current topology and current focus

I think I’ve figured out part of the problem I’ve been having.  I haven’t been entirely focused on my studies, and I don’t really have a set goal right now.  I’ve been dancing with the idea of skipping the CCNP and going straight to the IE written.  Because of that, I’ve been reading chapters in the IE written exam certification guide, chapters in the BCMSN gook, and still reviewing notes, videos, and chapters from the BSCI studies.

With the way work has been going, I haven’t had as much time to study at work, and I don’t have the office space/time to study at home.  I live in a small apartment, and my rack is sitting in my living room.  I may need to bit the bullet and pay for the power consumption to leave the rack running at night.  I can stay an extra hour or so at work after hours to study quietly and access the rack from work.

Either way, I AM going to go for the NP.  I’m spending the next week or so going back through my written notes, watching videos again, and reading chapters in the BSCI book over the next week or so.  I bought the BSCI Lab Portfolio a month or so ago, so I’ll spend the next week going through those labs at night.

The physical topology for the bulk of the labs has four routers and one switch.

These are the routers and switch that I’ve added to the mix.  At some point, I know the lab guide will add the frame switch and possibly another router.  I need to pick up a few extra WIC-1T cards soon.

I made it through the first few EIGRP labs, tonight.  The objectives were pretty basic…

1.  Configure EIGRP on an interface.  simple

r1# configure terminal

r1(config)# int eth fa 0/0

r1(config-if)# ip addr

r1(config-if)# router eigrp 1

r1(config-router)# network

2.  Configure the bandwidth command to limit EIGRP bandwidth

r1(config-if)# bandwidth 64 ! bandwidth in kbps

3.  Verify EIGRP adjacencies

r1# show ip eigrp neighbors

or the alternative and more verbose

r1# show ip eigrp neighbors detail

4.  Utilize debugging commands for troubleshooting EIGRP

r1#  debug eigrp packets ! don’t forget to issue no debug all afterwords.

5.  Challenge:  test convergence for EIGRP when a topology change occurs.

This one was kinda weird.  The preferred path from R3 to a loopback on R1 is going to be via fast ethernet.  The lab has you ping from R3 to lo 3 on R1 with 100,000 pings(this is done using the ping $ip repeat 100000 command).  During these pings, you are to kill R1’s FA interface.  We haven’t modified the variance in EIGRP, and the AD through R2’s serial interface to R1 is more than the FD to lo 3, so the route doesn’t exist in the topology table.

When we killed FA 0/0 on R1, we obviously lost six pings while EIGRP discovered the new route through R2.  What confused me, was when I brought FA 0/0 back up on R1, we lost 33 or 34 pings while while the route through R1’s FA port came back up.

I’ll make it through the remaining EIGRP labs tomorrow night, and hopefully I’ll get through the OSPF labs.  I know there is going to be some slight re-cabling to bring the frame switch back into the mix.  I just hope I have enough WIC-1T interfaces to cover the physical topology change.


Trainsignal BSCI final review

As the chorus of the ska song goes:  “sell out with me, oh yeah… sell out with me tonight!”

I started this blog after reading CCIE Pursuit, Ethan Banks, Bit Bucket, and a few other blogs on a regular basis.  It was cool to see the progress these candidates were making, and to see some of the technical information they provide in their blogs.  I don’t think my friends list on my personal journal at are really interested in my trials and tribulations on this journey, and I figured I would get more feedback and comments by taking this route.

Shortly after staring this blog, Alex and Scott Skinger from Trainsignal contacted me and asked if I would be interested in checking out some of their training materials for the CCNA/NP exams.  I don’t know if I’m the best candidate to be reviewing these materials, but since I’m really just getting started on my path, it seemed like a really good idea.  As it turns out, I’ve learned a lot from the BSCI materials already.

Below is my review of the Trainsignal BSCI VBT training materials:

This was my first experience with any video/computer based training.  For previous certifications, including the CCNA in 2006 I have primarily relied on book study and lab time.  In 2001, I spent a year and a half in network academy, but that’s a long time to work towards a cert.  I’ve now watched the BSCI videos twice, and I’ve come to find that I really enjoy the VBT/CBT and I will continue using this type of training material to prepare for exams in the future.

Prior to receiving the videos, I used the “Authorized Self Study Guide” and the “Official Exam Certification Guide” from Cisco Press.  Both were written for the current 901 exam.  I found both to be lacking in areas and key concepts, and the end of chapter labs were lacking.  They don’t provide enough configuration examples for users to gain true understanding of the topics.  

A few of key improvements with the VBT, has been my ability to take notes without having to stop mid paragraph to write.  I can continue to listen and look up as a lecture progresses.  Chris Bryant also brings up his racks and works through configurations in various topologies throughout.  This goes an extra mile in helping to solidify what we are learning.  I have definitely had a much easier time retaining information since watching the videos.

