Wednesday, November 24, 2010

6 Days without Internet

Due to the Eid holiday in Dubai last week I had a chance to be completely off from the Internet for 6 days. So yes people, it's possible to live for a week without Facebook, email, IM and so on. I only sent a tweet per day from my Blackberry to record what I did, and here they are:

Day 1: snowboarding with the kids. Then went shopping for Eid
Day 2: eat, pray, sleep. Eid celebration and BBQ at a friend's house
Day 3: spent the whole day at the park
Day 4: in the middle of zillion teenagers, watching Jonas Brothers concert at Yas Island. Thing you must do when you have 12 years old girl!
Day 5: splashing and sun bathing at waterpark, then dining at chinese restaurant
Day 6: desert driving, flying in vertical wind tunnel and now watching Harry Potter 7. That's the end of 6 days without facebook, email, IM!

It was 6 days full of activities from snowboarding, desert driving, indoor sky diving, splashing at waterpark, to shopping, hanging out with friends and BBQ, and watching movie and the concert. Who said life without Internet would be a mistake?

I should do the same exercise with longer period someday.

Friday, November 05, 2010

How was life before GNS3?

I'm sick of people keep complaining about the new IOS XR in CCIE SP track. Listen, IOS XR in CCIE lab is good. It's closer to the decent real SP network. Do you want to pass CCIE SP lab, and call yourself the 'expert' for SP technologies, with an exam that has only 7200 as the top model for P and PE routers?

People asked me, how can I practice because GNS3 doesn't support IOS XR? First, GNS3 is just the front end graphical interface for the actual emulator dynamips. I hope this is not the first time you heard about this statement :) Many time I said, yes GNS3 or dynamips is good because we don't need the real router to practice. But remember, it's emulator not the real router and just like any software the emulator may have bugs as well. So when you face issue with your simulated network, you need to be able to identify if the problem comes from your config, from the IOS or from the emulator. If you can't accept this fact, stop using it. Stop your CCIE study and do something else. As CCIE candidates having a right attitude is required, including trying to find information like this.

Then you should know that you can't take this emulator for granted. Cisco never endorses the usage of emulator (and illegal IOS) to study. Chris made dynamips as his personal project, and if you can't contribute to it please stop complaining about why it doesn't support IOS XR (those who understand IOS XR architecture probably understand the challenges to emulate the box).

Let me ask you question: how was life before GNS3?

Some of CCIE candidates today know only how to download the GNS3 package, that has already included the dynamips, and install it in their PC. They practice hard like hell with it and pass CCIE lab without ever see the real router. Sometime they don't even have experience. If you need CCIE engineer for your company, would you hire the one that has never seen the real router nor the experience?

I passed two CCIEs without using GNS3 or emulator. If you want to know how, please listen to my story in WebEx recording.

If you can pass CCIE by relying only on emulator, good for you. But please don't take it for granted. Once you pass try to get real experience. If you want to take CCIE SP 3.0, study IOS XR from beginning starting with CCNA SP and CCNP SP (coming soon). Join a company that gives you experience with either CRS or GSR XR or ASR9K. Try to rent an XR rack. Form a study group then collect the money from all the members to buy one GSR XR. Ask your company to buy XR box with special rate for training purpose. Take loan from the bank to get the smallest ASR. I don't care. My point here is there is always a way and that's why CCIE is special. It distinguishes the real CCIE candidates and those who just want to pass to have the certificate so they can start getting more money. Money will come eventually, but please do it right so when you really pass CCIE SP 3.0 lab someday you can say 'yes, I'm a real CCIE'.

Again, many CCIEs before you didn't use emulator at all.
Think about it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

CCIE Experiences - WebEx Recording

CCIE Experiences @ WebEx (in English)-20101024 0710-1
Sunday, October 24, 2010 11:10 am Abu Dhabi
Time 2 Hours 21 Minutes

CCIE Experiences @ WebEx (in English)-20101024 0931-2
Sunday, October 24, 2010 1:31 pm Abu Dhabi
Time 10 Minutes

Sunday, October 24, 2010

CCIE Experiences Session is NOW

Topic: CCIE Experiences @ WebEx (in English)
Date: Sunday, October 24, 2010
Time: 11:00 am, Arabian Time (Abu Dhabi, Muscat, GMT+04:00)
Meeting Number: 201 345 278
Meeting Password: ccie

To join this online meeting (Now from the Apple iPhone (R) and other smartphones!)
1. Go to
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the meeting password: ccie
4. Click "Join Now".
5. Follow the instructions that appear on your screen.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

CCIE Experiences Tomorrow

In less than 24 hours I will be conducting a free webex session of CCIE Experiences: a complete story of how to prepare, pass, work and live as CCIE (in English). More than 400 people around the world have registered, about 20% are Cisco employees, and the rest comes from Cisco customers, partners, universities even our competitors.

There is a chance some of the attendees are first time webex users, so I will start the meeting earlier even the presentation will still start at 11 am Dubai time (GMT+4) tomorrow Sunday, 24 October 2010. You may want to join around 10.30 am Dubai time to test your browser, audio, chat, video and other webex meeting client features.

Below are some FAQs:

How to join the meeting?
If you have registered, you should get confirmation email with the instruction how to join. Click the link in the email and if this is the first time you attend webex client, the browser may ask to download the client. Just follow the step until you can see the meeting client and my first slide.

How to hear the audio?
There is no integrated audio, so you must use your normal phone or mobile. When the first time the meeting client pops up it will ask you to put your country code and the phone number. Do so and webex will call you. The other option is to dial the webex global number listed here, when requested put the meeting number as written in the email and follow the step until you successfully join the meeting.

What will you discuss during the session?
A complete story of my CCIE journey from the very beginning (CCNA) until 3xCCIE. Plus some advice about career in computer networking. Check the agenda on my previous post.

Will you discuss the CCIE real questions?
In the meeting with 20% of attendees are Cisco employees? Are you nuts? :) No, and I won't do it in any other session either.

Which CCIE track will you be focusing on?
CCIE SP, since this is the last track I passed and currently I work with SP technologies. I will share my view about CCIE SP 3.0 too.

How to ask questions during the meeting?
Use the chat, I will try to answer the questions on the fly if it's related with the section I'm currently talking about.

Will you repeat the session sometime in the future?
Most likely not. I don't mind to give another free webex session but probably not about CCIE experiences anymore.

Will you record the session?
Yes, but it means it won't be interactive since you can't ask question and based on my previous experience the quality of the recording may not be optimum. And the recording won't be available to download, you can only play it directly from the Internet.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CCIE SP 3.0 Blueprint Expansion

After looking at the CCIE SP Lab 3.0 Checklist aka expansion to the lab blueprint, I would say I'm quite impressed with the topics covered in the exam. It looks like it has covered all the technologies in carrier-grade Service Provider. Now we are talking!

1. Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Core IP Technologies

1.1. Packet over SONET

1.1.1. Cisco HDLC encapsulation
1.1.2. PPP encapsulation
1.1.3. Frame Relay encapsulation
1.1.4. Maximum transmission unit (MTU)
1.1.5. Cyclic redundancy check (CRC)
1.1.6. Keepalive timer
1.1.7. Frame Relay DLCI on point to point sub-interface
1.1.8. SONET Controller
1.1.9. POS channel

1.2. GE/10GE in the Core

1.2.1. MAC accounting
1.2.2. Speed
1.2.3. Duplex mode
1.2.4. Carrier Delay
1.2.5. MTU
1.2.6. Flow control
1.2.7. 802.1Q VLAN sub-interface

1.3. IGP routing

1.3.1. IS-IS Multi topology
1.3.2. IS-IS Multi instance
1.3.2. IS-IS System Type
1.3.3. IS-IS Metric Type
1.3.4. IS-IS Area
1.3.5. IS-IS Designated Intermediate Systems
1.3.6. IS-IS Interface Circuit Type
1.3.7. IS-IS Interface Metric
1.3.8. IS-IS Retransmission Throttle Interval
1.3.9. IS-IS LSP Interval and Lifetime
1.3.10. IS-IS Point-to-point Adjacency over Broadcast Media
1.3.11. IS-IS route leaking
1.3.12. OSPF multi instance
1.3.13. OSPF Multi Areas
1.3.14. OSPF router ID
1.3.15. OSPF over different physical network
1.3.16. OSPF neighbor
1.3.17. OSPF interface cost
1.3.18. OPSF designated router
1.3.19. OSPFv3 support for IPv6
1.3.20. EIGRP multi instance
1.3.21. EIGRP Autonomous System Configuration
1.3.22. EIGRP Cost Metrics
1.3.23. EIGRP Equal and Unequal Cost Load Balancing
1.3.24. EIGRP support for IPv6
1.3.25. RIP v2
1.3.26. RIP support for IPv6
1.3.27. Redistribution between OSPF,IS-IS and EIGRP
1.3.28. Redistribution of Directly connected routes
1.3.29. Redistribution of Static routes
1.3.30. Route summary
1.3.31. IOS-XR routing policy language (RPL)
1.3.32. Routing policy using route-map

