The Art of Network Engineering

Ep 145 - Tales from the Tech Trenches with Ian of My Minds Madness

May 08, 2024 A.J., Andy, Dan, Tim, and Kevin Episode 145
Ep 145 - Tales from the Tech Trenches with Ian of My Minds Madness
The Art of Network Engineering
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The Art of Network Engineering
Ep 145 - Tales from the Tech Trenches with Ian of My Minds Madness
May 08, 2024 Episode 145
A.J., Andy, Dan, Tim, and Kevin

This episode was recorded February 22, 2024

Ever wondered what lurks behind the blinking lights and tangled cables of network engineering? AJ is joined by mustachioed sidekick Kevin, and together they're peeling back the layers of this tech world with a sprinkle of humor and a dash of wisdom. When the AT&T network wobbled, conspiracy theories abounded, leaving us chuckling at the mayhem while appreciating the unsung heroes: network engineers. Our conversation takes an exhilarating twist with guest Ian from My Minds Madness, who walks us through the inception of his networking-centric community and the unpredictable rollercoaster of content creation and personal branding in the digital age.

Remember the old days of setting up computers and making coffee? We sure do! Our chat takes a nostalgic turn as we recount Ian's stars in IT, including some truly bizarre interview experiences. Picture a data center group problem-solving session that felt more like an escape room challenge than a job interview. These memories pave the way for discussing the importance of seizing opportunities and networking within your organization, which can lead to leaps from service desk roles to specialized teams - a testament to the power of management support and career advancement through proactive skill development.

Lastly, Ian shares his pivot from teaching to the adrenaline rush of cybersecurity, reflecting on the influence educators wield and the tough calls made when further qualifications beckon. We wrap things up by highlighting the thrills and spills of working with Managed Service Providers, and the fulfillment derived from mentoring others through content creation. From offering cheat sheets to those studying for CCNA certifications to the potential of Packet Tracer for budding network engineers, this episode is chock-full of insights for both seasoned techies and newcomers to the field. Don't forget to tune in for an engaging blend of laughs, heartfelt stories, and nuggets of wisdom from the trenches of network engineering.

Links from the Show:
Ian's CCNA Quizzes - https://www.mymindsmadness.com/quiz-pages

More from Ian:
Twitter - https://twitter.com/mymindsmadness
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/mymindsmadness/
Web - https://www.mymindsmadness.com/

Find everything AONE right here: https://linktr.ee/artofneteng

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This episode was recorded February 22, 2024

Ever wondered what lurks behind the blinking lights and tangled cables of network engineering? AJ is joined by mustachioed sidekick Kevin, and together they're peeling back the layers of this tech world with a sprinkle of humor and a dash of wisdom. When the AT&T network wobbled, conspiracy theories abounded, leaving us chuckling at the mayhem while appreciating the unsung heroes: network engineers. Our conversation takes an exhilarating twist with guest Ian from My Minds Madness, who walks us through the inception of his networking-centric community and the unpredictable rollercoaster of content creation and personal branding in the digital age.

Remember the old days of setting up computers and making coffee? We sure do! Our chat takes a nostalgic turn as we recount Ian's stars in IT, including some truly bizarre interview experiences. Picture a data center group problem-solving session that felt more like an escape room challenge than a job interview. These memories pave the way for discussing the importance of seizing opportunities and networking within your organization, which can lead to leaps from service desk roles to specialized teams - a testament to the power of management support and career advancement through proactive skill development.

Lastly, Ian shares his pivot from teaching to the adrenaline rush of cybersecurity, reflecting on the influence educators wield and the tough calls made when further qualifications beckon. We wrap things up by highlighting the thrills and spills of working with Managed Service Providers, and the fulfillment derived from mentoring others through content creation. From offering cheat sheets to those studying for CCNA certifications to the potential of Packet Tracer for budding network engineers, this episode is chock-full of insights for both seasoned techies and newcomers to the field. Don't forget to tune in for an engaging blend of laughs, heartfelt stories, and nuggets of wisdom from the trenches of network engineering.

Links from the Show:
Ian's CCNA Quizzes - https://www.mymindsmadness.com/quiz-pages

More from Ian:
Twitter - https://twitter.com/mymindsmadness
LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/mymindsmadness/
Web - https://www.mymindsmadness.com/

Find everything AONE right here: https://linktr.ee/artofneteng

Speaker 1:

This is the Art of Network Engineering podcast. In this podcast we'll explore tools, technologies and technology keeping. We aim to bring you information that will expand your skill sense and toolbox and share the stories of fellow network engineers. Welcome to the Art of Network Engineering. I am AJ Murray at no Blinky Blinky, and tonight I am joined by Kevin. The man, the myth, the mustache, kevin.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for joining me.

Speaker 1:

No, I don't. I don't think you can now. Yeah, I don't think you're going to be able to shave that off. I think we need to get a sticker of just that mustache.

Speaker 2:

So I like it.

Speaker 1:

Put that on the laptop, you know some swag stuff for Cisco Live.

Speaker 2:

I like it.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, yeah, we can absolutely do that. So, so you're, you're definitely attending Cisco Live. Yep for sure. All right. All right. I know that we are going to try to get additional members of the A1 team out there to Cisco Live this year. I'm not sure who. Hopefully all of us would be great, but I'm not sure how realistic that is. So so if you're definitely going to be there and if no one else gets a chance to, we are going to send you with some A1 swag.

Speaker 1:

And we have little wireless mics that we we can send you as well, so that way you can do some interviews with folks on the floor, create some content and send it back. We can add it to some shows and all that good stuff.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it'd be fun.

Speaker 1:

But outside of the podcast, how you doing. What's what's keeping you busy these days?

Speaker 2:

I'm doing well today it was. I was looking into that AT&T outage, that very mysterious AT&T outage, and it's been fun listening to all the conspiracy theories, All these people who are not technical whatsoever thinking about, like you know, is it aliens and is it Russia who could be causing this big outage. That's been fun.

Speaker 1:

Well, if AT&T had their tinfoil hat on, they probably would have been protected.

Speaker 2:

Well, I'm sure they want to blame anyone other than themselves. Right now. They might be the source of all those conspiracies. I don't know.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I thought that was really curious. So I am an AT&T customer, as is my wife. You know we're on a family plan. She happens to be traveling. This week she's in Orlando for a conference and when I woke up this morning she texts me. She's like hey, my phone's not working and I'm like mine isn't either.

Speaker 2:

It's like you mean not in the same state. Oh yeah, yeah, all the time, All the time yeah.

Speaker 1:

And so it's like well, the bills paid. I'm not sure what's going on. It's pretty much where it didn't go and you know we're both scrolling the internet and come across that there's been an outage since like four o'clock in the morning and it went until three, three thirty this afternoon.

Speaker 1:

It's almost 12 hour outage. It's just absolutely crazy. So yeah, that that was also a chunk of my day Just kind of curious. And you're right. I mean you know, listening or reading people in the people's thoughts of the discord are it's all about the dream discord. There was a lot of great hypotheses about what was going on. Obviously, dns was the number one.

