  I lost points on a QoS task because I configured Bc using AR instead of CIR.  ARRGH!!!!! 

I’m pretty sure that I nailed IGP redistribution and I spent less time on it than normal (still too much time).  I missed some easy BGP points because I forgot to add a “permit the rest” type of statement at the end of my route-map.  I left another easy BGP task on the board because I didn’t have time to come back to it (yet I found 30 minutes to dick around with debug output).  I need to commit to memory who authenticates whom in PAP and CHAP. 

I’m not ready for the lab, that’s for sure.  I’m thinking that I will keep my October date.  I have really had a shitty time over the last 1.5 months.  Family and work are gnawing into my already limited study time.  I feel like I’ve plateaued in my progress.  My first mock lab score was an 89.  The next two were in the mid-fifties.  This one may well fall into the forties.  Granted, the tests are progressively more difficult, but I’m still flailing.

IE opened up beta testing on version 5 of their Volume I lab book (just the Bridging and Switching section so far).  I’m going to run through that this weekend and then start repeating some of the Volume III and II labs before heading out to Reno for the Mock Lab Workshop.  I can’t believe that it’s nearly June already.

I need to really spend some time on my weaknesses: BGP (I’m slowly getting better), Multicast, Security (I am miserable at this section – at least with Multicast I can fake the funk).  There are still some minor technologies that I’m not “aces” at: dot1q tunneling, PPP authentication, OSPF route filtering, and private VLANs.  Maybe one more pass through the Volume I labs will sort some of this out.

Oh well….off to bed.  Tomorrow I get to go back to work to try to catch up on 5 days of backlog (counting the holiday and the weekend).  I can’t believe that I’m taking vacation days just to get my teeth kicked in on these mock labs. 

OT: The 10 Most Annoying Programs on the Internet

Filed under: OT: Humor,Status Updates — cciepursuit @ 9:46 am
Tags:

I’ve been getting killed by work and studies lately.  I’m about 20 minutes away from failing yet another Mock Lab today.  Blogging will return (hopefully) tomorrow.  In the mean time, TechRepublic has a list of the 10 Most Annoying Programs on the Internet.  I agree with the entire list with the possible exception of Flash.  Without Flash, we would not be treated to the brilliance that is zombo.com or the Badger Song (both are best ‘enjoyed’ with copious doses of your favorite flavor of narcotic).  ;-)

April 24, 2008

Internetwork Expert Graded Mock Lab 2: First Impressions

I took Internetwork Expert’s Graded Mock Lab #2 yesterday.  I knew going into this lab that I was not going to be on top of my game.  That said, I think I did okay.  I doubt that I made 80 points as I left 17 points on the board. 

The exam was a degree more difficult than Mock Lab #1 (difficulty level 7 versus 6) and I felt it.  I only skipped one task in the “core” section [a backup scenario that I couldn't get my head around and decided that fucking it up would cost me way more than the 3 points I would gain for getting it right].  I did about half of the first Multicast task and then just skipped that entire section (7 points).  I need to dedicate more time to Multicast as I cannot continue to sacrifice these points.

The QoS section was fairly long (5 tasks – 11 points).  This is usually one of my strengths, but I did not complete 2 task (4 points) in that section.  I did complete one of the two Security tasks (a minor miracle for me).  The System Management and IP Services section (8 points together) were dead easy, so I did catch a break there.

There doesn’t seem to be a grading script for this lab so I will need to wait until the proctor grades my exam for my grade.  I would guess that I scored in the low 70′s. 

I didn’t rush through this lab.  My pacing was comfortable and I finished with about an hour left.  BUT I have to take into account that there were 17 points that I did not complete/attempt so my pacing was probably pretty slow.  If I had completed those sections, I would have been right up on the 8 hour limit when I finished.  I’m not sure how to increase my speed at this point.  I’ve never finished a lab in 6 hours (that seems to be the goal in the actual lab).  I type fairly fast and I’m usually not mining the COD for points.  My initial read through of the lab only took me 15 minutes.

I track start and end times for each task. The two largest chunks of time were spent on task 1.1 (setting up your basic layer 2 network) and on IGP redistribution.  The first task took me 48 minutes.  That includes creating a layer 2 map, but this is way too slow.  I did run into some confusion in that task which would have been cleared up by the proctor pretty quickly.  On IGP redistribution I honestly don’t know where the time went.  I burned 1.5 hours on that task.  During that time I did go back and fix an OSPF issue, plus I created my scripts and ran ping tests as well as mentally chewed on the next (uncompleted task) but that’s still way to much time.  Especially for a very easy redistribution scenario.

I felt the absence of a proctor on this lab more than the last one.  There were also a couple of really cool “gotchas” that IE threw my way.  I nailed one of them, but completely flubbed another.

