CCIE Pursuit Blog

September 11, 2008

Internetwork Expert: Beta Testers Needed For New Mock Lab Grading System

Graded Labs is rolling out a new grading feature for mock labs.  They are currently recruiting beta testers.  You need to be a current customer of IE as well as have previously taken a graded mock lab:

Graded Labs is looking for CCIE candidates to help improve their grading services. In order to insure the quality of their new grading platform, Graded Labs is now accepting sign ups for current Internetwork Expert customers to join the Scaffolded Automation & Grading Engine (SAGE) Beta. SAGE is Graded Lab’s next generation platform for grading and rack automation. Beta candidates will be IE students who have already taken Internetwork Expert Mock Labs and are wanting to retake them using the new Graded Labs engine.During the Beta, you will be able retake a CCIE Routing & Switching Mock Lab and grade on-demand during any of your active rack sessions. If you are interested in becoming a beta tester, please visit the sign up page here The Beta testing will be limited to 100 customers.

This sounds like the current grading script that IPexpert offers on their mock labs.  If so, then I am a big fan of this idea.

This is a great opportunity for anyone who has already taken an IE graded mock lab to get a free retake and help IE work out bugs.  If you’re interested then you should sign up soon as there are only 100 beta positions available.

August 4, 2008

IPexpert: $35 Mock Lab Review

Note: This is a review of NOT of IPexpert’s graded lab product – kinda.  Let me clarify that: it is a review of using the free lab (Volume III lab 1) offered on IPexpert’s site with the Verified Labs grading offered with a Proctor Labs rack rental.  This basically allows you to test drive IPexpert’s lab workbook and get a $35 mock lab in the process.  Surf over here for more details.  I’m putting this caveat in my review because I do not own the IPexpert lab workbook so the couple of minor issues I mention in the review most likely are due to this fact.

First off: NEVER lab with a hangover.  The night before I took this lab I went to the Twins-Sox game at the Metrodome.  The Twins won and I got hammered.  My lab began the next day at 7 am.  I rolled out of bed just after 7 am.  Straight to the home office sans coffee, aspirin, or a shower.  Already off to a bad start.

It’s a good idea to review the the Verified Labs “how-to” videos before you begin your lab (quick version and longer version).  The process is pretty simple.  Login to Proctor Labs and then click on “Connect to vRack”.  You’ll get a pop up asking if you want to make this a graded lab.  Click “Yes” and then choose the lab that you will be attempting.

To get all of the documentation that you will need for this lab go to IPexpert’s live demo and choose Workbooks, then select ‘Download Workbook PDFs’.

Download FREE sample sections:
Proctor Guide
Startup Configs

In this FREE demo, we have made available to you the complete “Lab 2” sections of the Workbook*with its accompanying sections of the Proctor Guide and video “walk-throughs”

*Actually, these links point to the Volume III lab 1 documents.

At that point you will see a timer showing the amount of time left in your session as well as the amount of time left for the mock lab (“Time left to initiate grading”).  Proctor Lab sessions are 7 hours and 45 minutes long.  I did not write down how long you had to complete the lab (I think that you get 7 hours and 25 minutes or remaining session time – 20 minutes), but it’s less than the rack session (obviously) so you need to take this into account.  You will need to complete this lab in less than 7.5 hours if you want it graded.

The next step according to the video is to load your base configurations.  I checked the box for each device and then “load configs” but this did not seem to work.  I kept getting a “There are no saved configs available for this device” message.  I went out and grabbed the configurations and loaded them manually.  This issue may be due to the fact that I don’t own the workbook so there were no initial configurations associated with my account.

You login to the access server with your Proctor Labs username and password.  The first time that you login to each device you will need to do the same.  Be warned that the base configurations do not include “no ip domain-lookup” or “logging syn” so you’ll want to add those to your configs (I got burnt on mistyped commands initiating a DNS lookup a couple of times).