Speaker 2:

DNS and BGP and BGP.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, close, close behind. I was talking to stub area 51 in the discord and I thought it was interesting. You know if it is a peering problem. Apparently they still turn the radios off on the 5G networks and it's just like wow, I would have thought they would have left the radios on and maybe still let some phone calls go through, particularly local E911.

Speaker 2:

But apparently they're all pretty important stuff.

Speaker 1:

It's all IP based these days, so no peering, no, no work E no Blinky. Blinky is I like to say.

Speaker 2:

There you go, further proof that networking is still needed. You need, still need network engineers.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, you flip one bit and it goes from networking to not working. I love it. Good stuff, good stuff. Well, I am very excited about our guest tonight. I have been talking to Ian for a very long time and he was gracious enough to uproot his life and a change to fit our clock. I know it is very early in the morning for him, but Ian is the man behind the my Minds Madness account on Twitter. He posts a ton of great CCNA content and he's on other social media platforms as well. Ian, welcome to show. Thank you so much for bending your clock and spending some time with us tonight. Cheers for having us along. Really excited to be here. Before we really kick anything off, I have got to ask you why my Minds Madness? Where did that come from as the name for the account? I mean, I know.

Speaker 3:

I definitely have like a branding issue with my.

Speaker 3:

Minds Madness. It started. It happened around COVID and it was just meant to be a place where I would dump all my ideas for things like I do music, I do networking, I do woodworking, and it was just meant to be like this kind of place I could dump all that kind of stuff and it just turned into networking. Only, I don't know why. Like, I just really enjoyed it. I found this community and it just kind of took off and I've really enjoyed having it be my Minds Madness and yeah, it's just stayed as a networking platform ever since in my mind. So it was meant to be something else, but I'm happy with what it is now.

Speaker 1:

So you know I love it. I'm not certainly not being critical of it. I absolutely love it. I was just wondering where that came from, and you know that that makes a lot of sense and I really enjoy what you're doing with it.

Speaker 3:

To be fair. I mean, there's a lot of madness going on up there, so it seemed apt.

Speaker 1:

So so far listeners and anybody watching on the live stream. Where on this big, beautiful blue globe are you located?

Speaker 3:

I'm based in Scotland and I was recently out at Glencoe doing some skiing. If you've been following us on Twitter.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I have. I was going to ask you about that.

Speaker 3:

Yeah it's a really, really nice trip out there and we were lucky as well because the chairlift broke like the day we went home. So so I got my skiing in before that happened. But yeah, out in the UK, born in England, lived in Scotland for pretty much most of my life and that's that's kind of where I am in the world and it's absolutely beautiful. I love Scotland. Like it's one of those beautiful places in the world Like pick any direction other than East.

Speaker 2:

Drive.

Speaker 3:

Drive and, yeah, I'll hit, I'll hit just beautiful scenery wherever I go. So it's it's amazing, so all right.

Speaker 1:

So I've been to Glasgow and I've been to Edinburgh. Where, where?

Speaker 3:

I'm on the Edinburgh side of the country, ok, and just a bit further up north, by about 60 miles, in a place called Dundee.

Speaker 1:

Gotcha OK, all right. So I used to work for a company that had a large presence over in the UK. We had a location, a couple of locations, in England and then we had a location up in Glasgow and I had a very rare but very fun opportunity to take a train from Peterborough up to Edinburgh, hop to another train and then head out to Glasgow. Yeah, and that was a ton of fun and I even spent 24 hours in Glasgow and I don't remember a lot of it. That sounds about right.

Speaker 3:

That's how most stories in Glasgow go, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So fun times, fun times, all right so go ahead.

Speaker 3:

I was just going to say they're both like absolutely beautiful cities as well. Glasgow gets a rough, time for being rough, but you know it's it's still a beautiful city, absolutely, and yeah. Again. Like you, you meet some of the friendliest people there as well.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, for sure, ok, so. So let's go back. How did you get into networking? What, what happened? That kind of sparked you, pushed you into the direction of, of working, all with all these ones and zeros.

Speaker 3:

Well, I certainly had no interest in it, that's that's how the story starts All right.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, now, when I was in school, computing was an optional course, mandatory in your first two years of, like our secondary school, but then after it was optional and I dropped it like a lead balloon, so it's I just held no interest for me at the time. To be fair, though, like it was IT, so it was more about, like you know, learning how to use word and Excel more than it was computing, if you get my meaning. So I just I didn't have a good introduction to it. I could play games, happy with consoles and stuff, but that was as far as my interest went.

Speaker 3:

When I was leaving school. I wanted to get into making guitars and doing and doing a luthiery, and then when that fell through because there's nowhere in the UK that did it I just kind of dosed around for a little while doing odd jobs, working in bars, restaurants and even a call center for a while, and then I think it was the. The work in the call center was the last job that I had before I actually got into networking, and it's because I got quite friendly with the IT get IT guy there and we, you know, yeah, just helped him out on a couple of rules, and I remember once he asked me to go around and like grab all the IP addresses off the devices because they were all written on top at the time. So I went around, grabbed everything, came back and went they're Mac addresses.

Speaker 2:

Go again.

Speaker 3:

Off. I went. So, yeah, did that, and I sadly I was made redundant from the call center and at that point I was probably quite low. But my dad was like, hey, there's an open day at the local college, why don't you just go check it out? And I happened across a table where a chap I'll never forget him, alan was sitting right there so you could try computing, like you know some courses here. And I said, cool, how do I, how do I sign up? Like what's the deal? And so I go home tonight sign up for the course that you're interested in and then come back on Thursday, which this was a Tuesday that was in the building. He's like come back on Thursday for induction day. I said, cool, must have been desperate for some people. And so I went away and I signed up, for first was software development, because I thought when I'd worked in the call center, I'd worked on GUIs, I was like these could be better. So I was in that kind of mindset Maybe I could design better, being, you know, having been a user, maybe I could do better for the user. So that was my kind of initial thought. Signed up for game development as well, and then graphic design. So why not? So no networking at all. Yet Walked into the induction day on Thursday, was getting ready to start the classes and then this guy called Jerry walks into the room and just basis had thinking around the third stream of networking.

Speaker 3:

It's the most difficult course we have to offer but we go through all of the Cisco Netacad content in that time and if anyone's interested we're just looking to get some more numbers into that course. Firmly kept my hand down. I still wasn't interested From on his last day, jeff. It was just like there's more money in networking. Oh yeah, god, I'll give that a shot. It was so into networking I went and I'm so glad because I've never looked back after that.

Speaker 3:

And I think I remember the first time I truly fell in love with it was when I configured my first sty group Like just a default route on packet tracer. But you know, just doing that is like I can make a talk to be, no matter how far away they are, and I think that's what spurred my interest. And then, as I've got more and more into it, I've just fell in love with it because networking is a purely logical endeavor and I've always been a fan of logic puzzles Like you get these Einstein logic puzzles where it's like, okay, frank has a hat and he's from the States, yeah, and you have to solve those and they're fun to do in Sudoku's, they're nice and networking is just about that kind of stuff. You can sit down and figure out the logic behind things. Then that's networking.

