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Thread: Questions about basic networking school

  1. #41
    My life is this forum Barry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by streaker69 View Post
    If you haven't heard of Cacti, here's one if it's functions. You can create a map of your Network. The arrows will change colors based upon network activity, or whatever you want in reality.

    We use a program called Intermapper.

    http://dartware.com/assets/jpg/S56-map-full.jpg


    It's not free though.
    Of course, if you really wanted to have some fun, go to Wal-Mart late at night and ask the greeter if they could help you find trashbags, roll of carpet, rope, quicklime, clorox and a shovel. See if they give you any strange looks. --Streaker69

  2. #42
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    Hey I just saw this thread:

    I have to decide a major in about a year. I'm currently in college and I'm 26 years old.

    I have had two jobs when I was younger working as an intern to computer engineers. I currently work at a non-profit agency (for energy conservation) as the closest thing we have to a net-admin (with only one server and 42 end users [also don't be fooled by non-profit that doesn't mean no pay]).

    I designed and maintain an Access database (I will move to SQL and will move when necessary) which has revolutionized the way we have done things in the past 30 years on a financial and efficiency level. I love working with VBA and creating cool code intensive MS Office programs that replace our old DOS system and interact with other stuff I have made.

    All of this is to say I have a good job through school and a very good reference to move on when I choose to.

    So my question is what should I do you think would make me the most marketable to employers?

    What certification's would you recommend?

    What 4 year degree would help me the most? I was thinking Business Administration with a minor in Information Systems

    I like troubleshooting and rudimentary programing.
    I get along great with my employees and so long as I stay sober (going on 3 years) I'll continue to have good references.

    Any personal experiences and observations appreciated,

    JOe K.

  3. #43
    Senior Member streaker69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClaudeWalker View Post
    Hey I just saw this thread:

    I have to decide a major in about a year. I'm currently in college and I'm 26 years old.

    I have had two jobs when I was younger working as an intern to computer engineers. I currently work at a non-profit agency (for energy conservation) as the closest thing we have to a net-admin (with only one server and 42 end users [also don't be fooled by non-profit that doesn't mean no pay]).

    I designed and maintain an Access database (I will move to SQL and will move when necessary) which has revolutionized the way we have done things in the past 30 years on a financial and efficiency level. I love working with VBA and creating cool code intensive MS Office programs that replace our old DOS system and interact with other stuff I have made.

    All of this is to say I have a good job through school and a very good reference to move on when I choose to.

    So my question is what should I do you think would make me the most marketable to employers?

    What certification's would you recommend?

    What 4 year degree would help me the most? I was thinking Business Administration with a minor in Information Systems

    I like troubleshooting and rudimentary programing.
    I get along great with my employees and so long as I stay sober (going on 3 years) I'll continue to have good references.

    Any personal experiences and observations appreciated,

    JOe K.
    One of my upcoming projects is data consolidation. I'm working on getting all our databases migrated to MS SQL. We have several things in Access and some stuff in proprietary db's. I'd recommend to everyone in the field to stay away from Access as though it's the plague. Relying upon a flat database that's so easily corrupted is just asking for trouble.

    As for certs, I'm not a good one to ask. I don't believe in them, I don't have any, and have never felt the need to have any. I've gotten all my jobs solely upon my own merit, knowledge and experience. But I think I'm lucky because of I've had some good experiences.

    What I can tell you is do not rely upon certs to get you anywhere in the IT field. When the MSCE boom started back in the late 90's, it pretty much ruined the field. They pumped out thousands of paper MSCE's with no practical knowledge (I've posted my experience with them on this forum before). Now it seems as though the job market is changing into security professionals, hopefully the market doesn't get flooded with them so that their worth is devalued the way the MSCE's are.

    As for marketable skills that employers are looking for? IMO, employers are looking for people that are problem solvers, people that can think on their feet and people that have a wide range of skills. Most small to medium size companies don't have the budget for a large IT staff, so they want to make the most of one or two people.

    In enterprise companies, you'd normally have a team of dozens doing the work of what one or two are expected to do in small/medium companies. I'd prefer to be where I am now than in an enterprise company. You learn a lot more because you're responsible for everything, whereas in a large place, you get pidgeon holed into your one designated field and that's all you do. Then when they outsource you to Mumbai, your chances of finding another job are slim.
    A third party security audit is the IT equivalent of a colonoscopy. It's long, intrusive, very uncomfortable, and when it's done, you'll have seen things you really didn't want to see, and you'll never forget that you've had one.

