Well, I’m off to my 5 day IPexpert R/S bootcamp on Sunday! I’m really excited to get out to San Jose and start taking things in from some of the best in the world! Since my prep is pretty much complete at this point for my first attempt, I think this bootcamp should be a nice refresher, and a lot of fun! I fly out Sunday night. I don’t know how much time I will have out there, but at some point I will definitely post a review and my thoughts

With the soon to be announced changes from Cisco, IPexpert will be making their own blog post on this. You can keep an eye out here for any information coming from them.

This is coming from one of Narbik’s comments off of a CCIE Candiate posting:

The VODs will be OUT within the next 30 days, it will be sold on a protocol basis. If you need the OSPF, then you purchase OSPF and NOT the whole thing. But our new product “Foundation/GAP 2.0″ is OUT now and my website will show that product on Tuesday. Its sold as a PDF ONLY. Another product that will be available my the end of next week, which i believe its the BEST, is my new “Advanced CCIE Work Book 2.0″ My Boot Camp 2.0 is almost finished and the next class which is May 11th in Glendale, will SEE the new boot camp 2.0 material. I am sure you will hear comments….My OSPF and Eigrp VOD will be out within the next 30 days. Once you check the quality you will see the difference.

Keep a watch here Micronics

For me I am not doing one thing different. I will not use any quizzers or written exam prep material for these questions at all. I refuse to do it. To me if reading Routing TCP/IP volume I and II (over and over,) and the documentation is not enough, what is the point? I need to know all the core material cold just to be able to decipher the lab questions anyhow, so why change anything in my prep plans? Maybe that is Cisco’s point? If you are prepared enough to decipher anything you get on the lab portion you will have no issues with the core questions in the beginning.

I just don’t know why Cisco can’t secure their lab locations and not have to worry if their lab questions are getting leaked out. How is this even an issue for Cisco with their size and resources? I have a good idea, just audit each lab! Pull aside a percentage of students each day and interview them. If they can’t answer what is being asked of them face to face, but on the lab they nail the section then I think that will tell you. If everyone going in knows there is a chance of getting pulled for a face to face interview you will have everyone prepping…

The free workbook special just ended, but Mike asked me to let everyone know he has a Voice Boot Camp special going on right now over on his site. More details can be found here If you do talk to Mike tell him you got the link from my blog here so I can get him to destroy the blackmail photos he has… :)

Oh. My. God. My beautiful wife has totally outdone herself this time. So, my birthday is May 1st. Because today happens to be Easter, I have a bootcamp the week of my real birthday, and then my lab exam a week after that, we decided to celebrate my birthday today. My wife totally shocked me with a PS3 80 GB version!!!!!!!! AND … NHL 2009 AND Navy SEALs. This is sick. I didn’t have a modern video game console at all. I’m so behind the times. This thing is fucking amazing. I hard wired an ethernet jack into my living room when I first moved in to this place, so I was already set! I wired it up to my home network. New “Gaming” VLAN? You bet your ass!

Thank God I am off work tomorrow for holiday. I WILL be up all night playing with this new thing. Just what I need…A kickass new toy to distract me in the final month!!! … I was planning on buying myself one of these badboys when I finished the lab…but now it has come early and I’m scared! Will I have the fortitude and discipline to do my studies now with a shiny new PS3 around the house? Only time will tell!

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In other somewhat entertaining birthday news, my brother and sister in law got me this for my birthday to “help me survive my last month before the lab.” Yes, it is an Easter basket filled with a HUGE dunkin donuts mug, Red Bull, Starbuck’s doubleshot expresso, and a $50 gift card to Dunkin Donuts (love the c0:ff:e::e/128)

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IPexpert has the free quizzer now for download. Great tool and again its free! I was going to do a review of it as well, but Joe took all the spot light with his 500 meg screen shot of it 😉

Link

It starts out well

It starts out well

Getting a little serious

Getting a little serious

Oh no what is happening?

