The course is over

The Cisco IPS class I was talking about a few days ago just finished. It was kind of ok; there were good parts and not-so-good parts. One good thing was that I had the chance of doing labs directly on a Cisco IPS 4215 sensor, which I can’t really do at home.

So far, at almost all my other exams, I practiced at home on dynamips/dynagen and later on, when they released a stable version, on GNS3. For those who don’t know, dynamips is a free Cisco chassis emulator which can simulate a variety of platforms: 1700, 2600, 3600, 7200, etc as well as a wide range of modules (serial interfaces, ethernet, etc). In this emulator you can load a real IOS image downloaded from Cisco. So basically you run a real IOS with everything that is implied, basically virtual router. Inside the simulator you can run several such virtual routers, each running its own IOS, and you can easily create and test complex networks and topologies. GNS3 is the graphical interface for dynamips, free as well.

Coming back to IPS, GNS3 is not really helping here because it can’t emulate a sensor hardware platform. That means such a course really helps because you get some hands-on training. Which I am sure I will need at the exam.

But otherwise it was not really that extraordinary. The trainer seemed like a guy who really knew what he was talking about but in the end, even he just presented us the PowerPoint slides from the Study guides we all had in front of us. I admit that some of the comments he had to the slides were very good. The organization was not bad, the training center’s facilities were very good, there was free internet access but very slow (the wired on the rooms as well as the wireless in the lobby), food was so and so, hotel room was so and so. But overall it was worth it, I’d say. Now I have until the end of the year to study a bit more and to schedule my exam at a nearby authorized Pearson VUE test center.

P.S.
I apologize to my readers who thought this post was just a mambo-jumbo of technical bullshit, I promise not to do this too often ;-)

One way street or not ?

Today after my class ended I went to the city to get something to eat (the food in the hotel is really not something to write home about). The hotel is kinda at the edge of this small town and since I wanted to go to KFC (because someone mentioned chicken …) I took the car. So I just drive there, I notice the KFC is in a pedestrian zone ( :evil: ) , I waste time trying to find a parking spot, I find none ( :evil: ), I park semi-ilegally, I buy the chicken and then I head back to the hotel. On the same route.

At one time I arrive at a stoplight which was on red. Me being a model driver, I stop. And I wait, and wait and then I wait some more. The stoplight is still red. I start to get slightly annoyed. I thought that maybe the stupid stoplight is broken and that I should maybe just drive through. But I can’t: strategically placed 10 meters after the stoplight, there is a red-light camera. This is exactly what I need after what happened, to be flashed on a red light.

Finally, when my annoyance level was getting dangerously high, I notice a sign on the sidewalk, kinda hidden, which said that this way was closed between 12:00h-24:00h 8-O What the hell ? It’s the first time I see something like this. Whatever. I try to back up but of course, another car is now behind me. Since he didn’t move at all, I just make an U-turn, hoping the red-light camera won’t go off. I didn’t see anything but if I get another letter at home I am gonna be pissed.

The chicken was good though ;-)

Bluetooth headsets

Until one year ago I only had a basic mobile phone, with a pre-paid card. I was using it once in a blue moon. But in the past year and a half, things changed a bit. I found myself talking on the phone much more so I had to change some things. The pre-paid card didn’t cut it anymore because it would’ve gotten me bankrupt so I switched to a subscription with a flatrate plan (to Telekom’s fixed network as well as unlimited calls/SMS’ to my own network, Vodafone).

Another thing is that you can’t talk for hours with the phone stuck to your ear: your arm goes numb, your year gets hot, your brain gets nuked, you only have one free arm, etc, etc. So I switched to bluetooth headsets. I am a Plantronics fan so I used for a while a Voyager 510:

I admit, at the beginning I felt like a newly assimilated Borg but I got over it soon. After a year I upgraded to a Voyager 520:

And I never looked back. The sound quality is much better than the 510′s, it sits much better on your ear and it’s extremly light, you forget you have it on. I can’t even imagine what’s it like to speak on the phone without the headset for more than couple of minutes. Not to mention that when you drive or when you need your hands, it’s priceless.

It’s true, when you walk on the street talking on your headset, many people will give you weird looks if they dont see it, probably thinking you are missing couple of a screws. But I got over that too. One year ago they were not so popular but now I start seeing more and more people using them.

So don’t nuke your brain, use a headset ;-)

New week, no work

This does not mean I get to stay home. No, God forbid. I have this week an Cisco IPS (Intrusion Protection System) class somewhere near Frankfurt. I got here earlier than I expected so I am relaxing a bit before the class starts in their winter garden:

Not bad actually, could be a little warmer though. I am gonna be here for 4 days with classes from 9:00 to 17:00, so basically kinda like a work day. At least I will be able to meet tomorrow with some of my ex-colleagues from the time I was working in this area. We’ll probably go .. um, sample the local beer.

Well, better get ready for class, I wish everyone a nice week!

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