CCIE Pursuit Blog

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 24, 2008

Status Update: 17 – 23 March

I’ll make this update pretty quick as I have already pretty much covered last week’s progress in a previous post.

I will be redoing IE Volume II lab 3 on Tuesday and on Wednesday I will be doing IE Mock Lab 1.  I spent some time today going over basic Multicast and a little bit of FRTS.

Kind of off topic: I’m going to start posting some “cool commands” and “question of the day” posts.  I had always planned to share some of my favorite commands but haven’t gotten around to it until now.  I’ll also be posting some review questions (and possibly quick lab scenarios) soon.  I’m probably going to be spending a lot more time labbing and less time posting over the next couple of weeks so hopefully these types of shorter posts will be beneficial as well as interesting.

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

Days Until Lab: 119
Days Until Mock Lab 1: 2
Days Until Mock Lab Workshop: 84
Readiness (1 to 10): 2
Lab Hours This Week 50
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 4

March 6, 2008

Status Update: 11 February – 02 March

It’s been a long time since I have penned a status update.  I’ve been absolutely overwhelmed at work.  We have an annual “freeze period” that coincides with our company’s busiest time of the year (I have no idea what we’re so busy doing, I just push ones and zeros).  This means that at the end of the calendar year we have a nice 4 – 6 week period in which only emergency changes can be made.  The bad part is that as soon as the freeze is done we get bombarded with work.  I’m just starting to dig out of that mess.

My lab time has dropped off over the last couple of weeks for two reasons: I am exhausted after long hours in the office, and I have decided to make another pass through the IEATC lessons.  I really need to solidify my understanding of the technologies on the lab.  So far I’ve gone over stuff that I’m really good at (Frame Relay and Switching).  Even though these are the technologies that I am strongest in, I still (re)discover bits and pieces in the IEATC videos.  I will try to get through most of OSPF this week.  Next week will be the technologies that I am weakest in (BGP, Multicast, and IPv6).

I’m getting “lab withdrawal” symptoms, so I will be interspersing some of the Volume III labs with the IEATC this weekend.  I hope to complete all of the IEATC lessons by the end of next week.  The week after that (17 – 23 March) I have dubbed “Labapalooza”.  I am taking the week off from work and will be attempting to complete as many of the Volume II and III labs as I can during that week.

My lab date has changed yet again.  I will be attending the Internetwork Expert Mock Lab Workshop in Reno from 16 – 20 June.  As I mentioned in this post, I will schedule my lab date 28 days past the end of the workshop.  My new target date is 21 July.  While I am bummed that this new dates means that I am going to lose a good chunk of my summer to my CCIE pursuit, it does mean that I get more time to study. 

Scheduling the Mock Lab Workshop has left my “CCIE Wish List” nearly empty.  The only thing that I will definitely be purchasing between now and my exam is the Cisco Assessor labs.  Other than that, I may try to pick up a lab book from another vendor (just to get the experience of a different topology/testing style).  I may also pick up a mock lab from another vendor for the same reasons.  Those two things will depend on my funds and perceived necessity at the time.

I’m disappointed that I dropped the ball on posting weekly status updates for the last couple of weeks.  I use these updates to motivate/guide myself.  If I take the time to write them up and post them, then it makes me that more inclined to do what I’ve laid out.

Anyhoo…here are my goals for the remainder of this week: Finish up (at least) the first week OSPF videos.  Redo the first 3 Volume III labs.

Days Until Lab: 137
Days Until Mock Lab 1: 20
Days Until Mock Lab Workshop: 102
Readiness (1 to 10): 2
Lab Hours This Week 0
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 15

February 11, 2008

Status Update: 04 – 10 February

Last week started out pretty well, but I had to write off my second weekend in a row.  This time it was because the temperature here was barely above absolute zero (at least it felt that way).  I spent one day mucking with our cars.  One day after bragging that my car ALWAYS starts, I spent a good chunk of time trying to get it to start.  I didn’t park in the garage and the next morning it was around -40 degrees and my car would not start.  My wife’s car also had a cold-induced flat tire.  So I got to change her tire as well.  On Sunday we had friends over so that day was scratched as well.

I still got 12 hours on the rack during the week, so I still felt pretty good about my progress.

Here are my goals from last week: 

Do Volume II lab 1.  Read OSPF chapter in Routing TCP/IP.  Redo Volume III lab 1.

I finished all of my goals this week.  I did Volume II lab 1 as a simulated lab.

Goals for this week:  Do Volume II lab 12.  Redo Volume II lab3.  Do Volume III lab 5. 

Days Until Lab: 117
Readiness (1 to 10): 2
Lab Hours This Week 12
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 3

February 5, 2008

Status Update: 27 January – 03 February

It had to happen sometime, but this weekend I completely dropped the ball on my studies.  I started the week out strong with some rare mid-week rack time, but ended up only getting about 4 hours on the rack over the weekend.  I really couldn’t get started on Saturday.  Between ennui and getting sucked into issues at work (work was really hectic last week) I only managed 4 hours on the rack.  I vowed to make up the time on Sunday.

I went out Saturday night to get together with a couple of friends that I haven’t seen in years.  My Google calendar had this event running from 6 pm – 8 pm.  Eat, shoot the shit, and get back home.  Enter the $3 margarita.  Needless to say, the night stretched way into Sunday morning.  Sunday my head was absolute mush.  I attempted to do some labbing, but could never get started.  I gave up and watched the Super Bowl.

Here are my goals from last week: 

Finish Volume II lab 6.  Redo Volume III lab 1.  Do the Volume I BGP labs.

I finished Volume II lab 6.  That’s all I finished.  This was a very good lab.  It was the first difficulty level 7 lab (equivalent to the difficulty of the actual lab) I have attempted.  It was a tough lab, but very fair.  I am still messing up enough that I have no chance of passing, but I’m not hitting much that I don’t know how to configure.

