Friday, May 29, 2009

I made it!

I'm officially a CCNA after hours upon hours of hard work...was it worth it? You better believe it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

About time to take the test

The last few days I've been a little off track, I've been focusing on a "Plan B" if you will if I'm not able to obtain employment soon. I have been searching and found this really good opportunity but I don't have the capital to fund it. At the current state that I'm in I think it's to big of a risk to take to finance since I have no income coming in. However I'm going to raise the needed funds and sit it on the back burner until the time is right. I will also have a business plan and all that good stuff by then to if it all works out! Anyways I'm so ready for this test I think the only thing stopping me is finding a testing center that doesn't require me to wait to take the exam. If I do fail there's a free retake going on so I'll def. use that.

Honestly the only thing keeping me from passing this thing will be the exam sims. I had difficulty figuring out the solutions in the Boson sims within the recommend 10 minute time limit because there is so many things to look for. I'm just gonna pray that the actual exam is a tad easier than the Boson exams like the ICND1 was. I've also been pndering rather just taking the whole thing at once would of made the CCNA easier. Think about it, if you take the full exam you'll have some ICND1 Q's sprinkled in which will be easy free takes and will take away the amount of actual ICND2 Q's there are. While if you take the ICND2 you're getting all ICND2 questions!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Study Update # 8

I've been doing the same routine everyday for the most part, even though I haven't been posting blogs about it as much. I begin every morning by completing a lab from this LAB workbook I've found along with going through 10-20 practice exam questions after wards. I then follow up in the evening by going through 10-20 more practice exam tests. This really helps give me a feel on what the test should be like and what I need to brush up on. I'm actually going through the Boson exam sims included with the CCNA ICND2 book. If it's anything like the CCENT Boson exams it's about 30% harder then the actual test which is a good thing. I'll be honest though the simulation labs in the Boson exams are KILLING me so far. It's taking way to long to figure out the issues or even worse I can't figure out the issues at all. i need to focus on my troubleshooting steps if I'm going to pass this thing!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hell 4

Well I finished up pretty much all the memory tables and open ended questions so I'm pretty much done with hell week. I ended up labbing a simple VTP topology followed by some practice questions regarding OSPF this morning. I later completed a simple OSPF and EIGRP lab this evening along with going over some EIGRP questions.

Hell 3

I couldn't really find time post yesterday so I decided to do so early this morning. I had some friends come in from out of town so I wanted to show them around a little bit. Yesterday I went through some more memory tables from the ICND2 book along with a few practice questions and a lab. It's going to be more or less the same process for the next few days so I may not make a post until that's all done. I finally decided to schedule my test to which is exactly two weeks out so we'll see how that goes!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hell 2

I finished quite a bit of work today and I believe I'm going to take a different approach to finishing up the material. When I took my CCENT I wrote down a a lot of the answers to questions that was included in the bonus CD's, this took the majority of my time. Now I'm going to try and answer the questions in my head and look up the answer if I can't figure it out. One thing with the Cisco exams is that they want you to be quick, doing things this way will probably be better in the long run. I've accomplished twice as much as I normally would I didn't feel burned out on writing like I had with the CCENT. I accomplished so much that I'm thinking about taking the ICND2 exam sometime early next week, only time will tell!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hell 1

Well just like I did with the CCENT, I finish up my material by going back through all of the books tables, scenarios, open ended questions, and late night labs. This is the time were I take all of the theory I've learned and put it all together. I go through the whole book again basically while setting up multiple complex labs and answering dozens up dozens of questions that's included.

Today I spent most of the time with VLAN's and STP, I finished up the day with going through one of the complex scenriaos included with the Cisco Press book. This lab was a mix of VLSM and OSPF along with manually figuring out routers IP addresses and subnets by looking at a network diagram. About 5 hours later and I'm finally done for the day part, I end the day by configuring a simple lab before I hit the hay. Tonight is going to be the easiest night, I'm just setting up a router with the basic initial setup and configurations with Telnet and so on.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Study Update # 7

Well I've finally read through both official CCNA ICND books, well over 1000 pages! The next few weeks it's going to be crunch time.. I need to narrow down on my weak points and make sure that I understand the theory, configuration, and troubleshooting thoroughly about each topic. I'm pretty nervous about this test but anxious as well. There won't be to many in-depth updates because I'm not really learning completly new materials as much as I'm going back over material. I have however landed my first Cisco related phone interview which I was very nervous about. I was asked tons of questions but I was able to answer most of them right. I tripped my self up a few times and missed a couple of easy questions but oh well. I was also asked about protocols not covered by CCNA such as MPLS and BGP so I decided to study those a little bit on the side.

