CCIE Pursuit Blog

June 1, 2009

Memory Tricks To Remember IEEE STP Designations

The INE(yes, I’m adapting the new abreviation of INE over IE for Internetwork Expert) blog has a nice post up about the different flavors of Spanning Tree.  What I really like about the posting is that memory tricks you can use to remember the letter designation of the IEEE specification.

802.1d(“Classic” Spanning Tree) – It’s dog-gone slow
802.1w(Rapid Spanning Tree) – Imagine Elmer Fudd saying ‘rapid’ as “wapid”
802.1s(Multiple Spanning Tree) – You add the letter ‘s‘ to nouns to make them plural(multiple)

I’ve always had trouble with tasks that refer to the flavor of STP by the IEEE designation*.  These simple memory tricks make it much easier to quickly decipher tasks that refer to the IEEE designation.

* This is a pet peeve of mine as I’ve never had someone in the “real world” say something like, “Go ahead and configure that switch to use 802.1w.”  If that ever happened I would just smile as I slowly twisted their nipples off.

May 25, 2009

Internetwork Expert: Core Knowledge Podcast

Internetwork Expert has begun broadcasting streaming Internet radio feeds.  The first of these feeds is now available as a podcast.  You can get more information and download the podcast here.

Anthony Sequeira hosts this session and covers the Core Knowledge section of the lab exam.  He touches on the different types of questions that you might receive, various aspects of the section itself, as well as offering some suggestions for study materials and methods.  It’s a good podcast and definitely worth a listen before you sit the lab exam.

There were some very interesting bits about the Core Knowledge Questions themselves:

  • You will not be able to go the proctor for guidance or clarification.
  • Cisco says that the typical response will be 4 to 5 words.
  • Some students’ feedback suggests that “if you type in a novel, the proctors will not bother to read it.”
  • INE suggests, “Don’t type in more than a single paragraph.”
  • The Core Knowledge section seems to be graded locally(by your exam proctors). [The lab exam is always graded by a different set of proctors than the ones in the room with you.]
  • If you fail the Core Knowledge section, but pass the lab – you CANNOT request a reread.  If you fail the lab portion then
    you can request a reread, which includes your Core Knowledge questions…which you will have had to have passed in order to get the reread. <-this one makes my head hurt.
  • The lab section has been reduced to 79 points.
  • Proctors are creating new questions all of the time, so the likelihood of leaked questions being on your exam are minimal.

A lot of this is news to me.  Some of it is counter-intuitive(and maddening). Especially the bit about not being able to request a reread if you fail the lab solely due to the Core Knowledge section and not being able to clarify questions with the proctors.  I do like the fact that these questions are being graded the proctors and that Cisco is building a large pool of questions to counteract lab dumps.

May 12, 2009

Internetwork Expert: Free MPLS vSeminar Today

IE will be hosting a free vSeminar on MPLS today(11 am PDT).  This is one of the new topics on the CCIE 4.0 lab exam.

You can sign up here.

More details here.

March 28, 2009

Internetwork Expert: Advanced Technologies Live Online Class $495

If you’re a CCIE candidate and you’re on twitter, it would behoove [HAH! I just used 'behoove' in a sentence] to follow the vendors’ tweets as they will occasionally offer discounts and even free stuff.  This weekend Internetwork Expert is offering a great deal:

Weekend Special: CCIE Advanced Technologies Live Online Class – Only $495, Discount code “ADVTECH09″ http://members.internetworkexpert.com/

You can choose the live (online) version of the Advanced Technologies Class for any track.  Plus you get access to the recorded online COD as well.  Normally the live version sells for $1,495 so you’d save $1,000.  Even if you’re only interested in the recorded version, you’d still save $500 off of the $995 price.  This is a great deal for anyone who has been looking at getting the Advanced Technologies COD or who wants to start on another track.  You’ll need to hurry though because the offer is only good this weekend.

For those using twitter, you’ll want to follow:

http://twitter.com/inetraining – Internetwork Expert
http://twitter.com/ipexpert – IPexpert (they have various accounts based on geography as well)
http://twitter.com/mekahldownish – IPexpert social network guru

February 10, 2009

Internetwork Expert: New Poly Labs Rolled Out – Seminar Tomorrow

Internetwork Expert recently rolled out their new Poly Labs.  I had a chance to do some beta testing with these labs (not as much as I would have liked due to my schedule) and they are going to be a great addition for CCIE candidates.  Basically, you choose your knowledge level for each major section and then the testing engine will generate a random lab based on your abilities.  You take the lab and the testing engine automatically grades your lab.  Your ability per each section will then be updated based on the results of your lab.  This will show you your weakness and – presumably – after taking enough Poly Labs you will get a good idea of whether or not your ready to take the lab.

The cost is $25 per Poly Lab.  This cost does not include rack rental which will add anywhere from $8 – $60 to the cost (depending on whether you rent one or two 5.5 hour sessions and what the dynamic rental price is at).

