Master of None

Should you be a johnny do-it-all, or so deep that no-one understands what you are saying? It's time to talk about the shape of knowledge—and how important it is to be intentional about

By |August 21st, 2017|Categories: LEFT, MENTAL, VIDEO|1 Comment

Troubleshooting: Half Split

The best models will support the second crucial skill required for troubleshooting: seeing the system as a set of problems to be solved. The problem/solution mindset is so critical in really understanding how

By |May 16th, 2017|Categories: LEFT, SKILLS, TROUBLESHOOTING|Comments Off on Troubleshooting: Half Split

The Perfect and the Good

Perfect and good: one is just an extension of the other, right? When I was 16 (a long, long, long time ago), I was destined to be a great graphis—a designer and/or illustrator

By |February 27th, 2017|Categories: DESIGN, LEFT, SKILLS|Comments Off on The Perfect and the Good


If I could choose just a handful of skills you must learn to be a successful engineer, being metacognitive would certainly be among them. What is metacognition? OOne of my favorite books on the virtue

By |February 15th, 2017|Categories: SKILLS, Uncategorized|1 Comment

Personal Integrity

There is, on a daily basis, a choice you must make as a geek, as someone who is involved in technology — particularly in the world of computer networking. The choice we always face, every

By |November 24th, 2015|Categories: LEFT, SKILLS|Tags: , |Comments Off on Personal Integrity

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

By |October 12th, 2015|Categories: LEFT, SKILLS|Comments Off on Rule 11 is your friend

Engineering Sense

Why didn't they ask Evans? For those who haven't read the famous Agatha Christie novel, the entire point revolves around a man uttering these words just before dying. Who is Evans? What does this person

By |August 10th, 2015|Categories: LEFT, SKILLS|Tags: |Comments Off on Engineering Sense

False Dichotomy

Last week wasn't a good one for the cause of network engineering. United Airlines grounded flights because of a router failure, the New York Stock Exchange stopped trading for several hours because of a technical

By |July 13th, 2015|Categories: LEFT, SKILLS|1 Comment

Own the Problem

In the late 1990's, I was on the routing protocols TAC team in Raleigh — which means I answered the phone, and said things like, "This is Russ from Cisco TAC, how can I help

By |May 4th, 2015|Categories: LEFT, SKILLS|2 Comments

Freedom to

Pardon me if I go a little bit on the philosophical side of life as a network engineer this week, but we need to have a little talk about freedom. This last week, Ethan wrote

By |April 13th, 2015|Categories: LEFT, SKILLS|Tags: |1 Comment


Part 1: Getting Inside the Loop Part 2: Orientation Part 3: Decide! Once you've observed, oriented, and decided, it's time to act. This might seem like a minor concept, but it's actually really, really hard

By |March 16th, 2015|Categories: LEFT, OODA LOOP, SKILLS|Tags: |1 Comment


Last week we talked about orienteering — using models and information to orient ourselves to what's going on in the network. This is part of the OODA loop, which we talked about two weeks ago.

By |March 9th, 2015|Categories: LEFT, OODA LOOP, SKILLS|Tags: |Comments Off on Decide!

Getting Inside the Loop

Metadata doesn't just apply to data science or protocols — it applies to engineering life. Think about the concept of epistomology — the study of how we know what we know — or the concept

By |February 23rd, 2015|Categories: LEFT, OODA LOOP, SKILLS|Tags: |Comments Off on Getting Inside the Loop

On Losing

When I got off the phone, I knew I'd blown it. I'd gotten so wrapped up in the discussion on eVPNs that I might have crossed over that magical line between, "this is a really

By |January 5th, 2015|Categories: CULTURE, LEFT, SKILLS|Comments Off on On Losing