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Archive for August, 2010

So You Wanna Be A Network Engineer?

This is how I spent early Monday morning after I got paged.  Only the names and addresses have been changed:

Site Support [12:18 AM]:
U there?

Me [12:18 AM]:
Yes.  You paged?

Site Support [12:18 AM]:
Entire network is down at site x.

Me [12:18 AM]:
You’re physically at site x right now?  Not VPN?

Site Support [12:18 AM]:
Yes.

Me [12:18 AM]:
Then entire network is not down. Otherwise we would not be having this IM chat.

Me [12:20 AM]:
What leads you to believe that the network is down?

Me [12:23 AM]:
???

Site Support [12:23 AM]:
No one can get to internet.

Me [12:23 AM]:
Intranet is working?

Site Support [12:24 AM]:
yes. Intranet sites up. Internet DOWN.

Me [12:24 AM]:
Give me a URL for an Inet site you can’t reach.

Site Support [12:25 AM]:
websitex

Me [12:25 AM]:
http://www.websitex.com ? Is that the full URL?

Me [12:27 AM]:
Dude. It’s 12:30 am on a Sunday here. Can you verify the URL for me?

Site Support [12:28 AM]:
websitex.com

Me [12:28 AM]:
I’m going to assume that this is http.

Me [12:28 AM]:
I can open port 80 on websitex.com from your user switch.

Site Support [12:29 AM]:
oaky

Me [12:29 AM]:
That means that the network is not blocking/dropping traffic to http://www.websitex.com

Site Support [12:29 AM]:
but internet is still DOWN!!!

Me [12:30 AM]:
I need your IP address.  Please cut and paste http://www.websitey.com into IE and tell me what IP address shows at top of the page.

Site Support [12:31 AM]:
Your IP Address: 1.2.3.4

Me [12:32 AM]:
Okay.  That website that’s showing you your IP address…

Me [12:32 AM]:
…it’s on the Internet.  Network is NOT down for your site.  Internet is NOT down for your site.

Site Support [12:34 AM]:
websitex.com is DOWN!!!

Me [12:35 AM]:
Not from a network standpoint it is not. You might have a proxy issue, but I don’t mangage those boxes so I can’t help with that.

Site Support [12:35 AM]:
Who do I page for that?

Me [12:36 AM]:
No idea.  NOC can help with that.  Is this the only site that is unreachable?

Me [12:38 AM]:
???

Me [12:38 AM]:
I just browsed to the site from my desktop.  What do you see when you go to that site?

Site Support [12:38 AM]:
nothing its down

Me [12:38 AM]:
So you don’t see “website offline for maintenance”?

Site Support [12:40 AM]:
y

Me [12:40 AM]:
Yes you see “website offline for maintenance”?

Site Support [12:40 AM]:
Yes

Me [12:40 AM]:
This is a third-party website that is down for maintenance.  This has nothing to do with us.

Me [12:41 AM]:
I assume that it will restore once they are done with their maintenance.

Me [12:41 AM]:
Please have NOC close ticket.  I am going back to sleep.

Site Support [12:41 AM]:
Who do I page for this?

Me [12:42 AM]:
Huh?  For what?

Site Support [12:42 AM]:
websitex.com down

Me [12:42 AM]:
No one.  Not unless you want to call websitex.com and ask them when their maintenance will be done.

Site Support [12:43 AM]:
How long is mantenance? Site cannot work.

Me [12:44 AM]:
I do not work for websitex.com so I cannot answer that.

Site Support [12:44 AM]:
Who can?

Me [12:44 AM]:
Seriously?

Me [12:45 AM]:
Good night.  Please have NOC close ticket.

Packet Pushers Podcast

I listen to quite a few podcasts.  Podcasts like TWIT, Buzz Out Loud, Uhh Yeah Dude, The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, You Look Nice Today, and many others fill my ears during my commute, while I do yard/house work, and often when I’m designing my latest Visio opus.  The vast majority of the podcasts that I listen to are either news or entertainment shows (or some mixture of both).  For a long time now, I’ve often yearned for a podcast that covered networking topics.  But everytime I thought about what that show would be like, I decided that it would probably be nearly impossible for anyone to create a compelling networking/Cisco podcast.  It would be pretty hard,  let alone boring,  to discuss configuration without video.  There exists some great video shows out there like TechWise TV, but I’ve never stumbled across a networking-centric audio podcast.  Until now.

Packet Pushers Podcast (someone loves alliteration) is an audio podcast covering all things networking.  The show is hosted by Greg Ferro, an Australian born, UK based, CCIE who runs the EtherealMind website. Joining him on a regular basis are Dan Hughes, an Irish blogger (The Roving Network Engineer’s blog) and CCIE, as well as Ethan Banks (Packet Attack blog), a CCIE from this side of the pond.  Those three engineers form the nucleus of the podcast.  They bring in interesting voices from the networking world each week to join them in discussing networking topics.

The podcast is currently on episode 16 and even has some shorter segments (“Runts”) as well as a newly formed spin-off (“Packet Pushers Unplugged”) podcast which covers wireless networking.  In the span of just a few months, they have created quite a bit of content.  I recently saw a tweet stating that the show has about 1500 weekly followers.  Not bad for a new, niche podcast.

I had actually heard about PPP about the time that it launched, but put off giving it a listen until recently.  Not only was I doubtful that the show would be interesting, but I’ve seen quite a few podcasts launch and then die out after only a few episodes.  So after a couple of months of seeing tweets touting the show, I finally dipped into the PPP pool.  I’m glad that I did.

Each episode has a major topic such as Data Center Switching, Enterprise MPLS, TRILL, etc.  In addition, each episode has a number of other discussions including career discussions, tech news, and the state of the industry.  Most of the time the PPP hosts are joined by an engineer whose specialty is the main topic of the show.  The content is not strictly Cisco based and the hosts have no problems taking shots at Cisco.  I’ve been impressed by the breadth of topics and guests.  I also like that the hosts are engaging and not stereotypical dry, networking nerds.

Another big issue for podcasts is sound quality.  I’ve listened to some podcasts with really great content, but shitty sound quality.  Regardless of the quality of the content, most listeners will not suffer through poor quality audio.  I’m happy to say that the sound quality of PPP is very good.

The podcasts tend to run 40 minutes to an hour in length.  The one Runt show that I have listened to clocked in at about 20 minutes.  The editing is pretty tight, which is another thing that a lot of podcasts fail at that PPP does not.

I could blather on about the Packet Pushers Podcast, but you owe it to yourself to test drive the show yourself. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the show is engaging, educational, and well produced.  I have added PPP to my weekly podcast diet.

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