Death of a Switch.

Hard day at the office today.  What would make a switch go bad?  It was allowing traffic, only at about .5 Mbps.  It was a cheap Linksys switch but still there is not much to a switch to go haywire.  It took me a while to chase it down because it was not a likely suspect.

My network is sort of a duct tape and chewing gum affair.  I have never bought a managed switch, they are all donated.  Not that I do not get some excellent quality donations from companies but they are still not new and are well used.  I have some cheap 8 port switches in critical locations so I really cannot monitor a lot of things.  Of course I do not have the software to monitor anything so it is a moot point.

My techie friends at the public schools casually talk about upgrading their five year old switches to the latest and greatest at $1100 each.  I wish I had a five year old switch and my annual budget is less than $1100.  It is interesting that my network seems to work (or not work) just as well as theirs.

Keeping a small school network alive is not rocket science, after all I do it and I have absolutely no education in the field.  (Google is my friend.)  Running a large monitored network does require a level of expertise I do not have.  And considering the number of schools that have expert consultants not many other techs do either.

In my programming courses I do diverge into a couple hours of networking.  They build patch cables, set up a mini network and we discuss domain controllers, IP address, MAC addresses and so on.  Enough for them to do some basic troubleshooting.  Most network issues are simple; something got unplugged, a piece of hardware died, someone saw a loose cable and plugged it in (My favorite.  Good for hours of entertainment.) and so on.  I have had kids actually make money from what I have been able to teach them.  For some reason university computer help desks love my kids.  They know how to plug things in, what the idiot lights mean and know how to troubleshoot network basics.  Teaching kids networking basics has to be part of a CS curriculum.  There is so much little stuff they can learn that result in big dividends.


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