Time to start 2019 blogging… wait, hang on its APRIL!?!?

Time to start 2019 blogging… wait, hang on its APRIL!?!?

So I thought at long last I would do a post as life has started to settle down for 2019 despite my best efforts to get some posts out! I was a little sad to see so little and already quite a way through the year! But I had to focus on me and the family for a little bit.

TLDR:- Went in for scans, Had a busy Christmas, Did the Newcastle VMUG, Flight landed. Had rubish news and was rushed in for surgery for a tumour, Tried to recover (But I am useless at sitting still), Helped out with the vExpert Applications, Opened a vExpert shop, Found surgery was a success it was not anything too scary and now on the long path to recovery! Now to start a cool VMware project

I think the above summaries the last few months the best I can without boring everyone who bothers to read this blog but will also help me when I think why did I not blog later in the year! If you do want any more context than the below then always grab me and I can bore you at a conference.

Basically, just after VMworld Barcelona, I noticed something odd on my back of which I thought was a spot/ingrown hair and decided for once to go to the doctor due to the fact a few weeks later it was still growing and had no head on it. I was sent off for scans and referrals of which the last one was around Christmas of which the very kind doctor said due to the fact they were not 100% sure of what it was and the fact it was starting to push on my spine and I was sloughing badly it was best to have it out and within 6 weeks!

The next few weeks were a blur with kids and Christmas and trying to finish projects and of course new ones for 2019! In between this, I was trying my best to perfect my VMUG presentations and thought I had not heard back maybe my surgery letter got lost in the post. To be fair the NHS can really shine sometimes as once I followed it up it was delayed due to an influx of things due to this time of the year and I was followed up not long after saying could I come in within a week so it could just get done (a week before the VMUG at this point).

I spent the weekend finalising my presentation and helping with the last few vExpert mentoring applications for vExpert Pro, then a quick flight up to Newcastle and back. During this time we also had some bad family news of which I won’t write too much about on here as I know the topic can sometimes upset people but its a hard thing for people with families and wanting a family to go threw, especially if you already have kids around and you have to stay strong in front of them. I also know its quite taboo and still think for me personally we should be able to talk about it as the mental toll it takes on you and a relationship is unreal! Remember its ok to not be ok, go find family or friends to talk about it, I did and it helped massively

The next morning after landing late due to this news we had myself and my wife spent most of the day in hospitals for me and her, got the news we did not want an hour and a bit before my surgery, even to the point the surgeon I had was so supportive over what we were both going through, a little shocked over the fact I wanted to still go through what I was just about to but he helped me every step of the way! I am the most useless patient at the best of times. Some may say it was selfish but I saw it as if it was a bad thing (yes the thing some can’t talk about and as a family already been through it) growing in there I needed to be around for my family more than ever now! It also gave me a massive excuse also to ensure I was around to support one another for the next two weeks. Once I explained our past to my surgeon before I knew it I was face down on the table and was kept awake due to the location and it was all over and done with within the hour and I was on my way back home.

The next few days were an emotional rollercoaster with everything that had happened and it was by no means easy hence why I stopped blogging and never got round to writing up the VMUG.

I also got time to re-read some of the blogs about career burnout and work-life balance, especially the one from Bilal. I just knew I had to focus on this for the next few weeks during recovery and I know most others would have taken an opportunity to do more but I knew my family needed me.

Fast forward a few weeks and it was time for the stitches to come out! I could not wait, as much as I loved playing the Resident Evil 2 remake I even went back into work a few days and worked from home as I could not stand sleeping all day and watching daytime TV/Netflix but I knew this was key to my recovery! I am just stubborn and get bored by myself. Also due to the timing I was gutted to give up my place to vRetreat but it clashed with the stiches coming out.

This was the major turning point for me as I knew my physical and mental health really now just needed a massive overhaul. A few days later I got the letter stating it was not anything serious but a very odd growth and due to the depth they went, they do not anticipate it coming back. At this point, it was just in time for me to then be able to focus on the vExpert applications and make notes for the team to help approvals and it also was the start of the recovery journey for me.

My brother bought me a gift of which was possibly a bit of a joke between us as he knows I hate fads and exercise but I must say the Joe Wicks plan he got me with the extra support has been nothing but amazing! I am not even halfway through it and I have seen a massive improvement in my mental and physical health. I have lost many kilos and then put on loads of lean muscle but I have found my get up and go attitude I felt I had lost! I also found that I am much more ready to take on the day and more alert but also much less stressed and enjoying more time with the family. I have even started to run with my wife and now able to keep up with her on 5/10k runs if she is on a short one training for her half marathons. I could not even do a few minutes without feeling I was going to pass out before.

