RE: Looking for a Tier 1 ISP Mentor for career advice.

I am looking for just such a person now. Good Juniper, some Cisco and Sysadmin experience with an ISP background..


The reason it is not more accepted is too many people still think "If I cannot
see you you must not be working."

Since I like to work and code (I spend 10 hours a day on the computer at the
office, think about work related stuff in the shower, and often write Perl code
at home to deal with various household tasks) I work quite well at home.
There are more distractions at the office and my productivity is greater in my
home computer room during those times I have to put in some extra for the

Actually, the best reason I have for working from home is I work much better
when naked and they have asked me to stop showing up that way at the office.

actually, i've heard the real reason is corporate liability ...
  that said, there is an advantage for team f2f mtgs on a periodic


People are social primates, alphas like access to nonverbal cues for
reading and control of their supposed underlings. Same reasons for
concentrations in big cities: interaction density is higher for business
dinners while underlings are not too far away. Net ops are more like
hunter-gatherers than anything, so there's considerable culture clash.

The downside of this is that you are not around in the office in case someone wants to talk to you. I often end up with guys from our operations team or other teams stopping at my desk and ask questions. Or guys who want to have a quick chat about a problem and want to ask for an advice or idea. Or people who want to learn Perl and have a question that you can answer in 30 seconds.

Yes, I know, they can call you, or send an Email, but nothing beats the good old "Let's go for a coffee, I'd like to ask you a question".


Some people just put up a dedicated netbook with a permanent
video/audio link (can be a problem with limited residential
upstram) for a poor man's telepresence.

What could potentially work even better is to build a
virtual office using e.g. OpenQwaq
(not sure the codes are fully done in the open sourced
version yet, but they'll be there in a few months).

And it means you do not get 'noticed' as much. I work from home when I have a task to get done that benefits from not having to talk to people. A specific document that needs completing or some more PowerPoint waffle for a pointless meeting with people who won't get it anyway.

Other than that, I try to be in the office.

Which really stops being practical once you exceed (approx) one building
in size. It was interesting during the early days to note that there were
certain people who did a lot of their interaction on IRC, even when in the
office, even when sitting a few cubes away from each other sometimes. It
definitely enabled telepresence - obviously not as good as "being there",
but it was funny every now and then when you'd go looking for that person
and find out they were out today at a different office, or telecommuting.

It seems to me that we've not been as successful as we might at this whole
telecommuting thing, because people - especially at small companies - ARE
used to being able to grab a coffee, and there's a reluctance to lose that.

... JG

Actually, that is the upside. Everywhere I have worked there are the people
who will come to you before they even try to think of an answer. Your work
gets interrupted because they did not have to send an email and wanted an
excuse to socialize.

It's much better to have a record (email) of most conversations especially
when there are technical points which may be helpful to refer to in the

F2F is fine when you are working on pushing your point as it is easier to
create "presence" but 99% of all meetings and impromptu discussions in the
office waste more time than provide any real benefit.

I know plenty of people (my wife included) who disagree and feel there is
great benefit in F2F but I contended they are just more comfortable with the
old fashioned way they have always done things.

There are people even today who will print and bring me an email to discuss
the reported problem rather than forward information electronically. That is
just because it is difficult for people to break their comfort molds to see a
more productive method.

I do not say it is easy. I understand people think the way they do things,
the things which make them comfortable, seem best but in this case F2F is not
best for everyone.

If someone says to me "Let's go for a coffee, I'd like to ask you a question"
what I hear is "Gee, you are not busy. Why are you getting a paycheck? Let's
go talk shop and other non-work related stuff. I have a legitimate question
and I want to socialize."

I have a better idea, send email. If the question is too deep we can "meet"
on the phone. I have a TeamSpeak server. Want to get together? Let's grab a
beer after work or we can chat on TS while wandering through Left4Dead.

F2F is for semi-work related activities. If you need to paint a picture we
can bounce a diagram back and forth (please use open standards -- .odg, .dia,
etc. -- and not proprietary -- .vsd) or we can draw simple stuff in Coccinella
or OpenMeeting (I have servers set up). We can use email. We can use chat (I
have Coccinella and a local server for our in-house and use Pidgin for AIM,
Yahoo, MSN for my outside contacts). I have Logitech 9000 cameras so if you
really, really want to see me I will configure my VoIP (Asterisk server at
home) so we can look at each other.

The whole "I have to be in your space in an office for work to be effective" is
so nineteenth century.


"You talked to Ted the other day about the NetFlow based bandwidth billing
project. What were the details and decisions? Can you remember the important

"No. But the discussion was electronic so I will pass you the email
chain/chat log/etc."

My dream is roll out of bed, make coffee, walk upstairs into my computer room
and begin work. Deal with conversations via email/work the online job queue.
Maybe attend a quarterly face-time meeting with the company. Maybe the people
are nice. That would be cool. Maybe a monthly meeting at the home office in
Atlanta on the 3rd Friday because the company provides tickets to Jazz at the
High Museum. I can dream...

In a message written on Fri, Dec 02, 2011 at 12:25:41PM +0000, Thorsten Dahm wrote:

The downside of this is that you are not around in the office in case
someone wants to talk to you. I often end up with guys from our
operations team or other teams stopping at my desk and ask questions. Or
guys who want to have a quick chat about a problem and want to ask for
an advice or idea. Or people who want to learn Perl and have a question
that you can answer in 30 seconds.

I've both delt with remote employees and been a telecommuter. After
those experiences, and reading a few books I've decided the hardest
thing about having successful telecommuters is dealing with the
folks in the office.

Telecommuters quickly turn to technology, they want to video-chat
with collegues. Are eager to pick up the phone and talk. They
reach out (generally). It's the folks in the office that are
reluctant. They don't see the point of figuring out how the video
chat software works, of setting their status to indicate what they
are doing, and so on.

The "water cooler" conversations can be moved to Skype, FaceTime,
Google Hangouts, or any number of other solutions, but it requires
everyone to be in that mindset.

If you have telecommuters _everyone_ in the office should be forced
to work from home at least 2 weeks a year, including the manager.
It's only from that experience you learn to deal with your telecommuting
co-workers in a way that raises everyone's productivity.

Once over that hump there are huge rewards to having telecommuters.
You can pay lower salaries as people can live in cheaper locations.
People in multiple timezones provide better natural coverage. People
are much more willing to do off hour work when they can roll out
of bed at 5AM and be working at 5:05 in their PJ's, rather than
getting up at 4 and getting dressed to drive in and do the work.

I think it often depends on how you define practical. Normally, you sit with your own team, that means it is a practical solution for the network engineers, but perhaps not for the server admins and the network engineers anymore, since the server admins may sit in a different building, different city, different continent, ....


While any absolute rule would be silly, of course, I would have thought my
point was sufficiently clear. There comes a point at which all the people
you may want to talk to are no longer sitting in the same building. That
doesn't mean all buildings will successfully allow F2F meetings (Pentagon)
or that having groups within the same building will encourage F2F meetings.
It's a simple fact that once you *must* deal with someone in another building,
the amount of time and effort involved gets much higher and more inconvenient.
If you manage to find a way to keep your group small and all in the same
building, then what I said doesn't apply, but that can itself become
impractical as a company grows.

... JG

"Private IRC server".

-- jra

Amen to that.

I've decided that our private Jabber server has resulted in an order of
magnitude improvement in dealing with "quick question for ya" requests, as you
can cut/paste to/from as needed (it's still kinda hard to cut-n-paste what the
co-worker said over coffee or over the phone :wink: with less overhead than e-mail
(especially for things that take 3-4 RTTs to resolve).