Mentorship and shared languages of network engineering with Cat Gurinski

Episode Thumbnail
This is a podcast episode titled, Mentorship and shared languages of network engineering with Cat Gurinski. The summary for this episode is: <p>On this episode of Network AF, Avi is joined by Senior Network Engineer Cat Gurinski to share her journey through networking. Cat found a passion for automating deployments and troubleshooting and is the current chair for the NANOG Program Committee.</p><p><br></p><p>Today, Cat discusses her path into networking and her passion for automation as she shares one of her favorite things to do is write Arista API scripts and how she automated her process. You'll also hear insight into how to get started in networking, highlighting the importance of an intro class and mentorship. Networking isn't the only thing Cat is excellent at and passionate about; she tells us how she got started in martial arts and how it's connected to her networking life. Listen now to hear more from their conversation!</p>
The pathway to networking
02:27 MIN
The biggest outage Cat caused without automation
02:15 MIN
Automating Arista API scripts
02:51 MIN
Where to start when first getting into automation
02:32 MIN
The connection between martial arts and networking
02:35 MIN
Offering opportunities and mentorship for the next generation of networking
03:08 MIN
Advice to young Cat
00:49 MIN

Avi Freedman: Hi, and welcome to this episode of Network AF. Today, I'm talking to Cat Gurinsky, an amazing networker friend of mine from NANOG community. We're going to talk about her passion for anime, Japanese, karate, networking, and we're going to talk about automation and some of the things that she's been doing with it. Advice for people looking to get into automation and advice for people looking to get into the field of networking. Today, I'm here with my friend, Cat Gurinsky, who's been in networking and we're going to talk about community technology and maybe some non- networking things as well. Hi, Cat. Could you give us a brief introduction to yourself, personal and work?

Cat Gurinsky: Hi, so my name's Cat Gurinsky. I've been working in network engineering since about 2007, so a good like 14 years now. I worked in computer repair before that as well while I was in college. I am a little odd, though, because I have a Japanese major for my Bachelor's and Master's, so it doesn't quite compute when you're putting that together. I was a always really into computers early on. My Dad was actually the computer lab teacher when I was growing up, so it kind of ended up being a natural fit for my actual job. It's hard to get a job as a translator, which was my original dream as a child. It also doesn't pay nearly as well, so if I did get a job as a translator, I would not be on the same pay scale. Yeah, and then I own karate dojo in Austin, Texas, and I have two small children, and we live here out in Austin.

Avi Freedman: Cool. I did not know that you had wanted to go down the translation route. There's a... I have a friend and amazing woman I went to high school with, Yuri inaudible who is Israeli, but actually wound up moving to Japan and then wound up doing tri- way translation-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh wow.

Avi Freedman: know, Hebrew, Japanese, English, and now is expert at training dog trainers-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh wow.

Avi Freedman: ...among other things, because I think-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...there's only so many manuals that one can translate and things in the markets. You mentioned computer repair, and hopefully not just like supporting people whose hard discs were full and they couldn't web browse because of it. How did you get into networking?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, so the computer repair was people like had broken hard drives or broken CPUs that were starting to smoke or whatever. I actually went to computer repair school at a tech school during high school-

Avi Freedman: Oh.

Cat Gurinsky: one fun story, yeah. I knew that I was going to go to college. I was one of those honors kids. I was definitely on the college path, but I also knew that I didn't want to go to college and work at McDonald's. I just... That was never like me. I was like, "I want to have a better job," so I convinced my parents to send me to tech school, which is where most like the high school dropouts went, but I was like, " No, no, no. I need to go to tech school so I can get a good college job while I'm doing college." I was like, "I can put all my AP classes in the morning and I go to tech school in the evening." I had it all planned out and they they're like, " Okay, you know, you made your case." They let me go and I did my junior year of high school. Then, I worked at the IT department at my university for the entire time I was studying for undergrad and graduate. What happened was when I was working at that IT department as an undergrad student, one of my jobs was a technology assistant, as they called it, which was that we helped get students online during move- in like, like freshman and stuff, and then just helped them with connectivity problems throughout the year. That was our assistant role of the job. When I graduated, we only had a single network engineer that worked at the university and he was looking to hire a full- time network engineer work under him. Now, I didn't have any network engineering experience at this point. I just had lots of computer repair, right? I'd done all this-

Avi Freedman: Right.

Cat Gurinsky: ... stuff at theit department, but he'd see me help people get people online. We deployed a Cisco Clean Access. I don't even know if that product's still around crosstalk but yeah.

Avi Freedman: I don't know if it is.

Cat Gurinsky: It's a NAC solution, so it was something that you would log into and then it would verify in your computer that you had like antivirus software-

Avi Freedman: Oh, okay.

Cat Gurinsky: ... thatyour firewall was turned on, like that kind of stuff. Making sure you met minimal requirements that you weren't a risk to the network to infect the entire student face. Yeah, and I helped deploy that as a student employee. That was like the one thing working in my favor, but he knew like from the years of my time at the IT department that I could learn. He was like, " Here, you can apply for the job. I'm going to be the one interviewing you, anyway." He's like, " Go study some stuff so I can ask you some relevant questions from the textbook." He's like, " I know you can do it, so it's pretty much a shoe- in, right?" I'm like, " Okay," and so I got hired as a full time like... on staff at the university, but it was basically an apprenticeship because I'd never written any Cisco code at all at that pint. I didn't have my clue what to do with a switch or an access point. I only knew how to deploy that one server, you know crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ARP and Mac crosstalk were fuzzy concepts.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, oh yeah. L

Cat Gurinsky: Oh yeah. L2, L3, what does this mean? How do I terminate coax and ethernet and fiber? Yeah, I actually learned all of that stuff at that job, so it was really cool because it was like an apprenticeship and those don't exist too often these days. I basically got a, " You never can share your apprenticeship with him," and we worked together for like about a year, a year and a half, and then he left to go somewhere else. It was just me. The scariest time of my life. I stayed for another year, hated the boss I had, and left, so-

Avi Freedman: Oh.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah. The boss I had didn't really believe in me was the problem because I'd only been there in that role for about a year before my boss left, so-

Avi Freedman: It was crosstalk more just lack of experience than you not being like his expectations of crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Well, yeah. He felt my lack of experience meant that I couldn't possibly know what I was talking about, either, and so he never took my advice on anything, even though Simon, my boss that had trained me in that apprenticeship- type role, Simon had trained me very well, but he just could not believe that I actually knew anything, really. And that was kind of the impression I always felt working with that other boss after Simon left me. That got really frustrating pretty fast and Simon, as it turns out, was friends Chris Moyter. They'd gone to school-

Avi Freedman: Oh.

