RTFM Education – Virtualization, VMware, Citrix

March 15, 2012  8:26 AM

Vendorwag in the Valley [UPDATED]

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

Quick Update: Nlyte Software has joined the Venderwag in the Valley event!

Next month see’s me back in the US of A in the Silicon Valley, primarily to speak at the VMUG there. This was confirmed in late Feb/early March. As ever with my trips for VMUGs I was looking for something to do when I was “in country”. It occured to me that because the Bay Area is such a hot-bed of start-up activity, and lots of my previous vendorwaggies are from there – that I could take the Vendorwag out on the road to them. So, that’s precisely what I’m doing…

I’ve got four days free – and eight slots (morning/afternoon) for recordings. The format will be very similar to the podcast that’s recorded remotely (using a combo of Screenflow+WebEX+Skype) but instead its going to be truncated into a series of smaller 20min videos to ease everyone’s digestion. So there will be an:

  • “Elevator Pitch” style video (and yes, I’ve had as silly idea that I could actually record those in a elevator!)
  • Industry Positioning – (this is where we talk more generally what the technology does, and how it disrupts or integrates with what customers are doing – that’s not to say this part won’t have tech element – but in a more broad-brush stokes style…)
  • Techknowledgy/Demo – (this is where we go techy, and get into the gubbins of the product and perhaps do-a-demo…)

The sessions will be recorded live, but not broadcast live – and what I mean by that is they won’t be heavily scripted (although the vendors as ever will know my initial questions upfront…) and that does mean there’s space for unschedule/unscripted questions that naturally arise from the discussions.

So I will be packing up my old kit bag with recording equipment as well as my trusty Staples “BS” button. I’ve warned the vendors that if anyone says “Single pane of glass”, “Enterprise-Class”, or “End-to-end solution” or that your technology is “turn-key game-changing solutions, that allows you do more with less” – then I will press it.

So far my confirmed sponsors are:


I have other sponsors waiting in the wings, but they have yet to confirm their slot time. But as when they do confirm I will update this page.

The other thing I’m not sure about is how to release the content. Should I release it all in one go – one big page with links to each of the sponsors page – firing all my guns in one go OR should I release one vendorwag per day or per week. Some of the vendors will be talking about stuff that at the time will be under NDA and embargo’d so I won’t be able to release their vendorwag until that expires.


March 14, 2012  8:28 AM

Silicon Valley VMUG… with a very special chinwag guest…

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

[Click here to register]

I”m down to speak at the Silicon Valley VMUG on the 11th April. There’s already an agenda up – but still keep an eye on the VMUG website for further details of the event.

VMware’s CTO Dr. Steve Herrod will be delivering the “VMware Update” morning as the keynote, and I will be doing the post-lunch time keynote from 12-30 to 1-30.

The other good bit of news is I think I’ve been successful in persuading Steve to be on my chinwag podcast. So I’m hoping to grab him sometime during the day to ask him a coupla questions. We’ve not yet agreed on those questions just yet, but I’m sure we will have something worked out before I head of to sunny California…

March 13, 2012  3:11 AM

Videos and Lighting

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

I’ve been doing videos for couple of years – mainly podcasts which I record using Call Recorder for Skype when I do mychinwags – I also use ScreenFlow on the Mac for when I do my “vendorwags“. I’m thinking of doing some videos incorporating a whiteboard. So to improve quality, I decided it was time I invested in some quality lighting…

The Setup

I went out and bought from Jessops (a photography/video specialist in the UK), a budget entry level lighting system. It’s a pretty good kit for the price – very well built from a company in the UK. It supplies collapsible stands, reflectors, umbrellas (for defusing the light) and 500W bulbs. That’s a total of 1000W output for my small office space.To be a bit more exacting its a “Interfit EZ-Lite Twin head Kit INIT160“. Yeah, I know does anyone think its still cool to use the abbreviation “EZ” in a product name? No matter, it does the job at price I felt comfortable with – especially as I had NO IDEA if it would even work.


