I'm Still Standing – no matter how tough it's been!

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I’m gonna try and keep this one short – the main reason is that there is alot of pain points within this post that I could delve into some very deep detail and this could easily end up being long enough to be a book.

So to cut it short but to set the scene this post has to look back 13 years ago – to when I was only 12 and even back then I was a highly optimistic person about what I could achieve and have believed that holding back oppertunity to those with potential

Now Secondary school wasn’t the most of fun for me at all – I had self diagnosed at this point that I was suffering with a mild yet managable form of depression. I chose not to discuss this with doctors or counsellors as at that point I just wanted to get through it as best as I could off my own back and for this reason alone i was very much an underachiever at school coming out with GSCE’s that weren’t close to those that I could have achieved.

This is what has lead me to drive myself to continue to better myself even through some very difficult situations over the last 9 years – as not to feel that I had become weak in my own mind, so I tell myself to “just get on with it” and that “this is only a small part of the future – keep on pushing and you can and will achieve it”

So to summarise the last 9 years in a few bullet points

  • I’ve been made homeless at least 5 times
  • I’ve sofa surfed for what has equated to well over 2 years
  • I’ve even ended up having to sleep in my car for multiple days at a time.
  • I’ve been faced with the age old – “no experience yet not able to get experience” whilst trying to attain formidable employment
  • I’ve worked unhealthy hours including an almost 6 month spell where I had worked upto 120hours each week.
  • I also started my family whilst I was still very young & people are still shocked each time I tell them that I’m 25 and have 2 children
  • The mother to my Children and myself split up in difficult circumstances whilst she was pregnant with my Daughter
  • Not long after the children where taken into care
  • Since then I’ve been subject to dealing with the UK Family courts – which I wont go into much detail but I lost my fight for my children and was hevily critised for being/wanting to be a working parent.

So yes in summarisation the last decade can really only be summarised as being a rollercoaster of events – yet through it all I am still standing and pushing and doing my damn well best to prove that I can achieve what I want to achieve.

There are only a handful of people that have really helped me along the way and these people do know how much that they have helped.

The point of this post is that no matter the person in front of you there is a much bigger story that you may not know all the details about – all you are seeing is a small representation of that person so dont make a judgement about that book by its cover instead take the time to understand the story contained within the pages.

Published: 19/07/2015 14:14


Preferred Contact methods – Why I have these in place!

If anyone reads my blog that knows me quite well and has spent some considerable amount of time interacting with me then you will probably know that I have preferred methods of contact – and with good reason too.

 

Now I have a few rules that I stick to meticulously because of previous annoyances i have had with Telemarketers etc and these include

  • Not answering “Unknown” or “Blocked” callers
  • Google Searching numbers that I do not have stored in contacts and then deciding if I am to answer the call
  • Typically not answering between 9-5 as that is my employers time and it is distracting
  • Not answering if I’m not expecting a call
  • Expecting a Clear and Concise reason for the call with a Name and contact number or better still and email address

Now I don’t feel that I’m being unreasonable in the last one – After all we are all busy with many different priorities and lets face it unless its an absolute emergency then is mobile contact the best first initial port of call.

No and it never will be!

Some companies in various sectors need to learn this not aptly

  • Debt Collectors
  • Sales teams
  • Recruiters with the age old (I’ve been passed your CV but i’ll try again tomorrow)
  • PPI claims teams – Hint I’ve never had PPI so why waste your time
  • Generic Marketing teams
  • Utility Companies (kind of Sales)
  • Banks
  • Insurance

Note the majority of these calls have a financial intent from the call and these really bug the hell out of me.

So to reduce the levels of nonsense that I get via calls Ii ensure that contact information for my contacts that I have is kept up to date and as a common courtesy I try and ensure that I do the same when required.

 

So heres the reason behind this rather ranty post – I’ve been getting calls from recuiters this last few weeks around jobs going in the SharePoint space – and dont get me wrong I welcome the consideration however it has to be to my terms as so that I can effciently understand the important aspects for the interaction with myself.

If there is no Role specification that can be emailed to me then realisitically theres no further point in furthering communications – this also applies to these roles where there is a blanket salary response similar to “Market rates” – This is a single most reason why I have in the past either not applied for a role for turned a role down and I will not be the only one.

 

So I hope that when people and recruiters especailly read my Profile that they recognise that there is a dedicated section that explicitly states that people should Email me. This is because it is the Single most effective way for me to attain, injest and revisit any information that your may have for me.

