PowerShell Saturday #06 started out as one of those days. The week had not gone that well anyway, I was as busy as I could possibly be so was unable to put the required time into resolving some VM issues I was having before my workshop. In addition to that, on Friday night I had an email from Teresa Wilson (Scripting Wife) to let me know that Ed Wilson was having network issues and was unlikely to be able to present! After working till 2am on the VM’s and giving up, I went to bed hoping that Ed would overcome his challenges and Saturday would go just as planned. Unfortunately, it was not to be …
Waking up to the final confirmation that Ed would not be able to make it, we had to do some session rearrangement. Mike Robbins became the headline act, Benjamin Hodge filled in for Ed by bringing another session forwards, we started late so after starting the Lync meeting and rushing through an opening address, we were off! The room that we had at Microsoft was mid-way through an AV Upgrade and into the first session the Projector started failing! We had a couple of issues while setting up but thought they were overcome. They resurfaced. We lost connection to the Lync meeting a few times but Ben made it through and the session was really useful. He covered Error Handling using some custom functions and ASCII art. This project was then turned into the challenge through the day, more on that later. Mike Robbins was up next in Session 2, further issues awaited! We couldn’t get the sound from the laptop connected to the AV in the room, so instead of Mike coming directly through the speakers, we had to sit a Mic next to the laptop speakers and play it through from there. Despite some challenges with feedback and again with dropping connections, we made it to the end. Problems aside, I was really impressed with Mikes session and those who are seeing at at PowerShell Saturday in Atlanta are in for something really good. He discussed his best practices for PowerShell and his experiences of winning the Advanced category of the Scripting Games 2013. Everyone in the room took a lot away from the session and I’d highly recommend it, not just for the content, but it’s valuable to everyone in the community to hear this kind of thing from another community member rather than a professional trainer as such. It’s great when others in the community share their experiences and Mike, despite his published works and guest Scripting Guy contributions and so forth is a sysadmin by day and just like everyone in the room. Very valuable session.
Lunch had arrived an hour before it was supposed to, so was starting to get cold by the time we broke for it! It was here I made the decision to pull my workshop. After spending the morning battling with VM Conversions and config I just wasn’t going to be able to run my session in a way I was happy with. So after a promise to carry it over to the next one and a profuse apology, we started after lunch with a room change first and foremost (to one with reliable AV) and JD Platek from Microsoft Consulting ran through a very hands on session with a lot of tips and tricks to make your PowerShell life easier. He had no slides, just ran through how to manage PowerShell Profiles, how to customise your environment and so forth. The room got a lot of value from this session also, the fact that it was all hands on did liven up the room somewhat.
Finally, the last session was presented by Ben again as he took participants through using Web Requests in PowerShell with the goal of configuring a Network Load Balancer using the Web API. Also, people who were working on the Making Pizza challenge from Ben’s session earlier session were finishing up. The task was to handle all the errors in customer orders so that everyone gets a pizza at the end. The first 3 to complete received a TrainSignal Zombie tshirt, SAPIEN PowerShell toolkit and a 30 day trial for TrainSignal.
Last and closing was the prize draw, in which we gave away:
- 1 x Online PowerShell Training from SAPIEN, PowerShell Toolkit and Pen
- 2 x PowerShell 2.0 eBook, SAPIEN PowerShell Toolkit and Pen
- 2 x Managing Active Directory with PowerShell TFM eBook, SAPIEN PowerShell Toolkit and Pen
- 1 x TrainSignal. backpack
- Multiple toolkits and free 30 day training passes for TrainSignal
- 8GB USB Thumb drive for participants who completed PowerShell 3.0 Jumpstart
Despite being an extremely challenging morning, things improved after lunch and I think everyone took away a positive experience. We as organisers certainly learned a lot! In no particular order and not an exhaustive list but:
- As an organizer, always have a rescheduling plan. If you can comfortably move sessions around and given thought to this before the event, it will be a much smoother experience on the day
- If using Lync, check which Wave of O365 you’re on. We had some challenges with presenters and controls which seemed to be down to us still using Lync 2010
- If having a Lync meeting, advise participants to bring headphones for their devices as well. If you have an AV issue like we did, there is no reason why everyone couldn’t join from their own laptops. This would have made a better experience in our case
- Make sure all participants know what time sessions start and what is the latest they can get in. Also, make sure they understand who to contact and how in the event they cannot gain access into the building. We had some attendees who went home after not being able to get in. We are working to identify why this was, but we will definitely avoid these issues in future
- Order lunch for later than you actually want it, it always turns up early
- Make sure your VM’s all work at least 2 weeks before you run any demo, give yourself plenty of time to correct things. I feel extremely bad about not running my workshop, and extremely unprofessional
- Having people sat around in a circle rather than in rows facing forward towards a screen encouraged much more participation and engagement, we will try to continue this seating plan in future unless numbers don’t permit
So, PowerShell Saturday #08 is being planned for January already. Details will be up very soon. We have a number of action points to improve upon and we are really looking forward to the next session. We hope to see you there!