I completed InternetworkExpert.com 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…)