Category Archives: career

Wow Has It Been 16 Years Already?

A few friends of mine congratulated me on 16 years at Juniper.  My first reaction was really?  But then when Iook back on it … Yes, it has been 16 years.  Damn, I’m old.

Iimaget’s funny to think I thought I was way over my head going into this, thinking I’d be lucky to last 1 month, but here I am 16 years later.  I really consider myself more of a NetScreen guy, and wish we could have made it all on our own without being bought … But oh well.  It is what it is.

New Year, New Department

With the turning of the new year, it also marks the turning of a slight turn in my career path.  It’s not a drastic change, but it is a change.  After 11 years in Tech Support, supporting ScreenOS, I am now saying goodbye, and making the switch to JunOS, which is the direction that the company is going with.  I am still with the same company, and I am still in Tech Support, and I am still supporting firewalls, but it is a very different OS kernel.  This is the OS that will be used for the future of the company moving forward, so I decided it was time to make the move now.

In a way, I am excited about this move, but at the same time sad, and I have to admit, it does strike some fear in me.  I guess the fear comes from a bit of complacency, getting used to the same OS for 11 years … it does make you get into a regular routine.  That is not to say that all 11 years was doing the same thing … but the core of the technology was the same.  Now, I am moving onto another OS, and a different type of thinking.

Now I do have a niche, in that I specialize in UTM (Unified Threat Management, which includes things like anti-virus, anti-spam, web-filtering, among other things).  This is a skill that is much needed in the new department I am moving into … but that also means a lot may be expected out of me.  This is the fear I am undertaking.  I am so freaked about this, that I am actually taking quite a bit of this Christmas break, and really trying to self train myself to get myself up to speed.  When I speak to others, they do have high confidence in me … probably higher confidence in me than I do.  Do they know something I don’t know?  I just don’t want to disappoint, and I have this sense that I may be vulnerable … I am getting into an area that is new to me … something I haven’t done in 11 years.

Am I making too much of this?  Am I just too hard on myself?  Maybe this is a self-defense mechanism I have that internally pushes me.  Whatever it is, it does make me lose a little bit of sleep.

So as we say goodbye to 2009, I also say goodbye to 11 years of legacy knowledge of one OS, and now say hello to 2010, and a new OS, and a brand new world.  I am also gearing towards another triple crown in 2010, and I am just hoping this fork in my career path does not interfere with the training for this triple crown.  I hope 2010 will be a success.

Survived the Montrose Short Pack Ride

In the Pasadena area, THE PACK RIDE to do is the Montrose pack ride.  They typically have two routes, long and short.  The short is roughly 35 miles (31 miles if you start from Trader Joe’s in S. Pasadena, like I do, and many others).  The long is roughly 50 miles, and goes out to Glendora, and climbs a few hills, but I normally just do the short, as keeping up with the pack is normally an issue for me.

If you haven’t guessed, this is a fast pack.  During the ride, I clocked the max speed topping out at 35 mph, and they were even going slow this week.  Imagine if they really put the pedal to the metal.

The beginning of the ride races through Huntington Dr., en route from S. Pasadena, through San Marino, through Arcadia.  What’s great about Huntington Dr is that it is wide … it has about 4 lanes in each direction, and lots of riders will take up two lanes.  I’m usually a bit skittish about taking two lanes.  Of course, when you are in such a big pack, keeping your line is really key, but there are some that just don’t.  One guy in fact really pissed me off, as he crosses in front of me from right to left, without even giving a gesture (nod of the head, flick of the wrist) that he is about to make this maneuver.  It amazes me that there are not more accidents than there already is on the Montrose rides.

Largest participation in this pack ride was from PAA (Pasadena Athletic Association).  Instead of the ever present green jersey, found when doing the Alto Velo pack rides, there was an ever present black jersey presense of PAA, which is also sponsored by Remax and John’s Bicycle.  I figured I had to mention these guys, since I’m reporting about Montrose pack ride.

