Houston 2019…Chains, Cocktails and Cold Beer

A quick two day trip to Houston for the first time in many years resulted in some real ups and downs but overall there were a few gems.

(All of the places can be found on this google map as well)

Crisp Heights

Crisp Heights is one of those places you could find in any city that emulates a chain restaurant with just a few things to make it feel local. A good beer list (24 on tap and mostly local) and the ability to do pour your own wine in the bar area it does have a nice bar space but otherwise it is nothing to write home about.

For the food, we tried the Saffron Arancini (I.e.Risotto Balls) which we pretty good but with 2 of us at dinner I always wonder why places give you something in threes. Also had to try the Crisp Pork Belly because, well, pork belly. This one was pretty good but I would say the best part was the Texas pepper relish that they add. I am normally a fan of short ribs, especially in a place like Texas you would expect them to be tender and delicious, they were neither. Mediocre at best and lacking flavor, this is not something I would go for again.

Anvil Bar and Refuge

By far the best stop of the trip and not surprising as Anvil is #181 on the Top 500 Bar list, the only stop in Houston so it was well worth making a stop. A cool cocktail bar with fun bar staff that only offers cocktails and microbrews, don’t expect a friend can have a Miller Lite here. One nice change was it was not your lounge style place at all, more sports bar style atmosphere that is dimly lit and pretty large but all about the spirits. You will want to know that parking is limited with a couple spots on one side and a small parking lot just across the street.  

I tried the old fashioned that is always a good way to judge the bartenders (great tip from David at Tuxedo Social Club) and I quickly realized the balance would be decent, although it was a little sweet for my taste. From that point I noticed a Boulevardier on the menu which is one of my favorites. This one was pretty spot on. Worth stopping by if you have a night to spare in Houston.

Jackie’s Kitchen

I needed a place close to my hotel to meet an old friend for breakfast and this was within 3 minutes of both of our hotels so it was just an easy location. It ended up being exactly what we thought it would be a tried and true breakfast diner. Since I was in Texas I tried the Migas with chorizo and it was very good, lots of food as it came with hashbrowns and a side of toast, the eggs were more than enough. The salsa had a nice spice that I really enjoyed. It was very quiet midweek which made for a nice place to meet up for a early morning meeting.

Karbach Brewing Company

I did not get to check this place out for as long as I would have liked since I was there for a corporate event in the private upstairs room but I was a little early and got to check the grounds out before. Very nice space for a weekend afternoon with a pub if its rainy like it was for my visit but on a sunny day it would be much nicer. Outside you will find a couple of covered beer garden areas along with a garden area outside the pub and a couple of bocce courts to play at your leisure. There is also a swag shop in the shopping center right beside and attached.

The beer is the big question when visiting a brewery, they are most likely known for their Kolsch if I had to guess but was never really told. I tried the Hopadillo IPA along with the Light Circus Hazy IPA. The Light Circus I was not a far of but have found alot of the new Hazy IPA are lacking in flavor other than citrus. The Hopadillo felt like a solid west coast style IPA and I did enjoy it.

Barcelona 2019…Speakeasy, Alchemist, Cabaret and a private bar

November 2019 meant my 8th trip to the Spanish city on the Mediterranean all for work conferences but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t time to try to find places to enjoy the evenings. If you have not been to Barcelona you might not realizer that evening actually means about 9PM for dinner and after-dinner drinks don’t start till 11 at the earliest. In previous trips, we have ended alot of evenings at “super clubs” like Opium or Shoko but its not my favorite scene so this year I decided I would find some of my preferred establishments that are a little more laid back. So in no particular order here’s the list of places to check out next time you are in Barcelona.

Restaurants

Bars

(All of the places can be found on this google map as well with the exception of Tuxedo that its no fun if I make it that easy)

Restaurants

Cabaret Supper Club

Hidden in the basement of The Barcelona Edition, Cabaret is exactly what it sounds like a dark, swanky cabaret restaurant with cabaret performers Thursday-Saturday with live music most other nights. You will want to get a reservation if you are going to have dinner but the food was quite delicious and the venue is beautiful. We hosted an event here and rented the place out and the event staff were phenomenal, I cant speak more highly of them. The drinks were standard cocktails as you would expect but they also had a nice selection of higher end liquors if thats your poison.

