End of year review 2015


What a crazy and busy 12 months. I’ve just noticed that five months have gone by since my last blog post and I honestly can’t think of when I had a spare slot to write a blog post in that period. The goals I set myself at the beginning of the year have been tweaked, dropped and completely changed along the way. With that in mind, I thought I’d review what I actually got up to.

So what got done?

I’ve been managing the network team at my current company for a couple of years now but I was keen to try and get back to my hands on roots this year to prevent those skills from evaporating.

The opening of our brand new data centre in Aberdeen gave me the perfect opportunity to do just that, running with the project from the design and planning phases, through procurement, implementation, testing and finally live operations as of October. Introducing new technology in to our portfolio and the importance of the project made this a very rewarding experience.

I’ve also dived in to a number of long lasting customer projects in the last 12 months, most notably taking the lead on a migration from another data centre in to our new one. The best two things about this project were brushing up and learning some new skills and collaborating with the customer team. I really enjoy having discussions with customers about how they can get the best out of technology.


With 2015 drawing to a close, I could look back at the goals I set at the start of the year and feel a sense of disappointment. After all, most of them were not achieved. However, I think being flexible in what you hope to achieve and finding yourself at the end of the year largely happy with what you did achieve is what the overall goal should be for anybody.

For 2016, I really want to carry on with my sleeves rolled up, working with great technology and people. I also want to try and be a bit more frequent with my blog posts!

Have a great festive period everybody and hope to see you all next year.

Till the next time.

10 tenets of working in IT – Tenet 9, Know Your Place


We all serve a purpose in life. Some people spend their entire life never questioning what theirs is, whilst others waste a lot of effort comparing the situation they find themselves in to others, in particular those they perceive as better off by one measure or another. This post looks at a few tips to try and help you find your purpose.

Know your place

Consider the bullet points below lifted directly from my original 10 Tenets of IT post on Packetpushers:

  1. Do not get depressed with not knowing everything
  2. Know what you don’t know; decide from that what you need to learn
  3. Don’t get bogged down comparing your abilities to others. You’ll either spend your life kicking yourself because you can’t emulate your heroes, or you’ll justify treading water because you are at least better than the guy sat next to you
  4. Be the best you can be
  5. Aspire to improve
  6. Drop things that you no longer need
  7. Fine tune that which you do

There are two key themes that compliment each other here. The first can be summarised as “Don’t beat yourself up” and the other is “Control your own destiny”. You shouldn’t waste time worrying about what you don’t know or what other people are up to. Decide what it is you want to be, plan how to get there and make it happen. A particularly well matched tenet here is tenet 8, focus.


In the introduction to this post, I wrote that we all serve a purpose in life. One of the key things that separates the get-bys from the successful people is the former allow themselves to be told what their purpose is and the latter define it for themselves.

Till the next time.

10 tenets of working in IT – Tenet 8, Focus


In keeping with the topic of this post, I’ll try and keep it brief and to the point. What is it that separates the winners from the losers? The people who seem to be continuously increasing their knowledge from those who struggle to keep up? Those that seem to climb the career ladder with ease from those retiring from the helpdesk after an ‘illustrious’ 30 year career. This post looks at a key differentiator.


The ability to focus is a skill that takes both time and commitment to learn. Think of it like a leaky bucket, you can fill it up quickly but every now and again, you will have to top it up to stop it emptying.

If I were to list some of the key points relevant to being focussed on any task I set my mind to, it would include the following as a starter for ten:

  1. Understand exactly where you are right now. If you aren’t truthful with yourself, you won’t be able to plan your journey to success accordingly
  2. Understand clearly what success looks like. You should hit your goals with the sound of angels/ticker-tape parade/(insert appropriate analogy here). If you don’t nail this down, you run the risk of hitting your target without even realising it or worse still never achieving it
  3. In between where you are now and where you want to be is a journey. It could be a metaphorical walk in the park or it could be a inter-continental saga. Depending on how big a task you have set yourself, you need to plan accordingly. What will you need to get to the end, what milestones can you use to keep yourself on track, how will you measure your success?

