Author: ccie14023

Before the Internet: The Bulletin Board System II

In my last post, I discussed the BBS and how it worked.  (It would be helpful to review, to understand the terminology.)  In this post, I have resurrected, in part, the BBS I used to run from 1988-1990.  It was called “The Tower”, for no particularly good reason except that it sounded cool to my teenage mind. Now, bringing this back to life was no simple task, but was aided by some foresight I had 20 years ago.  I had a Mac with a disk drive, and realizing the floppy era was coming to a close, I decided to produce disk images of all the 3.5 inch floppies I had saved from my Apple II days.  Fortunately, my last Apple II, the IIGS, used 3.5″ drives instead of the 5.25″ that were more common on the Apple IIs.  The Macs that had floppy drives all had 3.5″ drives.  Additionally, Apple had included software to on the pre OSX MacOS to read ProDOS (Apple II) disks.  Thus, in the year 2000, I could mount an Apple II floppy from a dozen years prior and make an image out of it. I did not have a full working version of my GBBS, however, so I had to download a copy.  I also had to do a lot of work to bring it up to Macos (not MacOS, but Macos, Modified ACOS),...

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Vintage DDoS

With Coronavirus spreading, events shut down, the Dow crashing, and all the other bad news, how about a little distraction?  Time for some NetStalgia. Back in the mid 1990’s, I worked at a computer consulting firm called Mann Consulting.  Mann’s clientele consisted primarily of small ad agencies, ranging from a dozen people to a couple hundred.  Most of  my clients were on the small side, and I handled everything from desktop support to managing the small networks that these customers had.  This was the time when the Internet took the world by storm–venture capitalists poured money into the early dotcoms, who in turn poured it into advertising.  San Francisco ad agencies were at the heart of this, and as they expanded they pulled on companies like Mann to build out their IT infrastructure. I didn’t particularly like doing desktop support.  For office workers, a computer is the primarily tool they use to do their job.  Any time you touch their primary tool, you have the potential to mess something up, and then you are dealing with angry end users.  I loved working on networks, however small they were.  For some of these customers, their network consisted of a single hub (a real hub, not a switch!), but for some it was more complicated, with switches and a router connecting them to the Internet. Two of my customers went through...

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Cleared for nothing

I was working at Juniper when the CIO asked me to apply for a government security clearance.  There were a number of hacking attempts on our network, and a security clearance would make me eligible for briefings from the government on the nature and scope of the threats against the United States’ networks.  Being one of the few US citizens in our department, and having a security background, it made sense. I met with our “FSO”, the on-site liaison to the clearance-granting agency, in this case the Department of Defense.  I’ll call him Billy.  Billy pointed me to the government web site which housed the application, called “OPM”.  The OPM application was extensive, requiring me to input huge amounts of information about myself and my family.  It required a bit of work to track down some of the information, and when I printed the PDF copy of the application it totaled around eighty pages. One day Billy called me into his office and told me I had been awarded a secret clearance.  He let me know that I could be subject to the death penalty if I divulged any classified information.  I signed some documents, and that was it. “Don’t I get a card for my wallet or anything?” I asked Billy.  He just smiled. Shortly after getting my clearance, one of our other cleared employees brought me into...

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TAC Tales #19: Butt-in-Chair

This one falls into the category of, “I probably shouldn’t post this, especially now that I’m at Cisco again,” but what the heck. I’ve often mentioned, in this series, the different practices of “backbone TAC” (or WW-TAC) and High Touch Technical Support (HTTS), the group I was a part of.  WW-TAC was the larger TAC organization, where the vast majority of the cases landed.  HTTS was (and still is) a specialized TAC group dedicated to Cisco’s biggest customers, who generally pay for the additional service.  HTTS was supposed to provide a deeper knowledge of the specifics of customer networks and practices, but generally worked the same as TAC.  We had our own queues, and when a high-touch customer would open a case, Cisco’s entitlement tool would automatically route their case to HTTS based on the contract number. Unlike WW-TAC, HTTS did not use the “follow the sun” model.  This meant that regular TAC cases would be picked up by a region where it was currently daytime, and when a TAC agent’s shift ended, they would find another agent in the next timezone over to pick up a live (P1/P2) case.  At HTTS, we had US-based employees only, at the time, and they had to work P1/P2 cases to resolution.  This meant if your shift ended at 6pm, and a P1 case came in at 5:55, you might be stuck...

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Where does time go?

Two things can almost go without saying: If you start a blog, you need to commit time to writing it. When you move up in the corporate world, time becomes a precious commodity. When I started this blog several years ago, I was a network architect at Juniper with a fair amount of time on my hands.  Then I came to Cisco as a Principal TME, with a lot less time on my hands.  Then I took over a team of TMEs.  And now I have nearly 40 people reporting to me, and responsibility for technical marketing for Cisco’s entire enterprise software portfolio.  That includes ISE, Cisco DNA Center, SD-Access, SD-WAN (Viptela), and more.  With that kind of responsibility and that many people depending on me, writing TAC Tales becomes a lower priority. In addition, when you advance in the corporate hierarchy, expressing your opinions freely becomes more dangerous.  What if I say something I shouldn’t?  Or, do I really want to bare my soul on a blog when an employee is reading it?  Might they be offended, or afraid I would post something about them?  Such concerns don’t exist when you’re an individual contributor, even at the director level, which I was. I can take some comfort in the fact that this blog is not widely read.  The handful of people who stumble across it probably will not...

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