1.4. MPLS and LDP

1.4.1. IP CEF
1.4.2. LDP router ID
1.4.3. LDP interface
1.4.4. LDP neighbor auto discovery
1.4.5. MPLS MTU
1.4.6. MPLS LDP Static label
1.4.7. MPLS LDP—Local Label Allocation Filtering
1.4.8. MPLS LDP-IGP synchronization
1.4.9. MPLS LDP Inbound/outbound Label Binding Filtering

1.5. MPLS Traffic Engineering

1.5.1. IS-IS support for MPLS TE
1.5.2. OSPF support for MPLS TE
1.5.3. RSVP for MPLS TE
1.5.4. MPLS TE tunnel setup
1.5.5. MPLS TE Tunnel bandwidth
1.5.6. MPLS TE Automatic Bandwidth
1.5.7. MPLS TE Static route
1.5.8. MPLS TE Auto route
1.5.9. MPLS TE Policy route
1.5.10. MPLS TE Forwarding adjacency
1.5.11. MPLS TE Metric
1.5.12. MPLS TE LSP attributes
1.5.13. MPLS TE Class-based Tunnel selection
1.5.14. MPLS TE Policy-based Tunnel selection
1.5.15. MPLS Pseudowire Tunnel Selection
1.5.16. Point to multi point ( P2MP) MPLS TE
1.5.17. Inter-Domain MPLS TE
1.5.18. Inter-Area MPLS TE

1.6. BGP

1.6.1. IBGP IPv4/IPv6 Peering
1.6.2. EBGP IPv4/IPv6 Peering
1.6.3. EBGP IPv4/IPv6 multi hop peering
1.6.4. BGP IPv4/IPv6 routes advertising
1.6.5. EBGP IPv4/IPv6 peering using local-AS
1.6.6. EBGP IPv4/IPv6 peering using AS-override
1.6.7. BGP IPv4/IPv6 using private AS number
1.6.8. Dual AS configuration for Network AS migration
1.6.9. BGP Next-Hop
1.6.10. BGP Weight
1.6.11. BGP Local Preference
1.6.12. BGP MED
1.6.13. BGP Origin
1.6.14. BGP Communites
1.6.15. BGP Confederation
1.6.16. BGP Router reflector
1.6.17. BGP Cluster list
1.6.18. BGP Peer Groups
1.6.19. BGP Synchronization
1.6.20. BGP Aggregation
1.6.21. BGP Conditional Advertising
1.6.22. BGP Routing policy
1.6.23. Redistributing IGP, static and connected route into BGP
1.6.24. BGP Multi-path Load Sharing
1.6.25. BGP Link Bandwidth

1.7. Multicast

1.7.1. IPv4/IPv6 Multicast addressing
1.7.2. IPv4/IPv6 Multicast routing
1.7.3. PIM Sparse Mode for IPv4/IPv6
1.7.4. IGMP V2/V3
1.7.5. IPV6 Multicast Listener Discover (MLD)
1.7.6. PIM Source Specific Multicast (SSM) for IPv4/IPv6
1.7.7. Multicast Rate-limiting
1.7.8. PIM Bidirectional (BiDir)
1.7.9. PIM Static RP
1.7.10. PIM Bootstrap Router (BSR)
1.7.11. PIM Auto RP
1.7.12. PIM Anycast RP
1.7.13. Multicast Administrative Boundaries
1.7.14. MSDP
1.7.15. MP-BGP peer for Multicast
1.7.16. MP-BGP Multicast route advertising

1.8. High Availability

1.8.1. NSF/SSO for IGP routing
1.8.2. NSF/SSO for BGP routing
1.8.3. NSF/SSO for LDP, TE, Multicast
1.8.5. Graceful Restart
1.8.6. Control Plane Policing (CPP)
1.8.7. Bidirectional forwarding detection (BFD)
1.8.8. IP event dampening
1.8.9. IGP Fast Re-route
1.8.10. MPLS TE Fast Re-route (FRR)
1.8.11. Link Protection using MPLS-TE
1.8.12. Node Production using MPLS-TE
1.8.13. Embedded event management (EEM)

1.9. Convergence

1.9.1. IS-IS fast convergence
1.9.2. IS-IS to utilize the Overload Bit
1.9.3. OSPF fast convergence
1.9.4. BGP fast convergence
1.9.5. BGP Route Dampening
1.9.6. BGP Fast Peering Session Deactivation
1.9.7. BGP Prefix Independent Convergence (PIC)
1.9.8. BGP next hop tracking
1.9.9. BGP address tracking filter
1.9.10. BGP path MTU discovery
1.9.11. IP fast reroute (IPFRR)
1.9.12. Multicast-only Fast Re-Route (MoFRR)
1.9.13. MPLS LDP convergence

1.10. SP QoS

1.10.1. Marking using DSCP, IP precedence and CoS
1.10.2. Priority Queuing
1.10.3. Custom Queuing
1.10.4. Weighted Fair Queuing
1.10.5. WRED
1.10.6. Policing
1.10.7. Class-based Weighted Faire Queuing (CB-WFQ)
1.10.8. Low-Latency Queuing (LLQ)
1.10.9. Random-Detect using MQC
1.10.10. NBAR for QoS
1.10.11. MPLS EXP
1.10.12. Differentiated Services Traffic Engineering (DS-TE)
1.10.13. Maximum Allocation Model (MAM)
1.10.14. Russian Dolls Model (RDM)
1.10.15. Class-Based Tunnel Selection: CBTS
1.10.16. Policy-based Tunnel Selection: PBTS

1.11. Security in core

1.11.1. Standard Access-lists
1.11.2. Extended Access-lists
1.11.3. Routing Protocol Authentication for RIP V2
1.11.4. Routing Protocol Authentication for EIGRP
1.11.5. Routing Protocol Authentication for OSPF
1.11.6. Routing Protocol Authentication for IS-IS
1.11.7. Routing Protocol Authentication for BGP
1.11.8. BGP TTL Security Check
1.11.9. Infrastructure ACL
1.11.10. Anti Fragment Attacks
1.11.11. Filtering RFC 1918 Routes
1.11.12. uRPF for Anti-Spoofinng
1.11.13. Selective packet discard (SPD)
1.11.14. LDP authentication
1.11.15. Remote triggered black hole (RTBH)
1.11.16. NTP
1.11.17. Attack mitigation
1.11.18. SNMP Management
1.11.19. IP packet Accounting
1.11.20. Syslog

2. Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Edge/Access Technologies
2.1. FE/GE and Ethernet Trunk

2.1.1. Ethernet channel
2.1.2. Virtual Trunking Protocol (VTP)
2.1.3. Spanning Tree Protocol (STP)
2.1.4. 802.1Q VLAN
2.1.5. 802.1QinQ
2.1.6. 802.1ad Provider Bridges (PB)
2.1.7. 802.1ah Provider Backbone Bridge (PBB)
2.1.8. Connectivity Fault Management (CFM)

2.2. Frame-Relay connection

2.2.1. Frame-Relay DLCI
2.2.2. Frame-Relay map
2.2.3. Frame-Relay switching
2.2.4. Frame-Relay multilink
2.2.5. Frame-Relay LMI-Type
2.2.6. PPP over Frame-Relay

2.3. PPP connections

2.3.1. PPP encapsulation
2.3.2. PPP multilink
2.3.3. PPP Multi chassis multilink
2.3.4. PPPoE client
2.3.5. PPPoE server
2.3.6. PPP authentication

3. Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Layer 3 VPN

3.1. Intra AS L3 MPLS VPN

3.1.1. MP-IBGP VPNv4/VPNv6 peering
3.1.2. MP-IBGP peering using loopback interface
3.1.3. VPNv4/VPNv6 Route Reflector
3.1.4. VRF definition
3.1.5. Route Distinguisher
3.1.6. Route Target
3.1.7. Route Target import/export
3.1.8. Intra AS MPLS VPNV4/VPNV6 load balancing
3.1.9. SOO Community
3.1.10. PE-CE – RIP V2
3.1.11. PE-CE – IS-IS
3.1.12. PE-CE – OSPF
3.1.13. PE-CE – EBGP
3.1.14. PE-CE – Static Routes
3.1.15. Redistributing dynamic PE-CE routes into VPNv4/VPNv6
3.1.16. Redistributing static PE-CE routes into VPNv4/VPNv6
3.1.17. Redistributing VPN4/VPNv6 routes into PE-CE routing table
3.1.18. Intra-AS MPLS VPN multipath
3.1.19. Intra-AS MPLS VPN path selection

3.2. Inter AS L3 MPLS VPN

3.2.1. MP-EBGP VPNv4/VPNv6 peering using direct interface
3.2.2. MP-EBGP VPNv4/VPNv6 peer using multi-hop interface
3.2.3. MP-EBGP VPNv4/VPNv6 peer between RRs
3.2.4. VPNV4/VPNv6 next-hop unchanged
3.2.5. VPNV4/VPNv6 next-hop self
3.2.6. Multi VRF between ASPEs
3.2.7. Inter-AS MPLS VPNV4/VPNv6 multipath
3.2.8. Route target rewrite
3.2.9. Inter-AS MPLS VPN path selection

3.3. Carrier supporting carrier

3.3.1. MPLS LDP in customer carrier site
3.3.2. EBGPv4 + label between CSC-PE and CSC-CE
3.3.3. IGP + LDP between CSC-PE and CSC-CE
3.3.4. MPLS VPNv4 between customer carrier sites PEs
3.3.5. CSC VPN load balancing
3.3.6. VRF definition in customer carrier site
3.3.7. Customer carrier site PE-CE routing

3.4. VPN Extranet and internet access

3.4.1. MP-BGP VPNv4/VPNv6 Extra-Net
3.4.2. MP-BGP VPNv4/VPNv6 internet access

3.5. VRF service

3.5.1. Multiple VRF
3.5.2. Multiple VRF routing
3.5.3. VRF Selection based on Source IP Address

3.6. Multicast VPN

3.6.1. Default MDT
3.6.2. Data MDT
3.6.3. MP-BGP mdt peering
3.6.4. Multicast routing in VPN site
3.6.5. PM-SM in VPN site
3.6.6. RP in VPN site
3.6.7. Multicast VPN extranet

3.7. GRE L3 VPN

3.7.1. MPLS VPN—L3VPN over GRE

4. Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Layer 2 VPN

4.1. AToM

4.1.1. Psuedowire class
4.1.2. Ethernet over MPLS (EoMPLS)
4.1.3. Ethernet VLAN over MPLS
4.1.4. Frame Relay over MPLS (FRoMPLS)
4.1.5. HDLC over MPLS (HDLCoMPLS)
4.1.6. PPP over MPLS (PPPoMPLS)
4.1.7. PWE3 control using LDP
4.1.8. Psuedowire redundancy
4.1.9. AToM interworking
4.1.10. AToM local switching
4.1.11. AToM intra-as support
4.1.12. AToM inter-as support
4.1.13. Traffic Engineering with AToM

4.2. VPLS and Carrier Ethernet

4.2.1. VPLS
4.2.2. H-VPLS
4.2.3. VFI definition
4.2.4. VPLS BGP auto discovery
4.2.5. VLAN attached circuit
4.2.6. QinQ attached circuit
4.2.7. 802.1ad attached circuit
4.2.8. 802.1ah attached circuit
4.2.9. VPLS/H-VPLS redundancy

4.3. L2TPV3 for L2VPN

4.3.1. L2TPv3
4.3.2. L2TPv3 VPN local switching
4.3.3. L2TPv3 VPN interworking

4.4. GRE L2VPN

4.4.1. L2VPN over GRE

5. Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Managed Services Traversing the Core

5.1. Managed Voice/Video services traversing the core

5.1.1. Traverse Voice/video packet
5.1.2. Traverse call signal packet

5.2. Managed Security services traversing the core

5.2.1. Traverse IKE packet
5.2.2. Traverse ESP, AH packet
5.2.3. Traverse SSL packet

5.3. Service Level Agreements for managed services

5.3.1. IP SLA sender
5.3.2. IP SLA responder
5.3.3. IP SLA for MPLS VPN
5.3.4. Netflow
5.3.5. Netflow for MPLS
5.3.6. Netflow for Multicast

CCIE SP 3.0 Lab Equipments

Please stop saying IOS XR will make it too expensive and difficult to pass the new CCIE SP 3.0. The real CCIE candidates should be grateful because now anyone who can pass the lab proves at least he knows XR and latest features on 12.2.33SR IOS. In fact, Cisco should modify the name of the track to CCIE SP NGN or something, to distinguish SP 3.0 with SP 2.0. And instead of whining about how to find a lab to practice XR, you should start asking the following questions: will the XR be used as P or PE? 7600 simulator to run 12.2.33SR means no real hardware, what could be tested without the hardware? What technology can be asked from ME series? And so on

Lab Equipment
• Cisco XR12000 Series Routers
• Cisco 7200/7600 Series equivalent Routers (Using Simulator)
• Cisco ME3400E Series Switches

Software Versions
• XR12000 routers running IOS-XR Software Version 3.9.1
• 7200/7600 routers running IOS Software Version 12.2-33 SR
• ME3400E switches running IOS Software Version 12.2-54 SE

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CCIE SP Lab Gets Updated!

I'm so excited to hear that the CCIE SP track lab exam has been updated to v3.0 starting from April 18, 2011. The lab exam blueprint looks very interesting. And with newer equipments in the lab and IOS XR it's getting closer to the real SP environment!

CCIE SP Lab Exam Topics v3.0

1.0 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Core IP Technologies
1.1 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Packet over SONET
1.2 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot GE/10GE in the core
1.3 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot IGP routing
1.4 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot MPLS and LDP
1.5 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot MPLS Traffic Engineering
1.6 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot BGP
1.7 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Muliticast
1.8 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot High availability
1.9 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Convergence
1.10 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot SP QoS
1.11 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Security in the core

2.0 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Access/Edge Connection Technologies
2.1 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot FE/GE and Ethernet Trunk connections
2.2 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Frame-relay connections
2.3 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot PPP connections

3.0 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot L3VPN Technologies
3.1 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Intra-AS L3VPN
3.2 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Inter-AS L3VPN
3.3 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Carrier Supporting Carrier (CSC)
3.4 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot VPN extranet , Internet access
3.5 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot VRF Service
3.6 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Multicast VPN
3.7 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot GRE L3VPN

4.0 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot L2VPN Technologies
4.1 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot AToM
4.2 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot VPLS and Carrier Ethernet
4.3 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot L2TPv3 for L2 VPN
4.4 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot GRE L2VPN

5.0 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Managed Services Traversing the Core
5.1 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Managed Voice/Video services traversing the core
5.2 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Managed Security services traversing the core
5.3 Implement, Optimize and Troubleshoot Service Level Agreements for managed services traversing the core

Monday, October 18, 2010

CCIE Experiences - WebEx Trial

More than 360 people around the world have registered for the free WebEx session "CCIE Experiences" (in English) this Sunday. And only 15% are Cisco employees. It means there is a chance some of the attendees are first-time user of Cisco WebEx. So I'm going to conduct a WebEx trial on Friday between 9 am to 12 pm Dubai time (GMT+4). You can find the meeting information below. During the trial please make sure you can use the WebEx client to join the meeting, see the slide, use chat, see the video, and use audio (just talk to others).

Himawan Nugroho invites you to attend this online meeting.

Topic: CCIE Experiences - Trial
Date: Friday, October 22, 2010
Time: 9:00 am, Arabian Time (Abu Dhabi, Muscat, GMT+04:00)
Meeting Number: 201 997 808
Meeting Password: ccie

To join the online meeting (Now from the Apple iPhone (R) and other smartphones!)
1. Go to
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the meeting password: ccie
4. Click "Join Now".