Oh no what is happening?

Ends the same way for me, total breakdown!

Ends the same way for me, total breakdown...

Yes, the time has finally come! Last week we heard from IPexpert CEO Wayne Lawson himself over on groupstudy saying how IPexpert would be releasing a *FREE* core questions simulator designed to give us somewhat of an idea of what the new open ended questions might be like. Mike Down from IPexpert was kind enough to give me a preview of the product for review. It should be released to the public tomorrow according to Mike.

First, the application is a .air which utilizes a product called Adobe Air. I had actually never heard of it. Browse on over to adobe, because you will need to grab the program (free) and install it to run the quizzer.

My first run through the simulator I scored a disappointing 65%. I will say however, that about 10 questions or so were actually right, but were marked wrong due to the grading interpretation. Unfortunately, the new questions in the lab are “open ended” so there is really only one way to design a simulator, and that is by matching strings. So in other words, if you don’t type EXACTLY what it is looking for, you will be marked wrong.

The application itself is very nice and sleek looking. Here is a screenshot! The quiz is 100 questions.

screen

Once you type in your answer and and click “Answer” the program immediately tells you if you are correct. If you are incorrect, it will give you the right answer, and go on to the next question automatically. I found this a little frustrating, because if I got an answer wrong, while I was still looking at the question and trying to figure out WHY it was wrong it went on to the next question. I would prefer it sit there until you hit “next” or something like that. There is also no option to go back to a question, and no links to documentation, or anything explaining the answers.

Generally, I found the questions pretty easy which is a good thing. The questions I missed lugitimately the first time through were mostly little “gotchas” like timers or multicast addresses (for instance the default PIM hello time…??? I guess it is 30 seconds). I also got a little beat up on QoS.

I ran through a 2nd time and put down a solid 86% even with the simulation marking wrong some of my correct answers. The 2nd time through I made some notes that I think could be useful for the developers.

Here are some of the questions that were marked wrong for me, along with my answer and what the simulation was looking for. Some of these could probably be fixed pretty easily to include more user input strings.

Internal routers in which type of OSPF Area will not receive any Type 3 LSAs by default?
I said: Totally Stubby
answer: nssa

This is the one question I am debating the answer to. A Stub area does not receive any Type-5 external LSAs. A Totally-Stubby area will not accept Type-5 external, or Type-3 LSAs. A NSSA will not accept Type-5 external LSAs, but will allow redistribution into the area. Redistributed routes will be Type-7 LSAs and be converted to Type-5 LSAs by the ABR. A Totally-NSSA will not accept type-5 external LSAs, or type-3 summary LSAs and will also take redistributed routes. So I guess my beef is I think that either totally stubby, or totally nssa would be correct answers, and nssa is NOT a correct answer

Which OSPF network type is assigned to Loopback interfaces by default?
I said: Stub
answer: stub host

Which OSPF network type is Cisco proprietary?

I said: point-to-multipoint non-broadcast

answer: point to multipoint non-broadcast

Which type of OSPF External routes increment cost and will be visible in the backbone area?
I said: E1
answer: E1, Type 1

Which PIM mode requires the use of a Rendezvous Point?
I said: sparse-mode
answer: PIM sparse-mode

Which are the names of the two ICMP packet types used when sending Ping traffic?
I said: echo,echo-reply
answer: Echo,Echo-Reply

What are the frame-relay LMI types?
I said: q.933a,ansi,cisco
answer: CISCO,ANSI,q.933a

What are the frame-relay frame types?
I said: Cisco,IETF
answer: Cisco, IETF

What is the default Bc on a frame relay DLCI running Frame Relay Traffic Shaping if no map class is configured, in bits?
I said: 7000 bits
answer: 7000

What percentage of bandwidth is assigned to the class-default class by default in CBWFQ?
I said: 25%
answer: 25

