Home lab

Here’s my home lab down in the basement. I’m to cheap to buy a rack for the gear so it’ll sit on a folding table.

Some of the devices don’t work and most are not on.

Starting at the left and working my way right

  • 7945 Phone that I bought when I worked at Atrion
  • (2) 3750 POE 24 port, not powered on. Will use for CCIE R/S Studies
  • (1) 3850 SFP 24 port, not powered on. Looking for some SFP’s I can utilize
  • Old Dell monitor that’s plugged into the C22 server below the table
  • 2851 router, acting as my CME and CUE lab device for CCNA Collab studies
  • 2851 router, powered off, console port is busted, can’t connect in. More work than I’m willing to put in the figure out how to use. Will most likely return
  • 2821 route, pulled cards out of it for the CME router
  • ASA5505, bought when I was at Atrion, need to get back into this. Will prob replace with a firepower enabled device
  • 1812 router, acting as my jack knife right now, DNS, DHCP, whatever else I need as a service in the lab
  • 2811 router, going to make into a terminal server with parts from the 2611 below it
  • 2611 mentioned above
  • 3800 series router, taking parts from it for the CME router
  • Under the table, UCS C22 server running ESXi
    • I have CUCM, CUC, CU-IMP, VIRL installed, not all running at the same time
    • Working on getting APIC-EM, ISE and vWLC setup for the DNA lab

Study Strategy & Habits

I have spent a lot of time reading and watching videos on study tips and how to better retain what I have been studying. There is a general consensus of what works, but it mostly comes down to what works best for you.

Here is what I have come up with as my studying habits

  • Build a learning schedule
    • I wake up early (around 5am) and start doing some reading and take some notes.
    • Around 8pm after the little man goes to bed I’ll get back to studying, either reading and writing notes or doing a lab.
    • Any other time I can find I’ll take advantage of as well. Example: I’ll listen to audio while driving or mowing the lawn
  • Read pressbook(s)
    • Highlight as reading
    • Currently reading in digital formats, either on Kindle or iPad using the Safari Queue App (more on this below)
    • I like to read the book fully and then go back through it once more after watching videos of the subjects to help clear up anything I may not have fully understood
  • Go back through chapters again and handwritten notes
    • I have been hand writing the notes on my iPad using the native Apple Notes app. I switched from old school paper and pencil because when I’m on the road, I may forget to pack the notebook, but I always have my iPad with me.
    • The Notes app also syncs across all my devices seamlessly (I’m fully bought into the Apple ecosystem)
  • New – type up notes and post into blog for everyone to enjoy and learn from
    • I start by typing my notes into Pages (another Apple app which saves to iCloud) and transfer into a blog post. I’m still figuring out the differences of format between the 2 since photos don’t copy over.
    • I used to use onenote for this, however with what I have seen coming out in iOS11, I wanted to start building the habit of using the apple notes app.
  • Watch videos and actively take notes
    • Active engagement is important. If I don’t actively engage I find that my mind will wonder and I’ll miss what was being discussed.
    • Watching videos also has the amazing advantage of being able to pause, rewind, speed up and slow down the recording. Allows for time to take notes or follow along doing a lab
  • Always be Labbing (ABL)
    • I have build a Collab lab in my basement, it’s a work in progress. I’ll make another post dedicated to going through what I have setup

I have a Safari Online Books subscription which makes it much easier for me to consume books and have quick access. I was first introduced to this in college when a professor didn’t want us to get the physical book. Now that I’m at Cisco, there is a subscription I can take advantage of. What I like about this service is the ability to easily access any technical book. I have a queue built of about 30 books that I can easily move between and access from any device (laptop, phone, iPad) and have the highlights follow. There are also videos that can be added to the queue to give more options for different learning styles. I would highly suggest this site for anyone who is studying any subject.

I hope this is helpful for anyone who is studying and looking for other ideas on how to study and remember what you’ve studied.

Latest video that I’ve watched and looking to incorporate some of these tips

Current Studying Status

As much as I would like to achieve my CCIE Routing & Switching, I need to take a break from it. Without going into too much detail in this post, I needed a change of pace. I haven’t earned a new certification in some time and would like to change that and get back into the groove of studying new material.

Currently I’m studying for the CCNA Collab – CICD 210-060. I’ve working with Cisco Collaboration at my past job and know enough to be very dangerous, but never learned the correct terminology in some cases. I’d like to take a step back and work on improving my collaboration knowledge and fill in some of the gaps.

A lot of my gap is with the legacy voice / analog systems that I’ve never had exposure to. I’ve worked with CUCM for phones and telepresence, but never had to go into any depth with CME, CUC or CU-IMP.

In future blog posts I’ll be typing up my handwritten notes to share with the world and would welcome any feedback where I may have misunderstood a topic.

First Blog Post

This is my first blog post. I’m going to try and use this site to consolidate my notes from my Cisco certification studies and possibly for any articles I find interesting.

I can be found at other places on the web such as twitter – @chrismpratt87 and linkedin – chrismpratt

Disclaimer: The writing of this blog is my personal view and not that of the company that I work for.