A half painted house can provide perspective

Here is a good story and a little philosophy for a nice Sunday evening read; not too long and not too short and it all starts with a half painted house ….

I am making good on a promise to myself. One and a half years ago I started painting our house and at the end of that summer, A LOT changed personally and my older three sons came to live with my wife and I. We had to stop all elective household projects because I had to do A TON of other things like getting kids registered for school, starting them in school, getting Dr. / Dentist appointments setup … etc. A ton stuff really.

Now that the kids are fully integrated and we have a modicum of sanity back in our house (as much as a blended family of 6 can have 😳😂) I am ready to resume castle building!

My boys literally mean THE WORLD to me, one of the few things in this world I would go to prison or die for without hesitation or question. I don’t say that lightly or for emotional effect either; I have served the United States in ways many citizens have not and in some ways I still cannot speak about – I know EXACTLY what it means to say you would die for something.

There is no better reason than that to pause life like I did. Anyone who knows me, knows I am loyal to the end (and maybe a fault, sometimes). A true ride or die mf’r. I DO NOT apologize if my sons pick that up from me BTW 💯 👊.

You may be wondering why I would post this here rather than a more socially oriented platform. I do so to illustrate the type of fidelity I think is required to have true fulfillment and happiness in your life. Having a job, or a career for that matter, is a means to an end in your life, not the purpose of your life. I believe this life is about leveling up, and showing other people the path to your level before you get to the next level.

I’m a communications engineer by trade; I don’t think the almighty put me on this earth because the world needed phones. I believe my purpose on this earth is to continue to show my kids, my wife and those around me the path to the next level as I advance to the next level. I was given the ability to be a communications engineer because it enables my purpose -my career is a means to an end in my life, not the purpose of my life.

I emphasize showing others the path to the next level, not pulling them up to the next level. Why? Because thrive.

Individuals have to be able to thrive on their level, and should their leader (father, in my case) one day not be there to show the path to the next level, be able to forge ahead because you once showed them how to thrive and pull themselves up to the next level.

Never chase after the means to your purpose, always chase after your purpose. As long as you stay focused on your purpose, the means will find you as a way to enable your purpose. Here is an example:

At 28 years old living in Ohio paycheck to paycheck I NEVER would have imagined I’d own a nice house in Atlanta Georgia and have all 4 of my sons and a gorgeous bride under one roof with enough resources that 6 people do not want for anything.

Once I made the decision to stop chasing “money” by trying to look for a better job and just decided to focus on my kids and new marriage, things started to change. I started thinking of how to make the most of what I had and how to make myself more valuable to the employer I had, rather than look for a new employer.

That direction eventually led me through several industry certifications that made me very attractive to head hunters; in particular, one from Atlanta Georgia.

I stopped focusing on the money (means) and started focusing on my family (purpose). I started doing things to make me more valuable at my current employer and make myself more indispensable and secure but was also (unbeknownst to me at the time), making myself more marketable to recruiters at the next level.

Never discount the struggles you go through today, they are just lessons for tomorrow.

Can we please stop the automatic auth attempts to Webexconnect? Please? Asking for a friend.

I love Cisco Jabber; not just because its been around for awhile or because it’s my preferred instant message client of choice, but because it is a really good, stable and mature product that does it’s job very well. Please take a read of the following feature request I created for the Jabber powers that be. If you agree, please circulate and lets see if we can get some traction on this! Can we please stop the automatic authentication attempts to Webexconnect? Please? Asking for a friend.

https://communities.cisco.com/ideas/2827

 

Introspection and it’s net worth

Hey there! This will not be a technical information post; though I think, or am at least of the opinion, it is still worth your time to read!

I’m cautious about what I publish on this platform; everyone is busy nowadays and I value the time it takes to really read and digest content, especially content of decent length or substance. I make every effort possible to ensure what I do publish is not only accurate, but useful enough to pay for the reader’s time spent to really read and consume the material and the ideas being communicated.

I am originally from Ohio and I have worked for Cisco partners in the Metro Atlanta area for the last few years. Although I have worked for three different entities since moving to the area, I’ve only ever worked with one team and have survived two acquisitions; impressive, but not unheard of in this industry sector.

As with all things in life though, the sun will eventually set and rise upon something new. After much debate and personal soul searching this past month, I decided to challenge myself with a new opportunity at ByteWorks! Of particular interest in that decision and what ultimately brings us here together in this post, is introspection and it’s net value.

I think the net value of introspection is not always or necessarily the outcome of the evaluation of one’s own state of being, but rather the ability to be introspective. It requires an elevated and mature emotional state where you are willing to be critical of yourself and, should it be required, admit and accept that you are not right (or as in my case, its called “less right” … lol).

Introspection is a fascinating journey of self discovery that you’ll never reach the end of; no matter how much you know about yourself, you are always ready to teach you something new about yourself.