Anyhoo…although I won’t know my final score for a couple of days, I think that I took a small step backwards on this lab.  It’s pretty obvious that I need to start working harder on the second half topics.  I can’t continue to leave points on the board.

April 22, 2008

Status Update: 07 – 20 April

A month ago my preparation was zipping along.  Now I’m limping.  Life has conspired (as it has a way of doing) to completely screw up my last two weeks of training.  I’ve had to deal with taxes, a good friend leaving, helping another friend with emergency home repairs brought on by a flooded basement, a huge spike in workload, guarding our dock against icebergs, spring cleaning, garden/yard maintenance….blah blah blah.

I’ve not been able to do much in the way of studies.  I’ve belted out some hours on the CLI over the weekend, but they were pretty non-contiguous hours and not very productive.  I really cannot commit any time during the week due to domestic and work duties.  When my weekend hours are interrupted I pretty much lose the week for studying.

I have a mock lab scheduled for tomorrow.  I did well on the last mock lab, but I went into it after a long stretch of hardcore labbing.  I’m really not prepared for tomorrow’s lab.  There’s not much I can do but try to review some material tonight and tomorrow morning.

I’m thinking that I’m going to have to take some more time off from work and do another Labapolooza to get back on track.  I really want to get through all of the IE Volume II and III labs prior to my Mock Lab workshop.  I hate burning vacation time to do this.  I may have to attempt to cash in some “comp time”.  Whenever I work (significantly) over 40 hours a week or I get called in to troubleshoot an issue off hours (like the 12 hour debacle this weekend) I’m supposed to record that time and use it as comp(limentary?) time.  Supposedly I can use this time in lieu of vacation/PTO.  I say supposedly because I’ve never ‘cashed in’ comp time.  I rarely even track it.  We often joke about being able to take whole months off if we were accurately tracking and redeeming our comp hours.  :-)

Here are my goals from two weeks ago: Review BGP videos.  Finish Volume III lab 5.  Redo Volume II lab 10.  Start redoing the Volume I BGP labs.

I did manage to do all of this except the BGP labs.  I also redid Volume II lab 12.  I did not remember that I had done this lab before until I hit a question in OSPF that made me realize that this was my second time through this lab.  That’s a good thing in that I know that I can repeat labs because I definitely have not memorized them.  It’s bad because I could have used that time to knock out a different lab.

Here are my goals this week: Take IE Mock Lab 2.  Start redoing the Volume I BGP labs.  Complete one Volume II and one Volume III lab this weekend.

Days Until Lab: 90
Days Until Mock Lab 2: 1
Days Until Mock Lab Workshop: 55
Readiness (1 to 10): 6
Lab Hours This Week 8
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 4

April 9, 2008

Status Update: 31 March – 06 April

I guess that it was to be expected, but I fell off of the wagon a bit this week.  Spring rolled into Minnesota this weekend (and it seems to have rolled right back out again).  Not only was I burned out by the hours that I had put in the last two weeks, but the weather and housework conspired against me.

I didn’t have enough time on Sunday to complete a full Volume II lab, so decided to do Volume III lab 5.  I usually fly through these labs (except for IGP redistribution) so I figured that I would limit myself to 4 hours and knock this sucker out.  Let’s just say that lab 5 wasn’t the sucker that got knocked out.  :-)

After 4 hours I had just reached IGP redistribution.  Ouch!!!  There wasn’t anything that I hadn’t seen before, just a lot of ‘unique’ tasks and more of them.  It was a humbling experience.

Here are my goals from last week: Review the IEATC IPv6 and BGP videos.  Redo Volume II lab 9.  Do Volume III lab 6.

I did manage to redo most of Volume II lab 9.  I found this to be a pretty tough lab as well.  I completed the IPv6 videos (I feel a lot better about my IPv6 skills now) and did (most of) Volume III lab 5, not lab 6.

Here are my goals this week: Review BGP videos.  Finish Volume III lab 5.  Redo Volume II lab 10.  Start redoing the Volume I BGP labs.

Days Until Lab: 103
Days Until Mock Lab 2: 14
Days Until Mock Lab Workshop: 68
Readiness (1 to 10): 6
Lab Hours This Week 10
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 12

April 3, 2008

Status Update: 24 – 30 March

I’m a little late on this status update, but I don’t want to stop posting these updates.  They serve as a combination carrot/whip to keep me on task for the week.

