Rule 11 Academy is (Somewhat) Live

The Academy does not replace this blog, the Hedge, etc. Instead, it’s a place for me to recreate all the training materials I’ve taught in the past, put them in one place, and adding new training material besides. It’s light right now, but I plan to post about once or twice a week.

Note this is a subscription site with paid content and two memberships–six months and yearly.

Get six months free using the coupon code BEAG2DRUP0TORNSKUT.

History of Networking: Updated Links

Someone told me some (or many?) of the links are broken to the History of Networking recordings. I went through the S3 bucket and renamed all the files so there are no spaces (because S3 buckets don’t always work right with spaces), and then checked them all to make certain they work. Along the way I found three or four episodes that were recorded and not on the HoN page, so I added them.

Check out the corrected listing here.

I think I have one more recording that was never edited and published; I will probably put it in the Hedge stream in the next month or two just so it’s out there.

Thoughts on 2023

As we close out 2023, some random observations about engineering, culture, and life.

Network engineering needs help. I am hearing, from all over the place, that network engineering is “not cool.” There is a dearth of students entering the pipeline. College programs are struggling, and many organizations are struggling with a lack of engineering talent—in fact, I would guess the most common reason for companies to move to “the cloud” is because they cannot find anyone who knows how to build an operate a network any longer.

It probably didn’t help that for the last few years many “thought leaders” in the network engineering space have been saying there is no future in network engineering. It also doesn’t help that network engineering training has become stilted and … boring. Coders are off talking about how to solve problems. Robotics folks are working on cool projects that solve problems.

Network engineers are being taught how to spend less money and told to “find another career.”

I don’t know how we think we can sustain a healthy world of IT without network engineers.

And yes, I know there are folks who think networking problems are simple, easy enough to solve with some basic software knowhow. I think I have enough knowledge and experience of the wider world of information technology to say those folks are wrong.

I’d actually like to help solve this specific problem. I’ve been looking for a Christian college someplace in the US interested in starting or growing a strong engineering program. Someplace where I join with a team to help build and teach an entire program from the first class to the last. If anyone knows of such a place, get in touch. We need to make network engineering cool again.

How much did you read this year? I read just over 40 books this year, not many of which were technology related. If you don’t read regularly, why not?

How much did you create this year? I wrote one book—the CCST Official Study Guide. I’ve written two dozen articles or so and created a few new slide decks. I’m working on several new live webinars with Pearson through Safari Books Online, including interview skills, open-source labs, some work around coding skills, and a few other things.

It you aren’t creating new things, why not?

Big is, for the most part, bad. I’ve started thinking that one of the worst things about technology-driven culture is how deeply it has enabled and taught—even encouraged—us to be passive-aggressive.

For instance, I’ve been “lifetime banned” from eBay. Why? I’ve no idea—I barely even use eBay. I logged in, listed a few items for sale, and then couldn’t log back in again. I tried to reset my password—the service accepted my new password, but still refused to allow me to log in. No notifications, no email, no … anything. I called customer support and was told I have been “banned for life.” They will not discuss why, only that some “system flagged my account.”

It is just this kind of “the computer says you are a bad person, and we will not explain why” thing that makes people dislike technology companies so deeply.

As always, feel free to get in touch if you have thoughts, want to chat, or have an idea for an episode of the Hedge.

2022 Working Environment

The change of the year is always a good time to reflect. This year I’ve made major changes in my physical environment by reshaping many of the things about this house we recently moved to in Knoxville. Besides ripping out the entire kitchen, replacing all the floors, and reworking the fireplace, it was a good chance to rethink the office I work in every day. I’m rather persnickety about the lighting, layout, and tools I use (although a lot of people still think I’m crazy for using fairly standard tools, like Word, for writing).

This is my space, pretty much—

I use an adjustable height desk where I’m either leaning or standing—if I want to sit to read something, I normally grab a tablet and sit in the red chair off to the side, or even go someplace else in the house. I prefer not to read on my main computer screen most of the time. I normally keep ambient light to a minimum, and turn my monitor brightness down to pretty minimal, as well—below 20%.

I’m currently running an LG 38in curved monitor. I don’t game, so I care a lot more about resolution than refresh rate, etc. My main driver is a Microsoft Surface 8, topped out in specs, with a thunderbolt dock to support all the externals. I’m typing on a Drop ALT with 68g Zilentv2 switches. The smaller keyboard keeps the Wacom pad close by, making it easier to switch between keyboard and pointer. Smaller keyboards like this are perfectly useable if you map all the function and other special purpose keys onto a separate layer, and then place your layer control keys wisely. I’ve been thinking about switching to a more ergonomic keyboard, but I’ve not made my mind up yet.

For audio and video gear above the monitor I used two desk-clamp photography stands on the back of the desk, along with a long cheesebar. The cheesebar holds the Logitech webcam connected to my work machine, which is off to the side, the Dell Ultrasharp 4k, the ball mount for a digital camera (for recordings), and an AT4053 shotgun mic. On the side of the desk is a boom arm with a Blue Baby Bottle mic.

The two mics feed into an Antelope Zen Go interface, which allows me to do some minor eq and such before my voice hits the computer. I used to do all this onboard the computer itself using a Focusrite Clarett, but its a lot simpler to push some audio processing onto the interface itself with the Zen Go. These kinds of DSP-onboard interfaces tend to be hard to get up and running, by the way. I worked with an Apollo interface for a solid month before giving up and switching to the Zen Go.

Beside the Zen is a little Tascam recorder; the primary mic is routed through the Zen to this recorder so I don’t need to record on the computer itself (though most of the time I do just record in Audition). I find that when I’m doing training recording that will be edited and combined later, it’s better to pull as much processing off the main computer as possible to improve the quality and performance of the screen capture process … so I record voice on the Tascam, video on a separate digital camera, and just the screen capture on the computer.

I do have a set of Meze classic headphones hooked up to the Zen Go, but I mostly listen to meetings and music throughout the day on a Klipsch Three.

Audio wise, I put up a set of acoustic panels along one wall. I’m certain I could do more here, but the panels plus the carpeted floor seem to do okay for keeping the audio sounding pretty clean.

Lights… I’ve switched back and forth between GVM and Neewer over the years. Right now I’m using two Neewer flat panel lights, one of which provides ambient light by bouncing off the ceiling—this is the only ambient light I normally have turned on. There’s another LED panel with a diffuser to my front acting as a key, and a spot with a strong diffuser as far away on my right as I can get it.

Well, that’s my working environment for the moment … if you have questions about why I chose specific pieces of gear, etc., please feel free to drop a comment here, or pm me on LinkedIn.