The videos also went into greater depth on BGP, IPv6, Multicast, and other routing concepts.  IPv6 was the death of my first attempt at BSCI in February.  I got nailed on questions that I hadn’t seen information on prior.  Chris made sure to cover everything I had missed and made sure to point out specifics that could be tested. 

In closing, I feel that these videos would be a tremendous asset to ANYONE preparing for the CCNA/CCNP exams.  Chris Bryant knows the material inside and out, and does a tremendous job of teaching the material.  He relays real world experience and covers commands that, while maybe not relevant to the CCNP, are beneficial in the wild.  I have learned a lot from this series, and I feel that I am a better engineer in the last two months because of it. 

If anyone has anything to add or has any questions, feel free to leave me any comments.

had some time to sit down and watch some more videos

With the upcoming changes in our network, I’m going to have my hands on a lot more switches than routers over the next few months.  I figured this would be a good time to start watching the BCMSN videos to brush up on STP knowledge, as well as focus on GLBP, HSRP, and VRRP.  Depending on how my studies go over the next month or so, I may also try to take the BSCI/BCMSN composite exam, or I may just use those studies as a baseline and start focusing directly on the IE written.  I’ve already been told that the certs aren’t going to do me any good in regard to pay or title with the new company, so it’s all personal at this point.  I still want to have the written out of the way by the end of this year.  If things keep up they way they are, I’m going to be pushing it.

Ethan Banks is scheduled to make his first lab attempt this week.  I’ve been reading his blog, as well as a few others for a while.  Ethan seems to be one of the more frequent bloggers, and definitely knows his stuff inside and out.  I only hope to be at the level that he and a few other IE candidates are at someday.  I can’t wait to see his results and look forward to seeing him get his number.  Good luck, Ethan.

got some rack time in

I managed to get about 6 hours of solid rack time in today. I started at the beginning of the authorized self study guide and worked through all of the chapter labs. I’m pretty solid on EIGRP, OSPF, BGP, and redistribution as far as BSCI is concerned. I forgot where to place a summary address in IS-IS and had to look that up really quick. Aside from that, I was pretty solid.

When I got to multicast, I ended up taking a 15-20 minute breather to find a multicast traffic generator for Windows. After a quick google search, I settled on LiveCaster. It’s an MP3 streaming utility, and gives you some decent options for configuring your streams, and advertising with SDP/SAP. I’m still shaky on multicast, but getting to actually work through the labs today helped solidify a few things.

I am going to finish putting the rest of my section notes into word docs this week, go back over the multicast videos from trainsignal, and try to sit the exam again by thursday/friday.

is-is notes

I have taken a ton of notes from the Authorized Self Study Guide and from the Trainsignal videos. I think I’m at about 50 or so pages between the two sources. As an extra review, I’ve been working on moving my written notes to word docs. I already did that with OSPF and EIGRP (although I’ve updated my own doc files since I posted the originals). I just finished my IS-IS notes, and I’m getting started on BGP, redistribution, and multicast.

I am attaching my isis notes to this post. At some point, I’ll probably create a single post that I will attach all of my notes to. I’d like to take some time to add some small lab scenarios to my notes with config snippets, as well. I think that helps to solidify things and gives me additional visio/configuration practice.


Trainsignal BGP

I made it through the four videos on BGP from Trainsignal yesterday. I think the total length of that section was about 4 and a half hours. WOW. Those videos covered a LOT more on BGP than either of the books I’ve read. I was really surprised to see that I was missing/lacking that much on BGP. Hopefully that will help increase my scores on the BGP section on my next BSCI attempt.
If I can wake myself up a little bit, I am going to start the multicast videos this afternoon. I’ll spend some time doing labs over this weekend and try to make another attempt at the exam next week. I’m starting to get nervous about taking it again. blah. I have a ton of notes on IPv6, IS-IS and BGP that I need to throw into word docs/outlines and get posted. having those notes for OSPF and EIGRP helped me a lot. I need to focus on getting that stuff all into electronic format for my own study purposes.


My wife managed to keep the kids out of the bedroom long enough for me to get through the IPv6, IS-IS, and Route Map/VLSM/NAT videos from Trainsignal yesterday. I still don’t understand how I did so poorly on the IS-IS section of the BSCI exam two weeks ago. I knew EVERYTHING covered in that video.

I learned some stuff in the IPv6 video that I didn’t know, but I’m still a bit foggy on the 6to4 tunneling. I am going to go back through the authorized self study chapter on IPv6 tonight and see if I can solidify that topic for myself. If I can make it through the multicast sections today/tomorrow and redistribution by Tuesday, then I am going to try and schedule my re-take of the exam for late this week. If not, I’m going to give myself next weekend and take the exam next Monday.

I’m disappointed. I REALLY wanted to be well on my way to knocking BCMSN out of the way by now. I guess I’m just going to have to push harder to get this stuff done.