One odd thing about the lab topology is that there is no R3.  R1 – R9 but no R3:

PL-POD-109-TS-RS#sh host
Default domain is not set
Name/address lookup uses static mappings

Host                      Port  Flags      Age Type   Address(es)
R6                        2006  (perm, OK)  0   IP
R5                        2005  (perm, OK)  0   IP
R4                        2004  (perm, OK)  0   IP
R2                        2002  (perm, OK)  0   IP
R1                        2001  (perm, OK)  0   IP
cat3                      2015  (perm, OK)  1   IP
cat2                      2014  (perm, OK)  8   IP
cat1                      2010  (perm, OK)  8   IP
BB3                       2013  (perm, OK)  8   IP
BB2                       2012  (perm, OK)  8   IP
BB1                       2011  (perm, OK)  8   IP
R9                        2009  (perm, OK)  8   IP
R8                        2008  (perm, OK)  8   IP
R7                        2007  (perm, OK)  8   IP
cat4                      2016  (perm, OK) 22   IP

I did not open a session  to line 3 so this messed me up for the duration of the lab.  I would go the to access server and would be fine if I went to R1 or R2, but if I tried “5” to get to R5 I would end up on R4 (due to the missing line 3).  I eventually got used to this, but it did end up making me configure the wrong device a couple of times.

I kept getting a pop up:

Your session is almost over. You must begin grading your lab no later than 20 minutes prior to the end of your session.

This appeared even though I still had over 7 hours left on the grading timer and 7.5 hours on my session.  I think that this this was triggered because the time remaining in my session was within 20 minutes of the time remaining for the graded lab (the amount of time that might be needed for the grading script to run).  I clicked on the option to ignore this and it went away.

I printed off the lab and the topology and was set to go.  The topology consists of 4 pages: IP Addressing, Frame-Relay Layout, IGP Routing, and BGP.  These pages are sparse but functional.

There are 9 routers (3 more than IE’s topology) but R3 is not available and R8 is not used in this lab.  I forgot to pull the platform version for the routers but they were all newer (2800/3800) running 12.4 code.  Some of the routers had Ethernetswitch modules, so you had routers with a number of Ethernet ports.  This is great, especially if you’re used to another vendor/rack rental pod.  There are 4 switches (1 3550 and 3 3560s).  There are 3 backbone routers, but only 2 were used in this lab.

Speaking of the backbone routers, this was where I encountered my only real problem in the lab.  The configuration files for the two backbone routers were “show run” outputs.  I applied these to the backbones.  Later in the lab I could not figure out what devices the BBs were connected to (there is no physical wiring diagram).  I was able to find the connections for all of the other devices using “show cdp neighbors” but not the BBs.  I finally telnetted to the BBs and found out that their (Ethernet) ports were shutdown.  That’s because Ethernet ports were in shutdown by default.  The “show run” output will not specify “no shut”.  I took the ports out of shutdown and all was well.  This may not be an issue if you are able to load your configurations automatically, but if you’re applying the configurations manually, then keep an eye out for this.

As I mentioned, there is no physical wiring diagram included with the free lab.  Most likely, owners of the entire workbook will have that diagram.  This was actually a good experience as I had to build my physical wiring diagram (especially the Layer 2) by finding the CDP neighbors.  Although this is good practice, it also eats into your time.

By the time I had everything loaded and printed I had 6:25 left to complete the lab.  By the time I had diagrammed my Layer 2 topology and read through the lab, I was down to 5:57.  Some of this lost time was due to my hungover brain and poor planning.  Even so, be prepared to complete the lab quickly.  A lunch break is most likely out of the question.

I don’t want to go too deeply into the lab as I don’t want to give away any “spoilers” for those taking the lab.  Suffice it to say the lab wording and structure was different from IE but not so much so that you would be thrown off too much.  I strongly suggest doing a lab or two from another vendor (or preferably the Cisco Assessor lab(s)) to get a feel for different “flavors” of labs.  I found only one question that was “wrong” (it asked for output on a device that was not capable of producing that output).  There were a couple of “fuck this” moments concerning using IEEE names and RFC references in the question (I knew the IEEE name from my CCIE written and was able to find one of the RFCs referenced in the DOCCD).  There was one task that required a feature that I had never heard of before (it’s burned in my memory now!).  Otherwise the test was fair but challenging.  On IE’s scale I would rate this lab as a 7.

One thing that was different about this lab was the 5-point tasks that were present.  IE generally has tasks ranging from 2 – 4 points (with a few very rare 1 point tasks).  I don’t remember any 5 point tasks in the IE labs that I’ve completed.  There were two 5-point tasks in the IPexpert lab along with at least 6  4-point tasks.  While the lab appeared to have fewer tasks than a typical IE lab, those tasks often contained more steps.