Cat Gurinsky: ...together, so this is where it all ties in nicely. Aha, aha. Chris was like, " Hey, Cat, I'm just going to take you and you're going to come over here and work for Switch and Data with me. I'm like, " Okay, please save me. Thank you." I met Chris through Simon because they were like really close friends, and that was how I got out of that situation and how I ended up at Switch and Data, which went through the merger about a year and a half into that-

Avi Freedman: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: ...into Equinix. That's how I found-

Avi Freedman: Awesome.

Cat Gurinsky: ... NANOG,too, because Chris said, " Come on, let's go to this conference," you know?

Avi Freedman: Awesome. Yeah crosstalk I mean, my experience has been that most of the people in networking, especially when I was starting, where sort of self- taught and so-

Cat Gurinsky: Definitely crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ...understood that everyone was learning all of the time, so the only way to become expert was to go break it and figure out-

Cat Gurinsky: Yes.

Avi Freedman: ... how to unbreak it, notcrosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh, oh yes. So, so true. I remember so many times I'd be like trying to troubleshoot something at the university when I worked with Simon. I'd be like, " Simon, how do I do this?" He was not the type of person that would just tell you how to do it, so he'd be like, " Go look it up." I'm like, " But it's probably easy." " Go look it up." I remember that very vividly my first year of employment and so many times I would get so mad at him, but it made me so much better because I learned to look it up. I learned to try to fumble through it because at the end of the day, we worked at the university. If I did break it a little worse in like 3 in the morning, no one's going to notice. They're all sleeping and then he told me I'll break it before they all woke up, you know?

Avi Freedman: The wizard, Steve Robinson, who worked with my father doing medical research who sort of was like, " You don't want to do that basic stuff. You want use Unix." This is like in 1980, but I would do things. I would go to him and say, " So I want to do a science project. Let me see if I can recognize images with the computer." He's like, " That's actually a much harder problem than you think."

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: "I tell you what," and he picks up a piece of paper and punches it with a pencil and says, " Go look at the world one pixel a time and tell me what you see. Think about it, come and have questions for me." You know? Yeah-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh, wow crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ...or when I asked him like, " How should I administer this Unix machine?" He's like, " Well, run find slash and figure out what every file does and ask me if you have questions." You do have to have time and privilege to be able to-

Cat Gurinsky: Yes.

Avi Freedman: ... to do andlearn-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...that way, right? You have to-

Cat Gurinsky: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Avi Freedman: know, I remember... Yeah, I had similar... In college, I had done a bunch of computer stuff, but I met actually the guy that did image processing and the guy that did networking and I was like, " Oh, networking." I mean, yeah, sure.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...whatever. Then, he like me would go to the computer shows, buy parts, build computers. He was doing it because we were at a state school that had no budget, so he was like scrounging lab and I was building computers for like law firms and stuff.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: Then so, you know, yeah... Then, I got interested, you know?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: We had this empty thing called a T1 and I had to figure it out-

Cat Gurinsky: I remember when crosstalk-

Avi Freedman:

Cat Gurinsky: ... like whenmy high school got a T1 and it was the big biggest deal.

Avi Freedman: Oh my God, so you inaudible in high school. Wow, that would have been crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh yeah, that was like probably when I was... I think I was in like 10th grade because I remember taking my C++ class and we'd just gotten it that year, and you're to laugh at this one crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: C++ class in 10th grade? Wow.

Cat Gurinsky: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I took the-

Avi Freedman: Oh, wow.

Cat Gurinsky: ... C++ class in the 10th grade,but I remember it was a pretty easy thing for me to take that class. When we had free time after we did our programmatic exercise, all of us would go log in and play Neopets. That's going to age me because nobody plays that anymore.

Avi Freedman: Well crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: ...but at home, we had dial up. All of us had this horrible connections so you could never like get the really fast things you had to click for loading quickly-

Avi Freedman: Right.

Cat Gurinsky: ... but we could do it atthe school at the T1.

Avi Freedman: I'm having a vision of dial up pixelated. What is it? Neopets?

Cat Gurinsky: Neopets, it's like literally a Tamagotchi or something, but it's like you have this little crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: It sounds like an NFT crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: have to like crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ... it sounds likewe should crosstalk go make an NFT crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: ... playand stuff.

Avi Freedman: ...and, you know, and-

Cat Gurinsky: They had lots of mini games that you play to help get stuff to make your Neopet better, but it was this very silly game that I don't think... I think it still exists, but I don't think anybody plays it mainstream anymore like-

Avi Freedman: Okay.

Cat Gurinsky: ...they used to back then.

Avi Freedman: Okay. I predict within a year we'll see an NFT on the crypto space. You talked a little bit about you get in and it sounds like you were fortunate, but also applied yourself and prepared even back from high school. I will say, by the way, that also when I was in high school, there was people, the O Tech School, but it's worth noting how much more money plumbers and electricians make and carpenters-

Cat Gurinsky: It is. It really is-

Avi Freedman: ... than many peoplecrosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: ... and I have a lot of respectcrosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ... that didnot go.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: Yeah, and then frustration... If you find people that maybe expect people to look like... to already have experience. I posted something on LinkedIn. I think we were looking for 56 years of firewall experience, you know?

Cat Gurinsky: What?

Avi Freedman: Yeah. Actually, Rachel Bicknell had found it and I-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh, okay.

Avi Freedman: ... commented and then Ireposted it. We were like, "No, no, no. They mean base 50," you know?

Cat Gurinsky: She finds some really funny job postings I have to say yes.

Avi Freedman: Yes, yes, absolutely. What is the biggest outage you have caused without automation?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, that's funny given the recent Facebook story.

Avi Freedman: Yes, yes.

Cat Gurinsky: I was working... I think we were still Switch and Data. Yeah, I don't think we had merged to become Equinix. I believe this was shortly before the merger. I was tasked with collecting a bunch of information from show commands. I can't remember what exactly I was inventorying, but I was just basically supposed to inventory 7. All I had to do was do show commands all day long for this project for like a week. We had an... I think it was extreme networks chassis switch in the Palo Alto PAC's Data Center. I would just go in site by site and because we were all remote, one of my few jobs where we were remote before COVID, I, you know, could do some of it during the day, some it during night didn't really matter what time of day I did it. They didn't care as long as I got it done in the time allotted to me.

