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Share your nostalgic networking stories. Win swag!

Community Manager

Do you ever look back on your pre-Meraki work life with a bit of nostalgia? Some of our team members have somewhat-fond recollections of outrageously out-of-date or incomplete network diagrams (see below), desperate attempts to locate APs in large buildings without the aid of blinking LEDs, and of having to leave their desks to do EVERYTHING!

 

Hand-drawn network diagramThis looks complete and accurate. Whiteboard network diagram"Internets" is a technical term

THIS MONTH'S CHALLENGE: Tell us your tales of networking nostalgia. Pictures and humorous anecdotes are encouraged!

 

How to enter

Tell us your tales of networking nostalgia in a comment on this blog post before 11am PDT on Thursday (April 26, 2018) (UPDATE: The contest is complete! Here's the announcement of the winning entries.)

 

How to win

Voting begins at 11am PDT on Thursday (April 26, 2018), and lasts until 11am PDT the following Tuesday (May 1, 2018).(UPDATE: The contest is complete! Here's the announcement of the winning entries.)

 

We will be selecting 2 winners:

  1. The Community Favorite — chosen by you, our Community members. Cast your vote by giving kudos ( kudos-icon.png) to your favorite entries. The entry with the most kudos from community members who aren't Meraki employees will win!
  2. The Meraki Favorite — the entry with the most kudos from Meraki employees will win the Meraki Favorite prize. Feel free to solicit your contacts at Meraki to vote for you. 😉

Good Luck!

 

 

 

The Fine Print

  • Limit one entry per community member per Community Challenge contest.
  • Submission period: Tuesday, April 24, 2018 at 11am PDT through Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 10:59am PDT
  • Voting period: Thursday, April 26 at 11am PDT through Tuesday, May 1 at 11am PDT
  • Prize will be a selection of Meraki swag with value not exceeding USD50.00
  • Official terms, conditions, and eligibility information
17 Comments
A model citizen

Oh, the good ole days without Meraki. Running around everywhere and staying in shape. Meraki's full stack has helped me become a little more "well-rounded," as my wife would say... Here's to my 60 lbs lighter self and still green in IT...

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Getting noticed

Missed the chance to bring up the excuse to run around the building, but I did get to have fun a few years back trying to hunt down a number of APs in one of our plants.

 

There were 8 APs spread throughout the plant, but someone decided that having them in the rafters would help spread the signal. Not a bad choice, but they also "mounted" them by centering them on top of the beams, so they were 30 feet up and impossible to see from the ground.

I had to get up in a scissor lift to try and find them all. One of the floor managers thought it would be funny to give me some binoculars. They would have helped if it wasn't dark and the APs weren't black.

 

Meraki APs might not have helped here, if they were still just sitting centered on the beams like before, but at least being white they would be easier to spot!

Building a reputation

Many years ago, I was helping with the residential network at a large college.  After a student ordered a wired connection, we had to visit the proper wiring closet to connect their port and update the authorized MAC address.  Perhaps the worst building involved walking up four flights of stairs, finding a small study room, opening a (fake) closet door, climbing a ladder, going through a ceiling hatch, walking across the entire building attic, climbing a very old wooden staircase to reach a steel door through a brick firewall, crossing another attic, and climbing a final staircase.

 

One day, sweating in the summer heat, I was connecting a few student rooms when I heard a faint buzzing.  The tiny room included ancient telephone connections, complete with 3/4" copper nubs, and not enough space to move around.  At a lucky moment, someone received a phone call at the exact moment that my leg made contact with the array of copper connections.  Ringing voltage will wake you up in a hurry.

 

Did I mention that the relay rack was screwed down to rotting floorboards and would rock back-and-forth as you connected the patch cables?

 

Cloud management has a special place in my heart.