So what does this mean for blogging and the rest of the year…

For one it means I am going to be much more ambitious! I want to take on new challenges such as the CloudCred Pro of which I will be doing live streaming events. Such as the exercise, I did not even think I would last or enjoy a few weeks but I am loving it. Amazing what you can do when you really push yourself.

I want to look at my career path and where I am either staying or heading as it always super interesting at work even if its not always VMware related

I want to mentor more people where I can and spark the fire/passion of community or even just getting up and giving it a go

Try and make it to a few more major events and maybe even do a major talk if I can get the guts to do this. I would love to look at things such as vRetreat, Tech Field day and the likes.

I can’t thank my mentors (one being my boss) and friends enough! Many of them know who they are and I know a few have said some great comments/constructive critisiums of how I can become a better engineer and person and the main thing I need to do is just believe in myself and they have all said I will go far if I do! I certainly hope over the next few weeks especially after this workout plan I will have the mental and physical confidence to start taking on their comments and push hard to achieve the goals we have spoken about

Finally, I couldn’t have got to where I am today without the support of my family especially my amazing wife! She is my rock and I know we are always there for each other no matter what, despite how hard it is! The best bit is she has instilled this into our kids and I know if daddy is not always as strong as he should be they will pick me up and cheer me up too! All it takes sometimes is a hug!

So sorry to have bored you with this post or upset anyone (not my intention) its been a while coming but again this has really helped me mentally to express what a year so far! If you are struggling yourself do reach out as I am more than happy to talk and help! Anyway onwards and upward to living and loving life! Go grab it and enjoy it!

Conference Tips for 2018

Conference Tips for 2018

Where to stay….

This year I took a leaf out of a mentor for myself’s book (Ather Beg) who kindly hosted me in my first VMworld so I decided to search out for an AirBNB. Initially this was going to be for one to two of us but after a bit of searching and semi forward planning it ended up being 7 of us! As you can see below

All I can say is thank you too all these guys! They made my VMworld this year. From the left you have Sam McGeown, Bilal Ahmed, Chris, Ryan Harris, Andy Nash & Rob Bishop The best thing was the mix of the group helped keep up spirits even when one of us was unfortunately mugged ūüôĀ I think it was nicer us all being there to support one another too!

We were all there for different reasons too (well apart from Networking) but some of us were fortunate enough to be Bloggers, So were VCDX Gods and others there to help the VMware team. This also always made for good conversation in the evenings and our own little after parties. I suppose this is one for the #vCommunity mention in the fact we can all come together no matter what!

The other major benefit we learnt was using the MyTaxi app in Barcelona at least it made for very cheap travel especially when we were splitting it 6 ways some days vs using Uber! Also to remind myself next year some of the taxies also had a fixed fare to and from the airport.

All in all I think it ended up being around £65 each for the 4 nights so not bad at all!

Be Prepared

This is an odd one for me as this year as I also flourished from attendee to speaker. I had to very much be prepared and to be fair my last few trips helped with this. I still can not thank the TechReckoning team (John Mark Troyer Kat Nelson Troyer) enough for these two items as they always help me travel! I also love the little case Amy White (Also on the team) got made as it stores my spare USB sticks, Presenter Clicker thing, dongles, batteries, MICs, etc in here and I know exactly where they are

Keep Hydrated

This one may sound simple but it is worth doing. All conferences have one major thing in common people and air con so you will dry out! Especially if you are speaking like I was this year. Usually some conferences have food tables or fridges like VMworld but others do not. I have started to carry an aluminium bottle with me so that if things only come out during tea breaks or lunch I can fill my bottle back up. It also helps it stay cold so much more refreshing if the room is hot

The other thing I do daily it take an effervescent (Berocca if looking for a brand) usually a multivitamin or Vitiamin C + Zinc, sometimes at night if I have been out for a few drinks as they help with the hang over too. It also helps with the diet of random stuff and ensure I stay energised usually due to a lack of fruit and vegetables.

Have fun

You of course are there to learn especially if on work time but also find a little bit of time for yourself between the networking or even do it a different way! This year I had a chat with some people whilst playing Pong

Which then one day lead to this! A full on table football tournament but we all had a good chat during parts of this and had a really good rapport after

Take notes….

