Tag Archive: vSpotlight

Feb 28 2016

vBlogger Spotlight: Duncan Epping

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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.

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Apr 26 2015

vBlogger Spotlight: Jason Boche

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Top vBlog 2015 is over but I’m still continuing my vBlogger Spotlight series 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 Jason Boche, a good friend of mine from way back to the days when we were VMTN moderators together. Jason is one of the only bloggers that I know that has a full fledged data center running in his basement to power his home infrastructure services and serve as his home lab for blogging at boche.net. Jason mentions VMworld 2008 were I convinced him to start blogging, here’s a pic of some of us doing the Community Roundtable podcast way back in the early days live from VMworld and also a pic of Jason after he tried to explain what vMotion is to Danica Patrick.

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Jason has a fondness for cigars so if you ever run in to him at a VMware event be sure and pack a few stogies to smoke with him. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with Jason Boche:

What year did you start your blog?

[Jason] I started my blog in the year 2008.

What inspired you to start a blog?

[Jason] I gained a lot of knowledge and experience working with VMware products in a large corporate environment as well as in my home lab. I had also spent a lot of time sharing the knowledge that I had gained early on with others in the VMware community forums. Blogging and other forms of social media was gaining popularity as output channels for content and after a discussion with my Eric Siebert at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2008, that seemed to be the next logical step.

Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?

[Jason] When I got my blog started up in my home lab, my brain was overflowing with blog articles I wanted to get out. Early on I think I was producing many blog articles on a daily basis. That eventually slowed down to a more reasonable and digestible rate but managing an enterprise datacenter with VMware and other infrastructure products still gave me plenty to write about in the coming years. Four years ago I transitioned out of a customer role and moved to the VMware partner side of the world where I work for a storage vendor. My blogging output has dropped considerably during this period. Part of this is due to the lack of operational day in day out hands on VMware products that I used to have, and part of it is due to a personal shift with more time and focus spent on my growing family. Sharing and giving back to the community what I can was and still is very rewarding but it comes with a cost which is a time component. Over the last few years my priorities have shifted from community to family. It’s evident in my blogging and my participation in other social media avenues. I haven’t given up completely, it’s just a re-balance.

What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?

[Jason] Datacenter architecture and technology is in a perpetual state of evolution and transformation. I still have plenty to learn and in turn share with others. Blogging is one of many facets of community. Community is important to me and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been wired to support others and give back which I have done in many ways throughout my lifetime. The name Jason translated from Greek literally means “healer”.

What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?

[Jason] Positive feedback from others that I’ve helped them or saved their weekend in some way. I’ve been there and I know the feeling of mental and physical exhaustion and eventually overwhelming relief when a problem is solved.

Any advice for others who are new to blogging?

[Jason] Your blog therefore you are in control with your own rules. Don’t get caught up by others telling you what you should and should not do with your blog in terms of content or frequency. When a blog becomes a job, the fun and passion will be sucked right out of it. Monetization may or may not come. Don’t force it. It shouldn’t be a the primary goal if you already have a day job. Use it to cover expenses, not get rich. A genuine, friendly, and modest personality will draw readership. Be approachable but maintain boundaries for life/family balance. Blog output requires just as much or more input – continue learning and the sharing part will come easier.

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Apr 05 2015

vBlogger Spotlight: Eric Sloof

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Top vBlog 2015 is over but I’m still continuing my vBlogger Spotlight series 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 Eric Sloof, aka Mr. Scoop due to his keen ability to post news about VMware before anyone else is aware of it. Eric is another one of the OG bloggers as well as Godfather of the Dutch vMafia and also one of the hosts of VMworld TV that broadcasts live from VMworld events. Eric’s blog is NTPro.nl and has consistently been one of the Top 10 blogs. While other bloggers were all getting scooped up by VMware and it’s partners he’s chosen to remain as one of the few very independent bloggers left in the Top 25. Eric is one of the very early VMware Certified Instructors and remains one too this day. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with Eric Sloof:

What year did you start your blog?

