BCC, Distribution Lists & General Email Etiquette

If you work in a big organisation, or like me, are on a number a of cross organisation distribution lists or listservs, then it’s likely that you have some myriad of email rules that route all emails sent to a specific distribution list to a specific folder. This is a good email management practice as you can then filter your searches to a single folder that should just have conversations related to things sent to that distribution list. I know that this is how I’ve managed being on something like 40 very chatty distribution lists in recent years.

However the point of this post was due to a reoccurring theme that I am seeing in some of the distribution lists that I am on

That theme is as below

Moving DL to BCC

I will say that this is the single most frustrating thing to see in an email that has landed directly in my inbox, because not only

  • Should it have not landed in my inbox in the first place
  • It’s disconnected from the original thread in an organisational sense making searching less optimal.

So much so I have started to do this in return (highlighting the Moving DL to BCC in the senders email) & highlighting the “this” in the first line.

Hi <sendersName>,

 

Doing this throws the email you just sent into many peoples inbox unnecessarily as it often will bypass any mail rules that people like me have added to organise our mailboxes & will ping on all their devices too.

 

It is frustrating when this happens & it happens so frequently on the many DL’s I am on however there is a better and more etiquette friendly way to do what you have just done & that would actually be to not to send 1 email but instead send 2.

1 to the dl saying you are forking this thread

1 starting the fork of the thread

 

Yes it takes you a small amount of extra time to send 2 mails not 1 but doing so makes it better for the x number of people on the dl’s

 

I didn’t need this dropping in my inbox & alerting me on all my devices – nor did anyone else that got this pushed into their inboxes. Please think about the disruption that doing this can cause to people working  in future.

 

Regards

Ryan

It’s a really simple thing, but as someone that gets alerts on

  • My Work Laptop’s Desktop
  • My Browser, if I am in SharePoint or anywhere else in Office 365
  • My Phone
  • My Fitbit

That’s a lot of noise & distraction for something that was not critical for me to read, and in many cases, wasn’t even that useful for me to read either.

I also add this line in every time this happens more than once a day (often from different senders)

This is the second time I’ve had this happen this today.

I wonder if I’ll ever get a day where I change the second time to tenth time, though I hope this post will stop that being the case

So Please, don’t do that in future & feel free to make use of the draft above to send to others that you see do that in future too (& point them to this post too)

Azure Advent Calendar

Background

The Azure Advent Calendar is a collaboration for members of the International #AzureFamily to contribute a video and blog post about a topic of their choice related to the Azure Public Cloud, which was brought to life by Richard Hooper (aka Pixel Robots) & Gregor Suttie two recent UK Azure MVP’s that make up 23 Azure MVP’s out of a total 164 UK MVP’s of which I am one of in the Cloud and Datacenter Management category.

It is fair to say that over the course of the 25 days of Advent there are a number of great sessions lined up with 3 taking place each day. totalling 75 sessions of content ranging from 30mins to 1hour each across a wide range of Azure specific content.

For more details and direct links to each of the sessions taking place you can access them in the handy table on the Azure Advent Calendar  website or directly subscribe on the Youtube Channel.  You can also find them via doing a twitter search for #AzureAdventCalendar

My Joint Contribution

This year my contribution is a joint contribution with Rik Hepworth, Chief Consulting Officer at Black Marble ( Azure MVP | @rikhepworth | Blog ) discussing some of the wider aspects of Governance, coming from a more general sense than just the Azure sense, although we will cover some of the components that have been covered in prior sessions of the Advent Calendar. Rik & I are 2 of 6 Microsoft MVP’s at Black Marble, covering areas including Azure, Cloud & Datacenter Management, Developer Technologies, Office Apps & Services & Windows Development.

Between us both we have seen how organisations have adopted the cloud in a number of very different ways, often depending on their size as an organisation and their maturity when it comes to developing, building, testing, deploying and managing their various forms of software.

The video will be available on the Azure Advent Calendar YouTube Channel and the direct link to the video is as below (which you’ll be able to watch sometime today December 24th)

 

We mentioned a number of items in this session and you can see many of them as per the below links

Azure Governance Docs – https://aka.ms/governancedocs
Azure Cloud Adoption Framwork – https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/cloud-adoption-framework/
https://azureadventcalendar.com/
Jack Tracey – Azure Governance – https://jacktracey.co.uk/community/azure-advent-calendar-2019/
Wesley Hakkman – Azure Blueprints – https://www.wesleyhaakman.org/azure-advent-calendar-azure-blueprints/
Ignite Governance Sessions – https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions?t=%257B%2522from%2522%253A%25222019-11-03T08%253A00%253A00-05%253A00%2522%252C%2522to%2522%253A%25222019-11-08T19%253A00%253A00-05%253A00%2522%257D&g=%255B%2522on-demand%2522%255D&q=governance&s=%257B%2522name%2522%253A%2522translate.refine.label.sort.relevance%2522%252C%2522type%2522%253A0%257D
Satya Vel Session on Azure Governance – #BRK2021 – https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/81583?source=sessions
Rik Hepworth’s Session on Azure Governance – #BRK1035 – https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/78682?source=sessions
Azure Arc – #BRK3327 – https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions/83989?source=sessions
Azure User Groups – https://techielass.com/azure-meetups
Sarah Lean – @techielass – https://twitter.com/TechieLass/

 

Summary

So far this has been a great event for all those involved and for the wider community to gain insight into just how big the Azure Cloud really is. I hope that those that watch mine & Rik’s contribution around the importance of the need for some governance in the cloud.

Please spread the word to everyone you know in the Azure space using the hashtag #AzureAdventCalendar & #AzureFamily

My First Ignite, Speaking and Attending – Done & Dusted – Pt1

This post is going to be all about Microsoft Ignite and my experience as both a 1st time attendee & a 1st time speaker. There’s going to be a lot to read so I highly recommend you go get a brew sorted (tea, coffee, beer, wine etc) before sitting down to read this post which at over  2600 words is quite a read, and this is just part 1 of 2 which focuses on the lead up to Ignite & not Ignite itself which will come in Pt2 of this series.

What is Ignite

Microsoft Ignite is Microsoft’s flagship conference, which hit Orlando, Florida, USA, November 4th to 8th (with an optional Pre Day on the 3rd) and with any big conference it never starts on the first day but for those of us in the wider technical communities and travelling from all over the world to get to attend them it can start as early as the week beforehand.

Microsoft Ignite is big (& then some) at over 30 thousand attendees! Many of the partners, attendees & speakers fly in from every single part of the planet so you can be guaranteed to run into ever increasingly diverse population of attendees, though there’s certainly room for diversity at conferences like Ignite to grow.

With over 1500 sessions (which you can search for on the Session Catalog), mainly about almost all things in the world of Microsoft technologies, for techies there’s something for almost everyone. However there’s also a number of sessions spread out across the week in the Diversity & Inclusion track as well, a track I hope many of those reading will watch sessions from as there were a number of fantastic sessions in this track, details of which I will go into a little later on.

In the Beginning

In my case however, it started all the way back in July when the MVP & RD Call for Content opened on July 9th and whilst I had a vague idea after a few days of umm’ing & arr’ing on what I wanted to submit on, I gave myself time to mull over it before deciding I would submit.

Once I had decided I was going to submit, I firmed up what my not 1, not 2 but 5 different session submissions would be, split across a variety of technical and non-technical sessions & over the coming weeks I polished them off before finally submitting them on the night before the finalised extended closing date for submission on August 6th.

Over the course of the following weeks I moved on with day to day life and waited patiently until acceptance emails started to go out on Tuesday August 20th.

Whilst acceptance emails started to go out around 6 PM UK Time (UTC +1 at the time) & lots of people were already announcing they’d been accepted for Ignite, I received the below stating I’d been accepted for 2 sessions 🎉

So I’d had 2 of those 5 sessions submitted accepted, however, I decided to hold back on announcing that I had been accepted until at least the following day, for a few reasons

  • I had to come to terms that I had been accepted to speak at Ignite, Microsoft’s biggest Technical Conference.
    • Whilst this seems like a given considering I submitted, it still was a huge shock to be accepted, more so on the topics that I had been accepted for.
    • It’s worth pointing out that submitting a topic is not the same as committing to present said topic, you only really can commit once you’ve been accepted & you have come to terms with being accepted and all that comes with presenting a session. Once you’ve done that you can then confirm your acceptance to present that session. Which is why it’s important that organisers don’t just put you on the line up as soon as they send out the acceptance of your session.
    • However I personally would also have liked a bit more time to mull over session acceptance as the acceptance email indicated that we had until Friday 23rd August to pull out. I would seriously recommend that event organisers give at least a full weekend in future for speakers to be able to work out all the logistics around the session, including whether it’s actually feasible or not when they aren’t dealing with their day to day workloads so they can properly relax and think things though (or in my case whiteboard it)
  • I had to be confident in my ability to deliver these sessions.
    • Whilst this again seems like a given, I was very much feeling the onset of Imposter Syndrome, because whilst I think I know a fair amount on the accepted sessions, there’s always this pit of doubt within me about my knowledge, something that I find incredibly difficult to shake off.
  • I had to feel comfortable with the idea of presenting at such a big conference
    • Prior to this I had presented at Techorama & the London leg of Ignite the Tour, which in comparison are what I would classify as medium sized conferences.
    • Both events had drained me a little due to their size & I was worried about how this would transpire to an Ignite sized event.
  • I had to feel comfortable attending such a big conference
    • This in itself was the biggest of the factors for me as over the years I’ve started finding larger crowds less and less comfortable to be a part of, so I had to feel comfortable in myself that just being at Ignite would not over stress and over stretch me, at least not too much.
  • How would agreeing to this, and the stresses of putting together sessions impact me & my mental health in the coming weeks & months
    • Did I feel I could cope with this on top of my day to day workload.
    • Did I feel that in accepting I would adequately stretch myself in a way that I would be overall comfortable with & not over stretch me.
    • At the end of the day my own mental health will always come first & whilst I know my own warning signs, I am not afraid to pull out of sessions because of my own mental health. Something I’ve only ever done once.

