Author: ccie14023

How not to do Internet Connectivity

My first IT job was at a small company in Novato, California, that designed and built museum exhibits.  At the time most companies either designed the exhibits or built them, but ours was the only one that did both.  You could separate the services, and just do one or the other, but our end-to-end model was the best offering because the fabricators and designers were in the same building and could collaborate easily.  The odd thing about separating the functions was that we could lose a bid to design a project, but win the bid to build it, and hence end up having to work closely with a competitor to deliver their vision. The company was small–only 60 employees.  Half of them were fabricators who did not have computers, whereas the other half were designers and office staff who did.  My original job was to be a “gopher” (or go-fer), who goes for stuff.  If someone needed paint, screws, a nail gun, fumigation of a stuffed tiger, whatever, I’d get in the truck and take care of it.  However, they quickly realized I was skilled with computers and they asked me to take over as their IT guy.  (Note to newbies:  When this happens, especially at a small company, people often don’t forget you had the old job.  One day I might be fixing a computer, then the next...

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Netstalgia: Bad Timing

After I left TAC I worked for two years at a Gold Partner in San Francisco.  One of my first customers there was one of my most difficult, and it all came down to timing. I was dispatched to perform a network assessment of a small real-estate SaaS company in the SF East Bay.  Having just spent two years in TAC, I had no idea how to perform a network assessment, and unfortunately nobody at the partner was helping me.  I had been told they had a dedicated laptop loaded with tools just for this purpose, but nobody could locate it.  I started downloading tools on my own, but I couldn’t find a good, free network analysis tool.  Another engineer recommended a product called “The Dude” from MikroTik, and since it was easy to install I decided to use it.  I needed to leave it collecting data for a few days, and since nobody had provided me an assessment laptop I had to leave my own computer there.  I distinctly remember the client asking me what tool I was using to collect data, and sheepishly answering “Uh, it’s called The Dude.”  He looked at me skeptically.  (Despite the name, the tool was actually quite decent.) Without any format or examples for an assessment, I looked at bandwidth utilization, device security, IOS versions, and a host of other configuration items. ...

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Why I don’t wear Airpods

I have written more than once (here and here, for example) about my belief that technological progression cannot always be considered a good thing.  We are surrounded in the media by a form of technological optimism which I find disconcerting.  “Tech” will solve everything from world hunger to cancer, and the Peter Thiels of the world would have us believe that we can even solve the problem of death.  I don’t see a lot of movies these days, but there used to be a healthy skepticism of technological progress, which was seen as a potential threat to the human...

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Y2K

In 1998 I left my job as a computer “consultant” to pursue a master’s degree in Telecommunications Management.  I was stuck in my job, tired of troubleshooting people’s email clients and installing Word on their desktops, and was looking for a way to make a leap into bigger and better things.  That did happen–although not how I expected–but meanwhile for two years I needed to support myself while achieving my degree.  I took the easy path and stole a client from my previous employer.  This was at the height of the dotcom boom, and he was frankly too busy to even notice.  For a couple years I worked part-time at my advertising agency client, setting up computers, managing the servers, running the fairly simple network they had implemented.  It was a good deal for both of us, as the office manager had responsibility for IT and little inclination to work on technology. Anyone who was around back then will remember the “Y2K” scare.  As we approached the year 2000, someone realized that many computers had been storing the year part of dates with only the last two digits.  For example, a program would store “98” instead of “1998.”  This meant that, as we moved into the new millennium, the year 2001 would be interpreted by these systems to be “1901”.  A legitimate problem, to be sure.  Some software, such...

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Stay away from OOP

I’ve been revising my Cisco Live session on IOS XE programmability, and it’s made me think about programming in general, and a particular idea I’ve been embarrassed to admit I loathe: Object Oriented Programming. Some context:  I started programming on the Apple II+ in BASIC, which shows my age.  Back then programs were input with line numbers and program control was quite simple, consisting of GOTO and GOSUB statements that jumped around the lines of code.  So, you might have something that looked like this: 10 INPUT "Would you like to [C]opy a File or [D]elete a file?"; A$ 20 IF A$ = "C" THEN GOTO 100 30 IF A$ = "D" THEN GOTO 200 This was not really an elegant way to build programs, but it was fairly clear.  Given that code was entered directly into the DOS CLI with only line-by-line editing functionality, it could certainly get a bit confusing what happened and where when you had a lot of branches in your code. In college I took one programming course in Pascal.  Pascal was similar in structure to C, just far more verbose.  Using it required a shift to procedural-style thinking, and while I was able to get a lot of code to work in Pascal, my professor was always dinging me for style mistakes.  I tended to revert to AppleSoft BASIC style coding, using global...

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