Best after sales support I’ve ever had. Thumbs up for Everki

So here is my backpack. I’ve cut the straps and destroyed it. It was the best backpack I’ve had in 20 years of lugging around a computer



So why did I cut the straps?

To answer that, have a look at another photo.


In this one you can see that the zipper on my backpack has broken :(

So what has that got to do with cutting the straps?

And to answer that, I’ll have to tell you about the support I got from Everki when I told them about the broken zipper.

I have a problem with my Beacon laptop bag. There is part of the zip that seems to have got out of step and missed a bit – and one of the fasteners has become detached. See attached photos.

Is this covered by my “Lifetime Warranty”? If so, what do I do next? I *THINK* I bought it directly from your online store.

BTW – I LOVE the bag – it has been the best bag I have EVER had (and I’ve been carrying a laptop almost daily since 1995)

What followed was a series of exchanges asking me to return the bag, me explaining that I couldn’t because I was travelling so much and so on – every step of the way I got fantastic understanding from Andrea and her supervisor to the point where I didn’t have to return the bag, just a) cut off the serial number, and b) cut the straps.

Here is the result:

2015-05-17 16.07.04



A brand new bag shipped to me in Australlia at no expense to me.

Thank you Everki, I love your product and I love your service even more. And a special thanks to Andrea who patiently took me through the process even when I send the wrong pictures!







Posted in GNS3 WorkBench | Leave a comment

Pi day

Just a heads up for tomorrow. I’m sure you all realise that tomorrow is Pi day – because if you write the date tomorrow in the American format (3/14) you get the first three digits of Pi.

But do you realise that Pi day this year has extra special significance, because at 3/14/15 at 9:26:53.59, the date/time combination will yield the first 12 digits of Pi (3.14159265359)?

This is a unique event in the history of recorded time so will never happen again – set your alarms, but you’ll only have 1/100 sec to enjoy the full 12 digits. Of course you can still bask in the knowledge that the whole day is also uniquely giving the first 5 places!

Posted in GNS3 WorkBench | Leave a comment

Open What?

I was ask by some students to describe the difference between the “Open” standards associated with SDn (Software Defined Networking)

So I did this little presentation for them


Posted in GNS3 WorkBench | Tagged | 2 Comments

GNS3 and IOU remote server install on Centos 6.5

GNS3 and IOU remote server install on Centos 6.5.

Posted in GNS3 WorkBench

Subnetting without tears

Forget the bitwise operations. Here’s how I do subnets.  In my head!  Any subnet, any mask in 30 seconds or less.

1.    First – credit where it is due.  My method has been shamelessly stolen from Wendell Odom’s CCENT/CCNA ICND1 Official Exam Certification Guide. If you want to learn more, like how to use magic numbers to calculate the number of subnets for a given mask, read his books.
2.    The whole secret around subnets lies in:
a) the subnet mask
b) knowing your 2x, 4x, 8x, 16x, 32x, 64x and 128x times tables as far as 256
Most people can handle 2x, 4x and (at a pinch) 8x.  32x, 64x and 128x only have 8, 4 or 2 items before you hit 256, so that leaves you your 16x tables to learn.

Here’s the deal:

Look at the “interesting” number in the subnet mask.  That is, the number that is NOT 0 or 255.  In your case:
Your “interesting” octet is octet 4 ie 240.
Subtract this number from 256 – you’ll get 16 (256-240=16) in this case.

The key concept here is that your subnets will be in groups of size 16 

Back to

256-240=16.  Odom calls this the “magic number”.  I’ll stick with his definition.

The key to understanding subnet is this “magic number”.  Read the following carefully:

If the “magic number” is 16, then

  • ALL of your subnet numbers will be multiples of 16, starting at 0
  • The broadcast address on any subnet is simply the next subnet address minus 1 in the last octet
    • ie All of your broadcast addresses will be 1 less than a multiple of 16. (15, 31, 47…)
  • The first IP address on any subnet is simply the subnet address plus 1 in the last octet (1,17,33…)
  • The last IP address on any subnet is simply the broadcast address minus 1 in the last octet. (14,30,46…)

Now read that last section again until it sticks.

In your case, where the magic number is 16, the subnet MUST be one of the following:

There you go – that’s your 16x tables up to 256. Told you to learn this didn’t I?  By the way, your 32x tables is just every 2nd number from the above.,  64x tables every 4th number and 128x tables every 8th number.

Note that the last entry before 256 is the same as the subnet mask’s “interesting octet”.  This is ALWAYS the case.

Back to again.

Now your “interesting octet” is the 4th octet, which for your IP address is 15.

  • Your subnet number MUST be less than 15, but one of the multiples of 16 listed above.  Clearly 0 is the only multiple of 16 less than 15.  So your subnet is
  • The next subnet would be ie the NEXT multiple of 16.
  • The first address on your subnet will be =
  • The broadcast address will be the NEXT subnet minus 1 ie =
  • The last address will be one less than the broadcast address: =

So the address you started with is the broacast address for its subnet =

Here’s another example:
Magic number=256-248=8
The “interesting octet” is the last octet, so I focus on 219
Recalling my 8x tables around 219

  • I can see that my subnet number must be .216 – the closest multiple of 8 to 219 that is not greater than 219.
  • The first address then would be .217 (216+1)
  • The broadcast address would be .223 (1 less than the next multiple of 8 224-1)
  • The last address would be .222 (223-1)

Or expressed fully:

  • Subnet:
  • 1st Address:
  • Last Address:
  • Broadcast:
  • Next Subnet: (I list this because I actually figure this out then work backwards for the broadcast and last address)

