Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

Category Archives: London

PowerCamp–weekend PowerShell Training Course

I came across this today on my Twitter feed, Thomas Lee is running a weekend course in PowerShell in London this April, the agenda is as follows..

What is A PowerShell PowerCamp?
This fast paced weekend event covers all the key aspects of Windows PowerShell – from the command line and writing production-oriented scripts. We start with the basics including installation and configuration, formatting and providers and remoting. We then look at scripting, managing script libraries using modules, using objects, and finishing with the PowerShell features added into Windows. We finish with a look at PowerShell in the cloud and what’s coming with PowerShell V3.

The PowerCamp event is all lecture plus Q&A, with the opportunity to type along with the tutor. There are no formal labs.

What is the Agenda?
Day 1 – The Basics
• PowerShell Fundamentals – starting with the key elements of PowerShell (Cmdlets, Objects and the Pipeline) plus installation, setup, and profiles
• Discovery – finding your way and learning how to discover more
• Formatting – how to format output nicely – both by default and using hash tables and display XML
• Remoting – working with remote systems using PowerShell’s remoting capabilities
• Providers – getting into OS data stores via PSProviders
Day 2 – Diving Deeper
• Scripting Concepts – automating everyday tasks including PowerShell’s language constructs, error handling and debugging (both from the command line and using an IDE)
• Modules – managing PowerShell script libraries in the enterprise
• .NET/WMI/COM Objects – working with native objects
• PowerShell and Windows Client/Server – how you can use built in PowerShell cmdlets
• PowerShell in Key Microsoft Servers – a look at PowerShell today in SQL, SCVMM plus a look forward to the future with SharePoint 2010
• PowerShell and the cloud – this module looks at PowerShell in the cloud and how you can use PowerShell to manage cloud computing.
• PowerShell V3 – this final module shows you what’s new in PowerShell V3.

I am planning to attend, the cost is £200; which is an absolute bargain IMHO, and especially so if (like me) you are a contractor and can do this over a weekend. I’ve attended a Microsoft deployment course taught my Thomas in the past and I can vouch that he’s an excellent instructor.

It looks like an excellent way for a relapsed coder like myself to get re-immersed, if you’re a frequent LonVMUG’er this is a good complement to Alan Renouf’s PowerCLI sessions.

For more info and the full agenda click here

Augmented Reality TFTLondon


I attended another session of The Fantastic Tavern London (#TFTLondon) this evening hosted by Matt Bagwell and Michelle Flynn – this evening’s event was centred around ‘realities’ and specifically augmented reality.

My post on the previous TFT London is available here; as you’ll see from that post Augmented Realty was voted as a hot topic so warranted further exploration.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of Augmented Reality (AR) – watch this video, it’s essentially adding to what you see and sense in the real world with useful information, to-date most implementations are geared around providing spatial information to maps or scenes such as finding the nearest tube station or restaurant.

The evening opened with some discussion of how the current ‘thirtysomething’ generation grew up with emersion through video games, Doom was one of my favourites and whilst I’m not still a gamer I can see how the experience is immersive for a lot of people to this day.

The reality of realities is that it’s not quite there yet to enrich our daily lives, the iPhone example is cool, but it still requires a device which isn’t ‘natural’ to operate, we don’t all walk around with our iPhones outstretched infront of us…

Well, maybe some fellow London commuters do, they should really watch out where they are going otherwise they could see the reality of a totally different kind of AR (Accident and emeRgency – sorry!:))

A lot of things that in the 1980/90’s were considered futuristic still aren’t mainstream technology today, for example the Terminator’s heads-up type display but they are in some places…

Several cars manufacturers have this sort of option today (and some had it in the late 80’s) and it’s had a military application for a long time, these technologies will eventually become commoditized and thus cheap and accessible to all, much like the mobile phone has become almost ubiquitous.


Paul Dawson of EMC consulting put forward the view that there is also something missing, most current AR implementations only operate in the 4 dimensions (the 3 dimensions of physics and the dimension of time) but they don’t really address the 5 senses, and considering this is how we, as humans really experience our environments AR isn’t really contributing much in the way of real augmentation.

