CBT Nuggets Review

CBT Nuggets Online Video TrainingVery few companies excel in video-based training. CBT Nuggets is the exception. They have done an excellent job in creating engaging training videos for the IT industry. I’ve used CBT Nuggets years ago when training was provided on a DVD! My have the times have changed. The laptop on which I write this doesn’t even have a DVD drive.

In my 30-day review of CBT Nuggets I found it to have a fluid interface with features not available by other training providers. There’s a plethora of video courses for the picking. From Microsoft Server to Cisco to Microsoft Office to Amazon AWS. You name it.

I will provide a walk-through and review the features of CBTNuggets.com.

Courses

A path to training.

A path to training.

The homepage is very simple with a focused navigation menu. The first menu item is Courses. So let’s dive straight into that. CBT Nuggets has laid out the training courses by IT Path, Vendor, or Trainer. This was something I wished from other training providers. It’s useful to know what training falls along what path you’re on. So because I am into Network Engineering, let’s dive into that path.

I found the number of videos and release dates helpful to understand how long training would be and how old the material is. What I’ve done is incorporated the number of training videos I would have to watch into my certification study plan. With the combined reading, labs, and video courses, I get a good idea of how long it will take me to study.

List of courses under Network Administration/Engineering.

List of courses under Network Administration/Engineering.

You can get granular with your course search by selecting an area of expertise from the left navigation. In the main column there are a selection of different video courses with their release dates and the trainer.

If you click into a video course, for example CCNP SWITCH 300-115 Hands-On Labs, you will get a description the course, list of videos in the course, the level of difficulty, how many total hours to complete all the videos, transcripts, and more. At the bottom right of the screen you can get a short bio of the instructor.

A look into a video course.

A look into a video course.

The Descriptions button provides a short detail of the video. Knowing which equipment and what IOS version is one of the most frequently asked question, “What equipment do I need to study for the CCNP?”

At the top, above the course title is the Transcript tab. It is useful because it’s the instructor’s word-for-word from the video. It has the time next to the dialog so you can jump straight to that point in the video. Useful for when playing a video is just not an option when at work.

CBT Nuggets FeaturesWhat is really neat are the course features on the right sidebar. Speed Control is one of my favorite features. You can play videos at a faster or slower pace, whichever fits your learning style.

CBT Nuggets also includes other features such as bookmarking, ability to take notes while watching the video which they store for you, closed captions if you’re in an area where you can’t play audio, lab files such as downloadable GNS3 files, whether the video has offline playing capabilities, and accountability coaching.

CBT Nuggets has done an awesome job in making the training experience very convenient.Continue Reading…

How To Configure HSRP

Below are my notes for the CCNP Routing & Switching SWITCH 300-115 certification exam. I used two Cisco 3560 switches and GNS3 to perform my labs. For theory, I used Cisco Configuration Guides and the Cisco Press Official Certification Guide.

Hot Standby Router Protocol, HSRP, is a Cisco proprietary protocol to make multiple routers or switches appear as one gateway. The gateway is where the redundancy is provided. For each redundant gateway, there is a common HSRP group. One router/switch becomes the primary HSRP router and another is selected as the standby HSRP router. Any other devices part of the group are in the listen HSRP state.

HSRP Configuration

R1 and R2 will be HSRP enabled.

At a 3 second interval, routers send HSRP hello messages to become aware if the other is up or down (between Active and Standby). The hold time value is 10 seconds or three times the hello timer. These hello messages are sent to the multicast address 224.0.0.2 using UDP port 1985.

There can be up to 255 HSRP groups and they are only locally significant.

Election of an active and standby HSRP router is based on a priority value of 0 through 255. By default, the priority is 100 but the highest priority value becomes the active router for the HSRP group. If there is a tie, the router with the highest IP address becomes the active router.

When HSRP is enabled, an interface goes through the following states:

  • Disabled
  • Init
  • Listen
  • Speak
  • Standby
  • Active

Configuration

I will use R1 and R2 as the two routers to provide a redundant gateway for 192.168.1.1.Continue Reading…

An Overview of inSSIDer

inSSIDer Wireless

If you are in need of planning or troubleshooting wifi but you’re on a budget, then inSSIDer by Metageek may be a good start for you. inSSIDer is a tool used to show you what your wireless environment looks like.

inSSIDer comes in two version, inSSIDer and inSSIDer Office.

inSSIDer

  • $19.99
  • Uses built-in wifi
  • For Windows and Mac

inSSIDer for Office

  • $199.99
  • Includes Wi-Spy Mini
  • Assists in troubleshooting interference

Radios and ESSIDs

When you open inSSIDer, and depending on whether you organized the main pane via Radio or ESSID, you will be presented with a list. When organized by Radio you get a number of columns:

All the columns presented by inSSIDer

  • Radio’s MAC address
  • Broadcasted SSID
  • What channel the SSID is on
  • Signal strength (in dBm)
  • Protocol
  • Security
  • Data rates

Select Radio or ESID

Selecting Radio is great if there is usually one access point. If you see two channels listed under the Channel column, e.x. 36+40, it means that wireless network is channel bonding to utilize two 20 MHz channels to form a single 40 MHz channel for increased bandwidth.

Select ESSID and the list of wireless networks will be organized by the SSID name. This is useful if there are multiple access points broadcasting the same SSID. You get the same columns but in addition there is a BSSID count which will tell you how many radios are seen for a particular SSID.

On the first column, under Radio or ESSID, you may see a chain link icon. That shows what SSID your laptop is associated with.Continue Reading…