  4. #44
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    Thanks for the extended thoughtful reply:


    What would you recommend for a 4 year degree?

    I am going to get one no matter what. If nothing else to give myself options. I know personal experience is the best, I have a bit of that. At my current qualifications if they don't see a degree on a resume they pretty much throw it out.


    Thanks, JOe K.

  5. #45
    Senior Member streaker69's Avatar
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    Another issue that I thought about this weekend is Spare parts. Many companies do not keep spares on hand, mostly due to the expense of having money just sitting on a shelf just in case something bad happens. But they fail to weigh the cost of those parts versus the cost of being down.

    We've been in the process of converting our SCADA Control network to ethernet. Part of the contract for the work was that Spares must be supplied for certain vital pieces of the network. Since in our case, if we go down for any length of time, it could lead to environmental issues and possible fines from the EPA. So, in my office, I have a cabinet devoted to the spares that can just be quickly dropped into place. These include specialized Ethernet Switches, Ethernet modules for PLC's, some Ethernet Gateways, power supplies and a few other things. Our system itself is redundant so if one PC fails, the other keeps the system running.

    I'm not saying that you should keep an entire inventory of your entire network as spares, but you should have some vital parts on hand, especially if those parts cannot be overnighted from a source, or a temporary equivalent cannot be picked up locally.

    Something else that I've never seen anyone do is maintain an accurate inventory of all the software that the company uses. What I've started doing over the past few weeks is I've been writing ISO's of all our software to a USB harddrive, which then gets put in our firesafe with the tape backups. All our original CAL, and License agreements I've scanned to PDF's and they are stored safely as well.

    The point of this is that if the building burns to the ground (it's happened to me already), you can order new equipment and just pull the software out and re-write it to CD. Yes, I know there are some legal concerns about copying disks, but when you're trying to get your business back on your feet as quickly as possible, you can worry about getting original media back at a later date. As long as you have your license agreements, you should be fairly safe from lawsuits regarding the copying of the disks.
    A third party security audit is the IT equivalent of a colonoscopy. It's long, intrusive, very uncomfortable, and when it's done, you'll have seen things you really didn't want to see, and you'll never forget that you've had one.

  6. #46
    My life is this forum Barry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by streaker69 View Post
    Another issue that I thought about this weekend is Spare parts. Many companies do not keep spares on hand, mostly due to the expense of having money just sitting on a shelf just in case something bad happens. But they fail to weigh the cost of those parts versus the cost of being down.
    I cleaned out our spare parts room a few months back. One thing you should do (not you Streaker, I'm sure you already do) is keep a list of what you have. I threw out a whole crapload of stuff that we just didn't need/couldn't use anymore. You know things like LC2 and LC3 logic boards, lcd assembles for the old greyscale powerbooks. Freaking old stuff. A lot of it was new in box. For the most part now we only keep hard drives, some eMac parts, keyboards, mice, and laptop batteries. One crash kit for each type of xServe. The network techs keep a few routers and switches on hand, and a couple extra Dell servers. We don't really have any specialized equipment like Streaker, but if a teacher's laptop or desktop dies, you'd think the world was coming to an end.
    Of course, if you really wanted to have some fun, go to Wal-Mart late at night and ask the greeter if they could help you find trashbags, roll of carpet, rope, quicklime, clorox and a shovel. See if they give you any strange looks. --Streaker69

  7. #47
    Senior Member streaker69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry View Post
    I cleaned out our spare parts room a few months back. One thing you should do (not you Streaker, I'm sure you already do) is keep a list of what you have. I threw out a whole crapload of stuff that we just didn't need/couldn't use anymore. You know things like LC2 and LC3 logic boards, lcd assembles for the old greyscale powerbooks. Freaking old stuff. A lot of it was new in box. For the most part now we only keep hard drives, some eMac parts, keyboards, mice, and laptop batteries. One crash kit for each type of xServe. The network techs keep a few routers and switches on hand, and a couple extra Dell servers. We don't really have any specialized equipment like Streaker, but if a teacher's laptop or desktop dies, you'd think the world was coming to an end.
    I do keep a list of the things that I ordered as spares, but apparently a few years ago when the control network was first installed, spares were ordered and no one kept track of them. This time around, our Contract Electrician made a list of things we should have. During a frantic day of looking for an original disk to re-install some software we found boxes of spare parts that no one knew we had and almost purchased again.

    Now that stuff has been inventoried and I'm working on getting it in process that we keep an inventory of all parts.

