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Tips on public speaking

At the VMware User Group NL conference we just had a vExpert lunch with Amy Lewis (@commsninja). She gave a great talk with tips on public speaking. One of the problems we touched upon is “imposter syndrome”. Joep Piscaer gave a separate talk about this, which I will link to when the video is published.

As I really love presenting, learned not to be nervous and do not suffer from imposter syndrome I felt it would be a good idea to list here the tips I mentioned during the discussion. These are really things I use daily and that are fundamental to me for public speaking, presenting, podcasting or whatever. I should probably put these golden nuggets in a presentation and sell it, but here you go for free:

  • Tell a story. This is something I twittered about at cloud expo last week and is very dear to me. Whatever it is you are presenting about, tell a story. A personal experience, a user story, even a complete analogy. I once attended a presentation about tech evolution where the speaker told a story about a medieval monastery! I still remember it today some odd 20 years later… I do not remember all the presentations where people where just going over all the bullet points on their slides… Note that obviously you do not just present slides made by your marketing department…
  • Be yourself. Be authentic. I think this also helps with imposter syndrome. If you are a techie, introvert guy, do not imitate Elvis on stage. Present from your strengths. Use whiteboard, explain (tell a story…). People will connect. I used the example of a company I used to work for (yes Novell, no one remembers…) where we would have US-based tech evangelists come over to present. They did great sessions – shows almost – that were welll received. When some European colleagues started imitating them it bumped. Because we do not have the same culture, so it was not accepted from a local. And the local guys were not the “guys from HQ”.
  • Present as if you are in the audience. This is the most important one for me. This is what helped me a ton. Unfortunately I do not remember where I picked it up. If you have to do a presentation, imagine that you are in the audience. Do you want to be entertained or do you want someone struggling through his speech? It will even help you feel empathy for yourself, which is very important because there are some very good chances that the audience exists of normal people like you that are also nervous about presenting sometimes! (Unless you are presenting to managers or vc… just kidding).

And as mentioned by Amy: practice, practice. I was lucky that through my hobby (astronomy) I started working as a volunteer in an observatory where they dropped me in front of groups visiting with every different background imaginable. So I was already presenting long before I got into tech.

Oh and most important, even for life itself… Use a little humour….

Let me know what you think and go out and present to the world!

Starting Grafana…

Well, the advantage of more time on my hands and a working homelab is that I finally got round to installing Grafana! I have been reading up on this wonderful open source visualisation tool and wanted to use it… ever since I attended a FOSDEM session last year! I think this is a great tool to bring different data sources together and offer a complete stack view. I was contemplating attending Grafanacon next week, but the plane tickets to LA are a bit expensive… To console myself I installed version 6 beta 3 to learn everything new straight away.

I installed a Debian 9 vm in my vSphere environment with 2 vcpu, 4-GB RAM and a 50-GB disk. I played around with centos and ubuntu, but I think more and more of Debian as the clean, stable secure, mother of some other linuxes… and the CLI is so familiar with all my raspberry pis….

The Grafana install is very quick and painless. I just got some mixup when registering on their site. My username did not get through. Of course I did not read too much doc and I had not created a user in my instance yet… Worldping was not working… I almost immediately got some emails from Matt to point out something was wrong, which is rather impressive…

Anyways I have Worldping working, it is a plugin to monitor any services on the internet. When I pointed it to this blog it automatically connected DNS, ping and https to monitor! And installed some standard dashboards. This is a great quick intro to Grafana and a great way to get mileage out of it straight away!

Worldping dashboard for my blog

I also connected Azure monitoring, since they announced a collaboration with Grafana. The only thing a bit involved here is setting up a service admin to connect to. It went flawless but now I need some data to display there…. I also played around with Darksky as a data source to get the weather forecast, but no luck so far. I will keep you updated. Next is connecting AWS and maybe setup Prometheus …

If you want to start with Grafana, head over to their website and access the install instructions there or use their hosted version. You can also find Grafana images on AWS or Azure.

NetApp management pack and full stack demo

A while ago I recorded this video of how I show a demo of the Blue Medora management pack for VMware vRealize Operations. I think it can still benefit people to have a look at it.

In the recording I show the 3 most important features of Blue Medora management packs:

  • no agents to install, rapid deployment on vROps.
  • automatic import of data and, most important of all, automatic relations between objects. Even over management packs.
  • some custom dashboards installed.

I also show a full stack troubleshooting dashboard including NetApp storage, Cisco switches and UCS blades (a.k.a FlexPod) and a MS SQL database.

NetApp and Full stack demo.

Hope it is useful to you and let me know what you think.

Upgrading The Bitstream to use ssl.

