Blog Posts

Back for an ENCOR

It’s been a while since I last posted.

My last post was for the CCNP Troubleshoot exam when the CCNP R&S was 3 whole exams (Route, Switch, and Troubleshoot). Cisco revamped their certification programs and now the CCNP R&S is no more. It’s now called CCNP Enterprise — and is now 2 exams instead of 3.

I won’t get into specifics on the new certification career paths. However, if you’re interested you can check it out here:

Originally, back in late 2019, my plan was to knock out the old Troubleshoot exam and then take the ENCOR exam when it came out in the late winter/spring of 2020. If I finished the ENCOR exam then I’d have the CCNP Enterprise since the old Troubleshoot exam + ENCOR = CCNP Enterprise.

But…I got involved with Cisco SD-WAN and started going in that direct for the rest of 2020 and then ultimately studying for, taking, and passing the 300-415 ENSDWI (Enterprise SD-WAN Implementation) Specialist Certification. Later on I’ll probably end up writing another post with details on how I passed ENSDWI. But right now my focus will be on the ENCOR exam.

I’m going to try to pick up where I left off early last year when I began seriously studying for the ENCOR. I don’t remember exactly where I left off but I do remember I was about 1/3 of the way through the material . Boson was still in the process of updating their Exam Simulator for the ENCOR exam so I was just doing some of the OCG/Pearson practice questions and piecemealing whatever training resources I could find from Kevin Wallace, CBT, INE, Keith Barker, etc.

So here I am, exactly 1 year later. The ENCOR exam is now 1 year older and I feel I have more than enough legitimate study material to help me get through the exam.

Goal: See how much studying I can get done in 30 days and make my 1st exam attempt by or right around April 1st.

Now, I know giving myself only 30 days is a little rough. But, I think I can get a good crack at it if I put my mind to it for just 1 month. If I come close I’ll just push a bit harder for another couple of weeks. If I airball it then I’ll know I have a lot of work to do.

Looking at the exam blueprint every topic is important. However, if I want to maximize my limited time window I need to focus on the topics that I either forgot or need to brush-up on. With that said, I feel like I know the SD-WAN, SDA/DNAC, and most of the Virtualization topics well enough to skip them for now. The routing/switching material I know well but I’m worried I’ll get asked an oddball question for some minutiae on a routing protocol, etc. Therefore, I’m going to review all of it again.

I’m going to take it one topic at a time: Read topic in OCG > Watch videos from 1-2 different sources > Lab/Boson….repeat for the next topic. This is different than how I typically do it: Read OCG front-to-back > Watch entire video course start-to-finish > Lab all exercises in order from start-to-finish > Boson.

I’ll try to update this every week to log my progress.

Blog Posts

Study Plan for CCNP Routing & Switching – 300-135 (TSHOOT)

To earn the CCNP Routing and Switching certification you need to pass 3 exams. My goal was to earn this certification but I really just didn’t have enough time to get all 3 exams done before the Cisco certification re-structure begins on Feb. 24 2020. So, I decided to just go for the TSHOOT exam as I felt this would be the most fun and applicable. This isn’t the most conventional way to do it (TSHOOT is usually taken last of the three exams) but figured it’s worth a shot.

Before using the resources below, I went through Kevin Wallace’s 300-101 Route and 300-115 Switch video courses.

Here’s what I used to help me pass the TSHOOT exam:

Boson is an incredible resource. I was able to get a really good deal many months back. The complete kit — Curriculum, Lab Guide, NetSim for CCNP, Lab Pack for NetSim, and ExSim-Max) — was going for about 40% off IIRC. Not only was it a huge discount, it included a free upgrade to the new CCNP ENCOR Courseware as well.

I went through the Troubleshoot tickets in NetSim after cherry-picking some topics in Kevin Wallace’s TSHOOT video course (fourth bullet point). There are 15 Troubleshooting Tickets in NetSim that you can do. I did all of them once through and then again a second time. After that I jumped right into ExSim and took all the available tests a couple times each. After failing and passing these tests each time I made sure to read the explanations since it points you directly to the Cisco documentation. There were a couple of times where I would try to lab the question in GNS3 just so I can create and see the output. Extremely helpful.

The Boson TSHOOT Coureware (digital) was another great Boson resource as it covered some troubleshooting topics for switch, multilayer switch, router, and routing protocols.

This was an outstanding resource. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to go through this until 1-2 weeks before I sat for the real exam.

Keith Barker has an image with GNS3 ready to go so I was able to open VMware Workstation and load the image and open his tickets. I ended up going through all the tickets at least twice – some more than twice. He has an explanation video for each ticket once you complete it. His lab is configured almost exactly like the real exam topology that Cisco provides. This helped immensely because I was able to know all the IPs, links, RPs, etc. like second nature when it came time for the exam.


