Archive for Life

What I read on my holidays – Uber Geek Edition!

Having only started in my new role at the start of July, I was fortunate enough to sneak in a cheeky week off work at the end of the kids summer holidays. My wife and I have done a fair bit of travelling in the past, but being parents of young children, we do not currently go in for big sightseeing tours. My ears can only survive hearing “my feet hurt” and “I need a wee” so many times before I give in to temptation and leave the kids by the side of the road!…

As I would prefer not to go to prison, instead we had a pretty chilled out week at a resort and I was able to get a wee bit of reading in; which was nice!

readingTypically I like to vary my reading between something for enjoyment, followed by something educational, then rinse and repeat. The former is generally some kind of fiction, especially science fiction / fantasy / humour.

IMO, Terry Pratchett was a true genius and is my favourite author by a huge margin, and he manages to achieve all three of these categories, and then some! Unfortunately, Terry passed away in March last year, leaving millions of fans deeply saddened. The two fiction books below were in fact originally recommended by him, and I would certainly echo this recommendation!

  • openstack-explainedOpenStack Explained – Giuseppe Paternò
    • I was fortunate enough to see Guiseppe present on OpenStack at this year’s Tech Unplugged event in London (see playlist of YouTube vids here and Guiseppe’s session recording is here), at the end of which he gave everyone a copy of his book for nothing, except the ask that we donated some money to charity for it. Very honourable indeed!

      I suggest if you do download the ebook from the above link, you do the same for your favourite charity! If you are struggling to choose one, I suggest Willen Hospice, who provided amazing care to a family member of mine recently (Donation Link Here).Anyway, the session was excellent and Guiseppe gave some insights into the growing adoption of OpenStack in the Enterprise today. In fact it led me to post the following tweet at the time:

      Guiseppe’s book is a great intro to all of the basics elements of OpenStack and what they do; well worth the cost of a donation for a download!

  • leaky4The Leaky Establishment – David Langford (or eBook here)
    • As an ex-press officer in the civil nuclear industry, Pratchett described this as the book he should have written!
      The satirical black comedy focuses around our hero, Roy Tappen, who accidentally smuggles a “pit” (i.e. a nuclear warhead core!) out of the nuclear weapons research facility he (regrettably) works in!

      Needless to say, his wife is none too impressed with him keeping a multi-megatonne explosive source in the house, and hilarity ensues as Roy plots to smuggle it back into work!

      Parts of this book had me in stitches; well worth a read!

  • openstack-cloud-computing-cookbookThe OpenStack Cookbook – Kev Jackson & Cody Bunch
    • I currently have the second edition of their book so it’s not 100% up to date, but as I was on holiday I wasn’t actually running through the labs specifically. Instead, I read the main content in each section to get a better understanding of how each of the OpenStack components connect together.

      The book is very well researched and written, with clear and easy to follow instructions for you to build your own OpenStack homelab. I will definitely be upgrading to the Third Edition when it comes time to build my own lab!

  • evolutionmanThe Evolution Man, Or, How I Ate My Father – Roy Lewis
    • This is one of the strangest books I have read in a long time, but a really enjoyable read! Originally written in 1960, it is a story about a tribe of cavemen of the Pleistocene era, trying to pass through multiple evolutionary leaps within a single generation, and covers everything from their discovery of fire, cooking, improved hunting techniques, domestication of animals, etc, but ultimately it is a story about the friction between progress and those who wish to avoid it!You might be wondering how the author manages any compelling dialogue with prehistoric tribespeople? The good news is, that’s the best bit!

      All of the characters speak as if out of the pages of a 1920’s period drama, or perhaps even the drawing room of Charles Darwin himself! The juxtaposition of the characters and their dialogue is really what makes the book so special in my opinion.

      AFAIK this isn’t available in eBook format, but in this case, I think good old fashion print just adds to the anachronistic experience! 🙂

  • SecondMachineAgeThe Second Machine Age – Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee
    • This book blends analysis of the history of technical innovations, with economics. It’s not my usual type of read, but it turned out to be fascinating on multiple levels.

      The geek in me enjoyed reading about the developments in technology and analyses of how they impacted the modern world, along with the predictions about where and how the authors believe technology will change our future.