Once I had mulled over things, I then had a quick chat with my boss and fellow MVP Rik Hepworth about my concerns, mainly to voice them out loud to someone other than myself & gain some additional feedback on them, particularly as he’s a seasoned pro when it comes to the bigger events and I wanted to hear about the experience from someone close to me that I both know & trust. After that conversation I felt more comfortable and confident & decided that yes I would go forward with my sessions. That’s when I then announced I was going to speak, as you can see below.

I had Anna Chu (Community Lead for Microsoft Ignite) respond (who I was lucky enough to meet and have a good long chat to at Ignite)

and also Shona Bang (ex lead of Diversity & Inclusion, now rebranded #HumansOfIT & lead of the D&I track at this years Ignite) comment – with Shona giving away what one of my sessions was going to be on, (again I was lucky enough to meet Shona and have a good long chat to at Ignite too!)

Looking back at this point I am really glad that only 2 were accepted, you can read more about the sessions that were accepted (inc links direct to the videos) in my prior post Speaking at Microsoft Ignite, but not about tech, as there is a lot of work that goes into a deck & in a future post I will detail just how much work I put into my decks.

However, whilst in the run up to Ignite I had one of the other sessions I had submitted for Ignite, Making Operational Azure Management a Breeze, selected on September 27th for a UK based conference called Evolve, which was happening on Monday October 21st 2019.

Now I had 3 sessions to pull together with only 3 full weeks until Evolve & 5 weeks until Ignite.

Oh well this will be fun, I started to think to myself. #ChallengeAccepted

However I had also come to terms in the prior few weeks my sleep cycle was starting to be more worrisome than it had been previously. So I took myself to the doctors, explained the situation to them in detail (always tell your doctor the full story!) particularly as my sleep hasn’t been fantastic for best part of a decade, thanks to 100+ hour working weeks at McDonalds in my pre-IT career days in early 201x’s (yes only this current decade) & working 2 jobs (days & nights) for into late 2014, and was prescribed some sleep aid medications. I can safely say that having these have helped my sleep no end & whilst I expect my sleep cycle will take some time (& some additional lifestyle changes) to properly kick back into a more regular rhythm, I can already tell there has been some improvement in it, however this could be entirely psychological, something I am currently pondering over in more detail & intend to discuss this with my doctor over the coming months.

Roll forward to the evening of Friday 18th October, after a particularly bad week with sleep (I’d run out of my sleep meds) , I get home after what was reasonably long day and open up my three decks & corresponding Onenote’s to work out how much I had left to do. That’s when panic set in. I realised I had much more than I had thought left to do and had somehow miscalculated how long was left till Evolve, thinking I still had another week left and not just the weekend.

So here comes panic mode, and whilst in panic mode & whilst I know I shouldn’t, I end up telling myself things like

  • I can’t do this
  • I should pull out of doing this
    • I actually started writing emails to pull out of both Evolve and Ignite. Emails I later deleted!
  • I was stupid to agreeing to do this
  • I won’t enjoy myself doing this
  • I wont agree to do this again

However, all that is happening is the side of me that thinks I am destined to fail is coming to surface & this is common when levels of stress are high and end up inducing panic. Luckily, I know what this looks like and more importantly feels like, because I’ve regularly put myself into that kind of situation and over the years have come to realise ways that help me ride out the panic, with activities like walking to the shops, getting a long bath/shower, playing a frame or 5 of snooker (on the table I have at home) & chucking on one of my many calming tracks on Spotify being just a small selection of the things that help be de-escalate the stress of the situation. Heck finding a toilet and locking the door for 2-35 minutes can be the simplest way to let the situation de-escalate when I am out and about.

Once de-stressed, I revert to my more typical growth mindset of

  • I can and will do this
  • I just need to focus on what I need to do now to succeed in doing this
  • I agreed to do this because I know I can do this
  • I have previously enjoyed doing this, so I will do so again
  • Therefore I will agree to do this again
  • I will likely go through this cycle again, but it’s an important cycle to stretch myself to grow as an individual

 

If I had slept well that week, I wouldn’t have had a short (in the grand scheme of things) 2 hour meltdown about it. Thankfully a nice long soak in the bath and a new album on Spotify did wonders and set back onto the more happy path I needed to be to get shit done. This is just a simple example of what bad sleep can do to you (well me), leading to easier levels of less than usual rational thinking.

Rolling on from Friday evening to Sunday morning & the deck for Evolve is now completed, Monday comes along and I deliver the session at Evolve which I think went down well & I was able to crack on with more of my Ignite Decks and get myself back on track to where I wanted to be.

At this point there was just 13 days until Ignite and a fair amount of travel ahead for work in between it all & I still had so much more that I wanted to get into my decks, particularly my Mental Health deck, that I was now looking at my OneNote and moving things from the “must talk about” pile to the “maybe next time” pile so that I could fit it all in.

There’s so much more that I would have liked to talk about but by this point I had already spent many hours in rehearsals, edits, amendments and far too much time in MS Paint too! I couldn’t realistically afford to add in another run of heavy content amendments so started on polishing the session and really getting to know the session flow properly, particularly as this had been the deck I was most concerned about, because whilst I can write and talk about tech, building a deck and talking about a non-technical subject like Mental Health felt 100x harder, perhaps because overall this is a more important topic, so I felt additional stress to “get it right”.

Travel Time

You would think that after a fair amount of travel over the years that I would have my routine down to a tee and be 100% ready, sorted out for my travel & be all prepared, packed the night before with all the alarms set as needed to make the hour long drive to the airport to catch a 10am Sat morning flight. I however crashed on the Friday night when I walked though the door before I had set alarms, I had however been smart earlier on in the week and done extra washes throughout the week, so I was ahead of myself and could easily pack when I woke up at 5am that morning. Rushing around at 5am internally yelling at myself “shit did I pack that”, “shit where is that” and “I’m just going to miss the plane” is certainly one way to wake yourself up in a hurry. Then again so is a can of Red Bull and a cold shower.

Roll on a few hours, it’s past 7am, I have dumped the car off at airport parking, and I’m now sat in Manchester Airport with a pint (of cider) in hand and doing a run through of my Mental Health deck whilst trying to pass the time. I am now at the stage where I am genuinely happy with the deck but need to iron out a few niggles with it, and what better than almost 3 hours to do so at the airport.

But maybe the trusty Surface Book 2 has other ideas

Luckily it has lasted beyond Ignite, but it’s not far off from needing replaced now I don’t think, which is a shame as I really like the keyboard on this device as it’s so easy to type on.

However travelling to Orlando was nice and simple with a direct flight there which I have to call out Virgin Atlantic for such a lovely flight. It certainly was one of the easier and more comfortable of the flights that I have done over the years.

Once I got out at Orlando it was pretty smooth and simple enough getting though and out of Airport Security, registered for Ignite at the Airport and then went about arranging an Uber to my hotel. Once I had dumped bags off I went off in search of the convention centre which was a good 40 minute walk from my hotel and a good way to stretch the legs after the long flight.

Anyway I think that is enough for now and I hope you will join me in part 2 of this post when I will go into a day by day recap of the what the event was like, which I intend to try and get out early next week.

Speaking at Evolve Conference

You can tell that the end of year conference season is coming up as we’ve just wrapped up PSDayUK, which was a resounding success!

Then this week there are a number of events currently going on, and with some of the Black Marble team, currently at Future Decoded, and some more of the team currently at Techorama Netherlands, this week as well, the office has seemed somewhat quiet.

Then next Saturday (12th October) there is DDD @ Microsoft Reading (which I am attending) and then in just a short few weeks is Evolve Conference, where I will be speaking on Making Operational Azure Management a breeze.

So with just under 3 weeks to prep for this session, alongside preparations for my 2 Sessions that were selected for Ignite as blogged about in Speaking at Microsoft Ignite, but not about tech, there’s a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it, before the additional element of adding some work for Hacktoberfest I can see this being a VERY busy month, and that’s without factoring in the working week.

But I do love it and I will be looking forward to (maybe) a quiet last 6 weeks of the year.

Speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2019, but not about tech

Yet again I’ve had another acceptance on a session that I have submitted to a conference, this time to Microsoft’s flagship conference, Ignite, this year taking place between November 4th – 8th 2019 in Orlando, Florida.

