More Python goodness

Still working on learning how to use Python to do scripting and automation. I did hit a bit of a roadblock with one project as the documentation on the site had embedded links to some examples…and the links were broken. Kept trying to figure out how to get to them, tried different ways of creating the link from where the main documentation was at, nothing worked. Months of trying this off and on, and then I struck gold!! “Why don’t I just ask for them?” yeah, seems obvious and it should have been, but I had to do some digging to find an email address to send the question to. But wooo!! I finally have the schemas, so I’ll get back to that project eventually.

On to another subject kind of…

A friend of mine, posted some stuff a while back. Good resources to start learning with, so go take a look at Ashley McNamara’s blog.

And I’ve been working (trying too anyway) my way through the stuff on Cisco DevNet as well. Nice thing here as you go through the courses, they have links to their Cisco DevNet Github so you can clone the repo and have the scripts they use already. You’re always free to create your own, but if you are just using their sandbox server, they work great!

Schools, Enterprise or Not

How important is education? We hear this question all the time. So, how important is our children’s education?

Most school networking departments are working on a shoe-string budget. With this budget, they need to upgrade computers both for students and administrators, classroom peripherals i.e. smartboards, projectors. They also need to use this budget to keep their infrastructure  wired and wireless, and cabling up to date…for 5-7 years at a time. Yes you read that right, 5-7 years at a time.

Most people that work for at least a medium sized company, know that they will get a new laptop every three years. After three years, ok 6 months, most laptops are out of date. Wired networks get faster, wireless networks get faster, display drivers change get updated etc. And schools, the places where our children are supposed to be educated, have to wait 5-7 years.

Let’s think for a second, what do schools use that equipment for? To educate the next generation. Indeed more and more educational content is being presented online instead of via text books. School assignments are saved to the cloud. Heck even YouTube has educational content on it.

This post goes into how the children are more engaged with digital learning.

So the big Question: Are schools an Enterprise?

In my opinion, they absolutely are, or at least should be thought of as one. Let’s think about a school district that has 3,000, 5,000 or 10,000+ students. That’s HUGE when it comes to networking. How many switches are needed? How many Access Points are needed? What are the uplinks back to the MDF? Security? Internet Access? Server/Storage/Virtualization? Software? There are a lot of points that need to be upgraded, but how can they do that on small budgets?

I’ve been in schools that have 20+ year old fiber MDF to IDF, it’s not uncommon, and they can’t upgrade it due to budget constraints. They do what they can, upgrade switches, upgrade Access Points so that our children can learn. But to use one of my favorite analogies:

You buy a brand new Jaguar. It’s sleek, it’s pretty and it’s fast. But you live out on a gravel and dirt road. Makes a lot of sense right?

Now expand that to school networks. The students and faculty get spiffy new equipment, whether district or self provided. We’ve given the children a device that can access educational content at the speed of light,  but have constrained them to an infrastructure that is old and slow.

How can we expect our children to learn, to stay engaged when the local Starbucks has faster access? Why are we not helping our schools upgrade their infrastructure out of the dark ages? We go to work and expect, no *demand*, that the network be fast and stable. Why is this not a demand of schools? Or more importantly the School Boards?

How do we get more funding to the schools? How do we ensure that the next generation(s) has the tools necessary to thrive and surpass us?

802.11ac Speeds

Faster, faster faster!!! That’s what we all want right? Faster cars, faster computers, faster Wireless?

 

Well, let’s put the brakes on that for a minute and talk about this.

Let’s talk about what happens when we go “faster” and how we achieve it. Let’s start with Channel Bonding. Wireless uses a 20MHz wide channel to pass traffic, let’s think of this like a 1″ hose. In 802.11n with 5GHz channel bonding, we can now take that single 1″ hose and join it with a second 1″ hose, and basically have a 2″ hose that can spray more data. Sounds great right?!

The other way we get faster is modulation. Modulation let’s you say more in the same amount of space.. Anyone remember The Micro Machines ManJohn Moschitta could say more in one minute than you could. Or if you prefer this analogy, the smaller you can write on a sheet of paper the more information you can get on it. 802.11ac allows for up to 256-QAM Modulation and we can take that bonding and go 20, 40, 60, even 80MHz wide!! ZOMG the speeds, the speeds!! *STOP*

 

Now we need to think a little bit about how this is going to affect the wireless network. So to start a little refresher. In the U.S. we have 3 non overlapping channels in the 2.4GHz spectrum 1/6/11. Now we all know that the 2.4GHz is “dirty”, lots of things can (and do) interfere with it. We also know that with the density that is needed to support BYOD/BYOT that even when the power is turned to it’s lowest setting there are issues with CCI (co-channel interference) and ACI (adjacent channel interference).

In the 5GHz spectrum, we have more channels (9-12 depending on the installation), and a “cleaner” spectrum. For the purposes of this post, we are going to assume we have 12 channels.

 

40MHz wide, if we go with 12 channels, that means we can have 6 channels to use. In most environments that should be fine, really dense deployments like Stadiums aside.

80MHz wide, again assuming 12 channels, we have only 3 channels that we can use. This puts us right back to one of the issues with 2.4GHz, we don’t have enough channels. So let’s hope you’re not doing this.

 

ac_speeds

In the above infogram, you can see the max connected rate and throughput for a an 802.11ac client with 1/2/3SS. Remember this is “theoretical” and perfect world.

