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 |

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 |

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 |

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…

False Dichotomy

13 July 2015 |

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 problem, and the Wall Street Journal went off line for several hours due to a technical malfunction. How should engineers…

The right tool for the job

1 June 2015 | Comments Off on The right tool for the job

This last weekend I set a toilet, replaced five faucets, and put together the beginnings of a workbench. No, I’ve not resorted to working in “the trades,” to make a living — I’ve been slowly but surely finishing and refashioning our “country house” to better accommodate the time we spend “in the country.” One of…