Avi Freedman: Right.

Cat Gurinsky: I think it was probably like, I don't know, eight or nine. It was sometime in the evening like after normal hours. I'm just like, " Okay, let's continue working on this," because I got some free time and I'm doing my show commands and the switch rebooted. Oh no, it gets better, though, right?

Avi Freedman: Okay.

Cat Gurinsky: If it just just rebooted that wouldn't be so bad. It came back. Well, we had no console to it, so I couldn't actually see that it came back, but evidently it came back without a config. I'm like waiting for this thing-

Avi Freedman: like a Raider race? Right.

Cat Gurinsky: Yes, pretty much, but I didn't write it. I literally had only then show commands. It was some bug that it hit. Anyway, but I'm like sitting there like I can't ping it, it's not coming back. I'm like freaking the F out like, " What's going on?" I've only like been at this job for like maybe a year or less at this point because I was only there a year and a half before the merger and I remember it was before the merger.

Avi Freedman: Right.

Cat Gurinsky: I have to call the poor one local... We only had one engineer that actually that actually lived in the Palo Alto area. I'm like, "Helen? Helen, I need you to go down to inaudible. Yeah, so he had inaudible wait, and he was away. He wasn't that late, but still he was passed out after hours. It was dark. He had to get up and go drive down and he had go fix it for me by hand. Now, thankfully we didn't have any these locked out security issues like that. This was just sending some internet exchange switch for the PACs, but still, that switch stayed down for a couple hours until he's there to bring it back. No, I didn't lose my job or anything and it was fine.

Avi Freedman: You didn't cause it other than by tickling bugs somehow that-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, I just triggered a but. I didn't like do it. I didn't do a change. I didn't make any changes. I literally was only doing a show command, but man, I was like freaking out for the good couple hours until that thing came back and he manually reconfigured it because, whoo-

Avi Freedman: Yeah, I've had a few people who've worked for me before who were like, "Oh my God, oh my God. I just," it's like, " Awesome. Now, you get to fix it." They're like, " No, no I broke it.: I'm like, " Yeah, that means you get to fix it."

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah. I lived like in Northwest Indiana at the time, so there's definitely no way I could help. I was way too remote, you know?

Avi Freedman: Oh, so that crosstalk was interesting. Right, so that was really remote, yeah, for-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...the time. I mean crosstalk was remote. I mean some, some companies were pretty remote at the time. That's one of the questions that's really interesting is how do we help people lab and understand how things break and how to fix them without actually breaking the internet and people's applications?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: That's something that I was talking to the Uber driver about yesterday because he was like, " What do you do?" I said, " Oh, we make the internet go." He's like, " Oh, I have a CCNA and it's expired." I'm like, " Don't worry about that. Don't worry about that."

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, don't worry.

Avi Freedman: Like, " Don't worry crosstalk that it's expired. Go play with virtual stuff and show," and I told him, because I was in Virginia yesterday. Since I'm getting back like three years ago, I have to remember what city was in this morning. I was like... He was driving me to Equinix DC3 and I'm like, "Just look, all of these buildings, they all have operations groups and if you have bright, shiny eyes they can... You know, there's networking, there's cabling, there's just support and operations and, yeah, a lot of it is centralized, but if you're really interested," because he wanted to not be an Uber driver, I was like, " Just apply all these, apply." I gave him my email address and good luck and hopefully that happens. I mentioned automation because automation can be a good way to help humans be lazy. I always try to-

Cat Gurinsky: Yep,

Avi Freedman: like, " Wait, why am I doing show commands over and over and over?"

Cat Gurinsky: Right. " Why am I doing something like the same thing over and over when I could automate it?"

Avi Freedman: Right, but if you... Automation is also a way to break things really fast-

Cat Gurinsky: Yes.

Avi Freedman: ...if you don't think about it well. Further, we see a lot of our customers are like, " Oh, I'm so behind," and because the vendors are like, " Oh, it's all self- driving networks and closed- loop automation and magic models and intent." Most of our customers are like if they have life cycle, I turn it on, turn it off, inventory it. The interface descriptions are set like basic health, so then, they're doing pretty well. This has been a focus of yours, Python, and is it more internet side? Or data center? Or, what kind of-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, so crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: you focusing on?

Cat Gurinsky: ...yeah, so for me in my current role it's definitely data center side because I'm just doing really large scale deployments like hundreds of switches instead of like a couple. It's both the automating of the deployment, so a lot of Python scripting and PowerOn Auto Provisioning and Ansible usage and all that stuff just to make life easier, including like automating even assigning IP addresses, et cetera, too. Yeah, like you said, the more I can automate that I'm just going to do by hand the better because I've can in theory reduce human error risk. Then, after it, things come up, to. It's a matter of automating my troubleshooting as well. Some of my favorite things to do is to write like Arista API scripts. I love their API. It's really easy to work with and if you know Python, it's just all interacting Python with our API. I got to this point where like, " Okay, every time a link has errors or there's some sort of issue, it's a link, I've got to do the same 10 show commands." Right?

Avi Freedman: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: I just was like, " Why don't I just automate that? I can do that all through the API and just grab all of that data that I need every time. If I'm going to be doing the same commands, I might as well have the API grab it really quickly." I physically cannot type those commands as fast as the API can execute them and then they're always going to be the same. All I have to tell it is host name and port number, making my life way easier, so-

Avi Freedman: Is there any rate limiting concern? What if everything started showing... Does the Arista do its own rate limiting? Or did you have to implement that yourself?

Cat Gurinsky: I don't think there's one that I've been able to hit yet. There may

Avi Freedman: Okay.

Cat Gurinsky: ... be arate limit, but I've not been able to hit it yet. For example, one script that I wrote, which is kind of in between deployment and troubleshooting, is I got really tired when we've would deploy like a ton of servers on a whole rack and then having to go back and put port names in there because I didn't like having ports that didn't tell me what server they went to. I really want to know, what does this connect to? Later on, if somebody's like saying, " Hey, my server's having issues." " Yes. Traceroute will tell me where your port is and Show Mac Address will show me where it is," but it's even better if I can label the port. I wrote this script. The first I wrote, actually, when I took the Arista API class that they taught... it's back in 2017, so four years ago, I took that class and had that little light bulb moment of things I could do with the API. That was the first light bulb that went off. It was like, " I could automate putting port descriptions on switch ports, like between LLDP and ARP and inaudible neighbors, between one of those functions I should be able to figure out what connects here," right?

