I have been working with technology for over twenty years. I started out as a database developer and, starting a small company with a couple of friends and classmates, we went into business, selling custom database application systems to customers who needed to quickly determine what data meant. After this, I went to work for a school district and began a love affair with enterprise and the network world. My world was a continual crash-course in managing all facets of a complex Cisco network. I dealt with SMTP servers, domain controllers, UNIX, Windows Server, Active Directory (they didn’t have any LDAP before I got there), content filters, firewalls (Checkpoint FW-1 at first, then Cisco PIX, and finally ASA) If it pertained to a mid- to large-scale enterprise, I learned it via total immersion. And if no one has let you in on that secret – it’s the fastest way to learn anything.

Being a school district, I got to work with a larger network without the larger and sophisticated technical staff. This was a blessing, as I had to find a way to make everything work. The challenges were no different than in any other 25-site campus, WAN-linked (first with T1s and later with gigabit circuits) back to a core, with two ISPs, leveraging BGP to ensure reliable and fault-tolerant connectivity. I had roughly 12,000 users, half of which had mail accounts, and I was responsible for keeping them spam-free. Also, being a school district, we used a content filter, first WebSense, then LightSpeed, and several others.

(And for those of you who didn’t understand what much of the above meant, rest assured – I only mention it because of the vast overlap between complex networked systems and how we all think, operate, function in the world. You will be amazed as you learn just how much modern technology is patterned after the human brain and behavior. Interestingly enough, we built computers on the model of the human brain. And then we looked at our models, at the computer systems we had created, and recognized a novel means of improving our understanding of that which we modeled – the human brain and our behavior! Some of you will be familiar with Count Alfred Korzybski who said it best, “the map is not the territory”. Following the Count’s logic, what we did with computer systems is to create maps of our own capabilities, from that created usable models that helped solve problems…and they worked so well that from them we learned new things about the original terrirory we studied – ourselves. I promise you this – stick with me, and not only will it all make sense, you will find it vastly useful.)

To be continued…

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