 

I’ve been accepted for 2 sessions, a 45 minute Breakout session and a 20 minute theatre session, both of which will be brand new to me sessions, and whilst both are completely non-technical, they are incredibly important topics in the Diversity & Inclusion track, something that I have been trying more and more to be better involved with.

The first session “Mental Health: It’s time to talk” is going to be an interesting and fun talk to plan, and planning has already started, including planning what tech I need to used to be able to pull together some statistics to share in my session.

The session description is as follows Microsoft Ignite Session BRK1033

The second session “Mentoring: Is it your most powerful networking tool?” is a short theatre session covering my own experience with mentoring and how I am excited with the new mentoring app as detailed in this blog post on Tech Community

The session description is as follows Microsoft Ignite Session THR1044

 

As I mentioned in a previous blog post on my Reflective thoughts on 2018 and a look ahead at 2019  I intend to be doing more and more technical and non-technical writing & also where possible more non-technical presenting as part of a personal long term goal to reduce the stigma of talking and writing about Mental Health, because like many millions out there Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me.

 

You can follow my Mental Health blog site over at @mhasl_me and if you are interested in helping writing content at all then please head to the site at https://mhasl.me and fill in the form linked to on there.

I’m looking forward to getting these 2 presentations put together for a number of reasons, including the following

  • These are both non-technical topics that are both really close to my heart, and well one that you could say is more close to my head than my heart, but it is something that I want to use my technical & non-technical skills where I can for good and this feels like a good extension of where I can start.

Whilst I am looking forward to the next 2 months of planning and presentation refinement, I will also be looking forward to taking some much needed downtime afterwards to decompress properly as  event’s like Microsoft Ignite and other conferences can be draining, especially with the International travel and change of body clock due to the time zone difference.

 

That’s all for now, but I have a few more posts in the works, so expect another new post from me soon enough

Time for a Lick of Paint

After a good few years with the last rather dated look of this blog as per below

I felt that it was time for a bit of an update.

Though this also coincided with some software updates that I needed to implement as well so I thought I’d do a rolling update of theme, software and plugins and luckily most of it went ok (this time round)

Let me know what you think in the comments

Speaking at Ignite on Tour London

You can tell that it’s the beginning of the conference session confirmation season as I’ve had another acceptance on a session that I have submitted to a conference, this time to the London leg of Microsoft’s Ignite on Tour conference on Feb 26th – 27th at the Excel London.

The session that I will be delivering is a new to me session called “Using Azure for Good – the story behind mhasl.me” and is a “from the trenches” story of the technological and architectural decisions made along the way behind the delivery of a completely new blog site that I am in the process of building and hope to finally release in the upcoming weeks.

The session description is below.

Description

In this session I will cover the technical background of a new site that I have developed for sharing stories related to many different aspects of Mental Health and how it is something that affects someone just like you or me.

In this session I will cover

  • Architectural decisions and why I made the decisions I made.
  • The Technicals behind the site and the components used as part of the building, maintaining and development of the site, from Azure DevOps to Azure Resources and how I built a repeatable deployment of the Resources that made the site a possibility from the get go.
  • Security Decisions that I made along the way and why I chose them.
  • Lessons learned along the way
  • And lastly why I think this is a topic that in tech we need to talk more about

 

As I mentioned in a previous blog post on my Reflective thoughts on 2018 and a look ahead at 2019  I intend to be doing more and more technical and non-technical writing with this new blog site as part of a personal long term goal to reduce the stigma of talking and writing about Mental Health, because like many millions out there Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me. You can follow the site’s progress via Twitter over at @mhasl_me and if you are interested in helping writing content at all then please head to the currently deployed placeholder site at https://mhasl.me and fill in the form linked to on there.

I’m looking forward to getting this presentation put together for a number of reasons, including the following

  • This is my first conference talk at a Microsoft run conference. This in itself brings a number of interesting challenges, not least ones related to and centred around my own Mental Health, especially around anxiety and my management of nerves. However this is a (mostly) fun challenge, including setting a tight time boxed deadline to actually get this up and running which means I have to actually start kicking in PDD – Presentation Driven Development as coined by @daviwil and noted in https://twitter.com/BrucePayette/status/723513244342751232
  • The technical side of this is filled with a number of interesting & complex challenges, mainly because in my own desire to  that should have a number of interesting decision points along the way, with a number of them already made and make for a number of different choices, not least in IaaS vs PaaS vs a mix.
  • The non-technical side is a topic that’s really close to my heart, and well one that you could say is more close to my head than my heart, but it is something that I want to use my technical & non-technical skills where I can for good and this feels like a good place where I can start.

On a side note, but still semi related, I have signed up as a #MindCampaigner and you can too at https://action.mind.org.uk/be-mind-campaigner

 

mind

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.staffordshire.police.uk/media/3270/mental-health-words-icon-clear-2/image/stess_3.png?resize=208%2C208&ssl=1

(Image above copied from link to this article – https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/article/2051/Personal-Safety )

 

I’m looking forward to the next 4 weeks ahead, but I am also looking forward to a few days downtime afterwards to decompress properly afterwards too.

Speaking at TechoramaBE

Looking through my emails & twitter on Sunday I was pleasantly surprised to see these two items popup

Followed closely with the following email

TechoramaBE

From everything I have heard about Techorama, it looks to be a good conference and I am certainly looking forward to visiting Belgium 🙂

This is the first of many submissions that I have made, but the 1st that I can accept and attend as I was also accepted for DevOps Pro Europe in Lithuania (another on the to visit list) but this unfortunately clashes with the MVP Summit so I’ve had to turn that one down 🙁

Looking forward to getting back into the swing of technical presentations yet again.

Heres to a fun filled 2019.

For more info on where I am presenting / attending you can see Find Me At & you can see Where I’ve Presented or Where have I been for a historic overview

 

PSDay 2019 – Call for Speakers

As promised in my last post – I wanted to let you know that the Call for Speakers for PSDay 2019, to be held on September 30th, at etcVenues in Birmingham, is now open.

The Call for speakers form is located over on Sessionize & we are looking for sessions for topics as listed is this post from last years PSDay Call for speakers and to be of 60 minutes in length for the main conference sessions, however unlike last year we are also accepting submissions for the post-conference Workshop Training day that we intend on putting on Tuesday 1st October 2019, also at etcVenues. More details on the Workshop Training day will come in a following post.

We currently have a cut of date of the beginning of May 1st for sessions (UTC) with a view to announce the speaker schedule around the week of PSConfEU. I would also suggest that the abstract you submit does not need to be perfect, at least on initial submission, as we have allowed for the sessions to be amended after initial submission.

Part of the reason for this is that we will come back to submitted sessions in the early weeks of May and start to reach out to speakers to either confirm or polish off their abstract in those coming weeks, prior to us announcing the full line up of speakers by mid June.

We are also currently in the process of working out what sponsorship packages of the event will look like and I would say until we release a further post on what these look like if your organisation would be interested in sponsoring PSDay then please reach out to me in this interim period, whilst we iron out what the sponsorship package would look like.

I am looking forward to PSDay & I am looking forward to seeing you there as either, an attendee, a speaker or a sponsor.

If you have any questions at all please reach out and I’d be happy to answer.

Update

Some things to note as I am expecting questions on this to crop up, we currently do not think that we will be able to help with speaker costs, however this may change, so please if you submit something and may be looking for assistance with cost’s please add this in as an additional note so that we at least have some awareness of this and can try and plan to accommodate where possible. This is far from a guarantee that we will be able to assist, but allows us to try and gauge how things pan out and if we many need to adjust costs if/when we feel we are likely able to help support those speakers that may need additional assistance and I envision that this will be looked at on a case by case basis alongside the sessions submissions.

Tickets should go on sale in stages in the upcoming few weeks – more on this once we have managed to have a further organisers discussion in the next week or so and I will blog about it when they go live.

Update 2

Regarding Travel into the UK after Brexit – This is something that I have not looked into and therefore I would suggest to all that may ask about it to just keep an eye on what happens at this stage and consult your own governments documentation guidance into as this will likely be the most up to date and will have the right information available as to how it may / may not end up affecting you.

Info Share about PSDayUK 2019 – What’s to come?

This year, we as the collective behind the UK PowerShell & DevOps User Groups, are running the third PSDayUK event, the only Conference that is totally Dedicated to PowerShell here in the UK & will be held on Monday September 30th at etcVenues, Birmingham.

I have already been asked by a few people about why we have decided to move the event this year, and a small part of that comes down to the overall event financials as running an event like PSDay or even the larger PowerShell Conferences like PSConf Asia, PSConf EU and also the US PowerShell & DevOps summit are not cheap events to run, and that is not including any time that myself and the other organisers put in behind the scenes, above and beyond our day jobs, to bring events like this & the PowerShell User Groups to you all around the UK.