Avi Freedman: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: Instead of me having to do those three different commands to figure out what connects here, like I can just automate that. That switch, that script that runs really fast, I can run it against all the ports and it'll just... and so I can't think of anything else that would run really fast that would be more requiring of rate limiting really than something like that where it just goes, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. When I run it, yeah, it just...

Avi Freedman: Cool.

Cat Gurinsky: ...goes quick. It does the IP lookups and everything. If it's ARP, it does the LDP and everything really fast and the switch replies with everything all through the API and then updates inaudible descriptions for me.

Avi Freedman: What's the... In this case, the source of truth is the... You're rewriting it. It's not a database. It's not like a net box thing.

Cat Gurinsky: No, it's not crosstalk I'm doing like crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: It's the network itself crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah,

Cat Gurinsky: I'm doing an as- built basically. It's like, " This is the reality," yeah.

Avi Freedman: Okay.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah. We don't keep a database for what port gets wired to what server, so I try via a couple different methods. I usually preference our LDP first because that's very, very reliable for the port, right?

Avi Freedman: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: If it's a port channel, then obviously I'm going to preference ARP if I can. Then, if it's a v6 neighbor, then I got to do V6 neighbors instead because you're not going to have ARP, obviously, on there instead. I kind of go in that pecking order, though. LDP, check ARP, check v6 neighbors, and if it's not crosstalk a P4 address.

Avi Freedman: Hopefully, no one crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, so it's literally... it's definitely there.

Avi Freedman: ...and hopefully no one has jacked a switch into the other end so there's many ARPs, many things that you see either ARPing or Mac- learned crosstalk to the other. They should just be access, I guess, if they're all crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Right. Well, yeah, exactly. Since it is a data center, it's a very standard build as far as how the ports are laid out and what's going on them. I've never ran into that in the data center world. The enterprise world when I used to do that, yes. I'd run into it all of the time. People plug in hubs and other switches and things into stuff they shouldn't, but the data center side, that's really a nonissue for us. Plus, our uplinks are going to be on QSFPs and our servers are going to be on SFP or on copper. Yeah, you can't accidentally plug into the wrong thing because it's a completely different, you know, port crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: It sounds like a crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky:

Avi Freedman: sounds like a design feature, for sure-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: have physical incompatibility with things you don't want to, things you don't want to plug in. I mean, we see that. We have some features we built that assumed that people can figure things with RegX. You could RegX match interfaces to find server dash, whatever appearing, whatever that people do that. Then, you find definitely some networks that have organically evolved where in the worst case, if there's an interface description, it's wrong because people just gave up.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: Then, this question of, what's the source of truth?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: In a non- well- formed data center world can be interesting. People try to have sometimes the IPAM, the CMDB, the configs, and they're like, " Oh, but some of it is true in each of those." It's like, " Don't start there."

Cat Gurinsky: Yes. One thing I have to always be careful of is like for that script, since it is doing what's actually connected is that we don't want to run it too early. We want to audit and make sure that people plug things incorrectly, like uplinks, for example. If they had... We usually like four uplinks on our switches, right?

Avi Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: Maybe the first two came up, but the second two didn't because they accidentally flipped those when they were cabling them for us. Maybe core 3 and core 4 are flipped on the switch. Well, I run the strip though and it looks at LDP, it's going to put that wrong label on that wrong core. Then, suddenly, I think it's supposed to be like that. It's like one of those make sure like all your links are actually-

Avi Freedman: Oh-

Cat Gurinsky: ...up before you rim on the script to make sure it's correct, so you got to be a little bit, but service-

Avi Freedman: That is an interesting crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: ... is less of anissue because they're all accessed on the same VLAN, you know? It's all-

Avi Freedman: Yeah. That is an interesting-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...yes. That's interesting. If the source of truth is the network itself-

Cat Gurinsky: Right.

Avi Freedman: ...and you start-

Cat Gurinsky: Cable crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ... labeling it too early while it's stillin flux, then it could confuse people who are trying to-

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ...right? Who crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly, and so then you crosstalk have rerun the script later, but now for that little in- between time, you've got that wrong label on there. That's one thing we try to do with Bringups at least is we wait until we've verified all the BGPs up and then all that stuff goes where we ask for a patch plan for the switch to switch stuff.

Avi Freedman: Right.

Cat Gurinsky: Now, the servers, it's really hard for us to tell if it's actually done correctly, really. We have a different guy who wrote a script to look at the database of the LDP, and the only thing we really audit on are redundant switches where we have two in M- like pairs. We will compare and make sure that the LDP is the same on the same number of ports. If we see like port 3 has server A and over here it's on port 4, okay, then, obviously, somebody cabled something wrong. It's like that's something else we've got to check for because then the M- likes not going to come up because they're on the wrong ports.

Avi Freedman: Yeah. I mean, it's interesting. Some of the table state can be really useful. People are... I know a couple companies that have made streaming telemetry of the Blerp, everything work, but that's really hard versus just, do the show things match up?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah. Yep. Exactly.

Avi Freedman: No, I'll have to see if I can torture the Aristas. So far, they've done everything I've wanted rate- limiting crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly.

Avi Freedman: do.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah. I've never had to barf unless I had a wrong password or something in or I just did the wrong command.

Avi Freedman: Yeah. No, I got so annoyed with... I have a 9001 that I put in the CO cabinet because I still have a 3PXL that's got slash 24s filtered there. I was like, " Wait, I have to Google this just as much as if I were sticking an MX in," and I think I should-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ... just gowith an... I've used Arista for some... I was helping them set up a lab of like data center like you're talking about and it was like, " Wait, this is just IOs with commit, confirm, and bash. This is like much better.

Cat Gurinsky: Oh, I love it. Yeah. I can't go back now. I'm so spoiled. I can't go back to something else. I like it too much. It's just it feels like home when I'm on that box, you know?

Avi Freedman: I mean, there's definitely a lot of Juniper bigots, but personally I'm just slower when I have to and I'm always doing display set and they make fun of me. Like, " Oh, but Avi, you like C coding. Why don't you like braces?" I'm like, " That's for programming. This is for router configs. Like they're different."