I have found I need to take notes or write a rough blog post to look back on things but at the same time stay engaged! If the sessions are not recorded grab snippets of video or Audio but do check this is ok first or just do not publish it if you are not sure. I have some of these in Apple Notes/OneNote like things just to jog my memory on things. Also do go back and look, the time there and a few days even weeks after your brain will be overloaded and you may need to go back over things before they stick.

Finally.. Travel different ways

As they say variety is the spice of life right… well on some of these trips despite being able to claim some things I have taken the easier approach and sometimes paid myself. For example I got the bus to the airport on some trips and yes this does hamper times but I do then get to rest on the bus either way and no worries about parking!

Sometime this can even go as far as leaving 40 minutes early and walk, especially if in London and I was travelling light. I could then get off a stop or two before. It helps stretch your legs before what could be a day of sitting and then makes sure I can smash that step goal!

Terraform, Terrawhat, TerraARGH, TerraYAY!

Terraform, Terrawhat, TerraARGH, TerraYAY!

So I recently gave my Terraform talk at the UKVMUG so thank you to the team and also anyone who came. It was also nice that people interacted with me and also approched me later with questions. I also don’t mind once you have watch the better res version of the videos if you want to ask more.

I will also probably add to this post as I may do a series if my other code works out

There is a PDF of my slides here and then the videos below, I am also sure someone asked for the source of the dart video! It does not want to embed in WP 5!

My First VM

Template Time

Scale Time

Time for AWS

First giveth, then taketh away

UKVMUG Charity Bag

UKVMUG Charity Bag

So last week I attended the UKVMUG and I was fortunate enough to speak there (which is another blog post) but myself and Rob Bishop decided to auction off some of our ‘swag’ bags to raise some money for Charity. I also think this is great as I know some people can’t make it to VMworld as I know I alway wanted to go at the beginning of this awesome journey I am on! Either way here is some pictures of the bags below, we had some awesome prizes such as a keep warm coffee mug, SNES and signed books

After a quick run around at lunch and between all of our sessions we managed to raise an amazing £177 which far exceeded my expectations and a massive thank you everyone who donated and to Kev for donating this for us as VMware would double it 

I certainly hope I can do another one of these soon and maybe do it online next time as so many people wanted to pay by card! Or maybe this is another VMware Code project in the making ūüėČ

Also a massive congratulations to our winners of the bags! I never managed to get a photo! 

London VMUG 6th April

London VMUG 6th April

So its that time of year again and its the 2nd meeting of the London VMUG and this time the lovely people running ¬†it have let¬†me to run a few sessions. I am doing this and I have a terrible fear of public speaking even if people think I don’t! Its a good professional way of taming those inner demons and I for one even with 3 sessions do not want to try and take over¬†Ricky El-Qasem and his awesome 2 part sessions! I hope¬†mine brings something else to the arena as I will try and get these to be¬†structured happy¬†round tables and discussions.

Lets just hope this doesn’t happen

This is the bit where I need peoples help! Its a community led thing and what I would love if and people are ok with it would be to record these sessions and put them up as special episodes for Open Tech Cast (shameless plug)

My thoughts on the 3 topics are as follows

  • Certification Hamster wheel – Highlighting recent changes, whats next etc
  • VMware in the cloud – what other ways can you do it
  • Homelabs – ¬†just because they are always worth talking about

If anyone else thinks that there is a pressing subject that we should all discuss please do let me know!

SWVMUG 15/09/2016

SWVMUG 15/09/2016

So at long last I made my first SWVMUG held at @Bristol of which I decided to be a speaker!

If any of the leaders are reading this thank you again for letting me do this even if it was a very intimate event with the amount of people we had. Either way it was so beneficial and really helped me develop.

Even though I fully tested my presentation of which looked fine on another projector and TV it appears AVIOD dark coloured slides no matter how good they look! Back to try drawing board for TechUG on the 29th! You can check out my presentation here if you want

Both vendors we had there really had a chance to tailor the event to the audience and really get us involved.

Barry summed the day up in one of his great doodles as always

I particularly liked Amit’s presentation as it was really thought provoking.

It was great to meet some new people and try a new venue. Anyone reading this all I can say is please support your local VMUG and make it to their next event. Even do a talk if you feel brave enough, its a great feeling once you have done it. I hope to make it back soon and maybe do another talk if I am allowed.