This one is a bit harder – the interesting octet is the 3rd octet
Magic number=256-224=32
The interesting octet is the 3rd octet, so I focus on 178.
Recalling my 32x tables around 178

  • I see 160 is the closest multiple of 32 that is not greater than 178
  • This makes my subnet
  • The first address
  • The NEXT subnet (’cause I’m going to work backwards) is
  • So the broadcast address is
  • And the last address 1 less than the broadcast address:

Remember there are only 7 possible magic numbers (8 if you count 256-255=1), so they are not hard to learn.  Here they are
Mask Magic number
255    1 (just for completeness)
254    2
252    4 (this is a common one)
248    8
240   16
224   32
192   64
128  128

One more tricky one to finish:
Magic number=256-252=4
The interesting octet is the 3rd octet, so I focus on 56.
Recalling my 4x tables around 56

  • I can see that my subnet number must be 56 – the closest multiple of 4 to 56 that is not greater than56.  See why it is tricky?  The “interesting octet” value is a multiple of the magic number, so you stop there.
  • This makes my subnet
  • The first address
  • The NEXT subnet (’cause I’m going to work backwards) is
  • So the broadcast address is
  • And the last address 1 less than the broadcast address:

Finally, if you want to learn this stuff (like for CCNA exam) spend half an hour a night on

Posted in GNS3 WorkBench | 2 Comments

Using GNS3 WorkBench labs on real equipment

This request came up the other day:

I just need some guided labs that I can do at home with my equipment.

So I thought about how you could use GNS3 WorkBench exercises to do just that.

Here is what I suggested:

I’d suggest downloading the v8.7_Windows_OSXversion of GNS3 WorkBench and store it somewhere (BTW, I also think it would be a good idea to install GNS3 anyway, but let’s stick with the story of using these exercises on your own equipment)


Once you have unzipped the, file somewhere you will see a directory structure like this:


In each lab’s folder, look for the Instructions folder, and open instructions.html.  Then you’ll have your instructions for your lab.

Note that the lab will hav a series of snapshots – each snapshot in a folder with a name like topology_x (description). Let’s start witht he topology_0 …. folder, and find the configs folder within.

Just configure you home lab to look like the topology (which is also shown in topology.png) and paste the configs for (in this case) R1 and R2 into your routers, and look at the startrup.vpc file to see what  IP addresses you need to give your PCs that are attached to the lab.

You will also see topology folders that contain the final configs so you can check your answers.  In some cases, the instructions will have some hints or workthroughs too.

The lab that I most highly recommend is the ICND1 Readiness Test.  Click on the link for more info.

Note: This post was originally posted as a reply on the Cisco Learning Network



Posted in CCNA, dynamips, GNS3, GNS3 WorkBench | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Quick check to see if VPCS is working

If you are having trouble getting the Virtual PC Simulator (VPCS) to talk to your GNS3 (dyanamips) routers, then you might want to try this quick check to verify that VPCS itself is functioning correctly and that there are no firewall rules blocking UDP ports 20000+ and 30000+

The idea is that we will open VPCS, and reverse the sending and listening ports of one of the VPCs so we can get two of the VPCs to ping each other.

Step 1: Open the VPCS

On windows – issue this command in a command window (assumes you have GNS3 installed. Quotes are necessary):

"\Program Files\GNS3\vpcs\vpcs.exe"

On OS X – issue this command in a command window (assumes you have GNS3 installed):


On Linux – vpcs should be in the path, so you just need to type:


Step 2: Configure the 1st Virtual PC

When VPCS has opened, give the first VPC an ip address using the ip command:

VPCS[1]> ip
Checking for duplicate address...
PC1 :

Now issue the show ip command and note the LPORT and RHOST:PORT values. You should see this:

VPCS[1]> show ip

MAC : 00:50:79:66:68:00
LPORT : 20000
MTU: : 0

Step 3: Reconfigure the 2nd Virtual PC

What you will need to do is set up VPC#2 to have the reverse of these values, so change focus to VPC#2, and issue the set lport and set rport commands, as shown below:

VPCS[1]> 2
VPCS[2]> set lport 30000
VPCS[2]> set rport 20000
VPCS[2]> show ip
MAC : 00:50:79:66:68:01
LPORT : 30000
MTU: : 0

Note how the port numbers for VPC#2 are the reverse of VPC#1.

Step 4: Give the 2nd Virtual PC an IP and test

All you need to do now is give VPC#2 an IP address on the same subnet as VPC#1 and they should be able to ping each other, as shown below:

VPCS[2]> ip
Checking for duplicate address...
PC2 :

VPCS[2]> ping icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=0.096 ms icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=0.301 ms icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=0.882 ms icmp_seq=4 ttl=64 time=0.186 ms icmp_seq=5 ttl=64 time=0.166 ms

If you can’t get ping replies, then your host PC is doing something to stop this.  There is really only two possibilities:

  1. You have a firewall blocking UDP port 20000 and/or 30000
  2. You have another application already using UDP port 20000 or 30000.  You can check for this using the netstat command on your host operating system (after closing vpcs of course)


netstat -ap UDP | find "20000"
netstat -ap UDP | find "30000"


netstat -anp UDP | grep 20000
netstat -anp UDP | grep 30000


netstat -an | grep udp | grep 20000
netstat -an | grep udp | grep 30000


If you see any output from either of these commands, you should be able to trace back to the program that is using these ports using the netstat -b command (Windows and OS X anyway)



Posted in dynamips, GNS3, GNS3 WorkBench | Tagged , , ,