Once you are done with your lab you simply click the “Start Grading” button.  I accidentally clicked this once in the middle of my lab.  You can (thankfully) cancel out of this.  You’ll be asked to clear all of your lines (you can do this manually on the access server or automatically via the Proctor Labs website).  A grading script will run and you’ll get your results within 20 minutes (I got mine much quicker, but allow 20 minutes).  You can access your grade by clicking on “My Account” then “My Verified Labs” and then selecting the graded lab.  You

So how did I do?  I put myself so deep in the hole with my starting time that I had to rush through the lab.  I ended up skipping an entire section (IOS Features/Services) as well as five other tasks.  This meant that I was sure not to get 80 points (I left 24 points “in the lab”).  I finished my last task with about 6 minutes left in the lab.  I did not get a chance to go back and verify my work.  I hit a couple of rat holes – a few of which I should have avoided.  I guess that I can be proud that I only missed two sections that I attempted.  Of the tasks that I did not attempt, I think that I could have picked up 7 more points easily.  The other skipped tasks were more difficult and I may not have gotten those points.

My final score was a respectable 70.  I was not surprised by my results as I was strong on core tasks, weaker on BGP (only two tasks – one not attempted) and pathetic on Security/IOS Features.  This is consistent with my other labs.

Verified Lab Results

Verified Lab Results

The score report looked a little odd at first because some of the section tasks seemed to be in the wrong section.  For instance, one of the Frame Relay tasks was under Bridging and Switching.  That’s because the default view is “Cisco Lab Blueprint Format”.  Just click the tab labeled “Section Format” for a completely linear listing.

There are four different icons associated with each task.  The first (check-mark) just shows whether or not you passed that task.

The grading script icon (magnifying glass) shows you how each task was graded.  This is awesome.  You can see how each task was graded and if you missed something you can see what you messed up on.  For instance I missed this task:

Section 1.2: Spanning-tree

Begin Cat1 Section 1.2 Testing

Cat1#show run | incl mst
Cat1#show spanning-tree vlan 12 | incl root
This bridge is the root
Cat1#show spanning-tree vlan 67 | incl root
This bridge is the root
Cat1#show spanning-tree vlan 100 | incl root

Cat1 Section 1.2 is not Correct
This bridge is the root
This bridge is the root
This bridge is the root

I must have forgotten to include VLAN 100 in my root primary statement (dumb mistake). I knew that this lab would be graded by a script, so I had many moments of uncertainty about what method/password/ACL to use for a task.  The grading script is very flexible in this regard.

Seeing what the grading script looks for is very interesting. For the IGP redistribution task the script simply pinged all of the addresses.  Extra configuration does not seem to mess up the script.  For a RIP task I used ‘passive default’ under all of my processes and then explicit “no passive interface” statements on the interfaces.  The grading script looked that the RIP configuration and did not choke on my configuration.  In the BGP peering task the IPexpert Proctor Guide peering between loopbacks on all devices.  I only did this on one peering (because it had redundant point-to-point serial links).  The grading script checked the “show ip bgp neighbor” output and did not mark my configuration wrong.  Lest you think that the script will let you cheat, I did jury-rig an OSPF filtering task by creating an ACL with each filtered subnet explicitly stated when the task asked for the smallest possible ACL.  The grading script did catch my “cheat” there.  Kudos to whomever created the grading script.

Clicking on the streaming videos (TV) produced:

Session Timeout – Please Try Your Request Again

And sometimes:

The web site you are accessing has experienced an unexpected error.
Please contact the website administrator.

I tried this in Internet Explorer and Firefox (v2 and v3).  My guess is that the streaming videos are another feature that you only have access to if you own the IPexpert Volume III workbook.  If they included the streaming videos for free then this already great bargain would become ridiculously great.  🙂

The information icon will show you training resources associated with that section:

Section 2.2: Virtual-Templates Learning Materials

* IPExpert VLecture Frame-Relay
* Cisco IOS Frame-Relay Configuration Guide
* Configuring PPP over Frame-Relay
* Configuring Media Independent PPP
* Optimizing PPP Negotiation

The only thing that I wish were included is the statistical breakdown of your lab results compared to other candidates.  This is something that IE provides on their mock labs and it really helps you to judge where you are at compared to other lab candidates.  I may have thought that a 70 was a decent grade, but then found out that the average test taker scores a 90.  Or I may have been disappointed with my grade only to find that most candidates do far worse.

