16th and 17th of April 2017: RIPE South East Europe - RIPE SEE 8: "Do we need to rethink monitoring?"

8th Regional RIPE conference for South East Europe (RIPE SEE) was held in Sarajevo on 16th and 17th of April 2019 and RIPE Programme Committee gave me the opportunity to speak on the topic of "Do we need to rethink monitoring?". There were 156 people in attendance from 19 countries, many of whom presented or actively engaged in discussions. As part of the plenary talk that I held I tried to outline the importance of active network monitoring along with some challenges and potential solutions to those challenges. Video can be watched here: 

11th of April 2019: Polytechnic Faculty, University of Zenica: "Career and expectations management in IT"

On 11th of April 2019, I was given the opportunity to give a talk to the students of the Software Engineering at the Faculty of Polytechnic at the University of Zenica on the topic of "Career and expectations management in IT." 

It was my pleasure to do it in front of the students at the University in my hometown. 

As part of the talk, I tried to share some of the lessons that I learned throughout my career so far. We spoke about the importance of volunteering as one of the ways to gain work-related skills besides the knowledge gained throughout Academia. I underscored the importance of formal education as it gives the framework which enables people to cope with the situations that are in front of their professional careers, as well the mental framework that allows students to learn and quickly adapt to ever-changing IT landscape. 

Besides that, I tried to inform the audience about the importance of having mentors that can recognize the passion and hard work and steer people towards the right career paths. 

Moreover, we spoke about interviewing: what the expectations are from the candidates, how to answer some the questions that candidates might be asked and how to get attention from the companies candidate might be interested in. Also, we spoke about the format of the interviews and how that is changing lately. Also, I ensured to mention how work is being evaluated at some of the companies that I worked with. 

In the end, we spoke about the importance of configuring and ensuring proper working environment as well as maintaining the right balance between work and outside of the work activities. Most importantly, at the end of the presentation, I ensured to mention the importance of taking care of both physical and mental health. 

Overall, it was my pleasure to speak with those young, enthusiastic group of people that emit such a good and positive energy. In many ways, they remind me of myself when  I was younger. 

23th of March 2019: HammerIT conference organized by ZeForge community: "Do we need to rethink network monitoring?"

On 23rd of March 2019, I was allowed to be one of the speakers at HammerIT conference organized by the ZeForge community, based in my hometown Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina where I presented a talk on the topic of "Do we need to rethink network monitoring?". 

I was quite excited to present at this event as this marked the first presentation that I did in my hometown after thirteen years (besides some smaller events such as meetups). The last presentation that I did in my hometown was at 3rd Zenica Linux Seminar which I helped organize with the help of my friends. We hosted three seminars in total, starting with the first one in 2004., followed by the second one in 2005. And the last one in 2006. So, having the opportunity to speak at this event was something that I was quite happy and excited to do. I was positively surprised at how well and the professional event was organized. There were nine sessions in total, as part of which three sessions were going in parallel. Overall, it was quite a fantastic event. 

What makes me happy about this is the fact that someone took the torch from us that used to work on those things all of those years back. Both Bosnia and Herzegovina and City of Zenica deserve to have big IT scene, and this is the step in the right direction. 

As part of the talk, I tried to present some of the challenges that network operators are facing as a result of the reactive nature of network monitoring while using traditional troubleshooting toolsets. The presentation indicates specific improvements that were created over time to resolve some of the challenges with the conventional toolset but puts into the first plan importance of the Active Network Monitoring. We don't stop there, we tried to cover some of the challenges while implementing Active Network Monitoring in local and data center networks as well as one label switched backbones, and we provide some of the solutions or potential solutions to resolve those. 

In the end, I would like to congratulate ZeForge team on hard work that they put into this, and I hope that we are going to see much more of similar events in the future.

iNOG::11: "Do we need to rethink monitoring?"

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak at Irish Network Operators Group on the topic of "Do we need to rethink monitoring?". 

