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Brief Review - Parkhurst's OSPF Book [7:60093] posted 01/02/2003
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I picked up William Parkhurst's book Cisco OSPF Command and Configuration
Handbook for the sole reason that I own and have used with great success his
BGP book of similar title. BGP has been my most successful section in the
CCIE lab twice now, with my most recent result being perfect, due entirely,
IMHO, to my thorough study of the BGP book. I believe I have a pretty good
understanding of the fundamentals of OSPF, but the biggest room in the world
being the room for improvement, I thought I might find some merit in the
OSPF book as well.

So far I have not been disappointed. I have gone through several of the
chapters now, and I am finding the format, the methodology, and the examples
extremely conducive to my learning process.

Some people can read RFC's and actually understand them. I struggle. Some
people can read the CCO configuration guides and comprehend. After a couple
of years, I still have mixed results. Parkhurst himself says in the
introductions to both books that documentation is the one thing in common
among all who experience frustration during the learning process -
specifically amount, clarity, and completeness. His books are his way of
addressing those shortcomings.

Now it can't be easy writing this kind of a book. It is the result of a lot
of boring setup and example creation, along with innumerable screen shots of
actual router output. The work had to have been a grind after a while. Every
command is listed, along with each switch to that command. An explanation of
the command is given, followed by a stated purpose for the command. Then lab
configuration examples are given, booth before the execution of the command,
and after, so that you can see the result. If you are following along in
your home lab you can compare your result to the book result.

the book is divided into chapters, each containing all the commands related
to a particular aspect of OSPF. For example, there are chapters on process
configuration, area commands, route filtering, timers, interface commands,
and summarization, to name a few. some chapters are obviously shorter or
longer than others. examples abound. many examples can be worked with only
two routers. no example I have seen as yet requires more than four routers,
although YMMV depending upon the numbers of interfaces of particular types.

I've even found a couple of interesting things as a result of using the book
that I am unable to confirm or deny as a result of reading the
documentation. I plan on providing a documented example maybe this weekend,
when I turn things back on again. it revolves around authentication.

the only disappointment I have so far is the coverage of OSPF over frame
relay. The basics are covered quite well. It does not appear to go into the
many variations that are possible. I will be spending some router time with
this section over the weekend as well.

Howard attempted to get a discussion going earlier this week about practice
lab design assumptions, something that has so far drawn little attention (
as opposed to the CCIE versus college degree thread that just won't die )
I'd kinda like to see a discussion of book writing / training material
writing design as well. I personally believe the Parkhurst method, while
maybe not the be all and end all of study materials, packs a lot more into
it's pages than most others I have read. I wish there were more like the two
Parkhurst books.


"there ain't no such thing as a free lunch"

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