Cisco Live - Day Five, The End?

Cisco Live 2013 is officially over. Break down time.
The fifth and final day of Cisco Live was a frenzy of activity. We kicked off the day by breaking down any areas of the conference that weren't in use and started packing everything away in storage. From there all the equipment moves on to the next Cisco Live or elsewhere. The conference is so large that just getting anywhere takes a great deal of walking. I think by the end of today I must have walked or ran close to 16 miles. 
For the closing keynote Cisco had Sir Richard Branson as a guest speaker. We all got a short break (calm before the storm) to go hear him speak. It was actually quite fascinating to hear exactly what makes this man tick. He is truly one of the world's most interesting men. At the exact moment the keynote ended is when things got frenetic. We were broken off into teams and then given assigned floors. From there we were to basically go through the entire conference center and break down all switches, access point, antennae, and VoIP phones through out the entire complex! It was quite a learning experience in Layer 1 due to the fact that I got to see how the entire conference was laid out. This breakdown went well into the night and by the time we were finally done. I was completely exhausted. I don't mean simply tired, I had nothing left. We have been doing so much every day on very little sleep that every day I was operating on less and less sleep hours. By this fifth and final day I was running on 4 hours of sleep and pure caffeine. (I am not exaggerating  To give you a good idea of how big the conference is, I believe it is nearly 1 1/2 to 2 miles across. So going from floor to floor with nearly hundreds of rooms is a huge undertaking. It was a fitting ending, really getting to see the scope of things. Getting to see just how huge of a deal Cisco Live is, was a real eye opener.
Photo with CEO John Chambers
OK so that's it. That's what I did in Florida. This has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Getting to do this means so much to me. I've learned so much and gotten to do so many things in just a week. My team are great people and in that week I've gotten to be good friends with them. Our team leader Patrick Gargano was seriously one of the best people I've worked with. I'm gonna miss them and hope our paths cross again. Alright, I'm going to go pass out now. Thanks for following along, on what is surely one of my life's most epic experiences.

p.s.- I would sincerely like to thank all my IT professors ( +Layne Davis , +Brian Kirsch , +Anthony Stanislawski ) at Milwaukee Area Technical College for their nominations, recommendations, and guidance in getting me to Cisco Live. I'll never forget it.


Cisco Live - Day Four

Today started off great! I took my CCENT exam in the morning and passed it! So I now have my very first Cisco certification! I had a huge smile on my face all morning as I went around and told everybody the good news. It was just great to get it done and out of the way. After returning to the NOC, and delivering the good news, we all headed out to hear today's keynote speech. Just as we got there Landon (a local intern) and I got diverted back to help break down the registration area. We basically spent a few hours packing up very expensive touch screen monitors and gear. When that was complete, we helped out more at the wireless support desk and then headed off to get some food. 

Adam Burke, CCIE
When lunch was over we got a really great opportunity to talk with some of the CCIE's in the Network Operations Center. They were absolutely great. They would go over what their role was at the conference and talk to us about how they go about their jobs and teach a few tools of the trade. We got a wonderful session with +Adam Burke () It was awesome to see his enthusiasm towards showing us what he does. We of course just soaked it all in. Getting to really converse and ask questions with others who have positions you hoped to be in one day is really inspiring. 

Universal Studios
After we met with the Engineers it was already time for dinner and then we had to rush off to Universal Orlando to head out to the Customer Appreciation Event. It was incredible. Cisco basically rented out Universal Studios just for its Customers to enjoy; Roller coasters and all! We rode as many coasters as we could and rode on a few 3D simulator rides. It's amazing how real those feel now! Closing out the show Journey performed. To put things into perspective the only people at Universal were Cisco people and it was still packed! 

Today was pretty easy going. We did our usual work, learned some things from some great engineers, and got to get away and have fun. Overall, not a bad day at all. In the end though what I'm most proud of is that certification. It's not easy finding time to study right now so it's good to see I still got it upstairs. 


Cisco Live - Day Three

John Chambers, Cisco CEO
Today went as smooth as it could get. We woke up early, as usual, had our breakfast and headed out to the Network Operations Center. From there we split up into our groups and headed out to our stations. Today I was assigned to the NOC support desk. I would take any issues and create tickets for support to come check out our booths. The great thing is that there were very few problems so everything was running tip top.

 After a few hours we were all radioed to meet back up and head towards the Keynote Room to go listen to Cisco CEO John Chambers speak. It was incredible. The room sat thousands, and the demonstrations were stunning. Just getting to attend the keynote was awesome but then afterwards Karen Woodard arranged for us to get our pictures taken with Mr. Chambers which, let me tell you, felt epic!