 

I’ll look forward to your emails in future instead of you straight up calling me, as that is how I prefer to be contacted.

User Groups – Its not all SharePoint

This week has seen me attend the SharePoint User Group in Leeds on Tuesday in which there were presentations by Hugh Wood from Rencore and Garry Trinder from ID and then the LeanAgile Meetup in Manchester.

 

But firstly before I go into detail about the events lets take a step back and set the scenes leading up to them both.

For me any community event whether it be SharePoint User Groups or the LeanAgile meetup or the bigger events like SharePoint Saturday’s & SQL Saturday’s the main aspect for attending these events for me is that you gain an insight to how others in other organisations are working due to the inherent knowledge sharing that occurs at these types of events and I do my best to try and drag others along where possible.

I do this as its much more fun especially during travel to or from events with a friend than being the typical “headphones in and world out” type that I very much am when travelling to these events or even just in general travel and I only learnt about events like these because someone else within my network told me about them and I feel that its only my duty to further share this knowledge – After all “Sharing is Caring” as Vesa Juvonen would say (the Office365 Dev PnP Program Manager)

So this leads to my travel from Manchester to Leeds for the SUGUK group on Tuesday and I had prearranged to travel to Leeds with none other that Kevin Moss – My favourite Manchester based recruiter. A lot of the people I have worked with have a lot of hate towards recruiters and I think that this is due to unfortunate experiences that they may have had with 1 or 2 in the past and especially in a contractors world you have to keep in mind that a good recruiter should be high up there on your list of SharePint buddies – you never know when a role that is on their books may be a perfect fit for you and I can guarantee that keeping yourself in the recruiters good books will stand you in good steed for that role.

Sometimes it really isn’t so much about what you know but who you know – and Kevin is a great guy to travel to an event with and I’m sure we will end up at other SharePints and travelling to other SharePoint events in future and continue on some of the more interesting conversations that we had started.

 

Now onto the SharePoint User Group where both Sessions were very much developer focused and this did lead me to having a lot of questions that spurred off some very good discussions with not only the presenters but the audience got really involved – which is always a great experience to be involved in.

So the even started with Garry presenting on Building Client side components – Now as a PowerShell Guy for me reusability and upgradability are key factors to consider with anything that you build to reduce the need to build it again and again only changing a few little options. Garry went into some considerable detail around this and even though this was only his second – Yes Second – time presenting this topic he really looked like he was at home.

He was calm and relaxed and although you could tell he had some nerves, he did not this phase him even when he ended up having some VM issues. I will certainly look forward to further presentations that Garry gives and hope to see him at future events.

Now on to Hugh – and well Hugh did what Hugh does at any event and presents like the seasoned pro that he really is. The first event I saw Hugh present was the SUGUK North West Developer day and just like then Hugh did not disappoint.

Hugh’s topic of choice for the evening was one that I’m pretty sure went down well with the crowd and there was a lot of interaction with this topic as well. Myself not being a C# kind of guy (currently – I may add) was coming into this session with a very minimal amount of knowledge in this area – yet it was interesting to see in a demo that Hugh did – using an application he had built himself – to see the differences in how C# and JavaScript are structured.

I’m almost certain that the more developer focused in the audience would have gained a lot more from the session than I did however I still walked away feeling that in future if I end up going down both the C# and JavaScript routes that I would be more capable to differentiate between the two languages and hopefully not make some of the mistakes that can be made.

As per customary with all the SharePoint User Groups we headed downstairs (as SUGUK Leeds is located at The Adelphi which is a great venue) and we proceeded to have a SharePint or 2 where the discussions on the night and SPSLondon and other events did go down a treat. The Organisers Paul & the 2 Simons do well with the Leeds event and it is starting to seem some really good turn outs and I must say that I’m looking forward to the next one on September 1st as its a special one for the Group as its the 1st year Anniversary

However it wasn’t all SharePoint this week. I also attended last night the LeanAgile Meetup group in Manchester- LAManc – and this event was a bit of a special one as this was an abstract of the SAFe Planning In Action Framework sessions that Nick McKenna would normally do over 2 days – yet we tried to a lot of it in just 2 hours – which lead to a manic but fun filled evening.
I wont try and go into a lot of detail about this event due to the almost quite overwhelming amount of information that was thrown around but it was one of the best events I’ve been to that has had nothing to do with SharePoint just due to the sheer amount going on.
However to give a brief intro into the session we were split into 4 teams each tasked with detailing a feature for a website that required search functionality, purchasing functionality and then various other aspects which included commenting on purchases.
My team got the feature that detailed the need around purchases with a Credit Card and we were given 4 user stories and 2 technical issues, however as we found there were a lot of the user stories missing and we found that we added a fair few more in as well.
The evening went really well with lots of interesting discussions on how this way of working can really be beneficial especially across teams with interlinked tasks and it really invoked a deeper sense of pushing priority tasks that had dependencies on other tasks and getting all of those done first – If possible!
I’ll certainly be back to LAManc and would encourage others to do so as well.