Speaker 3:

So I found that I've fallen more and more in love with that as time's gone on and went through all the content and the Cisco Netacad content at the time when I was studying it, which would have been like 2011, 2012,. That was quite rooting switch heavy at the time. So even at the time you're doing like OSPF with, you know, message digest, hash and getting all that kind of stuff between them. So you've got secure neighbor messages being sent back and forth, so stuff that isn't even touched in the CCNA anymore, you know, and it's. I just fell in love with the content and the way that it was delivered and this cool piece of software that was Packet Tracer and played around a ton on Practical Kit. The college that I went to had a full lab that we could play with, which was really good and, yeah, like I just fell more and more in love with it. And now here I am. What's good? 12, 13 years later and still doing it. That's great.

Speaker 1:

So you did Cisco Netacad. I mean, did you get your CCNA at Netacad?

Speaker 3:

No, the I did. When you finish Netacad. If in the last semester and this still applies now, actually if in the last semester you score 75% or more in the final written exam, you can get a 50% discount voucher to go see CCNA. Okay, all right. So I do remember qualifying for that and not sitting it in the period time that I had to renew the voucher. Because when you finished semester four or the fourth course at the end of the college year and then went into summer and I just kind of dove straight into work at that point and got a placement, so I was more learning the job than I was more interested in getting the certification at that time, gotcha, so kept working, I think a year out of college though, I passed my CCNA. It was part of my kind of plan to move forward, so I did go on to pass it shortly after, but it wasn't within the college that I did it, gotcha.

Speaker 1:

Gotcha. So what was the first job out of college then?

Speaker 3:

The college itself hired some soon-to-be-ex students to do the IT refresh effectively, like hauling out just computer after computer into rooms, laying them out, putting the mice and keyboards down, all that kind of stuff, plugging them in and installing the operating systems we used to have to go around with two.

Speaker 3:

USB sticks between us to install the operating systems into all these hundreds of PCs, taking old ones down. I always found that one quite funny, though, because when you first start out, I remember we were loading up a trolley and the MaxRooProt is like 10 PCs or going snail-pace along the corridor pushing these 10 PCs on trolley Don't dare crash. This thing falls off. That's like my entire wages packet. I'm not going to do that. So you're being really, really careful. And then by the end of the second month that you're doing it, you're walking along with a lean-in tower of PCs just running down the corridor, get them in, get them loaded. So I find that fun.

Speaker 3:

But that was my first job. So it was a placement which didn't pay. Fantastic. I had to actually take a pay cut to do it because I was working as a barista through college and because I could earn. I could work more hours as a barista than I could to do in the summer placement. I actually had to take a gamble and be like all right, well, this is less money than I'm going to earn because I can't work 12 hours a day, sorry. So, yeah, I ended up taking a small pay cut on that, but after that I got my first kind of proper job, I'd say in IT, rather than summer placement, and that's when I got a service desk engineer role. I know we all kind of like the entry in the service desk yeah.

Speaker 1:

Trial by fire.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it was. That was one of the weirdest interviews I've ever had.

Speaker 2:

Well, a guy tells us more about that. Good story. Good story, kevin.

Speaker 3:

So the company that it was a data center and basically their service desk, had pretty much just been poached by another company in Dundee and so they were losing quite a few members and quite quickly had to replenish the team. So they did this kind of mass employment drive where all one morning about 20 odd people walked into this hotel you know reception, and you know there's bacon, rolls, coffee, everything that you could, you know, fill your boots with and then pulled everyone into a little room and they gave us like a one to one with the CEO not one to one, sorry, one to many with the CEO telling us what they were trying to do, what they accomplished, what the goal was for the day. And then we all got broken into like four little groups and we had to go off and do separate tasks. So one of them was just for half an hour. There was going to be one to two interviews between, like, a current member of the service desk and one of the HR folk, and it would just be that kind of one on one thing.

Speaker 3:

Then there was a practical assessment that we had to do, and I remember that because you're sitting at this laptop. It's like what's the serial number of this laptop and I'm staring for a second. No one's doing it, and I lifted the laptop up to look on the back of it and then, moments later, the two guys beside me did the same.

Speaker 3:

I was like okay, I'm on the right, I'm on the right path here, but I even remember in that one there was even one which is like you know. It broke down like what's your familiarity with different operating systems? So like what's commands in Windows for this, what's commands on Cisco for this, what's commands in Linux to this, and at the time, like I could only remember LS, I don't know. So did the practical. Then we had to do a group kind of troubleshooting thing where we all had to sit together as a team and then they would ask us the most random of questions, like train leaving Edinburgh to London is traveling at 56.3 miles an hour. Train leaving London to Edinburgh is traveling 61.2 miles an hour. How you know how fast will? When will the other train catch up with the first one if they keep going back?

Speaker 3:

And the aim of the questions is that they were absolutely ridiculous. Without any aid of computer you're never going to be able to solve them really. But they were just more interested in like how do you approach the problems? And so I say some of the questions were really really good in that sense and you had to really think about how you would solve that problem logically. So even just that train one, for instance the train from Edinburgh to London would reach London before the train was able to overtake it in any way, because it just wasn't going fast enough for the amount of miles it would cover. So you had an answer in that sense already. But yeah, that was just weird. But what's? That was going on every two minutes.

Speaker 1:

there's more, there's more.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, told you it's weird. Every two minutes someone in the group had to stand up and go pull a post it off a wall and that post it just said one word on it, right, and you had to vamp for what that word was. So I remember I got birds. I just had to talk about birds for 30 seconds. So like it's bizarre, yeah, and it's the weirdest thing I've ever done, but again, I think it was just more that like, how do you handle pressure? How do you know, how can you come up with stuff and can you still sound knowledgeable as you're doing it, even if you're under a lot of pressure? And they were simple topics, mean, like birds. But you know, it's just very, very weird how they made you do all these steps. And, yeah, I got that job.

Speaker 2:

Thank God.

Speaker 3:

I would have hated to go through all of it to not get the job, let's be honest, yeah, but yeah, very, very weird one that on the service.

Speaker 1:

Sorry. So you said at one point you were doing a team project. What was this like you working with the folks that work there, or was this? Everybody who was interviewing for this spot had to work together as a team Everyone who was interviewing for the spot had to work together.

Speaker 2:

That is so weird and were they hiring the group? Them, like all the people in the group, would be hired.

Speaker 3:

I mean, they were planning on hiring a few people. It didn't mean that the people in your group would also be employed, so weird. Yeah. Again, it was one of those. How'd you work in a team? What kind of roles you take on in that scenario, do you become a leader, do you become a father, that kind of stuff.

Speaker 2:

I'm curious. So you worked with those people because you got the job right. Yeah, Would you say. The people they hired, that was like effective. Those people were good.

Speaker 3:

On the first round of employment. They only hired two people, one of which was a mate of mine, but he sadly had to leave just for personal circumstances. So it was just me.

Speaker 2:

So, in conclusion, I hired you which is take A plus.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. What about the other people that worked there? Did they have to go through that same process?

Speaker 3:

No, they never did anything similar again. It was a kind of trial run. Let's see if this works.

Speaker 1:

But I can't imagine. Why.

Speaker 3:

I obviously took them an entire morning. It was very weird At the same time like I guess if you need to replenish an entire team of people, then maybe you try something different Hunger games.