The size of the pack is roughly 100+ riders.  I mention this because when you cross a traffic signal that goes from green, to yellow, then to red, it’s impossible to stop a pack that large, so in many intersections, we all just ran the red.  Even more interesting is when we made a left turn onto Longden … the whole pack maneuvered in front of some cars trying to make a left turn, and then the entire pack crosses with the left turn.  It’s quite a sight to see, and even if I was taking video or pictures, it wouldn’t even come close to telling the entire picture.

Oh, and when you have an entire pack at a stop light, you know every one of those riders have to clip in.  I thought it was amazing to hear 100 clips, clipping in when the light turned green.  You just have to be there to know what I mean, in case you haven’t been in such a big pack like this.

In the past, when I rode with Montrose, I would usually get dropped on Arrow Hwy … the traffic light would usually be the barrier for me.  But this time, the traffic light became my savior, my best friend … it allowed me to catch up, and more importantly, to recover.  Yay!  Coincidentally, that’s where I my max heart rate was registered … but only 175 bpm.

Stats:

Now if you count just the Montrose route, then it comes out to 31.1 miles, and 863 feet of climbing, but if you look at the total route, from Monterey Park, it’s more like 48 miles.  Great day, especially since I finished the ride before noon.

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1st BF Fixie Ride

This was part 2 of the Taxi comeback.  This was a ride that we did a while, back but I did it on my regular road bike, with gears, and shifting, while Pete did it on his fixed gear.  Well, this was intended to be a fixed gear ride, so I went ahead and brought my IRO fixed gear bike.  I did this with some apprehension, as I had not done any climbing on this bike at all … mainly rode along flat bike trails with this.

There were a few hills of note that I was really weary of … first, the hill climbing out of Sports Basement to get to the bridge.  Then, there’s the descent into Sausalito, and unless you’ve ridden a fixie, you won’t know how fearful that is.  Since this is fixed gear, you can’t simply coast down the hill.  You have to pedal fast, just to keep up with the speed that you are going.  I like to coin this as descending like a bionic gerbel.  There’s also the climb going up Camino Alto, but the worst I think is the climb out of Sausalito over to the GG bridge … you know, the really fast downhill we went on???  I gotta climb up that coming back home!

I did surprisingly well … I guess you gotta conquer your fears by just doing it once … I wasn’t suffering as much as I thought I was.  I just had to make sure my cadence was at a manageable level, and if it got too hairy, apply the brakes!  After this ride, I think I will put on the rear brakes … when I bought it from Henry, he only had front brakes on … if I do more rides like this, I better put on rear brakes as well.  One thing this ride did … it sure tested my left hand braking skills.

As expected, I was the last of the fixies to complete the hills, but I was not the last one totally.  That actually did a lot for my confidence level.  When we started going on the Tiburon loop (which by the way is a great loop for fixies), I really got into a good groove.  In fact, I was ahead of everyone.  Once you get into a nice rhythm, you just wanna keep going.

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After getting to Tiburon, we decided to take a few shots.  From Tiburon, on a clear day, you can get a great view of the SF Bay skyline … it was a little hazy today, so the visibility was not the best I’ve seen, but it wasn’t bad either.

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We had lunch at one of Pete’s favorite Mexican restaurants.  This was not on the main road, off the beaten path a little bit.  This was nice, as it was not crowded, didn’t have to wait, and you can just sit down, and relax, and wait for your food.  Burritos are a nice way to chow down in the middle of a ride … I had the El Chewbacca.  hmmm … that went down good.

On the way back, the imfamous climb from Sausalito back to the GG bridge.  This is tough on a fixie, but it was still doable.  I was able to keep balance at all times, and I didn’t feel like I was rolling to slowly up the hill.  I just wonder where I had all this energy from?  I finally made it to the GG Bridge, and the next challenge was to cross the bridge with all the Blazing Saddles tourist traffic.  Blazing Saddles is a company that rents bikes for tourist to pedal across the bridge.  However, most of the people who rent either are not very strong riders, or they don’t know how to handle themselves on the road.  This makes for a dangerous combination on the GG Bridge.  In fact, I saw about 10-20 people, hanging out at one of the structures of the bridge, and blocking the way for cyclists to come through.  This almost got me in an accident, as I was trying to maneuver around them, and then another bike came head on to me.  Adding to the frustration at this point, there were a couple of kids, who were struggling around the structure, with the wind, and they were obstruction my way to get across.

