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Recap of a Long February, March, April and May – Events Events Events!

I had intended that I would be doing a recap type post at the end of every month however I’ve been very busy so haven’t been able to do so for a number of months – that and I had an issue with my blog being offline for a few weeks.

Let us start with a recap on the amount of events that I managed to attend and I think that you can see that I did a lot of travelling and attending a number of different user groups.

I attended the following events

  • Get-PSUGUK – Manchester – Feb 1st
  • SharePoint User Group – Manchester – Feb 2nd
  • Azure Security Training Event – London – Feb 3rd
  • SQL User Group – Manchester – Feb 3rd
  • Get-PSUGUK – London – Feb 4th 
  • Mississippi PowerShell User Group – Feb 10th – Online
  • What’s New in Server 2016 – Microsoft Training Event – London – Feb 17th
  • What’s New in Windows 10 – Microsoft Training Event – London – Feb 18th
  • WinOps Meetup – London – Feb 23rd
  • Chef Meetup – London – Feb 24th
  • Cloud Roadshow – London – Feb 29th – Mar 1st
  • Azure User Group – London – Mar 1st
  • Manchester Geek Nights – Agile and Tech in Local Government – Mar 3rd
  • SQL Sat Exeter – Mar 12th
  • Lean Agile Manchester – Mar 16th
  • SQL User Group Manchester – Mar 17th
  • Manchester .Net – .Net Core recap – Mar 22nd
  • SQL User Group Cardiff – March 30th
  • MCR Tech Event Organisers meet – Apr 7th
  • SharePoint User Group – Nottingham – Apr 12th
  • PSConfEU – Hanover, Germany Apr 19th – 22nd
  • Get-PSUGUK Manchester – Apr 25th
  • Get-PSUGUK London – Apr 27th
  • MVP Open Day – Apr 28th – 29th
  • SQLBits Sat – May 7th
  • Get-PSUGUK Manchester – May 23rd
  • WinOps Conf London – May 24th
  • UKITCamp London – May 25th
  • SQL London User Group – May 25th
  • Get-PSUGUK London – May 26th

So in the space of the beginning of February to the end of May I attended 30 different User Groups, Training days or Conferences and that wasn’t all the ones that I had planned either due to some unfortunate illnesses that occurred as well.

Now those that know me will know that I attend the events because I’m genuinely interested in the topics at the events or catching up with the people that are there after all the events are all about the community and the networking opportunities that they bring to us.

I intend to in future post ahead of where you can catch me in the following months via the Find Me At page and then at the end of the month detail more about what I learned at the events.

Before I go into detail on the events and what happened at them just take a moment to look at the types of events that they are and the breadth of technology that they span. This may give you an insight into the differing technologies that excite and interest me going forward. 

To start Get-PSUGUK Manchester on Monday Feb 1st which seems a long time ago but is still an event that I can vaguely remember enough to post about. I presented the initial version of my “Teaching the IT Pro how to Dev” Session where I introduced my ISE_Cew Module to the Audience for helping with getting to grips with using source control with Git and unit testing with Pester. We also had our first community speaker Tim Hynes @railroadmanuk who presented on Automating Infrastructure using PowerShell with various Infrastructure API’s that he’s been working with including VMWare, Cisco & NetAPP devices. You can find his presentation at https://github.com/railroadmanuk/presentations and not long after Tim was awarded VMWare vExpert. I know he’s presented at other events since and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Tim.

Then on Tuesday Feb 2nd SharePoint User Group in Manchester will always be a group that is close to me as it was the first user group to give me the possibility to present at which you can read more about here – though this was a night about “What you need to know about SharePoint 2016” by Heath Groves @Heath_Groves and Building Enterprise Platforms by Andy Talbot @SharePointAndy – you can find Andy’s slide deck at http://www.sharepointandy.com/?p=550

Heath gave us a rundown on all the things coming in SharePoint 2016  and even prepared some take-me-homes which included the New and Removed PowerShell Cmdlets in SharePoint 2016. Andy’s session was a good thought provoking session for those that have dealt with SharePoint in the past and there are some really good points in the slide deck that are applicable to a number of different areas of IT. You can tell this deck was put together with the pains that Andy will have personally felt working with the number of different IT Departments over the years and a number of them I have felt as well as will a number of you too. Even if your not a SharePoint person go and have a look at the deck and see if it resonates with items that you feel in your day to day IT lives.