[NOTE: It looks like IE has limited the cost to a max of $55 for a Poly Lab and two rack sessions]

Internetwork Expert will be hosting an online seminar tomorrow with more details.

January 27, 2009

Internetwork Expert: Free Cisco Documentation Video

Internetwork Expert has new (free!) class-on-demand session called ‘Understanding the Cisco Documentation’ about navigating the DOCCD UniverCD Whatever-The-Hell-It’s-Now-Called.  This session addresses the new version of the Cisco documentation.  It’s well worth your time to watch the session and even more worthwhile to get very well acquainted with the structure and content of this documentation.

January 11, 2009

NetworkWorld: CCIE Lab Interview Pilot

Back in August of last year, Internetwork Expert posted an interesting email on their blog concerning the addition of a brief interview to the CCIE lab in Beijing, China.  I posted my take on the issue here.  There was never any verfication as to whether this was ever implemented (this could have been a fake email) or not. 

Dear Candidate:

On August 27, Cisco will introduce a pilot for the CCIE Routing and Switching lab exam in Beijing, China. The pilot will add a 10-minute interview that will assess the candidate’s ability to apply expert-level networking skills and knowledge to networking problems that are encountered on the job. After the lab orientation, a panel of three experts will conduct a verbal interview with each candidate, asking a series of expert-level networking questions (questions and answers will be in English). The ability to correctly answer these questions will affect the exam score. After completing the interview, the candidate will have the entire 8 hours to complete the lab portion of the exam.  These scores will then be calculated and then combined for a total score which will decide a pass or a fail.

Our goal with this email is to let you know that your day will extend beyond the normal testing day by approximately one hour.  The additional hour will be at the end of the day. We hope you find this interview process enlightening and helpful as we continue to strive for the standard the world has come to expect from CCIE.

Cisco Subnet recently spoke with Cisco about the issue and it turns out that this was a legitimate email:

Cisco confirmed that it is running a pilot in its exam lab in Beijing, China that involves candidates taking a 10-minute verbal interview as part of their lab exam. Cisco said that if the pilot is successful, the interview could be introduced as a requirement for CCIE Routing & Switching candidates worldwide. The company has been running the pilot since August.

Fred Weiller, director of marketing at Learning@Cisco said the pilot is another method to assess a candidate’s skills level and to “guage if the candidate has the verbal ability to explain and answer technical questions and interface with others on problems,” he said.

He added that good verbal skills would help CCIEs get better support from Cisco TACs, particularly since CCIEs are granted special access to Cisco support personnel.

Any effects of the pilot on cheating is secondary, he said.

Weiller added that the pilot was introduced in China because of the high level of demand for the CCIE exam in that country which gives Cisco a big sample base for the pilot.

I find it odd that Cisco would roll out a pilot which affects the final score only in China.  The “big sample base” seems like a canard, because your sample base is only going to be as big as the number of candidates that can be tested in the Beijing location.  Unless that testing center has many more seats then I don’t see how this makes sense.  The US has two testing centers so I would think that you would have a bigger base here.  But that’s just my speculation….based on ignorance.  :-)

The interview aspect doesn’t concern me much except that it’s not explained how the interview will affect your lab score.  I have to assume that you can only lose points in the process.   At least on the lab you know the point value for the tasks.  How many points can be lost (gained?) via the interview?

December 9, 2008

Internetwork Expert: Volume II v5 Labs To Start Releasing This Week

Internetwork Expert’s December newsletter announces that their flagship workbook product is going to be updated:

Updated Routing & Switching Volume II Labs Start Releasing This Week

The newest updates to the Routing & Switching Volume II labs are being released in electronic format starting this week. The updates will automatically show up in your members site account as the labs are released.

The IE blog has a post up today with more detail:

This Friday the CCIE R&S Lab Meet-Up series kicks off with the new CCIE R&S Lab Workbook Volume 2 Version 5 Lab 1.  The new lab will be posted on the members site on Thursday, and the lab meet-up starts at 9am Pacific time.  The session should lab about 4 hours, depending on how many questions people have.  Essentially I will be configuring and explaining the lab live on the command line, and going through the logic of the solutions in detail.

It’s not too late to sign-up for the series, so contact our sales department if you have any questions.  I hope to see you there!

It looks like IE will be releasing the new labs one lab at a time with a Lab Meet-Up scheduled for each lab to discuss the lab/solutions.

November 12, 2008

Internetwork Expert: New CCIE 2.0 Program Goes Live

IE has introduced its new CCIE 2.0 program, which it first mentioned two weeks ago.  Go read the entire post over on IE’s blog.  Here are some of the highlights of the new program:

1) Incremental/Constant Workbook and CoD Revisions

The goal of this new model is to ensure that you, the candidate, not only have access to the newest material on the market, but you don’t have to wait months – or even years – between product updates. To facilitate this, online products are still delivered in PDF and streaming video formats as they have been in the past, but are now constantly being incrementally updated.

2) Student Assessment and Grading Engine and Dynamic Poly-Labs.

