Wednesday, October 14, 2015

IP Multicast LiveLessons Published!

I am excited to say that a project that was long in the making has finally seen the light of day. I’m referring to the new CiscoPress LiveLessons title – “IP Multicast Fundamentals” that I recorded in July of 2015. The background for this project is one that has many starts and stops, delays, and format changes. For the TL;DR crowd click here.

This project started as a hallway conversation during the recording of the CiscoPress NX-OS LiveLesson videos we did in San Francisco. Our editor, Denise, asked us how we liked the recording experience and if we would do it again. Truly I had a good time recording and so was eager to do it again. We discussed ideas for other titles and multicast seemed like a great area to focus as it causes a lot of confusion. I went home and eventually assembled a proposal and we were in contact with a plan to deliver in early 2015. On a parallel track I changed jobs from Cisco to VMware and needed to focus on my new role. Denise and the CiscoPress team were amazingly understanding and were flexible with the delivery schedule. We also changed the format from an official studio recording to a new “workshop” format where the session is recorded in a classroom/seminar environment with an audience. This was a great option for me as it allowed me to compress the time to record from 3 days to 1 long day and since I usually present and speak to a room of people it was more comfortable.

I balanced content creation, where I used VIRL heavily as I no longer had access to racks and racks of gear like I did in the past, with a new role and new technology. VMware and my direct manager was great in understanding what I was doing and giving me some flexibility to get it done. I had a lot of fun working with VIRL to show IOS, IOS-XE and NX-OS multicast configurations. Always a geek at heart I like building networks and moving beyond the PowerPoint.  With the lab topologies and decks all finished I was headed to New York City to record!
Those who follow me on Twitter or know me personally know that my family like to travel and I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity for us to have a fun weekend in the Big Apple. We flew in Friday and enjoyed a weekend of sightseeing and walking around New York in beautiful weather. On Monday it was time to record so I went to the Pearson office where the CiscoPress team had filled the room with local technical people who were interested in learning more.

It was a lot of fun and we had some great Q&A during the day. The one issue that arose was the amount of time it took for me to execute the labs so we decided we’d record them later and not make the audience and filming crew suffer through my prep and setup for each lesson. It may look easy in the video, but each CLI clip was probably close to 30 minutes of prep and validation before recording! Here's a view from my perspective and then one from when I was speaking.

Once we were done my family and I enjoyed a great dinner with Gideon Tam (@mfmahler) at Mario Batali’s Eataly – such great food and such great company. Gideon is a super nice guy and I hope to return the favor of his hospitality if given the chance.

The only thing left was to record the CLI segments that I couldn’t do in the classroom setting. This ended up being a good learning experience for me in audio quality. I tried using multiple DSP enabled headsets which didn’t work as well at filtering out background noise as I had hoped. I ended up investing in a Blue Yeti, a microphone stand and a pop filter. This combination sounded fantastic (after some trial and error). I was impressed how much background noise the Yeti would pickup. We have 4 kids and 3 cats ion the house so getting *true* quiet is difficult. My wife and family being the fantastic support that they are, gave me multiple hours of quiet when they’d go to the zoo, go swimming, or something else. I recorded some clips at night as well when everyone was asleep. As it was summer and I live in the Midwest it gets hot. Turning off the air conditioning in the house when recording made for some warmer than expected sessions as well.
Now with the sessions done, the CLI segments recorded and everything backed up two or three times I was in a wait and see mode for a few weeks while the stellar A/V crew did their magic with the video. Each lesson has gone through multiple levels of review by pros for audio and video as well as reviewed by me. It’s quite a process and leads to a quality product.

It has been a long, fun journey and not without some competitive drama but in the end, we prevailed. Hopefully people will enjoy and learn a lot from these videos. I put together an agenda of the most common Multicast topics and tried to steer clear of some of the more esoteric multicast capabilities. I am sure some will wish we had gotten deeper but remember, this is a fundamentals course. Multicast EVPN and interdomain multicast are not fundamental in my book. ;)

I hope the videos are helpful and for those who are wondering what it next – stay tuned. I am already hip-deep in the next projects which should be equally fun! Please check it out here: CiscoPress

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