Well let’s wrap this review up before it stretches from novella to full blow epic novel.  🙂


I was very pleased with my experience.  There were only two cons:

Amount of time to complete the lab (7.5 hours – set up time).
BB configuration files.
No statistical breakdown of lab results (compared to others’ results on the same lab).

There were two other cons that I attribute to the fact that I do not own the Volume III workbook (ability to load configs and streaming video breakdowns).  None of these are significant other than the time issue and even that is not a con at $35.  🙂


Price.  🙂
Grading script is outstanding.
Exposure to different flavor of lab and topology.

So was it worth it?  At $35?  Fuck yeah!!!  You’d be insane not to give this a shot at this price.

Right now IPexpert offers their five gradable Volume III labs with 5 rack sessions for $500.  That breaks down to $100 per mock lab.  That is the same price as IE is currently charging for their mock labs.  Of course, the downside to this is that you cannot purchase individual labs as you can with IE.

Reward to those who read this far 🙂  :  Today Mike Down at IPexpert posted on his blog a deal in which you get one free Proctor Lab session for each one that you pay for.  This means that for $35 you can get a mock lab as well as another session.  Do read the fine print on his posting as you need to contact him directly via email to take advantage of this deal.

April 3, 2008

WOOT! – Going To Internetwork Expert Mock Lab Workshop In June

Between passing my written and nearly killing myself on labbing and the first mock lab, I forgot to post a followup to this post.  My boss signed off on travel, expenses, and (most importantly) tuition for Internetwork Expert’s Mock Lab Workshop in Reno this June.  I really wanted to attend this training so I am extremely happy that I was able to make this workshop my training for the year.  I even offered to cover travel expenses, but it turns out that I won’t have to.  Winner, winner, chicken dinner!!! [I have no idea what that means other than my six-year-old son likes to say it a lot]  🙂

Like I said, I really feel like this training will help me out a lot towards getting my digits.  I was prepared to cover this out of pocket, but I’m glad that I don’t have to as the cost for this training is enough to cover a very nice trip or a pretty nice used vehicle:

Hotel:         $654
Car:            $115 
Airfare:     $463 
Tuition:     $3495
Total:        $4727

By the time I get to Reno I will have finished 4 of the Graded Mock Labs.  I’m hoping that by the end of the workshop I’ll get some good feedback as to whether or not I’m “lab ready”.  I’ll have a month to concentrate on my weak points before my first (and hopefully last) trip to San Jose in July.

The only downside to this is that I need to complete about 10 more IE labs (plus 3 more Graded Mock Labs) before the Mock Lab Workshop in June.  I’m going to probably take some more vacation time in the next two weeks and try to knock out some more labs in a short period of time.  Doing one or two (two is a stretch) labs per weekend isn’t going to cut it. 

Special thanks to Gosia at IE.  She read my original post and emailed me telling me that she would save a spot for me in the June class (I was wading though the red tape at work concerning how I would pay for the class).  I am very thankful to her as the class filled up soon after I posted.

March 3, 2008

WO__! – Going To Internetwork Expert Mock Lab Workshop In June

If you’re confused about the title of this post – that was my lame attempt at half of a “WOOT!”  Last week I got the “it’s all good” from my company concerning my request to attend Internetwork Expert’s Mock Lab Workshop in Reno.  This is still not a 100% done deal so I hope that I’m not jinxing myself by posting this.  There are still some details to be worked out.  I need to find out if I need to pay for the class and then get reimbursed after it’s done or if there will be a PO cut.  I am also up in the air about whether or not I need to pay for my travel and expenses.  I basically went to my boss last week and asked for a decision on my training request because the Mock Lab classes are filling up quickly.  At that time I volunteered to pay my own travel and expenses if that would mean getting the training approved.  The training was approved, but I didn’t hear back about who’s buying my meals.  🙂

I now have to review my plans.  I am going to use the workshop as a final bellwether as to whether or not I am ready to take the CCIE lab.  If I find out that I am ready, it would be nice to make the drive/flight from Reno to San Jose and take the exam the following week.  I would be coming off of a week of hardcore prep and I would save myself some travel costs.  Of course, if I get the “dude, you’re not ready” report, then it would be a good idea to have my lab date at least 28 days after the end of the class so that I can either devote more study time or reschedule it altogether.  I’m leaning towards scheduling my lab for late July in case I get the thumbs down from IE.  My travel expenses will be much less than $1500 so it’s a wiser choice to give myself some options in case I am not ready.  That said, I can pretty much kiss my summer goodbye.