Cat Gurinsky: Right, and I do like programming. I like my... Well, Python doesn't have any of the bracket stuff either, but yeah, it's I've not done that kind of programming in so long that it's just easier for me to stay on the other side.

Avi Freedman: Yes. It sounds like I would say you're doing stuff that's... Especially with the show and augmenting and some diagnostics, it's probably more than even the average that we see. Where would you advise people to... What's been helpful for you to try to learn? Do you use virtual Aristas? Were there particular Python... their libraries you love? Or anything in particular that you can remember that you'd point people towards if they're looking to start doing the automation dance?

Cat Gurinsky: Yes, so I definitely recommend taking some intro classes, for sure, just to kind of like get your feet wet because I'm a good self- learner, but I always find that like that initial dipping your foot in the pool- type thing helps a lot with the intro class. Then, once you got the feet in, then it's easier to submerge the rest of the body, right?

Avi Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: For me, I took the actual Arista eAPI class that they were offering. I think they still offer it now, or at least they did pre- pandemic. If you're looking to do like something with like Ansible and take an Ansible introduction class, do those intro classes to at least get the framework before you just dive into the deep end, open up the books, and go looking for this exact type of thing you're doing. For me, It did help that back in high school I took that C++ class, and then during college I did a lot of like HTML and CSS stuff, so I had a kind of framework. I did a lot of self- learning for PHP at the beginning of my networking chain-

Avi Freedman: Oh yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: Well, all my strips used to be PHP. I actually didn't switch to Python until I took that Arista class ad they're like, " Well, you're going to have to learn Python for this," and I'm like, " Okay, I guess I'll start reading up." That I did self- teach, but then the examples they taught us in the class to interact with their eAPI helped from that baseline like, " Okay, here's the basics of Python. Here's how they're actually doing it." Then I was able to learn more from there seeing it all put together. Yeah, definitely intro classes I think were the biggest help for me, and then as far as like labs, I've been really blessed that we have physical labs here at my current job, but, obviously, like GNS3 with a virtual vEOS image inaudible would be the way to go if you don't have that, which the average person probably does not have a physical lab. I happen to work for a very large company, so-

Avi Freedman: Yeah. Interesting crosstalk or it used to be people would eBay stuff and try to make their crosstalk own-

Cat Gurinsky: That does work too, yep.

Avi Freedman: ...but virtual is pretty good. Yeah, I was surprised when I looked at the Arista aside how much... Well, if you haven't ever used the CLI, you probably should do that before you try to do automation.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: There's a lot of O intent in models, but when you actually look at how you automate the major vendors, you sort of do have to understand how it thinks of itself and CLI, you know-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: You have to learn

Cat Gurinsky: how JSON works, too, because you need to understand how to read the JSON dictionary. So much of what you get back from the show commands on API queries, they're going to be JSON format. That's something you need to quickly quickly learn and adapt to to understanding how to find your NESL's variable inside that show command because it's not going to give you the text. It's going to give you a JSON version of the text. One cool thing on the Aristas is that you can do your show command on the actual Arista and then just pipe it JSON, and if it's supported, it'll give you what that JSON format looks like on the switch.

Avi Freedman: You can just debug? Yeah, so you could-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, so before you go to write a new script, " Okay, I want to use something where I'm going to do like show version, but I don't know how the JSON's going to look and I don't want to start from the script." I go to the switch. I type, " show version pipe JSON," and then I see right there on the switch what that output's going to look like. Now, I can go back and write my programming based on what I know to expect because-

Avi Freedman: Does it crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: ...this is the format crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ... show EQed? Likepretty printed? Or does it show you like all like blah crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: On the switch it'll be pretty print by default.

Avi Freedman: Okay.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: Yeah. I use crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: It's nicely crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: a lot when I'm-

Cat Gurinsky: ...spaced

Avi Freedman: ...trying to figure stuff out. I still use Pearl because I'm old. Even though giving a little bit of a headache to navigate the hashes that JSON parses into. I need to give it Python at some point. I just think that white space shouldn't be syntax, that we should have braces for coding. We should have braces crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh, I know. That part does still bother me a lot. I agree. I've very used to like... I did PHP. I'm very used to the brackets to tell me which blocks belong where.

Avi Freedman: It doesn't matter crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Over time. Yeah.

Avi Freedman: I can't fight the industry. The industry has decided Python.

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly, and that's where I caved.

Avi Freedman: In your background, you were talking about sort of dipping your toe in and before your whole body. I remember my experience getting into martial arts where. not only I, but everyone else thought I was just going to turn... I was turning red. I was 320 pounds. People thought I was going to die-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh wow.

Avi Freedman: ...but for me personally, I suck at it so badly that it takes all my mental focus and then I don't notice I'm exercising and then I'm learning. I enjoy things that I suck-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...but I'm curious, so I guess... You mentioned you have Japanese studies and I guess that has some relation, but I'm really curious, is there a connection between martial arts and networking? Anything that helps you from one to the other? Or is it more of a disconnect? How do find it and think about it? As I know a few people in the community, they're into martial arts and, and you, you sort of actually have a school, right?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah-

Avi Freedman: So-

Cat Gurinsky: ...yeah. Crazy people like me opening schools during pandemics. Yeah. Well, I got into martial arts before anything else, really. The Japanese and the martial arts definitely relate heavily for me because I was really big into anime. I was one of those dorky Otaku kids growing up, like skinny and lanky and getting picked on. I just loved watching my anime. One of my friends actually found this karate school that had a sword class, the iaido sword class.

Avi Freedman: Oh wow.

Cat Gurinsky: You know, "Cat, Cat, we can go take sword and learn to be like Kenshin. That was what she told me. Sold me on that. I'm like, " Oh, sure. Let's go learn to be like Kenshin from the anime, you know?"

Avi Freedman: Wow.

Cat Gurinsky: Then, eventually after like a summer of doing sword they convinced us to stay for the karate class, and so that's, that was kind of the beginning of everything. That was 2000, so like 21 years ago, but yeah. That's how those two relate for me is my Japanese interest came from the anime. My martial arts interests also came from the anime.

Avi Freedman: Cool.