Later on, I saw not one, but two Blazing Saddles riders, who were riding northbound, with one hand free, taking video camera shots as they cross the bridge.  Talk about risky!  Then, there are a number of other people who would just stop right in the middle of the path, to take a picture of the bridge … there are cutouts where you can take pictures, but I guess these folks didn’t know about that.  Dang … it’s just getting worse and worse out there.  So if you do plan to ride across the bridge, be very careful of those Blazing Saddles riders … big big hazard!

High Tech Monkey

Being in Silicon Valley, in the networking industry, it is a pretty high brow industry. To get in here, you need very low level network details. For example, you need to know how to read a sniffer trace, or packet analyzer. Sure, anyone can record it, but not many know how to interpret the data. So you know the 7 layers of the OSI, but what does each of them do? Anyhow, this gives you an idea of the level of technical aptitude required to work at this level.

Ok, so now we have established how very technical this is.  When a customer’s network is down, you have to move quickly.  P1, network down situation, meaning lots of dollars are at stake.  With 10 years in the industry, I feel I know a bit about what type of information to grab.  Sniffer traces, snoop, debugs … I know how to analyze them … but sometimes, even the best engineers, won’t be able to determine the problem.  So here is where I become a monkey … can’t solve it, so escalate to engineering.  At this point, all I do is pass information back and forth between the customer and Engineering.

Sometimes, it gets to a point, where all I am is relaying data … Engineering would like to see … or … Engineer believes that … enough … so we get into a live troubleshooting session, where Engineering sees exactly everything that is on the customer box.  However, we never let Engineering directly interact with the customer.  That’s where me, the overglorified technical operator comes in to play, where I use my typing skills, and type in very technical commands.  Granted, a simple data entry operator wouldn’t know what to type in, but still, I felt like a data entry person, a high tech monkey.

Now it turned out the problem was not with our device, but it was an issue on the customer’s network.  But still, it took two days, 4 developers, 2 tech support engineers, 2 QA engineers, and 2 customer engineers to determine it is not our fault.  And here I was, in the middle … and does the sales manager thank anyone that was intimately involved in this?  Of course not … the weasel thanks my boss’s boss.  Just typical … sales …

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again … tech support is on the lowest level of species.  Sales are at the top, and tech support is below the level of the amoeba.  At this point, I can completely relate to Rodney Dangerfield.  I get no respect at all!

Beating the Heat – PV

Went down for my monthly visit to LA, and a nice ride with my pals, goofy friends, from SoCal.  It has been hot, really hot the past week, and from the weather reports, it will simply continue through the weekend.  The forecast was for 80 on the beach, and in the 90’s in the valley (where I normally ride when I visit LA).  For that reason, we decided to do a beach ride, from Marina Del Rey to Palos Verdes.

Marina Del Rey Bike Path

We left at 8:30 am, early enough for the temps to be fairly comfortable, yet late enough for everyone to get there.  It was also early enough that there weren’t too many riders on the bike path.  This just meant that by the time we would get back, it would be very crowded, especially being such a hot day.

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After having weekends of hardcore climbing, tough training rides, my body needed a nice social ride.  This one was just what the doctor ordered.  It was refreshing to go 20 miles, and not go 2000 feet climbing yet.

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There was a little bit of confusion on our route … some missed the turn on Paseo del Mar, before the coffee shop stop.  In fact, they went on ahead, and climbed PV East.  Oh well … it turned out we would catch up with them later on, after regrouping at the top of the climb at the school.

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After some smoothies, latte’s, and variety of other pastries and muffins … mmm is that making you hungry?  Anyways, it was onto the climb of the day, Palos Verdes East.  The climb itself is not long … it is about 1.5 miles, and about 500 feet climbing, with elevation grades averaging aroudn 5-6% … not too bad.  Knowing it is not a long climb, I decided to pushing my heart rate going up this climb.  From what I can see, I got up to 177 bpm … that’s about the same time I was panting, houghing and puffing, breathing as hard as I could.