I REALLY wanted to take my lab before summer started, but I am sure that I would only be buying a $1500 Cisco lunch if I tried to make that deadline.  Summer means extensive house/yard work (my wife just dropped a few hundred dollars on plants so I know that I’ll be pretty busy come spring), activities for my kids (tennis and baseball – plus whatever else piques their interest), FISHING  for me (new boat plus we live on a lake), and a family summer vacation.  The biggest thing though is the ability to maintain my focus when I know that I only have a limited amount of nice days per year.  When it’s snowy and miserably cold outside, it’s much easier to sit down with a laptop and pound away at the CLI.  I guess that the point of this paragraph is that I am slowly coming to grips with the fact that the CCIE monster will likely swallow up my summer.  The CCIE is probably the most time/resource intensive thing that I’ve ever done, except for college.  At least with college you get breaks and each class offers a little (or a lot) of change from the others.  Plus, I’m finding there are a lot more parties and girls available in college than there are when studying for the CCIE.  🙂

Anyhoo…I should (barring any last minute disasters) be in Reno in June getting my IT ego crushed by the Brians.

December 31, 2007

Internetwork Expert: Graded Mock Lab Information

In a recent post concerning  Internetwork Expert’s Graded Mock Lab product, I wondered aloud:

IE runs two weeks of Mock Lab Workshops.  Each week includes 4 mock labs.  I am going to try to get my employer to pay for one of these workshops this year.  If you are planning on booking one of the workshops as well as some of the $99 mock labs, you may want to check with IE to see if they use the same labs in the workshop(s) so that you don’t end up repeating labs.  I’ll fire off an email to IE and post their response later.

I did email Internetwork Expert about this issue and they responded:

The Mock Lab Exams used in the Mock Lab Workshops are unique and not available elsewhere in our study materials, so you shouldn’t have to worry about overlapping any exams. I have double-checked this info with the Brians and they did confirm this.

Since the Graded Mock Labs don’t overlap with the labs used in the Mock Lab Workshops, I went ahead and booked 3 more of them.  If I can get my employer to pay for one of the Mock Lab Workshops, I will have a total of 8 mock labs before I take my actual lab. 

One other piece of information: you can book and reschedule your Graded Mock Labs using IE’s new rack reservation system.  I was able to quickly schedule my mock labs and even reschedule my existing mock lab from 30 January to 26 March.  This process was very simple and painless.  Now I should be (somewhat) ready for my first mock lab.  Plus I was able to get rack 1 for all 4 of my labs (this makes it easier for me to use the lab documentation).

The IE Graded Mock Lab $99 Special ends today.  For $99 you can book one now and schedule it for (nearly) any date in 2008.  If you’re looking into taking a mock lab, this is a great deal.

December 23, 2007

Internetwork Expert Mock Lab Booked

As I blogged earlier, Internetwork Expert is offering (unproctored) mock labs for $99 (normally $249) so I went ahead and booked one.  At $99 it was too good of a deal to pass up.   I booked for the end of January.  I fully expect to fail, but it should give me a good indication of where I am at in my studies. 

Once you pay for and schedule your lab you’ll see a “Graded Mock Labs” section appear on your Internetwork Expert subscriptions page.   

Below are your graded mock lab reports. Your lab, topology, physical topology, and configs will appear 1 hour prior to your mock lab, and your mock lab number will be locked in. Your mock lab will be graded within 48 hours of its completion.

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.

Take some time and look at the information there.  It turns out that you have a choice of 7 different mock labs (mine was defaulted to lab 3, you can change this with the drop-down menu and ‘update’ link).

Mock Lab 1 – 6
Mock Lab 2 – 7
Mock Lab 3 – 7
Mock Lab 4 – 9
Mock Lab 5 – 8
Mock Lab 6 – 8
Mock Lab 7 – 10

A 7 is equal to the difficulty CCIE exam.  A 6 is easier, and levels 8 to 10 are harder than the actual CCIE exam.  If you can score above 80 on lab 7 then you are most likely going to do very well on your actual CCIE lab.

