Vacation in San Francisco, October 2010: Sunday in Golden Gate Park

We got up way too early (still on Iowa time), got ready and headed over to the Lori’s Diner on Powell St. around 7:45. I ordered the Cable Car Pancakes, described as “Two Large Cakes, Two Slices of Bacon, Two Links of Sausage and Two Eggs.” Lori had the Short Stack with sliced bananas. Just the thing to fuel up before a day of riding bikes in the park!


Day Two Loris DinerLori is, naturally, a big fan of “her” Diner


After breakfast, we headed to the Muni kiosk at the Powell cable car turn-around to pick up 3-day passes for $13 each. Just as we activated our passes, our bus, the #5 route, was arriving so we hopped on that. The bus wound past the Civic Center and took us to the North side of Golden Gate Park. We got off the bus at Fulton St. and 6th Ave. but were too early to pick up our rental bicycles from Golden Gate Bike and Skate so we walked along JFK to pass some time and take some photos.


Day Two Golden Gate Park 01Golden Gate Park, Mist in the Trees


Once 10:00 rolled around, we picked up our mountain bikes, helmets and bike lock for a total of $50 for the day. We rode around the park, sticking close to the East end at first. After tiring of that, we decided to venture further and take JFK all the way to Ocean Beach. The beach area was very foggy and the surf was up. Several brave surfers were going out in this, but you couldn’t see them at all as they disappeared beyond the breakers. Very dangerous!


Day Two Crazy SurfersOcean Beach: Crazy or Dedicated Surfers?


After walking the beach for awhile, we headed over to Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant. It was packed, so we ate at the bar to avoid waiting for a table. I ordered the Dungeness Crab Louis Salad and Lori had a bowl of their Clam Chowder New England Style. I had a Dee’s Bitter Ale and Lori had a V.F.W. Light.


Day Two Beach Chalet BarView from the Beach Chalet Bar


Fueled up and rested, we then rode uphill back toward the East end of the park. We stopped to take a stroll through the Japanese Tea Garden ($7 admission each), making sure to take plenty of photos to get our money’s worth.


Day Two Japanese Tea GardenJapanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park


After that we took a walk through the park between the museums. There was an art fair going on, and The Blue Angels were flying around as part of Fleet Week, so we got to see them flying overhead, too.

By that time it was about 3:30 PM and we were both getting tired. We decided to turn in our rentals and head back to our hotel, again via the #5 bus route.

Back at the hotel we freshened up a bit then headed to the deck on the 6th floor to hang out and play on our laptops a bit. Lori’s laptop ran out of battery too quickly, and it got cold up there so we did not stay very long. Back at the room we got ready for dinner at The Chieftain. I had their Fish and Chips with two Prohibition Speakeasys (a local brew). Lori had a salad with grilled shrimp and a glass of wine.

We headed back to the hotel room and crashed for the evening.


Please check back for more photos I’ll be adding to the set for this trip on my Flickr page.

Vacation in San Francisco, October 2010: Travel Prep and Travel Day

Travel Preparation

Lori and I both took off the day before our flight so we could pack, prepare the house and pets, and get some rest before getting up early. Our flight was scheduled to leave Des Moines around 6:30 AM, and Lori’s father was going to pick us up around 4:30 AM so we could get t the airport early.

I packed a small suitcase with about 4-5 days worth of clothing and my Lowepro camera/laptop backpack. We were to have laundry by mid-week when we got to our rental home in Point Reyes Station, so I was able to pack lighter than usual.

I drove Ruffy to the kennel around 16:00, dropping him off around 16:30-16:45. As usual before a bit travel day, neither of us could get to sleep. I did not get to bed until around 23:45, and Lori was up much, much later trying to decide what to pack.

Travel Woes

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare before our flight, only to be met by a long line. Overhearing a few of the other passengers’ frustrated discussions, I surmised that our flight had been canceled. The line was full of other passengers waiting to get re-booked on another flight, and it only got longer as we waited for our turn at the counter.

