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“But I’m not a networking person!”

I hear that a lot, as if networking is this insurmountable mountain you could not possibly claim. Here’s how you become a networking person: You go to bed after a full day of work, overworked and frustrated with networking lingo. You have the craziest dream! It’s filled with streams of binary numbers, but you’re somehow able to convert them to ASCII instantly. You suddenly not only know that the first half of a MAC address designates the vendor of the NIC, you somehow also know that Qumranet‘s is 00:1A:4A. The seven layer model appears before you, every layer stacked upon the one before it like some perfectly formed Jenga tower from Cisco’s version of hell. Just as you’re breaking a sweat (This is getting too weird, you think), you wake up. Suddenly, Richard M. Stallman comes back from wherever it is he’s hanging around these days, networking cable in hand. He lays it on your shoulder, and then the other, like some sort of perverted Knighthood ceremony. You wake up from this dream within a dream and whisper: “I know networking.”

That’s how it usually works, anyway. Other people are not so lucky and have to learn the basics like they learn anything else: Read a book, then another one. Meet with some people, ask some questions. Practice it, learn it on the job, wing it. It’ll be alright.

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