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The Soundtrack of Technology

I’ve mentioned before that I grow up around a very musical family. I remember on Sunday’s sitting around on the porch with the whole family playing music. Heck anytime I go back home to Tennessee, we go and play music until early in the morning. Now I was never much of a musician at all.  Although to be quite honest, I’d stand up to the crap today for sure. “You kids git off my lawn!!!”

The one thing I noticed is that life itself has a sound track, so it makes sense to me, that technology also should have a soundtrack. So from the somewhat legal music files of Jimmy Ray Purser, here is my recommendation for tunes based on the technology.

Switches: Traveling Wilbury’s. There’s just something about the smooth melodic sounds of this group that just ties the tech together. Switches are the focal point of the network so the band has to stand the test of time and have a happy tempo for sure. Hey it’s switching, one of the coolest technologies out there. Getting in the Ether groove is easy with the Wilbury Boys.

Routers: Rush. With routing, you’re climbing the stack a little higher and getting into more complex stuff. Oh sure you still a command line commando using your weapons of Command-Tab (Alt-Tab for Bill’s crew) between sessions using alias commands to shortcut longer commands, etc. You need some heady-er tunes that you can sing a bar or two too but also just enjoy the more intellectual groove it puts you in. Hard to beat Rush for that stuff for sure! Dad gum I feel all Mozart smart and stuff listen to this without being a whanker about it.

Wireless: Any Industrial or Trance Electronica. Personally I grab Enigma most of the time but I feed Trance Soma thru the lab and soak it up. With wireless, you have to imagine most of it, then test. There are so many variables in wireless you really need to use music to expand your mind and float ya down Maxwell’s currents to Fourier’s shores.  Other bands come with lyrics and memories that divert your focus too much.  Honorable Mention and super close second: Yes.

Security:  Radiohead. Namely the OK Computer album. Oh man you have to remember you’re plugging your network into the world and challenging everyone. Radiohead gets you in the groove, smashes the record then eats it. That’s what you need as a security person. Think outside the friggen box, against the grain and break the beer bottle over your head.

Hacking:  Ramones. OK when you start to hack, you are breaking the rules and the law in most places. You can’t take prisoners and have to be more like Francois L’Olonnais. He was a French pirate that actually ate an enemy’s heart to terrify the enemy prisoners to make them show him an escape route out of certain capture. They did and he escaped to fight another day. That’s the mind set of a good hacker. Whatever it takes to get your data will be done. Honorable Mention: Sex Pistols/PiL

 Data Center: Boston. Data Center technology is truly a solution that you have to not only work with multiple vendors but every single piece has work perfect for the server to boot off the SAN. So it needs something different, ground breaking and high energy. Hard to beat Boston for that task for sure.  I mean come on man! Tom Scholz (lead guitar picker) didn’t like the sound of rock music so he invented his own!! Plus he was such a perfectionist he delayed an album over two years until the sound was just right. Oh yeah, that is a data center mindset right there!  Honorable Mention: Daft Punk. It puts you on grid baby!

Storage: Pink Floyd. Storage seems to be the most elitist of all technologies. They do EVERYTHING different on that side of the world for sure. Kinda like eating over at a friend’s house for the first time. Not that it’s a bad thing at all. Their methods and practices are tried and true. They are responsible for the data itself so the rules of zero loss tolerance are non negotiable. When I was a young boot camp storage rookie, I’d question why this or that and the result was the same; “You don’t understand yet, but you will in time if you keep at it” That was the same answer I got when I said; “WTF???” after listening to Pink Floyd’s Animals album.

VOIP:  Bjork. Yeah get it config’ed so you can turn this off and go grab a beer and chicken wings at 80’s throwback bar and jam to some hair band tunes!

And to finish it up; my personal happy song…When I’m in a great mood and everything seems to be going A+ you can just bet that the song; “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and Waves is on a loop in my head!

So…music tends to be a really personal thing. I think I’ve seen more fist fights over music then girls or sports teams. (I need new friends, I know…) Do you agree or disagree with my song selection? What is YOUR happy song in the sound track of your life?

