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BlueWolf's Howl

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December 15, 2005

The Adventure Continues

The Grand Magus did contact me before the exam. We discussed my situation and he gave me an assurance (in writing no less) that he will extend my CCNA certification. So all I have to do is pass the exam and everything falls into place. Okay, no pressure, right?

So I got up early yesterday (8am) and put in some study time before going to my job sites. No worries. Sure, there's an unusual two job sites to visit, but I'll just knock them out and maybe even get in a little more review before the exam. Sure.

I went to the first site. It went relatively smoothly and I had plenty of time to stop for dinner and then make it early to the job site. Maybe I can get a few things done ahead of time and be out of there in a flash. Right? Wrong.

The router and switch installs took a little longer than usual, but as it started really getting late, I was almost done. I had to shake a few trees to get someone to assist with the migration of the AS400 and Point of Sale Controllers. [I have no earthly idea how cash registers operate.] The instructions said that I was to join another conference call for it (in addition to the one for the routers) but failed to provide a number for the call. We plowed our way through all that and it seemed like everything was done. All the devices were doing what they were supposed to do (and doing it all a lot faster). Great. I had my coat on and we were just going to check the registers in the other building on our way out. Since the ones in this building came up fine, they should have also. Should've...would've....could've....but didn't! Eeek! And we had already terminated the call with the guy who knew how this stuff operated. I tried calling back my contacts (who originally set up the conference call). Neither one was answering.

Now I'm standing in the midst of a major bookstore at 3am and most of the registers that they need to operate are not working because of the install and migration I just finished. And I have no idea how they operate. I know part of the system is working. The PCs in that building are working fine. But I manually changed the IP addresses on them. I have no idea if the register has an IP address or even uses one. All I know is that with the registers down, I can't walk out that door and leave the customer like that just because it appears that my part of it is working... The store manager and I frantically make calls to everyone we can. We relay the symptoms over and over. Nobody knows what to do.

The fiber connection from the switching closet to the main switch appears to be fine. Okay. So I already realize that I'm not getting any sleep before the exam. But, how do I get this resolved - and fast enough to make it TO the exam. And what would be even worse than that is missing the exam on no sleep and having to deal with a large crowd of staff and customers circling me and chanting "Why isn't it working? Isn't that what you're supposed to do? Make it work!"

Let's make this simple. Let's take one register (as an example) and follow the path all the way up. The store manager shows me a bowl of spaghetti cable [the registers all come in here] and then points to a plate of cable spaghetti [and they go into there]. Great. You can't tell which ones are registers and which ones are 'other stuff' so you can't tell if the registers do or don't have a link light (physical connectivity). Time to take charge of the situation. [fade in SGT FURY music] I rustle up a Nortel Networks hub out of a pile of 'old stuff'... I plug it in. I pick one register as an example. We tone out the line to find where it leads. I plug that into the hub. I grab another crossover cable and pop it into the switch that goes directly into the fiber uplink. Green lights of Christmas! Within seconds, that register suddenly knows how to find the controller and pops up as ready. Whew! At least we have a workaround. We spend the next hour chasing the register cables throughout the store and plugging them into the hub. The store manager seemed to want to pause to reflect on it all. I gave him the glare. I tapped the back of my hand in my palm and told him "Chop, Chop. I have a test to get to!" Yes, I actually told him "Chop, Chop." I'm still giggling about that one. We finally finished at 7:03am. Just enough time to get from Cambridge to Providence to take the exam. Good thing I'm travelling against the traffic.

What was that saying? Get a good night's work before taking the exam? No, I think it had something to do with sleep. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it did.

I was a little annoyed that I didn't take my notes with me. I always give them a last glance before getting out of the car. But I consider myself fortunate that I had looked at the test site address enough times to remember the address. Granted, I didn't have MapQuest directions to help me find it...but I knew the street it was on and the building number. I would find it somehow. Hell, I was lucky to get there at all this morning.

I sat down at the terminal and was so tired, I was giggly. Everything was funny. Rut-roh. My second question was a scenario. I got about half of it and really couldn't remember the syntax for the rest. I tried a few variations and spent a reasonable amount of time doing what I could on that one. Then I moved on. Some of the questions I knew right off...but then there were some that I had to pause and think about. My confidence waned. Then I got my favorite scenario. I KNEW that one. I banged it out with confidence. I even gave the show command and verified my config with the results. Then some more questions that were maybe.... I got to the last question. I clicked my answer. I looked at the screen and had no idea what would happen next. I took a deep breath and said "It is what it is" and just clicked next. The screen in front of me said "CONGRATULATIONS. You passed." Whew........

Perhaps I needed a challenge in order to pass this test? Maybe it's only a 'win' if I have to climb mountains and cross oceans? All I know is that there are already 3 Klingon operettas and several Eddas already written to commemorate the feat. As I drove home, I reflected on how tired I was and how...yes, I did pass that, didn't I? And then I thought - gee, this just proves I can do this in my sleep... And I giggled myself all the way home.

Posted by BlueWolf on December 15, 2005 11:36 AM