Cat Gurinsky: I mean, there's definitely relations because martial arts to me is kind of like another language. It's a language of the body, right? Versus-

Avi Freedman: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky:, you know, networking is a language of the switches, and then the programming is thee language of the code to interactive and everything. I think there's some similarities, but it is also my break from the day job as well. When I sit there and program all day, I don't move from this chair very much. I'm very dormant on this chair for hours at a time. That's the opposite of when I'm in the dojo moving around constantly like no-

Avi Freedman: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: downtime. I have a chair and a desk at the dojo, but that's really only for when it's not class time, you know? If I get there-

Avi Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: ...early, I need to update the website or something. It's about the only time I'll use that. The rest of the time, I never sit in that chair at the dojo. I am up on my feet, whether I'm talking to a parent, talking to a student. so yeah crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: Yeah crosstalk primitives, it's interesting because in networking, people are trying to get into networking. I say, " The most specific route always wins." You could remember this because if you couldn't get to your own... If the default route, if the biggest route won, you couldn't talk to yourself because you're crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly.

Avi Freedman: In martial arts, it's like, " Remember to breathe." It's like, " I know how to breathe."

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, basic.

Avi Freedman: Then, you discover maybe you don't know how to breathe.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, because you're, " I'm trying to remember this so hard."

Avi Freedman: I-

Cat Gurinsky: "Oh, I forgot to breathe.

Avi Freedman: ...I did that. I'd almost feel like, " Avi, you're going to pass out." I was like, " Oh, shit. Maybe I don't know how to breathe. Maybe I should think about that." You know?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Avi Freedman: And I just crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: We definitely go back to basics a lot, too. People don't realize, but there's so much focus on basics in martial arts, just like your basic stance, where your hand is, your positioning, how you're leaning into something, if you're back's straight, if you're squatting down low. Lots of like fine details that matter in martial arts.

Avi Freedman: That is one of the things that I find fascinating myself, which is that I can see how people that can do things much better than me are doing it not quite right. I don't give them my opinion, but-

Cat Gurinsky: No, right.

Avi Freedman: ...but I'm still sucking so badly. I'm so far behind. I remember the first time I could make my body do each of those sort of basic thing, and then when I was starting it was the ukemi role, which I really sucked at, but I still do a little bit, but-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...and the internet and networking like the human body, there's so much that can go wrong. Luckily, I haven't injured myself at martial arts and hope everything is good at your school from that perspective.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah. Mm- hmm(affirmative). Same.

Avi Freedman: Cool. We talked about automation, which is one of the things that I hear a lot as people saying, " Oh, I'm behind and this is the hotness and everything else." Then, I say, " Well, you should be thinking about it if you're not," but the people are not living in this completely automated world with no humans and that's all APIs. What else? As you look at networking, is there anything that you're really looking forward to immersing yourself in between self- exploration in classes and things? Anything you're following that you'd like to be working with?

Cat Gurinsky: My kind of big self- driven thing when we step away from automation is IPv6, especially when you have looking at large scale data centers, like there's just so much IP address wasting in the v4 world. Point- to- points are my favorite example of this, right?

Avi Freedman: Mm- hmm( affirmative). Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: You know, my typical install for an edge switch top of rack switch is going to be four uplinks. Four uplinks means that I have eight IPv4 addresses.

Avi Freedman: That's better than it crosstalk than it used to be when I crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: I know it is better crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: We are doing 31s, not 30s. I guess I could be wasting inaudible tonight. At I'm doing that, but even that, that's still eight addresses for every single switch I want to deploy minimum plus the loop back, but the loop backs I don't care as much. It's more of that eight addresses per device. When you're talking about deploying a hundred devices, there's 800 IPs now I just wasted. Even if it's internal- only, there's only so much internal- only space I can use as well, right? You know, it doesn't even-

Avi Freedman: Right.

Cat Gurinsky: ... have tobe public space. The v6 problem just eliminates that as being an issue of worrying about running out of space, and so that's kind of one of those big hot topics that I'm trying to work on is at least start with the networking side because not all of the servers support v6, right? That's the-

Avi Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: ...other problem.

Avi Freedman: Right.

Cat Gurinsky: Then, let's go back and obviously fix a server issue. That's the way bigger one, right? Obviously, we use way, way more IPs on the server-

Avi Freedman: Right.

Avi Freedman: It's not just

Avi Freedman: servers, it's applications and-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, servers, applications, different... Yeah. Some servers might have like 10 IPs on them. That's... Yeah, but you know, my favorite thing that I can do on the rest is write, and I think other switches do this, too, is I can do v6 routing over... or v4 routing over v6 interfaces. Even though the whole path is not v6, I can still send all of my v4 routes over v6 only point- to- points, and so ta- da, now I no longer use those eight IPs of v4 at all, right?

Avi Freedman: Right. No, that's also crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: That's kind of one of my-

Avi Freedman: Does-

Cat Gurinsky: projects.

Avi Freedman: ...does the... When you think about making it more approachable to crafty people who are like, " Oh, but I can't remember v6 addresses and all of that," is it like having scripts for debugging or tools so that-

Cat Gurinsky: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Avi Freedman: that you don't have to be like typing these when you're debugging? You can say, " That switch, that interface, like do some debug crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly.

Avi Freedman: Is it crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...tinkering so that v4 and v6 are related or there's some consistent like, " That switch, that interface will be this?" What are the things that help crafty people like me maybe?

Cat Gurinsky: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Avi Freedman: Ones that want to be in that world?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, so it's slightly wasteful. Like the 30, there's this 31 argument, but like I do 126s instead of 127s, for example, and v6. If you do that and you have four uplinks, then you'll use the same four addresses for your first core, second core, third core, and fourth with all and in the same number, right?

Avi Freedman: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: That's one of those little tricks that we do, for example, like i that 4 environment because then it follows a better pattern. It's more human readable, and then, yeah, we do a lot of automating for our point- to- points and our V6... everything, basically. I've written scripts that will automate making the nice, pretty DNS because I don't need to memorize the IP if I have DNS for everything, including my v6 point- to- points. Then, if I do a trace route, it makes sense because I can see the host name with the interface attached to it on that trace route, but yeah, DNS for sure.

Avi Freedman: Well, if it isn't the conflict of interest, I would be interested in, and if work allows it, maybe an analog presentation or maybe a panel on a few other companies on like Culturex2. You know, preach it, and at least for network interconnects internally, move away from v4, which, yeah, if you're only doing 20 switches, maybe your bean counters don't care, but if you're doing, you know, mega crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Hundreds and hundreds, yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...and it's money, you know? It is money.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: Not to mention being nice to people that still have the mainframes that need to connect and need to work that way. Cool. Definitely a lot of people passionate about that and hopefully I'll be able to attend the panel and ask a couple questions. You got lucky on top of some applied work, getting in to full- time IT and then networking and moving over to the multi- tenant networking, you know? The switching-

Cat Gurinsky: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Avi Freedman: side.