To get to the Cabaret you go into the main lobby bar at The Edition (one of 4 in the hotel), when you get to the host stand go away from the hotel desk and to the wine wall, the entrance is to the left and then you proceed down 2 floors into the space below.

La Central Hamburgueseria

This is the third time in trips through Barcelona that I have stopped at this burger joint near the Cathedral, they list themselves as the best burgers in Barcelona and I cant argue with them at all. Keep in mind the burgers are substantial. You walk in and fill out a menu card to select what type of bread, burger and toppings then one of the more interesting parts, you pick you side. Seems odd thats the interesting part but when you can choose between Patatas Brava, French Fries or Chicken Nuggets, it gets interesting. The nuggets are actually pretty good but come hungry and enjoy. They also have a nice selection of microbrews including some gluten free options if thats your desire.

Rossini Italian Restaurant

Rossini has been a staple for our group in Barcelona on multiple trips. Located just off the famous La Rambla in Placa Reial, this hybrid restaurant of italian, tapas and pizza is a great place to go for a group. We have been in their basement dining room and on the outdoor patio and its always a solid dining experience. The pizza is a nice crispy crust with good flavor we had the Diablo with a spicy sauce and sausage. One of our guys also had the Shrimp paella that he truly enjoyed although said ti could have more shrimp (but what dish couldn’t?) The house Nero D’avola is a solid red table wine for only €4 a glass.

Arenal

Just beside the beach including an outdoor dining area on the boardwalk between the marina and the superclubs Arenal is tucked away below street level. It’s just across the street from Hospital Del Mar but at beach level. We were here for a team dinner with over 60 people so I never expect things to wow me in that atmosphere and this was no exception. The tapas were solid but nothing to rave about, the paella three ways was interesting but that was about it and the desserts were lacking. Overall, I would skip this one unless you just want to grab a drink while walking down the beach.

Abirradero Brewery and Tapas

This one was a surprise, a microbrewery that we happened across while looking for someplace to grab dinner before our corporate party. In a neighborhood it appears to just be a street cafe but has an extensive list of their own brews along with a really nice food menu. We tried the pork belly and beef that they bring out semi-raw and you finish it on a hot lava rock at your table and the meat and cheese tray, enough food that we could not finish it. I reviewed a few of their beers on Untapped so go there and check them out.

La Fabrica Argentine Empenadas

In the Gothic Quarter this is just a little fast casual place I would say to check out for a snack for sure if you ware wandering around. I don’t think I have ever seen this many kinds of empenadas in one place and we tried a variety and they were all delicious. Keep in mind you are not supposed to eat them inside the shop, just take a step outside, you will want them to cool down for a minute anyway.

Bars

Punch Room

The second of the 4 bars in The Edition, Punch Room is a lounge with pool table and a small bar that opens in the evening and is a great place to find a quiet cocktail possibly before dinner or if you are back before they close around 2:30 am (3:00am on the weekend). Adorned in dark woods and leather along with a pool table this is one of the classier bars I have been in in a hotel and Carlos (the manager) will make sure you have a fantastic time. The liquor selection is a little limited with a smaller bar but still more than adequate. If you are a dirty martini fan I will warn that they make them very dirty so be prepared for briney.

Bobby’s Free Speakeasy

Before I left for Barcelona I knew this was one of the places that was on my list. I have been following Bobby’s for a while on Instagram after a referral from a buddy. If you are looking for a fun speakeasy vibe with a good classic bar feel once you are in then this is a good stop and even better is just down the street from La Central if you end there. The front of Bobby’s is a working barber shop but simply give the barber the password (on Instagram the first of every month) and you open the mirror behind the barber chair to expose the bar.