I’ve been experimenting with the videos – both with a SD-based camcorder, and iphone4. Why use an iPhone4? Well, its records pretty easily, and videos come off the phone in a native .MOV format which screenflow recognizes – so therefore I did a mix of PowerPoint, Whiteboard and Demo – I can assemble most of the pieces together. The other reason is the camcorder files are BIG because of the quality they record at. Converting them to a format that ScreenFlow would recognise would be a royal PITA. To be honest the camcorder is really only good/practical if you doing a straight to camera whiteboard or in-person podcast which you going to upload directly to YouTube (which does recognise its .MOD format). I have no idea what this “.MOD” format is – I wondering if the files could be renamed to .MOV and imported. I’ve seen that with other formats… As you probably know on laptop converting video formats maxes out the CPU rendering your use of the laptop almost useless, and when you go to upload big videos they saturate the internet it makes you web-access almost useless. That’s why encode and uploading when I’m not using machine. I’ve been toying with the idea of dedicating the laptop to media work, and buying a second machine for usage whilst its busy – of course, that wouldn’t help with the internet access which unless I reached for my 3G WiFi whilst the uploads were taking place.

One of the biggest issues I’ve had is mere space. My office isn’t terribly big, and once I have two guitars and AMP set-up – and tripod for the camera & the lights – the physical logistics were tricky. I’ve worked out I would have temporarily move out my guitars whilst I did any whiteboard work.

Is it worth it?

Mmm, I’m going to be honest and say – probably not. You could use educreations.com for free and get much better results without half the hassle or expense – erm, well you need to have iPAD – but hey, you have one of those don’t you? ;-)   The only downside I see of educreations is:

a.) it doesn’t incorporate me in the video, just my voice – I think a good presentation is as much to do with the person delivering the content as the whiteboard. Hopefully your presenter is more animated than a whiteboard!

b.) It does offer an export option to .mov/m4v – that means its hard to get the whiteboard session into a video podcast, or incorporate into a video that might include other elements such as a PowerPoint or a on-screen demo. There’s nothing stopping me playing back one of my own whiteboard sessions in web-page and capturing it with ScreenFlow – but that’s more work.

c.) It’s dependent on the mic of the iPAD for narrations – I tried plug-in my my condenser lapel-Mics into the iPAD (which I use with an iPhone successful) and got silence out of them.

So what do I do with my kit now. Well, I will probably use just one light in the office to help with the lighting of the Chinwag/Vendorwag. I don’t really need two and logistically two is more hassle. I will probably keep the second light as a spare/backup – unless I can offload it on ebay (but that’s a hassle in its own right…)

When the whiteboard arrives I will do another attempt at the preso – and see how it goes… But if I decide educreations is the way to go, I think my girlfriend will take the whiteboard off me for her office.

So here is sample of my different experiments and the results…

But a quick summary would be:

Camcorder with 2x500W Lamps is fine, and Screenflow with a single 500w lamp is fine as well. iPhone in any configuration is too degraded – and if you want to do whiteboard work online, your best bet is not spend money on a real whiteboard & lights but use educreations.com – its less hassle and less money.


Camcorder with just natural daylight:

iPhone with just natural daylight:

Camcorder with 1x500W Lamps:

Screenflow with 1x500W Lamp:

Camcorder with 2x500W Lamps:

iPhone with 2x500w Lamps:
Notice the kind of strobe affect with the lights… It’s quite “yellow” in quality – I remember reading something about this in the user guide. I’m not sure I want a yellow board when I want a whiteboard…

Screenflow with 1x500w Lamp (Native without Youtube Lossiness)

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March 5, 2012  11:13 AM

Northern UK vBeers & Virtual Machine User Group (16/17th April)

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

It’s my pleasure to announce that the 6th Virtual Machine User Group (VMUG) is ready to take registrations.

There will be a vBeers event on the 16th April, here’s the blurb on it:

Location: Golf Cafe Bars – Next to Leeds Train Station
Address: No.1 Little Neville Street, Granary Wharf, Leeds, LS1 4ED
Date: Monday 16th April 2012
Time: 5pm onwards
Registration: http://www.vbeers.org/2012/03/05/vbeers-leeds-uk-monday-16th-april-2012/


The following day on the 17th April, the Virtual Machine User Group 6 kicks off. Here’s a link to the full agenda which no doubt will be updated as the event draws closer. I will be delivering my “vNews” session – that’s part news and part group discussion – punctuated by freebies handed to folks who pipe up and express an opinion.

Looks like they have added a new BCS (British Computing Society) track as well. Good job, guys!

Location & Registration Details are below:

Doubletree Hilton (was Mint Hotel),
Leeds City Centre
2 Wharf Approach, Granary Wharf,
Leeds, LS1 4BR
Phone: 0113 241 1000

Register: http://www.vmug.org.uk/index.php#rt-bottom-panel

February 29, 2012  9:29 AM

Samples Snippets from the SRM 5.0 Book

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

It looks like VMware Press are releasing sample snippets from my newly minted SRM 5.0 book. To be honest I didn’t know they were going to do this – but I think its a great way for them to dice-and-slice the book. Of course, the intention is teasing you into buying a copy, but in my book (if you forgive the pun) free content is something that is always handy. My hope is they will carry on with this process to cover other aspects of using SRM 5.0.