Cat Gurinsky: Yep.

Avi Freedman: Any advice or things that you think about as a community that we can do to help attract people? Especially people that are not a diverse set of people, into networking to make it more approachable and offer opportunity?

Cat Gurinsky: I mean, for me, like mentorship really was the key. That was the thing that opened all the doors, and so I think the more we can do with mentorship the better, for sure. Like NANOG, I'm Chair of the Program Committee over there, the board did start a mentorship committee and they've been working on ways to get that going. I'm not sure when it officially goes full deployment, but definitely crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: NANOG University is a program, too crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: That's separate. Yeah, NANOG crosstalk is going to learn some stuff, but this is a specific like community just for mentorship where they're working on formulating a whole plan for how we can mentor up and coming engineers, right?

Avi Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: Stuff like that I think is super important. I have a huge passion for mentorship because it's really how I got started. I definitely think if you're starting to get interested in the networking/ engineering world to find someone that that can mentor you or to ask around and see if you could help find someone to pair up with that it can give you advice, can introduce you to other folks in the network world, right? You know-

Avi Freedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: Chris Moyter knew everybody there already when I started going 10 years ago-

Avi Freedman: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: ...and I wouldn't have met half the other people like yourself and others, but to have somebody like him introducing me to all those other people, right?

Avi Freedman: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, having someone to bounce ideas off with, to learn from, to help mentor you career- wise. Actually, you know, in- network industry itself or the technical details as well, all of that's super useful, I think, and that's how I think we become approachable, though. Likewise, if you are considering being a mentor, now is the time. Don't wait until somebody finds you, right?

Avi Freedman: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: You know, people like myself and you, we need to go out there and look for the next generation of engineer.

Avi Freedman: Yeah. I mean, we're thinking a lot about that in terms of college. How can we help? Because we have a lot of data about the internet, we can work with grad school. We can talk with people even that are not technologists because with peering, it's not all about technology. It's about politics and economics, too. Try to find the bright, shiny- eyed folks. We haven't yet stolen someone... you know, convinced them not to go back to college, you know? We don't crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Right crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ...religion about that, but you know, I can't say if we found someone who was right, we would at least give them the option, but that's one of the areas where the education and labs and things, as you mentioned, it's possible to do online. We're thinking about, is there a way that we can help with that? Or, we have some traffic generators help so that if you stand up a network, we can help put traffic on it to show what would look like or on the internet side. I need to look at that mentoring thing that you just mentioned. I need to look at that mentoring thing that you just mentioned. Well, we'll see each other in a few days physically and not-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ... logging, becauseeven Andrei mentioned... Andre Toncu, I talked with, mentioned that at times even NANOG was intimidating for him. If you get trapped between even two very nice people, if they start spittle flying, arguing about Arista versus whatever, or this library versus that or this architecture versus that, we have some pedantic, passionate folks.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: Nina also found... She just like showed up. Someone showed her around, introduced her around. She found the community very accommodating, but-

Cat Gurinsky: I didn't crosstalk-

Avi Freedman: ...I think that a lot of people for whom it still could be intimidating to, well, especially post COVID to go to a thing and then make relationships, and then, you know, so I, I look forward to learning more about how people can sign up and offer to help mentor.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, at least having a mentor going to my first conference already like that made it not a scary thing for me at all, but obviously, many people go to those conferences and don't have anybody they know and that's a totally different experience, like night and day different experience, so...

Avi Freedman: When you all look to hire, if you were talking about or two people that are earlier in career, what are you looking for? Are you looking for a degree? Pr are you looking for GitHub? You're looking for, they have labbed? what makes you and your peers interested in a candidate?

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, so I recently had an intern last summer and then I eventually hired him on full time this year, and in that case, what I was looking for from an internist first, I was looking for some basic knowledge of the concepts. I was looking for some programing experience, which this person had because I knew we wanted to do more with the automation, but mostly, and this goes back to like giving it back from what happened with me is, I'm looking for someone with an aptitude for learning. Someone who's not so set in their ways, that isn't going to fight me in every turn, and is going to be willing to hear what everyone has to stay on the team and then go research and learn and improve themselves. We found that in that intern who's now a full- timer with us. You know, he was extremely eager to learn, had a good, solid knowledge of programming and a good solid knowledge of networking. Brought new ideas to the table, which is always a plus. I love someone who can think differently, too, personally. If I'm going to have a new member of the team, I don't want them to think just like me because then we're not going to grow. I need someone who's going to say, " Well, what about this?" I love the, " What about this?" Even if it's wrong, " what about this" still gets me thinking, you know?

Avi Freedman: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Cat Gurinsky: Those are the kind of things that I look for. Someone who has a fresh set of eyes on things, but has good basics and then can learn. That's the ultimate most important part, though. They can learn and they're willing to learn and they're willing to take feedback.

Avi Freedman: Right, and maybe understand that learning is the thing, which is our responsibility, right? The company can help train, but you need to be throwing yourself into it.

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly.

Avi Freedman: It's interesting because you said sort of be open to listening to others, but you know, have new ideas. It sort of sounds like what I used to do, which is like, " Okay, I hear you, but I think my way is better. Let me code them both up and I will show you-

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly crosstalk. I had a coworker before this current one that was here for like one or two years and I had to do that sometimes just to show him because he wouldn't listen. He was really stubborn. It was the opposite experience. He was just convinced that his way of doing things was the only way he should do it. I would even like code things and be like, " Look, see this other way works like five times faster. Your six, 10 seconds. Mine takes two." It was really frustrating that even with like evidence like, " Here's the proof. Try it a different way." That person just wouldn't listen, and it was so frustrating and so hard to work with that person and like give a huge breath of fresh air switching to somebody who was willing to work with me and be open to new ideas. Sometimes, I will get it wrong, right? That's okay-

Avi Freedman: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: ...and I know that right, but somebody who doesn't think they can do any wrong, that's a dangerous thing. I don't want a coworker who thinks they can do nor wrong.

Avi Freedman: That's-

Cat Gurinsky: Goodbye.

Avi Freedman: you get super villains. You get superheroes that turn into super villains then you have that.

Cat Gurinsky: Exactly.

Avi Freedman: No, we definitely look for that to try to screen out what I call geek binaryitis. " There is one true way."