Speaker 2:

I feel like a hunger game might have been more effective.

Speaker 1:

I mean, no, I get it, it's logical, right? You want to see how people work in a team. You want to see how they think on their feet and under pressure. That checks all the boxes there and that's definitely more than what you might learn in a typical interview. So, man, I understand and see the reasoning for it, but wow, what a strange process.

Speaker 2:

I would hate to be the hiring manager. That would just kill my day right there.

Speaker 1:

And you know, I feel like something stupid would be like well, that guy did a much better impression of a bird than the other guy. So what exactly are you being evaluated on here?

Speaker 3:

I have heard rumors of other kind of mass employment drives where they do something similar, where they can do something as simple, as someone will come over and put your hand on your shoulder and say you can go home.

Speaker 1:

That would be harsh right.

Speaker 2:

I'm glad they didn't do that.

Speaker 3:

Brutal.

Speaker 3:

Yeah but the service desk job itself was awesome because you were also other than just being service desk and kind of dealing with requests on server side and dealing with backups and restores and DNS entry requests and all this kind of stuff. You were also the first line for our tickets coming in. So when that was happening from either our alerting system or from customers, we were just on that front line of responding to all those requests. And it was good because it gave me a more general view of everything that's going on in my environment. You know it's not just about the network, it is about the Linux server, it is about the other elements of the infrastructure that you're there to support as a network engineer. So it made me understand those a bit more from many, from a hardware perspective and OS perspective. So that was good. I enjoyed that.

Speaker 3:

But the advantage is I could see every ticket going through to the network guys and to me. That was where I went to. It was a very big open office space and I knew I wanted to be sitting in those seats where these four other guys were and I basically just went along and said, right, I want to, I want to be coming over here. I know a bit of networking. Can we set up maybe read only access to some of the equipment so that when a networking ticket comes through I can, like pre-work on it, give you what I think my change request would be, write it all up for you and then send it on the way to you guys and maybe save you some time in work?

Speaker 3:

And I spoke to my team, which had populated to more than just me at the point, said hey guys, any networking tickets that come in like fire in my way first so I can have a quick look at them and then I'll pass them on from there. And the basic rule was anything that wasn't a P1 could come through me first and I could have a stab at it. I would never be able to change anything. I just have to write up what I thought the request would be or what the commands would be, and fire onto the network guys. And then, when a space came up, you're like well, ian's been doing really well at working on all this, so why don't we get him to come here and we'll do a secondment? So I got seconded into the network team for a little while, got given a project to work on and after the successful completion of that, that's when I got full time moved over to the networking teams. That was awesome.

Speaker 2:

Now did you have to convince your management or your leadership to have you do that? Because you're taking away your responsibilities from your you know your other duties.

Speaker 3:

It was. I didn't have to do it personally, I just had to give you know a convincing argument that I'd be able to handle it. You know, and I think, the way that it worked I was over a two week period. I'd have to do in one week, three days on the service desk, two days on network and then following week it'd be flipped. So overall they were all getting, you know, five days out of me over the course of two weeks. So as long as I made sure that my work wasn't slipping on the service desk, and if at any point there was any requirement for me to stay on the service desk like maybe there was a P1 that meant I had to help do some of the work and some of the comms, I would have to jump back onto the service desk.

Speaker 3:

So I was there kind of back and call if I needed to.

Speaker 2:

But that makes sense. Yeah, that's great that you had the backing of your management and you know leadership actually. Let you explore that, because I know a lot of places won't.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, yeah. I mean I think, as the company I work for, they were very big on like this is your family run kind of shop. So they appreciated that effort and let's say it was just a big open office space which I know, like Andy doesn't like, he likes his quiet room to have, which is I love that myself now that I'm in the role.

Speaker 3:

But at the same time, it was a great opportunity for me to be able to just turn around, walk over and ask these experts questions on networking and then just kind of go back to my desk and carry on. So it was really great for my own development in that front being in such close quarters to these people and to be able to make an impression with them and say, like I want to come into this team. What do I need to get there, you know, start doing work and make their lives a bit easier. I mean, that was one of the other things I was able to say when I was on this column. It's like, well, I've already been doing a lot of the work because I'm writing some of the change requests up and sending them on anyways. So it's not massive, it's not going to make a massive difference. It's just that now I'll actually have some permissions that can make these changes, which would be fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that makes sense. That kind of echoes to what, how I was in the knock and I got promoted there from following the tickets and, you know, actually looking at the networking tickets, seeing what they solved and escalating it there. And so that you know, I think people don't who are in the help desk or knock positions they get kind of overloaded with tickets and they just try to do their job and I think if you do it right, the right way, where you want to have a goal and get promoted, that's exactly how you do it, so that's awesome.

Speaker 3:

I think there's. There's some danger when you're in the service desk of you have a KPI to meet which is like get this many tickets responded to in such a space of time. You don't have time to spend 15 extra minutes on a case and that that can be very detrimental to that progression. In that sense, if you're having to spend that time just making sure you meet those KPIs, that can be detrimental.

Speaker 2:

Good point yeah.

Speaker 3:

If you are in that opportunity where you can spend even just 10 minutes, you know or that can help and that can help you progress, and that 10 minutes of showing interest can do wonders for your own progression in that sense as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, not even the skills that you're learning, but the people who you're escalating to you know they see your name.

Speaker 3:

The questions that you ask.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly. So when it comes time to interview and they see your name, you know that's like oh, I know that guy, he's good. Exactly, yeah, for sure. So where'd you go from there?

Speaker 3:

From the network engineer and role at the data center. I then got into teaching.

Speaker 2:

Now, how did you make that job? Why? What was the reasoning for that?

Speaker 3:

When I was at college and I'd been working with my lecturers, Simon and Chris and Alan, I'd just seen fun and how enjoyable and how rewarding it must have been to be teaching. And I remember saying to Chris, my lecturer that. I want to come back here in like 10 years time. I want to come and teach in. You know, I want to go out, get experience, come back and teach. And then he just happened to reach out to me about eight years early into that plan and said I'm leaving.

Speaker 2:

You're desperate now, yeah, well, he would say.

Speaker 3:

I'm leaving to go to another university and you'd expressed an interest. I think you'd be a good opportunity for you here. So if you want, apply and I'll kind of back you if you want. So I went for the application. That interview was much more easy. No trains.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, well, no, no train this one.

Speaker 3:

I had to basically had to do a presentation on like collision domains and the presentation would have been to someone who was technical and then the person in HR. I was like, well, I need to aim this at the person at HR. They need to be able to walk out of this meeting understanding Like doesn't matter if I like go so technical that the person who is technical understands it to a massive degree. I need it to go basic so the person who doesn't know what it is you know will understand it by the time we come out. And I think I ended up choosing like the old traffic light system you know. So, like two cars going bang, traffic lights control it. But yeah, that interview was fun. And then I started teaching and I got into teaching netcats for doing that for eight years I it was, so teaching was your full time job.

Speaker 1:

Full time job yeah, oh, okay, all right, so it wasn't like a part time evening class, like that's what you did. Full time, yeah.