Next up on Wednesday 3rd Feb it was an early morning with a 5:15am train from Manchester to London for an Azure Security Morning at Microsoft’s offices at Victoria – this is an area that more people need to put time into and I’m looking forward to seeing some further work in this area and mainly more so from Microsoft. Saying that Microsoft recently released the Azure Security Information Site on https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/security/ so go and have a look at it as there is a lot of good information in there. However the Security morning was a good event although I felt it would have been better as a full day event especially as there were a number of issues with getting the interactive demos/labs up and running with the Barracuda security devices mainly due to issues in the Scripts that had been provided to set everything up. They should have written Pester Tests for these scripts as I had gotten the impression that the scripts were recently updated for a recent release of the Barracuda security devices. Some of the attendees managed to get things set up however I was unable to which was not ideal.

I then had to leave London around 14:30 in order to get back to Manchester in time for the SQL Server User Group that evening. Now everyone that knows me knows my SQL knowledge isn’t close to be on par with those that live and breath SQL every day however one thing all platforms require is a data backend of sorts. So I’ve pushed myself to attend more and more SQL events where possible (as you’ll gather from the rest of this post as well) so that I can learn more about this crucial technology and be able to implement and use it in my own adventures going forward and one of the area’s that has piqued my interests is PowerBI and I was glad to be able to get what was a real beginners crash course into PowerBI by what I can only describe as an Awesome Instructor – Adam Aspin. We also had a session on SQL Server Wait Stats by Rainer Unwin which was an interesting although perhaps a bit too technically in depth for me to fully follow at this stage of my interaction with SQL Server – though I’m sure it will be something that I come back to in future.

Then the next day Thursday Feb 4th, I had to travel back down to London from Manchester for the London PowerShell User Group at RackSpace just out of Hayes and Harlington, where I also presented my Teaching the IT Pro how to Dev session with a bit of an update to it from the Manchester session. We also had Rudolf Vesely @RudolfVesely from Rackspace give an Introduction to Pester which was a great session for the audience – Rudolf will be presenting to the London group again in future on a more in depth session on Pester so look out for this.

On Feb 10th I was lucky to present to the virtual Mississippi PowerShell User Group where I Presented the Teaching the IT Pro how to Dev session – this was recorded and I’ve blogged about it in a bit more detail here.

I then attended the UKITCamps in London on Feb 17th & 18th on the What’s New in Server 2016 & What’s New in Windows 10 topics and although these are camps that I’ve previously attended there are a number of labs in there that are good to have chance to run over and replay. I also enjoy the UKITCamps as these are Microsoft delivered training days meaning that there are a number of others there that I get chance to network with along with also getting chance to catch up the guys running them, namely Ed Baker, Marcus Robinson and Andrew Fryer. I was also very lucky to get chance to head out for a meal with Ed, Marcus & the other members of the DX team that work behind the scenes to put on these events. I for one look forward to the events and them being put on by the guys in the DX Team and now how difficult it is to arrange events like these. This is before you include preparing the Slide decks and the labs that are to be used in these events. Hopefully we will see more of these events in future however there aren’t any currently planned so we will have to wait and see if more of them appear in future.

I then had a just under a week until my next event which was decided last minute where I was to present my Teaching the IT Pro how to Dev session to the WinOps group in London on Feb 23rd which was great however I suffered from a failed MicroHDMI to HDMI Adaptor so I had to try and move my demo and deck to Stephen Thair from DevOpsGuys Laptop and as per the standard developer line ‘Well, It worked on my machine’ I was unable to show the demo’s working. This has lead me to build a VM in Azure and a second Hyper-V VM for any demos that I want to run in future to ensure that demos work – Also I’m planning getting a dedicated presentation only device which I’ll wipe between events to ensure that all runs as expected along with a few backup cables & Adaptors to have with me.