Cat Gurinsky: Yes.

Avi Freedman: "There is no Grayscale." Like ZI, or Silicon valley made the spaces versus tabs. I was so happy when I saw spaces or tabs crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Me, too.

Avi Freedman: ... on amainstream TV show.

Cat Gurinsky: inaudible.

Avi Freedman: "Really? Don't we have pretty printers? " Can't we just like each work on our own syntax and meet in the middle, you know?

Cat Gurinsky: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, and going back to your original thing about being approachable, too, and getting new people in the field, we also have to be willing to accept that the way you and I have been doing things for the last 10 or more years may not be the right way anymore. Maybe that was right when we started, but we also have to have that open mind, too. It's not just our new hires-

Avi Freedman: Yeah crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: ...provide, we need it, too. We got locked in that curmudgeon- y way. That's not going to help anybody either, so it kind of goes both ways, right? We both got to be

Avi Freedman: Yeah.

Cat Gurinsky: ... bewilling to learn-

Avi Freedman: Absolutely.

Cat Gurinsky: ... fromthe old and learn from the new.

Avi Freedman: You know, it's interesting for people that are interested in making a company, starting a startup, it's that intersection of, " Aha. There's a problem that isn't being solved. Maybe this different approach that people say is crazy is the right way to go?" We heard a really amazing story yesterday at Kentech. One of our investors is Gaingels in this new round, so it started as LGBTQ +. Lorenzo Thione was talking to us and he like happened to randomly run into George Takei and his husband at a show-

Cat Gurinsky: Wow.

Avi Freedman: ...and then another show. Then, like they talked and then he turned around and was like, " Can I write a Broadway show for you?" He had never done that-

Cat Gurinsky: Oh, man.

Avi Freedman: ... and I was like, "Oh my God, that's crazy." He's like, oh, but you have to be crazy, too. You have to be crazy, and I'm like, " Oh my God, that's like," but you know, sometimes you say like, " Wait, why is it done this way?" That's led to some SDN stuff that didn't make much sense like centralized flow controllers and it's led to some stuff that, I mean, look at VMware NSX and VXLAN. I was like, " what's wrong with VLANs? I know how to Python that or Pearl it or whatever, but it turns out that that most people, their brand servers didn't want to talk to network people and open a ticket and whatever. Someone would have just that there's no problem with that. Yeah, definitely can be interesting if you want to go that path, too. It sounds like you're having fun. I'm having fun-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...too, or I'd be jealous, but any any advice you'd give earlier Cat from anime sword fighting to late high school to college, to early career?

Cat Gurinsky: You know, there's definitely one for sure piece of advice that I would definitely give early cat, and that was like my biggest regret from college times was that I was such in a rush to graduate. I was, like I said, I was an honors kid. I came in to class and I had some AP 5s scores, so I had a couple classes that I got credit for in college. Then, I took one summer where... I touched two summers. I had one summer of my core requirements, and I had another summer of Japanese full immersion. Between those two summers, I was actually able to graduate in three years instead of four, and I would go back and say, " Don't be in such a rush to grow up. Take take the full four years. Especially, the biggest regret of all of these is that I never studied abroad in Japan and I should have, you know, because once you start working full time, going overseas for a whole year, unless you're going to relocate for your job, probably not happening.

Avi Freedman: Yeah. We have two good friends-

Cat Gurinsky: So-

Avi Freedman: ...that did and one wound up living there. One, she was studying pro divers sociology and, and the other, as I mentioned, she wound up living there and doing... I think they both enjoyed it. We love-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: in Japan. We're looking forward crosstalk-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah, and who knows? If I had done the study abroad, maybe I would have ended up staying, working in something related to Japan instead of doing it with engineering. My whole life might be totally different, but yeah, that whole like, " Don't be in such a rush." Like, " OH, because you can do it, don't do it." Take that time in college to really explore those things that are of interest and-

Avi Freedman: Very interesting.

Cat Gurinsky: ... do somelike study abroad if you want to. I should have graduated in four years and not three, and I graduated with honors. I mean, I did well in those three years and obviously I'm doing well career- wise today, but I definitely regret that I never studied abroad. I only went over for like, you know, short two week trips and I never did that full semester or a full year abroad. That's the big thing I would tell myself is, "You know, if you were thinking about it, do it." There will not be time to do it later, you know?

Avi Freedman: Later, right. Oh, interesting.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: I've had a few people in my family who did the Poof, You're a Doctor Program, which used to be like you do med school and undergrad and have had some feedback about, " Maybe I wish I had more time to do whatever."

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: Then, I actually wound up getting into... If I had a degree, I would have an undergraduate major in classics, which people don't believe-

Cat Gurinsky: Ooh.

Avi Freedman: ...but I don't have a degree, so it doesn't matter, right? You know-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah. Oh, I know some people that don't have degrees or they're like me, my degree, it has done absolutely nothing for career, like my Japanese degree is not needed at all to do what I do for my day job. Why does it matter that I have a Bachelor's and a Master's? It doesn't matter at all. I don't use that Bachelor's or Master's for my engineering at all.

Avi Freedman: Right. Yeah, and just having a degree doesn't mean you know how to learn in an unstructured way, which can be really helpful, so cool. Well, hopefully people will listen and maybe that'll be helpful to them. Cat, I really enjoyed this so much. Thank you for joining. I look forward to seeing you in person, either tomorrow in Austin, or a few days in Minneapolis. Such is the life of traveling network nerds.

Cat Gurinsky: Yes.

Avi Freedman: Even in the hopefully waning days of COVID-

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah.

Avi Freedman: ...and I hope everyone enjoys this conversation.

Cat Gurinsky: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me on. We appreciate it.


On this episode of Network AF, Avi is joined by Senior Network Engineer Cat Gurinski to share her journey through networking. Cat found a passion for automating deployments and troubleshooting and is the current chair for the NANOG Program Committee.

Today, Cat discusses her path into networking and her passion for automation as she shares one of her favorite things to do is write Arista API scripts and how she automated her process. You'll also hear insight into how to get started in networking, highlighting the importance of an intro class and mentorship. Networking isn't the only thing Cat is excellent at and passionate about; she tells us how she got started in martial arts and how it's connected to her networking life. Listen now to hear more from their conversation!

Today's Host

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Avi Freedman

|Kentik CEO and Co-Founder

Today's Guests

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Cat Gurinski

|Senior Network Engineer, Chair of the NANOG PC