Speaker 2:

You left your engineering job? Yeah, I was like nope, I am now now a teacher.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, and the thing I'll say about teaching it was both the best and worst thing I ever did was the best of times, it was the worst of times it was the best because, again, what I'd seen that rewarding behavior of like being able to teach people new things and have them develop and grow, to the point where even recently I was actually just out for drinks with my dad and the student an old student came up and was like thank you, like you're the reason why I'm buying a house this week. Yeah, and that's like when you get kind of feedback like that, that is genuinely warms your heart. You just feel fantastic for knowing that you've helped someone progress and develop in that way. And for the first few years because I only left with a HND, so I've not been to university, so I didn't have a master's or a bachelor's or anything, I just had like one of the lower levels I found out that I apparently should not have been teaching the level that I was teaching at because I had to have won over. So for the first three years anyway, I went through like all the kind of qualifications that the college required me to go through, so my teaching qualification, all those kinds of things. So I got all that done In that time.

Speaker 3:

My CCNA did expire but I had to renew it anyway, but it was at the kind of end of that three year mark when I kind of got a bit more of a taste that my personal development wasn't as important as the development they wanted me to do, kind of. So for the entire time through this three years I'm saying like after this I want to kind of aim for my CCMP. I was studying it before I came to teach. I want to go for that. And then you know, it's government run facility, budget cuts happens like, ah, we can't really afford a 200 pound exam, so okay. So it kind of after you break your back working for a company and then you find out they're not going to support you in quite the same way.

Speaker 3:

It hurts your feelings a bit really the most, but didn't mean I didn't take advantage of what they did have to offer, which was which was some good stuff, because after the three years and after this kind of point in around 2018 where I was like I started becoming unhappy teaching like the teaching part, fine, it was everything else in the background not developing, you're not live, troubleshooting, you're not doing things on bigger networks and teaching you kind of rinse and repeat every year, like I was teaching that I can't semester one, two, three, well, for first, and then turned into three and then academic year starts again and just go back to the beginning one, two, three and I was starting to get a bit bored of that repetition. I found, like, different ways to deliver the content, did all these different kind of things, but that was just purely for my own benefit, to keep it interesting, yeah. And I think it was around that time where I probably start getting worried about how I go into industry after this or how I get back into industry, because four years in to teaching like that's terrible, like I might as well have not been in industry at all anymore because I've. So I think I think that's when my my kind of what I now have, which is imposter syndrome to. I think that's when that started developing. You know, I know everyone says imposter syndrome because it's it's just one of those things, but I genuinely felt in that kind of even at 2018.

Speaker 3:

I was like, if I tried to go back into industry, I'm going to have to take either a significant pay cut and go right back down to the bottom to work my way back up Maybe quickly, but that's maybe what I'm going to have to do or I'm going to have to like, really, really sacrifice, like my family time and spending time at home and getting this kind of quality life that I've built now, and that might have meant me maybe traveling a bit further down south than having a larger commute, so I can maybe get a better wage but spend more time traveling.

Speaker 3:

You never know. And one thing I decided to do, though, was, as I've mentioned, because I only had a HND. I needed to have the level above to be able to teach HND Apparently, so one of the things that you can do in Scotland is they have something called a graduate apprenticeship, and cool thing about that is, as long as your company that you work for is willing to give you one day a week to go do this course. You can go and do a bachelor's or a master's for free, which is the best part about it.

Speaker 3:

Wow yeah. And again, I can't flaw Scotland's education system for that. Like the fact that I can get my bachelor's for free is phenomenal. Yeah, I think when you look at the bill it's like one penny so, but it's done by a skills development.

Speaker 2:

Scotland.

Speaker 3:

Like I'll take that deal yeah. So basically one day a week, I started traveling down to Glasgow and I got my bachelor's in cybersecurity, and then that was now an extra three years on top. So now we're like 2022. And that's when I finally made the move and left the college as a teacher and went back out into industry.

Speaker 2:

Now can I ask you a question? Yeah, why cybersecurity? Was that just because that was the closest to networking, or were you just pointed towards security at that point? I mean, we were pointed towards secure.

Speaker 3:

I mean, I have interest in it. I'm a network engineer. Security and network can go hand in hand. It's not like the two are two completely different fields of study. So we knew that at the college we were developing cybersecurity courses as well. So it would be beneficial for me to have that anyway. But in general one it was an interesting topic. I've now found that I've not interested. I'm still more interested in tech now at this stage of my career. So it's not like I'm trying to pass these things away. But yeah, I was more interested in and cybersecurity is a phenomenal subject to kind of get into and sink your teeth into in general, and I think I did do three years on that course and learned a ton. I did have to go through Netacad again, which was kind of funny.

Speaker 1:

You taught it. You were teaching it yeah.

Speaker 3:

I had to go through the first semester and I got to the end of it. I went to the lecturers. I was just like, by the way, I've done this I've done it so much that I even teach it every year I can tell you what the answers to the questions are. So I can tell you what the questions are. That's how much I know. So yeah, I was at a point and I did manage to get those units just carried over. I think I had to sit like some kind of fast track course thing. But basically I just sat at the exam and was like, yeah, you're fine, you don't need to come to this class. But the downside of that was I still had to travel Glasgow that one day to go to class and then I'd get like a two hour break whilst everyone else went to networking and then I had to go back into the other class. So it didn't save me any time.

Speaker 1:

So what was the job after teaching?

Speaker 3:

The job after was actually a cybersecurity engineer for a telecoms company, and it was my shortest role I've ever had.

Speaker 1:

Okay, all right, before we get to that, while you were interviewing for that role and I bring this up because there's no parts. No, no. Zatharian on the live chat on YouTube brought up a great point. The education experience had to be good for the resume. So in that position and I guess the future positions we'll talk about what was the reaction from the people you were interviewing with about you teaching? But I mean, I assume it's got to be like great curious.

Speaker 3:

Well, that was kind of a point. So in 2018, when I had that thought like I'm either going to have to go all the way back to the beginning or try something else, the thought was to buffer my resume by getting my master or my bachelors in cybersecurity. So I thought, if I can't get the industry experience, then maybe this might help me. Now it was a weird sidestep for me because I've always been a proponent of experience over education as a teacher. It's a weird one for me to say, but you gain more from experience in scenarios than you do from reading a book.

Speaker 2:

That's just as simple as it is. Can I go to?

Speaker 3:

that At that point I was like but cybersecurity is still a very new field in that sense and some of the best jobs are going are all requiring a bachelor's or something in cybersecurity, because it's some evidence of experience in the field which is still very new. So it was a good shout for me on that front to go for cybersecurity so that I had recent and relevant knowledge on cybersecurity which enabled me to go for that next role and get out and be earning a greater wage than I was teaching.

Speaker 1:

And so when you were interviewing, did they have any comment? Were they impressed at all by your experience as a teacher?

Speaker 3:

Some places were because the idea of being able to pass knowledge down was desirable. So there's a few places that I interviewed for where that was a good thought. Some places didn't like it so much for the same fear that I had, that it was a case of what industry experience is relevant for you at the moment. Like, have you touched this?

Speaker 2:

Have you touched that?

