IEWB Vol.3 Update


I completed version 4.1 volume 3 labs 3 + 4 on Saturday. The IEWB volume 3 labs are supposed to make you faster at core tasks. These labs are what I consider “half-labs”. They cover PPP, frame, ethernet switching, RIP, OSPF, EIGRP, BGP, and redistribution. So far, so good. I like the general idea of the labs, but IE needs to work on the typos in this series. Lab 4 was the first one without some obvious error or another. I’m finding errors that fall into one of these general categories:

  • Backbone router misconfigurations (or configs that don’t jive with the lab). IE gives you a complete set of initial configs for each lab. The backbone routers don’t change from lab to lab. Instead, there is a common config that works on the 3 backbone routers for all the labs. 2 specific issues I can think of: in one lab, a backbone router subinterface was not addressed to match the diagram; in another, an interface was configured for routing protocol authentication, but this was not mentioned in the lab. I try really hard not to look at the backbone routers, because essentially that’s cheating. But when the vendor screws up, you do what you have to do.
  • Lab tasks with no answer. In at least one case, a task was assigned, but the answer not addressed in the answer key.
  • Answers with no lab tasks. In at least one case, there was no task, but the answer key had an answer for a task that presumably used to be there.
  • Answers that don’t match the task. In at least one case, the answer given for the assigned task clearly did not meet the task requirement.

Now, that bit of whining behind, I think these labs are good for me. Why? They have gotten me back in the “lab groove”. When I was doing one DOiT per Saturday, I had a good process down. My process kept me moving along, and reduced errors. But when I headed to bootcamp and started working on Narbik Kocharians’ material to shore up my weak technical areas, I lost my groove. Narbik’s lab workbooks are great, but they aren’t full-scale labs. I was doing a lot of technology-specific labs. So I sort of “forgot” how to do a lab from start to finish. Well, it’s all coming back to me now – the feelin’ is back…

Another good thing about these labs is just seeing how IE handles certain challenges versus other vendors. It seems there’s no end of approaches to resolving problems. While I’m not learning much new tech (a tidbit here and there), I am learning better mental discipline. I’m thinking through problems better, and I’m less likely to throw out a possible solution before properly considering it.

Last night, the kids needed my attention, as did my checkbook (silly thing won’t balance itself). So I didn’t get any rack time in. But I did print the lab out, and I did set up the rack so that I’m ready to go tonight. I should be ready to roll as soon as I get home. Of course, getting home will be the trick, what with new switches I’m turning up today (GigE over an ancient CAT-5 wiring plant, we’ll see how THAT goes), and having to do a small job on the way home for the radio station I support. (No, I’m not the webmaster, just the tech support guy…)


  • “How Ethan Got His Groove Back” :-)

    I had a busy weekend so I decided to do Volume III lab 5 on Sunday since I didn’t have enough time to do a full lab. If that’s the lab that you’re doing next, then I hope it treats you better than it did me. IE really mixes it up on this lab. After 4 hours I hadn’t even made it to IGP redistribution. :-(

  • We’ll see how it goes. Lab 4 was pretty easy – I flew threw it in about 2.5 hours, only one error I remember when I didn’t summarize networks back to the backbone BGP routers.

  • Nice Ethan,

    It’s time for you to get into the Groove :) ,
    get and do everything well in these labs.

    Should give you what you need to stand beyond this point of preparation.

    Good Luck,

  • Yep, IEWB Vol.3 lab 5 has some weirdness in it. Still getting thrown by their wording, but I’m getting better. Kind of kicking myself that I peeked at the answer key before trying my PPPoFR theory on the strange FR task. I was stuck trying to solve the problem at L2, and should have moved up to L3 in my brain a little faster. PPPoFR was the right answer, and my gut sort of knew it, but I couldn’t think of WHY it was the right answer. How come? I was trying to solve the inverse-ARP problem, instead of working around it.

By Ethan Banks

Ethan Banks is a podcaster and writer with a BSCS and 20+ years in enterprise IT. He's operated data centers with a special focus on infrastructure — especially networking. He's been a CNE, MCSE, CEH, CCNA, CCNP, CCSP, and CCIE R&S #20655. He's the co-founder of Packet Pushers Interactive, LLC where he creates content for humans in the hot aisle.