802.11ac wave 2 allows for up to 4 SS, and channel bonding of 80-80 or 160MHz wide. If we have issues going 80MHz wide, why would you want to go even wider and have only 1 usable channel? And “usable” it may not be depending on what your neighbors wireless is doing. Adding another Tx/Rx pair to a device is going to, probably, make it bigger. We all want to carry aroudn 17″ laptops and phablets right? That’s why what I’m really waiting for is MU-MIMO.

 

So for all the spiffy new speeds we can get, to achieve those “theoretical maximums” we have to sacrifice our spectrum, which we shouldn’t do. Channel reuse becomes a pain again, even if you are using some automagic channel/power settings.

 

Granted, this is all IMHO, take it or leave it.

WWS – Working While Sick

Being sick, it happens to all of us. But in todays society do we take care of ourselves the way we should? Do we take our sick days, and truly rest so that our bodies can heal?

I know that myself the answer is usually not. I know that when I don’t have to be in front of a customer I tend to work when I’m sick. Even this last week when I had the flu I worked for three days before I went to the doctor. So let me go over this:

Sunday afternoon my youngest called me and wanted to come home from her moms, so I went and picked her up. She wasn’t feeling good and wanted to be home with me. Monday was Martin Luther King Day and she didn’t have school, what she did have that morning was 103 degree fever… and an appointment with the doctor. Yup, she has the flu!! I had made her get a flu shot as usual, the flu shot this year was not effective. So one pharmacy visit later she’s posted up on the couch with her medication, orange juice, bear, fuzzy blanket and NetFlix. While I continued to work, feeling steadily worse each day. Come Wednesday, I woke up feeling like a hammered bag of nastiness.

I finally took my girlfriends advice and made myself a doctors appointment, and continued to work until it was time to leave. 3pm hits and apparently I’d been working with a fever, it was 102 when I saw the doctor (explains why I’d been freezing for two days I guess). So there I am with my prescriptions, and my doctor telling me to not work (WHAT? Don’t work, surely you must be joking). So what the hell am I supposed to do? I had no customer visits, but I had work that needed to be done.

 

I’m not kidding this is actually what I was thinking…I don’t have time to be sick, I have RFPs to respond to, BoMs to be built, SoW’s to write. And don’t lie, you know you think the same way.

 

In todays culture of ubiquitous connectivity “WFX” (working from anywhere) is possible, and do I love being able to work from everywhere! But what is this doing to us physically?

Just because we can work from home, does that mean we shouldn’t take the time if we are sick? Just because we aren’t in the office, and can’t get anyone else sick should we still work? Should we continue to push ourselves to get our tasks completed, even though we are having trouble concentrating and staying on task?

I felt horrible on Wednesday and Thursday, come Friday I couldn’t even talk and it still hurts to do so today. I took the sick days, but did I really? I was still responding to emails and text messages.

Are we too connected (perish the thought!) today? What ever happened to being sick and resting? I told my daughter to sit on the couch and relax, but did I take my own advice?

“Ugh. Somebody told me the other day to take it easy or I’d relapse. I should have listened. So tired of being sick and always have too much to do so slowing down isn’t an option”

Where does this feeling, that we need to always be working, come from? I know my boss would rather have me take the time and get better so that I’m thinking clearly and can be really effective.

 

Should we be onsite at a customers working because “no one on the team would step up and relieve us”?

 

Should we even be questioning the need to rest and take the time to heal? Should we wonder “How is this going to effect the project/timeline/company?” Maybe, but remember to flip that around as well. “How is this going to affect me?”

 

“Work Life “

I caught a post yesterday…ummmm ok maybe it was the other day…anyway when I saw it isn’t important what it was about is, “Work Life Balance”.

 

What is theWork Life Balance really? Well according to that wikipedia article, it is a concept of prioritizing work and lifestyle. Any less confused? yeah me either. What this sounds like to me is you work then you play…but make sure you make time to play.

Depending on your job, can you really balance work and life? Ok, sure if you have “desk job” an “8-5” or something where you are forced into standard set hours? Sure you can manage to balance it pretty easily. Once you the 5 o’clock whistle blows, you make like Fred Flintstone and don’t think about work until 8am ( ok 8:30am) the next morning. But to me balance equates to 50/50 work/life.

But what happens if you have a job that is not bound by set hours? What if you are doing more “project based” work? Well then we take a look at Work Life Integration….yup no link for this one, I couldn’t seem to find any singular article that really defined what it is/was/should be.

So from what I can infer from reading lots of articles, Integration means working when you need to. Don’t watch the clock, work when you are best capable of completing a task. Is that 6am, or maybe for you it is 10pm after the kids are in bed and the nightly news is over. If you want to go to the gym at 11am go. if you want to go for a bike ride at 2pm, go!

 

To me Work Life Integration feels like “Get your work done on schedule, to the best of your abilities, be responsive to your team/customers and all is good”

 

With the amount of remote workers increasing, I hope that the above methodology will become more prevalent. Does it matter if i’m at my desk from 8-5 so long as I am reachable? Does it matter if I take a couple of hour break in the middle of the day, so long as I put in my time later(or earlier)?

I won’t go into how this can keep workers more focused, less stressed and in general happier. But I will end on this post that I like to read when I’ve been thinking about taking a vacation. US vs Europe