vExpert Shirts

So once again I decided to do a run of vExpert shirts and I think they have turned out pretty good!

Also a few up close

I have managed to even send one as far as Japan, I certainly hope I get some more images of happy owners soon

I know I have not been blogging as much as I would hope but there is plenty in the works and of course I learnt a lot from this batch ready to make it more efficent

I am still taking orders and if you can get one in before 7 PM UK time tomorrow (20th May) I will get it in the next batch.

You can order from here but if you want the password check slack or send me a DM

Do not worry if you miss this cut off I will do another run shortly and probably another before both VMworld events

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!

vExpert 2019 Applications are Open!

vExpert 2019 Applications are Open!

So the applications for the 2019 vExpert program are now open! Applications will be accepted until Friday February 8th at midnight PDT. The vExpert 2019 announcement will be on late February to early March, 2019.

If you need any help with your application scroll to the bottom for my details and I am more than happy to mentor or coach anyone. Don’t delay apply today! I mention some of this in my post here. 

As a stereotypical Brit go get a tea (or drink) and read on!

Firstly what is the VMware vExpert program, it is VMware’s global evangelism and advocacy program. The program is designed to put VMware’s marketing resources towards your advocacy efforts. Promotion of your articles, exposure at our global events, co-op advertising, traffic analysis, and early access to beta programs and VMware’s roadmap.

Each year, we bring together in the vExpert Program the people who have made some of the most important contributions to the VMware community. These are the bloggers, book authors, VMUG leaders, speakers, tool builders, community leaders and general enthusiasts. They work as IT admins and architects for VMware customers, they act as trusted advisors and implementors for VMware partners or as independent consultants, and some work for VMware itself. All of them have the passion and enthusiasm for technology and applying technology to solve problems. They have contributed to the success of us all by sharing their knowledge and expertise over their days, nights, and weekends.

vExperts who participate in the program have access to private betas, free licenses, early access briefings, exclusive events, free access to VMworld conference materials online, exclusive vExpert parties at VMworld and other opportunities to interact with VMware product teams. They also get access to a private community and networking opportunities.

New for vExpert 2019

Over the years we have reviewed a lot of applications. Last year we noticed some applications, even from some of the most active vExperts were only filled our marginally. There are several different people and groups voting on your application so please write it as if no one knows what you are doing. This year we have added a application example. You can find the vExpert application example on the application page (top right corner). Example:  If you spoke at VMworld, please add the session number as well as other details such as the topic, audience size.

vExpert Pro

If you need help to applying do get in touch gareth {at} or with one of my fellow vExpert Pros around the world. Any of the vExpert Pros will be able to help you with your vExpert application and also be your mentor for all things related to community. Find the vExpert PRO near you here and get in touch.

Evangelist Path

The Evangelist Path includes book authors, bloggers, tool builders, public speakers, VMTN contributors, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others with the leverage of a personal public platform to reach many people. Employees of VMware can also apply via the Evangelist path. A VMware employee reference is recommended if your activities weren’t all in public or were in a language other than English.

Customer Path

The Customer Path is for leaders from VMware customer organizations. They have been internal champions in their organizations or worked with VMware to build success stories, act as customer references, given public interviews, spoken at conferences, or were VMUG leaders. A VMware employee reference is recommended if your activities weren’t all in public.

VPN (VMware Partner Network) Path

The VPN Path is for employees of our partner companies who lead with passion and by example, who are committed to continuous learning through accreditations and certifications and to making their technical knowledge and expertise available to many. This can take shape of event participation, video, IP generation, as well as public speaking engagements. A VMware employee reference is required for VPN Path candidates.


The VCDX path is for VCDX holders only. If you hold the VCDX title you will still need to apply for vExpert each year. We verify all VCDX applications via the VCDX Directory.

Questions & Updates 

For questions about the application process or the vExpert Program as above do reach out! DM me on twitter or email gareth {at} I am more than happy to coach anyone or even just chat over a cup of tea and see how we can form your application. Also some of this can even be something you have presented internally! Not all of us like standing up in front of people. If you have specific questions you can also email the amazing community team on [email protected] Be sure to follow @vExpert for updates on the 2019 vExpert program.

vExpert Shirts EU 2018

vExpert Shirts EU 2018

Firstly I want to thank anyone who purchased a shirt and supported this! I hope you are still enjoying them.

This is one of the things I did in 2018 and was proud of regardless of the vExpert Pro announcement and that was the vExpert shirt run. I never did this to out do any of the other guys doing them as it was awesome in the US as it was supporting a family business. I just could not get my head around the shipping and potential tax once they hit UK soil.

Either was after a few prototype runs I managed to land on a final design as you can see here

I liked really like the two tone style and once I started handing these out at VMworld everyone else seemed to agree too. I did get quite a few people notice them and managed to get a few snaps of people in them below!

Overall it was a success and I had way more shirts to hand out than I originally anticipated! The only down side that there was the loss of one where I assumed someone was picking up and it never made it to the recipient 🙁

Question is will I do it again…. Yes I will! Since getting back from VMworld I have been in contact with the supplier about other styles of shirts and she can even do lounge pants! Maybe I can go to the Gym in vendor and vExpert garments only 😀

My only reservation is I need to do some form of online store with PayPal or SettleUp included so I can also easily track things but I will get the wheels back in motion once the 2019 vExpert applications and announcements have been made.

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 🙁 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!

VMworld 2018 Europe Day 2/3

VMworld 2018 Europe Day 2/3

So the next two days I lost some of my content for hence the delay in posting but I want to get some of this up there! Mainly so I can also reflect prior to hopefully attending next year.

For me this below was one of my personal highlighted sessions but I don’t think it was recorded as I got to see some of my heroes

I was also fortune enough to take party in the vExpert daily chat with the amazing Angelo

I then popped over to a few sessions and then mentally prepared myself for my next talk! Also since doing this I have refined (I think) and I have now done it at the UKVMUG. I am sure there will be one final version of this with some more exciting code someday

The day did not stop there and the party was not too far ahead but we recorded a new vMashup edition where can be found here and this personally was a great thing for me as I love the Virtually Speaking guys podcast

This then proceeded for a quick dash to the Rubrik booth as I was on their #vRockstar cards this year and I wanted to sadly get the full collection to display at home

It was then party time! We all dropped off our bags and for once it was a VMworld party I could enjoy! No rushing off for a flight or jet lag and we have some great memories from it, one of mine are here below

Now if you are here for the VR bits here they are, I think they turned out well especially when the confetti falls! It looks great on my Oculus. I would have gotten more but shall we say I think the UKVMUG or all of the UK VMUGs/vExperts were trying to drink the bar dry and cause a scene near the photo booth! You can use your mouse to look around too if you click on them and open them on YouTube!

Whilst we were waiting I did get this awesome caricature done though

The next day I am sure we all felt a little fragile but I managed to get some more sessions done and follow up great talks I have with people! I also managed to get this VR Tour done around the solutions exchange. I did this during a quiet time as usually it very busy and I didn’t want to trip over people so usually its much more busier than this

After this a few of us did the last few sessions and then a vendor crawl to see what we could get for the UKVMUG Charity Bag

One awesome stand was the VMUG stand where they were printing T-Shirts

I have a few more separate posts still to come such as the vExpert Shirts and also a few tips about conference and specifically VMworld but this year they made it for me. I will just leave a small gallery of any of the photos I haven’t used just for memories really and to try and inspire the next person to go!

I just hope I can make it next year and I will be much more on point with the uploads!