Speaker 3:

No, I've touched it in labs, but no more, and sometimes it backfired on me, which is entirely what I anticipated it to do all the time. Okay, all right.

Speaker 2:

Did you find yourself shoehorned into training? I was a teacher for a couple of years in high school and I found myself always being picked to be the trainer of the new guy or whatever they knew. I had experience there, so I'm curious.

Speaker 3:

It's not something that has been apparent in my jobs after, but it's certainly something that I know. The company I currently work for like me, for I like teaching. So when there is someone who wants to learn something new, I'm like, yeah, come on like my day's chocker, but I will spend 15 minutes right now.

Speaker 2:

Let's do it.

Speaker 3:

So I do like doing that and I try my best to make sure I'm sharing my knowledge as much as possible, which is again kind of what happened with my mind's madness. I had information that I wanted to get out there and thought this could be a good way to do it. So I like sharing things, I like helping others. So it's not that I'm getting pushed into a teaching role. I still enjoy doing it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's going to be. My next question is are you getting that outlet through your website and being able to pass a knowledge on what it is? Is that just you want to get that outlet for your passion to the?

Speaker 3:

masses Pretty much. I mean, my mind's madness really started off with just kind of I called them cheat sheets, but they were just infographics that I had up and I think my favorite one, for certainly at the CCNA level, was just routers like high numbers, switches like low numbers, if you have a protocol. I remember I've sat the CCNA exam like three times at the stage and I know fine well, and one of the first times I sat it the worst questions I had were like oh, there's an election process happening on this device, what's it going to like more than the other? And I remember freezing up it was like oh crap, is it the lowest MAC address? Is it the highest MAC address? Is it the lowest IP? Is it the highest IP?

Speaker 3:

And when I kind of got to that point, if routers like high numbers, so IP layer three high numbers work really really well and layer two down it's low numbers. If you can remember that, then chances are you're going to get the question right. It's not a rule that's held fast in the higher levels of your certifications. There are other ones where routing takes a lower number, but for your CCNA level it's pretty much ubiquitous. It works.

Speaker 2:

I took out your cheat sheets and I love them. I like how you can equate it to just basic, everyday things like subnetting as a pizza. Yeah, I love that. I think there was some traffic diagrams and that kind of stuff on there too. I know that a lot of people respond very well to that. That's how I learn. I have to have an image in my head and kind of put it in terms that I understand in my everyday life. So they're great.

Speaker 3:

I recommend them. Another favorite was one that I had to get a John Capio Banco to check because it was like this seems too simple to be correct and it was just simply like the idea of having your centralized management for your controller, and it was like it had an image of a person in the brain thinking I want to move my arm Fantastic. And then the next to it was just the brain was outside the heads. Like Simon says, move your arm. That's perfect, it works.

Speaker 1:

I thought it was just really too simplistic. That's great. So I want to bounce back to your cybersecurity engineer rule and why that was the shortest role you've had.

Speaker 3:

It just wasn't as advertised. Like, as I'd said during teaching, I'd been missing troubleshooting, I'd been missing getting my hands dirty doing practical work, and that's what this role was kind of promised to be. And when I got into it it was just more like fill out this presentation so that I can take it to the board later on.

Speaker 3:

I say ah, okay, that's not as good as what I wanted and I will give them the due. When I pointed that out during my probation periods, they're like well, maybe we can do something to assuage your feelings on that front. But at that point I was just a bit like I've had this taste here. I'm not quite as happy as I want it to be. I wanted something a bit different. So I think I'd already made my mind up really. But I do respect that they took their time to say we really enjoy having you here, Like you do do a good job. We're sorry it's not been technical enough, but what can we do, you know? So I did appreciate that. So how long were you there? Three months, Three months, Wow, Literally the end of my probation. I was like a week before.

Speaker 1:

The board didn't even finish closing on the way in.

Speaker 3:

And it's a shame because the things that I could have done from the cybersecurity perspective like there could have been a lot of career progression in cybersecurity. Instead I'm now in a knock, but I'm in a knock that deals a lot with security anyway. So we're kind of becoming a sock in ourselves as well. So I don't feel like I've hindered myself. I just feel like I've got myself in a better position where I get to get my hands dirty and also get to work on my knowledge and develop myself as well.

Speaker 1:

You know, though, kudos to you for identifying early on that this just isn't working out. But if you can tell now, three months in, that this is as good as it's going to get and it's not where I need it to be, I mean, there's nothing wrong with that. I know there's a lot of critics that will say, like, oh you know, if you bounce around too much on your resume, it's not going to look good. It's just like if you have a perfectly valid reason for not wanting to be there, move on.

Speaker 3:

I think the joy on my front there is like I had eight years at the same place behind me, so it's not as if I was bouncing around. They're just genuinely wasn't a nice fit, like you say, and it wasn't working for me, so I made that decision, moved on, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I have a similar experience at a past job. I only spent three months there and it was because the bill of goods I was sold was not as delivered when I started working there and, quite frankly, it was. There was this really weird counterculture that existed at that organization where, you know, you get on a call and it felt like, literally, you would get on a call and everyone would be like, hey, did you see so and so who's not on this call right now? Did you hear how they completely screwed up XYZ and it's just like this is horrible. What kind of a team culture is this? It's not like this is lame. Culture is the worst. Yeah, yeah, and you know, I just I thought it was like a one off thing, but it happened on every single call I joined and it's like you know what this? This isn't for me.

Speaker 2:

No, quite right. I think the probation period goes both ways.

Speaker 3:

You know you're on probation, but you're also evaluating the company. That's entirely right, like it's entirely what I've based my decision on. Anyway, it's like I've I've been evaluating this three months. I've got an opportunity to get out with a minimal notice before I have to like sign up for a three month notice period or something Like do I want to do? I want to stay doing this job for significantly longer If I'm not enjoying it currently, like so yeah.

Speaker 3:

I'm glad I took the opportunity because you're entirely right, it's your opportunity to assess the role as well. So in that probation, I personally think, if I was an employer, if someone said I left in probation because it wasn't a good fit, that's a good reason to leave rather than yeah.

Speaker 2:

For sure. I would think that would be a benefit. You know I'm like, hey, this person knows what they want, and they're not afraid of taking risks too, so let's call them.

Speaker 1:

So I want to talk about that for a minute because that's a very big cultural difference between the UK and the US.

Speaker 1:

I am familiar with the three month thing that you just brought up, where you have to give your employer three months notice before you're allowed to leave and move on to your next position, and I think some of that has to do with it gives them time to find your replacement, you to potentially train your replacement, and it is a very different thing. Here in the US, I mean, the expectation is that you give a two week notice, but most places are at will employment and you know so. I think a lot of the times, particularly with IT positions, when you give a two week notice, you're let go usually same day or by the end of that week, because you have administrative control. There's fear that you might do damage or plant some sort of a time bomb before you walk out. You know there could be a number of reasons, right, but it's a very big cultural difference. And so I'm sure for some people when they heard you say like oh, three months notice, like what?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, don't get me wrong, three months is probably one of the longer notice periods I've ever had, but I think the kind of standard in the UK is one month, one month's notice for for most of what I've discovered is the further you go up, the longer the periods tends to become. Again for that reason, to help you kind of find a replacement and all this kind of stuff.