SPSLondon – A brilliant although challenging weekend

So this Saturday saw SPSLondon come upon us and like any other event like this it brings with it some very interesting and difficult decisions on which sessions to attend.

As an attendee I would have found it very difficult to decide on which sessions that I would have attended – but to then add to that as a presenter and you​ can imagine some of the additional headaches that can and in my case did happen.

However lets back step a little and actually go through some of the pre-event activities that I had to go through and what better place to start that Monday night / Tuesday morning.

So I was asked at about 11pm Monday night to present at SPSLondon – Now if I’m in bed at that time its rare and Monday certainly was not an exception to the norm and I was actually in mid progress of trying to 100% Song 2 by Blur on Guitar Hero 5 and just like I had been trying for a few weeks before hand.

Anyway the news left me being ecstatic and there was little hope of me being able to sleep easily that night. So I did the next best thing and decided that I would try and stay up for Todd Klindt’s Podcast – which for me in the UK is at like 2:30 am due to BST (such a pain)  I have to say that I have really enjoyed each one and yes I’ve attended a few now.

Todd had Kirk Evans @kaevans on as a special guest this week and I have to say the two of them really compliment each other whilst doing these types of shows and if you get the opportunity – I mean have a Monday night that your finding it difficult to sleep – then catch Todd’s Podcast as I know you’ll enjoy it.

So that ended my Monday and Tuesday wasn’t an eventful day – being quite tired it ended being a very much coffee & Red Bull fuelled day.

Wednesday is where the fun started to begin – I realised that all my travel plans would need to be thrown out of the window and revisited – mainly to ensure that I could attend the Speakers event on the Friday night so that lead to me messing around with trains etc for the travel down – luckily I did not need to change my Hotel else that would have been even more disastrous.

Thursday came a bit of a mad panic at work about ensuring that I could take Friday off to travel down early and get sorted etc and relax a bit before the event. Luckily my manager was and is very accommodating for these things and had no problem with agreeing around it.

Then on Thursday came the first of a few mistakes that I made. Firstly I arranged my revised train ticket as a Single though I only really realised that this was my first mistake on Sunday when I was planning to come back earlier than another ticket I had already purchased.

Secondly I was in London for almost 2 days – So why did I feel it necessary to pack 2 Laptops, my tablet, 3 external hard drives with VM’s and videos etc and then pack 7 different shirts, 4 different pairs of trousers, 3 pairs of shoes and enough toiletries to last me in London a month. I also stupidly packed food & drink for the weekend – granted only things like crisps, sweets and a few cans for the trains, but in reflection this was unneeded and I will revisit it for any future events that I attend/present at.

The Third mistake that I made wasn’t really the third mistake – in fact I should really say that this was the Second mistake and it goes back well before last week.

In fact it would be simpler and more accurate to say that this mistake was the choice in the session.

I say this in hindsight as I knew that it was never going to be a very popular session – I even would go as far as to say that the session was pitched at the wrong event completely and wasn’t really a best fit for the event. However to have been chosen to present this session at all was an honour especially seeing as there was so many great sessions and I was lucky to get chance to get into a few of the ones that I had wanted to get into however there were a few that I had to miss due to timetable clashes – which is to be expected at events like this.

The final but more adequately described as the first mistake was that as a person that has badly suffered over the years with varying levels of social anxiety and is still very much struggling with it ( this is my first time admitting this openly in any form at all – I haven’t even verbally admitted this to anyone ) to put myself under the pressure of presenting at National event like this has been a strenuous and stressful experience for me and I was in panic mode all weekend though I’m sure that it didn’t come across that way – all I can say that the flow of drinks in the speakers do and the after SharePint certainly helped it not be at the forefront of my thoughts and helped me just enjoy the weekend.