In the interest of brevity, that is basically it. Make sure steps 1 and 2 give you a true understanding of where you are and need to be. This is the cornerstone to good planning. Step 3 is a recursive step to keep yourself right as you head towards your final destination.

Other things to bear in mind:

  1. Whether this is a mental goal e.g. learning a new skill, or a physical goal e.g. running a 10K, don’t neglect the other side. In particular, when going undercover studying for a new certification, don’t neglect your body. Eat, drink and exercise responsibly
  2. Use the other tenets in this series to keep a good balance. They should work together as a system, rather than being individual concepts
  3. Take a good look around once in a while. Have you become too focussed and let other things slip?
  4. Make sure you enjoy the journey too. This will naturally increase your chances of success
  5. Avoid the dreaded distractions that are focus killers. They differ from person to person but usually TV, social media, gaming and food are near the top of the list
  6. The art of focussing itself is circular. You have to tune it every now and again else run the risk of drifting off track


I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes take my foot of the gas, or get drawn away by distractions. Having said that, when I want something or I need to get something done, I know how to focus and apply myself for sustained periods of time and when to take a break to maximise results.

Till the next time.

End of year review 2012


Wow, what a year this has been. Both at the same time, I seem to have learned so much and yet so little. I’ve made a lot of new contacts in the world of networking both online and in that scary thing called real life. It makes sense for me to have an end of year review.


Back in January, I made one of my first posts outlining what I hoped to achieve by the end of 2012 from a certification point of view. The four items listed were:

  3. CCDA
  4. CCNA Specialism


So how did those targets match up with my achievements? Well, I passed the ROUTE and TSHOOT exams to gain my CCNP which made me about as proud as when I got my 2003 MCSE:Security some years back. I set out to do the CCDA and after going through the INE video series and half of the Cisco Press book, I found the material to be very dry. Rather than pushing on, I decided to shelve the CCDA for now, quite possibly returning in the future to complete it.

I do a fair amount of my day-to-day work on Cisco ASAs so it made sense at that point to start working towards the CCNP Security. This has a prerequisite of the CCNA Security, which I attained in October, letting me tick number 4 off the list. I’ve also since passed the first of the four CCNP Security exams, SECURE and am now studying towards the FIREWALL exam.

So all in all, not too bad. I dropped the CCDA but managed another exam in its place and will return to the CCDA once I get a bit more network design experience under my belt. I think it has been very useful to post my goals for this year. I found that referring to it every now and again gave me the boost in motivation required to keep on track.

Outside of the realm of certification, I have also had the good fortune to start expanding my existing knowledge on topics such as Wireshark, NMap, Solarwinds, UCS, VSS and many others. I fully intend on casting my knowledge net much further over the next 12 months.


As regards to my blog, I would ideally have liked to post far more often but when the priorities have been lined up, blogging hasn’t been at the top unfortunately. I am hoping to post more frequently next year, quite probably starting 2013 off with another ‘resolutions’ post to keep me right.

In the new year, I will probably be changing the theme of the site. When I added it, I thought it looked a bit different from a lot of others but after 12 months, it looks a bit dark to me and could do with brightening up a bit. Depends on me finding something I like. On top of that, I’ve just updated WordPress and the banner graphic is out of sync for some reason.


Finally, I would like to thank everybody who has spent time coming here to read my musings. I hope you found something that was of use to you or at least put a smile on your face. Please feel free to contact me at vegaskid@vegaskid.net if you have any requests for posts, suggestions for the site or simply to ask a question or touch base. I would also like to thank everybody on Twitter\LinkedIn\etc. who has helped me out\engaged with me along the way. It’s great to know there is a large community of helpful and witty people out there.

Happy holidays to you all and here’s hoping we all have a great 2013!

Till the next time.