It’s been a long time coming, but I’m heading back to Europe for a personal vacation and or holiday; feel free to use whichever term you prefer! Some of you may have known that in 2009, I backpacked throughout Europe for 17 days by myself and met travelers from all kinds of different countries. I visited London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Prague, Munich, Interlaken, Barcelona and Paris. It was a great experience and one I won’t forget. One of my favorite experiences (so many) was probably skydiving almost 15,000ft over the Swiss Alps on my birthday. It was surreal. Don’t believe me? Check out the proof below!
This time I’ll be bringing my wife. We’ve decided to visit two locations this time. Amsterdam being the first one and Rome being the second destination. We’ll arrive in Amsterdam the afternoon of June 8th after an overnight flight. Then flying to Rome on June 11th and coming back to the States on the 16th. We’re excited for the trip. I know I have readers from The Netherlands and Italy, so if anybody has any tips, good restaurants or hidden gems in either city, feel free to pass them along! I would appreciate any of them!
Ok, so this blog over the years has almost entirely been about virtualization with little personal blog type posts. However, this is something worth sharing. I recently ported all of our cell phone service over to a company called Ting. You’ve probably never heard of them since I just found out about them 4 months ago and was waiting on a contract to expire. Hence the need for a blog post! They are a Sprint re-seller and a service of Tucows. You might have heard of Tucows before since they’ve been around the internet for awhile.
Essentially, if you have Sprint coverage in your area, you can use Ting. The port process took about 4 hours and we were up and running. If you’re not a heavy data user but like the benefits of a smartphone to use occasionally, Ting is what you want. Our old cell phone plan for two basic smartphones was about ~$135/month.
From looking at our estimated usage, and a switch to Ting we’ll basically pay around ~$60-70/month now for the same exact service. (Update 4/3/2013: Our first bill ended up only being $39.) It’s very important in my opinion to analyze your current plan before jumping. If you are heavy on data and have an “unlimited” plan, you might be better off staying put with your current provider. The people who win with Ting are low to moderate users of data, which believe it or not, is a lot of people. If your area has Sprint LTE, then Ting will work at LTE speeds if you have an LTE phone.
We do a bit of a hybrid phone setup these days. When we’re at home, we connect to our home WiFi to suck down the data and we combine Ting with Google Voice for even more savings but our estimated ~$60-70/month bill didn’t reflect us doing any of that. I used numbers that reflected us sitting on the cellular data network 100% of the time and using minutes and text messages on our old plan without the use of Google Voice. We’re just doing it now to drop that estimated $60-70/month bill even lower.
Ting also runs a great referral program. If you’re interested, you can use my referrer link and get $25 off a new phone or to your monthly service. It helps us both, as I will also get an account credit.
No contracts. You can move on whenever.
A refund if you don’t use your existing “plan” data. If you use more, you just get bumped to the higher tier and don’t need to take out a second mortgage on the house. Then bumped back down to the lower tier next month. You pay for exactly what you use.
Bring your own device. (Granted it’s on the supported list.) If not, you’ll need to purchase either a used phone or a new non-subsidized full price phone. I challenge you to do the math, even with a full price sticker shock phone, you will likely save considerable money.
Great customer service and they are supporters, not banners of anybody who likes to use custom Android ROMs.
They do not support the iPhone at this time. They say in the future it might be possible. To me, this wasn’t a deal breaker since we use Android based phones but to some it might be.
If you’re not satisfied with Sprint service in your area or coverage does not exist, Ting is not for you.
Have a look at the YouTube playlist below. It shows the plans, dashboard and more perks.
My final verdict: Highly recommended if you have an Android based phone and are low to moderate smartphone data users.
I am happy to say that this morning, I sat the VCI-5 exam and passed on my first go at it! The VCI-5 exam is essentially the same test as the VCP-5 but the passing score is higher. VMware Certified Instructors are required to take this exam and it’s not open to the public.
