396 posts categorized "Tony Fortunato" Feed

Why Bother with Ethernet Cabling. (by Tony Fortunato)

I think there is a balance between doing it yourself and calling the professionals. If it’s a straight forward manageable task and you have the correct tools and knowledge, why not.

For example, I wouldn’t climb an 80 foot tower, pull and terminate 120 pairs of Ethernet cabling or try to terminate fibre connectors.

While working onsite I was asked “Why bother?“ or “We’ll get someone else to do that”. Some people feel that some network tasks are too menial or beneath them. I’ve had some network technicians ask why I would bother doing ‘that kind of work’ when you have had various certifications.

There are many answers; I like the variety, I enjoy keeping my skills sharp, and the job gets done quicker. I find I can add more value to a design or install since I have physically done the work as opposed to just reading the materials. The bonus is that when I watch people do incorrect installations, I have more things to look for when troubleshooting problems.

Here’s a simple example: we had to pull and terminate 3 Ethernet cables as part of an install. The technician said “let’s just call the cabling company to do it”. I asked how long that would take and he responded 2 to 3 days. I reminded him that I was only there for the day and added that it would not take us long to pull three cables 20 feet and terminate them ourselves. The cables were a straight run in the cabling trays above our heads.

Just a quick disclaimer; if you have no experience terminating cables, do not practice or learn on your production environment. Fortunately I have been terminating Ethernet cables for over 20 years, so this is a fairly simple process. I went to my vehicle and got a spool of cable, some RJ 45 connectors as well as my crimper. Fortunately, I had assumed that I might need to do this type of work and had prepared myself with the proper supplies and my vehicle.

Flashback; I will never forget working with network consultants at a new build and I was the only one with tools, a hard hat and my government safety certificates, even though everyone was told this is a construction area. The other consultants  were limited when, and where they could work where I had the run of the place.

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Microsoft getmac and MAC Address (by Tony Fortunato)

When troubleshooting it is quite common to get the mac address of the host, server or network equipment for a variety of reasons.

For example, many syslog messages or logs may refer to mac addresses depending on what the error is. If you are working from the switch, you more than likely need to know the mac address if you need to figure out which port the target is for your monitor or span command. And of course if you are using a protocol analyzer, you should always capture with a mac address, when possible.

In this video I review how most people figure out their mac address and how to determine the mac address of another device on the same vlan as you. The issue with this methodology is that in some scenarios you may want to figure out the mac address of a Microsoft device that is on another VLAN.

Using Microsoft’s getmac command allows you to get your mac address as well as a remote system’s mac address. As I mention in the video, this command seems to be using the DCE/RPC protocol, so if you block this protocol on your host, servers, or network you might have an issue with command.

Lastly, you need to know the user name/password on the remote system for this to work remotely.

Hope this helps you with your troubleshooting.

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Mercury Reader For When you Need To Read (by Tony Fortunato)

I find myself constantly reading, referencing and searching for information for all sorts of reasons.

It can get difficult to focus on the information when you have advertisements blinking and videos playing. Then then are those websites that provide good information but their download button downloads the entire document, not just the article you were reading.

This is where Mercury Reader comes in. This is a free Chrome extension that will render and reformat the page in a much easier to read format.

In this video I cover what happens if you try to use Mercury Reader on a page that does not have an article on it as well as when it works well. As I mentioned in the video, double check that Mercury Reader gets everything the first time you use it. After you render the page, you can print to your printers or to PDF if you want to save it for later reference.

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Layer 1 Troubleshooting Scenario (by Tony Fortunato)

In this article I wanted to review a current troubleshooting scenario that I thought you would benefit from.  The point of the article is that you should never overlook the basics.

While working onsite, I overheard a group of technicians discussing a current issue with a WiFi radio on a tower. Their management system reported that the radio was down and probably had to be replaced. One of the issues is that they have to get a hold of someone to climb the tower which means that the outage only gets longer. After they located someone I asked what was going on.

The senior analyst explained that his happens every so often and the radio just needs to be replaced with a new one.  I then asked if they would mind showing me around since we were just waiting for the contractor and they said no problem.

We walked over to the bottom of the tower, opened the enclosure and noticed that smell of burnt popcorn. There obviously wasn’t any popcorn there, that’s just my way of describing the smell of burnt cable or electronics. After some poking around, I determined that they needed to replace a lot more than just the radio.  In the video, I explain what I looked for, what I found and what I suggested. 

While waiting for the contractor, i also suggested that we review their grounding.

 

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Testing POE with Pockethernet (by Tony Fortunato)

Its important for analysts to have basic tool to test their equipment and cables.

The other day I needed to replace a POE injector on a roof and wanted to make sure that the one I found in my box of goodies actually works.

I’ve been in many situations where the equipment or cables I find in a box is there because it doesn’t work.

So I used me pockethernet (www.pockethernet.com) to test the link, poe and network connectivity and thought I would share.

Having layer 1 test tools is not optional for me since I cant tell you how many issues I resolved that were at layer one.

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