Speaker 2:

Now is the opposite extended to where a company would be like hey, we're going to eliminate your position, but you have a month to find a new job. Yeah, they well, they can.

Speaker 3:

So during your probation period, for example, you can get I think I had a week's notice, so in within a week. They would say, right, we want to let you go in a week's time. That'd be it right. So you'd get that kind of week's notice so you can at least get your affairs in order After your probation. They would give you the same notice period that you have to give them. So if you're going to be I mean, when I was made redundant it was a case of you don't have to work the rest of the day like you can go home.

Speaker 1:

That's fair.

Speaker 3:

But no, like if they are going to let you go there, they're meant to give you that same notice period. But again, it's not that. That is a hard and fast rule. I think even in the UK you can say, no, I'm leaving, and I'm leaving today, I won't be back in tomorrow, but then you will suffer the idea of they can maybe withhold pay, I think, and stuff, so that kind of thing can happen. Interesting.

Speaker 1:

All right. So from the cybersecurity engineer job was the next position where you're currently at. Or all right. So what do you do today?

Speaker 3:

I work as a senior network engineer. For a knock for a managed service provider, okay, and it is everything that I wanted it to be.

Speaker 2:

Which is the good thing.

Speaker 3:

Like I was saying to you earlier, like in the week, that I'm looking to progress still it's not like I'm stagnant and I'm going to be staying here but I have missed this dive into technical learning and gaining experience through all these different platforms, and one of the best things that I could have picked is I picked a Cisco partner. That was a good step right there from my point of view, because I just love Cisco. I think they've got some incredible stuff out there and, yeah, there's other competitors and they're fantastic as well. I got to play around with some Juniper stuff and some Fortinet's, all this kind of stuff. They're all great, but I just love Cisco.

Speaker 3:

It's been my way in, I've taught it, I understand it. It's just, yeah, it feels like home. So, like when I got to work with a Cisco Go partner and now they've had their master specialist certification as well in networking so like it's a phenomenal company and I get to play around with all sorts of new technologies that I never would have dreamed of playing around with. So it's just phenomenal, I love it. And then, yeah, get to troubleshoot my ass off.

Speaker 2:

I think MSPs get a bad rap in that they're, you know, think the thought of as being very fast paced. You get no breaks. You know everything's on fire all the time, would you say that's accurate.

Speaker 3:

It is accurate to an extent. Like you know, we have a good team so that you know fire is distributed evenly.

Speaker 3:

But, you know, I guess it depends on what kind of you want to learn, like we around the same time that I started, another chap started.

Speaker 3:

Now he left after just again, that was paced was maybe a bit too much for him and he would do really, really well as a network engineer for a company where he managed that network probably, and like he could know everything about that one network and he'd be phenomenal at that job.

Speaker 3:

But I think when you have a managed service provider and you have to go from dealing with a DNA issue for five minutes to then jump into well, this is now an FMC managed on CDO and you have to learn all these different things and you have to jump from one network to another in a heartbeat, that can be really, really challenging and that's not for everyone. But if you want to learn, which I really did, then it is the place for you. Like, because you will learn so much in all these different networks because you're forced to switch on a dime, as you guys would say. You know to be able to go from this network to another and Disassociate what you were thinking about five seconds ago and start working on something completely new as well, and I think that's really one of the best things about being in managed services that kind of constant changing of environment, that you're never kind of too comfortable which can lead to getting bored.

Speaker 2:

That's true. I you know it's one of those things where I've never worked at MSP before. But when I do something I've got to focus, you know, like to shut everything out and I am zoned in on what I'm doing, and I can't imagine having to, like, switch back and forth and still be able to perform and do the detailed work that you need to do. So that's, that's amazing to me.

Speaker 3:

I think one of the best things about it, like, say, is as the senior team, I have more leeway to spend more time on a case.

Speaker 3:

So the only time I really need to jump into something else is either a to help a colleague out and just be like all right, well, what's happening, let's see if we can figure it out together for a few moments, or be something's just gone on fire and they need me on it, like, so normally it's a case of I get to sit down and work on.

Speaker 3:

So I spent all day today looking at a weird ice issue, like just trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together, figure out what was going wrong, and that was my day today. There was a couple of moments where I had to help out with some firepower stuff and generate some logs for some people, but mostly I was focused on on the ice stuff that I was working on today. And yeah, like in the senior team, as you go up through that kind of layer, like again, you get to spend more time on an issue rather than having to be so frantically jumping from case to case, which is what we're kind of experiencing in the service desk and our kind of front lines.

Speaker 1:

All right, ian, with our last little bit of time here I want to pivot to your content creation on my mind's badness and kind of understand more for our listeners. What kind of content do you create? Where do you put now there into the world, and what kind of people are you I don't know trying to attract with your content?

Speaker 3:

Right now trying to attract people who just want to change their lives with the sea. I mean, the CCNA has done so much for me. It's changed my life. Getting into networking it's made my life completely different, and I found it very late, and I just want to help people kind of get into that as well and be able to change their lives and get into a career that they can build Like. I've had lots of jobs. This is a career you know like, and I appreciate that very much. So any help I can do to get anyone on that kind of page I really want.

Speaker 3:

As for the content itself, I say I started off with just these kind of cheat sheets. I think I've done as much as I could at the time. There's lots of them out there. You can get them on our website. They're done as just general files on GitHub as well, so I've got a bunch of repositories where I store all these kind of things. My blog as well. I do a lot of lab based blogs and walkthroughs, like how to configure HSRP, how to configure DHCP, snooping, all these kind of things. My recent blog, though, was just on Radkit, which is awesome. We can talk about that after if you want, but the kind of main bread and butter of my day to day contents, my daily CCNA question.

Speaker 3:

So, every day on Twitter and LinkedIn. I just post a simple poll question, which should be similar to the kind of thing that you would find on the CCNA. It's just the idea of micro engagement with content should help you learn and pick up on tips and tricks, and I will try to throw the occasional curveball in there that we'll put in, as we call it, Cisco English Stiled questions. Right, Try to confuse you with words and that they do.

Speaker 3:

So, yeah, I tried to put in a few of those, but for every question that I put up on Twitter, you can actually access them all for free on our website, mymindsmadnesscom. I've got them set up as a just generic form so you can do them in banks of 30 roughly, because they do them by month. So you can fill them out, get feedback on every single answer as well, not just the question in general, but if you select the wrong answer, it has an explanation as to why it's the wrong answer and all that kind of stuff. So that's as free as I can make it.

Speaker 1:

So are these questions that you've developed yourself.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, every single one, Like I. Just I typically these days originally it was I'd maybe spend like 10 minutes a night trying to come up with a question and then the next day I'd answer it and try to come up with another one. But these days what I do is pretty much every Saturday I kind of sit down for a couple hours, write out a bunch of questions, get them loaded into my kind of pre-population app and then load them into my Microsoft forms as well with all the answers and questions so that they can be loaded onto the site when they're all finished. And, yeah, been doing it for two years now, so there's over like six, seven hundred questions on the site that you can just access for free like get general feedback on all of them, which I think is a great free resource.

