The Odd Hours Solution

For many years, when I worked out in the center of the triangle of runways and taxiways, I would get up at around 4, swim a mile in the indoor poor (36 laps), shower, grab breakfast, run by base weather just to check the bigger pieces of equipment out (mostly the RADAR system), and then…

Multitasking, Microtasking, and Macrotasking

One of the most frustrating things in my daily life is reaching lunch and not having a single thing I can point to as “done” for the day. I’m certain this is something every engineer faces from time to time — or even all the time (like me), because even Dilbert has something to say…

Defining SDN Down

If a WAN product that uses software to control the flow of traffic is an SD-WAN, and a data center than uses software to build a virtual topology is an SD-DC, and a storage product that uses software to emulate traditional hardware storage products is SD storage, and a network where the control plane has…

Rule 11 is your friend

It’s common enough in the networking industry — particularly right now — to bemoan the rate of change. In fact, when I worked in the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC), we had a phrase that described how we felt about the amount of information and the rate of change: sipping through the firehose. This phrase…

Memorize — or Think?

I have several friends with either photographic, or near photographic, memories. For instance, I work with someone (on the philosophical side of my life) who is just astounding in this respect. If you walk into his office and ask about some concept you’ve just run across, no matter how esoteric, he can give you a…

Intellectual virtue and the engineer

On the 19th of January in 2009, Captain “Sully” Sullenberger glided an Airbus A320 into the Hudson River just after takeoff from LaGuardia airport in New York City. Both engines failed due to multiple bird strikes, so the ditching was undertaken with no power, in a highly populated area. Captain Sullenberger could have attempted to…

Out with the old: Make removing old technology part of your culture

Friday afternoon, late, and the new system is finally up. Users are logged in, getting their work done, and you’ve just received an email from the CTO (your boss’ boss’ boss’ boss, probably), saying what a good job the team did in getting things up and running so quickly. For once, in fact, the system…

How the Internet Really Works

Way back in April of 2014, I started a series over on Packet Pushers called “How the Internet Really Works.” This is a long series, but well worth reading if you want to try and get a handle around how the different companies and organizations that make up the ecosystem of the ‘net actually do…

Information wants to be protected: Security as a mindset

I was teaching a class last week and mentioned something about privacy to the students. One of them shot back, “you’re paranoid.” And again, at a meeting with some folks about missionaries, and how best to protect them when trouble comes to their door, I was again declared paranoid. In fact, I’ve been told I’m…

Micromanaging networks considered harmful: on (k)nerd knobs

Nerd Knobs (or as we used to call them in TAC, knerd knobs) are the bane of the support engineer’s life. Well, that and crashes. And customer who call in with a decoded stack trace. Or don’t know where to put the floppy disc that came with the router into the router. But, anyway… What…