It was long overdue, but now that I have to recertify as vExpert for 2019 and since I will be looking for new business opportunities, an upgrade to use ssl was long overdue. I host my blog at UnixSolutions, simply the best hoster I know in Belgium with the great support and options. Disclosure: I have a reseller account… so if you want to host there let me know … ๐Ÿ˜‰

First the WordPress application I use for this blog itself: Unix Solutions uses a powerful, yet simple software management tool: Installatron. It includes a great portfolio of web apps, including ecommerce – ready websites! Once installed it is also very simple to take backups – even automatic ones. This came in handy later and it means my blog is safe without buying one of the professional plans from WordPress/Jetpack.

The Installatron management interface.

Unix Solutions supports a number of options for SSL configuration. I am not going into theory here, there are a lot of great resources for that. By default you can use a self-signed certificate, but that is obviously not going to roll for SSL encryption… When I asked they quickly reactivated support for Let’s Encrypt. I cannot give enough praise for an initiative like Let’s Encrypt. It is a free Certificate Authority. Where in the past you had to pay a lot of money to a CA like RSA, anyone can now secure their comms with their own certificate, free! The DirectAdmin interface at Unix Solutions makes it so simple, just fill out some fields, domain and subdomains and save! Presto and you get your certificate. You can even check automatic recertification!

The SSL config options.

After setting up SSL I applied the changes to my WordPress site as detailed here. I choose the second option of course, not to use a plugin but to edit config files to force rewrites from http to https and also for the admin interface. And then panic set in because my site would not load… I will spare you the details of everything I tried…. In the end I am not to proud to admit I went for a backup restore… I noticed that I could restore to the https version of the bitstream… and after a few minutes everything was working! You can see my second copy running in the first screenshot. And in good old IT fashion I am not exactly sure why! The backup option sure is great because you can configure it to make a backup before any WordPress upgrade, even plugin or theme updates.

And now the Bitstream is up and running again, ready for new blog posts…

Leaving Blue Medora…

This post is more of a marker than anything else. My contract with Blue Medora has been terminated January 2nd. I will be free to pursue other opportunities at the end of the month.

I will of course continue to write about VMware vRealize Operations and other monitoring and cloud provisioning tools. I might even write about the excellent Blue Medora plugins, but not working for them anymore.

And if you now of any opportunities….

Blue Medora vROps CLI launched!

Our second-to-none engineers have launched a utility today that has been developed internally to help with VMware vRealize Operations management: the vROps CLI tool! It is now publicly available for free on Github for linux, Mac and Windows on our public repository.

As you can guess this utility allows you to interact from the command line with your vROps instance: install adapters, list alerts,… And of course this opens the door to some nifty scripts to automate tasks in your environment… like installing those great new Blue Medora management packs:

vropscli uploadPak OracleDatabase-6.3_1.2.0_b20180319.144115.pak

The usage.md file has some instructions and there is an examples directory with scripts.

Expect more info here and on our company blog, or stop by our booth at VMworld EMEA to have a chat!

Accepted for vExpert 2018 !

A nice surprise at breakfast in my mailbox. I have been accepted for the VMware vExpert programme! I have been recognised as blogger and public speaker. Link to my public profile is here.

Big thanks to Kim Bottu and Tom Vallonsย for putting their shoulders under a new vExpert community in the Belux and helping us! Also special thanks to Erik Scholten for endorsing an old colleague…

It is very motivating and I look forward to new ways of putting in some good work for VMware cloud products!

vExpert logo

vExpert 2018

Blue Medora PCF management pack updated

One of the management packs for VMware vRealize Operations that has evolved the most over the past two years is the Pivotal Cloud Foundry solution. From connecting through our own open -source nozzle to using the BOSH API, Blue Medora now enables you to monitor all aspects of your PCF deployment, including apps. Today we publish yet another set of enhancements. This is one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market to monitor PCF and how it runs on your VMware environment.

PCF Infrastructure dashboard

PCF infrastructure dashboard

Features in this Release Include:

  • Added BOSH Job resource kind, which serves as a catch-all resource for any BOSH job (including BOSH metrics) not covered by other previously-defined resource kinds (See: Resource Kinds and Relationships)
  • Improved alerts and recommendations to align with PCF Key Performance Indicators best practice documentation (See: Alerts)
  • Added one new Advanced Configuration setting: Collect Events (See: Creating an Adapter Instance)
  • Updated Blue Medora Nozzle Tile to include timeseries for historical data to enable improved alerts (NOTE: Be sure to upgrade the management pack prior to upgrading to the new nozzle version. See: Upgrading the Management Pack.)

Blue Medora website product page: https://bluemedora.com/integration/pivotal-cloud-foundry/vmware-vrealize-true-visibility/

HTML Documentation: https://s3.amazonaws.com/docs.bluemedora.com/vROps/PCF/Default.htm

Official Build Number: 3.2.0.20180625.192805

As always contact sales@bluemedora.com for more info.