Associated Objectives

For the next two weeks, while I’m on vacation and enjoying the holidays, I’m also going to be heads down in study for the CCNA Data Center exams.

I obtained my CCENT back in July but was side tracked by other things from plowing through and getting the second test done to get my CCNA R/S completed. After trying to get back into it, I just can’t make it stick. I do very little with routing, and have background little knowledge in it. The DC exam was my eventual goal, so that’s where I’m headed.

The dates for my two exams (640–911 & 640–916) are right after I get back from vacation. This gives me two weeks to get it done.

New recruit(er)

Historically, finding employment has not really been particularly difficult for me. When I’ve decided it was time to make a change, I’ve been able to do so pretty quickly. A well assembled resume, solid technical chops, practiced interviewing skills, and making connections with people seems to have served me pretty well thus far. I don’t say that to brag, just as a statement of fact.

As such, I’ve never utilized the “services” of a technical recruiter during my job searches. I’ve watched friends and coworkers use them, with pretty mixed results.

Now, when I’m talking about a recruiter, I’m not referring to the internal HR professional who works for a company you’re trying to get a job with. I’m talking about the headhunters who make their living by finding people and placing them in jobs, and then their skin in the game is to get you hired and get a cut of it for them in a finders fee.

(If this process is actually financially beneficial to the person being recruited is probably up for debate. The Freakonomics study on real estate agents is probably something to think about in this regard.)

I’m also not here to argue that this type of recruiter has no place in the process. Organizations frequently are in need of new talent, and sometimes that talent is hard to find, especially when trying to recruit people from a new region or in a skill set outside the companies normal area. I know my company makes use of them at times.

I should also make a point, just to cover my own ass, that I’m happy where I’m at in my current employment. My dealings with headhunters recently are purely unsolicited. (Part of my frustration, see below.)

That said, I always keep an open mind.

However, what I’m not really open to are the amateurs who hound me on an almost weekly basis, sometimes via phone or email, but especially on LinkedIn. I spend a lot of time cultivating a serious and professional profile there, because I use it for maintaining relationships with current/former coworkers and clients. Doing so makes me somewhat of an easy target for these headhunters.

I’m usually polite, often times more than I should be. I will typically acknowledge their message and let them know I’m not interested in whatever they’re trying to get me to bite on. Many times simply notifying them of my minimum salary requirements is enough for them to realize they’re going down the wrong path.

However, the advantage of something like LinkedIn is (assuming the recruiter is being honest) that I get as much insight into them as they do about me.

Right away, I’m turned off if they’ve not been in their profession for at least 3 years, especially if their previous job was anything along the lines of being a professional cheerleader or hair stylist. If the only thing they know about servers is that three months ago they were one at the local mexican restaurant, it’s time to move on.

Really, what this tells me is they don’t (yet) have the skills to help me. They don’t understand what it is I do and they probably don’t have the connections to show me anything that a search on DICE wouldn’t turn up. Honestly, it’s not worth my time to engage with them.

I get it. We all have to start somewhere. There was a time when I didn’t know the difference between spanning tree and an oak tree. Time and experience, training, makes us all better. Most of us started in help desk, or desktop support. We’re not usually born as systems administrators or consultants.

The problems comes when these recruiters lack experience, they look at someone with years of experience implementing award winning virtualization solutions, holding multiple and VCP certifications… and then suggest a position managing Windows updates processes.

Just like any other job, they need to do research and know the market they’re in, and the positions they’re recruiting for. In the end all it does is make them look foolish.

I can tell you all right now, if I decided to quit my job and become something outside of my experience, like say as an investment advisor, I’d probably be pretty horrible at it for a while. The thinking that somehow because I bought my first stock (outside of my retirement accounts) in $TWTR last month, suddenly I’m equipped to handle the life savings of others because it’s up $15 since I bought in? Doubtful.

I’m sure someone, somewhere, probably told them that being a headhunter was really lucrative. Otherwise why do it? I guess you can probably work from home on your own schedule, or something like that. Make some phone calls and watch the money roll in on the backs of people with actual skills and talent who do the real work.

Honestly it’s something I’m surprised some of my Get Rich Quick Scheme relatives haven’t taken up yet.

Side thought: If this was really the case, if recruiting was really a good way to make money, why don’t senior technical people (system administrators, infrastructure designers, implementation engineers) quit their jobs en masse to become recruiters? If the money was there, it seems like someone from the industry would be better equipped to find good people and point them in the direction of good jobs?