Just browsing

So my shop was running Novell 3.x servers on 10baseT Ethernet. One fine day (just before lunch of course) not just one server stopped being responsive - everything stopped responding. Issue with the core? Nope, no core installed for several years yet. Cabling issue? No, multiple servers were not responding. Whipped out the Network General DOS Sniffer and found out that one of the servers was sending ALL responses with a MAC address of ffff.ffff.ffff. Wouldn't it have been nice to have a Meraki switch with broadcast rate limiting? Most assuredly.

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Just browsing

In reminiscing back to my pre-Meraki days, I can remember fondly grabbing a convenient network device (smartphone, tablet, laptop) and walking around both the interior and exterior of my buildings looking for rogue AP's.  As if that wasn't enough fun, I'd make a second pass checking my SSID's to see which, if any, were penetrating the walls and extending outside to the lot.  And once that was done I'd make a third lap looking to see if there were non-employees using one of my SSIDs as their personal wireless network.  Awesome exercise, especially during those joyous summer months when the outside temperature exceeded 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Ahhhh, the good old days before I had access to tools that could much more easily help me to fill in the blanks!resized_philosoraptor-meme-generator-if-a-wifi-signal-trespasses-your-property-is-it-still-called-stealing-a55691

Kind of a big deal

When I first started in networking the medium of choice was coxial, usually 10Base2.  Kalpana had just released the first twisted pair switch on the market, but these were incredibly expensive, and I never did get to see one.

 

10Base2 requires that the cable be continuous.  If someone unplugs the cable from the next segment (typically happened when people were moving their computer or furniture because the cable was in the way) it chopped off everyone else downstream.

 

So you would start getting a flurry of phone calls about the network being down.  You usually had to track the actual path the cable took, through the ceiling, walls, along the ground, etc - until you eventually found the place where nearly always some human had unplugged it.

 

Because of distance limits of 10Base2, there was often multiple runs of the coxial cable - that were not meant to be connected together.  So you had to apply some existing knowledge usually to resolve a fault.  Just because you found two coxial cables not connected together did not mean they should be connected together.

 

So every time this happened we would update the physical network diagram on an as built diagram of the building that showed exactly where the cable was run.  

 

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The day twisted pair (aka cat5) came to the environment was amazing.  Someone could actually unplug their workstation - and the network didn't go down.  It was amazing!

Getting noticed

Hahahaha very well remembered I will tell a very good one ... At one time I came to one of my clients who complained too much about the wifi network and would like a solution for now. Until then ok let's analyze the place. Personally going to 2 huge sheds plus administrative area. From what I remember I was found every 40 meters tplink routers every 1 transmitting a type of SSID and all on the same fixed channel frequency. The network simply crashed ... And the funniest old network administrator lied to everyone saying that every ssid network served something, that is, there were about 7 ssids spread for the purposes of visitors, clerks and board and obviously with all this zone all in the same vlan default switch and same range of dhcp. haha ha. It is comic and traumatic just to remember this time.

I remember very well that for me to locate the tplink routers around the place I had to use the wifi analyzer software on my device and the noise of it would give me north if I was getting close to them or away ... hahahaha how funny I am giving many laughter now ... And most were all above the lining where only really the person who installed knew ... Summary of this story:

11 meraki MR 33 simply fantastic! And very well located, distributed and managed ...

 

I love Meraki from the heart!

New here

I did a project in rural Alaska wherin we would travel to remote villages and connect the local clinic to the internet (Cisco 2600 connected to satellite T1) and then do a wireless bridge shot to the local village office to provide access (Aironet!!) We did a lot of the project in the winter as it was sometime easier to travel to the sites because we could go by snowmobile instead of boat. Unsuprisingly, come spring we had a rash of reported outages as foliage that was not there in the winter had budded and blocked our signal. One site in particular had shown not a degradation of service, but a hard down. I had to take a jet to Fairbanks, transfer to a small plane to get to Bettles and then went by boat to site. As we hiked into the village to check the site, we noticed that someone had done some renovation work on the village office building and had started by taking a chainsaw and cutting off one side of the building before constructing a new "wing". When we found the discaded wall, we lifted it up and found the yagi antenna was still screwed to the unistrut, just as we left it, but the coax cable had been severed during the demo phase. Layer 1, indeed.