    Another good tip for anyone that's starting out as a NetAdmin is to be aware of the dangers of having internal modems. If you're ordering a new machine and that machine is going to require a modem, do not order it with an internal . If the machine comes standard with one and you don't need it, remove it from the spec's. I cannot even begin to list the number of machines that I've seen dead motherboards because of internal modems. I have a wall of death in my office of blown hardware from lightening strikes.

    When I do need a modem I've been ordering these really cool USRobotics USB modems. No power supply needed, purely USB powered. They're under $50 and if they blow up, they don't take out the motherboard, At worst, they could take out the USB port, but that would be rare.

    This brings to the point of surge suppression. Phone lines connected to modems should always be surge suppressed. CAT5 cable that is run underground connecting buildings needs to be surge suppressed on both ends. You can get T1 surge suppressors, but in my opinion, that's a waste of money, because a T1 generally always comes into a SmartJack, which is actually owned by the phone company, if a T1 gets hit, the SmartJack gets blown and the equipment on the other side of it is normally ok.

    My company has even gone so far that we have a UPS on EVERY computer. Workstations and all. The cost of them is offset the fact that we don't have computers shutting down on the slightest power failure.
    A third party security audit is the IT equivalent of a colonoscopy. It's long, intrusive, very uncomfortable, and when it's done, you'll have seen things you really didn't want to see, and you'll never forget that you've had one.

  8. #48
    My life is this forum Barry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by streaker69 View Post
    My company has even gone so far that we have a UPS on EVERY computer. Workstations and all. The cost of them is offset the fact that we don't have computers shutting down on the slightest power failure.
    Sounds like my room, and my network cabinet in the garage. Sometimes the only way I know is when the dogs come in freaked out.
    Of course, if you really wanted to have some fun, go to Wal-Mart late at night and ask the greeter if they could help you find trashbags, roll of carpet, rope, quicklime, clorox and a shovel. See if they give you any strange looks. --Streaker69

  9. #49
    Senior Member streaker69's Avatar
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    Another important aspect to being a NetAdmin and achieving godlike status to your users is predicting failure. This comes with experience in dealing with all kinds of things, but if you pay attention to your hardware as well as your environment you'll notice things that are going to fail before they do.

    Couple of examples, if you reboot a machine and you hear the harddrive squealing as it spins up from a deadstop. Bearings are starting to fail on the platter, gonna be time for a new drive. Same thing if you hear the head clattering inside, it's going to fail. That's a fairly simple, but I ran across something yesterday that most people would never have noticed.

    I was at one of our remote stations that had just been completely rebuilt, and upon entering the building, I noticed a distinctive blue cable running down the side of the building and entering through a conduit. I followed it down as it threaded it's way through various turns and eventually it went through a hole in the floor and connected to a meter. Now, obviously this is CAT5 cable, and they just used it because they needed 5 conductors and CAT5 is relatively cheap and accessible. Problem is, CAT5 is not UV rated, so this cable that I found ran across the roof of one building, spanned an open space to another building, ran down a wall and inside the next building is completely exposed to the elements. The open space span had no protection on it what so ever, and it barely has any stress relief in it. This cable is going to fail, it may not happen quickly, but it's definately going to fail as the sun rots it away and the wind whips it between the buildings.

    I reported it to the guy that's in charge of those stations and he's going to have the contractor that installed it, remove it and install the correct kind of cable.
    A third party security audit is the IT equivalent of a colonoscopy. It's long, intrusive, very uncomfortable, and when it's done, you'll have seen things you really didn't want to see, and you'll never forget that you've had one.

  10. #50
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    Yes, I'm not a netadmin, but I work with machines every day. You start to see a pattern of issues. Especially with different manufacturers. On some of the older Em4chines, if the cdrom would stop and start and would be intermittent in "reading" the cd's, you could expect it to explode a cd inside the cdrom. I've seen many of those, and we got pretty good at cleaning out the Cdrom instead of waiting for a replacement (It was a quick turn-around shop back then). Drives clicking, fans squealing, tops of capacitors burnt on the mobo. I usually have a keen eye for virus's. Not all of them mind you. But I can usually tell when something is not right on one of our machines. That's just hardware. That's not even all the MS Office products, Adobe stuff, all sorts of craziness.
    I felt like bending the bars back, and ripping out the window frames and eating them. yes, eating them! Leaping, leaping, leaping! Colonics for everyone! All right! You dumb*sses. I'm a mental patient. I'm *supposed* to act out!

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