Then the next night attended the Chef Meetup where I was introduced to GoCD, Terraform & Kubernetes – all look like interesting technology but I need to get a reason to get in deep with any of these technologies so look forward to me possibly blogging on these technologies in future.

I then Attended the London leg of the Microsoft Cloud Roadshow on Feb 29th & March 1st where there were a number of different sessions on throughout the event with tracks covering most of Microsofts technologies with a number of them focused on the SharePoint/Office365 ecosystem and the Azure ecosystem. The highlight of the event was the ability to go and have a few drinks with Joey Aiello one of the PowerShell PM team who was over from the US for the Cloud Roadshow. It was good to be able to have a face to face chat and I’m sure in future that there will be more chances to chat including the MVP Summit. Joey is younger than I am and is rocking a very good role at Microsoft – Imagine being part of the PowerShell Team – that is a number of peoples dream jobs and I would be lying if I were to say that I wouldn’t find it amazing to spend my day working even more with PowerShell than I already do. However as an MVP I do get that luxury already although it would be a very different role to the one that I’m doing. Who knows what the future holds but I know that for me it will likely involve PowerShell for a number of years if not decades to come.

I also dragged a few people to the London Azure User Group that was happening on the evening of March 1st where we were introduced to Boris Devouge, Director of Open Source Strategy at Microsoft and I can only describe him as a ‘Fluently Funny Frenchman’  which make his presentations engaging and as this was on the new Azure Container Service (it’s an Azure User Group after all) it was interesting to hear of the partnerships that Microsoft have been recently making in this area with the push to make Azure the most open source friendly cloud. The Azure Container service was in public preview (I think) at the time of the presentation however it has since been made Generally Available and you can learn more on ACS on this post on the Azure Blog site https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/azure-container-service-is-now-generally-available/

I next attended a talk in Manchester on March 3rd at Manchester Geek Nights on Agile and Tech in Local Government delivered by Stockport Council where I was lucky to bump into my good friend Ethar who always has a good story to tell. I must get chance to catch up with him again when I’m next in Manchester and not just there on a flitting visit. The Talk by Stockport Council left me realising why our Governments, Local & National, get a lot of stick for being poor at delivery and execution of their IT projects (& projects in general) and this is because there is so much fragmentation in the IT Systems being used across all differing councils due to them all having separate and diminishing IT budgets to do any projects. I personally think that Centralisation of all of the UK Council & Local Government IT into a single pool would work much better for the public and my reasons for this are pretty simple, Enhanced Governance, Lower Boundaries to sharing data between the different departments that need to share data Nationally (think Social Care departments, Housing Departments etc) and Generally a simpler to manage Infrastructure and Workforce. Though perhaps I’m biased being from a Microsoft background which means that I can see some opportunities to scale similar services nationally which would be massively more cost efficient. Almost all the banks have done this and realised the benefits and to me it makes sense for the Public Services Sectors to do the same too! It was however interesting to hear about how Stockport Council are embracing Open Source technologies and essentially building out their own products which they are in turn open sourcing for other councils to take advantage of too. Its an interesting journey for them to take and I hope that the effort doesn’t end up being completely canned in a few years time if a Nationalisation of IT Services to Councils were to occur. It in my opinion is a logical step for this country to take though I’m not sure politicians and logic can go together. We will have to wait and see.

 

SQL Sat Exeter – March 12th. Well I’m not really sure I need to say any more than that really. However it was a great event and my first event doing a back to back demo heavy session on PowerShell DSC. Even more scary it was DSC but for SQL Server. I hadn’t realised how much of a headache the SQL Server DSC resources were until I spent the majority of the week leading up to it getting annoyed with little things like hardcoded values for where the Resource expected the Install media to be. I got that frustrated with it that I began to rewrite the resources so that it would work how I expected it to work which meant that I spent more time writing DSC Resources from scratch than actually doing anything useful. Especially as a week or two after SQL Sat Exeter I wiped the drive with the resources on them. Yes they were in Source control but only on that machine – lesson learned – DOH!!!

