Fear itself: Thinking through change and turmoil

14 December 2015 | 2 Comments

Fair warning: this is going to be a controversial post, and it might be considered a bit “off topic.” Maybe it’s just the time of year for fear. Or maybe it’s several conversations I’ve been involved in recently. Or maybe it’s the result of following over 150 blogs on a daily basis covering everything from…

Why aren’t you teaching?

7 December 2015 | 10 Comments

There is an old saw about teaching and teachers: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” This seems to be a widely believed thought in the engineering world (though perhaps less in the network engineering world than many other parts of engineering) — but is it true? In fact, to go farther, does this…

Assuming the worst is not the best assumption

30 November 2015 | Comments Off on Assuming the worst is not the best assumption

It was too bad to be true, but I should have known that assuming the worst was not the best assumption. I was driving the “other” car, the Saab, on the way back from the METNAV shop around eight in the morning. Since the shop was located in the middle of the three runways, this…

Personal Integrity

24 November 2015 | Comments Off on 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 one of us, is whether to champion a particular product or service, or to champion solving the problem at hand.…

Multitasking, Microtasking, and Macrotasking

19 October 2015 | 2 Comments

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…

Rule 11 is your friend

12 October 2015 | Comments Off on 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?

5 October 2015 | 6 Comments

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

28 September 2015 | 3 Comments

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…

The Silo of Focus

31 August 2015 | Comments Off on The Silo of Focus

How often, in our careers, are we told to focus on one thing at a time? I would guess I see some message about this, such as the image to the left in this post, at least once a week, if not once a day. In general, I agree with the sentiment. If you really…

Engineering Sense

10 August 2015 | Comments Off on 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 know that can lead to the murderer of the man on the golf course? Bobby and Frankie, the heroes of…