Friday, October 15, 2010

CCIE Common Things

If you either one of the following:

- graduated from non-computer science nor IT
- have no clue on how to start pursuing the certification
- do not get any CCIE training from the company
- are living separate from the family just to study
- got pressure to pass CCIE
- must pay the lab exam yourself
- are not a Cisco employee
- are an ordinary guy, not an expert nor a geek

and you still want to become CCIE, then we may have things in common! Well, at least you share the common things with me at some point of time in my life.

I graduated from mechanical engineering. I didn't learn anything related to computer networking in campus except how to use IRC to chat and how to master the networked game like Warcraft, neither did I know about the certification program. I got into CCNA and the job as network engineer by chance, but then I took one certification at a time even I didn't get any Cisco training at all until CCIE. I used to live separate from my family just to study. I got the pressure from the company to pass my first CCIE on two attempts, or 'else'. For my second CCIE I must saved money to pay the two attempts. I had already two CCIEs before I joined Cisco. And until now I don't consider my self an expert nor a geek :)

You see, all the above didn't stop me to pass 3 CCIEs and get a job in a respected team with Cisco Systems.

If you are interested to hear more, you can join the free webex session of "CCIE Experiences: a complete story of how to prepare, pass, work and live as CCIE" in English on Sunday, 24 October 2010 from 11 am to 1 pm Dubai time (UTC+4). It really is a complete story of my CCIE journey, starting from the very beginning (CCNA) until I passed CCIE in 3 tracks. I will discuss about how I prepared, how I built the home lab to practice, from where I get funded, my experience during lab day, my life after I have become CCIE and so on, with some advices about the career in computer networking.

The session is open for everyone, as long as you are willing to register here. Once your registration is approved, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the meeting.

Until today there are already more than 300 people around the world have registered. They come from different background and companies, such as from our customers, partners, universities, Cisco employees and even from competitors.

It will be an exciting Sunday.

Monday, October 04, 2010

CCIE Experiences in English

Over 400 Indonesian networking professionals registered, with more than 150 simultaneous sessions attended the "CCIE Experiences: a complete story of how to prepare, pass, work and live as CCIE" @ WebEx (in Bahasa) on last Sunday. So now I'm planning to do the same presentation in English on Sunday, 24 October 2010 from 11 am to 1 pm Dubai time (UTC+4). If you are interested, please register here and put your details. Once your registration is approved, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the meeting. The WebEx session is open for anyone who understands English out there, as long as your timezone doesn't make it difficult for you to attend.

If you look at the agenda below you can see that the session may be beneficial not only for those who are currently preparing for CCIE, but as well as for those who have just started following the certification program, for those who want to advance their career, or for those who are still thinking to switch career to networking field.

The agenda:
- About the Speaker
- How I Did It, the Summary of My Journey
- Story of Others
- Career @ Global Market, Career @ Cisco Systems
- How to Become Engineer ++
- How to Start FAQ
- Insert: Cisco Networking Academy Program
- How to Become a CCIE
- Cisco Certification overview
- CCIE program overview
- CCIE Service Provider overview
- CCIE written and lab exam
- Lab exam grading
- How to pass, tips from someone who has done it 3 times
- Sharing my CCIE experiences
- CCIE: the Missing Points
- Questions and Answers
- Building Avatar

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CCIE Experiences

Two years ago I gave a 45-minutes session of "How to Become CCIE" on Cisco Networkers Solution Forum in my country, Indonesia. The response was quite positive, the big hall where I presented was full and I got the highest feedback among all the speakers in that event. Few months later I presented similar topic in front of the students of my former university. But I added more slides about the story of my life while preparing for the lab exam, my experience during lab day, with some advices about the career as network engineer. 

This Sunday I have scheduled a WebEx meeting for the session that I call "CCIE Experiences: a complete story of how to prepare, pass, work and live as CCIE". I will use the same material that I presented in my university, with some update to the exam information. It's open for any Indonesian networkers only, since I will conduct the session in my native language Bahasa. If you look at the agenda below you can see that the session may be beneficial not only for those who are currently preparing for CCIE, but as well as for those who have just started following the certification program, or for those who are still thinking to move to networking field:

- About the Speaker
- How I Did It, the Summary of My Journey
- Story of Others
- Career @ Global Market, Career @ Cisco Systems
- How to Become Engineer ++ “Menjadi Network Engineer ++”
- How to Start “Bagaimana Untuk Memulai” FAQ
- Insert: Cisco Networking Academy Program
- How to Become a CCIE
- Cisco Certification overview
- CCIE program overview
- CCIE Service Provider overview
- CCIE written and lab exam
- Lab exam grading
- How to pass, tips from someone who has done it 3 times
- Sharing my CCIE experiences
- Questions and Answers
- Building Avatar

Don't expect to get real CCIE lab questions there.
No NDA material will be disclosed.

As I mentioned above, the session is more like a complete story of my CCIE journey, where you can hear how someone did it (three times), how did he prepare, his experience during lab day, and how he works and lives as CCIE after he passed, with some additional advices about the career in networking field. The best of all, the session is free and open to anyone as long as you are willing to register. 

Any Indonesian, or anyone who understands Bahasa, wherever you are, are welcomed to join this session. I will provide the list of WebEx numbers in many countries that you can dial.

Based on some comments I have received so far, I'm considering to repeat the WebEx session of this CCIE Experiences in English. The time is most probably on Sunday afternoon Dubai time, sometime next month. It will be on Sunday because I don't want to disturb everyone's normal working time. 

Let me know if you are interested with this English session. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Building Avatar

Many people really care about what others think about them. Sometime they even try to influence what others see in them. They build a profile or a self image that they want others perceive about them. The profile that people want others to see is something that I call Avatar.

I personally believe it's fine to build your avatar. In professional world it is not who you really are that matters, but it's what people believe you are capable of. For example, the best public speaker can be a shy person in his daily life. He can give the best speech in public because he practices hard and make people believe in what he says. One famous blogger can write about her opinions to various subjects that happen around the world, and she's probably a paranoid who never leaves home. Her ideas can go beyond her place and read across the globe. 

The real you doesn't really matter. If you can make others believe you are good in something, than you are good in that thing!    

How if someone is so desperate to be recognized and faking his avatar? For example, one can write bunch of stuff in his resume in order to get hired by a good company. Well, a good company usually doesn't just buy resume but will have several phases of interview and verification process. Even if the fake avatar can get the job, once he needs to interact with others they can figure it out. At the end, we all must live our own lifes. I don't think anyone can live someone's life and survive. At least not for long.

Having perfect avatar in mind can be a target to chase too. We can define what we want to be, then start making plan to achieve it.

My ideal avatar would be something like this:
- someone who can accept project assignment anywhere in the world
- has extensive experiences dealing with leading edge technologies from IP NGN, video, security, wireless and data center 
- can blend easily with customers from different culture and countries from Asia to Africa, from Middle East to Europe, to central and latin America
- a result oriented person, loves the freedom with working hour and able to work from anywhere. What matters is to deliver the outcome within the target date
- likes to play strategic role in any network deployment and infrastructure migration projects   
- he has been involved with network design from different types of customer industries from service provider, government, enterprise, banking, carrier, mobile operator, oil and gas, university to small medium business around the world 
- a person with hands on experience in the field doing different roles; technical consultant, project manager, solution architect, lead engineer, pre-sales consultant, to deployment and migration lead
- possesses professional certifications from different vendors, including the toughest like CCIE in multiple tracks   
- enjoys to be part of the team, thrilled even more every time he is rewarded to lead the team
- a pioneer, can follow the current template and process but able to re-invent everything from the scratch if necessary
- has been employed by world class companies like Schlumberger, IBM and Cisco Systems in multiple countries   
- always shares his knowledge and inspires others
- likes to travel and loves to capture the world from close distance with his Leica film camera
- a family man who always tries to keep the life - work balance from time to time and still able to entertain himself in between    

Hey, you know what? The list doesn't look unfamiliar. That's probably because I've been doing all the things above in my real life. Unlike Jake Sully, I don't need to use a machine to connect to my avatar. The avatar is inside me. I don't need to change people perception about me. All the things in the list are real. Those are the ones that I have gained from my experience working more than 10 years in the computer networking industry in many countries. I don't need to build my avatar anymore. I'm living my avatar.

I'm my own avatar.


And I can help you to build one like mine.
Wait for my next announcement.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Why iPad

Sure it doesn't support multitasking. It's considered expensive for what it's capable of, too. But I still love my iPad. Simply because it fits my requirements. And that's what buying gadget is all about, isn't it? If the gadget is suitable for your needs, then get it. Use it to serve whatever purpose you have in mind. Use your gadget for what it's designed for.

