Now that I’m recovered from the 2017 PowerShell and DevOps Global Summit, I just wanted to take a moment and talk about my experiences at the conference. It was my first time attending this conference and it was also my first time speaking. Both “firsts” contributed to a range of emotions throughout the long and exhausting week.
I came in to Seattle late Friday night and expected to go straight to the hotel and to bed. Being from Eastern Daylight Time makes for a long day and late night when your expected hotel arrival time is 10pm local time (or 1AM your time). However, PowerShell friends and community members, some of whom I knew from previous conferences and some of whom I was just meeting for the first time, greeted me. Some stayed up and waited for me to arrive – even with an already-closed hotel bar and many respective time zone differences. They greeted me with an overwhelming sense of community and friendship, and that was a defining moment that I’ll never forget. Even though I was exhausted, I found myself staying up for a couple more hours chatting with folks who were already there.
Saturday was a do-my-own-thing kind of day. My intent of being there a day early was to try to relax and not fret about the upcoming presentation the next day, but also try to review the presentation a bit with my co-presenter Jason Helmick. I tried to stay stress-free by working out – I am an avid Crossfitter and there is a Crossfit box within walking distance of the hotel, so I got a workout in and a lot of coffee via the Starbucks in the hotel. Had a quiet dinner with a fellow DevOps Camper and also met another attendee who was sitting next to us at the sushi place. A couple glasses of wine later, I was ready to retire to get ready for the next day.
Sunday, of course, began very early with heart palpitations and equipment checks. I have a brand new laptop, and while I may be good at PowerShell, I’m technologically challenged when it comes to hooking up my new laptop to the projection equipment. Plus there’s some recording equipment in there too, so I hand my laptop and a bunch of cables to other really smart people and they get it all hooked up. All I can think of is “in an hour you will be standing up here talking for 3 hours”, and I should mention here that Jeffrey Snover himself is not only in the building, but has taken up shop in a seat in our session. I’m cool, calm and collected, of course!
After breakfast, Jason opens the show by talking first about teaching DSC, then about our Autolab project, which is a source of pride for me. He then segues into my portion of the presentation, which includes configuration data tricks, and developing your own resources using script, function-based, and class-based resources. After a short break, we talk about Pull, Tug, and reporting with DSCEA. Many of my demos don’t work – even though I had just run through them less than a week ago – and I realize why. If you’ve ever seen a talk by Sami Laiho, you know the rule – you need to sacrifice a Nano server to the demo gods to have a successful demo, and I’ve forgotten this simple rule.
After the morning session I get to revert back to being an attendee somewhat. Don Jones is presenting the afternoon session on Pester, and while I think my name and a couple of others were on the agenda for this session along with Don, Don is Don, and presents an enlightening session on the use of Pester. I end the day with my friends taking me out to dinner to celebrate completion of my first speaking session and more wine and socialization with the PowerShell community members hanging out at the hotel bar.
On Monday, the day started off with Don’s keynote presentation and Ask Me Anything with Jeffrey Snover. I got to sit next to the Scripting Wife, who, along with the Scripting Guy, were both called up to the stage and honored for their many contributions to the PowerShell Community. There are so many fun people to meet and converse with at this conference. The one thing I did have a hard time with was names – and later did I realize that I “knew” a lot of people from their twitter or slack handles and never really actually knew their real names. (Yes, you, @bladefirelight.) The “Ask Me Anything” session was interesting and entertaining, and it’s always fun to hear about Jeffrey’s favorite open-source project (VSCode and Pester), anticipated uses of classes and PowerShell on Linux. Nothing shocked me more than having my upcoming PKI session mentioned by Jeffrey during the AMA though!!
And then the time change and lack of sleep started to hit me. I took a quick nap in the afternoon and returned in time for the PowerShell Team’s lightning demos to give me a glimpse into what was coming next in PowerShell. After that I mingled and got to talk to members of the PowerShell team during the welcome reception.
Fast-forward to Tuesday, it’s the day I’ve been looking forward to the most, but also the most nerve-wracking, because it’s the day of my PKI presentation. In the morning I attended the session of the three fairies/furries/furies, which was a more impromptu session discussing less-than-optimal practices in PowerShell usage. After a session on using PowerShell on Linux, my nerves were getting the best of me and I took a break and had some informal conversation with people outside the sessions. I did attend part of the Chocolatey session in the afternoon and I wish I had been able to pay attention enough to that session, but at that point, I stopped trying to absorb new information and just mentally rehearsed from that point until I went on. I am disappointed that I didn’t get to see “The Path to a DSC Resource Module” and the PowerShell Team session on security so here’s hoping there may be recordings of those sessions!
The show went great. I may have forgotten half my intro (you’d never know!) but other than that I was pleased with the presentation and even more entertained by the follow-up discussions I had afterwards. And many of them were “hey, we’re really glad to see that everyone struggles from time to time on how to solve something with DSC.” I also received some interesting feedback on how to make my session better and I’m always open to constructive criticism. After that I think I was mentally shot, but still managed to go out and enjoy Tuesday night’s social event and more wine-drinking at the hotel.
Then Wednesday came and with it, the sheer exhaustion of the previous days caught up with me. I wanted to sleep in, but I also really wanted to see Ashley’s session on the Kerberos Double Hop problem since that bit me a lot during development of the PKI code. After that early morning session, I just hung out and talked to people rather than attending formal sessions, and I enjoyed answering people’s questions – everything from my career story to questions about PKI to questions about how to solve particular problems they have with DSC. For my last session, I participated in a panel discussion on Introducing DevOps to your Organization with Steve Murawski and Jason Helmick. And while I know the challenges my former organization faced, it was refreshing to hear questions from others about different challenges and discuss potential solutions.
So now the big question: Would I return to the PowerShell and DevOps Global Summit again next year? The answer is a big “hell yes”. Will I speak again? Absolutely. I’d like to thank every one of the attendees for giving me a warm welcome into the PowerShell community as a member and a speaker. It was the non-judgmental atmosphere that is perfect for a first-time speaker. How about you? Are YOU interested in speaking but are afraid to try? Do it. Submit a session. Sign up for the Community Lightning Demos and show something you’re working on. Don’t be afraid and give it a try, since this conference open and welcoming to everyone in the community.