The musings of an IT Consultant


August 25, 2009  12:18 PM

CCNP – BCMSN Next!

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, so I’m almost done preparing for the BCMSN exam which is part of the CCNP certification. The exam is called Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks. I’ve already written the routing one and this is the next one on my list.

These Cisco exams are pretty tough and sure take a lot out of you but with enough practice and preparation you should be able to do them. I find that using simulators and real equipment (real world experience) helps a ton to pass these exams. A combination of both is just great.

After the BCMSN is done I will only have two more exams left to get my CCNP and then it will be on to my CCIE training. Right now I’m just focusing on passing the CCNP but if anyone has any good suggestions for CCIE training feel free to post and let me know. I know everything is changing this year with the CCIE in October I believe,  so there probably won’t be as much study material out there for it as there is for the current CCIE.

-RP

August 18, 2009  6:52 PM

Firefox 3.5

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, so as of late I decided to upgrade my browser. I’ve been reading about the hype and I decided it was time to try out the new Firefox 3.5.

So what do I have to say about Firefox 3.5? WOW! It’s stable, it’s fast, and it’s just plain awesome. :) I find I don’t have as many issues with the software at version 3.5 now such as crashes or leaks. It also renders pages lightning quick! There have been a few people talking about how Chrome is faster, but it’s not that much faster. Firefox is still quick enough to be worthy competition in my opinion.

Also Firefox has an established install base of add-ons and themes that are widely available. Things such as IE tab will allow you to move to Firefox but still use Internet Explorer localized into a Firefox tab so you can still do all your work out of one browser. This will make the transition easy for you current IE users.

You can download Firefox 3.5 here, and you can download the IE tab add-on here. I also recommend you change your theme to something other than the default. Two of my favourite Firefox themes are Noia 2.0 (eXtreme) and Gradient iCool(Blue).

-RP


August 12, 2009  6:46 PM

TrueCrypt is your friend

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hello again folks, I hope everyone’s week has been going great! So I wanted to talk about a program that has been around for some time. That program is TrueCrypt, an encryption program that you can use to create encrypted volumes on your hard drive for file storage or to even encrypt the entire system.

In this day and age of mobility, it makes sense to create an encrypted folder on your laptop hard drive or on your USB key. This way if your laptop or USB key gets stolen, your data isn’t compromised. There are many products out there that do this for a price, but why pay when you can get TrueCrypt for free! TrueCrypt is Open Source and it does a great job of providing you with encryption capabilities.

With TrueCrypt you can even create hidden encrypted volumes so people can’t see that you have even encrypted something. With the government having been given sweeping powers to take away your electronic gadgets in the name of “terrorism” you can easily lose company secrets to prying eyes. I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust anybody looking at my company data except my company. There is no need for other people to be looking at this stuff without a court ordered warrant. I believe that we all should have a reasonable right to privacy. Instead we’re all treated like criminals and are guilty until proven innocent these days which is really unfortunate. With TrueCrypt you can fight the good fight and ensure that your company data is secure even if someone tries to steal or confiscate your stuff.

You can download it here.

 

-RP


August 8, 2009  4:58 PM

Online services under DDoS Attack!

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

So unless you have been asleep all this time, you would have seen the latest in the news from the online community. It seems there has been a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service Attack) launched against Twitter, Facebook, and Google’s Blogger.

This attack has been hitting so hard that the online services are still dealing with it. Twitter even had to disable some features in it’s platform in order to survive against the attack. These attackers are taking advantage of chinks in their online armor and are really giving them grief.

Rumour has it that these attacks are a direct result of people trying to quiet a blogger from Georgia. By taking out these social networks they’re hoping he won’t be able to spread his message. In my opinion, this is not the way to be doing this. Resorting to illegal attacks on these social networks to affect one person is absolutely ridiculous! Time to batten down the hatches and ratchet up the security! I hope the authorities find the people behind this soon!

You can read more about it here.

-RP


August 4, 2009  7:50 PM

Passed the BSCI(642-901)!!!!!!!!

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, I wrote the BSCI 642-901 exam (one of the exams for the CCNP) and I passed it today!!!! YAY! I can’t tell you how happy I am that I was able to nail this exam! This exam focused on routing and boy was it hard. This now stands as the hardest Cisco exam I’ve ever written!

Ok I obviously can’t divulge any information about the exam but I can tell you that my study focused areas really paid off as I had mentioned before. I actually found the SIMS easier than the actual questions. It seems the multiple choice questions were really geared to trick you. There always seemed like there was two really close answers but only one was right.

