Don't troubleshoot alone and other networking advice

What Ray Blair, co-author of Cisco Secure Firewall Services Module (FWSM) likes best about networking technology is that it is continuously changing and there is always more to be learned. But he warns against making things harder for yourself: "Don't troubleshoot alone," says Blair. "A second pair of eyes and ears can be very valuable." Read more of Blair's dos and don'ts below.

This is part of a regular series that highlights new books and their authors. Also in this series: Michael Ogrinz on Mashups, J. Peter Bruzzese on Exchange Server 2007, Joel Scambray on exposing the hacker's advantage, and Scott Hogg on IPv6 security. (You can find all the installments in this series here.)

Cisco Secure Firewall Services Module

Who should read this book? Anyone that needs or has a desire to learn how the Firewall Services Module (FWSM) functions, the differences between the FWSM and the ASA Security Appliance, how to implement and maintain the FWSM, the latest features of the FWSM, and how to configure common installations.

What can readers expect to learn? The book provides a detailed look at how the FWSM processes information, as well as installation advice, configuration details, recommendations for network integration, and reviews of operation and management. Readers will learn how and why the FWSM functions as it does, enabling them to successfully deploy the FWSM and gain the greatest functional benefit from their deployment. Practical examples throughout show how other customers have successfully deployed the FWSM.


Name: Ray Blair

What I'm working on now: Network virtualization, control-plane policing, multicast, and other various writing projects.

Something most people don't know about me: I enjoy trying new foods, the more exotic the better.

Philosophy: Don't put off until tomorrow what can be done today.

What do you like best about networking technology? What I like best about networking technology is that it is continuously changing and there is always more to be learned. This makes my job that much more interesting and challenging.

Words of advice for those just getting in networking: Find a particular discipline that you are interested in and focus your attention on becoming very knowledgeable on that topic. Also, set some goals that are measurable, maybe it's completing an industry certification. This will also give you an idea how well you understand the material.

5 keys for success

  • Set attainable goals and do what it takes to reach them.
  • Take some time for yourself every day, exercise, pray, get your mind off your work.
  • Balance your family and work life.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Get out of your comfort zone.

5 classic mistakes

  • Don't just spin your wheels if you're not getting anywhere. Take a break.
  • Don't forget to eat lunch.
  • Don't troubleshoot alone; a second pair of eyes and ears can be very valuable.
  • Don't rest on your past success.
  • Don't forget to check that it's plugged in. Sometimes it's the little things that get you.

Do you have a favorite command you want to share? Here is a hidden command that has been very helpful to me in troubleshooting Cisco IOS. Do not use this in a production environment! This will turn your router into a packet sniffer enabling you to quickly troubleshoot problems in a lab environment.

debug ip packet detail dump

Parting words: If you're comfortable in what you are doing, it's time for a new challenge.

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