If you’re an existing VCP 4, the exam has no class requirement until February 29th, 2012 and you can successfully upgrade to a VCP 5. After that, you’ll need to take an official course. You can see the upgrade path outlined below.
Like most other bloggers, I felt the exam was harder and a lot more real world vs. the previous VCP exams. If you’ve done any homework, you’ve probably realized that the exam is a lot less ”maximum/minimum” questions. Love it or hate it, but I welcome the idea! You must be prepared for multiple troubleshooting questions. Now, I can’t tell you exactly what’s on it per the NDA, but I can say that you must be ready to answer quickly because it’s 85 questions in 90 minutes.
I didn’t even leave much time on the clock. I think I had 3 minutes left when I submitted it, which is the tightest time crunch I’ve had on any certification exam in years. The VCP makes most Microsoft exams laughable! (Trust me, I should know, I recently sat all the Microsoft exams for the MCITP on Hyper-V. Yawn…) I marked about 10 questions for review and went with my hunch on all but 2 where I felt I was getting tricked into a wrong answer. The consultant came out of me on those last two questions, I guess. There will be questions where you either know it flat out or you’ll have to sell yourself on the answer. As somebody who teaches official VMware courses and general “sysadmin” courses at Purdue, I can tell you that you should always go with your gut 95% of the time. I see people get burned all the time when they doubt themselves. I’m telling ya!
Here are my best ways of making sure you’re successful:
Grab the official exam blueprint. Then see my second bullet.
Read Forbes Guthries 50 page “Notes” document from front to back. He also has a great reference card but the full notes are where it’s at! From his site: ”They’re excerpts taken directly from VMware’s own official PDFs. The notes aren’t meant to be comprehensive, or for a beginner; just my own personal notes.” Don’t just skim it, read the entire thing and understand it. You’ll end up learning more than you need to know!
Build a home lab for practice! I can say that you will fare better on this exam with some real hands on experience. Even if you’re doing nested ESXi inside VMware Workstation. Check out my blog post about my Shuttles that work perfectly out of the box with ESXi 5 and Sammy Bogaert’s blog if you’d like to set it up inside workstation.
Take a VMware “What’s New” class. If you’ve got a lot of experience this class most certainly will help you get up to speed on the new features that have been released in vSphere 5. The Install, Configure, Manage class is great for somebody starting out but for the people who’ve been doing it awhile, the “What’s New” class will help bring you up to speed.
Check out Simon Longs blog. Simon has been knocking out solid practice exams for years. He’s got some great practice exam questions too!
VMware has a mock exam as well. Be sure to not ace it the first time out! Find a question you know is right and purposely get it wrong. Once you get a 100%, you’re done and can’t take it anymore.
Read Scott Lowes “Mastering vSphere 5” book. I find that his books are excellent resources. They cover a lot more than what’s just on the VCP exam. If you’re looking for a good day to day reference, be sure to pick this up. I always jump straight to the networking and storage sections first and then read the rest after. If you’re new to the technology, read it front to back. That is, unless you’re better at reading things backwards.
Cody Bunch and Damian Karlson have been putting together “brownbags” that focus on all kinds of stuff. They’ve just now kicked off a VCP 5 series, so check it out! With my busy schedule, I always had to catch the recordings but I’m hoping to get in and help out live if they ever need it for the remainder of the VCP 5 series.
Duncan Epping and Frank Dennemans “Clustering” book is a great resource for the new FDM version of HA.
Good luck and make sure you’re prepared! Most won’t be able to just walk in and pass! If you’ve got any other tips/tricks, feel free to post them in the comments section.
Next up, kick back for a few days and relax and then on to VCAP-DCA & DCD on 5, whenever that comes out!! Hopefully VMware release the blueprint for those soon.
I am happy to say that last week I performed my observed teach in St. Louis and passed. I received some great feedback from both students and my mentor instructor. I am set to teach my first solo Install, Configure, Manage 5 course the week of January 9th!
