DefinIT

VMware Clarity based WordPress Theme – v0.1

| 20/06/2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

A couple of days ago I saw a tweet from Cody De Arkland showing his new tweaked VMware Clarity based theme on his website.


Cody has gone down the route of using Hugo and AWS, which I respect, but just seems like too much work for me at the moment! I am familiar with WordPress, and Simon is barely computer literate at the best of times, so I can’t ask him to start writing in markdown. But I did want some of this Clarity goodness – so I set about learning how to create a WordPress theme, and how to integrate Clarity with this. (more…)

GDPR, blogging and DefinIT

| 22/05/2018 | Tags: , , , ,

So…this is a frustrated sort of post. As you are most likely to already know, the new data protection laws (GDPR) are coming into effect on the 25th May 2018. I must emphasise that I am not an expert on GDPR, this post is my layman’s conclusion for my specific circumstances. I run this blog as an exercise to help others, provide information and as a hobby. There is a lot of speculation around how this will affect bloggers, and a lot of panic and mis-information too. I’ve seen a few people this week simply shut down and delete their blogs – which is both upsetting and sad.

Once again, here is my disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and I’m not providing you legal advice. Contact your legal council for help interpreting and implementing the GDPR. This article is provided for entertainment purposes, and amounts to nothing but my interpretation of the GDPR.

My general approach to GDPR is one of avoidance – I will avoid collecting any Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Please feel free to get in touch via twitter (@sammcgeown) with any suggestions or updates and I’ll gladly share them (at least, the non-personally identifiable parts :))

General

Some general privacy best practices, which help towards GDPR compliance

  • I already use SSL to secure the site through LetsEncrypt, and HTTP redirects to HTTPS, so that’s good.
  • I already back up the site regularly, and encrypt my backups
  • My web server is patched and updated regularly
  • My WordPress and all Plugins are updated regularly

Privacy Policy

The main requirement from GDPR is that you clearly detail a Privacy Policy. The latest version of WordPress has a new “Privacy Settings” page that allows you to link to an existing, or create a new, Privacy Policy page. It also has some good pre-canned text and a guide to modifying it to fit your site. This has been the starting point from where I have modified the DefinIT Privacy Policy

Privacy Settings

Comments

All comments on DefinIT.co.uk have been disabled, and any existing comments have been deleted. I’ve done this because it seems to be the most efficient way for me to remove the risk that Personally Identifiable Information is collected and stored on the site.

Also, managing comment spam is a pain in the a***

To disable the comments site wide, I used the Disable Comments plugin, which allowed me to disable comments site wide and delete all existing comments. So here it is, 1498 legitimate, productive, helpful comments removed from the site to protect me from GDPR. I’m sorry to all those who put effort into discussions and helpful input.

Delete Comments

Analytics

This is tricky. I’ve read a lot of conflicting info about analytics and GDPR. My settled opinion is that I can keep using my 3rd party provider (Google Analytics) as long as I clearly state that in my Privacy Policy, and that people have the option to opt out. With Google Analytics I can update my Plugin Settings and Privacy Policy to detail how the information is used, and link to Google’s Privacy Policy.

I use the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) plugin and ensure IP addresses are anonymised. That’s the only PII collected by Google Analytics, but we also enable user opt-out, and compliance with Do Not Track.

Google Analytics Plugin Settings

Sharing Links

For now, I’ve disabled social media links – the reason for this is that they tend to be trackers for the social media platforms that they link back to. I may revise this at a later date when I understand the implications better for each platform.

Heading to Las Vegas! #VMworld 2016

| 19/07/2016 | Tags: , , , ,

vegasI’ve been very fortunate to be able to go to VMworld Europe for the past 3 years, mainly thanks to the vExpert program and the availability of the blogger pass. This year I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get to Barcelona because of work, so I thought I’d apply for a VMworld US blogger pass – I’m very excited to have been given one! As with previous years, I’ll be blogging at least once a day with my thoughts and any useful info I’ve gleaned – I definitely don’t want to take the pass for granted!