Speaker 1:

But that is beautiful, that's fantastic. I mean, I knew you had the. I did not realize it was 700 deep.

Speaker 3:

That's amazing, yeah, that's because what if you do it? It's been what? Three hundred sixty odd questions for the last two years. So yeah, I must be up to about 700 by now, If I'm not close to it, if anything.

Speaker 1:

And so are these questions at all in line with, like the current CCNA syllabus, which includes a little bit of automation, virtualization and things of that nature?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I do my best to make sure that I try to cover the topic. Like often when I'm coming up with the questions I have the syllabus in front of me so I can try, like cherry pick some things out. But what I have been doing this year when I started back up is that every week I focus on different area the six syllabus. So I've had this week off just because I've had a nice little annual leave and I've not done any questions this week online. But I'll be starting back up again for Monday and we should be right back to like network fundamentals and then the week after that it should be connectivity, the week after that should be switch it.

Speaker 3:

So I'm trying to make it that you've got seven solid days of questions on a particular area and mainly in the hope that anyone who study in that particular topic that week can hopefully hit some good questions. And then again you can pull them up on the website and just go through the whole banks of them if you want. So the only thing I will say about the banks is that I do nothing to wait the percentages of the questions, so like automations worth like 15% of the exam. I think I don't do anything that says like right, in these 30 questions there's 15% which is automation, 10% which is security. So I don't do anything like that. Just as many questions as I can think of, I just throw out.

Speaker 1:

Gotcha. Ok, very cool. Oh, that's, that's fantastic. Now I know you're big into troubleshooting, yeah, and you, you and I were talking earlier about some fun stuff that you've done with packet tracer. Can you, can you explain a little bit more on that? Yeah?

Speaker 3:

Firstly, I want to come to packet tracer defense. A lot of people shit on packet tracer. I so.

Speaker 1:

I, and I was one of them for a long time. But a few years ago they did a huge revamp of packet tracer and they have really done a nice job of that. I mean, I dare say that if you used only that to go for your CCNA you you would be just fine, and that that was certainly not the case a while ago. That's true.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, like they certainly did a revamp and it's. I'll be entirely honest, it's. If you're going for your CCMP or expert level stuff like that's, it's not going to cut the cheese for you, it's just not good enough. There's the commands that it doesn't allow. It is a simulated thing, it's not an emulator that whole argument but it's. If you are going for your CCNA, it's more than enough and it's got loads more in it anyway, like the ability to build, like your entire smart home program, your coffee pot and all this kind of jazz is all built into packet tracer these days. There was an argument a while ago like why do we even call it packet tracer anymore? It should be like renamed because of all the extra things that it can do.

Speaker 2:

Like you, want to teach your kids how to code.

Speaker 3:

They've got a blocky form of coding inside it so you can pull up a. You can pull up your coffee machine and you can start pulling in your blocky kind of program and so you could say, if morning brew coffee you know like, so you can do things like that, so you can really really good for those people who are just starting out. I like it because I can create assessments on it, like I can do actual labs that give you percentages of scores. So if you're those things that I was telling you about, I've built 10 troubleshooting labs all based on the same topology, all giving the same generic symptom. Like. One of the things that I really hate when you're learning any content is that normally you'll study OSPF and then you'll study how to troubleshoot. You don't find out how to study how OSPF is the problem. How did you come to that?

Speaker 2:

conclusion.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, how is that the thing that led you to OSPF? So that you can solve that OSPF problem. And that's something I think a lot of people, when they're first starting out, we struggle with. So I've built these 10 labs that are all identical and basically the issue is DHCP doesn't work 10 different reasons why, 10 different scenarios, 10 different scopes, all in the same topology, and the idea behind that is just like it shows you how even a simple topology can have so much wrong, and the main thing that you need to do with troubleshooting is identify the scope. Customers are very bad at coming up and saying like this is broken, or my favorite one is everything's down.

Speaker 2:

Everything's down. That's every ticket we're talking about.

Speaker 3:

And you know why customers do it they want attention fast, so that it may seem like it's a P1 when it's not. But it's just what the customers are good at. Sometimes they can be incredibly vague and your job is to find that scope of that issue. Is it actually that everything's down or is it just this one network that can't communicate? Is it just from here to here that doesn't work, but here out does? So that scope is so important and I remember when I was teaching troubleshooting, the first question to ask is like what is actually impacted? What can ping? What does work, what doesn't?

Speaker 3:

Because I do find that troubleshooting half the time, as well as finding out what the problem isn't, it's not just about finding out what the problem is.

Speaker 3:

And that works as well. When you have a massive fire, that's happening and people can be very keen to throw out a ton of ideas Like say, oh, it's the network, it must be the network, it must be the. If you're the person that can say it can't be that because of this reason and normally it's a very logical reason that people can't debate Then that regains control of that conversation into your favor as well, which is really good when you're dealing with customers or big messy calls. But yeah, back to the packet tracing, the idea that I can make an assessment that says, like right, so there's X wrong with this lab. Make the change and you score points and you get like 100%. I think in 2022 I did like a troubleshooting lab challenge where it was just one big lab with 20 issues scattered across it and if you got the full 100%, I got a Boson software voucher and stuff, so I was able to give away some prizes for that. So I was thinking about doing that or something similar again this year.

Speaker 1:

All right, I like the sound of that. Well, I want to take a moment to remind our listeners that if you are enjoying the show, please share it with a fellow network engineer. And one thing that always helps us is rating us wherever you find us. If you can rate us on Spotify, leave a review Apple podcasts as well. Anywhere you find us, give us the old thumbs up stars. However they rate us. That really helps the podcast mojo, helps other network engineers find us, and we do appreciate it. Ian, before we let you go, are there any questions? We should have asked you that. We did not.

Speaker 3:

Rod kit.

Speaker 2:

He's focused.

Speaker 1:

That might be another episode all its own.

Speaker 3:

I'll do a quick now. So it's just an awesome network management tool. Let's just put it in that front, and I've had a lot of fun. If you want to read more about it, I did a kind of non-technical blog on it the other week and you can find it on our website.

Speaker 1:

All right. Speaking of blog, where exactly can people find you, mymindsmadnesscom, and you're on Twitter at my Minds, madness Yep, linkedin is where else.

Speaker 3:

If it's not my Minds Madness on LinkedIn, it's my MindsMadness. Linkedin and Twitter are my two kind of main places at the moment, but you can also find me on like Instagram Blue Sky as well, if you want to follow those kind of things. But the two main places are Twitter and LinkedIn.

Speaker 1:

Well, we will collect all of those links and pop them in the show notes for this episode so that way you can easily find Ian and my Minds Madness and make sure you follow him everywhere that he is and you are. Ian, we talked briefly about doing a little bit of a giveaway when your episode drops. We don't have all the details set around that, so I won't discuss that here on the podcast Episode Live, but make sure you're following Ian and our Twitter as well and we will post some details around the time that Ian's episode drops here and we'll give something good away to some aspiring CCNA students. So, Ian, thank you so much for your time tonight. I really appreciate you sticking it out until the wee early hours of the morning for you. This has been a really really fun conversation. Cheers, Robin. Thanks for listening.

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