The process was a tough process but fun at the same time. I have taught before, but to say I wasn’t a bit nervous would be lying. I’m happy to be able to finally be in the small group of VCIs! My overall student rating was a 4.9/5. I am humbled by some of my student feedback for my first time out, some of which I will share below:
Ryan Birk has a great presence in the class room. He knows his topic and added real world experience into the mix.
Ryan is an excellent instructor and adds very appropriate and timely real-world information. He even adds his own personally developed add-ins to compliment or strengthen a point. Best course I’ve been in (Out of 4). Thanks!
Instructor was tops! Very patient and knowledgeable, always professional.
For those who are not aware. I am going through the VMware Certified Instructor process now. It’s been great thus far and I’ve learned a lot. The downside here is that I don’t post a much as I’d like since I am knee deep in soaking up some new material. All of this at the same time I am planning to knock out my VCP 5 exam as soon as possible. It is looking like my scheduled observed teach will be the week of December 12th in Saint Louis, MO and I’m looking forward to it!
I wanted to make a quick post about what’s to come here on my blog. Over the next few weeks, I plan to get settled into my new job as a Technical Trainer. I don’t officially start at New Horizons United until November 7th and I won’t likely be teaching VMware classes until December at the earliest. I plan to take a few days off this week and relax with the wife and hit the grind running on Monday.
Tomorrow I’ll be traveling to Cincinnati for the all day VMware User Group event they have there and to help out with the PowerCLI lab. I guess I will be checking in as an “unemployed vNerd”, yea, we’ll go with that.
I’ll be sitting the vSphere 5: Install Configure Manage class my first week at NH and possibly traveling to New York City at some point in the next few weeks to do the VMware train the trainer sessions.
But most importantly, I plan to begin posting a weekly how-to article. We’ll start with basic VMware vSphere stuff and go from there. I don’t want to just cover the VMware suite, so we’ll more than likely go into some other products that tie into it as well. I really look up to another VCI, Eric Sloof over at NTPRO.NL. He’s got some great content and I’d love to get something like that going here. There’s so much content and you can never have enough people talking about it!
Many of you know that for the last several years, I have been a VMware/Virtualization Consultant for a growing IT consulting and managed services firm based out of Indianapolis called Apparatus. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great co-workers, and work on some very cool projects in everything from large Fortune 500 companies, to the SMB market. I have really enjoyed my time here because I’ve been able to work on everything from fresh implementations of vSphere all the way up to working in a large global virtualization environment with hundreds of ESXi hosts and thousands of VMs. In addition to VMware vSphere, I was able to get my hands dirty doing VMware View, Amazon Web Services, Hyper-V, you name it.
As my experience has grown, new opportunities have followed. Today, I’d like to officially announce that I’ve accepted a position with New Horizons United as a full time VMware Certified Instructor. I will be teaching official VMware courses. New Horizons has recently became a certified VMware Training Provider and they are looking to grow their training offering.
I will still be based out of Indianapolis and will be working from home as most of the courses will be presented “live” but online in the US Eastern time zone. All the labs will be cloud based and it really should be like a real in person class. My goal is to make my courses stand out. I want my students to take home everything required and then some. There’s nothing like good real world tips and tricks! I am consciously starting this new gig knowing that I’ll need to keep my home lab rocking on max vPower!
I still plan to continue teaching part time for Purdue University. After two years of test runs, my “Virtualization/Cloud Computing” course now has an official course number in the CIT program and I look forward to still being able to teach that. It’s important to me that I keep up with Hyper-V, XenServer and all of the other VMware competitors. Teaching this course allows me to do just that.
It was a hard decision to leave Apparatus, but I am really looking forward to this new opportunity!
Ryan has been working in the virtualization space since 2002. Most recently as a VMware Certified Instructor with New Horizons United, based in New York City. This website reflects his own views and not views of his employer.