Jimmy Ray Purser

Trivia File Transfer Protocol

The first record to sell one million copies was The Glen Miller Orchestra’s “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” way back in 1942

It’s Just Something That’s In Your Blood

I love being an engineer. I mean I really friggen dig it man. When I was a kid, I would take apart everything I could to see not only how it worked but to see if I could mod it and make it do different stuff. It started out small with radios, CB’s, Antennas, then Atari 2600 consoles, then up to satellite receiver units, telephone systems…. I just couldn’t get enough of it. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But I started noticed board layout similarities. Things like power supplies having bigger components and more isolated from others. I noticed the closer you got to the user input the smaller the components became. They had funny symbols and colors that must mean something.

Heck I could take getting my butt whipped for acting out, that only hurt for a little bit. Of course my dramatic portrayal as; “That Really Hurt I’ll Never Do Again boy” would have received a standing O at the Oscars.  In a moment of clarity and brilliance my Dad starting taking away my garage keys where my lab was and oh man! That would always work. I’d straighten up and fly right. He was an Air Force man. That’s why I joined the Navy…I just loved the bell bottom pants and truthfully it helped getting to know Robb later on in life. Robb is a huge Village People fan.

Now the Purser family was known for two things; Making really good whiskey and playing that music!  I was born with a bottle in one hand (baby bottle with milk…I didn’t get booze until I could walk and stagger like a real man…my family was strict about that stuff) and a Fender Jaguar in the other. Although I did indeed play…I was not a musician. Not even close. OK I sucked. I started taking apart the pickups on my guitar and increasing/decreasing the windings of wire around the magnets to see how it changed the sound.

This is the turning point of the story where you’d cue up some dramatic tunes and sharping the camera focus on a single object then fade to rain on a window pane.

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TWTV Gear review: LEAP Motion Controller

I saw the pre-sales video on how the LEAP Motion Controller was going to change everything about interfacing with a computer. It sure looked cool and for 80 bucks, heck man, I willing to change the world for that amount…as long as I don’t have to do anything else. So I preordered this device and in time I forgot all about it.

Then when it showed up this week I was pleasantly surprised. It’s packaged very “Apple-like” inside and out. With a nice and easy set up routine, you can bring out your inner maestro quickly. Now, I tested this on my Mac running 10.8.4 with a 3.33GHz proc and 8Gb of RAM. It also works on Windows but I didn’t test that. Of course it’d be easy to start complaining about the sensitivity or that it’s not wireless and requires a cable.

Truthfully, I didn’t want it for that stuff. I was in presales for 6 years so I know the drill. I really wanted to see what it COULD do. I’m interested in writing code to this controller and how well documented and the structure of the API framework. Remember when the Microsoft Kinect came out? Many called it a disappointment and hated it. If you hated the Kinect, then you’ll hate the LEAP for sure. It will not replace your mouse or keyboard or Wacom tablet. At least the LEAP doesn’t have a dance off between Darth Vader and Han Solo….

What made the Kinect great was the API. It was a blast writing code to work in 3D space. I designed light controllers, a modeler using moveIT on Autodesk, etc. The openness of it made it awesome! Now it was cumbersome, and very “lab only” due to the bulky hardware, cabling, code base…but the LEAP…yeah…this could be the ticket.

Signing up for a developer account was simple as the set up. The controller supports C++, C#, Unity, Java, JS and surprisingly it also supports Python. I downloaded the SDK and watched day turn to night as I dug into the docs and begin at line 00x00. Coding in 3D space is something new to me and it’s really a fun challenge for sure.  

First off, my hats off to the LEAP folks for designing such an excellent API! It provides great abstraction and truthfully, for 3D rookies like myself, it’s good to see the libraries doing a lot of the work! For example, the LEAP has a ton of info on the human hand (palm position, speed, rotation, fingers, etc..) So if you make a fist then it sees no fingers or even use one of your hands and one of someone else’s.  It has those reference points built it.

Now operating spatially is difficult to code since most software is based on a flat surface as a reference then just add 2D input. Many 3D devices just use a basic trig functions to come up with 3D. The LEAP controller uses a right handed Cartesian coordinate system. So the movement is calculated from the center of the device. If you move right of center your +Y, +X and +Z. If you move left then your input is –Y, -X and –Z. Heck I smudged the sensor to see if I could trip it up and it detected it immediately told me to clean the sensor. Nice touch.