 

Also in these pre-cloud management days, if i were in a remote site and had no one on the far end to assist, i found if I was not quite sure about the change i were about to make i would tell the far end router to reboot in 5 minutes, make my change, and then if it were successful cancel the reboot. If not i had 3 minutes and some change to wait for another chance.

 

I heart Meraki

Conversationalist

Ah, it was really hellhole when I got assigned my first customers.

 

One of them was middle-sized enterprise with several factories and about 20~30 branch sites. They used Juniper as site UTM and Cisco for rest of network infrastructure. Cisco devices were kinda tolerable (although sometimes got encountered really obsolete device such as C1924F with MTRJ fiber connector), but real pain in the rear was Juniper UTM. They made IPSec VPN between Cisco ASA as center and Juniper as site, and it keeps losing VPN connection time to time, even though they have same configuration, some sites works but others have problem, and troubleshooting is next to impossible. (Especially Juniper SSG's snoop feature is unusable. I really hate it.) And for addition, end user keeps attaching network devices without any permission or notice for their convenience, network topology was almost out of my hand.

 

It seems bad, but another one of my first customer was event worse.

At that time, They were using Nortel VPN as site and client VPN! They were so old, therefore hardware keeps failing time to time, and failure rate is goes quite high at summer. Client VPN was malfunctioning with wireless network, and didn't support latest Windows at all. Plus, they were using obsolete 3Com switches. For management aspect, 3Com's switch firmware is too simple that have very few features, and it makes troubleshooting more complicated. And shockingly, some of sites were still using 10Base-T switches in 21st century! You're not misread - 10Base-T switches! Someday, even one of end user called me and said "Network switch makes weird and loud noise, and seems it can be blow up anytime. Is this OK?"

 

So, before I met Meraki, it was really pain in the butt to manage uncontrollable site networks; unmanageable end users, obsolete devices, too simple to gather data, too complicate to change configurations, and it goes on and on.

 

It's really luck to meet Meraki now!

Here to help

I remember running to ground-zero where the problem was, plugging in a mirror tap or configuring a mirror port to get sniffer traces to figure out what the problem was. Occasionally, ground-zero was 1.5 hours away by plane!

 

But with Meraki, I can sniff easily right from my desk without having to travel to ground-zero or bring mirror taps or configure mirror ports!

 

Cheers

New here

I do not have any nostlagia =))

 

When we moved to meraki I got more time to do other stuff, like learn Python for network management. Everything is developing now quite fast guys. Do whatever you like and dont spend time for nostalgi ))))

 

Meraki Dashboard API qiute nice and way forward, automatization is a key! Free time for beer and family ))) Do cool stuff!

 

BR,

Artem

Comes here often

My 1st experience with Wireless was at a grocery distribution facility in '98. I think there was an 802.11 spec, but I don't think it was used by the equipment yet (it might have been 900Mhz?). On fork lifts and power pallet jacks were ruggedized PC terminals that accessed a custom warehouse "picking" app that ran on an IBM 390 mainframe. The terminals, APs and network controllers were all Intermec and were connected to the host via Token Ring. This entire implementation was as tough as a tank! The operators would simple reboot their terminals when there was any problem. The APs scattered throughout 5 warehouses were never problematic and I never saw one. Once in a great while when the phone calls started pouring in, we would likely see a concentrator beaconing, so we would systematically restart the equipment at each warehouse to get the token moving again. Speed was not a priority nor needed due to terminal access to text-based apps, but reliability was there!

Here to help

The good ole days still exist for me as I'm slowing migrating  my rather large school system of 35 schools and 3 office buildings over to Meraki.  Troubleshooting and managing Meraki and sippin' on sweet tea in my happy place, only to have to jump back over to Cisco Prime to fight ridiculous job polling problems, inaccurate client counts, loading nightmares, and non existent real time network heath reports......................yea I can't wait for this migration to be complete.