And while I’ve said that headhunters do have a place, it’s a narrow one. Again, it’s different when they work for the company doing the recruiting. It’s different if they know the person is looking for work. It’s different when I ask a friend or former coworker if they’re interested in coming to work with or for me. There is a mutual interest at stake.

But if my job consisted of sitting around cold calling people with the prospects of changing jobs, just for the sake of making a buck, I’d quickly be looking for a new job. You rarely see this type of process with other life changing things. It’s like car salesmen who flags you down while you’re driving to ask if you’d like to come by the lot and test drive a new Audi… or a realtor who knocks on your front door and asks if you’d like to buy the house down the street.

Why not let the customer come to you?

One final thought, today received a LinkedIn message from a recruiter working for what is essentially a competitor to my current employer, asking me if I could refer anyone to work for them!

Solutions Specialist

Last week, I passed the EMC Implementation Engineer, Isilon Solutions Specialist exam.

I actually did the EMC training for it in Franklin, Mass, back in March, but at the time EMC did not have a certification test within their Proven Professional program I could take. Normally I don’t waste time after coming back from a class to get the associated certification. But since there wasn’t one, it got put on the back burner. The class was actually one of the first partner level Isilon classes that EMC had offered, and the whole thing was video taped for future use in video learning. I had the option of taking the older exam that was presented by Isilon Systems (the company before EMC bought them) but because of our partner agreements with EMC, I’d still be required to take the proven professional version later. I’m not a fan of extra work, so I waited.

Isilon is a scale out NAS product that EMC acquired in late 2010, and have since been incorporating it into their offerings. AOS has started to sell a lot of Isilon recently, which meant that I needed to get signed off on it ASAP. I actually did my first solo install of an 4-node X200 cluster on Saturday, and am booked through next year installing a lot more (in addition to my other projects featuring products in my wheelhouse, like the VNX, RecoverPoint, and VMware View.)

In addition all of that, I’m still working on getting my CCNA finished up, adding the VCAP-DCA to my resume, and once CommVault gets their implementation engineer certification program finished, get signed off on that (from training done in July.)

It never stops.

Longer Titles

There is no other purpose for this entry, except for some shameless self promotion. I’m pretty excited about both of them, as they’re the results of things I’ve been working on for a while. Even though I love to talk about myself, I’ll keep it short and sweet.

  • Last week, I was promoted to Sr. Systems Engineer with AOS. No doubt that the recent vExpert award played into this, but I also like to think it was the result of proving myself over the last two years to managers, co-workers and customers.
  • On Wednesday, I passed the first test for my CCNA (adding “CCENT” to my resume in the interim). Getting my CCNA done has been on my to-do since about 2007ish. Hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to report on passing test #2 and finishing that up.

At the end of this month, I’ll be traveling to Washington, DC, for week long training on CommVault, since my company is going to start selling their solutions soon. This means more studying, more classes, and more testing/certifications. When kids say things like “I can’t wait to be done with school so I don’t have to study anymore” I’m quick to point out I do more homework now, then I probably did then, and with far more responsibilities along with it.

Learning never stops, and if it does, you’re doing it wrong.

Fearful Coaching

Something stood out from an article on the Birth Without Fear site that Sadie sent me earlier tonight:

I have watched her move on past the trauma and postpartum depression by herself. I was there, but I am not a trained counselor or therapist. There’s only so much emotional support I can offer because I have never experienced it first hand.
But what about me? What about the husbands reading this or the husbands of the women reading this? What happens to them when they see their wife’s plans go up in smoke, when the hospital staff mistreats or violates their wife, when these supposed childbirth care providers instill their ignorant fears and hospital protocol on humans in a one-size-fits-all manner? What happens when we are there to support our wives through the thick and thin, but can’t because only she can birth her baby?
I was there to support Mrs. BWF, but I never realized I needed someone there to support me.

Sadie has covered in detail the events of Pearson’s birth, and how its effected her. When it comes to moms recovering from traumatic deliveries, there is an abundance of literature, support mechanisms, and well wishers out there. There were many people who were looking out for postpartum depression in her.

But did anyone ever stop to ask how it effected me?

I was there through the entire pregnancy (from the start, technically) and attended every prenatal appointment and test. I was there to research and interview all the midwives and doulas we considered. From the moment Sadie went into labor, I was there for the long haul. That is, up until the very end, when we were forcibly removed from each other.