Once we got to the ticketing counter, I could tell the poor lady working there was quite flustered after dealing with a few difficult people in the line before us. I tried to be extra patient and friendly with her to make her day a little brighter. She got us booked on a 10:30 AM flight to Denver, and re-booked our connecting flight as well. In all, we would only arrive about one hour later than our original itinerary. This worked out OK because we would still arrive prior to the hotel’s check-in time.

Luckily we brought our laptops and the MiFi. We hung out in the cafe drinking coffee and eating breakfast croissants until our flight to Denver boarded. We had a one hour layover in Denver before boarding then next flight in to SFO — just enough time for a quick restroom break and some leg stretching. Fortunately, our flights were uneventful, and we even got a little bit of light napping done in transit.

Arrival and Photos

We arrived in SFO around 13:00, picked up our bags and took the shuttle in to downtown San Francisco. Our room at the Intercontinental San Francisco was not ready so we checked in, left our luggage with the bellhop, and went for a walk to get some exercise and search for some afternoon snacks.

We walked around the Yerba Buena Gardens for a bit, taking some photos. Lori tried to capture the Blue Angels (they were flying over the city because it was Fleet Week) in this one, but they were just too fast.

Day One Me on the Yerba Buena Bridge

I also caught Lori under the archway of the bridge over Howard street by Moscone Center.

Day One Lori on the Yerba Buena BridgeWe ended up at The Thirsty Bear for some tapas and a couple of beers. Lori had her usual, the Polar Bear Pilsner. I tried their seasonal Oktoberfest followed by a Meyer ESB. We ordered the tortilla española of the day (sun-dried tomato), gambas al ajillo (prawns, garlic, pinot gris) and empanadas (braised pork & queso fresco, roasted squash romesco & spiced pepitas). All of the dishes were excellent. Lori liked the gambas al ajillo the best, while I preferred the empanadas.

As is now our travel tradition, we snapped a photo of each other enjoying our first beverages.

Day One Me at The Thirsty BearDay One Lori at The Thirsty Bear

Our appetites satisfied and enough time passed to have a room ready, we headed back to the hotel to rest and plan our next activity. This was the view from our room.

Day One The View from Our Room

After considering several different dinner spots, we decided to try out Sanraku Japanese Restaurant at Metreon for some sushi. Lori had Teriyaki Salmon with a glass of white wine. I had a combo meal with 5 pieces of sashimi and the Teriyaki Beef with a cup (180 ml) of Ozeki sake. Although their Website isn’t much to brag about, the food and service were excellent. Here are a couple of photos Lori took at Sanraku. She got a kick out of the “One Cup” sake.

Day One Sushi at Sanraku

Day One Sake at Sanraku

After dinner, we returned to the room and crashed for the evening. Since we were still on Iowa time, it was technically after midnight for us even though it was only after 10 in San Francisco.

VMworld 2010: My Lab Environment Experience

Overview

I don’t have all of the numbers memorized, but here’s what I remember off the top of my head:

  • They had about 400 lab stations available, each with a WYSE thin client and two monitors.
  • Everything was “in the cloud” running from data centers across the country, none of them local.
  • Each lab’s VMs were created and destroyed on demand.
  • One monitor had the virtual environment and the other had your PDF lab guide.
  • Over the course of the conference they created/destroyed nearly 20,000 VMs.

Some Problems

I had to re-take a couple of labs due to some slowness issues. These appeared to be due to some storage latency when certain combinations of labs were turned up at the same time. I overheard some of the lab guides asking people to move to a different workstation when they complained of slowness. They explained that, by moving to a different station you would be logging in to a different cluster of servers, which would possibly help speed you up. I opted to come back later and re-take the two troubled labs. I was only able to get in 8 lab sessions as a result. I could have potentially completed 10 or 11.