SAGE is a new dynamic assessment testing (lab?) product.  Poly-Labs are dynamically generated mock labs.  The Poly-Lab lab tasks are chosen from a pool of tasks based on your strengths and weaknesses.  This means that each Poly-Lab will be different for different candidates.

What’s really revolutionary and exciting for us about SAGE is that its much more than just a “grading engine”. The goal instead was to create a tool where the candidate could come in and say “I’m at point X” in my preparation. SAGE then generates a custom assessment for the candidate, similar in principle to today’s static “mock labs”, and tests to see if that’s actually where they are. Based on the results SAGETM says either “yes you are at point X, you should now proceed to Y” or “no you’re not really at X, you need to go back and focus on A, B, and C.” The great thing about this is that as the candidate continues through their preparation, new mock labs, or Poly-Labs as we call them, are adaptively generated based on previous performance. In other words if they kept falling short in QoS or Multicast, SAGE keeps hitting them over and over there. On the other hand if they’re very solid in Frame Relay, SAGE puts that on the back burner a bit so they can focus more on their weak areas.

3) Open Lecture Series and CCIE R&S Lab Meet-Ups

This is the most exciting part of the new CCIE 2.0 to me.  There will be a number of online lectures each week as well as lab breakdowns.  Both are recorded so that they are available for viewing afterwards for candidates who cannot attend.

The Open Lecture Series, in short, is basically an online class that never ends. There are multiple sessions scheduled each week on pre-defined topics, and candidates can drop into a class session whenever they want. This way if you’re working on OSPF and you see that next Friday there’s a session on OSPF, you can drop in and see what’s going on and ask questions. Also with this we’ve added a feature called Open Instructor Time, which is basically like how a professor’s office hours work in a traditional university setting. During the Open Instructor Time candidates can stop into the online classroom and discuss whatever topics or lab scenarios they have questions on. In both cases the sessions are available in Class-on-Demand format after each session is over.

The next addition, the Lab Meet-Ups, is where students get together with the instructor through the online classroom to configure, troubleshoot, and talk about a specific full-scale lab scenario. Like the Open Lecture Series, the Lab Meet-Ups run every week, and students can ask questions in real-time to the instructors and get an immediate response. These sessions are great for when it’s hard to figure out “why” one solution was chosen over another, and also to see how we the instructors would approach the lab scenario if it was the actual CCIE Lab Exam.

CCIE Routing & Switching Open Lecture Series

CCIE Routing & Switching Lab Meet-Ups info here

The bad news?  These new offerings will run either $1,499 or $999 (for access to the recorded versions only) each.  Brian Dennis did mention that these new offerings will be free to those who currently own an end-to-end subscription as part of IE’s Investment Protection plan.  Unfortunately I do not own the end-to-end product.  I bought my materials à la carte.  I don’t think that I can justify dropping another $2,000 – $3,000 at this point in my preparation.  Maybe the Open Lecture Series will be offered to current subscribers of the Advanced Technology CoD (to which I have a subscription) and the Lab Meet-Ups to current subscribers of the Lab Breakdown Series?  IE’s page does show that their Tiered and Value packages are part of CCIE 2.0 so maybe that will be the case.

Anyhoo…IE will be hosting another online seminar today (11 am PST) to discuss the new CCIE 2.0 program in more detail.  You can register here.

October 30, 2008

Internetwork Expert: Details Of Today’s Announcement

Internetwork Expert CCIE 2.0 Upgrade

Internetwork Expert CCIE 2.0 Upgrade

UPDATE: That was quick.  IE has a blog posting about the new changes here.  You can view the recording of the announcement here.

—-

Internetwork’s vSeminar announcement today was so popular (over 500 people) that they had to turn away users as it filled up pretty quickly.  For those who missed it, there will be a recording on the IE site in the near future.  I’ll post some more details tomorrow, but here’s the quick and dirty:

Internetwork Expert will NOT be participating in the new 360 CCIE training programming.  They will be rolling out a new “CCIE 2.0″ training program.  This program will involve a MUCH higher level of personalization.  This will included dynamic labs that will adapt to your strengths and test you more on your weaknesses.  There will be “Customer Success Managers” to help your chart and stay on your CCIE training path.  There will be the ability to purchase material “ala carte” to supplement your needs, rather than buying a one-size-fits-all end-to-end package.  There will also be constant assessment labs/tests to monitor your progress and make recommendations.  There will be more than $10,000 of worth of free training/credits available to community users (bloggers/forum users) who assist with answering training/technology questions.  IE will also begin hosting blogs on IEOC.  Existing customers will have their subscriptions upgraded.  IE will also be venturing into the CCNx (starting with CCENT in Q1 of 2009) training arena.  Next week there will be one or two more vSeminars that will go more into detail about the changes to CCIE 2.0

I’ll admit that this is a pretty exciting upgrade to IE’s existing CCIE training.  It will be interesting to see how well/quickly they can roll out this new model.  The good part is that they have been working towards this for at least nine months and it sounds like they have ramped up their payroll to be able to allocate resources towards this end.

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