SQL Sat Exeter was my first real forage into the SQL Community events except User Groups and I after the fun I had with them at Exeter I can see why it is they call themselves SQLFamily. In the lead up to my sessions there was a run around to get some bacon sandwiches and a fair amount of drama with my demo’s having decided to kill themselves that morning – However I managed to get them working before my session and there was some good reviews come from it. I know where I need to improve the content and will be looking forward to SQL Sat Paris in a few weeks where I will need to cram all of the information from 2 hours into 45 minutes. #ChallengeAccepted

It was also the Saturday night at after event Curry & following drinks that the discussion about SQL Sat Manchester having a PowerShell Track came to fruition. I was lucky enough to have ended up out with Chris Testa-O’Neill and the other organisers at SQL Sat Manchester the year before (my first SQL Sat event and I went as an attendee) so it all felt natural to be there along with a number of other familiar faces like Rob Sewell and Steff & Oz Locke. Its like a reunion and I’m looking forward to what will be a kick ass SQL Sat Manchester this year. The PowerShell track shaped up nicely Smile. One thing I’ve learnt about the SQL Community is that it really does kick ass but then again all the IT Communities I’m a part of do. Our Passion brings us all together and with it we ensure to have a bloody good time when we get together. Else why bother?

On the Sunday morning I had an interesting email come in as I was sat having breakfast which lead me to question it a little with Chris & Alex Whittles and well history has been written since that morning.  I also got chance to help Rob out with a DSC issue he was having and gave him the guidance that he needed to resolve his issue in the right way as things currently stand and in future we will have a feature complete PowerShell DSC Resource for SQL Server – though this will require some community help and you can help out by voting on / adding items to the Trello board at http://sqlps.io/vote

Next up on my events (and half way through the 30 events I’d attended) was LeanAgile Manchester on March 16th – a firm favourite of mine as its a great community (like they all are) where we were treated to a talk by Jon Terry – but not that Jon Terry! – from LeanKit about how the deal with working in a Lean\Agile way with their FSGC (Frequent Small Good Decoupled – said FizzGood) approach. It’s another example of where the Software/manufacturing world bring good things to the rest of IT and generally other areas too and I would highly recommend that you go and read their blog on FizzGood at http://leankit.com/blog/2015/07/does-this-fizz-good/ and take away from it what you can.

Next up on my User groups that I attended was the Manchester SQL User Group where we would be walking through Cortana Analytics which I was looking forward to as at SQL Sat Exeter Chris Testa-O’Neill & Cortana essentially got a divorce whilst he was in the Speaker Room prepping at SQL Sat Exeter. I’m sure with a decent set of data I’ll be able to find a good use case for Cortana Analytics and I have some ideas in the pipeline so keep an eye out on future posts on this.

As an Non-Dev Admin who realised that I am really a Dev just wasn’t ready to admit it to myself, I find that the .NET User Group in Manchester is a useful group to attend especially when the topic is about .NET Core which it was on March 22nd. Even more so as with .NET Core there is a real possibility that the PowerShell Engine will eventually be open sourced especially as we are seeing a refactor of the existing Cmdlets to be able to be run on Nano Server with more and more coming each new TP and more to come for Server 2016 GA. We were treated to a history lesson on .NET Core by Matt Ellis @citizenmatt with the slide deck at http://www.slideshare.net/citizenmatt/net-core-blimey-windows-platform-user-group-manchester and again is well worth the read.