One of the other reasons for the move is that we as organisers of the collective are dedicated to bringing more year on year events like PSDayUK but also other smaller events like hands on workshops as well, and looking ahead, the partnership that we will have with etcVenues should then open up further doors for us as a collective to be able to do so in other cities as well. We had already come to the decision that over the upcoming years we would intend on doing some rotation of where the event is hosted, with a view to have the event take place in some of the other larger cities in the UK, with London, Birmingham and Manchester being 3 of the main cities that we had in mind. It is of no surprise, at least to me and the other organisers, that I suggested that we look to move the vent to take place in Manchester, as after all Manchester is where the revival of the UK PowerShell User Groups first occurred in 2015 as I blogged about at https://blog.kilasuit.org/2015/08/19/coming-to-manchester-october-13th-get-psugukman, However upon further discussion with the other organisers we all settled on looking at Birmingham this year, for 2 real main reasons. Firstly, Birmingham is the second largest city of the UK and what comes with that is a fantastic set of options for travelling to Birmingham, including it being relatively easy to get to via road for those that wish to drive, a very good rail network link for those that don’t, and also there is also the Birmingham International Airport which allows visitors from out of the UK (or even within) to get to Birmingham relatively easily and the Venue itself is only a 5-10 minute walk from Birmingham New Street Station, which means it’s extremely accessible to get to. Secondly as part of the collectives plans for growth we are taking the opportunity at this point in time to expand the UK PowerShell Community by bringing it to Birmingham, and in the last few days we have had some conversations about when we will see a PowerShell Birmingham group spin up and we are trying to see how soon we can get one organised for, with a view for the first week in February. For future details on this please follow PowerShell Birmingham Meetup Group where we will announce the group (twitter account will follow).

This doesn’t mean that PSDay will not return to London in future, far from it, especially as London has been a huge driving force for the UK PowerShell User Group community over the last few years and especially the last year with them managing to secure a reoccurring host & sponsor in Dotmailer, and as I mentioned in my Reflective thoughts on 2018 and a look ahead at 2019 blog post, one of the areas for 2019 for me on a personal level with the UK PowerShell Community is to see it grow even further and there are a number of cities where we will be looking at expanding the User Group community where we can. If this is something that you would like to have an initial chat about potentially standing up a new UK PowerShell community in your city then please feel free to get in touch with me directly easiest is via Twitter and we can go from there, but also have a read of this article on PowerShell.org that I wrote some time ago – So you want to form a User Group? as it gives a lot of good pointers that I found when initially setting up the UK PowerShell Communities. It does need an update and that is something that I will be revisiting in the very near future with some updates.

However, back to PSDayUK 2019, in the coming weeks and most likely around the time that we have the first PowerShell Cardiff Meetup and that I will also be appearing on The PowerScripting Podcast Returns on Jan 16th (technically the 17th at 02:00 UTC 0, but I knew what I was signing up for), I will be posting more information about the 2019 event including, but not limited to, the opening of the call for speakers, for breakout sessions and also post-conference workshop sessions, information about when we will open ticket availability and also details in our calls for sponsors. I am sure that there will be other things that we will announce over time as well.

In the meantime you can find a recap of the 2018 and 2017 events on PSDay.UK and see all the recorded sessions from previous years on the Youtube channel which also has videos from some of our other events as well.

If you have any questions around PSDay 2019, or the UK PowerShell Community please feel free to tweet the psdayuk account for PSDay items, Tweet the getpsuguk account for UK items,  tweet me directly or leave a comment on this post and I’ll get back to you.

I’m looking forward to what 2019 brings the UK PowerShell Community, stay tuned for future updates.

Reflective thoughts on 2018 and a look ahead at 2019

With 2018 now being basically over, its time to reflect a bit, and well lets say that overall in the grand scheme of things it’s been a pretty good year.

Like any year there’s been ups, there’s been downs, there’s been lots of travel, laughter, tears, sun, rain etc etc. All in all, it’s safe to say that there’s been a bit of everything this year.

 

2018 will for many reasons stick out to me for years to come as the year that started building the foundations for my upcoming thirties, and yes you did read that right, upcoming thirties, and here are some of the reasons why (in no specific order, mainly because I could not decide on how I should order them)

  1. I’ve cut down my alcohol intakes by an amount that I am happy with and also started improving other areas of life including my diet, and hopefully other areas of health should improve over time, time will tell as they say.
  2. Got my own place, although I am still renting, I currently don’t share with anyone else which has already been immensely beneficial for my long term mental health. Don’t get me wrong living with someone is fantastic, if they are the right person that is, something that my last house share really hit home on in the weeks prior to leaving with living with someone that had less that basic levels of hygiene and cleanliness and left things like public hair on toilet seats and in the shower, and not just little bits but a serious amount of it, that I never want to share with someone I don’t already know again, if I don’t have to. However it does mean I am the only one doing the dishes and all other cleaning, but that’s something that I can happily live with, as I find cleaning rather therapeutic. This will mean that I will start get back into enjoying cooking and baking, something that I have not felt overly comfortable over the years whilst living in shared housing for above reasons. and this is something that in 2019 hopefully will change. Also, not many will have known this other than those close to me, but I was unintentionally homeless at the beginning of 2018, something that I was deemed at being without need from 2 different councils, and this is something so this signifies a major pso
  3. Got myself a car again, which makes life 100x easier and allows me the ability to improve other aspects of live in 2019, including taking up some form of martial arts and going swimming regularly. How well that goes will need to be seen but that’s a part of the plan, at least for now, I wonder how many miles I will do in travelling in 2019, and I am sure there’s some form of tracking app for that out there, this isn’t something that I have actually looked into further, so suggestions would be appreciated.
  4. I’ve been lucky to work with some amazing people at Dotmailer and look forward to seeing how the future unfolds for the team there as they have a fantastic product and a lot of fantastic staff there and I am so appreciative of how they continue to support the UK PowerShell Community. Also through some of the employee schemes I had managed to get myself a basic but functional electric guitar and some amazing Sennheiser Momentum over ear Bluetooth Heaphones at a sizeable amount off the total cost. Both have been getting good use but that will increase in future.
  5. The UK PowerShell Community has gone from strength to strength and has an extremely positive look out ahead for 2019, with more and more events springing up follow @getpsuguk for further updates & join our community at https://slofile.com/slack/get-psuguk to get chatting with like minded UK PowerShellers especially as we have planning ongoing for PSDay which should be an amazing day. More coming on PS Day early/mid January and you can stay up to date with it at https://twitter.com/psdayuk
  6. I’ve joined an awesome team at Black Marble and whilst it’s only been a very short time in the grand scheme of things I can see the role I am in at Black Marble entailing a lot of fun times as well as many technical challenges as well, and as I’ve already found out (and already really knew) the team here is filled with awesome individuals, that have really helped me feel at home, at least in a professional sense. We have an awesome set of highly intellectual individuals which makes for a lot of fun and interesting conversations in the office, that often leave me thinking that I need to pick up one of the many books that we have on the shelves, because you never know when you need to now all the inners of XML from the biggest book we have in the office. That thing is HUGE.
  7. I feel I have managed to kick the bit of Writers block that I had previously had (can you tell from this post lol) and I expect that in the coming months I will be doing a lot more blog writing, some of it on this blog and also on another blog that I am spinning up, called mhasl.me, which stands for Mental Health Affects Someone Like Me, as a place for those that suffer, or support those that suffer, with any forms of Mental Health to be able to come and write about it from their personal experience. This is part of a personal long term goal to break down the stigma of talking/writing about #mentalhealth and I envision that this site could end up becoming a go to for anyone suffering with various aliments of mental health to see that you can have less than perfect mental health and that you can still be extremely successful in life/ Expect to see me blog on here about the technical side of the site including the reasons for making the technical choices that I made for the site, as well as the running and management of this going forward and also blogging over on there over there for a long foreseeable future. I am in process of getting the site all setup atm but you can follow the twitter account I have set up – http://twitter.com/mhasl_me for updates when the site goes live and more details about what I expect the site to be all about in future, including, but not limited to, contributing, moderating and providing an input into the direction of this project.
  8. This year I finally gave Android another go in September when I upgraded to a Huawei P20 Pro, after my last Android the Sony x10 mini was far from impressive but that could have been down to the form factor of the phone more than the OS, and I am in a mixed camp between liking it and potentially moving back to iOS or as is actually likely to happen I might go for a multi device solution once again, something that I will further ponder in the upcoming months.
  9. I have further diversified my taste in music and this year has seen me more into my house/trance than ever before. I’m a big believer that diversifying the media you consume can be immensely beneficial and will be looking forward to seeing what Spotify starts to suggest for me in the New Year and as I have already got a new large Discover Weekly Archive playlist that I make use of IFTTT to put each weekly playlist into an a single playlist that will be something that I no doubt enjoy listening to as I now have over 3 days of potential content to consume I will give it my best to get through in a week or two.
  10. Some other areas of personal life are starting to have a better outlook ahead and fingers crossed for how 2019 will pan out in these, those close to me know that paperwork takes time to be completed, but it does and will get completed.
  11. Probably most important of all points from 2018, is that I’m starting to feel more genuinely content with where I am at in this stage of my life, whilst this doesn’t explicitly mean I am genuinely happier in all aspects of life, in the majority of them I am starting to feel at ease of where I am with them vs where I want to be at and a lot of that has been down to accepting and understanding that for certain things to change takes time and that I need to be more open to planning out sensibly about the actual timelines than I had been previously. This doesn’t mean that there’s not things that I want to improve on that would help me feel more content, but that’s all things that I can work on, at least in time. Therapy may / may not be something that appears in my future, this is something that I am still on the fence about.

