Good morning. Welcome to my little piece of the Internet. My name is Greg and I am Network Engineer. I have been working in the networking world since 2004. Prior to that I was a student at Mississippi State University (MSU). Prior to that I was Security Forces in the United States Air Force. In 2004 Kary Rogers, from Packet Bomb, convinced Frank Peters to give me an interview for the Network Services team at MSU. The knowledge and experiences I gained there will shape most of what you will find in my blogs. If you’re reading this and want to learn more about me, there is a small novel farther down.
I currently am working for a large hospital system in MS.
Degrees and Certifications
- B.S. Computer Science
- M.S. Computer Science
- Cisco Certified Network Associate
- Cisco Certified Specialist – Enterprise Core
- PADI Certified Dive Master
When I was only 12 years old, my wonderful dad bought a Tandy TRS-80. I quickly fell in love with the Trash80. I began learning BASIC back then. I would copy programs out of magazines and save them to tape using a tape recorder my step-mom had. In ’93 he purchased a 486-DX PC with a 2400 baud modem. I was then introduced to the worlds of BBSes, Prodigy and Compuserve. I then started working with GW-Basic. At the same time I started taking all of the computer courses in HS. They offered BASIC, Database, and Spreadsheets. I would even run a BBS on my home PC from time to time and would have a buddy dial into my modem. These were the years that got me so hooked on computers and technology built around them.
I started my college career at Mississippi State University in 1994. I let the AF ROTC folks talk me into an Aerospace degree, even though I wanted to do something with computers. Even thought I was an Aero student I spent a ton of time in the CompSci department’s computer lab. I found their Unix server and began my Unix journey. I got involved with IRC and figured out how to run Eggdrop Bots on Ra(MSU’s main Unix server). I was quickly yelled at by my future boss(more on that later). I was teaching myself C and TLC to manage and modify the bots I ran. At the same time I downloaded Slackware and installed it on a separate partition on my PC. I dual booted to Windows and Linux.
I ended up not being focused on school at all and ended up withdrawing after Spring Break in 1995. After spending a year of working at McDonalds I decided to do something with my life and joined the Air Force. With my high ASVAB and my computer knowledge I was expecting a Computer Programmer job. Unfortunately they made me Security Forces. Even thought I wasn’t working with computers I continued to dabble on the Internet and had access to a VAX machine for Unix access. I still played around with Linux during this time. I have a bunch of non-technology stories from that era of my life. Most revolve around me and my best friend back then. But, I saw the world and protected this country and some of it’s most valuable assets. I will never regret joining the AF, even if I was doing a job I didn’t care to do.
After my 4 year commitment to the Air Force I took my Montgomery G.I. Bill and went back to MSU in the Fall of 2000. This time I went back and majored in Computer Science. I was much more focused on school for 2 reasons, I was more mature and I was in a major that I was soaking up like a sponge. During my studies I learned more about Unix/Linux architecture and took my first Network course. I also worked for a call center and did Gateway Computer tech support. That was an interesting job. As well as taking a Network course I took an Information Security course as well as a Computer Forensics course. These courses captivated me way more than any of the true “programming” courses. I stumbled along the way, but graduated with a semi-decent GPA in May 2004.
After graduation, I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do with my brand spanking new degree. The .com bubble was busting, so what I thought I was gonna do really didn’t pan out. I applied at various places and only got 1 interview from Adtran. I was so embarrassed in that interview. I couldn’t even show them how to do subnets. I knew what a subnet mask was. I knew what a gateway was. Guess I should have paid more attention in class. But, persistence paid off. Remember, it’s not always WHAT you know, but WHO you know.
Well, I was given the opportunity to apply for an entry level position in the Network Services group at MSU. I knew someone in the group that convinced Frank Peters to give me an interview. I did better in that one. But Frank told me later that it was actually the phone conversation with Dr. Donna Reese that got me the job. She told Frank to give me a change and that I wouldn’t disappoint him. And that’s where my true training began. In the 5 years as my boss he taught me so much. Unfortunately he passed away in 2009. But the foundation he laid in my career knowledge was top notch. You have to realize, something about Frank. The man was “wicked smaht”. He knew people all throughout the industry. Cisco had come calling on him several times in the 90s. He always turned them down. Look at this Apache About Page. The Frank Peters in it is him. Yeah. He had his hands in everything in the 80s and 90s. The first time Netscape was compiled for Solaris, it was done with the developers on the phone with him on his Sun desktop. What an amazing resource. I only regret that he and I only had a short 5 years for me to suck down some of his knowledge. My time at MSU was amazing. I got to know some amazing folks. Several are no longer with us, but I will never forget them. Frank Peters, Jay Burrell and Roger Smith. I miss them and learned so much from each of them.
Working at MSU provided learning opportunities that I might not have found elsewhere in industry. I helped migrate from an ATM network to an Ethernet network. In 2005 we had a 1Gbps core network that we migrated from an OC-12. I was able to build the first 10Gbps network at MSU a few years after that. Then years later I built the first 100Gbps network. I helped migrate to Cisco Firewall Services Modules from ACLS on the SVIs. I then transitioned those to Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance Services Modules. And shortly before I left I began the transition to FortiGate. I ran Cisco Content Services Engines and migrated those to F5 BigIPs. Every time I turned around I was having to learn some new technology or configuration option or something. It was a constant flood of input. I always felt like Short Circuit. “INPUT”.
2020 was an odd year for me as well. I did not get Covid, but I did get a new job. You see, my wife works in HR for a large Hospital System. The Director of Infrastructure mentioned to her that he needed to rework a particular job. Senior Systems Specialist in the Network team. She laughed and said she knew someone really well that did that type of work. I really wasn’t looking, but never look a gift horse in the mouth. After a few interviews they decided to hire me. It was nearly a 50% raise. No way could I overlook this opportunity. So I left MSU after 16+ years and began a new journey in my life. I can’t say that I don’t miss MSU, I do. I definitely miss hanging out with the folks there. But this new job has given me opportunities to learn new things and get my hands on new technologies.
As an employee of a Higher Education Institution I was afforded 2 free classes a semester. I never took the opportunity until 2016. My wife and Dr. Reese bullied, I mean encouraged me to go back to get a Graduate degree. As an employee I could only take 1 class during working hours. So, 1 class a semester for me. My first class I took was the same Networking class I took as an undergrad. It’s a split level course, so I did all the work undergrads did, plus a little more. I still can’t believe I convinced them to let me take that course. haha That was the easiest A I ever had. I pretty much could have taught the course and the professor quickly realized. I took as many Networking and Security courses as I could. All of which were fantastic. Really enjoyed the Cryptography course. Took my 10,000 foot understanding of Cryptography to like a 10 foot view. Amazingly great course. Taking 1 course a semester did have advantages. I only had 1 course to worry about at a time and ended up with a 4.0 when I graduated in the Fall of 2020. Not sure if there will be a College 4.0. We’ll see.
Only Dr. Emmett Brown knows what the future holds. I foresee some certifications and maybe an MBA. While I love being a decision influencer, I someday hope to be a decision maker. Only time will tell.