Free Wireshark Training Course Online

Take a free Wireshark Jumpstart training class online at

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Did That Tech Just Tell Me to Go Ping Myself?

"Ping and let's look for packet loss."
"Let's reinstall the operating system."
"Oh my gawd - didn't you know ping is illegal?"
"Ping takes away the addresses of others on the network."
"Not all laptops support networking, so that might be the problem."
"Did you plug in the wireless cable yet?"

Oh yes... I keep track of the amazing comments I've heard from hotel network technicians and most recently Comcast. Many of you know the story of "Bob, the Comcast technician from hell" who ended up being a trainer for the other network technicans. I can only hope Bob is now flipping burgers somewhere.

When one of my network connections began feeling last week I pulled out my tools and began to work on identifying where the problem was. I grabbed my traffic with Wireshark and noted the high rate of packet loss. Since I know that packet loss most often occurs at an inter-network device, I began running the graphical ping in NetScanTools. I could see the rate of packet loss was around 40%. Next I began a series of traceroute operations to see where I was losing packets - and BOOM! There it was. One of the routers consistently dropped packets along the path. I even went through that target to other hosts.

All I needed to do was let the Comcast technician know which router was the problem... right?

When the Comcast technician asked me to "ping", I tried not to gag. How could this 'technician' not know the basics of TCP/IP? She pronounced traceroute as "trace-ert" with absolutely no awareness that her ignorance was spilling out over the phone.

What I experienced here is the result of skipping basic training - it's really not her fault. I blame Comcast. And guess what...? Right now we are seeing companies restrict training budgets for the folks running their networks. We're going to pay a big price in the future with unskilled and out-of-date IT professionals.

Is your company restricting training? What are you doing to keep up? Does your management know the end result of de-valuing training? Where will we be in a few months... years?

I hope the free Wireshark training courses are helping out. We are focusing on getting sponsors to open up more free online training. Let your favorite vendors know they can do something great for the industry by sponsoring a free training course.

Now off to finish the Wireshark 101 handouts for class on Tuesday! Gerald (the creator of Wireshark) will be online again to answer your questions. I hope to see you there! Register at today.