Maximising outcomes by exploiting knowledge (and how things can still go wrong)

Sunrise on approach to Sydney
Sunrise on approach to Sydney

November 2015 was when I went on my third trip to the US.  This trips have presented an interesting experience in how one can learn things and then leverage that knowledge.  On my first trip, I was a complete novice.  I’d never planned a trip like this myself within Australia, never mind the complications of going overseas.  By exercising a lot of caution and care, I was able to minimise the chances of things going wrong.

Following that trip, I began a period of rapid education about travel and flights and all that stuff.  I quickly found out that the seats I had booked on the first trip were pretty bad (thanks Seatguru).  The second trip involved going on a slightly higher level of fare to mitigate some of the unpleasantness of sitting in economy for 14 hours, as well as just the experience that I might not get again.  All of the planning the first and second time involved a lot of manual work in Google Calendar, inputting place holder appointments for flights and hotel stays and other engagements, trying to keep a handle on the multiple time zones involved.

The third trip was the new apex in planning.  I managed to get all my air fares at very good prices, structured them for maximum benefit to my chosen frequent flyer account.  I also decided to put in for a points upgrade, given that doing so was one of the most effective ways to use the points and I now had a reasonable good status with the airline so my chances were good.  This time I also decided to use TripIt, which made the calendar population much easier this time around and essentially eliminated the need for paper copies of things (I still had them anyway).

But even with that level of things, some things still went wrong.  The hotel I stayed at in LA was still under renovation, this time it was the small convenience store I would visit for light snacks and coffee.  Ongoing sleep problems also came into play, as well as a few other things, some of which were out of my control.  Those will go into the lessons learned pile for trip #4.

US Trip 2015 Travel Report

This was my third trip to the US.  What began as a crazy idea to see a Blizzcon convention before they went down in quality has turned into an annual trip of balancing enjoyment with squeezing “maximum efficiency” from everything in sight.

This is pretty long, so get ready…

Read more

vCloud Air Test Experience

vCloud Air is VMware’s public cloud offering, similar to Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft’s Azure. The key distincion between vCloud Air and these other offerings is that vCloud Air uses VMware’s products such as vSphere.

The VMWare User Group (VMUG) recently added free credits on vCloud Air OnDemand as part of their EVALExperience program. As the name suggests, vCloud Air OnDemand is a pay-as-you-go service. I looked at this service offering as a server engineer with a reasonable background in VMware, considering aspects such as the ease of basic tasks, general administration, technical considerations for the business (good and bad) and how it compares to other offerings.

Read more

CeBIT Australia 2015 Experience

This year was the first time I had attended CeBIT, with a primary motivator being the Cloud Conference component, with that component being of interest personally and professionally, as well as the fact that events of this size are rarely held in Perth.  The speakers for the Cloud Conference covered private enterprise and government, giving a broad view of how cloud was making IT work better.

The first speaker was Chris C Kemp, former CTO at NASA and co-founder of OpenStack.  He spoke about the concepts of anti-scarcity, where a thing can be made more valuable by making it more freely available and accessible because more parties are involved and invested in the item.  This concept applies strongly with open source software and OpenStack in particular, which because as an internal project at NASA.  By allowing it to be available to all, OpenStack now has support and investment from large IT vendors such as HP, IBM and Cisco.

David Boyle from NAB opened his presentation by stating he wouldn’t use the “c word” (cloud).  He managed to stick with his promise, and talked about the concepts of traditional “horse and cart” IT, the model we’ve used in the past of physical infrastructure, lengthy release cycles and waterfall development.  This was contrasted with “Ferrari” IT, which uses virtualisation, frequent release models, continuous deployment, automation and dev ops.  A key concept he outlined was “fail fast” – having a deployment framework that can be run rapidly so success or failure can be determined quickly and subsequent deployments attempted once problems have been fixed.

Read more