      The parent in me took a lot of great ideas about how to advise and guide my children when they get to the age that they need to start thinking about their careers and university choices. One of the key recommendations made in the book was how people can remain valuable knowledge workers in the new machine age: “work to improve the skills of ideation, large-frame pattern recognition, and complex communication instead of just the three Rs”. If you want to understand this more either for your children or yourself, I definitely recommend you read this book!

So what’s next on my list I hear you ask? (Well maybe not, but I’m going to tell you anyway!)… The Tin Men by Michael Frayn (another Pratchett recommendation), most likely followed by Google’s recent Site Reliability Engineering publication.

It’s a Geek Life! HDD Watch Review

So, why an HDD watch review on a tech blog?

Well, I’m not a “watch guy”, meaning I don’t have a collection of 50 varying and expensive watches, however, I do consider myself as someone who appreciates the skill which goes into producing a timepiece. Regardless of what many millennials will tell you, I also believe you should never be without one, and a mobile phone simply will not do… 🙂

It was my birthday recently, and based on a none-too-subtle hint from me, my wife very kindly gave me the gift of an HDD watch! Needless to say, I was extremely chuffed with it, so thought I would provide a mini review here.

I originally heard about these very funky (yes, read: nerdy) watches via the biggest watch aficionado I know IRL, Stephen Foskett, who has an extensive collection and loves anything which goes tick-tock! He even runs his own watch blog, Grail Watch, which I recommend for any horologists (if that is the correct term?).

The original run of 500 watches came from an IndieGoGo campaign in 2014. In March this year, Jean Jerome, the creator of the HDD Watch, has opened up his own website for anyone who missed out the first time.

HDD Watch Review - It's more than 8-bits!

It’s more than 8-bits!

The watch itself is of a very decent build quality. The HDD Microdrive (Hitachi 4GB to be precise) has been encased in a custom (very shiny!) stainless steel enclosure, which provides both shock and water protection. A Miyota GL20 quartz movement is added, which provides accuracy to +/- 20 seconds per month. Mine seems to be achieving something within this window but with no second hand, it’s hard to tell! I’ve also caught it once or twice on hard objects and ne’er a scratch has been seen, so I would definitely attest to the build quality.

HDD Watch Review Waterproof

When did you last stick an HDD in a glass of water and expect it to keep working?!

Most of my life I have been used to wearing segmented metal watch straps with butterfly clasps, which I find to be most comfortable and secure. When I originally received the watch I did consider replacing the strap, which is rubberised (neoprene) and modeled on a PCB, with a segmented metal strap. Replacement straps are available from the vendor, including a metal expansion strap, but it turns out that this is one of the features which most draws the eye, and people often comment on this first! It even drew the eye of one of my interviewers when I was interviewing for my recent change of role, which I don’t think harmed my chances! 🙂

HDD Watch Review Closeup

There were only two negatives I would highlight about the watch, one is a “bug” and the other is a “missing” feature!

  • The bug is that there is a tiny piece of dust on the inside of the glass on my particular watch, which is then reflected in the surface of the platter as well. It’s just a bit of an annoyance, and I am hoping I will be able to clean it out whenever I eventually have to replace the battery.
  • The feature I wish the watch had, is a date window. I didn’t realise how often I actually use this feature of my current watch until I’ve had to go without it! I fully understand why one isn’t included however, as it would spoil the look of the platter, and there is nowhere else on the watch for a date to comfortably sit, even if a mechanism could be found which would allow for remote placement of this element.
Closing the Wrist Strap

I hope this HDD watch review has been of some interest!

Overall, if you want the ultimate in Geek Chic, I highly recommend the HDD watch from http://hddwatches.com. A brilliant purchase and a unique piece of history, which at only €150, is well worth the purchase price IMHO!

HDD Watch Review Geek Fashion

A bit of good news… It’s time for a change!

So for those of you who have been following my meandering mutterings for a while, you may know that I’ve been working as a Solution Architect for the UK arm of a pan European managed service provider over the last few years.

In the past I have worked in several different types of IT environment, from internal IT at a large enterprise, to working as an outsourcer for two very large vendors. Being at a service provider is really interesting as you get to work with many different customers, with many varying requirements, and help each one to find the right solution for their business. I have found it to be such a cool part of the industry, I am keen to continue working in it for the foreseeable!