This first snippet covers the pairing of the Protected Site and Recovery Site together – one of the first tasks you do post-install.

You can find all the articles (currently just one) underneath the “Articles” under the Author BIO.

February 28, 2012  3:53 AM

Passing VCP5… Just…

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

Today I took and passed the VCP5 exam. I can’t say I passed with flying colours or in an exemplary manner. In fact I would say I scraped through. Why is that is what I’ve been thinking about, and what are the consequences has been on my mind since I saw the score.

Anyway, before that let me talk about the test – without giving away any questions or answers. [And anyway, why would want to take such advice from someone who scrapped in the skin of his teeth! ;-) ]

As I expected the test now longer interrogates you on configurable maximums. That’s to be welcomed as by dispensing with stuff that can memorize and regurgitated on demand it makes the exam tougher, and defeats mere “book learners”.

With that said there’s a still a sizable portion of questions which are susceptible to “interpretation” – as with all certification style exams that are dependent on text & multiple choice – much of the time is spent reading the question slow and deliberately – and if your a Brit like me thinking “Well, it depends what you mean by that…”. English is a deliberately slippery language beloved of the law – as you can spend most of your time arguing what something means….

Of course, strategies such as process of illumination (AKA removing the obvious “only an freaking idiot would select that” options) can and does help. Despite the removal of memorizing configuring maximums there’s plenty other numb-nut stuff such as being asked if a particular object status is either offline, online, connected, disconnected… I mean who actually gives a [expletive deleted]?  Since when does knowing such stuff actually account for or meaning anything?

I was asked one question about cloud – and the answers available were risible.


This isn’t a criticism of the VCP Eggzam per se – its a criticism you could apply to any test of this type. Remember the “advanced” eggzams especially the “admin” DCAP are hands on and practical. Incidentally, I don’t see “advanced” as meaning “harder” but meaning more stuff, and more rigorous set of questions or tasks.

As for the subject matter – I seemed to get significant number of SIOC, vApp, Storage Profiles and SDRS questions. There’s was other stuff, but these seemed more noticeable. The last VCP exam I took was for vSphere4.0, and whilst I’ve kept up with the changes in vSphere4.1 – this release co-coincided with my ceasing to be a VMware Certified Instructor. That turns me to question of why didn’t shine in the exam.

It was me, not the exam.

Firstly, I’m no longer a practicing instructor delivering the vSphere track on a weekly basis. As consequence things I used to have “instant recall” off are now feeling decidedly fuzzy. That’s not a problem. My current role doesn’t require instant recall. And what I can’t remember I can always Google or crowd-source via Twitter. A technology that exam questioners should bear in mind. Studies are showing that with ubiquitous access to the internet student no longer expend the effort memorizing things. Indeed as I continue in my inexorable decline into becoming an “Old Gimmer” I can see Google will become an invaluable resource. You might not like this fact. But it is a reality worth accepting, and perhaps embracing. Shouldn’t your capacity to be a good admin be based on your capacity to research and solve problems – not memorize stuff?

Secondly, I haven’t (and won’t) write a book on vSphere5. Normally, my close interaction with the platform begins with the beta, and writing a book about ESX/vCenter during that time. By the time the Beta exam comes up I normally take it without study and pass first time with flying colours. I didn’t this time because I was too busy with the VMware Site Recovery Manager book, and quite honestly I don’t feel motivated to do a JAVSB (Just-Another-VSphere-Book). That’s not to stay that vSphere5 isn’t a bundle of wonderfulness – I just didn’t feel inspired to put finger to keyboard, given I’ve written about Vi2, Vi3, VS4… Perhaps with vSphere6 I will be inspired to do so, from what I hear there are some major changes coming through the pipeline – that if delivered might warrant it…

So I was trading on my knowledge of vSphere4 backed up with some quick study of the “What’s New” content that’s available online. Clearly, when VCP6 rolls around the corner – this strategy won’t have any legs. I will either have to be working with the platform much more closely, or devote a LOT more study to core features than I have done with the VCP5.