Friday, May 15, 2009

NAT Configuration

I finished chapter 16 of the ICND2 book regarding NAT/PAT configuration, one more chapter to go! NAT wasn't to bad actually the hardest part is remembering all the commands to setup NAT the various different ways. Like most routing configurations setting up NT statically was the simplest but at the same time could be the most time consuming. Then there was Dynamic NAT and PAT configuration which were about the same besides one syntax. Honestly most people would choose PAT because it provides the most flexibility while saving tons of public IP addresses. Next up is IPv6 which I already have some understanding of but I need to learn the basic configuration.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Study Update # 6

I started today off really early by finishing up the Frame-Relay chapter at around 7 A.M. but you know what they say about the early bird! I started by creating by far the most complex lab routing scenario so far. Using GNS3 I created a hybrid 5 router Frame-Relay topology using the OSPF protocols with two different areas. Needless to say it took me a while however I couldn't figure out why my full-mesh couldn't talk to my point-to-point connections. I know it had to do with the router that was the ABR (Area Border Router) i just had a lot of stuff to cover today so i didn't dwell on it to much.

From there I read some troubleshooting scenarios envolving Frame-Relay and I have to say this. After 3 days of Frame-Relay study it's still the only topic I'm not confident that I know at least 80% of the material. With that being said I'm going to have to spend some extra time getting this down. I've read a few forums and a lot of people would agree that Frame-Relay is the hardest to grasp. Mainly because there's a lot of Layer 2 and 3 protocols that go hand and hand so it's easy to get confused. Also it's not the easiest lab to setup so just that along takes some time. I went over the VPN chapter which was a lot of info I already knew but was good review. It was also the only chpater to have less than 20 pages (only had 10). Next up is NAT and IPv6 then it's crunch time were I get everything down good and prepare for the test!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Frame-Relay Configuration

Welp ladies and gents I've spent the entire day setting up Frame-Relay Topologies both full and partial mesh. It was a beast of a chapter like I thought it would be but I managed to get a lot more of the concepts down. As a matter of fact though I'm not even done with this chapter yet. It's the only CCNA chapter that's going to take me more than 1 day to get through it. not because it was a lot of pages but it's a lot of steps required to setup Frame-Relay especially labbing it. Mainly because with Frame-Rely in the real world the ISP has the actual Frame Relay switches and they are the ones that are responsible for the DLCI's. But in order to lab this topic you have to create your own Frame-Relay Switches some how.

There was 3 different ways, Figure out Packet Tracers confusing cloud setup, use a router with the GNS3 emulator, or simply use the Frame-Relay Switch included with GNS3. Needless to say I chose option 3 which I'm sure saved me a lot of headache in the long run. I surprisingly didn't run into to many issues the hardest part is that there were a lot of new commands. The other things was that you have setup a lot of things before hand such as the DLCI's and determining the numbers along with the sub-interfaces. Tomorrow I'm going to finish up the troubleshooting section of Frame-Realy and the VPN chapter which shouldn't take to long because I have experience working with VPN's.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Study Update # 5

Well I finished going over Chapter 13 regarding Frame Relay but I'm not doing reading about this topic just yet. Tomorrow I believe is going to be the longest day for me as I have to configure Frame Relay on top of configuring different types of topologies available for the first time. I'm hoping I can get through it without to many headaches but we'll see. I wouldn't be surprised if it takes me about 5-7 hours to get through this chapter. If I start early and keep things consitent I can shave quite a bit of time off that so we'll see. I finished up tonight going over a basic Spanning-Tree Protocol video. I'm pretty confident with STP now I believe, the last major switching topic I need to nail is VLAN. I will have to set up RoAS (Router on A Stick) at least one more time and setup some advanced STP labs.

Frame Relay Theory

I finished going through the Frame Relay chapter in the ICND2 which helped me further understand this WAN technology. This is probably the only other chapter besides subnetting that tripped me up a little bit. More specifically it has to do with the fact that Frame Relay needs to use both Layer 2 and 3 protocols. At the layer 2 it took me a while to get the DLCI global and local theories nailed down. Also knowing when one protocol/technology begins and ends in a Frame Relay topology. For example LMI (Local Management Interface) provides keep alives between the access links.