I enjoyed sharing experiences and spending time with network/system/automation engineers that attended the meeting. iNOG organizers  just recently published the video of the talk and now it is available on Youtube:

Book recommendation: It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

If you are working in Engineering, especially if you are Engineering manager, you should read (or listen, as it is beautifully narrated) It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

Just by reading the preface, you will understand that you are in for a treat. It is hard to believe that they managed to put so much awesome in what is, essentially, less than four hours of listening time. 

The Economist calls the book "funny, well-written and iconoclastic and by far the best thing on management published this year," and I couldn't agree more.

Breaking Decade Old Habits and The Art of (Touch) Typing

I learned to type during the times when IRC was at its peak, or at least it was in the country where I started using it. Those were the times when the sound of modems was about the only thing that was breaking the silence during the late nights. I was young, and phone bills were quite high, ultimately making those that were paying them quite unhappy. The fact they couldn't make a phone call when they needed it, as the lines were quite often busy, didn't help either.

During those times that I can recall quite clearly from this perspective, it wasn't important how you type. It was all about how fast you type. At the time schools were not teaching how to touch type, and I am quite sure they still don't. Back then, when typing "age/sex/location" as fast as possible was one of the most important things to do, I forged my typing habits. 

Typing improved to the point, it wasn't slow, and on the contrary, I would say that it was reasonably fast for the things that I was doing back then.

As it does, time passed, and while the things were changing, experience gained, my typing habits mostly stayed the same. It was like that for more than a decade, and I never took the time to change some of those habits significantly. "If it ain't broken, don't fix it," they say. 

Typing skills gained over the decade were serving their purpose - I was doing the work that was expected of me, things were moving in the right direction and pool of time for such thing as improving typing was rapidly shrinking. First, there was college, the time where you actively pretend that you are quite busy because you don't know what busy means. Then you get employed and realize what it means to be busy. Later, you get married and get kids, and your life fundamentally changes. From that perspective, you remember that kid that was sitting in front of a computer, chatting with random people, with a grin on your face remembering how all of it was innocent. 

Resolutions to learn Dvorak or Colemak came and went but they never realized. They crossed my mind on multiple occasions, but there were more pressing things that took precedence and, quite honestly, while being a quite fancy thing to do, most people never do it. The reason, I would say, is quite simple: It is hard to break old habits. 

Almost decade and a half after I learned to type the way I did while sitting and listening to a university lecture, that could have been objectively more interesting than it was, I decided to do something about it. Using one of many web portals that are aimed at teaching how to properly touch type (I recommend registering and using typingclub.com) I started from scratch and began from first exercise (which is the lecture on how to properly hold your fingers on the keyboard).

Progress appeared slow. I remember the majority of my attempts to switch to the correct way of touch typing after covering all the lower case letters on the keyboard. It was the painful experience, but I persisted. I think this could have negative productivity impact for a short period, but if you have reasonable management, as I did at the time when I was doing this, you won't have problems. 

There is a small chance someone is going to notice your attempts to improve your typing skills. Reasonable management is usually all for advancement (and their objective should be your advancement as that is what they should measure against), and in the worst case scenario you will be required to drop it at work, but you can always pick it up at home. Therefore, there is no real impact of doing this, or at least there was no real negative impact on me.

As I was progressing with the exercises, besides the apparent effect of getting better and faster at touch typing I noticed two other things that are worth mentioning. First, I am not some masochist, but I saw that the more I was exercising more I enjoyed the experience. I think it also helped when I was under stress. Logically, time spent doing those exercises increased, and results started being obvious.

However, the effect that I was most surprised about was the fact that breaking old habits is not that hard. Moreover, this particular habit was something that was forged over the period of a decade. What previously felt like a long time of struggle while learning something new turned out to be just a few weeks of practicing where I did exercises for about one hour on average, daily. In a just short period, the old habit was gone entirely, and at this stage, I couldn't even imagine going back to the way I used to type. 

That got me thinking. If it was that easy to break decade or more old habit, what other habits could we break? How often do we limit our potential just because something appears to be difficult or hard? We very often underestimate our potential to improve and learn new things.

Learning how to touch type accurately, not only improved my workflow or speed at which I type (which was never the problem), it illuminated the fact that we can quite quickly, with almost minimal effort, improve all the aspects of our lives that we take as hard or impossible to change.