At the point during the delivery where it became apparent that our natural birth plan wasn’t going to happen, I had been mentally preparing myself for what I thought would happen next. We knew Sadie would be put under because it was past the point of doing anything else. The nurses handed me my scrubs and told me to suit up. Unbeknown to me, there was some controversy as to where I’d be during this process. I assumed it would be right by her side. Sadie was wheeled down to the OR to be prepared for surgery, and I put on my uniform. I was nervous but excited that my son would soon be here. The nurse came back to the room and we started walking down the hall. That’s when she dropped the bomb:

You’ll need to say goodbye to her, and then we’ll come back down and get you.

What?!

By the time I got into the OR, Sadie already knew. I started to cry, and then we were separated. At first I thought I’d watch from behind the operating room windows, but then they shuffled me out and then I was back in the original delivery room.

Saying I had trouble breathing would be a massive understatement. It was as if suddenly, there wasn’t enough oxygen on the planet to sustain me.

I sad on the edge of the birthing tub, and I waited. Crying. Terrified. Furious. The entire pregnancy I’d focused on the process of eventually getting my son out. I was the coach. Through the labor I was the one my wife leaned on through the contractions. I was prepared to be there at that moment, to fight our midwife to catch that kid when he came sliding out. It was my job to be in that room at that moment he emerged, regardless of how… and I wasn’t.

At that moment, it was as if I had my identity ripped from me. What I’d setup to define that moment, and myself as a man, vanished.

Eventually a nurse came past the room to announce that they’d pulled a crying baby boy out of my wife. Eventually I got back down to the operating room and saw Sadie’s insides outside of her, and looked over as they were cleaning off a screaming Pearson. There, in that panic, is a moment I will never forget where I spoke to my son and he stopped crying to turn to look at me. It was awesome.

Awesome is a word that gets misused and abused. That was an awesome moment. For me, it was the moment he was born.

But even as I stood there in that moment, I was still furious. I’d missed something, something that would have been just as awesome. I’d missed the moment I’d waited for, that we’d planned for. I missed something I will never have a chance to experience again. The moment our first child came into the world.

Even as my parents and in-laws arrived at the hospital, in the joyous moment of them meeting their grandson, I was angry.

Everything had come down around us. The entire plan was destroyed. And destroyed not just in a way that we didn’t get exactly what we wanted. In a way that neither of us got to experience the most important part of the entire process. We’d both been cheated out of it. Her, by virtue of the decisions we’d made through the process to do a fully natural delivery, but me… by the decision of the anesthesiologist.

You see, there was no other reason why I was to be excluded from this moment, except for the arbitrary decision of one man.

For the rest of the time in the hospital, my wife and son were very well cared for. But no one really was watching out for me. I was physically exhausted, but more importantly, I was mentally exhausted. Everyone paid close attention to my wife and her care, but no one really stopped to find out how I was doing.

As I sat there on the horribly uncomfortable Dad’s Bed in the hospital room, I contemplated the events of the last 36 hours. At that moment, I wanted to find the man responsible for my pain and beat him to a lifeless pulp. It’s fair to say I probably wanted to kill that anesthesiologist.

I realize he doesn’t feel like he did anything wrong. It was just another day at the office for him. He probably never had a second thought about his decision. He came to work that day, put my wife under, had lunch, and then made similar decisions the rest of the day. He probably washed up, went home and ate dinner and had no problem sleeping. Not me. Here I was living on the flip side of his decision.

Living with the pain.

Sure people made the obligatory “how are you holding up, dad?” (usually followed by a big smile.) But no health care professional, family member, or friend ever pulled me aside and said “Are you OK?” They all made a point of making sure I monitored my wife for signs of trouble. But who was monitoring me?

No doubt that the trauma that Sadie endured was significant. And don’t for a moment let me make you think that mine is as significant. I also realize that there are dads and families that have had far more significant trauma. Pearson is healthy. That’s important, but it’s not the only important thing. The pain, the emptiness, the darkness, from those memories, are still there. I live with PTSD.

There is no support group for dads, like there is for moms. We’re expected to man up and move on. But what if you can’t? How do you deal with that?

What if the thought of your wife being put back into that situation, of having to deal with that pain again, is so much that you don’t even want to consider the thought of getting pregnant again? On January 18, 2012, I wasn’t afraid of becoming a dad, of birth, I was excited. I welcomed it. That’s not the case since January 19.