The blogger pass is awesome, but I still need to fund my flights, hotel, and some spending money while there. I wanted to thank my blog sponsors VMTurbo and Veeam for their continued support which has made it possible to pay for these flights without costing my family. On that note, I still have one more slot for a sponsor, so if you represent someone who’d like to advertise on DefinIT.co.uk, get in touch!

I will be flying to Las Vegas (via Toronto?! cheap flights) on Saturday 27th, arriving late evening, and I’m staying at the Excalibur hotel. I am looking forward to comparing US and EU – just in sheer numbers the US event is far bigger and it will be fantastic to be part of such a huge gathering of people. This will be my first visit to the US, so it will be interesting seeing Las Vegas – I’m fully aware that Vegas is a crazy place and not representative of the US – but it will be fun seeing the crazy!

I’m not sure if I’ll take advantage of the cheap certifications this year – in previous years I’ve take VCIX-NV, VCP-NV and VCAP5-DCD all with great results, so it’s something I’d consider, although at this point I’m not 100% sure what exam I’d take (I’ve done a lot of betas recently!)

Obviously there are some pretty awesome sessions to be attended (I’ve not picked yet as the session planner hasn’t been published, but I’ll post here when I have) – I’ll be focussing on my normal bag:

  • vRealize Automation
  • NSX
  • VSAN
  • PowerCLI, APIs and automation

Plus I’ll also be looking to pick up any sessions on emerging technologies like Cloud Native Applications, and some of the technology previews for upcoming feature releases. Hopefully there will be some sessions like last year’s excellent vExpert vRA7 briefing.

As it’s my first VMworld US, I am open to suggestions from any veterans on what are the “must-do” activities around the conference, so far on my list…

  • I am hoping to join Anthony Spiteri (@anthonyspiteri) for an early round of golf on the Sunday morning – if you’re interested in that you can sign up here http://anthonyspiteri.net/vmworld-2016-vgolf-las-vegas
  • The rest of Sunday I will be at #vmunderground Opening Acts, a nice warm up to the main event which has the added appeal of a BBQ lunch with the vBrisket guys!
  • I quite like a bit of Fall Out Boy, so the VMworld Party should be fun, I have to be honest that I’ve not been so much a fan of the last few acts in Barcelona!
  • I’m assuming there will be a VCDX reception, it’s always great to meet up with fellow VCDXs
  • Likewise I’m hoping there will be a vExpert event, though given the numbers of vExpert now it might be a big event!

As and when the after hours events come out they’re added to running-system.com here.

Lastly, I’m really looking forward to meeting some of my fellow vExperts, VCDXs and members of the community while I’m in the US and while there are a few of my European friends and colleagues attending I’m not naturally the most outgoing of people so please come and say hi if you see me!

In response to @h0bbel: The "vCommunity"

| 04/04/2015 | Tags: , , , , ,

This is not my normal sort of post – don’t worry, normal service will resume shortly.

I read Christian’s comments on the vCommunity – or lack of it – yesterday and although some things resonate with me, and a lot of other people, I don’t quite agree. I want to be clear this is a response to Christian and not an argument, I respect Christian as someone who does contribute to the vCommunity.

I think that there is a strong "vCommunity" – but I don’t think you will see much of it by following some twitter "superstars".

Christian says:

As clickbait replaces journalism, hyperbole and FUD seems to be replacing what used to be based on technical merit.

And this is something that I agree with…there are a lot of "big names" on twitter and on their blogs who are using their large audience to spread FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt). I’ve seen so many running battles over this kind of nonsense recently that I 100% understand why Christian would feel like he does.

As a side note to those working for vendors who engage in this online FUD/counter-FUD – for customer or an independent it leaves people feeling stone cold towards you and your product if your best marketing is to undermine the opposition. Either your product sells on its own merit, or it does not. Give your customers enough credit not to patronise them by engaging in this.