As such, as of next week, I am very excited to be starting a new role as a Solution Architect for Rackspace Ltd in the UK, based out of the (rather awesome) main office in Hayes!

OpenStack-logo-150x150.pngBefore anyone asks, I should note that this does not mean that I will suddenly forget my VMware indoctrination (should that be inculcation or institutionalisation? 😉 ), and go all in on OpenStack. That said, it is actually one of the things I am most looking forward to learning more about.

Coincidentally, not long before being approached about the role I was actually tweeting about the growing popularity of OpenStack. This seems to me to be a great time to learn more about it, especially with things like VIO becoming more and more popular, helping enterprises who might otherwise be reluctant to jump on board without enterprise levels of support.

With any luck, I may even get the time to write about OpenStack here on the blog, but of course, it will not be the only subject for my posts! I remain fiercely vendor agnostic, just at a larger independent organisation! 🙂

On that vein, fingers crossed I will still be able to put the same amount of time aside of an evening to maintain the blog and attend events such as Tech Field Day in the future, but for the next few months at least things may be a little quieter. I will be head down, brain-sponge engaged, learning all about the hundreds of products Rackspace provide, meeting my new colleagues and generally making a nuisance of myself with newbie questions!

new-job-gandalf.jpg

The Tekhead Top 10 Tech Podcast Perfect Playlist Picks

I reckon that’s about enough alliteration click bait for now! If you are either a regular commuter or someone who travels a lot for work, tech podcasts are one of the best ways of staying up to date with the industry and do training without having to necessarily spend hours every week reading blog posts or El Reg.

More fool me of course, I actually do both!

As someone who is fortunate enough to work from home most of the time though, the majority of my tech podcast listening happens either when I go out for a daily walk at lunch time, when I’m traveling to client meetings, or when I’m binging on podcasts whilst getting DIY stuff done at home (it passes the time so much quicker!).

Either way, I consume a fairly large chunk of tech podcasts, and as the last time I posted a list was over two years ago, I thought I would update and re-post it here.

Tech Podcasts - Tech Podcast Meme

To be honest, not a huge amount has changed in terms of sources, though there are one or two new shows which were of such awesome quality, I had to somehow find time to squeeze them in! It’s also worth noting that I still continue to find BeyondPod as one of the most reliable and easy to use podcast consumption apps for Android!

All of these podcasts are great, but the following table is in the priority order I listen to them – you may read that as you will! 🙂

Recommended Tech Podcasts

Podcast

Published

 

Notes

Speaking in Tech

Weekly – Wednesdays

Irreverent, funny, NSFW, but thoroughly informative and entertaining consumer and enterprise tech news and interviews! Greg, Eddie and Sarah are like the Fox News of tech podcasting, only more sensational! 😉
In Tech We Trust

Weekly – Mondays

Unofficially competing hard with Speaking in Tech to be the best news focussed tech podcast out there! Unmissable!

GreyBeards on Storage

Monthly Satisfying my inner storage nerd on a monthly basis, Howard and Ray talk to existing and startup storage vendors about their products, as well as industry trends. I always learn something new listening to this show!

vSoup

Irregular Though sporadic of late, vSoup feels like a comfortable chair you sit in and chat about IT with your mates. Insightful at times, and always entertaining!

vNews

Irregular Run by two fellow London VMUG members, I’d say this could almost be described as a quintessentially British view of tech industry news. Well worth listening to!

Eigencast

Irregular but often Well known industry veteran Justin Warren, talks with companies and other industry figures about the business of IT. A very unique perspective, which those of an engineering mindset sometimes have a tendency to downplay!

VUPaaS

On hiatus? Although this seems to have fallen by the wayside, I am hoping this user and use-case focused show will make a return soon!

Around the Storage Block

Irregular

I haven’t missed an episode of Calvin’s HP vendor show in years, and though I did recently feel the need to stop one half-way through due to FUD overload, it still continues to be a great source of information.

Packet Pushers

Multiple per week

I’m no network guy, but if I have the time, I always try to catch a few episodes and learn something new. I’m never disappointed!

Professional VMware Brownbag

Weekly

I generally dip in and out of the amazingly awesome vBrownbag tech podcast content depending on what I am studying at the time. I have a massive amount of respect for the effort these guys put into providing free training for the community! Just brilliant!
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