Month: January 2018

Blogs and Podcasts for Networking Pros

As an aspiring networking pro, I am always looking for new ways to learn anything I can possibly cram into my brain. Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot of time to waste trudging through massive technical books. I already spend most of my home time cramming things like BGP, content switching policies, and data center facilities standards. Still, I want to learn more. Since I feel like vendor docs are full of bias, I prefer to use the filter of blogs and podcasts by people trusted within our industry to fill that gap.

Anyone who has been in networking for more than a few blinks has googled a problem while waiting for an answer from technical support. There’s a very good chance you found your answer on a blog. For example, I recently ran into a problem where I found an interface in an LACP Etherchannel that had dropped four times as much layer 2 receive traffic as the other interfaces in the port-channel. After consulting my Sr. Engineer, who pointed out the likelihood of a physical issue, I started searching for the problem. I was using a 7 meter passive TwinAx cable to go back to the core switch, which had been supplied by a vendor. It doesn’t get much simpler than passive TwinAx, it’s practically copper ethernet, so I started looking at the cable as the potential culprit. A little googling later and I found that passive TwinAx becomes unreliable at best beyond 5 meters. I swapped the run for OM3 on short-range SFPs and Viola! The interface counters normalized, even counting far lower than the other two TwinAx connected links. Thanks to a blog, I solved in an hour what would have been a multi-hour shuffle around by the vendor. I also took a moment to add the RSS feed of that blog to my outlook.

Podcasts solve another challenge: What should I do during my long boring commute? Well, I could move closer! Oh yeah, houses are expensive inside the perimeter. No thanks, I’ll just listen to podcasts while I drive. Podcasts actually pointed me down the path into infrastructure networking. I googled my way to the Packet Pushers Podcast as I was trying to sort out what I wanted to do in IT. Since then, I’ve enjoyed their take on the networking world 2-3 commutes a week (and I’ve joined Ethan Banks and Greg Ferro as a podcasts guest for two fun-filled shows). That leaves me with left over boring commute time, so I found more podcasts! Problem solved. I’m using my time to it’s fullest. If you’re new to podcasts, the process is simple. Search for the podcast by name in iTunes or your favorite podcatcher and add the podcast to your feed. Note: I prefer Stitcher. Not everything is on Stitcher, so I also have Podcast Addict on my phone for a few exceptions.

When I started to follow these blogs and podcasts I didn’t know the impact they would have on my professional work. I took my will to avoid breathy whitepapers (which still have their place) and boring commute and turned them into the opportunity to be more proficient in my job. I’m hoping these examples inspire you to add a few blogs to your RSS feed or follow a podcast or two.

This post is long enough, so I’m just going to list a few of the blogs and podcasts I frequent most often. If you have any blogs or podcasts to recommend, please do so in the comment section below. These are just my go-to resources, but I’d like to know what you use. Hope this helps you in your journey!

Podcasts

Blogs

Mission Accomplished: CCNA ICND2

7 months ago I wrote a post about the CCNA being impossible. I basically raged at Cisco for doing a terrible job at including everything needed to know to pass the test in their recommended study materials. I definitely still think that’s true, but I still managed to pass ICND2 yesterday! Now for the run down of the testing experience.

I’ll begin at the end. I left the testing center with an incredible mix of emotions. When I clicked “End Exam” I expected to get a $165 printout of the areas I needed to improve. That’s actually what I was going for. I didn’t expect a passing score. I just wanted to walk away with a plan to pass the next attempt. My chest wasn’t pounding with stress this time when I clicked the button. I was prepared to see a red score on the next page, so when I saw “Success! You scored 850 out of 811,” I honestly felt a lump well up in the back of my throat. After all the late night coffee and Monster fueled lab binges, after buying my 2nd copy of Odom’s ICND2 study guide just to re-highlight anything I didn’t know by heart, after earning honors by blowing away every exam in college and having my confidence stripped by 3 failed ICND2 attempts…there it was when I least expected it.

And I really didn’t expect it. This attempt was by far the worst Cisco exam I have taken. The wording was not just obscure, it was downright cryptic. I blew through the labs, but spent multiple minutes on some multiple choice questions because I couldn’t figure out what Cisco was asking. It was like the test was written in another language and run through Google Translate. Worse yet, I believe multiple questions exhibited poor technical word choice. It would be a question such as “Spanning tree interface behavior x [left out so cisco doesn’t sue me] is performed in which of the following modes.” It would then list out all of the interface roles and status, with both a role and status matching. Now pick one. Only one. As in radio buttons, not boxes. So you’re to ascertain from the question whether it’s a role or a status, right? Wrong! There no such thing as an interface MODE in spanning tree. This isn’t trunking!

The good news is I finally didn’t see any frame relay or RIP on the test. The IP addressing in questions was also about 50% IPv4 50% IPv6, so Cisco is really getting serious about IPv6. That I definitely loved.

I must not be too disgruntled. After I finish writing this sentence, I start studying CCNA Security.

 

Materials used include:

Books

Labs/Sims

Video

  • ITProTV ICND2
  • CBT Nuggets ICND2
  • LiveLessons ICND2 via SafaraBooksOnline.com