Get-PSUGUK & PSConfEU – How I got involved in Organising them

Well this is a blog post that is really like the PSConfEU website and the organisation that goes with a conference like this – a real work in progress – by this I mean that at current writing it is correct however in a week well then it will be partially obsolete, but only partially.

So lets go right back to the beginning of the story, and for me this story goes back to July and just after I had agreed that I would be setting off for the PowerShell Conference in Singapore, see my post on just how amazing that was here, and how I had really been finding that the was an issue for me with the fundamental lack of UK PowerShell movement. From my trawls of the internet I concluded that there was really only the US Summit (at this point I didn’t even know about the EU Summit and not sure how I missed it either which just goes to show how out of the loop you can be if you are not on the ball for finding where this information is out there in the depths of the internet) and I felt frustrated with this so I started to do my Home Work and found out about the PowerShell User Group in the UK – Get-PSUGUK.

At this point all there was still really available on the internet was a dead link to the old webpage and a few blog posts that I could find mentioning it. Some of these were from 2006/2007/2008 so were quite old but luckily there was an email on one of them so after about a week of arguing with myself about whether or not I should send a query email to find out the status of the User Group, I said to myself JFDI! So I Sent off an email on July 19th just after 15:30 and a little over 2 hours later I had a response – and I’ll tell you I was shocked that I got one at all. I only say that as over the years I must have had at least 25 different email addresses and had most of them running concurrently (now down to 7 – not including work email addresses) so I kind of expected to not end up getting a response at all. Luckily though the response came from none other than UK PowerShell MVP Richard Siddaway (@RSiddaway) who advised me that the user group had become inactive and that although he wanted to resurrect it, time was not on Richard’s side along with his other commitments.

Well this is where my determination (or lack of patience – still yet to be decided) kicked in and I started to push out on a variety of strands to gather some further information – like where could I look to host a user group being one of the big ones to tackle, and also there was the need to also make sure that I could post on PowerShell.org to help promote the event/s. Luckily Manchester is pretty good for its venues in which you can host User Groups so there was plenty of choice and there is a great bunch of organisers in Manchester that co-ordinate together (using Slack – more on Slack later) about the direction of User Groups and co-ordinating events that run in Manchester as well which is great to be involved in as there can be some really great crossover between user groups – an example I presented about PowerShell DSC at the DevOps User Group on Monday 2nd November and this was to a mainly *nix filled room.

So from there I made some plans with Richard to put together a Get-PSUGUK Manchester User Group and get a date arranged as well. So by the end of August I had arranged for the first meetup to take place at SpacePortX in Manchester on October 13th and had already factored in scaling for other User Groups in the UK for the administrative overheads these user groups could potentially create. By this all I really mean is that I had created an Eventbrite page, A function to interact with the Eventbrite API to add members into a Distribution List for emails advertising other possible events and worked out that I would be the sole speaker at the initial event in Manchester.

Then next thing I know it and I’m at PSConfAsia and whilst there I was discussing with the other speakers about how much I had enjoyed the event that I would be interested in running something similar myself back in the UK especially seeing as Don Jones had blogged that the powershell.org team would not be up for organising another EU Summit due to the enormous stress placed on them being mainly based in the US. Time zones are a big issue with organising an event like this and to have to try and traverse multiple time zones cannot be fun at all so I can totally understand the decision by the Powershell.org team not to continue to attempt to organise the EU event as in many ways this allows there to be others like myself and the rest of the team that have pulled together to organise PSConfEU.

So now into the real meat of this post in my opinion – its not every day that you can say that you are working with a cross continent collective to put together an event like this and all of us are doing this in our spare time and we have had to make sure that we collaborate as effectively as possible – now we could have continued with the Email list that was set up by PowerShell.org for us to get together people that would be interested in helping out pull this event off however that wasn’t going to be really optimal as conversation tracking becomes a nightmare in emails (personally if email were to disappear in the workplace that would not bother me) and we needed to segregate topics but not spilt away all the eyes from the information being discussed. Slack becomes a critical tool for this in my personal opinion and without it we would not have had all the success that we have had currently.

The PowerShell EU conference Website and the development practices behind how we are maintaining and updating it are crucial to the understanding of where IT SysAdmin is heading and with that we chose the best fitting platform for what we wanted to achieve – a Website with easy version control and ability to integrate a Continuous Integration toolset to allow us to determine if the new builds of the website were functioning as expected, plus it gives us all piece of mind as well.

So PSConf.eu is hosted using GitHub Pages which means that the site is just a GitHub Repo structured to the organising team’s GitHub Organisation. With this we are making use of Jekyll, the static site generator built in Ruby – that means that just to get the site to where it is we have all had to have a bit of a learning curve with the way to build out the site to take advantage of the way that Jekyll functions and also learn a bit of Ruby in the process. This for me has been fantastic as I love to learn something new especially if it is something completely out of the norm for me. Just see the tweet I have pinned on my twitter profile at @ryanyates1990 and that should be enough of an insight to how much I’ve enjoyed this so far 😉 and yet there is still so much more for me (and the team) to get completed prior to the end of this year including selecting the speakers.

One of the other interesting bits with this is it has empowered me to realise that not only is there a lot of hard work into conferences and events but that they can be managed in an efficient way with the right mix of technology. There is no 1 stop shop to getting an event like this right and it truly is a collaboration of efforts between us all involved.

So to end this rather long winded blog post I’d like to just mention the following

Get-PSUGUK have meet ups in Manchester and in London this November – you can sign up at www.get-psuguk.eventbrite.co.uk

The PowerShell Conference EU is still accepting Speaker Submissions we have a closing date in mind however we will likely confirm this via @PSConfEU in the next few weeks. If you are in 2 minds about submitting a session then please reach out to me directly as soon as possible.

For more details on the PowerShell EU Conference please visit www.psconf.eu

Published: 15/11/2015 14:18

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