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

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

 

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.

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

 

 

#PSConfAsia – What an amazing experience!

So this post is a fair bit overdue and that’s because I’ve been very very busy as of late.

However let’s get right into it!

#PSConfAsia was an important event for me mainly because it was my first venture out of the UK in 20 years – yes 20 – which meant that I needed to sort out my passport – something that had been on my to-do list for about 6 years and it was my first real holiday EVER! It also happened to be very well needed and well timed venture abroad – for those that know me well will understand why the timing of this was crucial to me and perhaps for those that are still to get to know me better this may be something that I share with you in time.

So I had it planned that I would be in Singapore for a few days before the conference and that ended up being that I was in Singapore for 6 days in total which for my first dose of international travel this I think for me was more than enough – my previous “holidays” over the last 5-7 years have been a few days off at a time with almost no travel from the house so this was going to be a really big change for me.

The actual travel there was something I was a little anxious about due to me not knowing if I would enjoy flying or not. Luckily it seems that I’m not fazed by it at all and this has since lead to me looking to other events to attend/present at (more on this in a later blog post)

But #PSConfAsia was more than just a conference with a few days for holiday in-front of it for me – it was a chance to meet with an ex-colleague and also co-organiser of this event, Matt Hitchcock, which was a key driver for me to attend the event let alone put together a presentation for it.

So my travel to Singapore started off after #SPSCambridge as I was flying from Heathrow the next morning and on arrival to Heathrow and getting checked in I had the fun of being the guy randomly picked for Explosive Swabs checks whilst – You can imagine what was going through my mind at that point with it being my first every flight abroad.

The journey consisted of 2 7 hour legs and in between them a short layover in Abu Dhabi, luckily only for a little under 3hours which allowed me to kind of just relax a little and have a wonder round the Airport and have a look through the shopping areas. Also at Abu Dhabi the free Wifi was really slow so instead of any Social media catching up I watched some videos that I had prepped for the journey.

The Flights with Etihad were comfortable and had some useful amenities on board and in seat that included on board Wifi (unfortunately not free) a plug socket at your seat and also in seat entertainment system that also allowed you to chat with someone else based on their seat number – this could be a very useful addition to all flights and I would hope that the likes of EasyJet etc will install these on their flights soon.

However once I got to Singapore I had the conundrum that I would be without data or calls (not paying the silly roaming charges) but luckily for me I had researched about this before I had left and Singapore has a great selection of Tourist mobile sim offers that typically include upto 100Gb of 4G data with local call and texts for upto a 10 day stay for the equivalent of £15. That’s just amazing value and is indictivative of how advanced Singapore is in terms of its Infrastructure.

There was also another great thing in Singapore that anyone visiting should take advantage of. This was the Tourist travel pass which at roughly £15 gave you unlimited travel on buses or the Singapore MRT (like the London Underground/Overground systems) but this could also be replaced after 3 days with another one so I made good use of it to see as much of Singapore as I could whilst I was there and I did manage to see a fair amount of Singapore but still have other places to see too J (for the next visit).

On the Monday I decided that I would head to the hotel and drop off my luggage, have a nap and then make my way into the Centre to see where the Microsoft buildings were and have a general touristy nose around. I also on that day decided that I needed some comfort food – What better than Singapore McDonalds – who will deliver as well which is a little mad considering that they won’t in the UK.

However most of the fun started to slowly build from the Tuesday evening as that was when I got to meet Matt & Milton (another of the Organisers) for some food and drinks in the city area, which was a great experience and made me realise how expensive any kind of alcoholic drink is in Singapore with prices ranging anywhere upto £13 a pint. Owch!

102015_0006_PSConfAsiaW1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday started Early as another one of the Organisers Ben had arrived late on that previous evening and was in Singapore for work both Wednesday and & Thursday and he mentioned that he was heading into the office early that morning so I tagged along with him and he showed me what a typical breakfast was in a local restaurant in the centre. I have to say the Kaya Toast was really tasty and I’ll look forward to it when I next get chance to over there. Also whilst at breakfast I got chance to try out local coffee as well and again was not disappointed at all. I then spent most of Wednesday just being a tourist and seeing some more of the areas of Singapore (whilst riding the MRT and downloading Windows10 as I did so – gotta make use of my 4G data somehow) and then made my way back to the hotel mid-afternoon as to meet up with the organisers & some of the other speakers that had arrived – which included Ferdinand Rios from Sapien, Narayanan Lakshmanan from the PowerShell Product team, Benjamin Hodge from Kemp (also Organiser), Milton Goh (Organiser), Matt Hitchcock (Organiser) & Jaap Brasser and below is a picture of us all on that night.

