Category Archives: Uncategorized

Linux mint mate – adding task bar to secondary monitor

I was scratching my head trying to extend the task bar to my secondary monitor.  I needed to create another panel (right click -> new panel), drag it to the required monitor and then position it as I wanted (right click -> properties -> orientation).

Getting the open windows to show up in the task bar needed to be enabled also (on both the main and new task bar panels).  To enable this: right click -> Add to panel -> Search for “window list” and click add.

Now the panel on each monitor will display the applications/windows you have open on each monitor, they will even move between the task bars if you drag the windows between each screen.

I got my window list info from this blog:

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CCNP Certified!



In the second week of December 2014 I sat the CCNP ROUTE exam for the fourth and final time and passed.

I have to say that I was starting to get pretty frustrated with this exam, the issue in my mind is that there are many questions that were basically a reading or comprehension exam. Lots of times I was sure that I knew the answer but then I had to spend time reading and re reading the answers so as to not get tripped up by the wording.

I know most of you would say that is the same for all exams but I particularly felt this to be the case fro ROUTE I honestly don’t remember having these issues with SWITCH (but on the other hand it has been 12 months since I sat for that). I really hope that the newer exams focus more on knowing and applying the technology and not trying to trick the examinee by very closely wording the answers and also the ambiguity of the questions.

I assume that these problems are at least partly to combat cheating and to simulate time pressure in the exam and it definitely does induce some stress, at least it did for me.

Exam rantings and frustrations aside I learnt a lot while studying for this exam which I am very pleased about. I did a lot of labbing and made a lot of mistakes along the way which helped a great deal in spotting mistakes in configurations and this helped me as I then got to take the time troubleshooting and learning how to quickly spot basic mistakes.

In addition to this I tried to come up with a better study method than I had used in the past, unfortunately I don’t think I made great strides in this department however I do believe I picked up some good habits but I definitely need to work on this area if I want to take it further (CCIE/University etc).

Once ROUTE was done and dusted I had two of the three required exams out of the way on the CCNP R&S track (version one) and that left only TSHOOT to go.

As the deadline for the old TSHOOT exam was coming up and we were now in the Christmas period I thought I would try and knock it out before January 29 2015 as I already had the study material for the old TSHOOT exam (both the official cert guide and the foundation learning guide).

I had read a lot of forum posts about this exam and lots of people said to just review the ROUTE and SWITCH material and to take TSHOOT while this info was still fresh in the brain. I spent the weekend reading through the official certification guide and I found that most of the material was familiar as I work in a NOC and troubleshooting is a primary function of our job. Long story short I sat the exam and passed first go, only by the skin of my teeth, but hey a pass is a pass.

Whats next?

Honestly at this point have no idea. I know that I would like to focus on routing and switching and I really want to dig deep and expand my knowledge of foundation protocols. To this end I have ordered TCP/IP Illustrated to take a good look at how TCP really works. I am also looking at picking up MPLS VPN architectures vol 1&2 and internet routing architectures plus Routing TCP/IP vol 1&2 for some more light reading.

Will I start studying for the CCIE…the short answer is no, I know that now is not the right time. Before I even think of taking on this beast I want to expand my knowledge wide before I go deep, specifically with service provider technologies and gaining a much deeper understanding of TCP/IP. On top of this I am going to start looking at different study techniques and putting them into practice to see if I can make up some of the study shortcomings I have identified while studying for the route switch track.

I was also looking at the CCDA/CCDP but my hesitation here was that I didn’t want to waste time picking up certifications just for the resume. I’m not going to spend my time on something that may not benefit my technical skills as much as say jumping straight into the SP track and so from this I have decided that since routing and switching is fresh in my head I will be concentrating on service provider technologies (bgp, mpls, isis etc) as well as TCP/IP.

So I hope to be able to publish some more interesting technical blogs in 2015, some no so specifically related to exam topics but more focussed on specific technologies.

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Starting Over

To start off I failed my last attempt at the CCNP switch exam. I came close was about 60 points off the mark but I still missed out on it. I was not very impressed with the testing centre’s processes this time. I arrived 30 minutes early, they were not setup, ready or even interested in being there it seemed (it was a Saturday), the workstations a very long time to boot (they tried multiple machines) and when they finally got one up and running the testing centre login to the exam application was not working.

The staff then told me that they were “locked out” of their account and seemed to expect me to accept this and leave.  I calmly explained that it was a near two hour drive for me to get there so this was not an option and they would need to attempt sort it out. After about 45 minutes they finally got me logged in to start the test, by this time I was feeling pretty flustered, to add to this shortly after the exam started multiple people started streaming into the exam room and making a lot of noise, I am not sure if they were sitting for other exams as some of them only stayed for about 30-40 minutes.  After this episode it took me about 20 mins to finally focus back on the test which in turn was about 20 questions.

In hindsight had I been able to stay calm and focused from the beginning, I probably would have been able to get into a rhythm quicker and I might have had a better chance at passing but this was not the case.  This is definitely a lesson learnt and for all future exams I will be prepared for anything so as to not break my concentration.

I haven’t been studying much lately and that is because I’ve changed jobs. I started working for a hosting company/small service provider as a network administrator, which has been challenging but quite good. We have several datacentres and a large routing and switching infrastructure to look after and grow which is a challenge I am looking forward to. It is good to finally be able to put some of the things I have been learning into practice.

Tonight I finally sat down and had a good study session, I will be doing some more labbing in the coming weeks and hopefully going back for another crack at the Switch exam soon.

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