I spent a decent amount of time being introspective with my decision to challenge myself with a new employer; there are lots of things to consider when making this type of change. I often find that introspection allows you to answer the questions you already knew the answer to but wouldn’t have found any other way. For me, its a way to slow my thought process down and analyze the individual details and run each detail through my mental “decision simulator” and play out how each detail could impact decisions or change the environment of the circumstance. It affords me the chance to evaluate my own decision making process and how that may impact my decisions and circumstances.

I find by following the outcome of this process, despite whether it looks ‘correct’, ‘safe’ or ‘proper’ on the surface ultimately proves to be the best course of action for me in the end. This process has proven itself successful to me time and time again.

Perhaps, Introspection is more spiritual than emotional. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for your id to knock your ego down a few pegs. Personally, I think its very healthy to have these types of internal dialogs and evaluations. I’d find it difficult to think of a reason anyone couldn’t benefit from being introspective.

Give it a try!

Initially, introspection is uncomfortable and perhaps a little awkward. It might seem as if you’re trying to find a “real person” to talk to, much like you would have a conversation with someone in the real world. Just keep trying, it gets easier! Now, I’m not suggesting we all take to the streets talking aloud to ourselves; far from it! Introspective behavior is often an internal conversation or thought evaluation (but it can be out loud); a time where you can ask yourself a question and really evaluate how you would respond and often more importantly, why you would respond that way.

That is what I’ll leave you with in this post, an encouragement to be more introspective!

Collaboration Meeting Rooms (WebEX CMR) and the SD-WAN

Here is a neat little situation I ran into recently, and is worth sharing and reading; if this saves a life it was worth what I had to go through …..

The Scenario

  • Cisco Expressway C/E 8.10.3 cluster over wan (2 Control Peers, 2 Edge Peers)
  • Customer deployed and managed SD-WAN solution in front of the Edge cluster to the Internet (with two separate transport carriers). I think it was Palos, but we’ll call it a whitebox’ed solution for our purposes
  • Using MRA and B2B Cisco Expressway configs
  • UAT for MRA and B2B is accepted and works great

The Problem

A little bit into post go-live the customer applies the zone/search rule config in Cisco Expressway for CMR (basically, SIP URI dialing into WebEx meetings from the video endpoint) and notices that randomly, during a presentation session in the CMR, the BFCP server (AKA, the WebEx meeting) would close the BFCP presentation to the endpoint coming from the customer’s Expressway; all other BFCP clients are still receiving the BFCP presentation. That’s right, it appears that WebEx kicked the BFCP participant coming from the customer’s Edge, but not because the BFCP server closed the session (all other participants remain)! Although it was happening randomly in length of time into the presentation, it would always happen at some point to the endpoint, generally around the 2 minute mark.

The diagnosis

Although random, a consistent’ish length would seem to suggest a timer / re-invite of some flavor, and that would be wrong, as ultimately uncovered. Sparing you all the gory tales of escalation and bus underskirt sliding; the issue was in fact, the SD-WAN solution itself.

The Explanation & The Fix

What happened is that every 120 seconds or so, the BFCP server (WebEx meeting) would send a UDP BFCP packet to all the BFCP presentation subscribers. The customer’s SD-WAN solution was identifying these packets according to the customer (gotta love layer 7 capable firewalls 😊) and queuing them onto a physically different link than which the rest of the BFCP stream was on, thus creating physical asymmetry, delay and latency.  In a TCP stream, this would likely be tolerated to a degree as packet loss or delay and/or jitter and would simply re transmit ….. but we are dealing with UDP here, no good!

To resolve, the customer had to classify the traffic and force an active/failover transmission through their SD-WAN solution for that traffic, rather than a “load balance” transmission behavior.

Sleuthing & The Closing

In hind sight, seems simple and makes perfect sense right? However, when your only visibility into the network is the Expressway servers themselves, it can be very challenging to discover because at that point in the topology, everything looks like it is coming from and going to the VIP on the firewall pair. So how do you catch something like this when you can’t see everything? PCAPs. Literally counting f**king packet sequence numbers for 6 hours and identifying a consistent pattern of packets coming out of order and being “lost”. 

Learn from this Padawan

-Ryan-

Back, back again!

Hello, I’m back!!

For those of you who still follow me on the Internet or continue to find me in Google -Thank You, I’m back! This time, with a whole new web presence, purpose and content (the site is still under development however)! Several months ago, I took my site down for a variety of reasons, mostly because the site had become “stale” to me, and really, I just wanted to “reboot” it. As life goes though, once it went down, I never found the time to get it back up! Not that I have any more available time now; I have decided to make the time because I have a whole new inspiration for this platform.

Any of you who have followed me for awhile know that I am a Cisco and Apple fanboy thorough and through. However, I have recognized for a bit now that the landscape of the industry is changing and there are new players out there worth mentioning, considering and yes, even using!

Rather than focusing on a vendor-specific narrative, my hope is that you’ll find a more vendor agnostic experience with the content on this platform. I’ll focus more on foundational and open source technology (like SIP, WebRTC, DevOps & Linux … etc) rather than solely how one vendor might implement those technologies in their products. Mastering core foundational technology like SIP or WebRTC will create a much more portable skill set for you, compared to just learning how one vendor uses those technologies within their products.