Top vBlog 2016 is about to kick off so I’m continuing my vBlogger Spotlight series that I started last year to shine the spotlight on several prominent bloggers in the community to give you some insight into their experiences with blogging. Today’s spotlight is on Duncan Epping, the un-disputed king of the bloggers and voted #1 top vBlog for 7 years straight. Duncan sets the bar pretty high for how a virtualization blog should be run and has demonstrated all the characteristics of a great blogger when it comes to longevity, frequency and quality. Over the 7 year history of Top vBlog nobody has come close to knocking him off that #1 spot and as he is showing no signs of slowly down it’s unlikely that anyone ever will. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with Duncan Epping, you can read the other vBlogger Spotlight series here.
What year did you start your blog?
[Duncan] I started my blog in December of 2007. Had been playing around with a theme and a logo though for a couple of weeks. First article was on 18 December, 2007.
What inspired you to start a blog?
[Duncan] I’d been active with regards to writing for a long time, but on a completely different topic: hardcore punk / metal core. I was working for a consultancy company in the Netherlands and needed a place to document my finding, share my problems and solutions. I was an avid reader of Mike Laverick and Scott Lowe’s blog and figured that I could do something like that. Considering I would normally write multiple CD reviews a week and do interviews, I figured when I stopped with the online community that this tech blogging would be a nice way to fill that gap. I never expected it to take off like this though.
So what inspired the blog name?
[Duncan] When I started blogging most people had a “vSomething” name. None of them really stood our for obvious reasons. I wanted something different, something that stood out, something that sounded cool and was easy to remember. Simply looked at my fav. bands and song titles, and this name came out. (Based on Old Yellow Bricks by Arctic Monkeys)
Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?
[Duncan] To be honest, I’ve always blogged about the things that I am passionate about and things I encounter. Whether that was an issue discovered at a customer site, a new product or something cool I learned. I don’t think that has changed. My blog is still my blog and usually reflects what I am working on, or what I am thinking about. The big change over the years probably has been moving from shorter “I had this problem and this is how you fix it” articles to more “educational” pieces where I explain (short or long) how something works. But still, I very much enjoy doing the “problem/solution” articles.
What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?
[Duncan] Some seem to think that blogging is part of my job, it isn’t. Sure VMware highly appreciates all that I do, but there are no goals or even expectations when it comes to blogging. To be honest, it is who I am. I’ve been writing for such a long time now, I need it to stay sane.
When you are not blogging or working what do you enjoy doing?
[Duncan] I do many different things, but typically: running, watch my kids practice taekwon-do, crossfit/weightlifting, day trips to cities / museums etc. Basically a lot 🙂
What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?
[Duncan] Don’t really have a fondest memory or “best experience”, but I can tell you that it is an awesome feeling when you walk through the VMware headquarters and you see an engineer reading your blog… Or you see your blog being referenced on an internal engineering wiki page. It is great to see that it doesn’t only help users / architects, but also helps people internally. I guess the biggest compliment though was when the HA and DRS team bought a bunch of copies of the HA/DRS deep dives and gave them to new employees and interns… they could not ask any questions until they finished the book. That was definitely the best compliment ever, and Frank and I smiled from “ear to ear” 🙂
If you had to choose a theme song for yourself what would it be?
[Duncan] You really had to ask me this question, man there are so many great songs I wouldn’t even know where to start. I also listen to so many different styles of music it is very hard to pick a song. But if I have to pick one, State of Love and Trust by the almighty Pearl Jam. Probably my all-time fav. song. I can listen to that one a million times in a row and it doesn’t bore me and I find myself always singing along the words “And I listen for the voice inside my head Nothin’, I’ll do this one myself…”
Any advice for others who are new to blogging?
[Duncan] Just do it, but if you start… Don’t do it because you want to be a vExpert, or because many others are doing it. Do it because you enjoy writing, you enjoy sharing knowledge / experience, do it because you want to learn. If you do it for other reasons chances are big you won’t last long, as it is a lot of work.
What’s your favorite tech gadget?
[Duncan] Not sure I have one really, I spend a lot of time on my phone checking the different social networks and keep up to date, but not sure it is my favourite as it also causes me to sometimes forget what is happening around me. I try to stay away from my phone as much as possible in the evening, but it is very tempting. Love/Hate relationship I guess.