[Eric] I’ve started my blog nearly 10 years ago. it was September 2005 to be more specific.

What inspired you to start a blog?

[Eric] The inspiration for my blog came from Mike Laverick – He was running the RTFM-Education blog for his own training company and I was really enjoying reading his articles.

Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?

[Eric] My first blog articles were in Dutch and related to selling Vizioncore vRanger licenses. Back then I was the only reseller in Europe and my blog was used as part of my company ntpro.nl. When Vizioncore was going to an event or I was able to get a new customer, I posted an article about it.

After some time I switched to English and started blogging more about VMware. My first big event was the TSX in Nice 2007. I’ve covered that event with interviews, videos and photo’s. I think back then I was one of the first bloggers who was using multimedia to cover an event. I still have a picture of young Mike and me 🙂

What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?

[Eric] At the start of 2007 I also became a VMware certified instructor. I kept on blogging because I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from my students and I’ve always used my blog as and extension of the training material. I was able to show an extra demo or screen dumps and dive a little bit deeper than the official material which resulted in good evaluation scores.

After all those years I’m still working as a trainer and I simply can’t quit as long as I experience the enthusiasm of my students.

What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?

[Eric] The best experience because of blogging was being asked as a host for VMworld TV. Me and Jeremy are presenting VMworld TV for tree years in a row now and we’re doing both San Francisco and Barcelona. It’s so great to meet people worldwide who know you from your blog, just incredible. We had a lot of fun recording all the interviews and I felt as a big honour to be part of the VMworld TV crew.

Any advice for others who are new to blogging?

[Eric] My advice for people who are new in blogging is try to be unique. It doesn’t really matter if you’re doing one two or three posts a week as long as you have good content – content is king.

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Mar 25 2015

vBlogger Spotlight: William Lam

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While we wait for the Top vBlog results I thought I would 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 William Lam, automation wizard extraordinaire and voted last year as the #2 vBlogger in the world. Let’s face it we all have a lazy side and automation makes an admins job so much easier. Thanks to William and his great tips and scripts we can all become big fat lazy vSphere admins. After all wouldn’t we rather be working smarter than working harder and the great content that William posts on his Virtually Ghetto blog makes that possible. William debuted at the #25 spot in the 2011 Top vBlog voting and quickly moved up into the top 10 in 2012 before rising to #2 last year. William is also a genius when it comes to nesting ESXi and getting ESXi to run on a Mac Mini to help out all those home labs out there. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with William Lam:

What year did you start your blog?

[William] virtuallyGhetto was started in 2010

What inspired you to start a blog?

[William] In the early days when I was a system administrator, I spent quite a bit of time on the VMTN Community Forums helping answer questions related to VMware automation and scripting. As part of my day job, I did a lot of Automation and I found that many of the questions that were being asked were things that I had done before or things that I was currently working on. I figured that I could help others by sharing some of the solutions and experiences that I had so that the greater community could benefit overall. With my replies, I usually ended up providing a fully functional script that exercised the task or operation so the OP gets the information they needed but also got a working example so that it helps them out in their current situation. All of this was done on the VMTN Community forum and some static HTML pages that I was manually updating which kept track of all the scripts that I had written. As you can probably guess, this made searching and notifications of new content pretty challenging.

I eventually decided to start a blog after multiple comments from my friend Duncan Epping who really encouraged me to give this blogging thing a try. He had always been a mentor/supporter of my content and had even blogged about my scripts on more than several occasions. I figured by having a blog, I could make it easier for people to search for solutions to their questions and help foster a community around VMware automation and scripting which did not really exist back then.

Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?