This Wednesday I have a day off from work.  I have rented some rack time and will attempt Volume I lab 1 as a mock lab.  I will simulate the lab enviroment by doing the lab from beginning to end without any resources except the DOC in an 8.5 (30 minutes for lunch) block.  Although this is the easiest of the Volume II labs (difficulty rating of 5) it will at least give me some idea of where I’m at time-management wise.  It will also be the first lab that I have attempted where I will not be verifying my solutions at the end of each section.  So an early mistake will probably go unnoticed.  I will not be blogging the lab with the detail that I have for the other labs.  I will eventually redo this lab and blog about it at that time.

I am also going to commit more time to reading.  I started rereading the OSPF chapter(s) in Routing TCP/IP again.  This is probably my third time through this material, but I am finding that I still pick up new bits each time as well as fortifying the stuff that I already know.

Goals for this week:  Do Volume II lab 1.  Read OSPF chapter in Routing TCP/IP.  Redo Volume III lab 1.

Days Until Lab: 117
Readiness (1 to 10): 2
Lab Hours This Week 10
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 3

January 30, 2008

Status Update: 20 – 26 January

I’m still having ups and downs with my studies.  I am at the point where I am able to recognize what technology solves each core task, but I’m still missing bits of configuration and making dumb mistakes.  I am also still pretty weak in BGP.  My time is horrible as well.  Some of that is due to me typing notes as I lab as well as searching for everything in the DOC.  Next Wednesday will be my first simulated lab (I’m doing Volume II lab 1).  This will give me a better idea of how slow I really am.

I don’t know if it’s the weather (it’s been under zero here for over a week – that translates to “insanely cold” in Celsius), but I’ve been a little disappointed with my progress lately.  I’m probably going take a week off pretty soon.  By “a week off”, I mean that I will not be labbing but I will still be reading and watching some IEATC videos.

Here are my goals from last week: 

Do Volume II lab 6.  Do Volume III lab 4.  Do 4 random labs from each of Volume I OSPF, EIGRP, RIP (12 total).

I finished Volume III lab 4 and I did my 12 random labs.  I only finished the first three sections (through IGP) redistribution of Volume II lab 6.

Goals for this week:  Finish Volume II lab 6.  Redo Volume III lab 1.  Do the Volume I BGP labs.

Days Until Lab: 123
Readiness (1 to 10): 2
Lab Hours This Week 12
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 3

January 22, 2008

Status Update: 14 – 20 January

Last week was a pretty good week.  I redid a couple of labs and watched a couple of the IEATC videos.  I don’t have a lot to report.  I think that redoing labs is a good idea, but I was surprised (and disappointed) that I fell for a couple of the same pitfalls the second time around.

I got a new laptop.  It has 2 Gigs of RAM and a duo-core CPU.  I loaded up the entire IE Dynamips lab.  The processor usage fluctuated between 60 – 90%.  I will try out a full-scale Volume III lab (minus some Layer 2 bits) this week to see if this laptop can handle the load.  I’m probably going to buy a CPU/Mobo combo for one of my desktops and drop Linux on it if this Windows laptop can’t handle the load.  I’ll probably end up buying the Dynamips version of the IE Volume II labs (only $99 because I already own the workbook – not sure if that’s $99 for each 10 lab installment or $99 for all 20 labs).  I really need to get cracking on more full-scale labs.  I am thinking about redoing a lab during the week (spread out over a couple of nights) and using the weekend for new labs.  I am probably going to do my first “mock lab” the weekend after this one.

Here are my goals from last week: 

Redo Volume II lab 3.  Redo Volume III lab 2.  Do 4 random labs from each of Volume I OSPF, EIGRP, RIP (12 total).

I managed to complete all of my goals this week.

Goals for this week:  Do Volume II lab 6.  Do Volume III lab 4.  Do 4 random labs from each of Volume I OSPF, EIGRP, RIP (12 total).

Days Until Lab: 131
Readiness (1 to 10): 2
Lab Hours This Week 20
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 2

January 14, 2008

Status Update: 07 – 13 January

Last week I went out of town with my family.  I brought the laptop and planned on doing a bunch of studying while my wife took the kids to the water park.  Needless to say, I got very little studying done.  I feel that any lost opportunity to study is keeping me from attaining my goal.   I need to be able to just take a break sometimes and accept that I will not be able to study.  It’s better to “lose” the study time than plan on studying and feeling bad about not hitting my study goals.

Otherwise it was a pretty good week.  I completed Volume II lab 4.  Either this lab was easier (at least the core tasks) or I’m actually getting better.  There were only a couple of technologies (like storm-control) in the core sections that I was not comfortable with.

Here are my goals from last week: 

Review the IEATC BGP videos.  Volume I BGP labs. Review the Advanced OSPF IEATC videos.  Do Volume II lab 4.  Do 4 random labs from each of Volume I OSPF, EIGRP, RIP (12 total).

Those damned BGP videos.  🙂  I still have not reviewed them.  Nor did I do the Volume I BGP labs (I had planned to do those in the hotel room).  I did complete the rest of the tasks on the list though.

I did mess up my planned lab strategy by doing lab 4:

I will do labs 1, 2, 3, and 6 as learning labs. Then I will do lab 4 as a simulated lab.

I will substitute lab 1 for lab 4.  I hope to take it as a simulated lab in the next two weeks.

Goals for this week:  Redo Volume II lab 3.  Redo Volume III lab 2.  Do 4 random labs from each of Volume I OSPF, EIGRP, RIP (12 total).

Days Until Lab: 139
Readiness (1 to 10): 2
Lab Hours This Week 16
Study Hours This Week (estimate): 4
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