But encapsulation occurs between the routers on the PVC (Permanent Virtual Circuit) between each other, so it crosses the Frame Relay network. Where as LMI's only cross between the DTE and the DCE which is usually the Router and Frame Relay switch at the ISP. At layer 3 you have determine how you want to configure the interface IP addresses. You can actually configure the Frame Relay to use one subnet if it's in a full mesh. However if it's only in a partial mesh it's probably best to use seperate subnets for each PVC, this is especially true if you're using a distance-vector routing protocol. You can also configure a hybrid of the two options. All in all I'm going to spend a little extra time with Frame-Relay to get it down by exam time.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Study Update # 4

I finished up the night by going over one of the Cisco CBT Training which was actually pretty good besides to Q & A's section at the end. I went over 802.1w/RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol) which is a newer updated version of 802.1d/STP. It was good to hear material from a different source and learn some new detailed topics that will help me in my exam and a real environment. Tomorrow is Frame Relay finally, as wierd as it sounds I'm kinda nervous for it. Mainly because I hear this will be tested on pretty hard on the actual exam. This is unofficially the last topic that I don't have a foundamental understanding of. Even still I have 6 whole chapters to complete still, about 100 pages!

Finished PPP Chapter 12

I finished studying the ICND2 Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) chapter which is pretty straight forward. Honestly if you went through the ICND1 PPP chapters then you can skim through most of this as it's basically the same info. There really isn't to much to PPP at least at the CCNA level besides setting up Authentication. The two ways to authenticate is by using PAP or CHAP with CHAP being the preferred method. Reason being is that it encrypts the password and actually never sends the password across the serial WAN link. Troubleshooting PPP might be tricky becuase of the way it sends keepalives compared to other protocols such as STP, OSPF, etc. Reason being is that it sends what's called a host route to it's neighbor router. This host route is the enitre /32 mask so there's no way to know if the link is in the wrong subnet through PPP. Therefore two interfaces might be in UP/UP statuses but in different subnets. So while they can ping each other they can't ping further than that because routing tables see these two interfaces in different subnets! Hope that makes since some how lol

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Briefly reviewed IPv6

Well we're all going to have to get used to IPv6 sooner or later so I decided to get a head start (plus it's on the test anyways). While I won't be getting to this chapter until this Saturday, I went to Cisco's Learning Center and watched one of the related IPv6 videos. I have to admit I was intimidated at first but by the end I understand at least basically what the major changes are to this protocol from IPv4. One thing I can say is that you can still subnet IPv6 but at this stage there's no need to learn it. But when it comes time to learn how to subnet an IPv6 address I'm sure more than a few upcoming engineers heads are going to explode trying to figure it out!

Study Update # 3

Yesterday I was exhausted so I didn't go through some of the Cisco Web Video for PPP over serial router links. However today I managed to wake up pretty early so I started with that and knocked it out pretty quick. There's no new topics to learn today in my Cisco ICND2 book. Chapter 11 is mainly different ways to approach questions that may come up in the Cisco exam regarding routing protocol sims. So that means it shouldn't be to hard of a day hopefully however I need to lab some things out Packet Tracer. It's a crazy feeling knowing that I have a least some understanding of most of the topics to obtain the CCNA. Also as I'm going through this preperation I'm seeing how everything builds on top of each other and starting to realize why there are other higher Cisco exams (CCNP, CCIE). CCNA seems to cover a lot different topics and going into just enough detail to keep you from wondering what else can be done. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go for my CCNP once my CCNA is done, something I thought would never come out from my mouth!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

EIGRP Theory/Basic Configuration

I just finished studying the EIGRP routing protocol chapter. It's similar to OSPF in a lot of the ways it works but it's easy to point out the differences. The main one being that it only works on Cisco products. It has a lot of the same features of OSPF such as Hello Updates and even authentication although they are named differently and setup a little differently. Overall not to bad, the chapter was only around 20 pages so I got through the chapter, a lab, and practice questions in about 2 hours. It's Saturday so it's time to go out play for a little bit!

Study Update # 2

Well after studying OSPF earlier today I took a break and ran some errands along with hanging with family. I finished up the night with reviewing access-list information from the Cisco learning Network. I began by going through some of the Cisco web video but I decided to lab up a quick network using Packet Tracer first. I set up two Class B networks using the default mask along with a gateway to the internet using a Class A address. I used two routers in Point-to-Point configuration which had one router being the gateway to the internet (Class A network). I practiced some commands on the other router such as turning auto-summarization off and setting a default-network to reach the Class A internet. Last but not least I practiced creating an extended ACL that would prevent a particular host from sending SMTP packets to the internet but could allow all other traffic. All went well so I decided to finish up the Cisco web videos and now it's time for bed!

