2020

As always, I’m keeping this short.

2020 is here and I have focal point for the year. My optics are tuned and set on the follow list:

  • Clarity. In my mind and of others. All too often, I’m immediately responding assuming that I understand. Sometimes I don’t. It often comes off as rude or aggressive and it needs to change. This is a joint effort, but at least I will be the one to start the shift among my colleagues.
  • Project management. I enjoy organizing projects, drafting reports on progress and achieving varying levels of progress.
  • CCNP, Python, Ansible. The new CCNP is around the corner. It’s going to involve Networking, DevOps, and Automation. I’m getting it.
  • Action. There’s no waiting. Just acting. I’ll assess all opportunities that come my way, see if they fit with my 5 year and 10 year roadmap and execute on all opportunities that align.
  • Intentionally . Doing the best with full intentions of performing the best I can.

That’s it. I’m really just focusing on key skills, growing professionally as a manager and leader, and chiseling away at progress.

Reflection & Vision

When you’ve reached a peaked plateau in any aspect of your life, it’s easy to feel lost, and fogged. Especially when you’re at a peak – but your internal furnace that drives for growth and learning beyond your current levels continues to beg the question; what’s next? It’s common for people my age to want more – and more constantly. It’s often referred as greed. And the definition may be accurate with that statement. I’ll debate it later.

It’s not a bad place to be and I realize this. I’ve had mentors, father figures and friends refer to this point in life as many different things. All of which have resulted in complacency, losing businesses, or failing on their part of the deal in partnerships. That’s where I was earlier this year. I was at my turning point. A point in time where I could choose to make a change. It would either result in returning to Port, maintaining my anchor or setting sail for the high seas.

My decision? Well, none of the above. I overthink everything. I decided to come back to basics. Develop a strategy that will ensure my success – long term, expand on my foundation, and then embark on my journey.

So, I’m in the middle of developing key skills that will last me another decade in this vastly dynamic world of technology. Being a network and systems specialist is only a fraction of who I really am and even of that percent that I am, I can still be greater.

Skill #1 Systems & Networking – I’ll spend time learning Cloud infrastructure from a technical stance. Mastering understanding from a top level managerial view down to the cleanest whitepapers written by the creators of these technologies. Wikipedia is not a proper source.

Skill #2 Management – I’ll spend time learning how to encourage natural incentive and effort for a common strategic goal.

Skill #3 Leadership – being prepared and present more frequently in meetings. I’m already good at this, but I’ll be even better. Providing more follow up and follow through on projects and goals. Creating an environment of care and compassion among my peers and colleagues.

Skill #4 Entrepreneurship – I’ll work on my partnerships. Creating strategic partnerships that truly benefit both sides with sustainability in mind.

Skill #5 Personal – removing limiting thoughts and hesitation from my mental reflex. Preparing to be a father and a better husband with every opportunity.


I think it’s important to understand why I chose skills rather than certifications for my goals. Having an understanding of your desired skill will remove the limiting factors of choosing a single cert and believing that it’s all you need. In reality, I must master my skills, which may equate to five certs, 400 hours of video lessons and another 10 years of experience. The later is much more appealing and hard to beat, especially when competing against a team of nerds, a processor and code for future jobs. It also empowers me to go out, gather the best data on the subjects and study them to a mastery level – then apply what I’ve learned to be truly great.

Knowledge Curve

I’m going to keep this one short, like most of my posts.

The Knowledge Curve signifies the “possibility” of knowledge if someone were to have consistent and focused study throughout their life versus the typical life long learner that prefers a more sporadic approach – which is provoked by work demands or life changes. There’s no shame in learning as you go from a career perspective, but you can change your outlook on learning exponentially by having a more consistent approach to learning.

The key here is that you’re not “resetting” by allowing your brain an unnecessary break (several month’s or years). I specifically remember the first time that I obtained my CCNA. I had all of the textbook knowledge crammed in my brain, I was confident, and then I decided to stop labbing and maintaining my knowledge after passing my exam. Three years later, I have to renew my CCNA and progress onto the CCNP – but I lost a lot of the knowledge because I have not been using it in a practical manner. There’s a way to prevent this from happening to you.

Stay maintained and continue learning. It’s a life long venture; not a 5k race. Reading one topic a day for three years would have kept me on cusp of knowledge in the world of CCNA and honestly, it would have promoted me to learn CCNP before my renewal date… So now, I’m stuck renewing my CCNA again before I can even progress onto the CCNP. That’s not because of a limitation set by Cisco, but rather the inherent need to relearn all of the information that I put on the back burner three years ago…


Edit #1 – 8/25/2019 – Finished post and corrected grammatical errors.

Objective Study Partner

Look, there are many areas of life where having a partner is the best, and the worst. When studying, with two people setting common objectives and targets, makes for a successful partnership.

Just like this blog, it’s a place for us to dump projects, resources, and roadblocks that we identified throughout our journey. Luckily, we have different paths but a similar journey.

Daniel called me one day and asked me if I’d be interested in setting real objective goals. Well… I’m an MBA (humble brag), aspiring Network guru and I know Daniel is amazing at what he does, but he’s gonna have to write about that… With all of this said, what could I lose? It’s obviously in my blood to set goals and achieve them.