Paradiso Speakeasy

This one is on my radar mainly because of two lists I have been following, the Forbes Top 50 Bars (#20) and the Top 500 Bars (#11). Paradiso did not disappoint on their presentation. Hidden behind a pastrami sandwich shop, which smells delicious but we had just eaten so I didnt get to try. You simply ask nicely and they call back to have a table ready for your group. You then proceed through the fridge door and into another dimly lit beautiful bar. The presentation was their strength with drinks coming in hot air balloons, trojan horses and treasure chests just to name a few. While the presentation was good, I would argue they were not the best drinks of the trip but still work a stop for the experience.

Dr. Stravinsky

Another of the bars on the lists (#25/#27), I made sure to find this bad tucked down an alley just a couple blocks from the Cathedral. Dr. Stravinsky is an alchemy bar with bartenders that spend time checking out flavors or herbs and interesting combinations. My two suggestions are to go in with an open mind, one of the guys had charred broccoli as his garnish, and to get there a little earlier. We found unlike some of the other bars in Barcelona this one closed a little earlier. We only were able to grab a single drink but it is a very cool venue. Picture low ceilings, bartenders that watching them make the drinks is as fun as drinking them and a chill lounge vibe. Overall I might check this one out again on the next trip and would say to get by for one drink at least.

Tuxedo Social Club

This one was by far my favorite place on the trip. A members only social club that we were fortunate to be introduced to. I am not going to put much detail here to keep it as special as it is, what I will say is that this very hidden true speakeasy and it’s owner/bartender David will be a staple for any visit to Barcelona in the future.

Busy days ahead… Can I keep a balance through VMworld?

Most people I know realize that for the past 10+ years the fall has been one of the busiest times of the year for me as trade show season ramped up for the IT workers in the US. This year will be no exception. The difference being that I am at a new company and have lots of different responsibilities now, including helping to organize our sponsored sessions for VMworld along with the rest of my team. This is where it actually got fun…

This year we were able to talk the powers that be at Cohesity into not taking the standard product pitch approach to VMworld sessions, nicely that also included community sessions that our team is involved in. This turned into 9 speaking sessions between full sessions and vBrownbag slots not to include the booth theatre. I am involved in 6 of the 9 and hopefully readers can come out to them.

I also am moderating a great customer panel with Wendy’s, Hyatt, Dolby and the San Francisco Giants all about their trials and tribulations around data protection from the days of tape to current backup and recovery solutions.

I have for over 10 years hosted the vExpert Daily which is a great panel discussion each day at 11am in the vBrownbag area. Thats has become a highlight of the week for sure. I also have another session in the vBrownbag area to talk about some Fraggle Rock.

The most important session I will be part of though is a full 60 min panel discussion on Work-Life Balance where we will present the results of a study we commissioned along with TechReckoning. If you haven’t filled it out, please do here. I am really looking forward to presenting the results, talking through the stories of burnout from the panel and the audience and bringing some awareness to something I know went through and still battle with and many of my readers have as well.

How much travel is too much travel?

Often people ask me how much I travel and if you ask my friends at home you will probably hear numbers ranging from 50% to 80% but is that really accurate? I found that without real data thats hard to calculate so when I started needing to make sure that a team was not traveling over X% throughout the year I needed a way to know what that really meant.

There are quite a few things to consider and this is just a short list of them.

  • Do you count weekends?
  • Do you count holidays?
  • Are you traveling on back to back weeks?
  • Are you traveling on weekend days?
  • Do those weekend days count as work days?

I tried to account for all of these items along with the ebbs and flows of the year. You may travel more in the summer and fall but not as much in the winter time so the percentage is really throughout the whole year.

I created this google sheet to help me calculate the real times for the team. Be careful there are a lot of formulas throughout that are very easy to break but you should be able to make a copy and use it to your hearts content. I left a bunch of larger events in the master event list just to make everyones life a little easier.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1PPdnEfpueTkmIc3Hzcp6vjTtF6Fit4M77jOOT6o1D8g/edit?usp=sharing

Congrats you are Field CTO… now what?

I had the good fortune of being an early adopter of the title Field CTO which is a wonderful thing except thats not the last job I want to have so what is my career progression. I didn’t even think about that 5 years ago when I took the position and as I have seen other friends and colleagues move into the role they are in the same position.