Make sure you know all your routing protocols really well and make sure you practice doing lots of lab sims. I used the Boson netsims to simulate it combined with rack time and that worked really well for me. Also I know I said this before but the Bryant Advantage was a huge help.

-Cheers, RP


August 3, 2009  8:38 PM

My first CCNP exam is coming up soon – BSCI 642-901

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi folks, so my first exam is coming up soon, exam # 642-901 otherwise known as BSCI – Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks. Rumour has it that this exam is at least 10 times harder than the other 3 exams in the CCNP series so it’s going to be interesting.

Some of the things I’ve been really focusing on in the exam are BGP, IPV6 and multicast as those are my weak points. The exam guide on the Cisco web site states that they can quiz you on anything from EIGRP and OSPF, to IS-IS. I feel fairly comfortable with EIGRP, OSPF and IS-IS which is why i’m focusing on BGP, multicast and IPV6. Those are 3 areas I haven’t had as much experience in as the other stuff.

I built a lab at home out of some of my equipment to help me test stuff out. I also rented rack time through the Bryant Advantage. The question is will this be enough for me to pass? I sure hope so! We’ll see if my focus yields the results I want. Stay tuned!

-RP


July 31, 2009  8:56 PM

UMA and the BlackBerry 8900 Javelin

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hi guys! As you know I am an avid user of the BlackBerry 8900. I love my BlackBerry for all things personal and corporate. One of my favourite features is UMA. The ability to do phone conversations over normal wireless access points.

However lately I have run into an issue. Sometimes I want my BlackBerry to use the wireless for data, but I want my normal cell network to be used for voice. Unfortunately it seems like the only way I can do this is by turning off the wireless network in my BlackBerry which disables it for both data and voice.

My question is this to all you BlackBerry users out there. Is there anyway to turn off wireless access point use just for voice, but to keep it working for data? If so, please post a comment here and let us know how you accomplished this. I’ve heard some rumours that this can be accomplished by manipulating the service books but unfortunately I do not know the details. Thanks for any help you can provide!

-RP


July 31, 2009  8:52 PM

More Cisco gear for the SMB world!

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hello again folks! Cisco is once again bringing great product to the market place. This time hitting the SMB market with a new series of switches called the Cisco ESW 500 series.

These switches are all manageable from GUI utilities without the need for CLI. They are also priced at a great price point for your SMB customers. A lot of times when I go into SMB clients the perception is that Cisco is expensive and they instead vote to go with a different company for their switching gear. Cisco has seen the light and is now offering cheaper product in this marketspace.

The ESW 500 series is available with gigabit capability and even POE! This makes it great for the SMB company that wants to implement VOIP and reap those benefits. Cisco needs to keep releasing SMB product like this, it really will make all the others stand up and take notice! You can read more about it here.

-RP


July 31, 2009  8:47 PM

Apple fixes vulnerability

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

So unless you’ve been under a rock lately, you’ve probably heard about all the hullaballoo surrounding the vulnerability in the iPhone. It was announced at a recent BlackHat conference.

This vulnerability had the ability for a hacker to use SMS message to compromise an iPhone! This was a big blow to Apple, as traditionally Microsoft OS’ have been the target of hackers. But now with the rising popularity of the iPhone it was only a matter of time before something like this happened.

Fortunately for all those iPhone users out there, Apple rode in to the rescue and has issued a patch that is available from them that fixes the vulnerability. Apple also announced that they hadn’t heard of anyone that was actually compromised by this attack.

This however has me thinking. If this one vulnerability is there, how many more are they going to find?

-RP


July 31, 2009  8:43 PM

Sniffing traffic on a Cisco switch

Raj Perumal Raj Perumal Profile: Raj Perumal

Hello again folks, so if you’ve been in networking long enough you’ve probably ran into issues where you just wish you could look right at the network traffic. As I’ve posted before, one of the best ways to do this is to use a packet sniffer such as the old Ethereal, or the new Wireshark.

Wireshark uses WinPcap to capture the packets and display them to you in realtime on your screen so you can view what’s going on in your network. But how do you get the packets on your switch to come to your laptop in the first place? You do this by implementing Port Span on a Cisco switch. Span stands for Switched Port Analyzer and what it does is mirrors all of the traffic from a source port to a destination port you specify.

This can be of great use when troubleshooting traffic flows through a switch. Just the other day I was troubleshooting some traffic flow through a trunked etherchannel interface and I needed to find out what was going on with one of the vlans. By using SPAN I was able to get to the root of the problem quite quickly.

More on how to implement it here.

-RP


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