Daniel and I both have CCNA’s – to date. So, we set our first goal. In two weeks we will jump on a conference call (day 2 of my first real vacation!) to cover EIGRP and OSPF at the NP level. This means that we will both study independently, come together on a call and share what we both learned. Sounds a lot like your moms book club doesn’t it? Cringy…

But it works.

Get the emotions out of your head so that you can maintain peak clarity! This is a long road to travel (we’re coming for you ‘Pan-American Highway’), so find a reliable partner, fuel up and start rolling.

Cloud My Lab – 5.19.2019

Okay, I have to say, I’m really enjoying “Cloud my Lab”. They finally got my instance (Pod) up and running about 72 hours after my payment processed.

To get into the server, all I had to do was RDP in using my Windows RDP client and the provided IP and user credentials. Once I was in, I had all of the images pre-loaded and GNS3 configured for my first project.

For $30, I have to say, it’s totally worth it! Sure, it’s a convenience fee, but their technical staff stand ready to help with any trouble that I have.

In addition, I don’t have to worry about finding the best ios files and go through the hassle of uploading them. Also, this environment can be operated from a Chromebook RDP window app… that’s pretty convenient! I’ll create more posts later as I build out my lab environments and test additional features.

Edit:

I found out today that my instance, “Pod”, only has 4GB of RAM while my subscription is currently set to “Tiny” which supports 8GB of RAM… I decided to upgrade to a “Small” instance because I noticed a little lag when I launched my text editor “Atom.io”, after doing so, I checked the CPU and RAM from the system properties and noticed that I was not getting the level of service that I paid for during my original subscription period. I’ve contacted their support and they are working diligently to resolve my issue.

I’m very excited to have the full 8vCPU’s and 16GB of RAM! I may even use this system for remote testing VPNs and ICMP from outside of my network.

Edit #2: This is what matters…

I was completely wrong about the configuration and setup over there at Cloud My Lab. After discovering that my host machine only had 4GB of RAM allocated, I contacted support to get it fixed. With the $30/mnth “Tiny” package, you should be getting 8GB RAM. Each time I started a text editor or web browwser, the CPU and RAM would spike! So I was a little frustrated.

After communicating with support, they explained that the GNS3 hosted instance gets the 8GB RAM remotely and that the Windows Host that you RDP into only gets the 4GB… This made a lot of sense once it was explained. It certainly explained the reason for the Windows Host maxing resources while the GNS3 Host continued to respond perfectly fine.

Ansible (Red Hat) – 5.18.2019

Today, I’m installing Ansible on my Mac…

For Mac, you need to install pip, which is done by following the instructions provided by Ansible, which didn’t work for me, so I found an easier command:

$ sudo easy_install pip

With that command, I was able to make it to the next phase… which didn’t work. At this point, I was very frustrated! After deciding to read all of the instructions on Ansible, I found a paragraph regarding MacOS 10.9 . Well, I was running 10.14. It obviously inherited its bitchiness from 10.9. So, I ran the command:

$ CFLAGS=-Qunused-arguments CPPFLAGS=-Qunused-arguments pip install --user ansible

All problems were solved. At this point, I’m considering a degree in Linux based systems so that I can actually understand this shit. But no, I’m going to continue my path toward the #CCIE and #CCAr!


Credit: Ansible for making an amazing product that’s openSource, Apple for making amazing hardware with very low specs, and Cisco for being amazing.

Carpal Tunnel & RSI – 5.17.2019

Well, today is one year too late. I really feel like I’ve been abusing myself by not taking care of my RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury), which has now formed into carpal tunnel.

Between my daily commute where I put pressure on the wrist, the 8+ hour work days where I hold my mouse improperly, and the additional time on the computer at home has taken a toll on my right arm and wrist.

Now of course, this is a self diagnosis. I have not spoken to a trained professional, except for my family friend who is a licensed chiropractor. She has guided me for several months, reducing the strain on my wrist nearly 80%! This is huge. However, it’s still unbearable. I’m currently scheduling doctor visits with our local “Hand Center of Louisiana” to get my wrist checked out.

I’m feeling nervous, but less than I was eight months ago. I decided to postpone this procedure because I thought that it would take several months of recovery. After speaking with a colleague , it’s now apparent that I will be able to recover within two hours, functional recovery in four days and complete recovery within three months. That’s not bad.

If you’re experiencing pains in your wrist please consider getting ergonomic equipment such as a standing desk, vertical mouse, and standing desk! If you do not want to stand then invest in a proper chair that can support your body type with the option of adjusting between 90 and 130 degrees to allow for proper blood flow.

Seriously, take care of yourself. Invest in proper equipment, good food, and study materials!

Edit: I visited a doctor to undergo extended rehab. We identified about eight (8) areas of concern that have all lead to the issues in my arm and wrist. Seriously, starting in my ankles, progressing through the hips and through the spine… Please, spend the time to take care of yourself with daily stretching and ergonomic checkups. Doing this can help you avoid serious irreversible damage to your body.