Christian points to Anthony Burke‘s post Remember your Technical Integrity – which again I agree with and would endorse. He also says

…changing your personality, well probably not as healthy. Also, it probably shows that your previous “personality” wasn’t real either. Again, not so healthy

Again, I agree with Christian.

Where I disagree with Christian is here:

we are not collectively working towards anything but our own self indulgence or self worth, or whatever might seem to be the best “move” at any given time

and here

I won’t kid myself into thinking that I can influence this trend in any way, shape or form

Let me explain why.

Let’s take for example the VMUGs – I know for a fact that the people who run the London and South West VMUGs are not doing it for themselves, for personal profile or for any other reason than to build a community. I know them personally and I they are not self promoting. They help people connect, they help people develop – and they don’t get paid for organising these events which take a lot of time and effort to produce. The awesome thing about VMUGs is that it’s in people’s common interest to be involved.

How about blogs? Well, true, some people do use their blogs to spread FUD, or counter-FUD and it’s ugly. Some blogs are about profile. But how many others are just about getting info out there? Take this blog you are reading right now – I have spent countless hours writing articles for this blog, hours of my own personal time. It’s not going to make me rich, it’s not going to make me famous. The number of people making money off of their tech blogs that exceeds the time they put into it, is very small.

Even on twitter there’s a lot to be said for the community – if I tweet out a question on the #vExpert or #VCDX tags I am almost guaranteed to get an answer from people trying to help. You could argue that it’s not altruistic, and they are just trying to prove what they know…but what do I care if they are? I asked for help, they helped me – for free. It’s true, you can’t say that ALL VCDXs, or ALL vExperts contribute in this way, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority do. I have just submitted for VCDX and I can testify to the number of current VCDXs who have helped – and there’s a decent study group of people, working together for

Finally, the question of influence. We all influence everything we are involved in just by being involved – it is our choice as to whether that influence is positive or negative. The old adage "don’t feed the trolls" can apply just as much to FUD – the more you respond with righteous indignation, the more people will see it. Give back to the community, go meet some awesome people at VMUGs, write a blog post that is just about the tech because it might help someone out in future. Contribute on twitter to helping people solve their problems – pay it forward!

I know the frustration that Christian feels, but I also know that he does contribute to the community in these ways – he’s helped me before and I hope that I’ve helped him at some point.

Thanks for reading – and for contributing to a great community.

Sam

Definit authors awarded vExpert 2014

| 01/04/2014 | Tags: , ,

vExpertIt was with great honor both Sam and I were awarded vExpert 2014 (my first and Sam’s second award!) we are both proud to be listed alongside so many others in the vExpert programme.

You can view the announcement and the full list here – http://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2014/04/vexpert-2014-announcement.html

2014: what does the future look like?

| 03/01/2014 | Tags: , , ,

After attending the “Future of IT” Google hangout in September, I was asked to give a quick summary on what 2014 may hold.

So without further ado..

I believe in 2014, we will see an increased demand for – and usage of – hybrid clouds, especially among SMEs who are trying to avoid large investment on private clouds to accommodate high demand, short term projects.

End user computing will play an ever larger role, with BYOD becoming even more viable for businesses, including those with strict data controlled environments. This will make use of the many mature products now available such as Horizon Workspace.

Network virtualization will gain more traction but only in some enterprise and highly specialised SME environments – NSX is a good example of this. We may well see an increasing amount of SMEs adopting virtualization in either a more serious manner or start looking at it for the first time now that local host storage is becoming a reality, cutting out the need for potentially expensive storage solutions.

You can read the full blog post here

Feel free to comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with my thoughts!

