Archives For June 2014

If you’ve been working in IT any length of time, you understand that every once in a while a piece of hardware just needs a good kick in the pants.  I’ve generally found most Cisco products to be very reliable.  Cisco Prime Infrastructure, however, seems to be an exception.  I’ll spare you my biased opinion of this particular product and we’ll move on…

We have yet to fully implement Cisco Prime Infrastructure and use it for it’s intended purpose: making my life easier.  It’s made my life anything but easier, but I’m still hoping to see it operate in all it’s glory and witness it effortlessly deploy updates to thousands of routers simultaneously.  Before that can happen, we’re still continually updating devices which often required bulk imports containing hundreds of devices (either to add or update existing records) and the occasional deletion of devices.  For whatever (unknown) reason, the jobs often fail to complete thereby prohibiting you from submitting subsequent jobs.

Unfortunately, the only “solution” we have to date is to reload the box.  Only not-so-recently have I determined that there is a wrong way to reload Prime and a right way to do it.  Guess which method I’ve been using?

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Earlier in the week I said

One of my favorite interview questions to ask network engineering candidates is “How many different ways can you describe to determine the serial number of a Cisco router?”

…and I got to thinking: How many ways do I know how to obtain the serial number of a Cisco router?  So I began writing them down and here is what I came up with:

  1. Locate the serial number tag on the router chassis.
  2. The serial number is displayed in the banner during boot.
  3. “show version” command. (Look for “Processor board ID”)
  4. “show inventory” command. (Look for “Hw Serial#” or “SN:”)
  5. “show diag” command. (Look for “Chassis Serial Number”)
  6. “show hardware” command. (Look for “Processor board ID”)
  7. “show tech-support” command. (Displayed MANY times)
  8. “show run | s snmp-server chassis-id” command. (Must have been manually set)

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Last year I discovered a bug in the “show crypto debug-condition” command. This bug doesn’t impact the operation of the router and is purely cosmetic. By cosmetic, I mean the output from the show command isn’t correct although the setting in the router is.

Here is what I’m talking about (compare the profile name I set in line #1 “abcdefgh” to the output you see line #11):


Router#debug crypto condition isakmp profile abcdefgh
Router#show crypto debug-condition
Crypto conditional debug currently is turned ON
IKE debug context unmatched flag: OFF
GDOI group debug context unmatched flag: OFF
IPsec debug context unmatched flag: OFF
Crypto Engine debug context unmatched flag: OFF

Isakmp Profile filters:


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identity-crisisOne of my favorite interview questions to ask network engineering candidates is “How many different ways can you describe to determine the serial number of a Cisco router?”

Surprisingly, a majority of candidates never get beyond physically inspecting the router to obtain the serial number.  A few give me the obvious answer of using the “show version” command and a rare handful have ever given me more than two commands that might display that information.

Yet, despite the many ways to determine the serial number of a Cisco router and the thousands of Cisco routers that I’ve managed, I finally came across this unsociable router.

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Late Friday evening I dropped an alert that if everything lined up, I intended on activating Sweat Mountain during the ARRL VHF contest.  I also followed it up with a rambling blog post, because 60 characters sometimes isn’t enough to explain the details surrounding a mountain activation.

My priority was to meet up with a fellow Ham and work as many stations as we could and before we packed up to head home for the evening, I would activate the mountain.  Unfortunately, we got started much later in the afternoon than I had anticipated and I never bothered to update my alert to let anyone paying attention know that I was going to be late, if at all.

In hindsight, I probably should have done that as a courtesy to others but by my estimation (looking at my web logs), only two people clicked on the link to my blog from the alert I posted on SOTAWatch anyway.  So to those two individuals, I apologize.

While my activities during the VHF contest weren’t anything to write home about, the adventure to activate Sweat Mountain turns out to be blog-worthy.  I’ll start by saying that it’s the activation that almost wasn’t.

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I had participated in the ARRL January VHF QSO Party my very first year as a licensed Ham and I must admit that I wasn’t that impressed.  It was cold, my fingers were numb and my arms were tired from holding an Arrow antenna at arms length trying to chase a dozen VHF/UHF contacts across metro Atlanta.  Yet, I still answered the call from a fellow Ham to participate in this year’s VHF contest. I actually thought this year would be different — and for the most part, it was.

I was equipped with new radios, new antennas and most importantly, I intended on letting a mast do the work: I wasn’t going to be holding any antennas this time.  So I met up with WK4U Saturday afternoon and we rolled up to the top of Sweat Mountain, found a spot in the shade a little ways down from all the antennas and EMI and got to work.

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Yesterday I enjoyed Father’s Day in part by putting my Father’s Day gift (an Osprey Poco Plus child carrier) to good use.  The wife, baby, dog and I hiked a couple miles along the river at Rope Mill Park.  I’d love to see the county complete the trail system out there as it was still a bit muddy after the sidewalk runs out.  Every time I’m out there I say I’ll drop the canoe in the water and head up/down stream.  Maybe I’ll make that a reality this year?

Father's Day Hike

I apologize for redirecting you Shack Sloths over here but I had more to say than would fit in the SOTAWatch Alert comment field…

This Saturday June 14th (and/or possibly Sunday June 15th?) I will be on Sweat Mountain W4G/CE-002 participating in the ARRL VHF/UHF contest. Depending on how things work out, I will attempt to activate the mountain via VHF in hopes of avoiding stringing up an HF antenna.

What things would prevent me from activating?

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