I have been doing what I can over the last few months to help me to relax some of the social anxiety by attending more of the SUGUK user groups across the UK – I’ve been to all the NW events this year as well as attending Leeds & West Midlands too. I have also attended the LeanAgile meet up in Manchester as well as a smaller one in my current town of Macclesfield called Digital Edge.

I am intending to attend other events where I can as to help alliviate this being a pressing issue though it originated when I was at Secondary School – so its been an issue now for well over 10 years but its only recently started to become more managable and that is because I’m pushing myself to overcome it.

That being said the weekend has been one that I have enjoyed the whole way because everyone that I’ve met this weekend have all been fantastic and as I tweeted on Sunday – SPSLondon really reinforced the value of the community to me and I feel privileged to have been a part of the initial history of SPSLondon and have enjoyed meeting everyone involved and will continue to do so for many future events to come in which I hope that over time I will become more at ease at being around these events and be seen to be less “head in the clouds” and essentially being a disorganised chaotic mess as I was on Saturday.

I finally must give it up for all the Speakers, Sponsors, Volunteers & Organisers at SPSLondon that made it such a success and to all of them that I did not introduce myself to due to being in panic mode I hope that there will be other times to enjoy their company under better personal circumstances at future events.

 

But most importantly – Thanks to all of the attendees of SPSLondon including those that attended my session even though there were in my opinion better sessions to attend at the same time.

Events like SPSLondon wouldn’t be possible without the community having a desire for these events. So will you see me at SPSLondon 2016 ? And will I be putting forward to be a presenter ?

We will just need to wait and see!

 

My slide deck from my session is availble at SUGUK & SPSLondon Side deck

Late Callup – Presenting at SharePoint Saturday London

Monday was a pretty eventful day for me – and certainly the most eventful Monday I’ve had in a number of years.

It all started with up very early, like 3am early, getting ready for the day ahead and then realising I had managed to loose my house keys. So after a frantic half hour of searching for them – I gave up and left the house to go catch the 06:22 from Macclesfield to Manchester so that I could get into work super early and get cracking on with some of the help for the PowerShell functions of SPCSPS.

That was the plan – however that wasn’t the case  and for a number of not very interesting reasons I didn’t manage to get started with the help writing so hopefully after this weekend I will manage to get properly started with it.

However late Monday brought some interesting news about SharePoint Saturday and a opening for me to present my session which I have taken up and I am just finishing off the bits required for the session –  which I’m really looking forward to.

Saturday is going to be an amazing day with there being so many great speakers and so much amazing content and although i was already looking forward to the event as an attendee – I’m now looking even more forward to it as an attendee & presenter.

If you have the chance to get to SharePoint Saturday then I highly recommend it as it will be a great FREE event.

Details about SharePoint Saturday can be found on the following link SharePoint Saturday London

 

If you are there and see me about – come and say Hi as these events are a great networking opportunity and for me that is a key driver to wanting to attend and present at events like this.

Beware possible Email Loss – Dirsync and Unique Circumstances

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Recently I had a Unique scenario – this was caused by a need to decommission an old server of mine that was running Server 2008 R2 (and was the only Domain Controller) and upgrade it to 2012 R2 – unfortunately on the existing hardware.

* Spoiler Alert  If possible always virtualise any DC that is either a SPOF or is to be upgraded so that you can in the worst case revert to it if required *

Now as I had to reuse the server I had a few months ago killed off DirSync from the server and carried on with “In Cloud” Identities – which was fine until this weekend when I rebuilt the Domain​ and had a few small changes that I needed to make – Mainly the FQDN of the Domain to remove an unnecessary .com addition (rushed deployment 3 years ago at night – I’ve learnt since then) and a change to the NetBIOS Domain Name – to shorten it.

All in all when I recreated the domain with the right users in the Domain – including the one for my main Email – this started throwing up errors due to the following attributes

  • Mail
  • UserPrincipleName
  • ProxyAddresses

Following an article online in regards to forcing a Cloud Identity to work out that there was an On-Premises replicated object it specifies that you should make sure that if the Online User has an Exchange Mailbox that you set the Proxy Address to be the Email Address for this mailbox

Well I did that – and it failed for almost 3 hours of forced DirSync replications.

So I renamed my Online User’s UPN to one that doesn’t exist in the On-Prem AD so that it would get around this issue and lost a lot of emails (which i should have exported but oh well)

Hopefully you won’t have this happen in your scenarios however this is just a be Forewarned type Blog post.

Thanks for reading 🙂

Published: 06/07/2015 13:30