Using Notepad in the Exam

Folks,

I just want to poll for some information based on people's use on Notepad during the exam. I read last night that typing all your configurations into Notepad prior to deployment can help. To preface, I use notepad during my exam attempts for things that I needed to "cache" thoughts or repeated commands, but never for entire configurations. This sounds like a good idea but is it good enough to be practical and help with efficiency? As I am going on attempt number 3, i'm trying to be very serious about good habits that help save time. My last challenge with configuration was that I was slow and only had about 30 minutes for verification.

So, I'm on Vol.3, lab.3 and I decided to start this new tactic on Task 1 - 2.5 because it does require an extensive amount of configuration with several repeated commands. Many commands are related to spanning-tree, trunking, VLAN assignments and VTP. Therefore, I decided to take a single Notepad window, read the entire Layer 2 portion of the lab and proceed to write down all the necessary configuration on Notepad first. This created 170 lines of commands! There are a few spaces for separating the differents switches for clarity.

I wanted to weigh in the pros and cons of doing something like this:

Pros:

  • View all configuration before applying.
  • Less toggling between different devices.
  • Generates configuration history
  • Helps with verification of configuration.

Neutral:

  • Doesn't help or hurt verification of expected topology function.
  • No context sensitive help in Notepad (do we really need it?).
  • Is it truely faster?
  • Causes complete verification to occur after configuration is applied rather than incremental verification.

Cons:

  • Another window to constantly toggle between.
  • No ability to verify between tasks as you go.
  • Pasting into wrong device can have devastating effect.

 

These very just a few ideas in weighing the usage of Notepad during the lab. Any thoughts by anyone? Would you record your entire lab on Notepad? Do you purge or Notepad configuration after each major sections?

Thanks,

Mike

Comments

  • JoeMJoeM ✭✭✭

    I am also interested in CCIE opinions, for doing this during the exam.

    At  the beginning of my studies, I read that notepad was very helpful.  So, I was typing everything out for labs. Each task had its own notepad (tabs in notepad++).

    I found it very beneficial during the studies, because I was forced to remember the syntax and configs without console help (?).   This has worked well for me (speed), because I can probably type out a complete network configuration without any devices.

    But now as I am closing in on the lab, I have found that putting everything in notepad -- is very time consuming.  Time is something that I really need to work on.

     

    So now....I am changing my strategy for the actual lab.   For most of the technologies (that I know very well), I am typing configs directly into the consoles. DONE.         

    For the technologies that get tricky (or that I am rusty or doubting),  I am typing out into notepad, so that I can review for mistakes and compare configs between devices.         Also, I am using notepad for repetitive commands that go into several devices.

    But I am interested in knowing the best strategy.  Thanks.

  • These very just a few ideas in weighing the usage of Notepad during the lab. Any thoughts by anyone? Would you record your entire lab on Notepad? Do you purge or Notepad configuration after each major sections?

    I think it's not worth to save entire session or configuration of every mock labs. Using notepad for the similar kind of configuration would be helpful & it would minimize the time as well. In the case of dissimilar kind of configurations, it's always right approach to avoid using notepad. However, it definitely helps you avoiding errors in the configuration.

     

     

  • Using Notepad only for repeated configuration, specifically:

    • VLANs
    • L3VPN
    • IPv6 addresses / FR mapping to avoid typos and faster testing
    Everything else goes directly to the console. 
  • JoeMJoeM ✭✭✭

    Using Notepad only for repeated configuration, specifically:

    • VLANs
    • L3VPN
    • IPv6 addresses / FR mapping to avoid typos and faster testing


    Everything else goes directly to the console.

    Why not have QoS, Shaping, and Policing on this list also?  Most often we need to do calculations, while trying to create a configuration on the fly, and/or when trying to respond to bullet-points that may change a MQC config.

     

  • Hi Joe,

    The advantage of using notepad is to speed up your configuration.

    There are some configuration that may not require notepad to assist you to config faster. This will be different from each of us.


    For an example, configuring BGP, copy paste the VLAN config are probably few tasks that I can think of. OEF/PfR can also be a good candidate.

    Just remember, if notepad doesn't help you, don't use it. YMMV.


    thx
    dsu


    On Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 6:34 AM, JoeM <[email protected]> wrote:

    I am also interested in CCIE opinions, for doing this during the exam.

    I read at the beginning of my studies, I read that notepad was very helpful.  So, I was typing everything out for labs. Each task had its own notepad (tabs in notepad++).

    I found it very beneficial during the studies, because I was forced to remember the syntax and configs without console help (?).   This has worked well for me (speed), because I can probably type out a complete network configuration without any devices.

    But now as I am closing in on the lab, I have found that putting everything in notepad -- is very time consuming.  Time is something that I reall need to work on.

    So....I am changing my strategy for the actual lab.   For most of the technologies (that I I know very well), I am typing configs directly into the consoles. DONE.          For the technologies that get tricky (or that I am rusty or doubting),  I am typing out into notepad, so that I can review for mistakes and compare configs between devices.         Also, I am using notepad for repetitive commands that go into several devices.

    But I am interested in knowing the best strategy.  Thanks.




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  • Cons:

    • Another window to constantly toggle between.
    • No ability to verify between tasks as you go.
    • Pasting into wrong device can have devastating effect.

    As does pasting the incorrectly created config into the correct device.  So you have to verify what you are about to apply.  Another case to watch for is make sure you know what is the clipboard before pasting into a terminal window.  The consequence can be devistating!  As a test try ctrl-A then ctrl-C and then paste into global config on device you are prepared to trash!

    The other way to think of when to use/not to use notepad is to consider which way is the quickest and most accurate way to achieve a task.  If each device has multiple common lines of config then notepad may win out.

     

  • peetypeety ✭✭✭

    I slowly learned to use Notepad for a majority of the config I'd paste into the router.  Doing my config work without context help increased my accuracy, and it also improved the coherence of thought.  It also simplified the process of removing said snippets if there was a problem - I could more easily build the 'no' version of the snippet.

    In the end, I'd live with two notepad windows: one as config scratch (as you asked), a second where I could compile a list of all interface IP addresses, and then easily build a TCL script to do full-blown ping verifications easily.

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