OK, long to short. Users will be like all; Meh… Code Jockey’s will rejoice!  I honestly believe these folks are onto something really groovy. I really like the potential the LEAP Controller has. Sure it’s version one but the LEAP folks put a ton of time really making this product extensible. Will it change the way you compute and get rid of the keyboard/mouse. Nope. Not a chance. Users demand a tactile feel. However, like a Wacom tablet, track ball, Nintendo Power Glove (just kidding on that one) it can really augment your experience.  It’s a fantastic API, great community support, great language support and it’s well documented. The LEAP crew is really interested in this product being successful. I called their support and they are really great. No mass of cursed IVR recursive loops. They just answer the phone. If you’re looking to use this like Tom Cruise on Minority Report out of the box you can forget that man. However, you can certainly code it up TO do that. The LEAP library has a fair selection of apps both free and fee based. Again, considering this is a new launch, the selection of apps tells me they have been courting and working with many 3rd party code houses to get ready for this.  I am working on config-ing Cisco Prime to interface with this right now and really making excellent progress even for a hack code jockey like myself! 

The TechWiseTV recommendation is 4 of 5 bottles of blue milk.

If you’re a code jockey and really looking to break into something new and groovy, this is the ticket.

Jimmy Ray Purser

Trivia File Transfer Protocol

The arcade game Space Invaders was so popular in Japan that it actually caused a coin shortage.

TechWiseTV Episode 131 Network Game Changer

I gotta be honest here. I not a big fan of many of our marketing programs here at Cisco. Well, really it’s the launch vehicles that I think are too flowery and silly to be honest. I’m sure analyst clap their hands with glee.  

I like that aggressive attack style of marketing that challenges competitors and makes huge claims that we have to back up. Stuff like; “Yeah, we invented routing. Ours is the best, suck it Juniper” or even; “Oh you built a switch out of off the shelf Broadcom chips HP?…cool story bro. When you’re ready for actual innovation call your Cisco rep and ask about the 6800-X” I love that stuff man…make the claims and let the engineers fight it out like a MMA match. Last one standing gets the RFP.

When we were approached about the next marketing launch; “Game Changer” I actually laughed out loud. What game are we changing here? Yet another type of ACL’s or adding another VPN technology? Yeah..ummm…Woot.  Look, I get the drill; we have to release new stuff to keep the product line fresh. It’s the story of manufacturing. That’s why some car years are meh and others are incredible. Like 1957, 1963, 1969, 1973, etc…those cars changed the game. The gap in time is due to engineering hours to development and prototyping. It takes a very very long time to build anything from CAD to green board product.

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My Top 5 Networking Pet Peeves

I was sitting in a small tapas café in Barcelona with Robb and his wife enjoying a plate of Jamon Iberico. It’s amazing ham served with tomato bread and it is the best ham I have ever ate in my life.  Oh man, one slice in your mouth and your taste buds sing like David Lee Roth on Ice Cream Man. We cannot get it in the United States like that. It was illegal in the U.S. for a while then they started selling it, but it’s not even close to the same, don’t waste your money. OK either way, I’m getting off track here, it’s awesome, and plenty of yums were heard.

As we were sitting there, I popped my knuckles. I’ve been doing it since grade school. So now, I just do it without thinking about it kinda like breathing. Robb’s wife leaned over to me and in a kind and delicate Texas accent said; “if you pop your knuckles one more time I’m gonna jab this fork right in your skull…bless your heart…”  Understand too, she had been eating dinners with us for about a week now listening to me blabber on about OSPF timers, ASIC floor planning and how much power the Death Star would need to actually blow up a planet. Robb is used to it. He’s had seven years of Jimmy Ray practicum training, but his poor wife…man, respect to someone that has that much control to last a whole week.

We all have pet peeves that we either hate or do that other folks hate. Of course not you dear reader, your perfect, keep reading. Like any engineer, my pet peeves are indexed, cross referenced and compartmentalized. I have them for fishing, scuba diving, racing and of course…networking. Here are five things that really make me say; “Oh Dude…come on man!”

Peeve 00x01: Setting long TTL’s and/or long XLATE timeouts. Network Geeks are like the digital equivalents of Jack Lelanne (including the blue jumpsuit) they all want to reduce something. For us, it’s network traffic. Setting long TTL’s will work…but if you make a fat finger error typing something… it may take hours before you know it.  Plus, many social sites that are pulling content from other sources are sitting their TTLs in the seconds range. Don’t do it. Resist the dark side because troubleshooting this is a real pain.