AR can point out linear things like a tube station entrance or a dog wearing a wig, but it can’t contextually give you information that is relevant to you; for example – There is a Marks & Spencer branch, it’s lunch time, you’re hungry and it’s queue is only 30 seconds, compared to your usual sandwich shop which has a queue of 5 mins.

Additionally current AR is very device bound; it’s not really a natural way of giving you information

Imagine an implementation in the built environment around you that listens to actual conversations and displays them in a type of tag cloud or some embedded displays that recognise your face and some attributes about you and where you are going, offering some advice on the quickest way; or maybe even the closest gym to lose some of that weight? 🙂

That’s quite an interesting proposition to me, my personal favourite example of an AR implementation is the Lego Augmented Reality Kiosk, which is available in all good Lego shops (it is said that I have an unhealthy, mildly OCD-type interest in Lego)


There is also an application available at Tesco that will allow you to take a photo of a bottle of wine and have it provide further information (more info here), this sort of application has been around for a while but this uses visual recognition, rather than traditional bar-code scanning – so imagine the wider application of this concept to the environment around you – rather than relying on traditional GPS, barcode, tagging type technology image recognition is used, which is potentially far more accurate as it’s based on what you actually see from your view point and position.

As technology develops and is miniaturised the hope is that AR displays will acheive an almost embedded form-factor, such as built into a normal pair of glasses or even a contact lens!


Johannes Kebeck from the Microsoft Bing Maps team talked about how geo-spatial information and public mapping and are being merged with crowd-sourced information, tagging and imagery to produce rich, sources for augmented reality solutions.

He also talked about how Microsoft have a preview of a commercial data catalogue for the Windows Azure Platform codenamed Dallas – where people can find, buy and sell data sources for these sort of applications, leveraging the scale of Azure for the analysis and processing of large data sets.

Several interesting use-cases were demonstrated;

  • Using Flickr integration with Bing maps to provide historical photographs of buildings, allowing a time-slider control to see what something looked like 50 years ago or at night-time.
  • The large number of free online data sources means there is a large amount of information available, most of this is historical or static but increasingly with crowd-sourcing, microblogging and sensor type networks these are being augmented with real-time information, for example fuel prices.
  • There was an example of a crowd-sourced maps mashup that was done for the Haiti disaster (my thoughts on some kind of emergency infrastructure for these situations here) in a matter of days people contributed significant real-time information on local conditions, aid levels and casualties to allow better targeting of relief.
  • Or on a more local area, feeding real-time crime statistics into a map to show crime hot-spots.

A lot of this seems to be discussed in this TED session, I haven’t watched it yet; but it looks very interesting

Up until now most of these tools and technologies haven’t been easilt accessible to the typical consumer and end-user, I’ve written about Microsoft Photosynth before but it’s an example of an easy to use end-user interface into this sort of AR technology and a lot of work is going into this area.

Neogeography is a new word to me, but you can read about it at wikipedia, I like the idea.

Lastly some of the UX team from EMC Consulting’s Studio had to tiptoe around an NDA to talk at a high-level about some of the work they are doing at the moment with customers in the Augmented Reality space for industrial customers, augmenting engineers viewpoint of plant with relevant information, as well as real-time 2-way feeds of critical safety information.

Good quality immersion for the end-user is considered a key to making people feel empowered by the AR tools, rather than merely using them as a tool,  to achieve this you need a good quality experience and they have coined the phrase High-Fidelity 3D, particularly for applications like military or surgical practice where for the end-user to get the most benefit it has to seem real; there is obviously a lot that has been pioneered in the video game industry in this space.

They have built some interesting PoC systems, notably around smart-metering for the home, with a flexible UI that allows the end-user to dive in and out of the represented house and appliances and customise it to represent their house.


For me one of the most interesting parts of this session was that with immersive/AR type applications there are a lot more end-user factors to consider like ergonomics, RSI and complementing learnt muscle-memory type skills.

Most AR applications will require one of more multi-touch type input devices, the traditional keyboard and mouse are well known quantities but new devices are less field-proven, there are also health & safety implications – you need to ensure the solution doesn’t encourage people to take risks or put them in danger.

For many people vehicle control skills (like a car steering wheel and pedals) are well learnt (muscle-memory) type skills so adopting something radically different makes it hard for people to switch between and slows adoption.

