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BlueWolf's Howl

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December 17, 2007

The Little Things

Everyone knows that it's the little things that can trip you up... The omission of a decimal point, a typo that is an invalid command, etc. But, I find that it's also the little things that will put you a bit further ahead, too. If you happen to see what appears to be a blank field and you just happen to remember a sig you saw, you just might connect the two and solve a seemingly insolvable problem. [The tag line went something like this: "If you tell me there's not one bit of difference between space and null, I'll tell you there's exactly that." -- which clued me into realizing that what seemed like a null field was actually a field of one blank space.]

They call that incidental learning. I call it learning whatever you can whenever you can at any given moment. It all comes to bear in some way - learning is never wasted. With that in mind, I don't go so hard on myself when my studies take a detour onto a momentarily interesting path. I've always found that I need to know whatever I'm reading for some reason that I can't even see yet. It always ends up being useful.

What I'm rationalizing here is my detour into reading the Microsoft Office Visio 2003 Inside Out book.

Currently Reading

No, it's not directly related to the CCIE exam. Yes, I know I'm behind schedule to begin with... But for some reason I feel drawn to go through this book right now. As any Network Engineer knows, you have to be able to manipulate Visio diagrams. Most engineers I've met use someone else's old diagram as a starting point. Others know how to alter a diagram, but couldn't draw one if their paycheck depended on it. I want to not only know how to create my own diagrams, but also to do it well. No...better than "well"... I want to really have a solid grasp of the program and know how to customize it and do a trick or two that the "average Joe" doesn't know.

There's going to be a number of CCNPs (and CCIEs) out there. What I think will set one apart from the pack are the things that add polish to the job. The professional-looking diagrams, the expertise in packet sniffing, these are the things that will separate you from the guy (or gal) that just does their job.

The other side of this coin is that once you learn something thoroughly, you can manipulate it. You can make it work for you instead of IT being the work. A well-honed stencil is like a fine tool. You can snap off a snazzy diagram in minutes - with the right template. Compare that to someone slopping together something that 'works' but is just 'good enough.' You can't take that and use it in a briefing. Someone is going to have to take time to clean it up for you. If you can create a professional document from the start (and do it quickly), it saves a lot of time.

I want my documentation to have polish. And I don't want it to take all day to get it that way. I've spent (wasted) time in the past, fishing for the right shape to put in a diagram. Sometimes I knew the shape I wanted to use, but couldn't find it and had to use a shape I wasn't satisfied with instead. It got the job done, but wasn't something that I wanted to use in a portfolio. It wasn't something that I would consider a deliverable to be proud of... That's where I was. Now I need to find where I will be.

Posted by BlueWolf on December 17, 2007 09:45 PM