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!
- Packet Pushers Podcasts – iTunes, Stitcher, etc.
- Wireless LAN Professionals Podcast – iTunes, Stitcher, etc.
- Network Collective – iTunes, Stitcher, etc.
- TWIT (This Week In Tech) – iTunes, Stitcher, etc.
- Defensive Security – iTunes, Stitcher, etc.