Conversationalist

I remember the good old days when you didn't know what was plugged into the port on a Cisco Switch and had to do extensive research to see what mac address was assigned to that port.  it would take years off my life.  No I can enjoy life with Meraki displaying the MAC Address right there on the dashboard.

Here to help

In the late 1980s I was working for a government contractor who had several floors in a commercial office building.  The site had a 10Base-5 (thick ethernet) backbone in the computer room, with vampire-tap transceivers attached to the cable, with AUI cables tying into the speedy 10Mbps adapters on large and small systems.  Another backbone ran vertically, tying Xyplex commservers in a central closet on each floor to the main backbone.  Standard twisted pair phone cables connected the offices to support serial terminals and printers.

Demands for workstations with ethernet connectivity drove running a 10Base-5 cable above the ceiling tiles around the building on each floor, with AUI drops for the workstations running inside the walls and exiting a faceplate with a protective grommet; a lot of work, which in the end was all undone by a hotel fire nearby.  New fire codes demanded that all data wires other than phone cords were not allowed in the plenum space; they had to be in the open air of the offices or completely encased in metal conduit.  Since the building and fire safety folks could not be convinced that this massive heavily insulated cable was low voltage and safe, and that enclosing the vampire taps was not only pointless but cost prohibitive, that included the thickwire. 

 

The first attempt to do that had us drilling holes in the walls a few inches below the tiles near the outside edge of the offices, from office to office, putting in a piece of metal pipe with grommet ends holding it in place in the hole, passing the wire through, and using support hooks every couple of feet, through every office, including the project lead's expensive surrounds and the main conference room.  Safety people approved but it looked terrible; burnt-orange cable and the vampire taps were large and not easy to mount.  Then that long drop cable running to the shiny new Sun workstation or VAXstation.  We had to re position furniture so it wasn't a tripping hazard even in a no-traffic area because cord covers were not allowed.

 

A few weeks later they changed their minds and said we could run the cables in the plenum space as long as it didn't run over the light fixtures or vents.  And we could use a tape-down cord cover over the AUI on the floor anywhere that wasn't a high traffic space.  We had to pull all that cable out, place it above the tiles, come up with a clean way to let the drop cables pass through the ceiling tiles and frames, and then, finally, the IT group had to move half the furniture back to where it had been before.

 

At least they didn't make IT patch the holes in the plasterboard.

Getting noticed

Wow, I am part of a group of nerds wich fix-up old Gaming Console and also all type of old Computer.

 

It was a nice time where you had the possibility to repair every single bit in your Memory Smiley Happy

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This Memory Chip has 4 Bit 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There where the time you put your Telefon on a Computer device to connect to something called Compuserver (before Internet was born) it was called a acustic Coppler.

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And if there is somebody don't believing that you can write letters with a Computer having les than 100 times the performance than your Smartphone have a look.

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There are all still working :-)

 

Have fun Michel Rueger

Conversationalist

Oh the good ole days. Back in the 90's I was working for a capital equipment manufacturer in the semiconductor business. We were networking SUN386i computers using 10Base5(thick net). One morning I receive a frantic call from a customer in Colorado, a very big Semiconductor company. They were going crazy, the system is no longer connected to the network and they had to halt IC chip inspection. I told him the system had been running fine for months did they do anything or move the system. They said no. I asked if they checked to make sure the ethernet cable was plugged in. They said yes, with an I can't believe you even asked me that question, attitude. They demanded I get on a plan and fix the issue. Since they were a very big customer and had a few more machines on order I flew out that evening from New York to Colorado. I showed up to the site bright and early the next morning. They took me to the machine on the production floor. I verified the system wasn't connected to the network. I went right to the back of the system, noticed the network cable we half out. In those days the network cable was held in by a clip. I plugged in the network cable and everything came back up in seconds. I was there for a total of 10 minutes. I turned to the guy who ripped me a new one on the phone and said "All fixed, the network cable was unplugged". He was so embarrassed and just walked off. I worked with the network consultant for a few hours since my flight wasn't until that evening and then took a drive around Colorado.