I didn’t go through his whole course. Instead, I cherry-picked topics that I felt I needed more work in. I also went over some of the more common topics just to make sure I had all the requirements down so I don’t overlook them – (ex: OSPF, EIGRP, VTP, DTP, etc.).

I pretty much did the same with this course as I did with Jeremy Cioara’s…just did some cherry-picking.

Some other things I did was purposefully break the labs/tickets that Keith created so I can see what the outcome would be, such as how the routing tables change, how everything up/downstream reacts…then fix it so I get used to making configuration changes. I’d also practice building GRE tunnels, then mess them up and fix them.

I also wrote down the IPv4/v6 Layer 3 Topology a couple of times by hand to make sure I could build out the topology without having to look at it. If you’re trying to ping the inside interface of R1 from PC1 or DSW1 having ingrained in your brain saves you valuable time on exam day.

Overall, I actually enjoyed studying for this exam. I hate that I won’t have enough time to get both the Route and Switch exams done before Feb 24th. The new ENCOR exam to finish off the NP will be a challenge but I’d rather take my time with it than rush 2 exams before the deadline ends.

Blog Posts

Cisco FMC Demos

Blog Posts

CCNA Cyber Ops – 210-250 – Helpful Links

Below are links to some resources I used to help myself study and pass the 210-250:

Exam Blueprint:

Official Cert Guide:

Free Trial Version – Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Fundamentals (SECFND) v1.0:
(I did not buy this. I just used the Trial, which is access to only the 1st two lessons. It’s enough to cover the first exam topic – Network Concepts)

Blog Posts

Batch File for Ping

Attached to this post is a simple batch file I created which prompts to you to enter the host you want to ping, timestamps it, sends the output to a text file, opens the text file, and copies the output to your clipboard — all in one sweep.

I created this because I use the ping command a ton and sometimes log the output. Below are the commands. Attached is the .bat. You can keep the destination as “C:\” or make it whatever it needs to be, you can change the # of echo requests (-n)  or add the buffer size (-l) as well.

@echo off
echo Enter IP address below: 
set /p input=""
echo Pinging %input%. Please wait...
echo **Started %date% %time%** > C:\PingOutput.txt
ping %input% -n 6 >> C:\PingOutput.txt
echo: >> C:\PingOutput.txt
echo **Completed %date% %time%** >> C:\PingOutput.txt
start C:\PingOutput.txt
clip < C:\PingOutput.txt

Download PingOutput.bat

If the download doesn’t work just copy the block of commands above > paste it into notepad > Save As > File Name: PingOutput.bat > Save as type: All files.

Blog Posts

Fixing the “Can’t Delete User from Active Directory”

If you get the following error when trying to delete a User from Active Directory:

AD Error

If you know you have sufficient privileges (Domain Administrator, etc.) to delete users in AD, check to see if the Object (user account) is set for “Protect object from accidental deletion” (see below):

object tab

Uncheck the box and hit Apply.

The above image is done via ADUC. The feature is more front and center if you’re using ADAC, as seen below:

adac object deletion box

You should now be able to successfully delete the user account.

Alternatively, you can use Set-ADObject via PowerShell to set “-ProtectedFromAccidentalDeletion:$false”

In this example: Set-ADObject -Identity:”CN=Alshon Jeffery,CN=Users,DC=AP,DC=local” -ProtectFromAccidentalDeletion:$false

Doing this via PowerShell can be helpful especially if you have more than one user you need to set this for.

Blog Posts

Study Plan: Microsoft 74-409 – Server Virtualization w/ Hyper-V & System Center

I thought I’d share my study plan for the Microsoft 74-409: Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V with System Center.

After recently passing the 70-410 exam, the Hyper-V material was still fresh in my mind so I decided to tackle the 74-409. I haven’t posted my study plan for the 410 yet since many of my free nights were spent labbing/reading, however, I hope to do so very soon.

My ultimate goal is to earn an MCSE in Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (formerly Server Infrastructure). The path I’m taking requires you to pass a total of 4 exams (at least for now). I’m halfway done at this point.

Back to the plan.

I’ll break this down into 3 sections:

  1. List of Materials/Resources Used
  2. Study Process
  3. Personal Notes

— 1. List of Materials/Resources Used —

Text and Lab material:

Video material:

Practice Questions:

— 2. Study Process —

To start, I pretty much used these 3 in lock-step: MVA course, Veeam Guide, and the TechNet Online Lab (SC 2012 R2: Lab 1). All 3 were tabbed in the same window.