Last week I finished off a long stretch of labbing with IE Graded Mock Lab #1.  On Friday night I finished off my meal with two bottles of wine.  :-)

I scored an 89 on the mock lab which is far better that I had hoped for.  For those of you who have been following these updates, you’ll have noticed that I have been stuck on a readiness level of 2 (out of 10) since I started posting these updates.  That level has been my subjective perception of my ability to pass the lab.  I’ve decided to quantify that value a bit.  My ideal level of readiness will be achieved when I can score a 90 or above on an IE mock lab with a difficulty level of 10.  So I should be able to figure out my readiness based on the following equation:

(((Mock Lab Score/10) * (Mock Lab Difficulty/10)) + 1) = Readiness Level

So my current readiness level is (drum roll please):

(((89/10) * (6/10)) + 1) ≈ 6 

That seems a bit high to me (I’m a ‘glass half-empty’ type of guy if you haven’t guessed) but at least it gives me something quantitative for judging my readiness.

Here are my goals from last week: Redo Volume II labs 3, 8. and 9.  Review the IEATC videos for Multicast and IP Services.

I did manage to redo labs 3 and 8.  I’ll hit 9 again this weekend.  I went through the basic multicast video as well as two of the IP Services videos.

Here are my goals this week: Review the IEATC IPv6 and BGP videos.  Redo Volume II lab 9.  Do Volume III lab 6.

Days Until Lab: 109
Days Until Mock Lab 2: 20
Days Until Mock Lab Workshop: 74
Readiness (1 to 10): 6
Lab Hours This Week 32
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 12

March 31, 2008

Internetwork Expert: Mock Lab I Review

Mock Lab: 1
Difficulty Level: 6
Date Completed: 26 March, 2008
Final Score: 89

NOTE: I will be discussing very few details about the actual tasks on this lab.  If you are planning on taking this Mock Lab then you can read this post as will have few (if any) “spoilers”.   :-) 

I purchased 4 of Internetwork Expert’s Graded Mock labs back in December when they were on sale for $99.  The current cost is $129.  I completed the first of my 4 labs last Wednesday.

On your IE member page you’ll see a section for Graded Mock Labs (emphasis mine):

Your mock lab number will be locked in 1 hour prior to your session start. Once your session has started, a “Start” button will appear. Click the “Start” button to receive your lab, topology, physical topology, and configs.

If you do not click the “Start” button within 1 hour of the start of your session, it will automatically be started for you. Once your mock lab has started, you have 8.5 hours to complete it, and a timer will appear telling you how much time you have left. You will be automatically kicked off your rack at the end of the 8.5-hour lab.

Your mock lab will be graded by 9 PM PDT on the second business day.

Click “View” to open a pop-up window displaying your graded mock lab. Click “Overdue” to automatically send a support ticket about not receiving your graded mock lab.

NOTE: The password to open password-protected PDFs is your e-mail address.

My lab was scheduled for 10 am PDT (noon for me).  Sure enough, once noon rolled around there appeared a button to start the lab.  Once you click this button you will be presented with links for the PDF files for the lab, the topology, and the physical topology (cabling).  Anyone who has done the IE Volume II (or Volume III labs) will be familiar with the documentation.  You’ll get a logical Layer 3 document as well as a routing protocol map.  Although I did not need to provide a password, if you are prompted for a password for any of the PDFs, use the email address that you have registered with you IE account.

One thing to note is that the instructions on how to access your rack is located in a different part of your IE membership page.  It’s in the “My Current and Future Rack Rental Sessions” section.  You’ll probably want to familiarize yourself with the rack documentation.  I’ve rented IE racks before so I was familiar with the process.  Although I didn’t do it (only because I didn’t think about it), it’s probably a good idea to log into your rack and open your reverse telnet session before you click the button to get your documents.

One thing to be aware of is that as soon as you click the button to begin the lab the clock will start ticking.  You’re given 8.5 hours to complete the lab.  There is a cool countdown widget on your IE member page that will run through your lab so you can easily see how much time has elapsed and how much time you have left.

Mock Lab 1 Timer

As soon as you click the “start lab” button the clock starts counting down.  I didn’t think about printing the lab until after the lab had started.  Since I was at home I had to load drivers on my laptop before I could print to my ancient Canon printer.  By the time I had printed all of the documentation and logged into each of the devices I had already lost 15 minutes.  As I mentioned above, it’s a good idea to log into your rack before starting your lab.

One of the resources that becomes available once you start the lab is a zip file of the initial configurations.  I had already lost 15 minutes printing and logging in to the rack.  I was a little pissed that I would need to apply the initial configurations.  The initial configurations are already loaded on your rack so you don’t need to worry about that.  The intial configurations are provided so you can redo the lab later (or rebuild your rack if you really fuck up).  Whew!!!