Let’s first look at what a Field CTO is. It’s a great title that encompasses the combination of technical prowess and people skills. The challenge is that that is very broad and every company seems to define it differently, even to the level of where the position lies in the organization. I reported up through the product management side, I know others that have reported to sales and others to marketing. I know some that have their own teams and some that are solo acts. It seems very company dependent. The skill set being asked for also varies from a very technical CTO style to a super SE and even at times to just a marketing evangelist.

With all the different types of jobs and roles the next question is how does one end up in this role? I believe there are 2 ways, the first is that the person has been in house and has knowledge across so many areas of the business that you don’t want to lose them and the title is a stepping stone. The second is someone who comes into a company specifically to fill that senior technical field role when a natural CTO is not as presentable to customers. What both of these have in common is that rarely does a company have a growth plan in place before filling the position.

Once you are a Field CTO what is the next role? During my interview process when changing jobs I found this to be a harder topic than I realized. My position being in Product Management seemed to worry people that I would not be able to be as outward focused as they wanted. Then I had the concern about any position I was talking to would be a step down career wise so they assumed I would not take it. I even had one company that thought because I had field experience I must not be technical at all and I was just a marketer.

I decided that I would just have to look at the title and determine on my own if I was interviewing someone would it look like a step down, when I said no then the title was fine. I never really cared about the title except for that anyway. Then I had to hope my years of experience came through during the interview process to show I had both technical chops and personality. For me I think I will end up back in a people manager/mentor type role while still having my hands on some tech to know the product, but for now I choose a role that lets me use my outbound and technical skills. Who knows maybe the next one will be a CEO or a CTO or a position I have never heard of yet.

I don’t claim to know what the next position is but I truly hope that those in the position now are able to talk to their management teams and figure it out since this won’t be your last job.

Onward and Upward

“I have to believe in the tech before I ever consider a startup”

That was what I said just over 7 years ago when I got asked to join Nexenta. I saw a product that was looking to change an industry and a new and exciting opportunity. Over the last 7 years I have not been disappointed at all but there comes a time for change and today is that day.

After working at resellers, Nexenta was the first vendor I decided join and I started as a Sales Engineer before moving into a Director role and then only a year in to a role working in Product Marketing. I had less than zero knowledge outside my schooling and outside experience on marketing but management gave me a chance. After another short year and some company changes I got shifted into Product Management and day to day work with development and engineering teams. I never expected it to be a good move and I dreaded it at the time, I would have to leave the field. Much to my surprise, I found this new role to be exciting and challenging and I had to learn an entirely new side of IT. The next move was probably the most exciting for my career when I was asked to partially return to my roots and go back out into the field as the Field CTO. This meant I got to work with our largest customers and prospects and now knowing the product management side I was also able to translate all the customer needs and wants into engineering requirements. Overall the career progression at Nexenta was amazing but that pales in comparison to the people I have met. I can not thank them enough, even the ones that have left and asked me why I stayed so long.

And on that note, I stayed because I was waiting for the right position with the right company and today I start in what I believe will be that position. Today marks day one with Cohesity as a Principal Technologist (More later on the challenges of going from Field CTO to anything) . I will be joining a team of amazingly talented people that are well known in each of their respective communities, Chris Colotti, Jon Hildebrand and Teresa Miller. The four of us make up the TAG or Technical Advocacy Group and are focused on the outbound technical messaging. This time around I didn’t just look for great tech, which I do believe Cohesity has, but also a great company that is growing and dynamic. I am excited to hit the ground running for a new challenge!

Let’s Hear it for the Boys!

Over the past couple weeks leading up to Super Bowl 53, there have been numerous articles, although many with the same copied content, published that proclaim that the two men on the LA Ram’s Cheerleading team are the first male cheerleaders to perform at the Super Bowl. While these two men being able to join their teammates on the field for the Super Bowl is a great accomplishment, they are actually closer to the 26th or 27th male cheerleaders to perform at the Super Bowl.

Starting in 1998 the Baltimore Ravens have had a Cheerleading team that consists of 2 groups, a dance team and a stunt team. Both groups perform choreographed routines together for every home game and have twice performed as a group at the Super Bowl.

