Archive for VMUG

My VMUG Presentation and FeedForward Experience

I’ve been a regular attendee of the London VMUG for the past 2-3 years and earlier this year decided it was about time I pulled my finger out and try to repay some of the awesome knowledge I’ve gained from other community members. I started small with a 15-minute slot on my Intel NUC home lab. I present fairly regularly as part of my day job, but mainly to smaller groups of 5-10 people, not 40-50+, which is definitely a different experience (see here)!

A few months later, Simon Gallagher (VMUG leader and Lego Fanboi) asked if I wanted to do a full session. In hindsight agreeing to do a session in the same two-week period when we had our financial year end at work and my family moved house, was perhaps ambitious to say the least!

In preparation for the session, the inimitable Mike Laverick very kindly offered to provide me with some #FeedForward, for a second time! Feed Forward (or #Feed4ward) is a great initiative started by a number of well-known community members including Mike, who saw the need to provide feedback to people in advance of their community VMUG sessions to hopefully give confidence and encourage them to present.

In my case, although I made a number of changes to my deck from the session, the biggest change was actually to approach the subject matter from a completely different direction. I had originally planned a simple intro to storage design, but when I ran it through with my colleagues, I bored even myself! I also had WAY too many slides… Bearing in mind that a #LonVMUG group tend to be pretty knowledgeable, this was probably not going to cut the mustard! At Mike’s suggestion, I instead concentrated on the pitfalls of storage design, and anecdotes about issues I had seen / experienced (whilst trying not to bash any individual vendors).

This was much more interesting and I think improved my session immensely. When you have put together your deck of 176 slides, it can sometimes be hard to see the wood for the trees! The great benefit of having an experienced speaker go through it with you can often be a simple suggestion, but it completely changes your outlook! Once again I would like to thank Mike, and most highly recommend that if you’re reading this and are even slightly contemplating doing your first VMUG session, you look into the #Feed4ward initiative!

The session itself went pretty well, though I foolishly decided to use my new MacBook instead of my trusty PC for PowerPoint, and had some “issues” at the start, which threw things off a bit. I also learned loads from the experience; significantly more than my 15 minute spot in January! I have a bunch of tips and notes which have come together from a combination of the two sessions, but before this post becomes at risk of becoming TLDR, I’ll put it in another post later in the week!

Lastly, for those interested, here a copy of my slide deck:
LonVMUG Storage Presentation 17-07-2014 v1.1

London VMUG 17th July 2014 – Last Chance to Register

Just a quick reminder that this is your last chance to register for this quarters London VMUG. For those of you who haven’t previously attended a VMUG, it’s a brilliant way to meet other people in our industry, watch a load of community and vendor sessions, and generally steep yourself into the techie melting pot.

As it happens, at this VMUG I will be presenting my own session, Noddy’s Guide to Storage Design – Storage 101, where I go through the basics of storage design decisions and impacts along with a few tips I’ve picked up over the years. I plan to potentially follow this up by turning it into a series of blog posts. At time of writing I have over 40 slides in my deck and that’s just the basics. My biggest issue is probably not lack of content, so I need to work on cutting it down before Thursday for sure!

Storage is complex… who knew?!

Fortunately Mike Laverick has kindly agreed to FeedForward with me and I’ll be running through my initial draft with him this evening!

Of the other sessions, the ones I’m particularly looking forward to are:

  • When Did Turkeys Ever Vote for Christmas? – Mike Laverick, VMware
  • Vendors: VMware Vision and Strategy – Martyn Storey, VMware
  • Hitting the Big Red Button with vCO and SRM – Sam McGeown

VMUG Agenda

If you are coming along, I highly recommend getting there early. Doors open from 8.30 and it’s a great time to catch up with other attendees. At the end of the day there is of course the most excellent London #vBeers at the Pavilion End! If you haven’t been before, just hang about by the lifts and tag along with a regular…

If you do see me on the day (I’m 6’7” so you cant miss me), please feel free to come and say hi!

Register here: London VMUG

I Presented at a VMUG and Survived… you can too!

Sitting on the train on my return from another awesome London VMUG event, and I thought I would jot down a few thoughts about the day, and the prep for it.

