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Computer Networking Basics


Dan: And it is 8:30, time for Bit-Wizards ' Tip of the Wand, and on the phone with us we have a couple of wizards themselves. We have Sam and Jason. Good morning, guys.

Jason: Good morning.

Sam: Good morning, good morning. Very happy to be on the air with you again today.

Dan: I'm glad you guys could make it. Well, someday, we're going to be able to bring you into the studio, but just not today.

Sam: Imagine a world where people get to shake hands again and meet in person. Man, the dream.

Dan: I know, are you guys phantoms or is this recorded? I'm not sure.

Sam: That's right.

Dan: Well, I trust you guys have been safe and everybody's healthy and happy with Bit-Wizards these days.

Sam: Oh, absolutely. We are busier than ever, man, it never seems to slow down. That's good for us though, it's a good problem to have, is being too busy.

Dan: I guess it's always good to be busy, and you guys are probably... Are you working in the office or are you still working from home or what's the deal with you guys?

Jason: Oh, no, we're in the office, we're in full force over here.

Dan: Okay. Good. You guys are getting back to normal it sounds like for work at least anyway, but I can tell you we're not.

Jason: Right.

Sam: It's lonely in that studio, Dan.

Dan: It is. It's lonely, and people don't take baths, and it's just crazy, I don't know. I'm sitting here in my underwear, it's probably too much information for you.

Sam: So is Jason and I told him, " Man, you can't do this for work." So what a coincidence.

Jason: It's a personal style of choice.

Dan: I know, but if you're not going to wear pants, at least don't wear a thong.

Jason: Yeah.

Sam: That's right.

Jason: Or underwear.

Dan: Oh, okay. Let's change that subject now.

Jason: Awesome.

Dan: All right. I guess you guys are about ready to start your show, aren't you, instead of this gabbing?

Sam: Yes, sir. We have some stuff to talk about.

Dan: Let's do it.

Announcer: Bit-Wizards, Bits & Bytes.

Sam: So I thought this was some interesting news, unfortunately, it is now, well, eight and a half hours old this news because it was actually 25 years ago yesterday, not today, but 25 years ago yesterday, people were lining up at Comp USA, if you remember that place, or Best Buy-

Dan: I do.

Sam: And they weren't lining up for a new iPhone or a new Call of Duty game, they were lining up for some software, and it was the release of Windows 95. So as of yesterday, it is now 25 years since Windows 95 came out.

Jason: Good grief, that makes me feel so old. I remember installing all those discs.

Sam: Yeah. I remember 25 floppies to get your Windows 3. 1 upgraded to Windows 95.

Dan: I'm using one in my studio today.

Sam: That's right. We have six of them at work. And it was 25 years ago, that is kind of crazy. My first professional job in IT was doing upgrades from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 when it first came out. So it's my 25 year professional IT career as of today, I guess.

Dan: And those floppies, were they the five and a half inch or the three... What was it? Three and a half or three inch or what was it?

Sam: It was a three and a half. So before that you had DOS on the computer, and then they came out with Windows 3.1, which was a pretty big deal because it had a first graphical interface, and that one was on 3. 5 inch or on five and a quarter inch floppies. But then when Windows 95 came out, you could get it on floppies, or if your 486 computer was so blessed and you had a CD-ROM in there, man, you were cranking man.

Dan: You were styling, man.

Sam: **inaudible** operating system fit on one CD-ROM with room leftover.

Dan: Oh yeah, I remember the boot up process. I think it was a... Was it a 1101 or 1110 or something like that, that old one. The only way to boot it up was with that five and a quarter inch floppy.

Sam: Yes, that's right. With a DAS 511, yep, you'd boot it up **crosstalk** off the floppy, yeah. Now in fact, I actually have the sound effect here. Let's see if we can hear it on the radio. This is the sound effect of Windows 95 booting up.

Jason: That was a very cool city. I remember they had the Weezer video on-

Sam: It did, yeah.

Jason: **inaudible** I just thought that was so cool.

Dan: Wow.

Sam: That brings back memories. It's funny though. I'm sure, some of our listeners have been using computers for long enough to remember when Windows 95 first came out. The big deal for Windows 95 was the fact that it had a start button. And so in conjunction they did with that Rolling Stone song, Start Me Up because of that start button. That marketing backfired a little bit because the next line is make a grown man cry, which is what happened when you were about 18 floppy disks into the installation and realized you had them in the wrong order. So-

Dan: Start over again, but I'm in a hurry.

