10 tenets of working in IT – Tenet 2, Self-train


It’s been six weeks since I last posted, although to be honest it feels like much longer. The reason for that is I’ve been very busy ‘skilling up’ on a couple of my hobbies, namely photography and video editing and have learnt an incredible amount in such a short time. I’ve taken my foot off the CCNP Security gas pedal to some degree to fit this in, but as I stated in my New Year’s resolution post here, I felt I owed it to myself this year to give myself more time for my other hobbies, outside of IT and networking in particular. So it’s certainly fitting that my first post back is about my 2nd tenet of working in IT, self-train.

Speculate to accumulate

I see all too often, people who are unwilling to take time out of their own schedule to train up, either in their professional field or in their private lives. I put this down to a number of reasons, listed in no particular order:

  1. Job dissatisfaction. If you don’t enjoy your job, why would you be motivated to spend time getting better at it? I get that point of view. Ironically, doing just that will quite often allow you to enjoy your job more, but at the very least gives you a better chance of changing roles to one you will enjoy
  2. The Google effect. It is all too easy these days to hit the Internet when you run in to a problem you can’t solve immediately. Google offers a wealth of useful information. I do think it’s a sad reflection of the times we live in, however, when Googling is the first thing that many people do, rather than attempting to tackle the issue themselves up front. If you can get an answer to the problem in two minutes, why spend a further 30 minutes reading up on the topic, even if it means filling in other holes in your knowledge? I see these quick fixes as sticky plasters. Sometimes, you need to get up to your elbows in open heart surgery to really understand how something works
  3. Lack of time. In my first post of this series, I gave a number of pointers around how to make more time in your life. If lack of time is the reason you most often cite as why you don’t keep your skills updated, then please take a read of that post and try out the various tips. This ties in with point 2 above. Free up more time, then fill it with productivity. Rinse and repeat, maintaining the balance as you go
  4. No desire. This is a tougher nut to crack. I’ve worked with people who were just happy carrying out their day to day roles and that’s fair enough if they are happy and aren’t causing other people more work. If you are one of those people but want to start increasing your knowledge, you need to find something that will help motivate you to get the ball rolling. Think of what the end goal is, and focus on achieving it, in smaller manageable chunks


Moving on to the studying itself, I tend to use a similar method to learn any particular topic. Firstly, I’ll watch any available videos that are good. YouTube and related sites offer a huge variety of videos on all sorts of topics offering training and amongst the crap are some very helpful ones. In conjunction with this, a good book can go a long way to helping me understand something. Finally, I consider myself lucky in that the things I like to study (networking, photography, video editing, electronics, etc.) all afford me one key aspect that makes the learning experience so much more valuable; hands on capabilities. You just can’t beat setting up a lab to test how OSPF redistribution works, import a couple of photos, tweak and blend them together or solder your own circuit board. The human brain absorbs more information when it’s doing the work itself. If you read some of my previous study\exam related posts, you’ll see I follow this same method time and time again.


Don’t expect for the training to land in your lap. I often hear people being resentful about having to spend their own time to get up to speed with skills required for their job roles. It’s time to get it through your head…you are in control of your own destiny. Get out there and find the information you need yourself. It not only speeds things up, but it is far more satisfying. Keep setting targets and measuring progress to keep the momentum going.

Till the next time.

Half year review


In one of my earlier posts, I set out my certification goals for 2012:


I gave myself four targets for the year which I still think is more than achievable so let’s take a look at my half year review. I am glad to say that I have ticked numbers 1 and 2 off of the list to gain my CCNP at the half way mark and still have numbers 3 and 4 well within my sights. I think design skills are important to have, even if designing networks is only a small part of your job. If you know how networks should be put together, you are better qualified to point out where improvements can be made in existing networks. This allows you to go beyond simply fixing issues as they occur and approach troubleshooting as a continual improvement process. I am currently in my 2nd week of a two week holiday but fully intend on starting my CCDA studies before month end.

Regarding my other CCNA speciality, I have decided to go for the CCNA Security as the first step in my desire to get a highly job relevant CCNP Security at some point in 2013\14. I am also going to go back to basics in terms of routing and switching knowledge and start building up some study tools so that once I feel I am ready for the CCIE R&S, I will already have built up some momentum. By this time next year, I hope to have a fairly comprehensive flash card library and some expansive mind maps.


The reason for this brief post is mainly for my own motivation. Keeping track of your goals, changing them where required, adding new ones and ticking them off the list as you achieve them is a good way of staying motivated and keeping the momentum up. Without a review from time to time, you can find yourself drifting from your original goal with no real idea of what it is you want. I tend to review my goals much more frequently than every six months, usually every few weeks or if and when something happens which sticks a spanner in the works of some kind.

Till the next time.

Welcome to my blog


Welcome and thanks for at least coming this far! I’ve considered running a blog since the word was invented. I’ve had numerous sites over the years but they all went through a dozen changes and not one involved interesting content to be perfectly honest. I’ve been holding off on getting the ball rolling but with my first visit to Cisco Live coming up in a few weeks, thought that now is as good a time as any.

Initially I looked at Blogspot, liked the look of a couple of blogs and thought I’d write a small number of hopefully useful posts, outlining my rise in the world of the network engineer, in particular working with Cisco kit. But two posts in, I thought to myself, why not get the domain name I’ve always wanted and host the blog there instead, which is where we are today.

To give a bit of background as to who I am and where I’ve been, I’ve worked in IT full time since 2002 as a Microsoft engineer, attaining an MCSE 2003:Security, MCITP:Server and Enterprise Administrator and specialising in Exchange 2007\2010 in that time. In 2008, I started studying for the CCNA certification to broaden my horizons and six months later, having taken the ICND1\ICND2 path, was the proud owner of a CCENT and CCNA. I carried on specialising in Microsoft technologies, in particular Exchange and put my CCNA skills to use with basic configuration\troubleshooting on our internal network and on some of our customer’s infrastructures.

A few months ago, I was aware that my CCNA was going to expire (Feb 2012) and it was at that point that I was in the fortunate position of suggesting to my line manager a move to being a full time network engineer, which both he and the company supported…result! Within six weeks, I’d resat my CCNA as I wanted to reaffirm my foundational skills before moving on to the next step, the CCNP. I’m originally from Manchester but with family ties in Scotland. For the last four years I’ve worked for an ISP\hosting company in the North East. The initial aim of this blog was to document my journey through the valley of Cisco certification, but I soon realised that I would be restricting my content. So in short, this will be a technology blog with a heavy emphasis on networking.

Although my plans may change in terms of the order of things, I intend on gaining my CCNP in the next 9 months (have already passed my SWITCH exam), spending the following 12-18 months looking to gain some design certs (CCDA\CCDP), perhaps CCNA Security or Wireless or perhaps even a currently job relevant CCIP. No more than three years from now, I hope to be in a ‘comfortable’ position to take on the CCIE R&S written exam and lab.

If somebody ends up finding it useful, then all the better. In fact, if somebody ends up finding it at all, I’ll be happy. As a final note, please feel free to contact me at (vegaskid at vegaskid dot net) if you have any suggestions or questions and do make yourself at home. Till the next time…