Most of the time the lab VMs were very responsive and I was able to complete them with plenty of time to spare. The default time alloted was 90 minutes, but they would adjust that down to as low as 60 minutes if there was a long line in the waiting area. Prior to one lab session, I had to wait in the “Pit Stop” area before my session. Here’s a photo I snapped while waiting:

IMG_3174

List of Labs I Took

Here’s the list of labs I sat through:

  • Troubleshooting vSphere
  • Performance Tuning
  • ESXi Remote Management Utilities
  • Site Recovery Manager Basic Install & Config
  • Site Recovery Manager Extended Config & Troubleshooting
  • Vmware vCenter Data Recovery
  • VMware vSphere PowerCLI
  • Vmware vShield

Overall Impression

My overall impression of the lab environment was positive. Despite a few performance issues, I think they did an excellent job of presenting a very large volume of labs. I certainly learned a lot while sitting the labs and look forward to taking more next year. I’m sure the labs team gathered a lot of data which will help them improve the lab performance for next year as well.

VMworld 2010: Impressions as a New-V

Large Scale Geek Assault

Moscone Center wasn’t big enough for the whole conference this year. With a record 17,000+ attendees, the halls were crowded and the lines to sessions were quite long — especially the first couple of days. I think a larger venue is in order for years to come. Not sure where they can go, though.

I was unable to get in to a couple of sessions the first day, but managed to fill in some of that time with work in the labs (more no those later). Overall, though, I was able to cram in enough sessions to make it well worth the trip. My main problem was trying to narrow down my focus. This year, I tried to stick to sessions dealing with Troubleshooting and Best Practices.

In all, I took notes in 13 sessions and sat through 8 lab sessions. Not bad for a New-V?

Notes and Power Outlets

I made a good call and picked up a small netbook computer to take with me in lieu of my larger T61 ThinkPad. The longer battery life on the netbook (more info on it later) allowed me to skip the power outlets when racing to my next session. Still, I tried to conserve power by putting it into sleep or hibernate as much as possible during and between sessions. I uploaded my notes to my Dropbox account so I would have a backup.

Why was this a good call? Because there were a lot of people there with larger laptops suckling power from the outlets wherever they could be found. On the third day of the conference I found a small room on the second floor of Moscone West with a sign in front stating “VCP Lounge.” Assuming I would have to prove I held a VCP certification, I quickly pulled up my transcript on my Droid, then walked in. Turns out no one was checking, so I sat down, plugged in and caught up on some work e-mail whcih had accumulated over the first part of the week.

Food

The food provided at the conference was hit or miss. The breakfast area in Moscone West was huge and never seemed full when I was there (maybe it got busy later in the day?). They had croissants, muffins, danishes, bagels, fresh fruit, coffee and juices — everything you needed to fuel up for a morning of work in the lab which was in the same building.

I had a couple of cold boxed lunches. One was called Mediterranean Salad, which consisted of a main dish of mixed greens, veggies and a vinaigrette dressing, an apple and a sort of fruit brownie. I grabbed that box, headed over to the Yerba Buena Gardens to eat outdoors and escape the crowds. The other cold lunch was in a similar box also with a brownie bar, fruit and a sandwich. The only hot lunch I had was not very good, so I avoided the hot lunches from that point on. It consisted of overcooked fried chicken, cole slaw and a biscuit. Next year, I’ll stick to the cold lunches.

One day, I decided to escape the conference food and had a bowl of Seafood Udon at Shiki Japanese Restaurant which is across Third Street from the Moscone South building.

More to Come?

What have I missed in this first article? In the coming days I’m going to write up some articles with more detail on the following:

  • My impressions of the lab environment.
  • My netbook setup for the conference.
  • List of labs I took and any significant notable items.
  • List of sessions I attended and some of my notes from each.

VMUnderground 2010: WUPaaS (Warm-Up Party as a Service)

First off, my hat goes off to both Sean Clark and Theron Conrey for organizing an excellent gathering which mixed geeks, beer and munchies at the Thirsty Bear. I got to rub elbows with Scott Lowe, author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4, which was instrumental in my obtaining my VCP 4 certification this year. I resisted the urge to ask for a photo, but I did manage to get his business card.

Anyway, I think Theron and Sean will need a bigger venue next year. The place was packed with people, but just to capacity. I’m sure interest in this event will grow for next year so I hope they can find a suitable location. Maybe get a few kegs from the Thirsty Bear to keep the tradition going?

Hopefully I can make it again next year. I need to get better at introducing myself to people and socializing. Guess I’m just your average introverted Geek, but I’m working on it!