Sam: That's right. But it was a whole new world with Windows 95, multitasking came out in the task bar and menu systems, it was pretty awesome days. On top of that, the big change in Windows 95 was, you could name your file whatever you wanted to name it. Before that your file names could only be eight characters long with no spaces or any special characters. And then you had like a dot three letters for the extension, which is why today we still have like . doc for a word file or a . XLS for an Excel file or HTM for a webpage because it comes from that eight dot three naming system that went away with Windows 95 where you could name your files and folders whatever you wanted to name them, and it was a revolutionary time in the world. The other big thing that came out in Windows 95 was the ability to synchronize data between multiple machines. They had an application called, My Briefcase. It would sit on your desktop. And if you drag the file into there, when you put a floppy into your machine, it would copy everything in that briefcase onto your floppy drive, and then you'd go put it in another Windows 95 machine, and it would show up in the briefcase over there. So it was an easy way to move files back and forth. Today, the evolution of that really is the cloud that Microsoft has developed with products like OneDrive to synchronize your files across multiple devices or SharePoint, you may be familiar with things like Dropbox or box. net. So it's really the evolution of what started 25 years ago in Windows 95. And I remember you could also buy an extra CD-ROM, that was called the Microsoft plus kit, and it had extra bells and whistles, themes, and-

Jason: Wallpapers.

Sam: Yeah, desktop wallpapers, these were the good old days.

Dan: Oh gosh.

Sam: And it's where **crosstalk** came out.

Dan: I wasn't quite that advanced, the word document is all I cared about.

Sam: Well, I love my retro vintage computers. I'm pretty sure I have Windows 95 installer set still in the box sealed. I like that nerdy stuff.

Jason: Even if you want go back and relive your technology experience, there's actually sites out there where you can emulate like 3.1 and 95, which is always fun to go remember how bad it really was.

Dan: Makes you feel good about what you got now, I guess. Remember the good old days.

Sam: Well, and the other piece of news is Windows 95 was the first operating system that had Internet Explorer, it was called internet jumpstart kit, but it was the precursor Internet Explorer, which just this week, Microsoft announced is now officially dying, they've got an end date on Internet Explorer support and they will no longer be doing any support for it. So it's been a 25 year run for Internet Explorer, but now there are all these other alternative, like Edge and Chrome and Firefox and Safari. And these other browsers have become a lot more popular since then.

Dan: Okay. I'm kind of surprised they're doing away with their browser though.

Sam: Well, they've transitioned over to the Edge browser and they tried to make the logo look a little bit like the blue E so you would recognize it still because if you've been doing this for 25 years, that's what the internet looked like to you, was that blue E on the desktop. So they've moved to the new one called Edge and it is a lot better than the Internet Explorer for sure. So it's probably time for it to move on.

Jason: Yeah.

Dan: I suppose. And it has less characters in it, so they could probably save some time there.

Sam: That's absolutely right.

Dan: Versus the explorer, that's too much to type in, Edge is much easier, I get it.

Sam: Yep, and it's edgier. So Bit-Wizards, we have a 20 year history of leading the way in technology. When Bit-Wizards first started, Windows 98 was still the operating system of the day or Windows NT and Windows Me was coming out, which was a bit of a disaster of itself. And we've been doing this for 20 years at this company. And so we're experts on all things Microsoft, all things Office 365 and cloud technology. And of course we leverage that history that we have in that, experience we have, and our knowledge for our clients to find the right tool for the right job. And we stay on top of the IT trends. So we've gone through Windows 95, 98, Me, XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10. We've gone through all of the different Windows ' over the years. And we make sure that we're the ones testing it out before we even release it to our clients.

Dan: Yeah. You guys have been migrating everybody over to Windows 10 way back in the day, I'm sure. But I'm sure your favorite had to have been Vista.

Sam: Yes, that was everybody's nightmare. And if you were in IT, man, that was a whole new world with Vista coming out and a whole new slew of issues, but actually Windows 7 fixed a lot of those issues just a few years later. So that was a good move on Microsoft's part, was to move on quickly.

Dan: Yeah, no kidding.

Jason: Like they did from Me.

Dan: Just like us, we're going to move on too.

Announcer: Bit-Wizards-

Sam: Absolutely.

Announcer: What's up our sleeve?

Jason: So what's up our sleeve? We're going to talk about taking control of your network today. So no matter the size of your organization, if you have computers that connect to the internet, you're now in the business of managing a computer network. Network is a very deep subject with many IT professionals building careers on specific aspects of networking. Having an understanding of how networking devices connect to each other into the internet is critical to maintaining uptime for your business. Network outages can be very expensive and difficult to troubleshoot.