Firstly I want to say a big thank you to Mike Laverick. He and a number of other key VMware community members (Duncan Epping, Scott Lowe, Hans De Leenheer) have recently started a new programme they call #FeedForward. As the name suggests its all about helping others, specifically people who have not previously presented at a VMUG. As part of the process, the mentor (Mike) initially provided feedback to the mentee (me) on my slides. Once I had them ready to go, I then did a practice session over Skype / phone with Mike where he gave me some valuable feedback and suggestions where the presentation could be tweaked, and some ideas for content I hadn’t even thought of.

The benefits to me were two-fold. Having that second pair of eyes on my slides and presentation from someone who does this day in day out gave me confidence that the content was up to par. Then having a practice run in a zero-pressure environment where the audience understands the subject matter and gives you constructive feedback is absolutely invaluable! I would have asked my wife but having her fall asleep mid presentation through boredom would not have done my confidence any good… (She is definitely not into tech!) 🙂

Just before I got up I was a wee bit nervous, but much like a wedding speech, its worth remembering that the VMUG audience at a community session really want the speaker to succeed. It’s unlikely you will find a more friendly and willing audience in almost any other situation.

I was meant to be presenting a 10 minute lightning talk, but even in practice runs at home I was coming in a little over time, even skipping some bits of the content which were less important. On the day one of the other presenters (Simon Gallagher – VMUG leader and Lego aficionado) had toothache, so myself, Frank and Erik actually had a bit of leeway on timings. Being a bit of a gab anyway my presentation was about 15 mins. This did teach me one valuable lesson; even if you plan your presentation to the minute in advance, things never quite work out that way! You are likely to be asked questions, stopped mid flow, projectors turn themselves off and start smelling a bit smokey etc… the best thing to do is plan a shorter presentation as you will undoubtedly use all the time! On the same vein, when it comes to slides less is most definitely more. I had 14 slides and in hindsight, I was never going to get through them all in 10 minutes!

One other tip which Duncan Epping gave recently and I definitely agree with is to practice your presentation a few times through in advance, but don’t over-practice and end up being too robotic. Everyone has their own style but I like to use the slides as a talking point and guide, rather than planning word-for-word what I’m going to say.

Overall, it was a really enjoyable experience in the end and one I would highly recommend. I have had a great deal of help, support and learning from the community over the past few years, and its only right I should try to give something back.

Should you be considering whether to put your name forward to present at a VMUG in future (or indeed you are being politely but firmly press ganged by your local VMUG leaders… *cough* Alaric! *cough*) then I would definitely recommend you grab the opportunity with both hands, and post a tweet to #FeedForward on twitter if you want a little bit of extra support.

For more info on #FeedForward, see Mike’s blog post here:
http://www.mikelaverick.com/2013/11/feedforward-mentoring-vmug-presenters/

You can also grab a copy of my presentation here:
Alex Galbraith – LonVMUG Presentation 23-01-2014

Come along for my first VMUG Presentation! #LonVMUG 23rd Jan 2014

Its that time of year again, when we all look forward to the imminent arrival of our local VMUG. In my case it’s the Spring London VMUG being held next Thursday the 23rd January 2014, at 33 Queen Street, London, EC4R 1AP. Unusually (and slightly nerve wracking-ly) for me this time, I am actually going to be presenting!

For those of you who haven’t previously attended, a VMUG is a great place to:

  • Meet and swap ideas with like minded virtualisation professionals and put real faces to all thee people you already know from the Twitters!
  • See some great presentations from other community members on both technology and experiences, such as LEGO’s recent data centre migration.
  • Attend vendor presentations on new and existing technologies / products, which this month includes technical heavyweight Frank Denneman talking about PernixData’s Flash Virtualization Platform.

My session will be a 10 minute lightning talk on my experiences with my Intel NUC Nanolab. I was a little nervous about it, right up until I found out I am going to be following Frank Denneman on stage, so now I’m bricking it! I would probably describe the situation as being like watching a Rolling Stones gig, then some random school kid wanders on stage with a tired old Squier Strat and vaguely bangs out a tune, but I’ll do my best!

Of course, after the VMUG it is tradition for us all to pop along to a local watering hole to set the virtualisation and tech worlds to rights, over a few vBeers. If you can spare the time these are great things to attend.

However you look at it VMUGs are great FREE events, organised in their spare time by some very generous people. If you can get the time out of the office, and make it to the venue you won’t be disappointed!

If you see me at the London VMUG or the subsequent vBeers, don’t hesitate to come and say hi; you cant miss me, I’m 6’7″! 🙂

Register here: London VMUG

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