Friday, May 8, 2009

OSPF Chapter 9 Completed

After about 4 hours of reading theory and labbing OSPF configurations with GNS3, I believe I have the basic concepts of this routing protocol down. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be but I did get tripped up over the initial configuration. First I tried creating a simple 3 router topology using a simulator program called Packet Tracer. However I noticed that OSPF protocol would never start, after a little research it turns out that OSPF doesn't even work for Packet Tracer! I had to use the GNS3 emulating program that uses the actual IOS to implement the protocol. I still had problems though until I realized that I was in correctly inputting my wild-card masks. I was using "" as the subnets I wanted OSPF to look at. I failed to realize that when you use you're pretty much telling the router to look for that specific subnet number. Once I changed the logic to "10.o.o.o" on all the routers OSPF sub-commands everything came up perfectly :)

(P.S. when you use 255 intead of 0's in the wild card mask you're pretty much telling the router to ignore that whole octect. So when I put instead I told the router to look for any subnets with 10 in the first octect number but ignore looking for any specific numbers in the other octects.)

Study Update Numero Uno

Well I'm a little over half way to finishing the ICND2 book, I'm averaging 1 chapter a day a long with labs and additional studying. This comes out to about 5-7 hours total I spend a day studying for the most part. I should be done reading the official book around May 18th, then I'm going to study and lab for the next week or two in hopes of taking the last part towards my CCNA. During my CCENT studies last month the hardest thing was getting subnetting down good. When I say good I mean being able to subnet within 30 seconds and pretty much to the point where I can do a good majority of it in my head. CCENT was mainly theory with some basic router and switch configuration thrown in. To be completly honest I knew about 80% of the material already I just needed to either brush up or learn more detail about certain subjects.

So far during my ICND2 studies there's been a lot more topics I've needed to grasp in more detail. So far I've learned about switching using VLANs, VTP, STP, and of course the beloved Route on A Stick (RoAS). This was the first 3 chapters of the book by the way just to give you an idea of how in-depth the second part of CCNA is. I also recently learned how to create and trouble shoot standard and extended ACL's, verify subnets within VLSM, Routing Protocol Theory, and route summarization this past week. It's a lot to take in but my plan is to understand each topic and then go back to each one in detail to learn everything in between.

Today...well yesterday (May 7, 2009) I spent time reading theory on the difference between Distance-Vector and Link-State Routing Protocols. I want to say I spent about 5 hours going through the chapter of about 30 pages and doing some additional course work along with taking some brief notes. Everything with this chapter was self explanitory but I have to remember not to get many of the Distant-Vector loop preventing tools mixed up. Mainly I need to remember the difference between split-horizon, poisoned routes, and poison reverse. These are all used on top of a few other things to aviod packets from continuelessly looping in a routing network.

After reading this chapter you'll finally realize why Link-State protocols can converge much faster. Link-State protocol uses an algorithm on each router to determine the best route. So unlike Distant-Vector, routers doesn't depend on it's neighboring routers to tell it which route to take. It simply calculates all the info its recieved from every router in its network and picks which path it should take on its own.

I rested for a little while along with setting up some more of my social networking accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter, YoungEntrepreneur) which I'll post links to a little later once I have some more posts up and going. I then went to Cisco website to go over some free webinars they have there which is great by the way ( to go over some more information about VLANs an VTP (VLAN Trunking Protocol).

Tommorow I should have some new routing protocol theory down which is dum dum dum...OSPF. I have a feeling tommorow is going to be a long day of studying, a lot of labbing is going to be involved plus I'm going over access-lists later that night, wish me luck!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Current IT Certs and Progress

Over the course of a little over 2 years now I've been obtaining IT certifications. Mainly because I was interested in filling in certain knowledge gaps but knowing you have a certain IT certifications is a pretty good feeling. I started off with A+ since I figured it would be the easiest for me (which it was) and give me a chance to see how I feel about self studying and taking tests. From there I knew that there was some networking knowledge that I didn't know to much about or had much experience such as Novell IPX/SPX protocols and things such as Token Ring. I was also doing consulting work for the company I was working for so I seen quite a few older networking topologies being implemented still so that had me curious. The next logical step was Network+, which was a little harder but really didn't give me the feeling as if I had a higher level of expertise with the subject from obtaining this certification.