Jim Grubb, VP Corporate Communications
After the keynote ended we headed back and this time I was assigned to the wireless help desk where I helped get people connected wirelessly as well as connect to the Cisco Live mobile app. Even that itself  was pretty easy going as not many people today were having issues connecting. Again we were radioed in to head back to NOC. This time to meet with Jim Grubb, VP Corporate Communications (and CEO sidekick) and picked his brain a bit.

Keith Barker, CBT Nuggets
At this point we ran a little more support for the World of Solutions and then headed out for our first real break at the Cisco Press Appreciation  event. Here we got to meet and talk with authors of various Cisco Certification Books and had tons of conversations with +Scott Empson , author of the CCNA Portable Command Guide (@scottempson) about the coming changes to the CCENT and CCNA program. I also ran into one of my online heroes +Keith Barker  (@keithbarkerCCIE) of CBTnuggets, who I've watched nearly 40 hours of training videos, and who I consider one of my favorite online trainers. He was great and it was really awesome to bump into him while we were on some R&R.

In the end it was a great day that went completely smoothly. We got to meet a lot of important people for Cisco and learned a lot about how the company operates and what it's plans are for the future. Oh and by the way, in case you were still wondering, the prize for the picture of the day was a pretty sweet social media t-shirt. So...score.


Cisco Live - Day Two

Dream Team B
I am exhausted, in absolutely a good way. Today we assisted the NOC (Network Operations Center) with the opening of the World of Solutions room. Before things started off we go to have breakfast and talk to Pat Finn, Senior Vice Present of Cisco's U.S Public Sector. That was really great to hear him tell us how much he appreciated us being there. We had a great photo shoot after breakfast and then we headed out to get things started.
Pat Finn SVP of Cisco US Public Sector
Our team leaders familiarized us with the different area's we would be working in and we got to meet some of the Cisco Engineers and see them in action. Let me just go on the record and say that the absolute scale of the hundreds of access points and the miles of networking cable laid out to get even just 'this' room ready, is mind boggling.

Assembly of Access Points
When the doors to the World of Solutions opened the room went from a bunch of people setting up booths, to what felt like 10 thousand people in a matter of an hour. It was thrilling. Great food everywhere, and awesome presentations. This is when the real work kicked off. From this moment we were sent to our various positions. I ran first tier troubleshooting for any booths that needed assistance with connectivity issues. If an issue couldn't be handled by me, I radioed in to the NOC and escalated the issue to them. If I could solve the issue, then I did and moved on to the next booth that needed help. It was amazing to see so many people at the conference center. I basically ran support until the World of Solutions closed for the day and then when everyone was gone...there was more work to be done. The Dream Teamed helped set up a bunch of wireless access points all over the western end of the conference after closing time. So we started our day at 6:30 am and here I am at 11:00 pm writing up the day's thoughts before I have to sleep and do it all over again. I really, really had a lot of fun today. Especially being able to knock out an issue that a presenter was having and getting to return to the knock with a big smile on my face.

World of Solutions Room
Tomorrow I wake up at 6:30 and we do it all over again. Might not be as exciting on the repeat, but really today has been real blast. My feet however disagree with me.

Oh and just before I logged off I just received a text from Patrick our team leader that I won picture of the day, so I'll have to stop by the Social Media Hub and claim my prize. Nice ending to a great day.


Cisco Live - Day One

Getting Badges
Day one is at an end. Today has been a whirlwind of activity and greetings. While looking for something to eat me and a fellow Team B member ran into Team A who were finished with there shifts at Cisco Live. I kid you not they looked like they had done battle. What an absolute great bunch of guys. They shared stories with us, about things that had gone wrong, things that had gone right. Some of them were even limping due to the amount of walking that had to be done to run cable and set up switches in the miles and miles of the convention center. A running theme among all of us here is that everyone is using a Pedometer App to keep track of and compare just how far people are walking/running at the center. As of right now Team A averaged nearly 15 miles per day!

Dream Team A
  This first day was a little chaotic due to all Team Leaders and Cisco Engineers solving last minute problems before Cisco Live kicks off. One thing is for sure, I'm very glad to run into the A Team to get to know them and see what they went through. I wish we had more time together, both teams combined, but at least we caught them at the tail end and got to have dinner with them before they go back home.  As the night wore down we finally got to meet our Team Leaders who are an amazing bunch! +Karen Woodard (@acc_woodardk) and +Patrick Gargano  (@PatrickGargano) are great and though we haven't officially worked with them yet, Team A had nothing but great things to say about them. Karen sat down with us on her down time and told us a little bit about what to expect and now I am totally excited. The pressure is on!
Team Leaders: Karen and Patrick

We will be taking tickets and be sent out to all the various booths and helping troubleshoot problems. Some of them might be as simple as 'a cable was unplugged' some might be as complex as 'vlan and trunking issues'. This will all need to be figured out and solved on the fly as presentations try to meet their deadlines. 

