CCIE Pursuit Blog

November 27, 2007

Bitbucket Gets His Number!!!

Bitbucket passed the Routing and Switching lab.  He’s no longer pursuing the CCIE – he has conquered that beast.  Surf on over and give him some love.

CCIE Nightmares

The CCIE lab has officially invaded my psyche.  Over the last week, I’ve dreamt about the CCIE lab twice.  When I was learning a foreign language (first German, then French – both of which I suck at) I was told that it was a turning point when you started to dream in another language.  Hopefully dreaming about the CCIE lab is a good harbinger, but my guess is that stress is finally kicking in and making my unconscious fuck with me.

Dream 1 – I have flown to San Jose and am in the midst of the lab.  I’m doing well and am happy with my progress.  We break for lunch.  My wife and I go out to get something to eat.  I completely forget about the lab and lose track of time.  By the time I get back to the lab there is only about an hour left.  I start to hammer away at the CLI but the clock keeps winding down.

Dream 2 – I take the CCIE lab and fail.  I am relating how difficult this lab is to my family when my sister (the non-technical, neo-Luddite with a Literature degree) starts to brag about how she recently passed the lab.  I am flabbergasted and ask to see proof.  She shows me a certificate from Cisco with a CCIE number of 1.  She says that she did so well on the lab that they gave her a special number.  My head explodes. [Okay, the exploding head bit didn’t happen – but it should have.]

Sigmund Freud would tell me that the increase amount of time that I am spending on my studies coupled with the overwhelming nature of the exam is inducing these dreams.  Either that or I want to bone my mom.  Whichever.  🙂

If my brain thinks that I’m going to put up with these nightmares, it has another thing coming.  I have two bottles of Maker’s Mark and a shitload of ice cubes as well as cable TV.  A dozen or so ounces of whiskey and a couple hours of Reality TV will kill enough brain cells to show my brain that I mean business.  🙂

Practice Lab Strategy

I’ve come up with a rudimentary practice lab strategy. The Internetwork Expert Volume II workbook contains 20 practice labs each labeled with a difficulty label with a maximum value of 10. The lab with the lowest rated difficulty level has a rating of 5 (it is the only lab with a 5 rating). IE has stated that the actual CCIE lab has a average difficulty level of 7 (it could be as low as a 6 or as high as an 8).

The table below shows the difficulty level for each lab:

Lab Difficulty








































The breakdown by difficultly level is as follows:

05 – Lab 01
06 – Labs 02, 03, 04, 05
07 – Labs 06, 12, 18
08 – Labs 08, 09, 10, 16, 17, 20
09 – Labs 07, 11, 13, 15
10 – Labs 14, 19

My plan (subject to revision) is to work through all but two of the labs at each level (except level 5 of course) at my own pace. That is, I will do the lab but will not attempt to time myself or grade the lab. I will also allow myself to use the solution guide should I get stuck (I will try to minimize this by using the DOC). I will also do each of these labs at least twice and assign myself study items by recognizing the technologies that I totally stink at. Let’s call these “learning labs.”

The remaining two labs (per difficulty level) will be treated as mock labs. I will do each of these labs in a simulated lab environment. That means sitting the allowing myself 8 hours with a 30 minute break to complete the lab. That also means that I will only allow myself to access the DOC – no looking at the answer key if I get stuck. I will also grade these labs afterwards to try to get an idea of what score I would get had this been the actual lab. Let’s call these “simulated labs.”

I’ll do one simulated exam once I complete all of the learning labs at the next level. For instance, once I complete all but two labs at level 7, then I will do one of the simulated labs at level 6. I will save the remaining simulated lab (at each difficulty level) until the end of my studies and do them in a short period of time.

For instance, I will do labs 1, 2, 3, and 6 as learning labs. Then I will do lab 4 as a simulated lab. After that I’ll do labs 8, 9, 10, and 16. Then I’ll do lab 12 as a simulated lab. And so on…

I’m hoping to tackle one learning lab per weekend going forward. I’ll spend the rest of the week working on my week areas. I’ll also be mixing in some of the Volume III labs to work on speed and accuracy on the core tasks.

This plan seems workable and will give me some goals and direction.

Routing TCP/IP Volume III In The Works?

Well, maybe not.  Jeff Doyle has an interesting post up about the back history of his Routing TCP/IP books as well as his idea for a possible third volume in the series. He also has an open call for ideas for the third volume, so definitely go and drop him a comment if you have any ideas.  I would welcome an MPLS volume, but then again I would read anything that Doyle or Odom write.

When Cisco Press approached me in 1996 or so about writing a book, they were a pretty new operation and they left it to me to choose the topic. So I chose the plum, “Routing TCP/IP,” which originally was supposed to be one volume. Halfway through the project my editor and I both realized we couldn’t squeeze everything I wanted to cover in a single book so it evolved into two volumes.

And those two volumes have been a cornerstone of my career.

To this day, and no matter what country I’m in, I encounter people who tell me how much those two books have helped them in their careers or in gaining their CCIEs. Engineers will even bring their copy of the book to meetings or to events at which I’m speaking, and ask me to sign it. I’m always delighted to do so, and endlessly pleased that so many people find my books useful – although my kids find it hilarious that anyone would want my autograph on anything.

Given the success of these two volumes I had a conversation last year with Brett Bartow, the Executive Editor at Cisco Press, about doing a Volume III. Brett is interested in the concept, but not in my idea for a topic: I wanted to do the volume on MPLS. To me that’s the logical next step in the series and a topic I particularly enjoy. But Brett tells me it wouldn’t sell; the market is saturated with MPLS books. A quick scan of just the Cisco Press titles, and I reluctantly must agree with him.

So I thought I would open the question up to you: What topic or topics would you like to see in a “Routing TCP/IP, Volume III”? Post your suggestions as a response to this blog or e-mail to me privately.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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