So that’s enough about 2018, what about 2019 and what do I envision for the year ahead.

  1. 2019 will be filled with writing, more writing and more writing. Part of this will be down to the blogging that I intend to do, but also in my role we end up doing write ups for our clients, this means that I will be doing much more with my writing and looking at improving how I write going further into 2019, perhaps that might be something that I end up writing further about, fancy that eh? But nonetheless, I am looking forward to smashing the writers block and properly get back into the swing of writing once again.
  2. 2019 will be filled with more coding, which also equals more writing, this time I likely will be learning new languages/reacquainting myself with prior languages, like for example PHP which is fitting considering the technical work I am doing with mhasl, which I will write up more on in future as well.
  3. 2019 will be filled with more tech, and more innovative use of tech. I can say that this will likely be a big year for new forms of hardware and software with the likes of Hololens now getting some more traction and how Q# the Quantum computing Language is getting some more traction as well. There are also a number of other areas that are getting more traction in tech including Terraform and the other technologies from Hashicorp.
  4. 2019 will be filled with travel, again this is not just because in my role I travel to clients on sites but also that I will be doing more and more travel for the community work that I do as well. I expect I will be travelling around the UK a large amount for the PowerShell Community but also for other community endeavours as well, good thing I recently got a car again eh 😉
  5. 2019 will be filled with learning, mainly technical but also in learning more about myself and in general just learning more about lots of non-technical items as well, because life is a long journey all about learning and it’s not something that I ever intend on stopping.
  6. 2019 will be driven by Data and AI, and a significant amount of my time will be put into attending more and more Data events including Data In Devon (formally SqlSaturday Exeter) , DataScotland and also DataGrillen which I am really looking forward to. It will be nice to just attend events like these and not be either presenting or organising them and I look forward to catching up with a number of great friends in the #SQLFamily at these events.
  7. 2019 will be much more filled with reading, and by reading I don’t mean Technical reading, but more actual book reading and I’ve recently started reading this – The Idiot Brain by Dean Burnett and I can say that I will likely be reading a lot more of the books by him, as they are very well written and touch on an area that really interests me, the human brain. Dean is a neuroscientist so these books come from someone that really understands the science behind how our brains work, I intend in future to post small articles recommending books that I have read and enjoyed as well. I am also taking suggestions on what to read and if you feel you really want me to read it, especially if it’s technical, then feel free to send a copy to me directly at the Black Marble office, where I am sure we can also add it to the bookshelf, though for non technical please send me a suggestion either via a comment on here or via a DM on twitter.
  8. 2019 will be filled with more physical activities, like swimming, running and also a lot more countryside exploring, I mean I live in Yorkshire and within a 50 mile radius of me there is the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales so there’s plenty to see, visit and explore and now that I have a car that is something that I intend on doing more and more.
  9. 2019 will be filled with laughter and also tears. Like any year there will be ups and there will be downs. That is something that will not ever change, don’t kid yourself if you think you can have 1 without the other, at least not for too long, especially as tears can be both positive and negative, and could come from laughing too much, which is almost always a good thing.
  10. 2019 will be filled with more gigs – I did not do much gigging in 2018 or even 2017/2016/2015 and that’s something that I will be looking to change. I already have bought tickets to Metallica in Manchester ( I do have a spare atm but that’s more for planning reasons than needing more than the 1 as you never know what will happen between now and then) and I have others lined up that I intend on getting tickets for including Leeds, Download to name a few.
  11. 2019 will include more music, both as a consumer and also a creator. I envision that I will be spending some considerable time getting back to grips with the guitar and getting lessons to get better as so that I can play more of my favourite tracks and also start perhaps creating some of my own, who know’s whether that’ll lead anywhere more than just to a bit more diversity in my hobbies, which is never a bad thing.
  12. 2019 will be difficult, there will be more and more upset in the world due to everything that is going on in the political world. Some of this will affect us in ways that we could not have envisioned but one thing will stay the same, the fact that we can get through the turbulence and come out the other side. Please don’t let any political differences change how you interact with others ahead, especially friends and family, views can and should be different, which leads for the possibility of healthy debates.

All in all I think that’s about all for now but I know that with 2018 almost over with, 2019 is looking to be a more prosperous and the beginnings of a very interesting future ahead.

Leave a comment or tweet me on twitter at @ryanyates1990

Re-Awarded MVP for the Third Year Now, time for some reflective thoughts

I nearly didn’t start writing this mainly as I’ve found it difficult to get back into writing, let alone be in the right mindset to want to write at all. This partially stemmed out from struggling with injury last year. Thankfully, 2018 has been much much kinder to me, and I’m glad to say I am no longer struggling with at least the physical injury, that aside I intend to start getting back into the rhythm of writing once again, something that should come more and more frequently over the upcoming weeks and months.

 

That being said, this time around I want to reflect on how I came into the MVP Program, and specifically around how this has positively affected my life and those around me, both closely and those perhaps not so close, both in physical proximity and in my ever growing reach of my networks as they have grown over the last 3 MVP Award Cycles.

 

My journey to becoming a Microsoft MVP came early on into my IT career, but also in comparison to many around me, my IT career is relatively short, in which I have only been in active IT based roles since December 2012, a little over 5 & half years, but in that time I have been extremely lucky in some of the roles that I have managed to be able to work in, whether that be working for organisations like Barclays & University of Manchester, or being a part of the Organisation team for the 2016 PSConf EU event, or being able to revive the UK PowerShell User Group Community, and as a recognition of the community work I have done I was Awarded the MVP Award in April 2016 as can be read about in the preceding posts https://blog.kilasuit.org/2016/04/01/congratulations-2016-microsoft-mvp/ –  https://blog.kilasuit.org/2016/04/01/fooled-ya-today-i-became-a-mvp/ & perhaps the more serious https://blog.kilasuit.org/2016/04/07/awarded-the-mvp-award-what-this-means-to-me-and-the-future-for-the-community/  as well as my renewal thoughts last year https://blog.kilasuit.org/2017/07/04/mvp-award-renewal-time-my-renewal-new-recent-mvps so it was only natural at some point I would write something similar this year.

 

However the journey in the years leading to becoming a Microsoft MVP came at a time things were chaotic, to say the least, in my personal life & I knew from my interest in understanding Psychology & my own Mental Health, something that I’ve been focused in learning more and more about since my early teens, that I needed something that was not only consistent in life, but something that I could really push at and find passion in. That something has consistently been centred around my working life, with a huge part of my working life requiring more in depth knowledge of a service or services which actually really boils down to my thirst for expanding my knowledge in a wide variety of areas, technology is just one of many of these areas, as mentioned above, but it is the one I have centred my career around.

 

My desire to learn, a desire that hasn’t disappeared and likely never will, pushed me down a path that forced me, or more accurately actively encouraged me, to apply a fair amount of time & effort into not only getting into the IT communities centred around the area I was in at the time (2012-2014 means predominantly SharePoint) but to also expand outside of those communities as well into areas including but not limited to, SQL Server, web development and more later on and approaching 2015 time frame, the PowerShell Community.

It was at this point I made 1 single choice, a choice that at the time was essentially a huge gamble for me, and this was played in part due to the fact that I was struggling at the time, as i said previously things were personally chaotic, and due to the chaos I was undergoing I ended up suffering with a case of social anxiety, which was brought on by the immense stress that I was undergoing at the time. This would then occasionally lead to me having small outbreaks of mild but distressing panic attacks. These would typically happen in crowded places like Shopping Centres, Train Stations, and later on at User Groups and Conferences. However they initially only happened so sporadically that I took very little notice of them, but as time progressed they became more and more common and with that they also got more intense.  but I quickly learnt coping mechanisms to manage them. I could have taken myself to the doctors and got some form of prescription of anti-anxiety medications, which mainly tend to be of the benzodiazepine family, or referred myself to for some counselling, which looking back I could have really done with at times over the years, even if it was just as a further helping hand to get me through everything.

Let this be the beginning, of what will be a long reflective look on the troubles of the past, and of the troubles that lie aheadm with  more to come in the

#TalesToDewsbury

New-Job -Role Consultant -Company ‘Black Marble’ -Start September

Well the Title says it all in as few words as possible but I wanted to just expand briefly on this new chapter.

As of the beginning of September I will be leaving dotmailer after a fantastic 6 months here and this was a decision that was not easy to make as there are many interesting & exciting things happening at dotmailer in the upcoming few years & as such they are currently undergoing a huge increase in their tech team, I would reccommend that if you are looking for a new role in the London/Croydon area & are interested in DevOps and working with a predominantly all Azure environment to have a look at the roles that they have advertised at http://careers.dotmailer.com for further information. I will miss the team at dotmailer as it’s a very good working environment, has some interesting benefits and has a very interesting future ahead of them.