I moved to a new company where I was doing all in house work in a complete Microsoft/Cisco environment. I was working under a manager that handled all the SQL systems so I was kind of moving towards that way. I was handled quite a bit of Windows XP and 2003 servers so my next logical action was to take some MCP certs and who knows, maybe get a little bit crazy and go for the mysterious MCSE! I'll have to admit the knowledge required to past a MCP exam is quite the step up from CompTIA certs (A+, Network+). However Microsoft has to have the worst testing formats. Not only are the majority of their questions meant to trick you and trip you up if you don't read carefully, at the very least each question is a PARAGRAPH long! Again that's the short easy questions, most of their questions are about 2-4 paragraphs. That's the main reason why you get 4 hours to take one of their exams compared to other vendors usual 60-90 min. time frame.

I'll mention briefly that I'm recently Cisco certified...wahooooo, BUT it's only the CCENT the basic of the basics of Cisco certifications. Not that this exam was easy by any means honestly I think there testing format is just right. No long winded questions plus their straight-forward but they test you to make sure you know your stuff. I'm going to attempt to take the second half ICND2 at the end of this month (May 2009) or early next month (June 2009). I spent one month studying for the CCENT (April 2009). I'm putting in much more time per day for the ICND2 because it is the meat and potatoes of the CCNA. Being that I learned most of the basic networking info throughout highschool and the years of experience is paying off tremendously in obtaining my goal. Honestly I wouldn't of rushed this cert in a 2-2.5 month time frame but I'm out of a job at the moment and I need revenue coming in ASAP! I promise for my next Cisco certs I'm going to take my time and buy a lot more material for studying though.

So a quick recap of IT certs I have so far...A+, Network+, Microsoft Certified Professional with Windows XP/2003 (2 certs), CCENT, and oh yea I took some ITIL training when I had off time at one of my previous contracts but I haven't tooking the test....yet.

A Little about Me

Well as you all know my name is Shawn Moore and I grew up in the St. Louis, MO area. My life with IT actually began back in high school. I went to a magnet school where you could specialize in all types of trades. I always figured I would be involved with technology somehow I just didn't know what exactly. We had a program that was called "Computer Networking" and at that time I have to admit I had no clue what that was. For some strange reason though I knew this was the program I needed to be in ASAP!

This program started the beginning of my sophomore year and I'll never forget, our very first task was to assemble a PC to be used as our own personal one that would be used throughout the year. Given that these computers were about 5-10 years old it still was very neat putting your very own computer together. It took me a total of 3 weeks I believe before I found enough working parts in the class room to assemble a computer that could barely run Windows 98 (This was back in 2002). Once I was finished though it felt like a huge accomplishment and I couldn't wait to delve more into this program!

Flash forward a year with a little basic PC support knowledge, our next topic for the rest of my high school career would be nothing other than Cisco! I never heard of Cisco and still had no real clue of what networking was. However as time went on I realized that for some strange reason I enjoyed learning about network, communication, and the layout of networking equipment. I had a lot more interest with networking then I did putting a PC together and for some reason I could grasp the concepts easier. So much so that by the end of Senior year I was the top student in our Cisco Network Academy class in our school. I've never been the "Top" anything so I knew that was telling me something.

Before I graduated I landed an internship with a very well known radio broadcasting company in which I was gradually shifting from becoming a network engineer to a systems administrator. Not that this was a bad thing and at the time I really didn't know what the real difference was since this was my first time working in a live environment. As time went on I've obtained full time positions working in a variety of fields within IT. From Systems Administrator to Network Applications Monitor however I never touched programming to much besides SQL as I really didn't have a love for it. Ironically in most of my positions I've had to manage a switch or router in some form and what I've come to realize was that was the most enjoyable part about all my positions.

That's why I've decided to start my path through Cisco at this very moment. I figure why do something you only kind of like doing when you can do something that you love doing! So here I am half way to my CCNA title and to explain the experience to you all. I kinda wished I would of thought about creating a blog at the very beginning of trek but hey you live and learn right.....right?

And so it has Began...

Hello everyone this is the very beginning to a long and hopefully exciting new adventure. My name is Shawn Moore and to put it briefly I have decided to take the journey through a winding road to become a Cisco Certified Engineer. The point of this blog is to document my every step or at least nearly every step and share it with anyone else who might also be considering this journey as well. I sure there's going to be ups, downs, bumps, and hills to climb but I finally feel as if I've made the decision on where I want my life to go and the Trek I've chosen is exactly what I was looking for. So stayed tuned everyone there should be lots of updates on not only where I'm at so far in my in my adventure but also other goodies that will entertain and also hopefully enlighten others about the journey through Cisco!