Sam: That's right. It's unfortunate we go to Best Buy and we buy a laptop and we start off with that, but then we've got to get it on the internet. So then we have to run by Walmart and get a Wi-Fi router or get Cox internet to put in their Wi-Fi in the house, and then we got to get that printer and it's got wireless printers that I have to connect so then they're working now. You started out just needing to check your email and print out some documents, and now you're in the business of actually maintaining a network and when that connection goes down, whether it's your internet goes out, or your goes Wi-Fi goes down and needs to be reset, whatever that is, it leaves you and your organization in a very difficult place because those kinds of outages can be pretty catastrophic when you're relying on the technology. And so most people don't get into it thinking, I'm going to be a computer network specialist, but unfortunately if you have more than one internet connected device, you are now in the business of being in the network management job. So I wanted to talk a little bit about some networking specifics that everyone should know for their organization, but then even talk about some strategies on how to make sure you're taking the best practices. Now, the big one, I'm going to ask Jason to expand on this a little bit. The big one is, should you have a wired or a wireless network? And what are the differences between those?

Jason: Yeah, so devices talk to each other on the network using various complex protocols, but the most important aspect of connectivity is the actual connection. So modern PCs connect to a network either hardwired ethernet, or Wi-Fi. Most portable devices don't have a plugin for ethernet, they're using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth or either cellular connectivity exclusively. So wire connections are always going to be superior to wireless. If your company has multiple PCs and printers, you should implement a wired network. Wired networks are considerably faster, more reliable and more secure.

Sam: And this is something that we run into quite a bit where we see a company that started out with just a couple of people with their laptops, but it's grown and it's grown and it's grown, and now it's a bunch of people sitting around with their laptops and that's when we have that conversation about how it's time to sit down and plan out what your network is going to look like and start running some actual cable. I'm sure you have it that way at the station down. I'm sure you guys have Wi-Fi, but I'm guessing that all of your PCs that are running the sound boards and all of the automation pieces, those are all actually hardwired with the Cat-6 ethernet cable pulled throughout the building, is that correct?

Dan: Yes, that is correct because we're not near to the Wi-Fi. We're not near to being wireless in this building. Everything is hardwired, everything.

Jason: That's even how it works at my house. All the kids and the wife is on Wi-Fi, but I pull a direct wire right to my router for my personal computer because I just like speed.

Sam: Yep. I do the same thing in my house. Anything that can be hardwired, I do. Now, Jason said an interesting thing, he said, to the router. So I wanted to talk a little bit about what a router is, and there's three types of network hardware really, it's firewalls and routers and switches. There are other types here, but that's because when you have two computers and you need them to connect to each other, you don't just plug a wire into one and then the other end of that wire into another laptop and have them talk to each other. Instead, each device is a different spoke on a giant wheel and everything has a central hub. And the hub's connecting the spokes on that work are called, networks switches. Now networks switch can be small, like five or eight devices can connect to it once, or it can be larger where you could have up to 48 devices connecting to them. And in many business environments you'll have stacks of those switches because each individual device on the network is connecting to that switch. And it's the thing that is transferring the data, the ones and the zeros from one machine to another on the network. When you hit print to the network printer, it's going through a switch. Or if you look up the security cameras that are on the network, you're doing that through the switch. Now a different term there though is router. What a router does is it translates traffic from one network to another network. That might be a route wireless router is translating traffic from your Wi-Fi devices to the wired network devices, or even the firewall itself is connecting your private network at your organization to the internet at large. So it is routing traffic between two different networks. Now, firewall has the added advantage of blocking traffic that should not be happening and keeping out the bad guys.

Dan: That makes sense.

Sam: I just mentioned that, there are really two different types of network. There's the LAN and there's the WAN, you may hear those in everyday talk when you talk to nerdy people.

Jason: Yeah. I mean, Dan, LAN, it stands for local area network. So that is the computers inside your business, inside your brick and mortar location.

Dan: Right.

Jason: They're all connected on the local area network. The WAN, or wide area network, is typically going to be the internet.

Sam: So you have to kind of think of this as two different networks. So you've got the one that is your organization. So the PCs and the printers, and the servers, they're all talking to each other on the LAN, on the local area network. But then there's a firewall or one at each of your locations, that's connecting you to the internet at large, and that's the wider area network. Now, every network device has an IP address that's really its address. It's like a phone number for every single device on the network, it's a set of numbers, so everything has a unique IP address. So when my computer is trying to talk to Jason's computer, it goes from my machine, over the Wi-Fi, to a switch, or to a Wi-Fi router, and then to a switch, and then down the wire to Jason's machine. It knows to go there because Jason's machine has a unique IP address, which is just a series of numbers. But because numbers are hard to remember, we've invented a system called DNS, which is a domain name service. And what that does is it allows us to have an easy to remember term like an actual address, and that just translates it to the IP address that is actually on the back end of that. For example, wftw. com is a lot easier to remember than you guys ' IP address which is, 209.028. 243. 25, which is you guys ' website. So it's a lot easier to give out wftw. com than that IP address and DNS is what takes care of that for us.