That may lead you to ask, why leave? Well the answer to that comes down to only a very small few factors, with the main one being that as much as I have enjoyed London and Croydon, I am a more comfortable being based in a more country like surrounding. So with this in mind the move to Black Marble made a lot of personal sense in that regard as well as alot of professional sense as I will be working along side some other familiar UK MVP faces, including Rik Hepworth (twitter) Richard Fennel (twitter) Andy Dawson (twitter) James Croft (twitter) James Mann (twitter) & MVP & RD Robert Hogg (twitter) – These are just a few of the people at Black Marble and I am looking forward to working very closely with Chris Gardner (twitter) on more and more PowerShell for the community in the upcoming months.

Alas this also means I will be moving back up north which means that the Manchester PowerShell User Group will at some point in the upcoming months be totally resurrected.

I am extremely excited for the future and what it brings, although there are still some things that are not solidified yet, like where exactly I am moving to, what I am looking forward to is getting stuck in to this exciting challenge.

There were a few people that I had some conversations with about this prior to making the decision, the benefits of having a trusted network as always is critical to making good sensible decisions like this one, and those conversations were immensely beneficial to me in coming to the end decision.

I will miss the team at dotmailer as it has been a fantastic time here, including (attempted) weekly games of football, which will be one of many things that I will miss, though I don’t expect to be too much of a stranger to the team in the upcoming months with PSDay and the other London User Groups ahead.

So without much further to add, Let the immense fun sarcasm of moving commence, hopefully this will be a last move for some time to come.

Info Share about PSDayUK 2018 – Call for Speakers, Ticket availability & Upcoming Call for Sponsors.

This year, we as the collective behind the UK PowerShell & DevOps User Groups, are running the second PSDayUK event, the only Conference that is totally Dedicated to PowerShell here in the UK & will be held on October 10th at CodeNode, London. You can find more info about at PSDay.UK including being able to purchase tickets & the eventual schedule once published in the upcoming weeks.

We will constantly be releasing information about PSDay as we approach the time for the event via various methods of social media including via our Twitter Account @psdayuk which I would highly recommend you follow if you want to be kept in the loop of what is coming to PSDay.

To give a little bit of background, PSDay is the conference brand of the UK PowerShell & DevOps User Groups, for more information on the UK PowerShell & DevOps User Groups please see PowerShell.org.uk and PSDay is currently planned at being an annual event much like the bigger PSConf EU, PSConf Asia and US PowerShell & DevOps Summit events, and whilst each of the bigger events are multi-day events PSDay at present is a singular day event, although the format of the event may change in future, this is something that the organising team are keeping in mind for future events.

With this in mind this year we are running PSDay as a dual parallel track conference, where we a solid idea of what we are intending the tracks to contain to cater all skill sets based on what we’ve learnt as part of running consistent monthly User Groups in London and whilst there is a HUGE variety of topics that could be delved into with PowerShell we have seen a reoccurring theme with the User Group over recent months.

This means that we have been more selective in the ideas behind what sort of topics that we are looking for this year with a view to have topics along the following lines

Track Name Track Focus Suggested topics
The many components of the PowerShell Language All things related to the PowerShell Language Debugging, Classes, Remoting, Performance, WMI/CIM, Pester, PSScriptAnalyzer, DSC, Workflow,  Using .NET in PowerShell & anything centred around the Core PowerShell language that can be useful for all skill sets.
Using PowerShell as the Glue of Automation All things Automation Automating any Technology from any device installed anywhere, Azure, AWS, GCloud, Office 365, Microsoft Graph, VSTS, GitHub, PowerShell Gallery, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server & more

 

The idea behind the first track, ‘The many components of the PowerShell Language’, is that those that are new to PowerShell, and even those of us that have been using PowerShell for years, can come into this track and take away a wide variety of knowledge about the core parts of the PowerShell Language that comes from a more general use perspective, which would allow attendees to be able to take away and expand on what attendees learn in this track in their own times and is expected to be of a more generalist track where the skills learned can be then taken and used across an enormous number of technologies.

 

The idea behind the second track, ‘Using PowerShell as the Glue of Automation’, is to be much more centred around using PowerShell with specific technologies & is more more likely to be the track for those that want the more technically  for those people that are either well into their DevOps journeys & are already using many differing DevOps Practices and perhaps looking at further expansion of their skill set or are looking at replacing existing or embedding additional technologies within their organisations.

The Call for speakers form is located at PSDay Session Submissions & we are looking for sessions for topics as listed above and to be of 60 minutes in length. We currently have a cut of date of July 31st for sessions and I would highly suggest that any potential sessions you may want to submit be submitted quickly. I would also suggest that the abstract you submit does not need to be perfect but does need to give us as organisers the ability to pick and choose topics from all the submissions. The reason for this is that we will come back to chosen speakers, based on topic & technology and come back to them to confirm/polish off their abstract in the early weeks of August, prior to publishing the schedule by beginning of September.

We are also currently in the process of working out what sponsorship packages of the event will look like and I would say until we release a further post on what these look like if your organisation would be interested in sponsoring PSDay then please reach out to me in this interim period, whilst we iron out what the sponsorship package would look like, and we have already been approached by a few sponsors so this will be coming along very soon.

I am looking forward to PSDay & I am looking forward to seeing you there as either, an attendee, a speaker or a sponsor.

If you have any questions at all please reach out and I’d be happy to answer

 

 

It’s been a while!

I have been absent from the Technical world for a short while, and in that time I have has a few people reach out and advise me that this blog has been down, due to an expired SSL cert.

 

Simple enough fix & well ‘I’m BACK’

 

Be on the watch for a series of blog articles to follow, over the course of the next few weeks, with a number of fun & technical items to be revealed, as well as some hints at some plans to be revealed, which is starting to make it look like it’s going to be a very fun filled 2018.

 

But for now, I cannot say more, except that I am excited 😉

MVP award renewal time, my Renewal & New recent MVPs

So this year the MVP program had a bit of a change to how it handled the renewal and awarding process, a change that I fully supported, as it would allow for the program to become, in my own opinion, more agile and therefore recognise more and more memebers of the amazing community on a more reasonable, and sustainable, cycle process. 

My only gripe, and this is so minor that I can look at it and laugh at it, as it only really affected me in a personal manner, was that the change to the renewal cycle meant that this year I got a free extension of 3 months from April till July (yay) but I lost the receiving the award as an early birthday present from Microsoft like I had for my 26th last year. 

I instead got a much better reward from Microsoft in the longer and grander scheme of things, and that was seeing 6 of the 8 of my nominees also being rewarded and recognised as well in the last year and I also notice and nominate others as I notice their impact to the communities that I’m a part of.
I’m looking forward to the rest of this year and a number of interesting user groups and conferences in the near future, including a first with a joint Presentation at SQL Saturday Manchester with my buddy Mr “SQLDBAWithABeard” & newly minted MVP, Rob Sewell. 

If you haven’t already signed up for the free SQL Saturday Manchester Event then please do at http://www.sqlsaturday.com/645/EventHome.aspx

Once SQL Sat Manchester has passed I will be starting to get myself back to blogging more regularly again but until then you can catch me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

*EDIT – I seemingly missed that I was Renewed as an MVP – happy to be part of the growing community and looking forward to the year ahead! 

5 out of 6 in 6 Days = A busy week

This week has been a busy week for me with the SQLRelay and SQLSat Munich events. It has been full of fun especially seeing as for SQL Relay we had the fun bus for travels between the different venues all across the UK.

The week started of as most other weeks do and that was with me at home in Derby on Monday Morning. This was followed by me jumping on the train to Birmingham around 11am Monday Morning for the first leg in the SQL Relay tour where I presented a completely new and fully non-technical session, something that is a little bit out of my comfort zone of the typical more heavily technically focused sessions that I’m used to delivering.

This was a session that I’ve put together based upon my own career experiences about the need to really spend time on developing and taking ownership of your career. It was pointed out on a few occasions throughout the week that at 26 I’ve still yet to really “have” a career and although in some ways that can be seen as being very true, there is also the other side of the coin, in which I’ve had the opportunity to see first hand with other colleagues how not owning your career can lead you down path that doesn’t leave you with a role that you enjoy and feel sustained and secure in.

 

I really do feel that it really is essential that you keep up with your Training and take control of your own career – as after all it’s your career and how well it goes is down to you as an individual and how determined you are to achieve the Salary and work life balance that you wish to have. Troy Hunt has blogged about his experience of making his job redundant at https://www.troyhunt.com/how-i-optimised-my-life-to-make-my-job/ and this is something that scares most people when they think about it at any real depth. I would also recommend reading the follow up post on this that Troy has done on this recently as well https://www.troyhunt.com/7-years-of-blogging-and-a-lifetime-later/ as both of these are similar to my way of thinking around work and life balances.

 

Not only did I do a new presentation but I have also been busy enjoying being on the SQL Relay FunBus as well and although I knew a number of the other fellow travellers it was good to be able to spend some more concentrated time with them. The SQL Relay is a great idea and I’m already looking forward to the ‘tour de UK’ again next year.

 

To top the week off I have also been at SQLSat Munich this weekend where there has been even more fun times with the extended #SQLFamily which has been great. I seem to have a thing for Munich and the first real weekend of October as I was also here last year for SPSMunich which you can read about the experience in my recap post

 

I however am looking forward to getting back home after pretty much a week on the road and getting ahead with some of my prep for PSConfAsia in just under 2 weeks.