2001 Super Bowl Baltimore Ravens Male Cheerleaders

During Super Bowl 35 I had the great honor of being one of those male cheerleaders and was part of the true first group of male cheerleaders to perform at the Super Bowl. At the time being the first group was not really a concern to any of us, it was amazing to be on the sideline and on the field and in the endzone with my teammates. The greatest part for me was at a practice in Baltimore just after the AFC Championship when were told by David Modell that after almost no thought, the organization was taking the entire Baltimore Ravens Cheerleading Team to the game and as an added bonus we could bring someone to watch. I called my dad, being able to ask him to go see the super bowl made up for much of the ridicule and pettiness that was directed at male cheerleaders prior to the last few years.

2001 Baltimore Ravens Cheerleaders during the Super Bowl

Some people have said that they are making the distinction that the LA Rams men are the first cheerleaders because they are dancing in the same routines. Is that to say that the women that were stunting with the men on the Ravens team are not cheerleaders because they do different parts in a routine? The male cheerleaders I know are proud to be called cheerleaders, we are not stuntmen as one article put it, we don’t just run flags, we are part of a program and part of a family and occasionally even dance in the routines. In fact there is even an interesting fact posted by CBS in 2016 about the only male cheerleaders in the NFL

Baltimore Ravens Male Cheerleaders Dancing In an EndZone Routine

In no way do I want to take away from the excitement and achievements of Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies, going to the Super Bowl is a great achievement and one they should be very proud of. In this age of accessibility, I hope that some news outlets look a little deeper, maybe talk to some of my teammates, both the men and women, or some of the members of the 2013 Ravens team that also took an entire group of male cheerleaders to the Super Bowl.

Creating Bulk Users and Groups in AD via Powershell

I often get tasked with finding out where some of the limits of our products might be and one of them that has come up is the ability to work with larger Active Directory configurations.  Running a lab I obviously don’t have thousands of users so I wanted a way to quickly create and remove users and groups.  In comes the powershell scripts that I have below.  I created this is multiple parts but have since made each part a function and put a nice menu around it.  The final BulkAdd.ps1 is the total script that you are free to download and use for your environment.  You can follow the flow in the diagram below.

You can get the full script Bulk-Menu_v2 but I will list all the parts below. All of the scripts start the same way and I have some centralized variables at the top of the main script.

You can see the script in action

 100 Groups and 200 Users Created and Removed in 2 Min Continue reading “Creating Bulk Users and Groups in AD via Powershell”

Is the real future for VMware in one of its quietest releases?

VMworld 2018 once again proved to be one of the biggest technology events of the year, yes you can point out Dreamforce and OracleWorld and Microsoft Ignite as potentially larger but VMworld is still a ~20K person conference and ranks as one fo the larger ones around.  Its also no surprise that VMware takes the time to make major product announcements during the show to make it exciting and get the user base hyped for another year.  This year I heard alot about how the release of Amazon RDS Services natively in a private datacenter and connected as a custom region in AWS was the biggest news.  While I I do believe this is a great thing for many enterprises and specifically cloud first companies, I don’t think it will be the release that has the largest impact on the future of VMware.

Welcome vSphere on ARM! Yes ARM, that little processor you hear about for cell phones and IoT devices.  This was touched on in one of the keynotes and I think alot of people just thought it was a gimmick and since there is no firm release date, thats reasonable but lets for a moment take a look at a few places that vSphere on ARM could have a huge impact.

Continue reading “Is the real future for VMware in one of its quietest releases?”

Cutting the Cord : From Infant to Teenager

Over the past few years I have heard about so many people that have cut the cord and got rid of traditional cable TV, this seemed like a great way to save money but could my wife and I really do it and not get annoyed? Also would it really save us alot of money? Spoiler : We save about $115 a month but it could be more.

Over the next few paragraphs, I will take you through my journey from all in with xFinity to only paying them for internet and using multiple services and pieces of hardware but having a rather good experience.

Over the next few post I will break down the cord cutting into a few areas that you may only need a few pieces of so to help it will be in a few articles.

Overall our experience has been smooth but took alot of time and research to make it fit for us.  We are still learning as we go but for over $100 a month worth of savings

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