I personally believe the dumbest person on earth is the one who keeps buying gadget just to catch up with the trend. I must have it, one may say, without knowing why and for what. The same reason some people used to buy Blackberry or any other expensive smart phones when the most things they do with it are just making calls and SMS (hey I got my blackberry for free! And the moment I find any other phone that can check my office emails natively, I will throw away that ugly looking device).       

Below are the arguments of why and how I use my iPad. I made this list not to avoid being called as dumbest, neither to justify the reason I got my iPad, not to you all, not to my wife. I got mine when I was in London anyway, so there's nothing she could do when she found out ;) But this list may be useful for those who are still thinking to buy one. Steve Jobs should thank me for advertising the iPad for free.  

I carry my iPad anywhere
Just as my Leica M6, I carry my iPad anywhere. For me the size is just perfect, it fits into my camera bag. So I can leave my bulky laptop at home if I want to write, to edit my photos or to attend a webex meting

I can write anytime
Now I have my iPad I feel like to write more. Anytime, anywhere, even when I'm in the bathroom, just like the time I wrote this note. In the beginning it was difficult to use the virtual keyboard but now I'm used to it. So be ready to get more often posts in my blog

I can read, if I want to
I don't really like to read, but sometime I have to for my work or personal needs. The iPad allows me to left home paperless and read anywhere, in any position that makes me feel much more comfortable compare to if I have to read from computer screen

Different experience during meeting
I have used Webex for virtual meeting for many years now. Webex for iPad gives a different and unique experience during the meeting. The ability to see who is talking, view other's desktop, chat and any other Webex tools that become more special because all can be done in any seating position. I just can't explain it, you've got to try to feel the experience 

Edit photos without mouse
I don't really like post processing my photos. Most of the things I do are to crop, to slightly adjust the exposure, and to add frame. Simple photo editing tool like iPhoto on mac is enough for me. iPad apps like PhotoGene brings even more pleasant experience because I can do all those without using mouse but touch screen instead 

Addicted to the game
I was a computer game addict when I was in the university. I was young and reckless, and the games almost cost me my degree at that time. Even iPad can't run serious games like StarCraft, WarCraft or Command and Conquer, there are many games that can make me spend hours. Good enough if I have to wait for my wife doing her shopping

The only multitasking I need is iPod
Life without music would be a mistake. I saw that in one music store in Singapore. Indeed music gives more color to life. It can entertain and inspire at the same time. I love to listen to the music from the iPod apps while writing, reading, or playing some light games. I can live without multitasking, as long as I can hear the song in the background when doing something on my iPad

So many apps, for free!
Don't blame me to mention jailbreak here, the US Government was the one that made it legal! And I have to admit there are so many apps on iPad that can be used to increase work productivity, to manage personal life and needs, or simply to entertain myself everytime I get bored. My sympathy to those who have worked hard to make good apps and keep the price low in iTunes store, but now the apps are available for free thanks to the inventors of jailbreak

Yeah, if you notice I didn't write 'to be connected to the Internet anywhere, anytime'. I don't need iPad for that. In fact the one I have is the wifi model, not 3G, so I must go to any hotspot to get connected. Most of the time I use the iPad to write or to edit my photos when I'm offline. This is true just like the time I wrote this note. Being connected can distract me because I will do many things but finishing my writing.

Here comes the list of apps I've used extensively with iPad. And don't bother to ask, I won't tell which one I got from iTunes store and which one for free :)

Work: Things for iPad, Webex, Keynote (it can run Power Point animations), GoodReader, iMeeting Pad, Mail, Calendar, Dropbox, iSSH, TeamViewer (best remote desktop)

Personal: Notably, PhotoGene, IM+, iPod, iDleFrame, Wordbook Dictionary, Bills, Pages, Penultimate, MyQur'an 

Games: Angry Bird, Flick Football, Flight Control, Fruit Ninja, GT Racing, Mirror's Edge, ParaPanic, Pentago, Plant vs Zombie, Tower Defense

And many other games and education apps to amuse my kids.

Now I'm thinking that I'm the one who should really thanks Steve for the brilliant idea making the iPad. Thank you, Steve.

(Written using Notably on iPad)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why We Are Certified

About 10 years ago I started my journey with professional certification from different IT vendors. Going to the testing center to take the exam was a regular activity that I did from time to time. I remember some folks used to tell me that I was wasting my time and money. They said getting certification is useless and will not help to advance my career.  

Interestingly enough, I found the fact is quite the opposite of what people told me. At least in computer networking area where I have involved for more than ten years, professional certification takes an important role in my life. I even dare to say that I would not be at where I am now without having them. And I'm going to write it down here, of all the reasons why I decided to take professional certification, and how they affected my career from the very beginning until now.

So if you are looking for the answer of the question if it's still worth to get certified, here are my answers based on my own experience.

1. Easier path for career switch
I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering, so the certification program from Cisco Systems and other vendors really helped me out when I decided to switch career to computer networking field. The certifications made it easier for me to show my interest in the area, to build a profile as network engineer and to help shorten the learning curve
2. Requirement from the employer
There was a time where system integrator companies are encouraged to have certified staff in order to enhance the relationship with the vendors of the product or solution. That means the companies must either train the staff to pass the certification exam, or hire someone who has already certified. I didn't have much experience in networking after the career switch, so I guess I got hired by my first big employer only because I had CCNA
3. To get better paid
So there I was, working in shift as network engineer for the company NOC. It did not take long for me to realize at that time some of my colleagues were in better position in the company, had more exposures and better chance to grow, and had better salary because they had higher certification than me. They had CCIE, in particular. So I was motivated to pass the CCIE lab with a very simple reason: to move to a better position and get a better paid eventually

4. To move to another company
It's true these days we don't get hired because of our certification anymore. Now we can get a job more because of our real expertise, past experience and our contacts (Triple W rules: who we know, what we know, what we have done). But professional certification is a benchmark of our knowledge, and from time to time has been used by the recruiters as one criteria to filter the candidates. Imagine you receive thousands of CVs and must bring the number of the candidates down to less than 50 for the interview process. One can just put some search keywords such as 'CCIE', '10 years experience', 'CRS' and so on to narrow down the potential candidates. We can only get a job if we can pass the interview and the subsequent processes. But at least the certification can provide some advantage and better chance to pass the early screening process

5. Love the challenges
Having passed the CCIE R&S lab in 2001 really opened many doors of opportunity for me. It gave me chance to work in a big company like IBM and it even made me received many offers to work abroad. So finally after I moved to middle east in 2002, what should I do next? I decided to challenge myself and put target certifications that I  should achieve over period of time. It helped me to stay away from boredom and laziness. And to be honest, when the first time I started working in middle east the work situation was not really 'convenient'. But I made my decision to work in the region so I had to live with it. Putting new certifications as target and chasing them was my way to forget all the bad stuff that happened at work 

6. Enjoy the experience
This may sound silly, but I just love the whole process and experience during my time chasing one new certification. As I mentioned above, the journey to take certification can make me forget about many inconvenient things that happen at work. It makes me focus to one thing. Sometime I even reached a level where all my activities are centered around my target certification. In the past I changed my sleeping time while chasing CCIE. I spent  lots of time on eBay to purchase my home lab equipments. I modified my daily schedule so I still can work, be with family, and practice CCIE lab. The whole process of buying lab equpiment, managing schedule, practicing in the lab for countless hours, having discussion with study group over the Inetrnet, and the feeling when I finally pass the exam I believe is a complete experience that even more important than the certification itself

7. To prove thyself
Despite the thrill, the feeling after passing the exam, and experience during the time chasing the certification, there was a time when I took a new certification just to prove that I'm worth it. It was year 2005 when finally I had a chance to get interviewed by Cisco in the region, and I got rejected because I was not 'qualified'. To join Cisco had been my dream, so I really took the comment personally and decided to abandon my plan to pursue master degree and take CCIE Security lab instead. I didn't really like the track but I passed the exam anyway on January 2006 and became one of the few Dual CCIE holders in middle east. Strangely enough, 10 months later Cisco finally hired me but to cover the Asia Pacific region
8. Speed up in acquiring new skills
I joined Cisco with extensive experience dealing with Enterprise customers and network infrastructure. In Advanced Services most of the customers are top notch Service Providers, so in order to catch up quickly I decided to pursue CCIE SP lab. In every certification there is a clear study path to follow, there is a list of books to read, topics to be covered and practiced in the lab, and there is the exam to test and verify our understanding. This means we don't have to reinvent the study plan to learn new skills

9. Instant reward
My current employer provides instant reward to employee who can pass tough certification like CCIE or CCDE. In the place where I am now, this might be the only reason why people still take certification. And I don't think it's a bad reason. The companies still give reward probably to encourage their employees, to ensure the employees' skills are updated, or just because they need to justify giving instant bonuses to the employee

10. Be one of the few
Certifications give me a target to acquire. They help to improve my technical profile. The skills I learn from new certification make me stay competitive in the market. And be one of the first to pass new certifications make me feel good about myself. To be one of the few that hold several tough certifications obviously is very important for someone in my field. And I think every one of us should always try to be the best in anything we do, to be part of the group that can be entered only by hard work, and be proud of it

I don't know the reason why other people are still taking professional certification these days. But if you are planning to do it, my advice is for you to find the right reason for it. I know my reasons, and I really believe in them, and that's probably what make me who I am today.