Peeve 00x02: Using the HOSTS or LMHOSTS to get around something; “real quick”. Back in the day, when Microsoft network used WINS (they still do and yes you need to config it), these files saved a tons of time especially in the earlier Outlook Express days and it’s much faster.  MS networks resolve names in the following order LMHOSTS, Local Cached Info, HOSTS file, DNS then NetBIOS. (you can change that behavior in the SYSTEM.INI file). Sounds good right? Ahhhhh….NO. All networks now are very DNS centric although the name resolve order is still the same. So if ya make a change in the HOSTS file, then later on run into an “odd DNS error” you know one that makes ya say…Hmmmm…never saw that before…that’s odd…chances are it’s a HOSTS file. Too many hours of troubleshooting cutting into our XBOX 360 time have been lost here.

Peeve 00x03: Lack of Documentation. Nobody likes it. Ok I can feel myself getting mad typing this one….It seems like a waste of time especially as busy and dynamically changing as our jobs are. Without documenting and/or commenting scripts/configs you are not only putting the network at a massive risk, you are absolutely guaranteeing that you’ll be called in on your day off or vacation. Basically, you’re a friggen whanker. When I’m at a Star Trek convention dressed up as a Klingon showing off my totally groovy Bat’leth moves, it’s a total buzz kill to take a call on legacy firewall rules that I didn’t either clean up or document. Comment configs, write down changes, type it in a doc. Store it in a central place for IT teammates. Do not make it long and detailed or you’ll stop doing it. Time (24 hour clock), Date, Exact Change, System name, Your name. This quick and simple procedure will save tons of time and really make you the network rock star! If you don’t take the time to document, when you pass away, your eternal punishment will be following someone driving slow in the fast lane, riding shotgun with an old man talking to his grandkids on a cell with bad reception in a Prius with Justin Beber playing on the radio non stop. 

Peeve 00x04: Using non routable User Principal Names.  Ah remember when Family Guy was still funny and domain.local was just fine? Then along came this friggen cloud thingy and messed everything up. Many network admins have tested cloud technologies and turned them away due to slowness, SSO not working, log on failures and other “weird errors” Then here comes the bashing! “Cloud Networking sucks worst the Star Trek NG episodes with Barclay in them” Look folks, Barclay does suck for sure, cloud networking can really make our life A TON easier! If you are still using non routable UPNs, you’ll have a ton of cloud issues. It’ ain’t gonna work! Flipping over to a routable one is really easy and hey, since it’s TechWiseTV, I’m here to help! (Otherwise I charge by the hour…) Chances are most users are using their email (SMTP) namespace then just:

-          AD DomainsTrustsright click PROPERTIES then add Alternative UPN. Add your domain you actual own and use for email.

-          Now you can use my cool script thang:

Import-Module ActiveDirectory

 Get-ADUser -Filter * -SearchBase ‘DC=domain,DC=local’ | ForEach-Object ($_.SamAccountName) {

 $CompleteUPN = $_.SamAccountName + “@domain.com”

 Set-ADUser -Identity $_.DistinguishedName -UserPrincipalName $CompleteUPN

 }

I just used this a couple weeks ago at a site having probs with Office365 in a test lab. Worked great!!

Peeve 00x05: Not verifying backups. This is the last one because it’s the biggest one on the list. If you forget everything else, please, I beg you, test your backups at least once every two weeks. I do not mean the verify process that runs at the end of a cycle. Your logs should tell you successful backups for sure. Test them. Pull the media from a few random servers and restore one in your lab. Make sure your team knows exactly how to do this.  Learning this during a system failure will destroy your cred with the check signers. DOCUMENT THE TEST!!! (that’ll save your tail in a post mortem analysis). Like our favorite sports teams, our networks will fail. Sometimes for a good reason and other times…you’re gonna be like…ummm…what?  No doubt about it. Practice it like a fire drill because in many ways it is. I have seen many good IT folks shown the door because of data loss. Data protection is the absolute easiest thing to get money from bean counters on. Nobody wants to be the no vote on that line item. If so DOCUMENT IT! My Dad always taught me; “Never go cheap on what comes between you and the Earth” Buy the best shoes, socks, tires and mattress. I’d add backup solutions to that list also.  Buy the best and know it inside and out.

Well looks like TechWiseTV is going back to Barcelona for VMWorld. Now where did I put that helmet??

Jimmy Ray Purser

Trivia File Transfer Protocol

The name; “Fido” is linked to dogs because of their loyalty.   Fido comes from the Latin root word “fidus” meaning loyalty.