Jason: The DNS **crosstalk**

Sam: Yeah.

Jason: The DNS just sits there and takes what we punch in there and goes, okay, that's the IP address of that, and sends us on our way. But you could actually go into your browser and type that IP address in and hit your same website.

Dan: Oh, that's interesting. That's interesting. Now, for example, if you got your PC plugged in hardwired, and you unplug it say out of your router or wherever you may pull it out of, and then you pull back into your internet if you will, doesn't that get your IP address changed at that point?

Jason: Well, it does, but that would happen on the local area network, they're getting the IP address from the router. But your wide area network for businesses usually have a static IP where that IP address actually stays the same, and that's actually given to them from their ISP.

Dan: Oh, got you.

Sam: So if your business is getting internet from Cox let's say, you likely already have these static IP addresses. Not everybody takes advantage of it, but you can say, I would like to have that information please, and then have your IT person set up your firewall with that static IP address so it doesn't change every single time your internet service provider changes things on there. And then that way, you can always have the same address to call home to every single time, it's a very nice system.

Jason: Especially for remoting in and voiceover IP networks and things like that.

Sam: So we've talked a little bit here about the different parts of the network, to give people a basic understanding. But what we wanted to talk about today was taking control of that network because having good IT in place, because there's so much complexity on that network, monitoring the network is always a really good idea, it's the basis for good IT because the faster you can identify and resolve issues, the more money you can save for your company. You can also see if there are any threat situations or you can get notifications to alert you if something is going wrong. So having that real time information about your network health, saves your company money, and it reduces troubleshooting time. So I've listed here a few of the different things that we could just cover briefly on what the advantages are of monitoring your network continuously and understanding what is happening in your company's network on that LAN side of things. One of the first things that we can talk about is the ability to start shaping the traffic or giving certain traffic more priority than other traffic.

Jason: And this is actually one of my favorite things, Dan, because I do this personally on my home network, but I like to make sure that I'm always watching the analytics of my network operation to get my baseline performances. So with a real time monitoring, you can observe the performance and create traffic models. So let's say, your traffic models are shaping rules that allow you to monitor like your voiceover IP system, which might be a very crucial piece of your business, you want to make sure it's getting the right bandwidth. And then also you can monitor traffic to Zoom calls and video conferencing, which has become another crucial part of doing business today. But some network services must have not only guaranteed performance, but guaranteed quality as well. These things like screen shares, online meetings, Skype calls, et cetera, these types of services have prioritized their network connections so there're no delays in queuing.

Sam: That's right. If all your phone systems are going over the network, which most of them are these days, most people don't have analog phone systems anymore, but if they're going over the network, but you've also got people who are watching Netflix, or you've got people browsing Facebook and watching YouTube videos, you want to make sure that they're not taking up all of the available space on your network for their YouTube watching, and then your phone calls are dropping. So one of the big advantages of taking control of your network is being able to give those phone calls and those Zoom calls priority over everything else, which really leads to the next one that's an important part of this is bandwidth utilization. Your internet connection to your company, it has a set speed to it, it can only go so fast, but when you first start out, you might think, well, this isn't that big of a concern for me. We pay Cox or MediaCom or one of those companies, we pay them a couple of hundred bucks a month, and we get internet, and that should be fine, right? There's only a couple of us here and we're just checking emails. But as your organization grows, and as more and more of your infrastructure moves out of the building and into the cloud, things like Office 365 and Azure and AWS and all these different cloud services. Now, all your traffic is having to share that one connection to the internet. So monitoring that and making sure you have realtime monitoring in place to have a good idea about how much internet you should be paying for, not just whatever the good deal was at the time and the bundle they did, where you get cable TV with it. Instead, actually evaluating your network and saying, for the amount of devices we have, for the amount of employees we have, and for the kind of work we're doing, do we have enough internet or is it constantly slowing down and crashing because we're overwhelming it.

Jason: Right. And that's actually one of the things that I hear the most while I'm out in the world is my internet's slow. And I'm like, well, how much internet do you have? Well, I got that 50 Meg plan 15 years ago. Well, how many people are using the internet right now? I don't know, a hundred. So that means everyone's getting half a Meg if everyone's on the internet. So it's not, everyone gets 50 Meg-

Sam: Right.

Jason: Which is very important to remember.

Sam: And then-

Dan: That's right.