June 2000 - passed CCNA, my first certification ever
August 2001 - first attempt of CCIE R&S lab in Brussels
Sept 2001 - passed CCIE R&S lab in Tokyo
May 2002 - joined one Cisco Gold Partner company in Dubai 
2002 - 2005 - passed bunch of certifications from Cisco and other vendors
Jan 2006 - passed CCIE Security lab on 2nd attempt
Nov 2006 - joined Cisco Advanced Services Asia Pacific team
August 2007 - passed CCIE SP lab on 1st attempt in Brussels
Sept 2008 - moved to Cisco WWSP NGN practices team to cover Emerging markets
2008 - 2010 - passed several Cisco AS internal certifications on Carrier Ethernet, CRS/IOS XR and Video

(The post was made painfully using the virtual keyboard on iPad) 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Retirement Plan

I've been thinking about retirement lately.

"Aren't you too young to retire?" my close friend asked. Don't get me wrong, but I have my own definition of getting retired that may be different with the common perception.

First of all, when I'm retired it means I will do the things that I really like. I will do something that I'm really passionate about. So I will never do something because I have to, in order to make money, for example.

Second, even when I'm retired I will still work. I believe most of us have to work, because it is important for every one of us to have the feeling to accomplish something. But the work that I will do may be the same as what I'm currently doing now, or it may be completely different. I may work for a company or run my own business. And again, I will work not because I have to, but because I like to do it.

That means I can choose the type of work I want to do, and I decide when and where to do the work. Some people like to use a jargon such as financial freedom. For me I will make it simple; I need to get into a state where I can get stable income regularly regardless if I make money or not from my work. Then whatever work I will put myself into, after I decide when and where to do it, it will be because I really love doing it. If the work provides me with more money, I will just consider it as something extra.

Last but not least, I will not retire NOW. But I think it's good to start thinking about it, because it makes me at least to start building my retirement plan. I have set a timeframe, something that I can't share here. Now I need a solid plan so I can achieve my target date.

You may laugh after reading all the stuff above. But those thoughts have been hitting me for the past few days. And eventually everyone will be retired. So I challenge you to make your own definition about retirement. And start making a plan and set the target to get there.

Let's see who get there first ;)

Monday, July 05, 2010


Mondays. Hate by many, love by few. It doesn't matter because it's my 2nd week of vacation. Hate the heavy traffic due to Monday rush though, especially in Jakarta, the capital city of my country.

Contrary with what some of my friends believe, during my vacation I'm really disconnected from work. I'm completely unplugged. All my time is only for traveling with family, making photos with my M6, watching World Cup games, and enjoying my country food I've been missing because I've been far from home for too long.

I thought I could study for my next exam on July 19. But the new Himawan now thinks study is part of work. And as mentioned above, no work at all during vacation.

Let's just see what will happen then.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Immortalized CCIE

For those who have been as CCIE for 10 years and don't like to take recertification exam every 2 years, Emeritus is the answer to your prayer! :)

Emeritus Benefits:

Permission to use Emeritus logo — subject to Cisco requirements
In situations where logo is not applicable the word Emeritus will follow CCIE number
CCIE number is maintained but now classified as Emeritus status
Candidate is recognized for technical proficiency and long term status within the program
Continue to participate in discussion forums, blogs, groups, etc... as an Emeritus
Opportunity to re-enter active CCIE status for up to ten years by taking any current written CCIE exam

CCIE Emeritus is a non-active status. As such the following rules apply:

DOES NOT provide TAC support privileges or preference
DOES NOT count towards Channel / Partner requirements
DOES NOT apply towards maintaining status levels for Channel Partners
DOES REQUIRE candidates to continue to report violations to the program when encountered

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Teotihuacan - The City of Gods

Don't ask me to provide more explanation about the place. I wanted to have lunch in the city. But the cost for hotel taxi from Santa Fe to the city center and go back is more expensive than a city tour. So I just signed up for the tour.

Temple @ the City of Gods

Formation to climb

Moon Pyramid from the Sun Pyramid

Come on it's not that high

True romance at the top of Pyramid

All photos are taken with Leica M6, 35 f2 Summicron ASPH lens, Kodak Portra 160NC and Kodak ProImage 100 films (bought in Mexican shop for 50 pesos). I wish I had more Kodak Ektar 100 films

Friday, June 04, 2010

Charles De Gaulle

Eight hours transit in Paris, on my way to Mexico.

I love morning in Charles De Gaulle

Gotta catch the flight

Morning curve

Walk with me to the gate

Don't leave anything behind

I'm leaving on a jet plane

All photos are taken with Leica M6, 35 f2 Summicron ASPH lens, Ilford XP2 Super 400BW film, developed and scanned at one hour service lab in Santa Fe, Mexico city!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Best Camera

The best camera in the world is obviously the one that we always carry everywhere. According to the folks from National Geographic, the secret of making great photos is "f8 and be there". It's true to make some kind of photos we may need specific equipment. But the most important thing is to be there and capture the moment when something happens.

But if you asked me how to decide which camera, lens or brand to buy, I would tell you to do the following:

1. Ask yourself, why do you photograph. The reason of why you make photos may define which camera to buy

2. Define your style: do you like to take wedding photos, macro, landscape, B&W arts, street photo and so on. Different style may requires different equipment

3. Once you know the reason you photograph, and the style you want to follow, it's time to define the format and lens. Landscape photographer may want to go with medium size format that can provide a higher quality than normal 35 mm camera, and wide lens. If you like macro you will need to invest in special macro lens and may be close-up flash to lit the subject. Wedding photographer may like to have the famous 85 f1.4 lens, and so on

4. Define brand. You know which equipment you need, just need to decide which brand to go. So many websites offer the comparison between the camera from one brand to another, but sometime it's too technical and the info is not useful. To see the result of one camera you may want to check in Flickr and search using the tag. Try to find some photos that have only minimum post-processing. Sometime the decision to go to one brand is because you live near the community and many use that brand. It's not uncommon to borrow lens from your friend who has the same brand

5. Whatever brand you choose, invest in lens not the body. Especially in digital era, the price of the camera body can sink really fast. Six megapixels camera may worth really high few years ago but today it costs nothing to get one. The lens on the other hand can stay and be used for generations since it's just optical inside

Just to give an example, recently I sold my Canon EOS 5D complete with all the lens because I felt that the camera doesn't suit my need and photography style. I'm very certain of what I want to do in photography, I have my answer for all the five questions above, and finally I decided to buy: Leica M6 range finder film camera with 35 Summicron ASPH lens!

Leica M6 won't cover my face

Why I decided to go back to film? Well, the argument between Digital vs. Analog has been around for many years I will not discuss it here. My only reason is because I want Leica M range finder, but I can't afford to buy the new digital M9, so I decided to use all the money I got from selling the 5D to buy a brand new 35 f2 Summicron ASPH lens. A single lens that can suit 90% of photos I want to make. For the body I just bought a 20-years old M6 camera. It's full manual, the battery is required only to use the light meter, good looking and very tough, and it gives me full control as the photographer.

What is going on?