You can preview the labs by selecting a lab and clicking the ‘preview’ link.  The preview list the lab difficulty rating as well as section summaries and topic summaries (I did not look at these as I don’t want any hints as to what I might encounter in the lab).  You may want to choose a lab based on your weaknesses.  For instance,  say that you are weak in Bridging and Switching.  Lab 3 has 20 points of Bridging and Switching while lab 2 only has 10 points in that section so you would want to go with lab 3.

You don’t receive your lab documents (test and topologies) or initial configurations until 1 hour prior to the lab.  I’m not sure if IE preloads the configurations on the rack for you or if you need to copy them in.  I would take a look at the configurations and make sure that the IP addresses are correct for your rack.  For instance, I am scheduled to use rack 4 so if the configurations are not preloaded, then I’ll make sure that the IPs are correct for rack 4.

Ethan Banks recently took an IE mock lab.  As always, he did a great job blogging about the experience: Mock Lab Summary Mock Lab – Scoring Report

From his description, it sounds like an actual human being completes (at least some of) your scoring report. 


The $99 special runs through 31 December.  When I booked my mock lab you were allowed to book it through the end of January.  While the special may still end on 31 December, it looks like you are allowed to schedule your mock labs past the end of January.  If that is the case, then I will probably purchase at least 3 more mock labs and schedule them prior to my actual lab attempt.  This information is just my speculation based on mucking about with IE’s site.  You will want to verify with IE that this is correct.

IE runs two weeks of Mock Lab Workshops.  Each week includes 4 mock labs.  I am going to try to get my employer to pay for one of these workshops this year.  If you are planning on booking one of the workshops as well as some of the $99 mock labs, you may want to check with IE to see if they use the same labs in the workshop(s) so that you don’t end up repeating labs.  I’ll fire off an email to IE and post their response later.

December 4, 2007

Internetwork Expert: $99 Graded Mock Labs

I usually don’t post about sales (and – no – my corporate masters did not put me up to this), but Internetwork Expert has a pretty nice sale on graded mock labs through January 1st:

Price: $249 $99 | Graded Mock Lab
Special Offer till January 01, 2008

 Price Per Lab: $99.00

(S1) 3:00 AM Start Time (-7 GMT) 
(S2) 9:00 AM Start Time (-7 GMT) 
(S3) 3:00 PM Start Time (-7 GMT) 
(S4) 9:00 PM Start Time (-7 GMT)

You are alotted 11 hours total from the start time to complete the exam. To replicate the actual lab conditions at Cisco, limit yourself to 8 hours total configuration time, plus a 30-minute lunch break.

Internetwork Expert’s CCIE Routing & Switching Mock Lab Class-on-Demand series is a self-paced version of our CCIE Routing & Switching Mock Lab Workshop, and is designed as a simulation of the conditions you will face in the actual CCIE Routing & Switching lab exam. With this series you have the flexibility to schedule Mock Lab simulations at your own convenience, but still get the advantage of detailed breakdown sessions led by our highly skilled CCIE instructors.

The first step in using this series is to schedule an exam. You have the option to schedule an exam 7 days a week. Next, electronic access to a unique CCIE Mock Lab scenario and rack access instructions will be provided just prior to the start of your scheduled time.

Once the exam time starts you will be allotted rack time to configure the exam. Once the exam time has expired your configurations are graded by one of our highly skilled CCIE instructors, and a detailed score report is provided outlining your performance.

In addition to your score report you will have access to a detailed solutions guide for the scenario, as well as a 4+ hour recorded breakdown session in which our instructors walk you step-by-step through the correct configuration of the scenario. Just like our CCIE Routing & Switching Advanced Technologies Class-on-Demand series, the breakdown session is delivered through our state-of-the-art online classroom software.

So for $99 you get 11 hours of rack time, a mock lab, a graded report, and a 4 hour class-on-demand lab breakdown.  The only downside is that it looks like you need to take the mock lab during December or January (whatever slots are remaining).   Also, this is not a proctored mock lab.  

If you’re looking to take a mock lab, this seems like a pretty cheap option. 

Create a free website or blog at