Sam: The more important thing there too as well is being able to detect threats. If you're monitoring your network, a typical hacker is in a company's network without being detected on average for 205 days before they get discovered. So having that monitoring in place is going to make sure that you know about it when someone tries to get into it. Now, there's lots of ways you can do this. You can learn all of this yourself, you can outsource to a company to come in and try to set up your network to best practices, or you can partner with someone like us, where we take our knowledge and our security smarts and put them to use. So all of our clients, we are monitoring their network from the firewall where the internet is coming in and out, to all of the switches on the network, and the traffic between the computers on the network, we are monitoring those things for our clients to make sure that we are taking care of those bandwidth utilization issues and prioritizing the right traffic and looking for any threat activity.

Dan: Right.

Jason: So I mean, what Sam's really saying there is, a dentist went to school for eight years to be a dentist. He did not go to school for eight years to be a network administrator and figure this out. So outsourcing to someone like Bit-Wizards, we take care of all the labor, we're monitoring that network for you, we're making sure that you're getting the right bandwidth. We have an SLA in place, a service level agreement that, hey, look, we're going to be out there in two hours, or we're going to get this thing, we're going to reach out and take control of it in two hours. And then we're also going to put in place a business continuity plan where, if something does go wrong, if we have a hurricane that comes through or your network goes down, you can still work. And that's the things that the business owner really shouldn't have to think about. They're focused on doing their business and they'll let us take care of the IT for them.

Dan: Of course. Well, you guys ready to have some geek speak?

Sam: Yeah, absolutely.

Announcer: Bit-Wizards, From the Spell Book.

Sam: Okay. So I'll go quickly with this so we can get to our customer plugs, but today's terms are phishing, vishing and smishing. These are different types of attacks.

Dan: You guys made this stuff up.

Sam: And I promise you, I did not make this up. In fact, vishing and smishing are sort of trending right now with terminology, but what they are is, people trying to defraud you. And there are multiple ways they try to get access to your data, whether that's stealing your bank information or just trying to get a foot in the door on your network so they can lurk there for a couple of hundred days, and have a look around to where they can see. Phishing is when they send you an email and say, " Hey, this is your bank emailing you to tell you your password needs to be reset, click this button," even though it's not your bank really, it's just pretending to be. Vishing, it's the same thing but with voicemail, you may have gotten some of these now where you get a phony voicemail from the IRS or from Microsoft telling you your computer's compromised. And smishing comes from SMS, the simple messaging service, which is text messaging. So they're doing the same thing now. They do these campaigns over text message. My wife got one this week saying that her number has been blocked, click here to make sure that this wasn't an error. And it was a smishing campaign trying to get her to click on this link so that they could get into her system. And they'll have you try to enter your password and username into some website that looks like a true website, but it really isn't. So we stay up to date on that stuff. Again, these are the things we're looking for. In fact, we put pieces in place to try to protect against these attack vectors.

Jason: And one of the biggest things **crosstalk** there it is-

Dan: If you just click on the link, oh, nothing, except they'll take everything.

Sam: Right. And actually a lot can happen when you click on that link, sure.

Dan: All right, guys, it's time to give your customer appreciation plug. Who is it this week?

Jason: So this week we want to do a big Bit-Wizards shout out and thank you to the Assistant Fire Chief, Mark Anderson, the firemen paramedics and the administrative team at the South Walton Fire Department in Walton County. These first responders are critical to protecting and serving our community. We love South Walton Fire Department because they have embraced technology to improve their processes and ensure that life saving services are delivered without a hitch. Bit-Wizards not only provides managed IT services for South Walton Fire Department, but we also built their website, built a custom application called DES to manage the fire department. And we have helped them streamline with custom software to manage their beach fire permitting, and lifeguard, and CPR training for the public. Thank you for allowing Bit-Wizards to serve you, we enjoy working with you and helping you protect and serve our community.

Dan: All right guys. You've helped have so many companies throughout our entire community, not to mention across the United States. You guys are all over the place and you're helping so many different organizations organize themselves and you could help them with their IT management, you guys do a wonderful job.

Jason: **inaudible** thank you.

Sam: Yeah, it's our privilege. We love doing this. And **inaudible** most people don't get into the business they're doing to have to worry about IT. Well, we did, and we love IT. And if we can use that to help our local community thrive right now, especially in these troubling times, if we can take our technology knowledge and use that to help the community, that's what we're doing.

Dan: We appreciate you guys. Sam and Jason, thanks for coming on this morning. Always good information that you guys share with us. And we look forward to talking with you again next Tuesday.

Jason: Thank you, Dan.

Sam: Awesome. We'll see you next week.

Dan: Okay.