Cutting the Cord

Recent events in my life and career have had me evaluating a lot of what I do and why I do it. My career started out working for a small family owned toner remanufacturing and printer repair outfit, occasionally helping out other small businesses with computer issues and setting up tiny networks. As I got deeper into setting up small offices, I researched how big offices were operating so I might be able to grab some service contracts from them too. I learned a lot early on about Microsoft products and making them all play nice with each other. None of that really intrigued me though so I just continued on working during the day and relaxing at night. A few years later I ended up working for a friend at a small VPS startup using Xen and UML, eventually moving to Virtuozzo (now known as Parallels). Again, it was fun but didn’t really grab me. After a while there I went back into consulting with a company that was focused on small and medium business, mostly law and doctor offices. Back at the grind stone, this time a little deeper with Exchange and AD. There was a difference now though, HIPAA and SOX meant we had to have a real network. Real security. I had to learn a lot more, and fast. Now I knew what a subnet was, an IP address, a VLAN, but I didn’t realize how much more there was to networking. Once I started going down the rabbit hole, as it were, my nights of relaxing and fun were now enveloped in books and blogs covering all things networking. Routing and switching was my new hobby. I loved it (still do) and it consumed my free time, learning as much as I could. I stil do. Sadly, I haven’t read a fictional novel in a few years, all my books are tech guides. My RSS feed is full of blogs and tech related sites. I am consumed by networking. Maybe it’s ADD, maybe I’m addicted to it. Whatever the reason, it drives my wife crazy. Why do I mention all this? I’ve caught a new bug, one that has me more intrigued than I ever was, even in the very beginning of scratching the surface of networking. One that has me shifting gears and re-planning my career.

802.11. When I grow up I want to be a wireless engineer.

I was tasked with redoing my company wireless network and went through all the paces of demos and vendor meetings. Once we settled in on one my life became wireless. I was on my own to get the system up and running and was in some new territory. Not that I had never setup a wireless network before, but this one was big (for me) and failure was not an option, as I was told several times by my CIO. So I dug in and learned what I needed to get the job done as is the norm, except this time I didn’t stop. I decided to grab a cert, the CCNA Wireless, on the way and it just fueled me even more. Since then I have gotten more involved in the community (mostly by asking lots questions and throwing in my 2 cents wherever I can) and am now working towards my CCNP Wireless, possibly my CWNA/P in the process, hopefully ending up with a CCIE Wireless set of numbers.

There’s just something magical about wireless networking to me, the more I understand the more I love it. The fragility of a wireless network means more time needs to be spent planning each individual piece, placing each AP carefully, assigning values for every little aspect and fine tuning them just so. Every network is different, like a technological fingerprint in the air, and there are a myriad of ways to make it work. The best part is that the technology is still fairly young, everyday there’s something new coming out. The evolution is happening right now, before my eyes and if I’m lucky I’ll be along for the ride.

Strap in folks… I’m gonna do it.

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