We re-grouped at the college at the top of the hill.  After letting our heartbeats reduce down to a sane level, we went on ahead, down the hill, and continued onto PV North.  We were actually a bit lucky here … normally PV North is pretty busy in this area, but they closed a section of the road (for reasons that I did not know).  Anyhow, they did allow cyclists to go through, which meant not having to worry about car traffic … woohoo.  It was only for about a 1 mile section, but hey, it’s better than nothing.

The return trip was basically as straight a shot back to the start.  However, the main road was a narrow two lane road, with heavy traffic, as this was one main road for the locals to get from point A to point B.  I was tempted in suggested to go along the strand, which would mean encountering beach traffic, as opposed to main street traffic.  Well, since it wasn’t my ride, I decided just to continue on status quo.

I followed the route slip, and was looking for a left turn on Pacific.  So instead of making a left at a particular intersection, I ended up going right, and before we knew it, we passed where the start normally should be.  So I ended up with an extra loop, but I didn’t end up with any more mileage than the original route had anticipated.

Final stats were 54.77 miles, 3020 feet climbing.

For the rest of the pics (and I didn’t take very many), click here

Madness the day before going on PTO

It was a crazy day for me today. First, it is the last day at work before going on a 2 week PTO, or Personal Time Off. It’s a fancy word for vacation. I was amazed at how many people didn’t know that acronym. I thought everyone knew that, but I guess that’s what’s popular in the faceless, cold corporate world.

Over the weekend, we had a problem with one of our services that we provide to customers. Without going into any detail, the problem was related to DNS resolution. In fact, I got a voicemail on Saturday (I couldn’t hear my phone ring because I was on the way back from Marshall Wall). I guess sometimes being the go to guy can suck, can’t it? Anyways, I got a call from one of our developers this morning, and they were wondering how did the incident over the weekend get resolved. Well, it just got resolved, but we didn’t know what happened … we didn’t get a root cause analysis.
Now part of the assinine IT policy is that any ticket filed that is a P1 needs to be validated by a manager. So even if the world is crumbling, customers are down for 6 hours (as was the case today), the ticket will still be left as a P3. The developer, who opened the ticket, didn’t know about this rule, so this issue was left collecting dust, to be handled as a P3. Afternoon came, and there was still no movement. I decided to call the helpdesk, with ticket number at hand, and damn it … I needed manager approval for P1. So instead, I just called the guy who was handling it, and finally got some movement on it. Just checked, and DNS is now working, and the issue at hand is now resolved.
In addition, it is April Fool’s Eve, or the eve that the conficker.c worm will launch. As you can imagine, this saw a lot of activity with knowledge base, security response teams, and many customer calls inquiring about this. What was frustrating was explaining to some people how anti-viruses and intrusion detection and prevention systems are different. Had to explain how the architecture is different, and there is no way the general customer would understand that. But I had to go through that laborious exercise … oh well. Just another security red alert type of exercise.
Then, I had all my cases that I had to transition to other Engineers. So that was a big time dump, explaining what the status was with my boss, even though I had it all documented in a nicely crafted email. I should have just bypassed the whole email process, and just explained it to him in a room. But then again, he would want it in email … doh!
Oh, and then I had to post two software releases today. As luck would have it, the web team had some meta-data issues with the server. Whaddaya know … posting the release is not gonna happen today. Now, I had to scramble and let all my backups now what is going on, and the day where I was supposed to get off at 3 PM, I was still working on stuff till 6:30 PM.
It always seems to happen this way … the day before going on PTO, is the busiest. If anything could go wrong, it will go wrong. Well, at least I didn’t lock myself out of my house (which I did one morning … that was more embarrassing than anything else, especially since it was 6 am, before most people are awake).
Ok, now time to figure out what the heck I am going to do for the next couple of weeks. One week will definitely be in LA, visiting dad. Maybe hook up with ME for a few rides, and maybe hook up with some LAUSD teachers, who have spring break off that week. Only drawback is my friend Mary (no, not ME, my other friend Mary), doesn’t have the week off till the week I go back. Oh well. C’est la vie!