[William] I had initially only focused on vSphere Automation as a topic for my blog. However, being a technologist and loving to learn about new things and solving problems I quickly expanded beyond just vSphere Automation. I started to explore other areas and products in VMware’s portfolio such as storage, networking and management. Other popular topics that I have been writing about are Nested Virtualization, Mac Mini for home labs and just doing cool and sometimes not supported things with VMware products. I definitely enjoy variety and you can see that with the content over the years.

What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?

[William] For me personally, it is the continue sharing of information with the community and the constant learning of new things that really keeps me going. I really enjoy learning about new technologies and in turn I can share that knowledge which can help someone solve a problem. You get this circular effect that only makes our community stronger.

What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?

[William] Honestly, there are so many it is hard to just pick one. For me, the best experience I could get from blogging is just a simple note from a reader saying how one of my articles or a script has helped them solve a particular problem. I really do enjoy reading those emails and makes it all worth it at the end. I guess a nice runner up is hearing from VMware Engineering and GSS Support that they use several of my blog articles on a regular basis 🙂

Any advice for others who are new to blogging?

[William] Do not start a blog to just start a blog. Write about something that you are very passionate about. There are still so many topics within the VMware and Virtualization community that have been unexplored in great detail, try to really differentiate yourself from what others have already done. Lastly, it is all about the content! The more unique and interesting content that you can produce the larger the reward in terms of readership, engagement and longevity of blogging.

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Mar 19 2015

vBlogger Spotlight: Mike Laverick

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While we wait for the Top vBlog results I thought I would 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 Mike Laverick, one of the OG bloggers who started his RTFM (Read The Frigging Manual) Education website way back in the early days of blogging. Mike was also one of the early book authors as a member of the Advanced Technical Design Guide rat pack that authored some of the first books on virtualization. Mike is the host of the Chinwag podcasts where he uses his laidback, informal interview style to chat with guests about virtualization. A former Certified VMware Instructor, Mike’s great passion for teaching and helping others is evidenced by his blog posts, articles, books, podcasts and his unselfish eagerness to share and give back to the community. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with Mike Laverick:

What year did you start your blog?

[Mike] RTFM Education started in 2003, but I flogged that to TechTarget, so I’m not sure if that really counts anymore! As for mikelaverick.com (such a pithy name dontcha think?) started in Feb, 2013…

What inspired you to start a blog?

[Mike] Back 2003 it was just an honest willingness to share what I learned, and help others. The plans for Dr Evil style world-domination came later…

Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?

[Mike] I’m going to be a bit vain here. But I would like to my style has influenced others. I read other bloggers and think, “god, that’s just how I would do it”. I don’t feel ripped off, but slightly proud. I told you I was going to be vain! But I like to think my style is one that blends just right of theory with a big dollop of “getting it done”. My most popular posts have been ones that fix a commonly experience problem, that everyone runs up against in their time.

What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?

[Mike] Aside from a passion to share what I learn, I do generally love writing. I guess that comes from my liberal-arts background. You see I’m a bit of interloper who’s technical knowledge wasn’t gained through academic qualifications but via combo of experience, and training courses. One day someone is going to work out that this particular Emperor has no clothes. But to mix my metaphors I will keep on pulling the levers like the Wizard of Oz, until someone pulls back the curtain. It’s been a while since I undertook a big book project and do I kind of miss that. I tip my hat to colleagues of mine who have held down full-time jobs at VMware, and writing books. I don’t know how they find the time or motivation. As for myself I do a project that’s been cooking away since last year (or if I’m honest the year before) it looks ripe for launch. I hope to do the big reveal in the next couple of weeks.

What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?

[Mike] I guess my fondest memory, is when people come up to me at VMUGs and say they laughed out loud – at something I wrote in a book or blog. Humour is rather under-rated virtue in IT, I don’t know how many of us get through the working day without being able to laugh at the end of it….

Any advice for others who are new to blogging?