I like range finder because the size is quite small compare to SLR. It won't cover my face so I'm not hiding behind the camera. The prime lens with f2 like Summicron is very small compare to the lens for the SLR. The view finder in range finder allow me to see the 35 frame, and outside the frame, so when I look inside the view finder I know what is going on outside the frame and this makes me able to fix the composition or waiting for a better moment before I press the shutter. And with range finder camera there is no mirror flap like in SLR, it means everytime I press the shutter I know exactly the moment that I capture because I won't experience any black out just like in SLR.

Ayesha curious

Obviously once I got my Leica M6 from ebay and my brand new Summicron lens from Adorama, the first roll I spent to make photos of my family, my cat, things that happen in my home and so on. I have tried and fallen in love with the new Kodak Ektar 100 due to the color it can produce. For BW I use Ilford XP2 Super 400, a C41 film. To get a very natural skin tone and portrait, it looks like Kodak Portra 160NC is the best option.

I want to play outside

Film camera is not dead, indeed. I still can buy films easily, even to get professional films I have to order from B&H or Adorama. And the cost to process and scan the C41 film here in Dubai is around 5 USD per roll. I would be really happy if I can find a real BW lab so I can use the real BW film such as Ilford Delta or Kodak Tri-X, but for time being I'm fine with the options that I have. I carry my Leica M6 everywhere and I'm a happier photographer.

She likes to take nap

I like to capture life around me as it happens. Using natural light. Handheld. Full manual that can give me all the control. And a prime lens. As simple as life itself.

Why daddy always follow me with that black thingy?

All the pictures here are taken with Leica M6, 35 f2 Summicron ASPH lens, Ilford XP2 Super 400 film, Kodak Ektar 100 film, Kodak Portra 160NC film, developed and scanned at one-hour service lab, no digital post processing, no cropping.

That's how I remember what photography is all about.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Day We Migrated The Mobile Network

The moment the engineer from one mobile provider in the UAE pressed the 'Enter' key to send the IOS config that would move the mobile traffic in all UAE cities to new CRS Core on Thursday's early morning, my life during the past several months flashed before my eyes. I remember having heavy discussion with the team from Cisco and customer long ago on how to breakdown the project into multiple tasks (it turned into more than 16 different tasks in total!). I remember spending quite some time with the Project Manager just to count the number of resources required to execute all the tasks. When we started 9 months ago, it was difficult to imagine the day we would really migrate the mobile traffic to CRS. The two networks, Fixed and Mobile, required to be fully optimized before we can even connect the physical link between them. The two networks used to communicate through two routers designated as the Point Of Interconnect that we had to analyze deeply before we can move them to communicate directly over the CRS. And not to ignore the interoperability issues with mobile equipments from other vendors.

The only way to achieve success is by completing one task then another. We planned for one day, executed, then made the plan for next day. We handled the challenge one at a time. And after 9 months working together with the customer, countless hours of discussion and extensive lab testing, around 120 change request windows at night, the mobile traffic has finally been migrated.

We made history yesterday. And now it's time to move on.

So here I am, 48 hours later after the migration, sitting at Charles De Gaulle Aiport in Paris waiting for my flight to Mexico to do another project. I have been working back-to-back, from one project to another without any spare time, since the first time I ever worked for project. Some people I met like to complaint about that kind of work condition. For me I would consider myself lucky if I have a chance to work in only one big project at a time. I used to handle several medium size projects at the same time. The most challenging situation is when there is overlapped, the time when I have to work in another new big project while still handling the previous one with the same size or complexity.

Mexico, here I come.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Against Blackberry, no more

It's been 3 months since I started to use BlackBerry. What? Aren't you the same guy who wrote 'Against BlackBerry' about a year ago? Yes, it's true. Shame on me. But please allow me to explain:
The local mobile operator in Dubai offered my office the BlackBerry handset for free if we were willing to switch from another operator. Since my office always pay for the premium services for everyone anyway, so it was a good deal because everyone can get the handset for free. So I got mine 3 months ago. With free unlimited data usage. It's free as in F R E E. And free good stuff can't be evil, can it?

But no, I'm not becoming addicted nor attached to it. The only reason why I like it because I can read my company email anywhere. The handset design is ugly. The screen is too small to browse the Internet even with the unlimited data usage I have. I use the messaging only occasionally since I never announce my PIN to anyone except my closest friends. So office mail is the only reason why I stick with BlackBerry.

And actually I don't like to keep reading email but here is my situation: while I like to work during night time from my own bedroom unfortunately some of my colleagues and my customers like to work in mortal office hours, 9 to 5. So when they send email during that time they expect me to read it and reply when it's required. They may not know that during the winter in Dubai morning time is perfect to enjoy the beach. Or during noon it's better to practice desert driving instead of wasting time for meeting. We can always catch up the work at night, right? With BlackBerry I can reply to those emails and people may even think I really work during the day (obviously I don't use the signature saying 'sent from BlackBerry blah blah). And once I believe I have worked for 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week, regardless the time of work either normal time or at night, then I won't bother to check my email anymore.

Anyway, with this post I'm declaring that I'm against BlackBerry no more. Unless someone is kind enough to somehow make my favorite Motorola V8 can read my office mail.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


CCIE Core Knowledge Questions aka Open Ended Questions (OEQ) is removed from CCIE R&S and Voice lab exam. Soon Cisco may remove it from the other CCIE tracks too. So now the main question is: what will be Cisco strategy to prevent those dumpers who just memorize the answer to pass CCIE lab?

The answer is obvious: bring back the 2-days format with interview!

Friday, May 07, 2010


"First rule of leadership: everything is your fault."
Hopper to Princess Atta, A Bug's Life.

It's really tough to lead.

You can't do it alone, so you have to delegate.
And when the resource is not skillful so you have to do most of the work, it's your fault.

You have to finish the work even the timeframe is unrealistic.
And when there is not enough resource to deliver, it's your fault.

You have to satisfy all the parties, meet the target and make everyone happy.
And when you have to screw yourself days and nights, it's your fault.

You have to maintain the reputation of the organization.
And when everything starts falling apart, it's your fault.

It's really tough to lead indeed.
But I'd prefer to do it again and again.
Because it's worth it.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Targets: Quick Update

Let's start with the first subject: cars.

My friend once said car is a mean of transportation to move from point A to point B. I agree. But in Dubai, point A to point B can be through construction sites, high way where some people really put the maximum speed limit in their cars to test, diverted road because of the constructions, desert and sand dune, gravel road due to constructions going on (man, there are just too many constructions here!), and not to forget due to the lack of parking space the cars must pass, and park, on the sand. So that's the reason why I believe SUV and 4WD cars are the most suitable vehicle for this city.

The thing is, I must had watched the last few James Bond movies too many times so when I moved back to Dubai at the end of 2008 I made a wrong decision by buying a Range Rover. This British SUV is a very good car indeed, but not the best 4WD to be used. It comes with big wheels and fancy low-profile tires, which means I can't deflate the tires to get more traction to drive on the sand. The awesome Terrain Response System becomes useless because I was too afraid to damage the expensive wheels or tires during offroading so finally I decided to sell it and get Toyota Land Cruiser, with 8-seat as family car, and FJ Cruiser for me to drifting around in the desert. I sold my Range Rover to get two Toyota cars, and still got small change from the deal :)

The FJ really gave me a chance to learn about the desert driving skills as you can see on my last few posts. This is inline with my first target in life. And since my current project in Dubai makes me go to the customer office that is only 10 minutes away from the desert, I was able to practice the skill almost every week. I call my activity as "Dune Every Week", I can do the desert offroading either during the weekend or right after the meeting at customer office.

My next target is snowboarding. Since I got the Gout Attack! on my left foot it has become difficult for me to wear the tight snowboarding shoes so I haven't had any chance to practice this skill (this is not the case with desert offroading, remember to drive my FJ I don't need to use my left foot since it has the automatic transmission). So now my kid is more skillful than me since she practices in the indoor snow park at least twice a month. She's much faster and can do the turn really quick, so I must try to catch up once I can wear the snowboarding shoes again.

For photography, I sold my Canon EOS 5D along with all the lens. I found that DLSR is not suitable with the style that I like. I like a camera that I can have full control and can use the manual mode just like the SLR indeed. But it has to be small so I can carry it anywhere. It must have "full frame" just like the 35 mm film. And I'm not into sport photography so I rarely used telephoto lens. Once I find my ideal camera I will post it here.

My kid has started taking the guitar lesson. So I guess one day she can be the lead guitarist for my band. Meanwhile I was thinking to get the "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band" on Wii so at least I can simulate the jam session together with her because practicing the drum alone is not that fun I can tell you.