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As you can see we had a great time J

This was just the Wednesday night!

On the Thursday I met up with Gokan Ozcifci A SharePoint MVP who I’d briefly met at SPSLondon and was also speaking at PSConf and went and did some further sightseeing of Singapore which was goo as we managed to get around the Gardens at the Marina Bay Sands which was great fun to go round and see everything there. We also went to the SkyPark on the Marina Bay where you can see some amazing views including this cracker of a one below.

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We then had a small gathering that evening with some of the Attendees and a few of the other speakers too.

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And then the Friday (and the beginning of the Conference) and what an amazing day that was – I decided that I would go and meet Ravikanth Chaganti & Deepak Dhami at the Airport as they were flying in early that morning. I must say I am glad I did as it was a lot of fun meeting the both of them and having some time to engage with them on a more casual basis than it would have been at the conference. It can be seen below as to the fun that we had – I even set up my laptop to be an interactive Display board similar to the ones that the Taxi/Chauffeur drivers have as can be seen below.

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Though Deepak didn’t know that I was coming to meet him so walked right past without even realising – Luckily Ravi Had arrived a little earlier so we managed to between us get his attention and then we headed to the hotel to let Ravi & Deepak check in, get ready and then we arranged to head to the Venue.

Now we arrived a little bit through the Keynote by Jeffery Snover but I was still able to get a quick chance to give him a personal thanks (even if the session was via a Skype call) as can be seen below (Thanks Jaap for the picture!) It is without a doubt that without the Invention of PowerShell I would not be finding a career in IT as fun as I currently do and will likely do so for many more years to come!

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Now throughout the day I had chance to chat to most of the presenters and some of the attendees and sat in on a few sessions where I could. After the day wrapped up there was an organised speaker’s dinner which was just fantastic and set in a great location with a great view over Singapore. However I had to leave the dinner early due to having not slept very well the last few days leading up to the conference.

I then as per usual for me when I’ve not slept very well (been like this for well over 12 years!) I find that I end up having a ridiculously long sleep – in this case almost 14hours and is typical that it happens on a Saturday as well! This then meant that I missed all of the morning’s sessions as well and arrived to the venue just in time to give my session which unfortunately I had a bad case of the Demo Gods Wrath! I’ve yet to revisit and restructure my session but this is on my to-do list for November! After my session there were a few other great sessions in which I need to get back myself into them in more depth – including Pester testing – my annoying phrase from PSConfAsia for the following week was definitely ‘Let me Pester you about that later’ or some other Pester related variant.

We then had a great after event food, drinks and prize giving event afterward at the truly most English pub possible outside of England and it was a great event. This below has to be my favourite picture from the after event (other than the picture in picture in picture in picture that we took) with Jason Brown from Domain.com.au (attendee / guest DevOps Panelist) and Sebastian (attendee that won the F1 tickets)

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We then after that night had a few of us meet up for a final lunch in a great little Indian in the Little India suburb of Singapore where Ravi made sure that we had some great food whilst we had the chance to.

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After we left we went and had a relaxing few drinks in the Singapore sun and then we had to make our way to the airport as it was time to get ready to depart and I was luckily enough to get even more time with Ravi to discuss a certain upcoming DSC project of mine and it was great to get some more insights from one of the most well known in the field and I was lucky enough to get myself a selfie with him (and I’m not a photo taking person) at the airport before we had to depart to board our separate flights.

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All in all the 6 days I spent in Singapore was an amazing adventure and it is one that I am hoping to be able to partake in again next year – hopefully it will be as fun filled as it was this year and I have been lucky to have made some amazing friends from it and I cannot wait to catch up with them all again in the near future.