Almost playing back to the behavioural architecture concepts of the previous TFT evening – the team discussed the concept of built-in rewards, or status levels within industrial type AR applications to make it a more engaging experience for the end-user and encourage adoption – I could imagine how an example displaying a user’s skill level operating equipment (n00b, speed-demon, Fork-lift Ninja etc.) helps to encourage development and keep people operating within allowable parameters (speed limits for example).

This may sound a bit airy-fairy (for want of a better term) but consider this, 1993’s 15 year old playing Doom is now 32 and as time passes the percentage of people brought up with this sort of gaming experience and expectation grows. Today’s upcoming generation is already fully immersed in social media – maybe it’s not such an alien concept for the professional world of the near future after all.

I’d like to thank Matt and Michelle for an interesting evening, and a bit of a break from the norm of my day-job and this blog – if you’re interested in this sort of thing – the next event is on 19th August (location TBC) and is likely to be a full day called “The Lock Inn” – keep an eye on Matt and Michelle’s blogs for more details, I also appear to have been volunteered by a colleague to speak about clouds or something at the event, so look out for that 🙂

I also had a go on an iPad (not yet released here in the UK) thoughts – very nice screen and UI (as you’d expect) but it was a lot heavier than I was expecting, I only had it for a couple of minutes but it wasn’t very comfortable.

Best quote of the evening: “Let the sausages flow…” Matt Bagwell, Creative Director, EMC Consulting 🙂

London VMware User Group – 6th May


The next VMware User group meeting (VMUG) has been announced, I’ll be presenting on virtualizing terminal server workloads, which is a presentation based on some recent work I have undertaken with a customer.

It’s also great to see Alan back for another PowerShell session – this is definitely worth attending – register now if you haven’t already as it was a very full house last time round.

Agenda as follows –

The London VMUG Steering Committee are pleased to announce the next UK London VMware User Group meeting, kindly sponsored by RES Software, to be held on Thursday 6th May 2010. We hope to see you at the meeting, and afterwards for a drink or two, courtesy of VMware.

To register your interest in attending, please send an email to with up to two named attendees from your organisation. If you do not receive a confirmation mail, please don’t just turn up since we will not be able to admit you to the meeting. Please separately mention if you intend attending Alan’s PowerCLI workshop at 1100. Content from the meetings will continue to be uploaded to, NDA permitting.

Our meeting will be held at the Thames Suite, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 33 Queen Street, London EC4R 1AP, +44 (0)20 7248 4444. The nearest tube station is Mansion House, location information is available here. Reception is from 1230 for a prompt 1pm start, to finish around 5pm.Our agenda looks something like this:

1100 – 1200 (Optional) PowerCLI / Powershell workshop – Alan Renouf. Please bring your own curly brackets
1230 – 1300 Arrive & Refreshments
1300 – 1320 Welcome & News – Alaric Davies
1320 – 1400 Sponsor Presentation – RES Software

Migrating ESX v3.5 to ESX4i on HP Blades – Colin Style, Prudential
Brunel University virtualisation experiences – Peter Polkinghorne, Brunel University

1500 – 1520 Refreshment break

Virtualising Terminal Server workloads – Simon Gallagher
Interactive (and possibly contentious!) Panel Discussion – UG Committee with contributions from the floor

1645 – 1700 Close
1700 – Pub

Free Windows Crash Dump Analysis and Performance Analysis Session from the WSUG in London


The Windows Server User Group have announced another free evening session during the UK Tech Days week in London.

Blurb pasted from the WSUG site below;

The [WSUG] Windows Server User Group has the pleasure of hosting Dan Pearson, from David Solomon’s Expert Seminars,  Dan is in London teaching the week of TechDays UK and has kindly agreed to present on the evening of  Tuesday 13th April (18:30-21:00 at Microsoft, Cardinal Place, London) to the community.  There will be a social gathering afterwards.

Registration: Chick Here (NOTE even though the event says GMT it is BST).

Windows Crash Dump Analysis

While Windows crashes are rarer these days, when they do occur, you need to know how to isolate their root cause. This session explains why Windows crashes to protect the system, the types of crash dumps you can configure, and how to analyze them with the Microsoft Debugging Tools. Also covered are how to deal with hung systems and systems that crash without taking a dump. Several real-life case studies are presented.