It's been a while since I travel due to my current project in Dubai. It's a blessing in disguise because it makes me able to learn the other skills like the desert driving above. And I'm already planning to travel this summer so let's see.

Now let's talk about the boring part: work related.

I've been busy with my current project to converge the core network of one mobile provider here in Dubai. The project makes me spend many nights working onsite at customer site. In fact, I'm writing this post in the middle of my night activity! I don't want to complain, but working at night means I have to sleep during the day and won't be able to do my targets. As I mentioned yes it's true the project meeting in the day at customer site allow me to go to the desert right after. But I still hope the project will end soon and my vampire life will end too. I'm planning to write down my experience btw, even I may or may not be able to share it here.

Regarding the certification, yes I failed my CCDE attempt on December. Again it took about 3 months to get the result, and the result report doesn't help at all to prepare for the next attempt. And again I have already known why I fail: during the exam I still think too detail. The CCDE is a very high level design exam so thinking in detail just as what I do for my daily work won't make me pass the exam. The good news is, I've got approval to attend a CCDE bootcamp by ProNet Expert here in Dubai. This bootcamp is claimed as the only CCDE bootcamp available today, due to the very less number of CCDEs to become the instructor, and will happen on 2nd week of May. At least the instructor who has passed the CCDE exam can tell me the way of thinking to answer the questions. So I may take another CCDE attempt on July in London (and this is a good reason to support my traveling target too!)

That's all for now.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Yet Another Dune Bashing

"Gentlemen, please gather around."

"Welcome to Area 53. This is a short briefing before we start."

"Always maintain the momentum to keep the car moving."

"Follow the track from the car in front of you."

"When climbing the dune, slower is better."

"We can always try again if we don't reach the top."

"Keep the safe distance between cars."

"In the side slope power is the only friend."

"Use low-range gear to descent the dune if needed."

"Be responsible for the car behind you."

"Steep dune. Bowl. Slip face. Let's do some dune bashing!"

(Pictures courtesy of Indra Wirawan)

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Air FJ!

Welcome aboard Air FJ to the UAE desert
Please fasten your seat belt during the flight
Put the transmission to high range gear
Turn off the side curtain airbag
Disable the vehicle stability control
And make sure the traction control is off
In the event of bumpy ride
Or airborne on top of the sand dune
Please continue to act normal and look cool
Since we have photographers taking the pictures
We hope you enjoy the flight

(Pictures courtesy of Tomi Satryatomo)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Say goodbye to Mr. Bull

Last night I spent 3 hours in Emergency Room. It started with some paint in my left foot while walking in front of Atlantis hotel to enjoy the sunset 2 days ago. Then I was driving yesterday when suddenly I had a very painful experience ever from the same feet, it became red and swollen, and felt like burning. It's so painful I needed someone to drove me to the E.R. After the painkiller injection, blood test, sitting on the wheelchair waiting for couple of hours for the lab result, the doctor said it was the Gout attack caused by high uric acid level.

So say hello to Mr. Uric Acid. Say goodbye to Mr. Red Bull, Mr. Lamb Chop, Ms. Seafood, Mr. Mandi Rice, and I will miss Ms. Junk Food too.

My biggest lost is if I have to stop drinking Red Bull. Mr. Bull has been the closest friend of mine, and the source of my energy for all the night work that I have to do. It's like the sun for Superman. Or the byte of the spider for Spiderman. (Batman is not counted since he can be one because he's rich!) Without Red Bull it will be difficult for me to stay awake for the whole night.

This morning, even I still can't wear my shoes and can barely walk, I have to stand before my customer to present the migration plan that we will be executing in the next few weeks. The execution means long and consecutive sleepless nights await.

I have to find a new source of energy, I guess.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


What? An expert level certification for dedicated professionals who can manage, maintain and troubleshoot complex service provider IP NGN core network infrastructures? A CCIE track to develop capabilities to operate large, complex SP networks? To demonstrate skills required of a expert-level, Tier III or Tier IV support? And there will be IOS XR?

I'm not sure if this is necessary. I still believe the current CCIE SP track must be upgraded with the new equipments so we can have more scenarios that replicate the real-world network design and issues. Then the current SP track should be enough to build a strong troubleshooting skills and to validate the knowledge required to maintain a complex NGN network. If possible throw the traffic generator in the lab so the candidate will be tested with forwarding plane as well instead of only control plane function.
But that's just my personal opinion.

And since I'm more interested with network design, it looks like this new track is not in my best interest.

Btw, even Cisco really upgrades the equipment of SP track someday, since I have passed it I won't be allowed to re-take the exam. So once I'm free from the current night shifts that I'm doing, I may go ahead with something else. Go figure.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wrangler Unlimited vs. FJ Cruiser

I've been doing lots of onsite work during night time lately. In fact, I'm writing this while leading the implementation of the design within the maintenance window at the customer site. Just in case you are wondering how does it like, please watch the Night at the Museum movie. I'm doing something similar like Larry did, minus the animals… tiny cowboy… Attila the Hun… T.rex skeleton… and the cool night watchman outfit.

I used to think that while doing night work like this, onsite at customer site, I should be able to utilize my time to write something useful. A white paper. Or even a book. But in reality, with all the pressure during maintenance window, number of lab testing must be done prior to the implementation, and all communication emails back and forth with the customer, the only writing I can do is something that quite light. It may become a light reading for some or rubbish for the others. I have no extra energy to think about that, so here is the output:

As I have put my Range Rover Sport on the advertisement for sale, I need to get ready to buy its replacement once it's really sold. I'm looking for a car that I can use for extreme offloading, with at least 5 seats, enough space to carry my stuff, and with the price around USD 30k. After weeks of browsing many data sheets, lots of discussion with the owners, watching offroad videos on youtube, and reading the online forum finally I came up with two finalists: Jeep Wrangler Unlimited vs. Toyota FJ Cruiser. I still can't make up my mind until now, so I made the comparison below between the two. Mind you I did the comparison for the points that only matter to me.
1. Look
Advantage to: Jeep
Indeed the FJ cruiser has the retro look with "in your face" attitude. But wrangler unlimited has a classic and iconic look and it is more fun to drive since we can remove the top (and the doors, and the windshield) while the FJ doesn't even have sunroof

2. On road performance
Advantage to: FJ
FJ is a bit better on the road and less noisy. The most complaint from Jeep owners is it's not fun to drive the car on the highway. And I live in Dubai, which means I have to passthrough SZR and Emirates road in daily basis
3. Off road performance
Advantage to: Jeep
The power and torque look smaller, but Jeep has the reputation as rock crawler with the low gear ratio and superb suspension. Wrangler Rubicon is considered the best 4x4 that can be used in any terrain even when it's still stock
4. Re-sale value
Advantage to: FJ
No doubt for re-sale value for Toyota, especially when it's compared to American cars
5. Practicality
Advantage to: Jeep
Surprisingly I gave point to Jeep that is well-known as the most impractical vehicle. But I was comparing the comfort for the passenger (I still need the rear seat for family and friends) between FJ and 4-door wrangler unlimited, and with FJ's funky rear door access to the rear seat is a bit tight

6. Maintenance
Advantage to: FJ
Obviously Toyota is easier, and cheaper, to be maintained. Some complaints from Jeep owners are the radiator and the AC, made me wondering if the americans are capable to build the vehicle for this region (with its extreme heat)
7. Community in UAE
Advantage to: draw
FJ-UAE and Jeep community, I think they both have their own way to have fun!
8. 4x4 Accessories
Advantage to: draw
Based on my research so far there are so many 4x4 accessories available for both Jeep and FJ, with affordable price (compare to the accessories for the Range Rover Sport!)
9. Price
Advantage to: Jeep
Currently Jeep has a promotion (for Unlimited Sahara model) so the price is way below my budget. Being a Toyota, FJ won't give any discount nor even they are interested to negotiate the price
10. Supported by
Advantage to: FJ
The idea to buy Jeep Unlimited is supported by my close friend. But my wife is against the idea to get a Jeep and she thought FJ looks much cooler, even if it's more expensive

So final score is 4-4 with 2 draws.

If it was up to me, point no.1 is the most important so I would go and buy Jeep. But I'm afraid in reality the last point is the most important and will become the tie breaker ;) But again, the decision is only necessary after my car has been sold.

Now it's time to go back to the console.