Welcome to DefinIT!

| 23/02/2011 | Tags: , ,

wordpressIf you’ve been here before, you may have noticed a couple of changes – the theme and name of this blog for example, and hopefully you’ve been redirected to a new URL! There are a couple of reasons for the changes, all of which are aimed at increasing the presence and visitor numbers on this site:

  1. Branding. Whether I like it or not, “McGeown” is not easy to spell or remember so I wanted to move away from it as an identity. After some discussion with my friend and creative advisor Matt Hellyer, I picked DefinIT.
  2. I’d like to add some more bloggers to the site – the number of visitors is directly in proportion to the number of posts, and I can’t post as much as I’d like to. I will introduce those bloggers as and when they arrive, but they will be people I know and trust – with real technical expertise. (That said, if you’re reading and are interested in writing for DefinIT, please contact me!)
  3. Eventually I’d like to use McGeown.co.uk for a more personal site, aimed at family and friends. That’s what it was originally aimed at, and hopefully one of these days I’ll get the time.

Feel free to let me know what you think about the new theme, new name and new URL in the comments below. This blog will always be dedicated to providing high quality IT help on a broad range of subjects, as ever, I hope it helps!

Sam

Wordle word cloud of McGeown.co.uk

| 24/09/2010 | Tags: , ,

Wordle.net is a great little site that’s been around for ages – but it gives quite a unique insight into the content of your blog – just shove the RSS feed in and out comes a nice word cloud. I found it interesting to compare this to the Tag cloud generated from how I tagged my posts – for example Exchange is the predominant word in the Wordle.net  cloud – but not in the tag cloud. Update and upgrade were some obvious ones, I expected install or installing to feature more heavily. There’s also a random Kevin in there!

image

Why I’ve changed my blogging software from BlogEngine.Net to WordPress

| 21/07/2010 | Tags: , ,

wordpress Up until now, I’ve been using BlogEngine.Net as my blogging platform, and up until now I’ve been relatively happy with using it. One of the major drivers for me as a “Microsoft” person was to use something that is based on Microsoft technology – BlogEngine.Net is based (as the name suggests) on the .Net framework. I’m much happier these days writing limited amounts of C#.Net than I am with PHP.

The problem is, I seemed to be spending more time fixing the blog than writing on it. I’ve had all sorts of problems, ranging from incompatibility with my hosting provider, theme compatibility issues, random code issues and more. Email notifications seem to work, then stop, then work again. Simple things like adding reCAPTCHA support to cut down the enormous amount of comment spam have taken days of head scratching. Whether or not these issues are down to my ignorance or the software, the outcome is the same, I don’t want to be fixing my blogging software, I want it to just work!

Then there’s the search engines, and the existing web presence that I have. A major consideration for me when changing the software is the fact that a lot of my traffic comes from links that are embedded in forums and other blogs – and that search engines respond with the existing BlogEngine posts rather than the newer ones. I’ve considered this, and I think it’s worth the risk. I will leave the BE running for a while and block search engine traffic to it so that direct links in will still be valid. I’ll see where the traffic takes me – but the advantages of changing now outweigh the risks. I will look to do some sort of URL redirect if it becomes an issue.

So  why move to WordPress then? It’s not based on Microsoft technology and it could potentially set me back to square one with my web presence. Quite simply, it just works. It has a massive ecosystem built up around it of plug-ins, themes and widgets. It’s mature – very mature – software that is actively developed and much more widely used than BlogEngine.Net is.

The import of the BlogML from BlogEngine was pretty pain free -  the categories came in as a GUID rather than the friendly name, but that was a simple matter of updating the MySQL table using a query. I’ve decided to slim down the categories, and as such I’ve moved the existing post categories into tags (handy little plug-in that). The theme I am using is nice enough, maybe when I have some time I’ll customise it a bit further.

But, I’ve made the jump; Windows Live Writer is plugged in to WordPress and I am hoping that it all comes together nicely. Recently I’ve been studying for my MCITP: Enterprise Exchange Administrator exams which I’m taking on Monday (70-662 and 70-663), so hopefully I can push some more Exchange stuff this way.

Until then, thanks for reading!

Sam