PSConfEU call for Speakers is now Open!

Proud to announce that Speaker Submissions are being accepted for PSConfEU 2017 – you can submit your session proposals via the following form

A few things to note about this year’s submission and selection process

 

  • We have a hard cut of date of the end of Sunday December 1st – submissions must be in by this time or will not be accepted.
  • This is because we will have a selection committee gathering during the week commencing Monday 2nd December
  • The members of the selection committee we all vote for our favourite sessions.
  • This will begin to form a preliminary schedule.
  • We will then send out on confirmation emails to the selected speakers
  • By December 31st we expect to have confirmation from all speakers and the schedule ready to launch hopefully posted by Jan 1st.

 

Once again I am very proud to have the opportunity to be working alongside fellow MVP Tobias Weltner and the rest of the organisation team to bring to you the 2017 flavour of the PSConfEU and will look forward to seeing you at PSConfEU 2017n

Speaking at SQL Saturday Munich October 8th!

So last October I attended the first SharePoint Saturday in Munich which was great event and if you want to you can read up about my experience in this previous post.

 

However it seems that in October this year I’ll be returning to Munich for the SQL Saturday event where I’ll be delivering my Why & how to implement PowerShell DSC for SQL Server session.

 

There has been a number of changes to the xSQLServer Resource over at https://github.com/powershell/xSQLServer in the last few months (yay) so there will be some cutting edge new insights into this session so it looks like I know what I’ll be spending my time on soon enough.

 

It’s also a session where I do cram in a lot of information within the hour (originally it was a 2 hour session at SQL Saturday Exeter) so if you attend make sure that you are ready to jot down a fair amount of notes and

 

There are a number of other familiar faces from the SQL Community speaking at the event so I’m looking forward to being able to catch up with them all and meet even more of the amazing #SQLFamily.

#PowerShell Side by Side #ProTip

Today I’m going to share with you a little but simple tip to enable you to do more Side by Side testing of PowerShell v6 with you current installed version in a simpler and less error prone manner.

 

Firstly we will create a new environmental variable which we can do in a number of ways but I quite doing it this way  as its easy enough to script

Function Update-PS6Path {

       

        $PS6LatestPath = Get-ChildItem ‘C:\Program Files\PowerShell’ -Directory |

                         Sort-Object CreationTime -Descending |

                         Select-Object -ExpandProperty FullName -First 1

        [Environment]::SetEnvironmentVariable(“PS6”,$PS6LatestPath,“Machine”)

    }

 

This then means that to Launch PowerShell v6 you can do this in the console to run PowerShell v6 (the latest installed version anyway) and in this case we are passing some of the available arguements to the powershell.exe application as noted at https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/powershell/scripting/core-powershell/console/powershell.exe-command-line-help

& $env:ps6 -NoProfile -NoLogo -ScriptBlock { $PsVersionTable } -NoExit

So hopefully this little snippet will help you out in doing some more Side by Side testing as time goes on.

1 Small thing about running PowerShell Core and Windows PowerShell side by side on Windows

*Updated August 23rd 2016 as there was a change between 6.0.0.8 & 6.0.0.9 to PSModulePath that I had missed – I will be blogging about this in more detail in a future post but for now check the updated section at the bottom of this post! *

 

If your like me and you want to test out PowerShell Core on you Windows machines as well as other *nix machines then you may get caught out with this like I did in the upgrade from 6.0.0.8 to 6.0.0.9.

 

You can grab the MSI installer for 6.0.0.9 at https://github.com/PowerShell/PowerShell/releases/tag/v6.0.0-alpha.9  however do note that there are no Windows 7 or Windows 8 installers due to the requirements for WMF 4 to have been installed prior to WMF 5 as noted in this issue https://github.com/PowerShell/PowerShell/issues/1931 which links to this issue https://github.com/PowerShell/PowerShell/issues/1705
So lets get into the Side by Side stuff Smile

 

Once you’ve installed the MSI install you can run PowerShell 6.0.0.x alongside the Installed Version on your machine like so

 

PS-SBS

 

This is because PowerShell 6x installs in the following Location C:\Program Files\PowerShell\ and as you can see below I have installed 6.0.0.8 & 6.0.0.9 on my machine.

PS-SBS2

This also means that if we look in our Start Menu you can see the following new options

 

PS-SBS3

 

*Note* This will not change your default version of PowerShell from the one that is at C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\ so if your running Windows10 on the Insider Fast ring like me then it will run 5.1.1405.1000

 

To run one of these alpha versions you have to explicitly do so from the Start menu (or a desktop link if you create one) so you can be sure that this will not cause your any issues with day to day PowerShell use.

 

Hopefully that clears up any potential confusion!

 

In 6.0.0.8 the $profile Variable referenced the Windows PowerShell Documents location as can be seen below

PScore-6.0.0.8

 

Whereas in 6.0.0.9 we have a new location as shown below

PScore-6.0.0.9

 

So when we load 6.0.0.9 we wont get our profile to load as it doesn’t exist.

So that we can get our current profile to load in 6.0.0.9 we can do what we would normally do and just use New-Item like I’ve shown below

PScore-6.0.0.9-2

 

This seems only to have been needed in 6.0.0.8 & not 6.0.0.9 – as the default values in 6.0.0.9 for the PSModulePath are not what we have set in the ENV Variable and I’m not sure how this works but will dig in and post about this at a later date!.

 

Then next time we load 6.0.0.9 we will have a working profile but the issue is that this will now enable loading of all the modules that we have in our PSModulePath environmental variable.

 

. However we can get round this by 1 simple line in our Profile

If ($PSVersionTable.PSEdition -ne ‘Desktop’)
{ if ($IsWindows -eq $true)
{  $version = $host.UI.RawUI.WindowTitle.Split(‘_’)[1] ;
$env:PSModulePath = “C:\Program Files\PowerShell\$version\Modules” ;
Write-Output ‘Removed all but the shipped Core modules’
}
}

This is a Windows only forwards compatible inclusion in your profile & will only affect the local session of PowerShell that is running.

So you can be sure that this will work across your Windows Machines however ideally we will get some amendments to PSVersionTable as noted in https://github.com/PowerShell/PowerShell/issues/1997 & https://github.com/PowerShell/PowerShell/issues/1936 to be able to tell the OS easier and more dynamically.

 

The $IsWindows variable is only available in PSCore along with $IsOSX , $IsLinux & $IsCoreCLR so you cannot currently use them in the Full Version of PowerShell and currently I don’t think that you can build the full version of PowerShell from the Repository to a 6x version. However this may change in future.

So you can actually with 6.0.0.9 and above ignore the above section completely and comment that out of your profile (or delete it)

 

This is also a good example of the rate of change between the different alpha versions although I’ve checked the commit notes and cant see this change mentioned in a concise and easy to understand manner so I will feed this back to them to see if release notes can be improved in future.

My Opinion on Open Source PowerShell and what this means to the PowerShell community

If you’ve been under a rock the last few days (or for days/weeks/months depending on when your reading this blog post) then you would have missed that on Thursday August 18th 2016 –  Microsoft Open Sourced PowerShell!

Not only did they Open Source PowerShell they have released a Cross-Platform alpha version that can be installed on a variety of Linux Distros as well as a Mac OSX version.

 

You can read about it in more detail from the Jeffery Snover himself from over at https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/powershell-is-open-sourced-and-is-available-on-linux/

You can also read the PowerShell Teams blog (which has some great links too) on this at https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/powershell/2016/08/18/powershell-on-linux-and-open-source-2/

 

But what does this really mean to you, me, & all the other PowerSheller’s across the globe?

 

Firstly

 

  • Well done – you picked to learn a technology, which celebrates its 10 year old anniversary later this year (November 14th) and that was considered a “Windows only” tool and now it’s not this now means that you could start working with other platforms – increasing your value to your employer *cough maybe its time for that payrise*
  • PowerShell is likely to start to change even quicker (I’m speculating past the Server 2016 launch here)
  • If you don’t want to get involved and help with building PowerShell v6 (& fixing any bugs you find) then you can let this announcement pass you by a little and await an actual real release in the future

However if you do

 

  • You need to start learning some more new things and not just start learning PowerShell as there is now an even bigger ecosystem of tools that you need to learn to be really efficient and successful in IT going forward.
  • You need to learn how to work with source control and I will recommend git like I do to every one else. Check out https://help.github.com/articles/good-resources-for-learning-git-and-github/ for some resources but a google search will get you some others too.
  • You need to learn how to work with Github Issues and search and be able to file an issue that has enough information to be useful for the person reading it. Some of this is helped by Issue Templates but these don’t always capture all the possible required information so be prepared to be asked for more info.
  • You need to start attending User Groups & Conferences and train for your IT Future as the world of IT is undergoing a massive change and this isn’t going to stop anytime soon and if anything the rate of change is going to start getting quicker and quicker.

 

 

So where are we right now?

 

Currently the release of PowerShell to Github is an Alpha release – this means that it is not supported in any case for any production uses at all! Basically its out there for you to “kick the tyres” so to speak.