To that point, I will be working on a series of blogpost sharing my own “What’s New” guide with my readership. It certainly helped. Once I’ve completed the series I will compile it into a PDF guide. But one word of warning. If you are like me, simply reading a “What’s New” guide might not be enough. You might have to spend sometime getting up to speed in detail with the vSphere4.1 features, as well as refreshing your braincells on the vSphere4.0 material.

As the saying goes, if you don’t use it – you loose it…

[Oh, and unless your taking the exam tommorow – you will have to do attend the two-day “What’s New” course if your an existing VCP4.]


February 21, 2012  11:44 AM

BriForum 2012 London: save 200 GBP when you register by THIS Friday

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

Returning to London this May, BriForum is the only event that is 100% dedicated to desktop virtualisation technology. Industry experts (led by Brian Madden) from around the world will provide you with the most independent, advanced, technical information, tips and proven strategies during 30+ breakout sessions – covering topics such as desktop and application virtualisation, VDI, Remote Desktop Services, and the consumerisation of IT. In addition, you’ll be able to interact with hundreds of your peers and experience hands-on demonstrations of the latest products in the Demo Lab. Register before this Friday, 24 February, and save 200 GBP off the admission price. Pay just 595 GBP (vs. 795 GBP) for both days of the conference!

Returning to London this May, BriForum is the only event that is 100% dedicated to desktop virtualisation technology. Industry experts (led by Brian Madden) from around the world will provide you with the most independent, advanced, technical information, tips and proven strategies during 30+ breakout sessions – covering topics such as desktop and application virtualisation, VDI, Remote Desktop Services, and the consumerisation of IT. In addition, you’ll be able to interact with hundreds of your peers and experience hands-on demonstrations of the latest products in the Demo Lab. Register before this Friday, 24 February, and save 200 GBP off the admission price. Pay just 595 GBP (vs. 795 GBP) for both days of the conference!


February 16, 2012  8:59 AM

VMware vExperts 2012 Nominations Open

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

This years round of vExperts nominations has opened for 2012…

You can nominate yourself or a colleague here:

There are three new paths to becoming a vExpert:

Evangelist Path
The Evangelist Path includes book authors, bloggers, tool builders, public speakers, and other IT professionals who share their knowledge and passion with others with the leverage of a personal public platform to reach many people. Employees of VMware can also apply via the Evangelist path.

Customer Path
The Customer Path is for internal evangelists and community leaders from VMware customer organizations. They have contributed to success stories, customer references, or public interviews and talks, or were active community contributors, such as VMUG leaders.

VPN (VMware Partner Network) Path
The VPN Path is for employees of our partner companies who lead with passion and by example, who are committed to continuous learning and to making their technical knowledge and expertise available to many. This can take shape of event participation, video, IP generation, as well as public speaking engagements.

February 13, 2012  9:05 AM

Virtualization Tech Field Day – Silcon Valley

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

I’m pleased to say I’ve been selected for a second time – to the second Virtualization Tech Field Day. In case you haven’t come across this before, the event is organized by Stephen Foskett of GestaltIT.com. Attendees are nominated by the subscribers in a free vote – and the idea is to get a group of independently minded folks together, and allow vendors to strut their stuff.

The first one I attended was in the main “live streamed”, and included a number of businesses who were at the time in “stealth mode”, who late became new additions to the virtualization eco-sphere such as Zerto.

Anyway, below is the list of my fellow attendees. I’m joined again by Edward Haletky – and new attendee David Owen from the UK. Both guys have appeared on my chinwag podcast over the last year.

Edward Haletky The Virtualization Practice @Texiwill
Rodney Haywood Musings of Rodos @Rodos
Bill Hill Virtual Bill @Virtual_Bill
Mike Laverick RTFM Education @Mike_Laverick
Dwayne Lessner IT Blood Pressure @Dlink7
Scott Lowe TechRepublic
Virtualization Admin
Roger Lund vRoger
Robert Novak RSTS11 @Gallifreyan
David Owen VMackem @VMackem
Brandon Riley Virtual Insanity @BrandonJRiley
Todd Scalzott Don’t Call Me Scott @TScalzott
Rick Schlander Virtualization with VMware Technology @VMRick
Chris Wahl Wahl Network

February 2, 2012  4:05 AM

VMworld Europe – Barcelona Date Change

Michelle Laverick Michelle Laverick Profile: Michelle Laverick

Was surprised to hear that the date for this years VMworld Europe event has changed. Back in San Francisco the boards were saying October 16-18th. The location remains the same – Barcelona – but the event is now due to happen the week before from the 9-11th October. So time to update your calender..

I first found this out from http://www.vmguru.nl


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