The room is filled with papers scrawled with multicolored marks and a waste basket overflowing with crushed Diet Mt. Dew cans. A closer inspection shows strange drawings filled with circles connected by lines interspersed with numbers and strange combinations of letters. The desk looks like someone or something has repeatedly banged its head on it in frustration. There is a wet spot on the desk that looks like human tears.
I’m cleaning up the guest bedroom today. Last week I made this room my “operations center” while working through six labs in seven days. I took vacation from work to devote time to doing these labs and labeled the experience, “Labapolooza”. This name used to recall memories of large ice cream desserts and alternative music festivals. Now it reminds me of endless hours working on the CLI and cursing the Brians. :-)
Of course I bit off more than I could chew. For some reason I believed that I would be able to complete the labs quicker than I actually did. Although I did manage to complete most of the labs (I skipped Multicast on a couple of them), it took at least 11 hours per lab and sometimes more. I spent Easter on the CLI shoveling Peeps into my mouth (they’re not the brain food you’d think they would be :-) ) while labbing away. Most of my breaks from labbing were to do mundane tasks like get rid of the 10 inches of wet March snow that fell last week.
I was at the point where I was doing pretty well on difficultly level 6 and 7 labs so I didn’t think that the step up to level 8 labs would be too drastic. I was wrong. While there were only a few different technologies in the mix, the tasks were more difficult to understand and seemed to take more steps to implement. It took me about 4 hours to get through the first two (short) sections of lab 16 before I finally just gave up on that lab. That was my low point for the week.
All in all, the experience was a pain in the ass but ultimately worth it. I discovered that I’m probably even less prepared for the lab than I thought that I was. The ultimate purpose of this was to make strides in completing the 20 IE Volume II labs (I want to have completed them at least one time 60 days before my lab date) and to ramp up for my first IE mock lab this Wednesday. Like most things CCIE, I feel like I’ve taken two steps forward and one and a half steps backward.
I still need to review the basics on a few technologies. I’m pretty good at switching, IGP (with the exception of route redistribution), QoS, and WAN technologies. I’m okay at BGP (but far from the level I need to be at). I’m not very good at IPv6 and IP Services. I’m horrible at Multicast and security.
I still have three more days off. Today I will review some of my week spots. I had planned to do a simulated mock lab tomorrow, but I’m going to redo lab 6 instead. I’ll probably be redoing all of the level 8 labs again in the next few weeks. I will post about them then.
There is a special place in hell for the team that is currently redesigning the Cisco documentation. A few weeks ago I praised the new look of the site. The 12.4 documentation is completely fucked right now as well as parts of the 12.3 documentation. It’s been that way for a couple of weeks now. I’m at a complete loss as to how a very large company like Cisco allows this to happen. Most companies would do the site redesign on test servers, then verify that it works, and only then would they move it to production servers. Cisco seems to think that hundreds of broken links and bad redirections on thier documentation website is okay. Ethan recently posted an open letter concerning this. My statement to Cisco is a little less elegant: “Fix your shit! If you can’t do this, then for fuck’s sake mirror the old working site somewhere while you continue to tear apart your site.”