So I was up and running with 8 hours and 15 minutes to go.  The IE documentation states that after 8.5 hours you will automatically be kicked off of your rack.  I’ll spare you the task of reading the rest of this post and just tell you that this did not happen in my case.  When the timer finally hit zero I was not kicked off of the rack. I didn’t make any changes at that point and the initial grading script ran within 1 hour of my time elapsing.  [I can't remember when it ran, it may have run right after time expired, but the score was on my member page less than an hour later]  Your experience my not be the same, so I would just assume that your going to be booted off. 

As I posted earlier the grading script will run and give you an initial grade.  Don’t get too depressed about your initial score from the script as it is likely that you will get more points once a proctor reviews your lab. 

Initial Scoresheet Graded By Script

Within two business days a proctor will manually grade your lab and you’ll be able to see a web page with your final grade along with the proctor’s comments and feedback. 

Proctor Feedback

I read the complete lab and made notes before I started configuring anything.  Reading the lab and creating a simple layer 2 diagram took 22 minutes.  After that I kept track of the when I completed each task as well as how confident I was that I had earned the points.  I had completed IGP redistribution and basic BGP peering just before I took “lunch”.  Lunch turned out to be the 20 minutes I spent picking up my son from school.  :-)

I had finished all of the tasks that I felt I could complete with about 30 minutes left.  I ended up not attempting 3 tasks. I spent quite a bit of time troubleshooting an issue that was probably due to an IOS bug, but I had plenty of time to complete the lab.  I did start getting mentally fatigued about 6 hours into the lab.  If I could have stayed a little more focused I could have finish about 30 minutes earlier.  When I finished, I felt pretty good about meeting my goal of getting 80 points.

When your time expires you’ll see a new link to the solution guide.  I didn’t have the energy or inclination to look through it at the time.  I looked at it briefly this weekend.  There are no breakdowns like in the Volume II labs, only the correct configuration as well as some good verification commands.  The Graded Mock Labs are supposed to include a Class On Demand breakdown of the lab.  I haven’t received a link to that yet.  That will probably include the task breakdowns.

I’m not going to go into details about the lab itself other than to say that it was fairly easy.  The lab has a difficulty level of 6 which is easier than the actual lab.  After spending most of the prior 10 days getting my ass handed to me on level 8 labs, this lab seemed pretty easy by comparison.

On Sunday I got the email saying that my lab had been graded by the proctor.  I was very happy (and a little shocked) to find that I had scored an 89.  Since I had skipped 9 points, so I only failed one of the tasks that I attempted.  I missed it due to a stupid mistake in an ACL, but I’m not complaining because there were at least 3 tasks that I got full credit on which I was unsure about my solution. 

Proctor Graded Scoresheet

Random Thoughts:

Finishing with 30 minutes to spare is nice, but I didn’t have time to go back over my tasks to catch stupid mistakes.  I still need to increase my speed.  As I stated earlier, there was a period about 6 hours in where I lost my edge.  I was making silly mistakes and I would end up reading and rereading tasks as well as configuring things twice (because I forgot I had just configured it) as well as forgetting what device I was on.  Nothing major, but in a more difficult lab this could have been a big problem.  As it was, I think that I probably lost 20 – 30 minutes during that stretch just to lack of focus.

I need to limit myself to items that will only be available in the lab as well as curb practices that will not be allowed in the actual lab.  I’m still using Tera Term as my telnet client.  It’s not hugely different from SecureCRT, but I need to make sure that I am more familiar with SecureCRT, especially the cut and paste hot-keys/options.  I also need to stop writing notes on the lab and lab diagrams.  This is not allowed in the actual lab.  I also need to start getting used to using notepad without saving or closing the notepad instances.  Finally, I keep the lab topology open on my laptop so that it’s visible in the background while I’m working.  This is not allowed in that lab, so I need to nix that habit as well.

I was lucky.  I done over 60 hours of IE labs over the 9 days prior to my mock lab so I had more practice with some technologies that I am normally weak on.  I also watched the IEATC session on setting up a logging server and configuring NTP the night before the lab.  Normally, I would have spent much more time using the DOC CD for those topics and I probably would not have received any of the points for NTP because I totally misunderstood key aspects of that technology until literally the night before the mock lab.  Multicast was very simple.  This is the first time that I’ve ever received all of the points for Multicast so you know it was dead easy.  :-)

I knew which technology to use for each task I attempted as well as how to implement it with minimal need of the DOC CD.  I’m not saying this to brag.  I’m saying it because I still finished with only 30 minutes left.  A more difficult lab would have meant more time mining the DOC CD and therefore more time to complete the lab.  I also completely skipped three tasks.  I somehow need to pick up my speed.

Anyhoo….I’m pretty pleased with my score, but I still realize that I have a LONG ways to go before I am ready for the actual lab.

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