I had no fear. Now, I have nothing but fear.

Round Robin

So you want to set your datastores to Round Robin, but you’ve got multiple hosts, dozens of datastores, and very little time? Just fire up PowerCLI and run this script. Replace “VMCluster” with the name of your cluster. This will change the multi pathing policy on each datastore, on each host in the cluster.

get-cluster “VMCluster” | Get-VMHost | Get-ScsiLun -LunType disk | Where-Object {$_.MultipathPolicy -ne “RoundRobin”} | Set-ScsiLun -MultipathPolicy “RoundRobin”

A great overview of Round Robin vs Fixed multipathing, specifically on vSphere 5.1 and EMC storage, and why you should be using it, can be found over at vElemental.

Facebook Vacation

I’ve logged out from every device, removed the apps, the bookmarks, integration to operating systems. I’m taking a Facebook Vacation.

The duration will be as long as I can swing it. There may be a point at which I can’t take it and come crawling back. I wouldn’t say I’m having withdrawal, but when I woke up this morning and got on my phone, the first thing I would normally do would be to open the app.

It wasn’t there.

Lately I’ve just felt overwhelmed by the noise. I feel like at times I just contribute to it, and need to find a way to make it better for myself. I can still keep up with sharing photos with friends on Instagram. My wife is addicted, so she can be my source for actual news of importance about friends and family who don’t share it with me directly. I want to see what it’s like for a while without the need to know, without the sometimes the overwhelming chatter.

And of course I still have Twitter. Which strangely enough, I don’t consider that noisy even though I follow 1500 people. Twitter is like a stream full of conversation, compared to Facebook which is individuals yelling as loudly as they can at me.

I’m tired of the yelling.

Big Data

The civil libertarian in me is appalled at the NSA phone records from Verizon (and likely others) and backdoor access to the data from Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, etc.

The engineer in me is fascinated at how import all that data, what they’d store it on (EMC Isilon) and how they would process it and retrive it. It’s a perfect example of the need for people who understand “big data.”

I’m so conflicted.

vExpert 2013

Earlier today, John Mark Troyer announced the 2013 vExpert list.

Shockingly, I made the cut, and I’m beyond honored. One of 580.

Full disclosure: I originally wrote this entire blog post earlier today from the point of view that I wasn’t included, so I’d have something ready to go discussing how I plan to increase my involvement in the community and try again next year. Except for announcing that I actually was selected, none of that outlook changes.

I wasn’t even sure if I’d apply for it when the application/self-nomination form went up last month, because I knew I’d not done anywhere enough to contribute at the level as the current vExperts. That being said, I threw my name into the mix and have been waiting patiently since then to find out the results. While I’ve been tweeting and engaging people online about virtualization for a while now, I made it my mission a couple of years ago do do more. It’s difficult with other obligations like work, family, etc, to (after all that) spend a lot of time giving back, but I will. (To be honest I’m not sure how some of the current vExpert folks do it.)

Now that I’ve actually been selected, there is a huge weight to do more, in order to prove myself worthy of this selection, but also because of the realization that this is only for one year and this is something to continue to participate in. This year I hope to contribute a lot more in the way of tutorials on this site, regular news updates, and Twitter/social networking participation. I also need to dive deeper into providing assistance on the official VMware Communities site, something I’ve avoided doing so far.

I also need to go to VMworld this year.

For the sake of everyone who doesn’t know a lot about the vExpert program, this doesn’t mean I am suddenly imbued with all the knowledge of VMware’s various applications. As John said over on the VMware site:

“I want to personally thank everyone who applied and point out that a “vExpert” is not a technical certification or even a general measure of VMware expertise. The judges selected people who were particularly engaged with their community and who had developed a substantial personal platform of influence in those communities. There were a lot of very smart, very accomplished people, even VCDXs, that weren’t named as vExpert this year.”

I hope to continue to learn and share as much as I can about VMware, and continue to be an evangelist for them.

Congrats to everyone who made the cut. I look forward to continue engaging with all the other vExperts, and the rest of the community, in the coming year.

Update: Originally the list had 575 names, then 579, now 580. Also, shout out to my local KC VMUG people, who I also promise to attend meetings with regularly in the future.

Qualified Quantity

It is important to create work you are proud of and if you are consistent and you keep working hard at it, you’ll get the outcome it deserves … an engaged and targeted audience is much more effective than a large one.

I love this.