Given the access-list 192.168.0.0 0.0.2.255 will the ip address 192.168.3.55 be allowed
I said: no
answer: No

All in all a pretty good looking and helpful product from the boys over at IPexpert. And hey, for free what do you want? : )

I had finished up going through All the IPexpert Volume 1 and 3 labs, and all the Volume 2 labs twice about a month ago. I’ve also repeated the Volume 3 labs 1 and 2 again at this point. I was fortunate enough to get access to the internal Cisco ASET labs through work. These are very similar to the Assessor labs that you can purchase from Cisco. I have to say I was VERY impressed by these labs, and with the user interface.

At first, I was pretty worried because the entire solution is java based. You log into the web site with your unique username/password that is assigned to you from labgear.net. After logging in, you have a physical topology diagram.  As you click on each device, a java window pops up with the console of that device. It generally worked very well. The only issue I had was that if you didn’t use certain devices for a long time, it would disconnect you. This was easily solved by clicking the disconnect/clear line buttons and reconnecting to it.

Once you have logged in, you can do a good number of technology focused labs. Additionally, they have 6 full scale labs. I was really impressed by the diagrams provided in these labs. They were very clear, in full color, and even used different colors for different IGPs and such. Also, your entire layer 3 diagram complete with IGPs was on 1 nice color diagram. Additionally, you got seperate sheets showing all your switch connections and where they went, all your router connections and where they connected on the switches, a multicast diagram, a very nice BGP diagram, and a DLCI diagram for frame-relay.

For the first 4 ASET labs I could only manage to get 4 hour sessions, although they are designed to be done in 8 hours. Well, I figured it would be a good test to see how well IPexpert prepared me, and to test my speed. I ended up doing pretty well on all 4 of these. My scores ranged from the low-mid 80’s up through the high 90’s (The grading is done on % actually, not points). I found the ASET labs generally easier than the IPexpert labs. I have to say, IPexpert labs really prepared me well. The ASET labs also seem to get more difficult one at a time, which was also good. On ASET 1 and 2 I was like “Thats IT?” hehe …. I really am glad I took the time and effort to do these, because it gives you another viewpoint on things. For instance, the way things are worded is different than IPexpert, the topology is different, the subnetting is different … it’s a good check to make sure you are not getting too comfortable with 1 vendor.

I have to say I was VERY impressed with their “autoverify” grading solution. This solution in my opinion far superseded the one Proctor Labs uses. If I was IPexpert, I would find out who designed this system and try and get in on that! Heck, just to give you guys an idea, check out my latest score report (you can access them online anytime!) Pay no attention to my failure to properly configure an access port : ) lol. Also, you can save all these ASET labs as lovely PDF files.

http://s1.autoverify.net/avmail/view.htm?s=090402-6034642803711627265

Talking with a fellow blogger who recently passed on his first attempt using strictly IPexpert material as well, his opinion was that the Assessor labs he did were as close to the real deal as far as diagrams, wording, etc. With that being said I have a good amount of confidence right now, but am also trying to keep pounding along. I can only hope and pray the real lab is as friendly to me as the ASETs have been.

5 weeks from Monday is my lab exam at RTP. At the end of the month I have my 5 day IPexpert bootcamp in SJ with Jared. I’m pumped for this! I THINK I am ready right now, but the camp should serve as either a confidence builder or a horrible wakeup call!

For the next 3 weeks I plan on reading some Cisco press (my OSPF/BGP config guide books, R/S exam cert guide), and pounding the DocCD, maybe doing some more IPexpert volume 3 labs a second time. If I get really inspired maybe I’ll try an IE mock lab just to see how I do.

3 weeks from Monday is day 1 of the bootcamp. That gives me 3 more weeks of real study time left. I figure the week of the camp I’ll obviously be pounding away. The week after the camp I do NOT plan on doing any full labs, just relaxing, reading, waiting. The following Monday is my lab.

– Joe A