Saturday, December 10, 2005

Learn from Mistakes

That’s what people always say when someone fails.
In my case, I still can’t learn from my mistake.
I still don’t understand why I failed.
I still can’t accept the fact that I failed.

In the D-day, I walked to Cisco office from my hotel around 7.30. The lab itself started around 8.15.

My first problem: the pre-configuration of my equipment was wrong. The IP addressing was completely different between what’s written in my questions and what’s already configured by Cisco. I spoke to the Proctor and he told me he would fix it in no time.

While waiting, I spent my time to read the whole questions. I was really happy. Because I have done all what the questions asked in my home lab. I told my self I would pass today. I have done everything in my lab. Nothing new in the questions. I have done them all, and I have tested them.

After 30 minutes, my Proctor told me he has fixed the pre-configuration. He mentioned that he would give me 15 minutes extra time to compensate the time that I lost. I didn’t say anything. I told myself, who need 7 hours and 45 minutes anyway?
I would complete the lab before 2 pm.

And I did. I completed all my labs before 2 pm. I spent the rest of the time to re-check my configuration. Three times.
In the question, sometime Cisco provides you command output or screenshot of what you should achieve with your configuration.
I did them all.
My command output and my screenshot were exactly the same with them.

After the time’s over, I came to my proctor and asked him to grade my lab directly. He told me he’s not the one who would grade my lab.
I was really disappointed.
I told him, during the exam I discussed a lot of thing with him, explain to him why I configured something with certain way. But if someone else will grade my work, then he would not have any clues about this discussion.
One example, I told him that I found a bug in ISDN with 12.15T software code. I can’t answer the question because there is a bug, not because of my configuration. I can discuss this issue with my proctor. But the other proctor who will grade me would not know this. If he just checked my configuration and it didn’t work, he would think that my answer is wrong.
My proctor told me, don’t worry about that. Cisco has already noticed about that bug.

But I assume they didn’t.
At least this is what’s shown from my Lab report the next day.
I lost 50% points in ISDN.
As expected, I got 100% points for Switching, IGP, BGP, AAA and IDS sections. But I don’t get full points for PIX Firewall and VPN. I can’t believe it. Especially for my VPN. I'm really confident with VPN. During the exam, I completed VPN configuration only in few minutes. And I tested them several times.
What can be wrong?
I got very low score in Network Attack, and IOS features.
I can’t believe my eyes.
I may not be able to get 100% in those sections, but how come it’s really low?

My proctor told me in the exam, as long as your output is exactly the same, as long as you can answer all the requirements without violating the obvious rules, then you will get the point. But did the other proctor who graded my work have the same concept with this?

I’m not looking for an excuse.
CCIE is about 1 or 0: You pass or you fail.
But my question is, why did I fail?
If I can achieve all the requirements that they asked me in the question, why didn’t they give me points?

It’s really frustrating. It’s really frustrating because I don’t know what is my mistake.

That’s the email I sent to Cisco. I told them I have done everything asked in the questions in my lab. I have done them all. I have tested them all.
If it’s wrong, it means something completely wrong with my concept.
And that makes me feel really bad.

No more posting until I find out the reasons.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Seven deadly sins. Seven ways to die.

No, this post is not about that seven. This is about seven days left for me before my CCIE Security lab attempt in Brussels.
I have only seven more days to practice.
I have only seven more days to clear all my doubts.
I have only seven more days to test all Cisco security technologies listed in the blueprint.

During this period, I'm trying to practice my speed.
Any technology section in the lab blueprint has to be done in 5 minutes. BGP through PIX in 5 minutes, IGP authentication and redistribution in 5 minutes, LAN to LAN IPSec in 5 minutes and so on.
The basic idea is simple: if I'm fast enough to complete the "obvious" tasks in the lab, I will have time to find the answer for the "hidden" tasks.

Other than speed, I have been trying to work on the accuracy to answer the requirements in each task.
There is no other way other than read the sample configuration in Cisco website, check the documentation CD, understand the technology and all posibilities can be asked from it, and test it in my home lab.
Fast typing is not enough, I need to know how to answer correctly.
Configuring the device is not enough, I need to know exactly why I configure the device that way.

God is on my side. I have 2 days off from work due to the national day in this country, and my boss has agreed to let me take vacation until I come back from Brussels.
Speaking about my boss, we have an agreement that I should spend one day from this seven days to hang out with my family. Completely one day. Only then he would let me get my vacation.

As part of the agreement, I will go out with my family this Thursday.
Which is today. Which is in the next few hours, since now it’s almost 2 am local time.
Hey, the agreement only mentions that I should go out with my family. Nobody said to enjoy and have fun, right?

I'll do my best, boss
. Even it’s going to be difficult especially with routing protocol running inside DMVPN and atomic signature in IDS that always give me some problems.
Well, I may need to encrypt the path between my apartment to the shopping center, and allow only my wife and my kid to pass through using ESP-3DES and Diffie-Hellman group 2.

Seven days.
I will find out whether I'm just an ordinary guy with a big mouth,
or someone who can really accomplish something,
in seven days.