Always Read the Comments

I do not enjoy public speaking.  I am a pretty quiet person, and I am very uncomfortable being the center of attention, especially when it comes to presenting.  My first VMworld, in 2011, I was sitting in a session and I was amazed.  I decided when I was good enough to speak at a conference like that, I had arrived, and my career would have reached it’s pinicle.  I am now looking for my next pinnacle, I am to young to have peaked.

This year at VMworld I got up on stage, introduced myself, and presented something that started as a conversation with a customer.  It was one of the most frightening moments I have experienced, but I survived, and I am better for it.  Part of what I needed to understand is the process, how to get a speaking session submitted, and more importantly accepted.  What does the audience like to hear, what is going to make them want to come back, and what is going to provide them value.

One thing I didn’t expect was the feedback from the surveys.  It was mostly positive, some constructive criticism, which I appreciated, but all in all for a first time at that venue, I was happy.  There are some areas I knew when I finished I need to work on.  I didn’t engage my audience as I had done in my practice runs, I forgot some of my key points, and I may have tried to hard with the jokes to cover up for being nervous.  All things I can work on and improve on.  What was great to hear was that the topic was relevant, and despite my stumbles, it seemed like there was interest.  I think with practice, I can turn it into just a conversation with the audience, discuss the topic, and invite them to actively participate in something that is likely impacting them in their daily lives.

As I have written before, I am very focused on community engagement.  I am working very hard to be a humble and involved person, to help others, and to just give something back.  I feel like so many have helped me along the way, and I want to make that a part of my life, helping others to succeed, and lifting them up, pushing them to new heights.  One of the biggest lessons I took from this session is how things work, what it is like, and how I can help others.  I plan to be back next year as a speaker, but this time with customers on stage.  I also plan to help others, who like me would find this to be a terrifying but rewarding experience.

My biggest regret when I was a soldier was that I was afraid to succeed, so I played it safe.  I turned down schools, promotion opportunities, and I didn’t push myself to succeed.  I am not letting that happen again, no longer will I let fear stand in my way.  My challenge to you, the reader, is whatever your fears are, ask yourself if they are rational.  Push yourself, be better, and seek mentorship.  I didn’t do this alone, and now it is my turn to help others.  I and hundreds or even thousands like me want to help you succeed so see out someone who has done this before, and get up there, and always read the comments.  Don’t take it personally, use it as a growth opportunity.

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Always Read the Comments

Automating My Home Part 3: Wiring, Wireless & Cameras

So we are now living in the new house.  It has been pretty intense, my wife is a great project manager, and has gotten us moved in, done a majority of the unpacking during the day while I work which has been huge.  She is heading back to work after summer break, so it was awesome to have the house mostly put together.

Temporary Wiring
 
        Previously I was hoping to come in and start pulling cable immediately.  Unfortunately my good intentions didn’t work out, between work, conferences, and life in general, I ended up with a temporary run of Cat 6.  I was able to pull a cable through my office on the 2nd floor and the attic, down the outside of the house, under the house, and up through an existing hole in the floor the previous owner had used to run coax cable.  That has solved some of my issues, but is temporary.
        When I return from VMworld, I plan to start cleaning up the coax run under the house, I will be doing a home run through the garage up to the office and terminating there for the cable modem.  I have found a number of exterior coax and Cat 3 runs which I am working to clean up, basically removing all of them, everything is going through the walls.
 
Wireless fun
 
        The wiring challenges have stemmed from trying to cover the house with wireless.  My biggest priority is to ensure a solid home media experience for my family which means having as many wired connections for my Apple TV’s as possible.  I have found I can get pretty good 2.4 Ghz wireless signal through the whole house with my Linksys WRT1900AC router, but I am finding the 5Ghz is a little weak.  I tried out a TP-Link wireless extender, but that introduced 3x latency on the network which was not acceptable for media streaming on the kids iPods and the Apple TV’s that I haven’t wired in yet.
        I am back to looking at the Ubiquiti, the closest wireless system I can find to an enterprise wireless system without going broke.  I do like the separation of the router from the access point that they provide.  It also gives me options for multiple DHCP and DNS zones.  I am still trying to document what devices I could split off to a new VLAN, but I am working on the justification to upgrade.
 
Cameras
 
        Our new neighbors had us over last night for dinner, and of course, they showed us their house.  It was fun, they have done some cool remodeling, and through the process contracted with alarm.com for security and cameras.  The system works great, but I am not really wanting to pay someone else to monitor my home just yet.  A little research revealed some great options for HD IP based security cameras.  Lorex, http://www.costco.com/Lorex-8-Channel-IP-NVR-with-2TB-HDD%2c-8-1080p-Cameras-with-130′-Night-Vision.product.100217003.html, makes a great system with 8 cameras and a 2 TB DVR with remote access.  For about $1,000 and a little cabling I should be able to have solid monitoring on the house.
        This is ironically a justification for my multiple VLAN home setup since the cameras will likely consume significant bandwidth.  I can isolate that traffic to prevent contention with my media servers.  Since the cameras are POE, and the DVR contains a POE switch, I should be able to put network drops at camera locations, and I won’t have to worry about power outlets at the camera location, or power injectors.
No major changes yet, but being in the house has helped me to do more planning, and move one step closer to implementing some of this.
Automating My Home Part 3: Wiring, Wireless & Cameras

Devops at VMworld, what was announced, and where is my Keynote?

This years VMworld has been an interesting one.  If you weren’t here, you might think that VMware is in a downward spiral just based of twitter, and some of the buzz on the internet.  With rumors of various mergers and buyouts abounding, it is getting difficult to sort fact from fiction.

For many infrastructure teams, the groups who normally attend VMworld and other industry events, I overheard a number of complaints about the Devops Hackathon, the number of developer sessions, and the focus on hybrid and cloud native applications.  There were a number of complaints on the keynote as well, it was more focused on applications, and less on some shiny new toy, far less wow factor than previous years.

There is an interesting phenomenon in the technology industry.  I have written previously about the challanges of big storage companies, and their lack of innovation which is leading to the success of many startups.  At dinner last night I was speaking with an IT Manager from one of my larger healthcare customers.  We were talking about cool technology toys, and comparing notes on some of our crazy home technology ideas.  In the course of conversation, he made the statement, “We got into technology because we love and believe in the technology, not to approve expense reports”.  Think about that for a moment.

In his book “Who moved my cheese”, Spencer Johnson made the statement, “The sooner you let go of old cheese, the sooner you find new cheese”.  Like many in the field, I started out in infrastructure support.  I loved the blinking lights, and tangible systems I could point to.  I was proud of my infrastructure.  Yesterday, Massimo Re Ferre’ tweeted, “I feel all those people that are leaving the keynote during @kitcolbert ‘s session may be without a job in 5 yrs. #vmworld #fact”

There isn’t much more to say.  As infrstructure specalists, we have to grow.  Change is inevitable, and VMware has a strategy.  If you don’t like our strategy, go find another, but the future is software defined, and applications > infrastructure for the consumer.  The choice is yours.

Devops at VMworld, what was announced, and where is my Keynote?