Windows Performance Troubleshooting and Analysis

Performance is a fundamental metric representing system responsiveness and productivity and can be directly tied to customer satisfaction. This session details the use of several built-in performance monitoring tools, as well as those from Sysinternals and the Windows Performance Toolkit, to aid with the troubleshooting and diagnosis of performance-related issues. Also covered is the analysis and interpretation of the data collected by each of the tools and the presentation of several useful techniques that can be applied to troubleshooting. Several real-life case studies are presented

About Daniel Pearson

Formerly a Senior Escalation Lead at Microsoft, Daniel worked in the Windows Base OS team supporting Microsoft customers. He performed crash dump analysis and system level debugging, spending the majority of his time either in a debugger or reading through Windows source code. Daniel also worked in the Mobile Internet sustained engineering team that released hot fixes and service packs for Microsoft’s Mobile Information Server product. He has presented sessions on Windows internals at Microsoft sponsored conferences and user groups.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Daniel worked at Digital Equipment Corporation on both Intel and Alpha systems running Windows NT doing system software support for enterprise customers.

Dan Pearson is speaking in March at Microsoft’s Tech Days in Finland and Belgium.

Cloud Camp London (21st Jan 2010) now open for registrations


You can register for the next Cloudcamp London on the 21st Jan 2010 at this link

If you don’t know what cloudcamp is about – check out one of my previous posts if you are available I recommend it.

Designing Active Directory – Talk by Brian Desmond in London


If you’re in the UK and are interested in Active Directory – Brian Desmond (an MVP for AD) will be giving a talk on Active Directory design on 29th October in London.

Details here on the ADUG website here and – registration is free.

I’ve been working with Active Directory for a long time but it’s always refreshing to have some Q&A with industry peers, so if you can make it it promises to be an interesting evening.

Not sure if it will be recorded/streamed for people that can’t make it – if not can I make that suggestion to the ADUG team- I can bring some recording equipment if you need it.

Microsoft Virtualization User Group Meeting (UK)


I’ll be attending this user group event this evening in London; if you’re local and interested then I believe it’s never too late to register.

If you’re not local then you can view the webcast (details below) online

Looks to be some interesting content, and always good to speak to customers who have done it in real-life, the Microsoft virtualization user group UK site is here

Next In-Person Meeting

    Microsoft Virtualisation User Group – January 2009 Meeting


    Microsoft London (Cardinal Place)

    Date & Time:

    Thursday 29th January 2009
    18:00 – 21:30

    18:00 – 18:15 

    18:15 – 18:45
    Simon Cleland (Unisys) & Colin Power (Slough Borough Council)
    Case study: Hyper-V RDP deployment at Slough Borough Council

    18:45 – 19:30
    Aaron Parker (TFL)
    Application virtualisation – what is App-V?
    Benefits of App-V & a look inside an enterprise implementation

    19:30 – 20:00

    20:00 – 21:15
    Justin Zarb (Microsoft)
    Application virtualisation – in-depth look at App-V architecture
    21:15 – 21:30
    Q/A and wrap up
    Register at the forums for this event here
    Or email

    Live Meeting:
    Click Here
    No need for a meeting ID
    Room opens at 5.30pm – meeting at 6.30pm

VMWare Fast Track VCP Course – Lights Out Edition


I have been on a VMWare fast track course this week to complete my VCP cert; annoyingly the VCP is one of those vendor certifications where you need to prove you’ve sat the course as well as doing the exam to qualify as a “proper” VCP.

I’ve been doing it at QA-IQ in central London, and whilst I know most of the content its good for filling in the gaps and detail for the areas where my knowledge is high-level.

Unfortunately the building lost all power 1/2 way through yesterday and we had to finish the remaining theory for the day without PC’s or projectors etc. – full credit to the instructor who didn’t break a sweat doing so, I’d probably have sworn a lot more.

When I arrived this morning they still haven’t got power back on so the day has been cancelled, waiting for a call from our account manager to work out what to do next. it’s already a compressed version of 2 training courses and my schedule is pretty tight so wonder what’s going to happen.

EDF the electricity supplier are bringing in generators – so someone must have really broken it!