[Mike] Blog about you – your experiences and what you learn. Most of start blogging as way of documenting what we learn. Its a bit odd how you end up searching your own blog for stuff you worked out 12 months ago, because your memory synapses have made room for some other data. As for ‘making a name for yourself’ – I would recommend finding a topic that is unloved, and becoming the GOTO guy/gal for that. Get a reputation for being a really nice person who helps other people. If you lucky, you’ll hit upon a technology that just explodes in popularity – and will put a rocket under your career. If it happens 99% of that will be pure luck, the other 99% will be sheer goddamn hardwork. Then, rest on your laurels and dine out on your veteran status until retirement. Well, that’s what I plan to do anyway… 😉

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Mar 18 2015

vBlogger Spotlight: Scott Lowe

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While we wait for the Top vBlog results I thought I would 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 Scott Lowe, not to be confused with the Other Scott Lowe or the gamer Scott Lowe (lots of Scott Lowe’s in tech). The original Scott Lowe is one of the earliest bloggers to write about virtualization having started his web log in 2005 and has been consistently ranked in the top 5 in my Top vBlog polls over the years. Scott was also one of the earliest book authors to write about virtualization with the release of his Mastering vSphere 4 book in 2009 and many other books after that. So without further ado enjoy a Q&A session with Scott Lowe:

What year did you start your blog?

[Scott] My first article was published in early May of 2005. At first I ran it on an internal-only installation of WordPress, but moved it to a public hosting provider within just a couple of months.

What inspired you to start a blog?

[Scott] Like others, my blog started out as a sort of “knowledge base” for myself. I would find solutions to these problems, but 6 months later when I ran into the same problem again I couldn’t remember how I’d solved it. The blog was an attempt to help with that problem.

Describe your early blogging experiences and how you have evolved over the years?

[Scott] If you go back and look at the early blog entries, they were more like journal entries. I talked about a technical project I’d started or a fix I’d found, but the posts were really more for myself. After about six months to a year, I “found my voice” and started speaking more to an external audience (even though the blog had hardly any followers at the time, it somehow felt natural to write that way—hence “finding my voice”). From there, my writing voice has evolved as I’ve grown and changed. I would even go so far as to say that my writing voice has, in some cases, been a contributing or driving factor in how I’ve grown and changed.

What has kept you blogging over the years and not quitting at it?

[Scott] I think it’s because I’ve always enjoyed being able to help others learn and understand new things. I enjoyed working as an instructor and trainer early in my career, and I think I’ve carried a fondness for “teaching” ever since. Writing about technologies, projects, products, and trends has been like an outlet for me to share both my passion for technology as well as my passion for helping others understand technology.

What was your best experience or fondest memory related to blogging?

[Scott] That’s a tough question! There have been some good experiences as well as some not-so-good experiences. I suppose if I had to pick only one experience it would be a story I heard from a co-worker when I was working for a reseller on the US East Coast (this was before I moved to Denver). A sales person and an SE went into an account to talk about winning the opportunity to do a virtualization project for this company. The technical guys at this company talked about this article they’d read online and how they wanted to use the architecture proposed by this article for this project. When the sales rep and the SE asked about the article, the customer responded with “It was written by this guy, Scott Lowe.” The sales rep and the SE just laughed and said, “You know he works for us, right?” Needless to say, we got the opportunity to do the project (and yes, I worked on the project). I think it was a bit of an eye-opener for me personally—I knew that others knew of me, but didn’t understand the potential impact my work might have.

Any advice for others who are new to blogging?

[Scott] I’m assuming since you used the phrase “new to blogging” that we’re talking about someone who has already started blogging. In that case, I’d have to say to keep this phrase in mind: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Your articles don’t have to be perfect. Your site’s layout doesn’t have to be perfect. Certainly strive for excellence, but don’t obsess over perfection to the point you don’t actually write. In the end, it’s OK to publish an article that may not be as complete as you’d originally planned, or may not be as in-depth as you’d first envisioned (this latter point is something with which I personally wrestle from time to time). It’s likely that someone will still find value in it, and over time you’ll learn how best to structure your content and writing.

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