Category Archives: General

Disaster Recovery on the move!

An interesting topic arose in the office today regarding disaster recovery and making them more mobile. Sun Microsystems are currently deploying disaster recovery mobility in the form of using shipping containers but the mobility of a shipping container is questionable. A lot of time and preparation would be needed to maneuver the shipping container onto a HGV and then deploy the HGV to a site. Here are some ideas that arose from a random office conversation.

DR in a Car

There is one company operating in the New Jersey/New York City area where they will copy your backed up data on to new servers and deliver these servers to your site, obviously as the name suggests, by car. But why not take this one step further and have the ability to have a mobile data centre operate literally out of the car? Ideally the car would need to be of the size of a Land Rover Discovery – big enough to install at least a 22U rack in the back – but the idea would be to have all you storage and servers already backed up and ready to be deployed. Couple this idea with Google’s and Volvo’s current development in self-driving cars and you will have a fully automated, mobile disaster recovery solution deployable to anywhere in your country, whenever you need it.


Marketing at its best with this one. Disaster Recovery using drone technology! Obviously enterprise scale storage would not be possible using a drone but an idea that was banded about would be to utilize a mesh of drones and interconnect them all using LTE connectivity. A couple of drones could be placed around an office offering a SSID to connect to the “DRone” network then off the back of these couple of drones, a meshed network would find their way back to another data centre where a back of all a company’s data will reside. The scale and cost of this would be quite high, but again Google are making head way in the metropolitan wide 802.11 networks.

Value added technology

SSIDs can be broadcast, as mentioned previously, to onboard a customer and secure their data further whether it is deployed in a car or via a drone, and a Captive Portal could be used to authenticate a user and a Citrix desktop could be used to access data on the company’s DR data centre.

Both ideas have a certain ring and marketing slant on DR – maybe I should head on over to the IPO and get it registered 😉



Convert Epoch time to UTC in Excel

I have found myself today needing to convert the ugly Epoch time that Unix loves to use in to UTC to make date/time origination of calls within Call Detail Records more human readable and I stumbled across a nice little formula that will allow you to convert this in to UTC.

Below is the formula:


If you substitute J2 with the number you want to convert and then change the format of the cell to a date/time format, you will get the UTC date/time.

Pretty handy!




Hindsight is a bitch!

Well, as you may have read in my previous posts, I have finished my university degree. I came out with a 2:1 in Computer Networks and Security which is exactly what I was expecting. What I did not expect was the low grade I got in my final year dissertation project. Obviously, I only have myself to blame, but the choice in my final year topic, Brute Force Attacks on IVR Systems, was mainly picked because my university decided to merge the Computer Networks and the Computer Security degrees together. My argument was that if I was to have “BSc in Computer Networks and Security” on my resumé, I should at least have some experience in security, especially as we had only done one module prior to the final year and one security module during the final year. Just two modules out of 23 modules a very small percentage. Therefore, I decided to base my dissertation on something security orientated. Big mistake! After talking to a lot of my work colleagues, 95% of which went through university, I feel that my focus should have remained on the Networking side of my module, especially as my sandwich year placement was mainly server administration. Due to me doing a server admin role for my placement year and focusing all my efforts on a security dissertation, I am two years out of shape with Cisco networking and a little behind in obtaining my CCNA qualification.

If it was up to me now, I wish I had done something networking related for my dissertation – such as investigating how TCL scripts can aid in voice gateway processing, building a functional router using a Raspberry Pi, converting IPv4 addresses into IPv6, the list could go on really.

One positive thing that came out of my dissertation was my initial foray into Cisco IP Telephony by watching some of the CBT Nugget videos for CCNA Voice which led me onto deciding I should base my dissertation on VoIP. If it wasn’t for this, it is almost certain that I would not have got my current role as a Network Engineer for the company I am currently employed by.

My advice, for any student, is to focus on what you feel is right and not be pushed by your university. I made that mistake, and I feel like I have slightly let me progression down as a Network professional.



Tickling Cisco CME and Voice Gateways

A little while ago, a customer asked if it was possible for a company’s name to appear on the display of their telephones so that they knew who was calling before they answered the phone. For those that do not really know much about telephony, this might sound extremely easy to do – just save the number and then enter the contact’s name. If only it was that simple.

If you have a company with over 3,000 employees, the chances are that these employees will have direct dial numbers which will show up rather than the company’s phone number. Additionally, each phone will need to have every potential phone number for a company saved in its own directory. The permutations of this set up become astronomical when you think that a medium sized company will typically have 3,000 employees. If each of these employees of Company A have a DDI, and Company B also has roughly 3,000 employees, that means that 9,000,000 entries need to be entered on the phones!

One way in which this can be achieved is through the use of TCL scripts, also know as Tickle scripts. The Tickle script runs directly on the Cisco IOS of a router – in this case it will be the voice gateway. The script will run a look up on a .txt or .csv file which will list a company’s name and an associated phone number. Once a call is presented to the voice gateway, the Tickle script will take a hold of the ANI, run a look up on the .txt/.csv file and then send the company’s name directly to the phone.

Obviously, there are downsides to having this script running – especially in a very busy environment. The performance of the router will be considerably affected. This is one thing I mentioned to the customer. Another downside is that the scripts can be extremely flaky, even more so in a very busy environment when there could be hundreds of calls going through the voice gateway every hour.

In the end the customer decided against the script being implemented but my interest in TCL scripts has been piqued, especially as the modifications of what can be displayed on the phones could potentially be limitless – it is also interesting to find out a more efficient way of doing the above without compromising on the routing performance.

Watch this space for developments!


The Apprentice 2014

Today, I have started my application to be on BBC’s The Appentice 2014. I do not want to disclose too much information as I really do not know if I have the time to complete the application but I have had an idea of a business that I wish to start up but the initial start-up costs are quite astronomical. I will obviously keep you up to date if I actually make it any further in the process. Here’s to remaining optimistic!


Video: Lego Computer

Whilst browsing some of my favourite programming forums, a user posted this video up which is absolutely fantastic. The physical representation of the different computational gates is mind boggling and is definitely worth a watch.



Scripting, scripting, scripting

I have been tasked with some more scripts to build for work. I’ve wanted to get into programming in the past six to twelve months but I find working from reference books extremely abstract but having an actual goal to work towards, in my opinion, aids in the development of a skill.

Recently, I have been given the opportunity to hone my scripting and programming skills by undertaken various Cisco Contact Centre Express projects which involves a lot of call flow scripting, and because of this, I have been tasked with more and more generic scripting jobs.

The latest non-trivial script I have to build requires automated web browsing. As per usual, I will make all of my scripts available once they have been built. If you download any of them, please let me know what you think of it and also report any bugs to me for further development =)


New theme

I’ve decided to change the theme of my blog. I noticed a few things had gone wrong with the previous theme, as much as I liked it, and I am a little bit of a perfectionist at times.

Anyway, I like the minimalistic theme… for now!



And he’s over the line!

Well… hello again! It has been a while since my last post, almost bang on three months to be exact. In that relatively short period of time I have managed to get my University assignments and dissertation done with what time I had at my disposal as well as get myself a job! YAY! I guess I won’t be the statistic I referred to in my previous blog post. This is just a blog post to get me back in to the swing of blogging.

In the few upcoming blog posts I intend to post about my future intentions of the direction of this blog as well as announcing a few of my future projects. For now though, I will be moving into a new house so that my girlfriend can begin to establish herself as a newborn photographer.

For now, it is nice to see you again and keep checking back for more regular updates now that I have finished with University 🙂