Why? Because I was able to read it, watch it, then do it.

1) I started by reading a chapter of the Veeam Guide. Then I used the lab to tinker with the features/components discussed in the text. Then I’d watch the MVA videos that corresponded to the chapter I read and features I labbed. I did this until I completed the Veeam PDF Guide and the MVA video series. All while taking notes into a spreadsheet. Also note the PowerShell cmdlets.

2) Once I got a good overview of Hyper-V and System Center (DPM, VMM, SM, and OM), I supplemented my knowledge with the Pluralsight videos listed in section 1. Although I did not watch every single clip in each series (except for the 70-410 Hyper-V), I watched the ones I thought I needed more help (such as VMM and OM).

3) Then, I went through and drilled down on each exam topic. This is where Romans list helped. I went straight to TechNet for each topic and studied the key features and the requirements. This is critical. You have to know the requirements and capabilities (ie: What’s a Gen 2 VM capable of doing? What’s a Gen 1 VM incapable of doing? What are the differences between Node Majority vs Node and Disk Majority? How about Node and File Share Majority? What’s needed for the cluster to retain quorum? Or, the difference between a Tenant Administrator, Application Administrator, and Fabric Administrator in VMM). You’ll notice that the Orin Thomas’ Veeam Guide parallel’s TechNet articles a lot. He doesn’t go into detail, but he states the key points, which makes his guide a good starting point.

4) Next, I went through all the Measureup practice questions, making sure I understood why I got a question correct and why the incorrect answers were incorrect. Again, I used TechNet articles as support. At the same time, I went through the practice questions from the MVA video series and Veeam Guide.

5) Finally, I spent the final few evenings reviewing my notes from an excel sheet I created, along with the MVA PowerPoints and doing more practice questions.

— 3. Personal Notes —

If you are diligent in your studying and labbing you should do well. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to get into the environment and play with Hyper-V, Failover Cluster Manager, and System Center.

Some additional tips:

Know where everything is located (ex: where do you create Port Profiles in VMM? Where do create Guest OS Profiles? Where do I click to Enable and/or change the default Library refresh interval? Where do you enable Power Optimization? Where do you go to Validate a server or a cluster? Where do you Enable Replication? Where in FOC Manager do I click to create a Scale-Out File Server?

Also, be sure how all of the SC components tie together. How does OM tie into VMM? How about VMM and SC? What agents need to be deployed and where?

I’ll post my excel note sheet w/ PowerShell cmdlets soon. Hope all of this helps for now.



Blog Posts

Backing Configs to SolarWinds TFTP Server

I thought I’d do a quick note on how simple it is to back up switch configs to SolarWinds TFTP Server. I ran into a slight issue (I’ll explain later) at the start. But everything ended up working as expected.

SolarWinds TFTP Server is free to download and takes just a couple minutes to run through the installation. Once it’s installed it runs as a service and uses UDP port 69. There’s really not much to configure here. I just left the server root directory as C:\TFTP-Root.

I ran into my issue when I tried doing a test backup for my little Cisco Catalyst 2940. I went into priv EXEC mode > copy run tftp > Address or name of remote host > Destination filename. It failed to copy and timed out. I went ahead and added a new rule in WFAS to allow UDP port 69. Then went back to the CLI and tried again. Everything was successful this time and I saw the event in the activity log on the SW TFTP application and the created config files in the root directory.

Pretty simple. That’s all I need for now.

Blog Posts

My Cloud NAS – accessing the admin dashboard

Really quick: there are a couple of ways to access the admin dashboard for the My Cloud device:

1.Enter the Device Name that is listed in the dashboard settings into the address bar.

Settings > General > Device Name
Settings > General > Device Name

So, in my case, I’d enter http://PAUL-NAS (http://PAUL-NAS.local for OSX) into my browser address bar. This will bring me to the dashboard login. Enter your Device username and password you set during the initial setup.

Note: the Device Name is set to “WDMyCloud” by default. If you want to rename it try doing so during the initial setup since changing names later may cause issues.


2.Enter the device IP into the address bar.

During the initial setup, you’ll see an IP in the address already in the bar. However, since the device is defaulted to DHCP, the IP will more than likely change. So, if you see now, it may not work next time since the router assigned the device a different IP.

Go to Settings > Network > Network Services > set to Static from DHCP


Set the IP address and verify the Subnet Mask, Gateway, and DNS — (cmd > ipconfig /all). I set mine to .100 (last octet). You can also try doing this via Address Reservation settings in your router.

In the end, accessing the admin dashboard using either approach is the same. It’s just that option 2 takes a little more configuration. But, you’ll always know what your My Cloud ip address is.