Next up was just after I had moved from Manchester to Derby and still had the hire car – and I had an itching to go see some of my SQL friends in Cardiff – especially as it was an epic event – Return of the Beards! This only means that not only did I get chance to catch up with Steff Locke again but also with Rob (again – it seems like that guy gets everywhere Winking smile) and also another one of my SQL friends Tobiasz Koprowski and lastly the other bearded SQL guy of the night Terry McCann. This was where I got to learn a bit more about TSQL from Terry and Securing SQL in Azure from Tobiasz but also see Rob’s session on the pains of Context Switching and how PowerShell & PowerBI help him not get mithered for information that can be easily made available and easily searchable with a little effort. This is for me a great example of real world use of PowerShell and PowerBI being useful together and well worth watching Rob deliver this if you can get the chance.

I then attended my first Tech Organisers Meetup in Manchester on April 7th – it was good to meet the other Tech User Group Organisers in Manchester/NW area and have the discussions that was needed as a collective to help strengthen the view that Manchester is a blossoming Tech Hub in its own rights – something that Londoners seem to miss out on. Manchester is ace because it’s cheaper than London and is actually more lively at night than London (I’ve found) and you can literally walk from one end of the main city centre to the other in about 20 minutes or so and within that you have the Northern Quarter. So you are pretty much sorted!

Next up I had another event I presented at – The SharePoint User Group in Nottingham on April 12th. I presented on PowerShell DSC for SharePoint like I did at the SharePoint User Group in Leeds in January but this was a special one for me as it was the first User Group that I presented to after being awarded MVP which being awarded on April fools day lead me to post this post Congratulations 2016 Microsoft MVP at 15:31 about 10 min after getting the Email and then Fooled Ya – Today I became a MVP at 15:55  – I also blogged Awarded the MVP Award – What it means to me and the future for the Community. We also had a talk from Garry Trinder @garrytrinder on Require.JS which can be used in conjuction with MDS (Minimal Download Strategy) in SharePoint 2013 and Online Sites to help bundle up and control your page load and transition times. Javascript is one of those dark arts that I’ve not had much more I’ve needed to do with it – but I certainly would look to use Require.JS in any of my future web projects.

My next event was PSConfEU and this was the event that I had been looking forward to because of the sheer work that went into it by all involved, including Tobias Weltner and myself to make it a success. Due to the size of this event I will put together another post in the coming days that really captures the details on what an amazing event that it was as I don’t think that a few sentences will do it any real justice. Plus I want to relive the experience in as much detail as I can so that I can share it with you as well – so that if you weren’t able to make it then hopefully you’ll do what you can to make PSConfEU 2017. Planning will begin for PSConfEU 2017 most likely early August so there will be small announcements some point after then though its still all to be determined.

From the spill over from PSConfEU I had managed to bribe June Blender to agree to come and present at the Manchester & London PowerShell User Groups – though to be honest there wasn’t much bribing involved as June had wanted to come to Manchester anyway and timing wise it just worked out great. June gave her Thinking in Events hands on lab at both groups and both groups had some great questions and I’ve had some fantastic feedback from the sessions which has lead me to start working on preparing my own hands on events for in the future. These are “in the works” so to speak and details on these will start to appear in the next few months.

Next up was my first MVP event where we went to Bletchley Park – a fantastic historical site and I’m planning to head back there again in future. The event was good for me as it allowed me to meet up with other UK MVP’s including fellow PowerShell MVP Jonathan Noble. There is a good story behind how we ended up meeting on the train up from London to Bletchley Park and it starts with me forgetting to charge my Laptop and Phone the night before. When I got to Euston I was frantically trying to make sure that I got on the right train to get to Bletchley. I had messaged Jonathan whilst on my way and had found out that we were catching the same train to Bletchley. However, phone signal is pretty poor when you are travelling out of London and just before my phone died I managed to send him a message letting him know I was about half way up the train. About 20 minutes passed and then all of a sudden this guy two rows in front of me got up and came to me and said “Hello – its Ryan isn’t it? I’m Jonathan only just got your message” and from that moment we just continued chatting. When we got to Bletchley Jonathan was able to lend me a power bank to charge my phone not that I really needed it but having charge on your phone is now a comfort thing isn’t it. We had  an afternoon of talks and then a really nice drinks and dinner where I got chance to meet some more of the MVPs which was good. We then next day had some presentations in the morning and then we had to make some Rocket Cars in the afternoon. It was great fun to something less techy but still something that most enjoyed. I was lucky to be able to get a lift from Alex Whittles from Bletchley along with Steff Locke to Birmingham New Street Station which allowed for a number of good conversations about SQLBits & SQLRelay. Both being events that in future I may get more involved in – if I can manage to stretch that far that is. Once Alex dropped me and Steff off we worked out that we either had half hour to try and get something quick to eat before running for our respective trains or we could get something decent to eat and then get a drink afterwards before catching the train after that. Naturally, decent food and drink was always going to be the winner Smile.