Even though the day started out with a bit of waiting, it ended with a whole lot of information and great people who I personally am excited to work with. This is my first real life hands on experience and I can't wait to jump right in.

Cisco Live - Just Arrived

2nd Floor. Out of 4.
Welcome to Cisco Live!
Well here I am, Cisco Live! Florida is everything you'd expected it to be. It monsooned for half an hour, it's 90 degrees f, it feels like 200 % humidity outside, but I am ever so excited to be here. I have a little time to kill before I could check into the hotel so I walked over to the Convention Center to scout it out before the Dream Team meets tonight and grabs some food.

I wish I could convey properly, the size of this place. They weren't kidding when they kept telling us "comfortable shoes, comfortable shoes". It's massive! I only got the briefest looks around (just a teaser) before I needed to go check into the hotel but wow. The place has more events going on then I can wrap my head around, and I only saw just part of it. This is going to be epic.
View from the Rosen Centre Hotel
So as far as I can tell today is really just an orientation day, so we are free to just look around, find our rooms, and meet the other team members. Tomorrow will be when the rodeo starts. There will be much much more to come, but for now check out the sweet view from the hotel room!


Cisco Live - One Week Away

As the title suggests, Cisco Live is just a week away. I'll be taking this time to get everything in order for my trip. We've finished all of our WebEx meetings and gone over the things we will need to bring. So let's see  Air Travel tickets; check. Hotel Reservations; Check.

We'll be needing to take a cab or shuttle from the airport to the Rosen Centre when we arrive, so in our last meeting we got the details of when other Dream Team members are arriving so we can pair up with those that will be at the airport at the same time. From there we can share a cab to the Hotel and await further instructions.

If you are interested in following the coverage I post on the Event be sure to follow me on:

  • This blog - (ikethenetworkguy.com) 
  • Twitter - (@ikenetworkguy) 
  • Google+ - (Ike Ozurumba)
  • Vine - (Ike Ozurumba)
  • Instagram - (ikeozurumba)

Among all the different events we will be given some extra time to see a keynote address from Cisco CEO John Chambers and Virgin's Richard Branson as well as see Journey perform at the Customer Appreciation Event! 

Check out http://www.ciscolive.com/us/attendees/activities/cae/ for some more of the great acts that will be there. 

It will be a lot of work and hopefully some play, but be sure to follow along. It's gonna be interesting!


Adventures in Pi - Challenges Hosting Wordpress

Well after five straight days of a most frustrating Linux-based hell, I finally gave up (for now) on hosting my blog on my Raspberry Pi. It's completely doable, I know, but the amount of workarounds and alteration of code just wasn't worth it right now with all the other stuff going on. There's a ton of documentation on how to get it up and running, but the process is so far from streamlined that as soon as I got one thing working, another problem arose, and we're talking 20-30 major issues. So I'm officially taking a break from trying to host WordPress on my Pi.

A lot of my shortcomings are do to the fact that the Pi is my first exposure to a Linux based operating system. On the plus side, I now have a much more intimate relationship with Linux. I don't love it by any means, but I'm starting to understand it. That obviously can't be a bad thing. Also, another positive is I am now decently familiar with WordPress. Really, what I should do is go ahead and host my blog on a Windows based machine. I'd probably have it fully up and running in a day. But the lure of having a website hosted for free on a tiny credit card sized computer seemed novel.

To be fair, I had the whole site hosted and it 'worked,' but it was slow to load and some of the more important customization's were instructing me to alter the http
d.conf and .htaccess files. In the end, the inability to change the permalink settings and the subsequent 5 hours of getting nowhere closer to fixing it is what made me hang up the gloves.

Just a few words for anyone new to Linux and attempting to host a webpage on their Raspberry Pi...

1)The Pi can only handle so much traffic and loads very slowly.

2)As far as I can tell there is NO one single guide out there that will help you accomplish a proper LAMP stack combined with WordPress. Be prepared to read tons of them and pick out tips that will help you.

3) One of the biggest mistakes I made early on was installing WordPress on a partition that was nearly full. If you're not a Linux wiz this could be a huge problem halfway through the process. mysql will fail to start properly and it will be a headache. So do yourself a favor and make sure you have plenty of space to work with.

So all in all, it was an  interesting ride into the inner workings of Linux, the Raspberry Pi, and WordPress. My brain feels a little fried, so for the next few weeks I think I'll take a nice vacation in Windowsland. And although the last 5 days pissed me off to no end, I wouldn't take back the experience of learning some new stuff. I'll be back at this self hosting on the Pi thing as soon as I get some more free time.