K. Giacomarro, CCIE #38955
I casually started studying for CCIE back in 2009. Only at the start of 2012 did I get serious. I bought all real equipment, configured it for INE's topology, and went to town. INE Vol 1 first, followed by INE Vol 2 Labs 1 to 10 (11 on had some...issues). I also took a detour with IPExpert's Vol 3 labs, which I found to be good complimentary material to INE's labs. INE's material is far more technology-specific, IP Expert gets you more used to doing your base config as a part of the lab. A few mock labs just before the first lab date showed I was in the green to pass. My first attempt was close, but not quite there. Several things I didn't expect about the lab environment coupled with several "I'm sure they won't test me on that" topics meant a pass TS but ~70% config. Back to the grinding stone for specific-topic deep-dive, intensive note-taking, and just enough labbing to keep me sharp. I took all three TS Mock Labs to help me cope with the huge topology in R&S. The final piece of my puzzle was using the expanded blueprint posted on an INE Blog post forever ago to rate myself 1-5 on every tech that could be on the lab -- I found several topics that I didn't know as well as I thought, in addition to a few new topics I'd never even heard of. I passed April 15th (tax day) at RTP. I was 90% sure I'd killed the lab when I walked out. Finishing TS with 30 extra minutes (all 10 solved) gave me extra time to take it slow and be sure I was doing exactly what the question asked for. My tracker for the config section showed that I had solved all topics, although I'm sure I missed a few due to simple errors. Thank you for the workbooks, the mock labs, and the support. I hope to see INE continue to release higher-quality products should I ever decide to make a run for a 2nd CCIE. For now, it's family time and getting re-acquainted with people!