A Toastmasters update for my faithful readers! I have finished the first two projects in the Competent Communication manual.

On November 3rd I presented my ice breaker speech, a 4 to 6 minute speech introducing myself to the group. The objectives of the first project are (1) to begin speaking before an audience, and (2) to discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need some attention. I was fairly nervous, but the speech came off better than I expected. I managed not to pass out and fall over the podium, and I met the two objectives.

My mentor’s feedback on my ice breaker praised my use of humor, and my honesty and sincerity. His suggestions focused on not hanging on to the podium (which I did to avoid falling over).

Today I completed project number two, “Organize Your Speech”. The project is a 5 to 7 minute speech with the following objectives:

  • Select an appropriate outline which allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech.
  • Make your message clear, with supporting material directly contributing to that message.
  • Use appropriate transitions when moving from one idea to another.
  • Create a strong opening and conclusion.

I was more nervous for this presentation, and I chalk that up to not putting as much prep time in. We’ve been stupid-busy, so I drafted a pretty quick outline, introduction and conclusion over the last few days and ran through the speech 4 or 5 times this morning. My mentor (Orv) evaluated again and suggested I work on my vocal emphasis and inflection. The group seemed to appreciate the topic, content and organization.

My takeaways so far:

  • Prep, prep, prep! This will help control my anxiousness.
  • Work on vocal inflection and gestures.
  • Getting to the meeting and standing in front of the group is the hardest part for me.

Project 3 is titled “Get to the Point”. I am scheduled to present again on February 2nd.

Last Friday (9/5) I took the plunge and asked my girlfriend of two years for her hand in marriage. It was exciting, and I found myself very nervous when the moment actually came. Mercifully, she accepted my proposal. We’ve set the date for May 23, 2009 in Pierre.

In other, less groundbreaking news, I’ve joined the local Toastmasters club to improve my (non-existent) public speaking skills. I have aspirations of presenting proffessionaly and one day teaching, and my speaking skills are woefully inadequate. Perhaps I can overcome my glossophobia.

In October the folks from AKF will be traveling to WY for a tournament. I’ll be competing in judo, so I’ve been training for that. I recently acheived the rank of 3rd kyu (sankyu) in judo and some things are finally starting to click. I’m working on strength training and conditioning along with my weekly judo technique classes.

Also, Dropbox appears to rock.

GNS3 tutorial


Via gns3.cn and Cisco Blog comes this GNS3 tutorial by Mike Fuszner. GNS3 is a graphical network simulator that allows you to run instances of Cisco IOS on a PC to emulate complex networks.

From an initial skim it appears to be a good introduction for newbies and also contain some good tips for intermediate users (such as myself).

Thanks Mike!

Time Management


Thanks to Ross’ entry I found this video lecture from Randy Pausch on Time Management. It clocks in at 1:16, but it’s worth your time.

Randy’s advice on prioritizing tasks is priceless, and his comments about grad students with families being more productive with their time really hit home for me. Being a foster dad has made me value my time much more. I was so overwhelmed by the transition that this appreciation didn’t translate this into more productivity, but I aim to make it.

My next certification on my road to world dominance will be the (Cisco Certified Network Associate) CCNA. Similar to the GSEC, it provides a foundation of knowledge in the routing and switching arena, with a heavy focus on Cisco gear.

We are a mostly-Cisco shop so I’ve had the opportunity to use the Catalyst switches and several Cisco routing platforms. I’m excited to dive a little deeper and cement some of the bits and pieces that I’ve been picking up.

I’ve got access to the newly updated CCNA LabSim product from TestOut, so that will by my study guide.

I will post on my progress.

IPAM tomfoolery


I’ve been tasked with finding a replacement for our well-aged IP Address Management (IPAM) software (ISOTRO NetID). The toughest part is the data migration, since the export abilities are very limited. Luckily the backend is just a Sybase database, so I installed the Sybase tools and did an “Unload” into a new version 10 database so I could work with it.

After some poking around, I came up with the following schema for the data we are concerned with:

So, I can get my networks, subnets and IP/domain name pairs with the following queries:
SELECT network, subnet_mask, network_name FROM ip_network ORDER BY network
SELECT network, subnet, subnet_mask, subnet_name FROM ip_subnet ORDER BY subnet
SELECT ip.network, ip.subnet, ip.address, dom.dn_code FROM ip_address [ip] INNER JOIN address_domain [dom] ON ip.address = dom.address ORDER BY ip.address
The final hurdle is that the IP addresses are stored as decimal numbers, rather than dotted quad format. Google led me here. numToDottedQuad looks promising, but the octets are in reverse order, so I changed the format string from ‘L’ to ‘!L’, and viola!. Three CSV files that should be importable to a new solution.

The quick-and-dirty Python script I used to convert my database exports to the final CSVs can be found here.

As of this May, I am a GIAC certified professional (analyst number 15023). I attained my GSEC certification after attending the SANS Security Essentials bootcamp and studying the course materials for a couple months.

This is a great course for anyone new to the IT security field. I’ve worn various shoes in my 8-year career: web developer, systems analyst, and now network analyst. Security Essentials provides a baseline of knowledge across many disciplines and is great for filling in the gaps before pursuing more advanced training.

I plan to continue attending SANS courses and pursuing the GIAC certifications. I’m reviewing ideas for a GSEC Gold paper, and considering the degree offering by STI.