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Double secret decoder ring-wearing doctors!

So I’ve been at Cisco for 3 weeks now. Short summary: it’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been good. 3 weeks isn’t nearly enough time to know weather a new job is “good” or not, but I certainly have been enjoying the ride so far. Here’s some random points:

  • I now use VPN so that it looks like I’m right there on the Cisco San Jose campus (i.e., have “local” access to all the San Jose computing resources). This is good for many reasons, but it’s bad because the Cisco VPN client (on Windoze, at least) shuts me out of my home network — I can’t see my local printers here at home, or my desktop linux box physically sitting right next to me, for example. That’s a bummer.
  • I’m learning more about InfiniBand than I ever thought I would. In many ways, it’s similar to Myrinet (but different in at least a few key/important aspects). But the concepts are at least fairly similar.
  • I may have mentioned this in a prior journal entry, but the Cisco phones are pretty cool (I admit it: I’m a little bit of a phone geek). They’re all voice-over-IP (honestly, who cares what the back end technology is?) which allows them to have all kinds of cool built-in services. You can look up anyone or any room in the company directory, you can save/retrieve your speed dials on any phone, you can [temporarily] move your extension to another phone, etc. This is on top of all the normal features that one would expect from a corporate phone service: caller ID (which is nicely cross-referenced against the entire company directory), N-way conferencing, parking, voice mail, etc. Plus, since I don’t have a physical phone yet for my home, I can use a Windoze program that looks and acts almost just like the real phone (place / answer calls, do voicemail, etc.).
  • One feature that I love about the Cisco phones is that they have a powered headset jack. I’ve been using a Platronics headset for my phone for several years, but I’ve always had to have a separate power brick, and you had to take the handset off the cradle to make the headset work. No more. The Cisco phones have a jack that supplies power to the headset and treats it like a first-class citizen (i.e., I don’t have to have the handset off the cradle to use it). I’m lovin’ it!
  • I initially got a Louisville Cisco phone number. However, due to limitations in the current version of the Cisco voice-over-IP software, I can’t transfer this number out to my cube in San Jose when I’m there (different VOIP server in San Jose vs. the midwest), which makes it significantly less useful to me. So I have to get a new San Jose phone number. Still waiting on that to happen.
  • I got a Treo 650 for a cell phone for work (read: Palm-powered, not Windoze-CE powered, thank God!). I haven’t received the secret sauce yet to connect it to my MS Exchange e-mail/groupware yet (I think that comes next week), but the phone itself is pretty cool.
  • When I requisitioned the phone, I asked for a Louisville, KY phone number. I got the phone on Friday and was surprised to find that I needed to dial a “1” to call the Treo from my home phone. So I called Verizon to ask what the deal was. Turns out that that I got a Frankfort, KY phone number (the state capitol, about an hour East of Louieville). The nice Verizon lady had to poke around a bit to get me a new phone number — apparently Verizon is running out of numbers in Louisville.
  • So, doing the math, once I get my new San Jose phone number, I’ll have had 4 Cisco phone numbers. This amuses me. ☺
  • As you might deduce from the above comments, I have a Windoze laptop. So sad. I miss my Mac powerbook. It hasn’t been too bad, I guess — but doing any interaction with Unix is fairly painful (the terminal emulation on the Windows SSH clients is horrible ☹). Cygwin, for some reason, runs like an absolute dog on my machine. I haven’t been able to figure out why (haven’t looked too hard yet).
  • My manager told me that he’d get me a Mac if I can find out how to get one through the corporate channels at Cisco (he wasn’t able to figure it out before I got hired). I’ve done some digging and found that there is a Mac subculture at Cisco. Most all of the corporate apps work just fine on Macs (e.g., use Entourage instead of Outlook), but there are two notable current problems:
    • Cisco’s intranet utilizes a proprietary extension to wireless protocols that is not natively supported by the built-in airport. Hence, to use wireless at Cisco, you have to use a Cisco PCMCIA wireless card.
    • There’s something wrong with wired VOIP traffic handling on MacBooks — it somehow stalls the TCP stack in OSX badly (sluggish performance, although wireless performance is fine). (technically, it’s not just VOIP traffic that is the problem — SNMP and other kinds of traffic can cause the problem as well — but I forget the term they used to describe the traffic)
  • I might wait until at least the wired problem is fixed before I jump back into Mac land.


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