It also means that at least for now and the near future you may think that you have 2 places to raise issues. Github & UserVoice.

However The Guidance from the PowerShell team is this at present

Customers and Enterprise users should still raise these on UserVoice as this is still where issues relating to the PowerShell Engine that are contained within Windows Client and Server Systems including WMF releases should be raised.

Basically this means for issues that relate to anything PowerShell v5.1 and below should be raised on UserVoice.

My understanding of this is because these versions of PowerShell haven’t been released to Github (we have the changes that have occurred since PowerShell 5.1 was rolled up for WMF 5.1) so changes to them can only be done by the PowerShell team – plus we do need to remember that Server 2016 is still yet to RTM and the Source code for that will have been sealed in preparation for launch. So any fixes to the PowerShell engine included in Server 2016 or the RTM version of WMF 5.1 will come either by hotfixes or a recommendation to upgrade to a stable version of PowerShell 6 once released as we currently have alpha releases available on GitHub.

However For Developers and those that feel comfortable to do so then they can raise issues on Github.

This is where current guidance from the PowerShell team could easily bring a little confusion to some but we have to remember that this is new ground for the PowerShell Team so they will need to have some time to sort out how they work with the different streams. It is likely (& I’m just speculating here) that the team has an internal consolidated issue tracker that tracks UserVoice and all of the PowerShell Repo’s, however be on the look out for a blog post from the PowerShell team at https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/powershell in the next few weeks where they will be detailing how they interact with the community across these mediums.

 

So What does the future hold for PowerShell?

 

Over the course of the upcoming months we will see a number of further alpha releases as well as a stronger emphasis on making use of the PowerShell RFC Process for any changes to how the PowerShell Engine works. The PowerShell RFC Process can be found at https://github.com/PowerShell/PowerShell-RFC and there are a few new additions to this already from outside of the PowerShell Team.

 

But the interesting thing from this point on is that there will be more and more of the PowerShell Eco System open sourced including 1 module that I’ve been waiting to tear apart – PowerShellGet – which Jason Shirk confirmed is planned to happen in the future in this Issue https://github.com/PowerShell/PowerShell/issues/1979 – It is also worth noting that a number of the modules that we have inbox on Windows 10 Machines are not written by the PowerShell team so there is likely a chance that the module, cmdlet or function that you have ideas to improve (New-Item is one I’d like to see be a bit more intelligent with folder creation) may not be open sourced – however I think it is a matter of time before we see there be demand for these to be open sourced as well and there are already calls for other modules from other teams to be Open Sourced including the SQLServer module (was SQLPS) which shows where the ecosystem has been going for some time now.

 

Overall I’m incredibly proud to be working with such an amazing product that now has opened even more doors to me than what it had available to it before. You never know what the future will hold but now I have skill that can be used cross platform that means to me that the possibilities in the upcoming months & years of my IT Career are even more prosperous than they were last week.

 

If you haven’t yet picked up PowerShell I would seriously urge you to do so!

If your struggling on how to pick up this language and understand the benefits that it can bring you and are interested in learning more, here is a number of resources that you may find useful.

https://www.pluralsight.com/search?q=PowerShell&categories=course
https://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/powershell
https://powershell.org/
https://aka.ms/psslack
https://aka.ms/psdiscord
http://poshcode.org/
https://powershell.org/summit/
http://www.psconf.eu/
https://psday.uk/
https://www.meetup.com/pro/uk-devopscollective/
https://www.youtube.com/user/powershellorg/videos
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxgrI58XiKnDDByjhRJs5fg/videos
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCplHMQDHTYH3wA7A1YcaVTw/videos
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnWPTrwSmO5xvjOiqqLTYpg/videos
https://mva.microsoft.com/training-topics/powershell#!jobf=IT%20Pros&lang=1033
https://channel9.msdn.com/Search?term=PowerShell&lang-en=true
https://www.powershellgallery.com/
https://github.com/PowerShell?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=DSC&type=&language=

I’m looking forward to seeing how the future pans out with xplat PowerShell – what are you looking forward to the most with this?

My Company Re-Digitise website gets a much needed lick of paint

Also over the course of this weekend I have rebuilt the Re-Digitise site from the shell that I threw together on Github Pages to a more modern Site using WordPress as the Backend

 

Please take a few minutes to have a look at the site at https://www.re-digitise.org and get in contact with me if you feel that Re-Digitise could help your company out at all.

 

As per my Previous blog post the site is fully https where it wasn’t before although I am yet to get it set up with Cloudflare for the CDN side of things.

 

Now to start building some Promo materials for Re-Digitise Smile

Minor Blog Update – now HTTPS by default!

This Sunday I set out to force my blog hosted on Azure to be Https by Default and I mainly made use of the following Article by Troy Hunt on the underlying implementation which makes use of Cloudflare but I’ve also decided to get it set up ready for if I may want to move away from CloudFlare to Azure CDN in future.

 

There really isn’t to difficult to do this especially if you follow Troy’s post. It is something that can be completed in a manner of hours and best of all it is a free service from Cloudflare to enforce HTTPS and you get the power of a CDN built in too.

 

This means that the core items of my blog site load much quicker than they used to which is good for everyone that visits in future.

 

There are a few little amendments that you need to do on the Azure WebSite side with the Web.Config file but with it being an addition as simple as below I’m sure that it wont be something that trips people up in future

 

<rule name=”Force HTTPS” enabled=”true”>
          <match url=”(.*)” ignoreCase=”false” />
          <conditions>
            <add input=”{HTTPS}” pattern=”off” />
          </conditions>
          <action type=”Redirect” url=”https://{HTTP_HOST}/{R:1}” appendQueryString=”true” redirectType=”Permanent” />
        </rule>

 

You do need to also get your own SSL Certificate if you are using your own Domain name as by default there is a Wildcard SSL cert for the azurewebsites.net domain and I decided to go with DigiCert – http://digicert.com/ – for this as opposed to the Cloudflare cert that you could go with.

 

Hopefully now my blog will load a little quicker for you all Smile

Functional / Non-Functional Pester Tests and why I think you really should have a form of both.

So in this blog post I’m going to cover why there is a need to create Functional & Non-Functional Pester Tests for your PowerShell Modules but before I get into the nitty gritty into the whys behind creating both let me explain what the real differences are between the two because it may not be something that you have previously thought about or considered in your journey up until this point.

 

Functional

  • Used to test the code’s different use cases
  • Can be either be a form of Unit or Integration Test
  • Where we “Mock” the functionality to confirm it works as expected
  • To Determine the level of code coverage that your tests actually hit
  • Makes Functionality changes simpler and easier going forward as long as you write more Functional tests
  • Should save headaches as code moves between environments as part of a Build/Release Pipeline
  • Provides a Documentation Mechanism to catch either bugs so these can be fixed
  • Provides a Documentation Mechanism to potentially highlight where you may be able to make possible improvements

 

Non-Functional

  • Can be more referred to as “Traditional Documentation”
  • Aids Newcomers to the code base by being suggestive that you provide some useful help documentation
  • This can also aid newcomers in learning how to understand some of the more advanced functionality
  • We get Validation on the Functions Parameter types – i.e should the parameter be a String for input
  • Confirmations on whether the Parameter a Mandatory Parameter or not ?
  • Gives us a basic form of ParameterSet Validation
  • Gives us a basic form of Parameter Position Validation
  • Does the Parameter Accept Pipeline Input ?
  • Does the Parameter Accept Pipeline Input by Property Name ?
  • Does the Parameter use Advanced Validation at all ?
  • Does the Parameter have at least some help text defined ?
  • Does the Function have at least a basic level of Comment Based Help ? – lets leave the pro’s & con’s for another topic shall we.

 

So with the additional amount of tests that we may have to write from looking at the above why should we spend the time writing these tests?

This is where the story for Non-Functional tests becomes a little hazy in some ways but it really depends on the situation on how you’ve ended up with this module.

 

These possibilities can include

You’ve Inherited or downloaded someone else’s code and you have no clue what its doing because it’s

  • Not well documented with little or no help
  • Difficult to read because of the formatting
  • Uses a number of privately scoped functions
  • All the functions are either in a single ps1 or psm1 file
  • Just needs to be refactored to make it easier to manage, maintain & update going forward

Or it may just be that

  • It almost does what you need but you need to extend the functionality
  • You want to dig a little deeper into how it works
  • You are possibly continuing a discontinued open source project
  • Or you are looking at your own older code and want to give it a much needed update considering you’ve become a more experienced scripter than you were when you originally wrote it

 

If you were to go and create all the Non-Functional Tests that I’ve listed above then this will give you a lot of additional tests (& I mean a lot) that you would then have available to you to provide you some more trust in your code whilst you refactor or just understand how all the bolts fit together.

However I will point out that from this is really meant to provide you with a Singular Set Baseline on what is included in the module and not how the Module actually functions as that’s the role of the Functional Tests to do so.

 

In my next post I will show you how we can automagically create these Non-Functional Tests for each function included in an existing Script Module, including those functions that are defined as private/internal functions to give us a better chance of being able to manage, maintain & update it going forward.