 

Nearly Finished with the Recap with just 6 events left to cover, so If you’ve read this far well done you can manage to make it to the end Smile

 

I then attended the SQLBits Saturday event on May 7th in Liverpool and although I got there not long before lunch I was still able to get to the sessions that I wanted to get to – mainly the SQLTools session as seeing that SSMS has been decoupled from the SQL Server Install – which is 100% the right thing to have done. Like other SQL events I bumped into Alex, Steff, Rob (he is literally everywhere Winking smile), Tobiasz & a number of other SQL people including Mark Broadbent, Niko Neugebauer, André Kamman, John Martin, Mladin Prajdic & Neil Hambley to name just a few. As per all these events once the curtains for the event has closed that is when the Food and Drinks appear and I’ve realised that I have a soft spot which stops me saying no to going for a Curry & Drinks with all these amazing people. This means that future events I’ll be planning to stick around for the almost guaranteed after Curry and the ensuing drinks and conversations that happen around them.

I then had the amazing opportunity to meet and spend a few hours with Ed & Teresa Wilson – The Scripting Guy & Scripting Wife – where I took them for a wonder down to the University of Manchester Campus and took them to KRO – a nice Dutch place for some food which was right round the corner of where I used work when I was at UoM. We then strolled leisurely around the campus on the way back towards the venue for the User Group where we had Ed talking us though OMS & Azure Automation DSC now that Ed is a part of the OMS team at Microsoft. Due to the fact that we had to get a Train to London at 21:15 the user group was an hour shorter than it normally would be so we didn’t have time for pizza and the normal after drinks that we would have normally done but the turn out was still one of the best turnouts we’ve had and there will be more events like it planned in future as well with an aim to make the next Manchester User Group occur in July.

As I mentioned Ed, Teresa and I all had a Train to catch to get to London for WinOps, and much like PSConfEU, I am planning to blog about this event separately to really capture the spirit of the event. Look out for that post in the next week or two.

 

We then had the UKITCamp which Marcus Robinson & Ed were going over the feature sets of Azure & OMS. I unfortunately missed the morning of this event due to being called onto a customer production issue conference call – 3 hours of my morning I couldn’t get back however sometimes that is how these things go and as I was leaving the Venue I found out that there was the London SQL User Group on that evening and I decided to stick around for it as the topic was “Common SQL Server Mistakes and How to Avoid them” which is the kind of SQL topic that I enjoy because it isn’t deeply technical but allows me to understand the product just that little bit better than I did beforehand.

Lastly The London PowerShell User Group, which we had Ed at again and had the highest turnout so far. Ed again was talking about OMS & Azure Automation DSC but also had a number of opportunities for some open directed questions from the audience which is always an added bonus of having more & more people turn up to the group. We over run a little with the conversations that were flowing mainly due to having an excess of beer and pizza due – something that we haven’t had happen before at the user groups. Then as per usual with the User Groups we end up finding somewhere else to go for another drink or two and continue the conversations.

 

So thats most of my last 3 months summarised – what have you done in the last 3 months?

Future posts like this will be much shorter, contain some pictures and be competed on a monthly basis.

Thanks for reading – Hope you have a great day!

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