Archive for the ‘tech•ed 2009’ Category

  • Hitting Reset for 2009 -> 2010

    Date: 2010.03.29 | Category: planning, tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    So it’s well and truly time to wrap up this blog for 2009 and move to 2010, i’ve been holding off until everytime of work from last year was resolved – strangely enough that happened just last week as the last invoice was sorted… (and no I’m not kidding..)
    So here’s a fast and loose summary of what we achieved – mainly to help with our planning for teched 2010.

    Delegate Network

    • 99.998 uptime (was a 45 second outage from a GBIC flapping..)
    • ~1300 wireless clients was the highest amount connected.
    • ~2TB of data downloaded (in 4 days!)
    • 300GB send out.

    Demonstration Network (the glass box of doom with the servers inside)

    • 100% uptime on services with over 80 virtual machines hosted for speaker and other demos. This was highly under-utilized.

    Major issues




    • Intel Wireless drivers – escalated to Intel who were sponsoring –
      they were kind enough to help us out
    • Bit Torrent – Played network cop – Rickrolled access to key sites
    • RRAS port exhaustion – escalated to our support team in India
    • Live ID creation – another escalated to our support team…
    • Netbook deployment – finished this with brute force
    • Session Recording – Expression Encoder crashes
    • Wrong URL on netbook images – network hack
    • Well i think this is minor, but there was some slight damage of a netbook box…


    As you can image there was so much more that went on, we’ve added a lot of these things to our planning process which has already started;

    “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” – Einstein

    So here go, we’re hitting the reset button – we’ll do our best to keep you update-to-date from our end – no promises of course as we’re all focused on delivering to a higher quality outcome than before.

    – jorke

  • Press Record

    Date: 2009.09.23 | Category: tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    [ This post was written during tech•ed however its editing and publication was delayed. Blame me — Jorke ]

    Well we are now under way with the session recording and the pressure is starting to subside; especially now we have a stable platform to work with.

    Let me take you through some of the issues we ran into during the setup of tech•ed.

    Over the last week we have had countless problems with Expression Encoder 3, this software was to be used in conjunction with the ADVC55 Canopus to capture session recording both audio & video.


    The software proved to be unstable and difficult to use.

    The encoding would start well, but around the 15-17, 32 minute mark of recording it would crash, freeze and lock up the PC.

    At this stage the only we could overcome the problem was to reset the ADVC55 Canopus and reboot the PC; this went on for three days.

    We changed and tested every possible video & audio setting available but problems persisted. Expression Encoder 3 would allow you to record past the previous crash times and on preview the quality was great. After pressing stop and reviewing the recorded footage it showed really poor quality images, the only thing working well was the audio. Unfortunately the session wasn’t usable with only audio.

    The only thing we could do at this stage of the event was look to a solid program that had as many features as expression 3. The main features we were looking for was stability, video compression and compatibility with the ADVC55 Canopus.

    We came up with Windows Media Encoder 9. This saved the day! Upon connecting the Canopus device, the software immediately launched. The software automatically detected the signal being supplied to the Canopus and set all the video compression settings automatically.

    Press record and off we went. One hour later the software was still solid, the images were quality, the audio was in sync and the playback was DVD Quality.

    We had found a winner. This software is highly recommended in all facets, easy to operate, great playback quality and stable.

    – Brian “The Video Guy”

  • Connors to Blog. Copy?

    Date: 2009.09.14 | Category: tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    We still have a bit of content to post before we wrap up this blog for 2009. Sorry we have been a bit quiet but a LOT went on in the last days of the event and almost everyone in technology has had some sort of challenge in their lives outside of the event.

    We’ll wrap things up over the next couple of weeks. There is some pretty interesting content coming so please stay with us.

  • Issues with LiveID…. SORTED

    Date: 2009.09.08 | Category: tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    This year we’re using software for Tech.Ed CommNet where you can use a LiveID for the portal. Sounds pretty straightforward right? well.. it appears to prevent against false account creation there is an IP blacklisting feature that blocks more than a few requests from a single IP address, which is fine until you’re behind a NAT gateway..


    If you were trying to create a LiveID from onsite at Tech.Ed yesterday would would have seen a message along the lines of “limit exceeded..” – all our Tech.Ed networks are behind NAT, and although we could have cycled the NAT gateway IP’s around, that would only get us a few hundred go’s.

    We escalated to the Live product team, in particular our favourite aussie member of the live team, Angus Logan who helped us sort it.

    if you do notice any funkiness like this happening, please don’t hesitate to escalate to the Ops team.



    Date: 2009.09.08 | Category: tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    The things you find when you take a wrong turn. I was walking to the MDF through back of house and actually stumbled into the keynote rehearsal to find that they’ve flown in MOBY for it.


    It is actually Gianpaolo Carraro, Microsoft’s DPE Director. We did a cook’s tour of the venue for him and his family during set and all enjoyed a nice BBQ that evening as a rare bit of downtime. He’s an extremely good sport for doing this and letting me post it.

  • Don’t Forget The Human Factor

    Date: 2009.09.07 | Category: netbooks, setup, tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    Netbooks ready for collection

    I woke up at 4:00am this morning in a cold sweat. And I haven’t slept since. In the wee hours of the morning my brain, as is its want, was mulling a worst-case scenario: “What if we got the image or imaging wrong. How are we ever going to re-image these 2575 machines?”

    In our planning, the imaging process was always date constrained. Whilst David Haysom had planned an extra 2 days, just in case, as there are always strange things that could bite you on the bum.

    First day of Netbook handout. Today. 9am. Within an hour, we had handed out about 10% of the total.

    And a problem appeared. Thankfully not hardware; the opening and recharging of each machine tickled out any weird hardware issues. In fact, our out-of-box hardware failure rate was half of the planned amount. HP repaired these quickly, and all was well.

    Boot to nothing. Ouch!

    The problem: missing images on a low, single percentage number of machines.

    After reviewing our WDS/MDT2010 imaging server and technique by local and Redmond experts: this was deemed not the root cause for the missing images. Another possibility was Netbooks booting in the box, running out of power, and getting into a weird state. Again, this was discounted as there was just no data on the drives.

    The Current Theory

    The imaging process ends with the Netbook shutting down. From F12 to network boot to shutdown is one keypress: F12 to “boot from network”. At the completion of the multi-cast and unpacking in the WDS/MDT process, the Netbook shuts itself down to a black screen.

    On the first two days of imaging last week, the imaging area had power issues: essentially, fluctuating power at the setup trestle tables. This caused machines to be left powered off. To a black screen.

    Our thinking is that the black screen at the end of this process led to false-positives. Netbooks that had power issues, left on a black screen, were accidentally deemed “imaged” during the first few days and packed up.

    Learning 1:  Leave setup machines with a static, on-state saying “OK” would be our recommendation if you are planning such a large, time constrained install.

    The QA process we had during the imaging week was to test every 80 to 100 machines: that is, go through the out of box experience to test build quality.

    Learning 2: factor in a slightly higher rate of QA checks than you think necessary.

    How are we Fixing this?

    Handing over a known good, working Windows 7 Netbook to each attendee is a must. No compromise. Therefore, today, we instituted a quickly developed solution to freshly image these machines.

    After re-evaluation this evening, we are dedicating a team to process any machines with missing images. There is also another, faster process that is being investigated that may be implemented (via USB imaging)

    So, worst case: we have upset attendees whilst we fix their machines. All I can say is “Sorry, and we are making it right” and I am confident this process will work tomorrow. With a little patience, all will be well.

    Best case: our current glass-half-full thinking is that the machines that were handed out today were from the early in the week batch: where we had power issues, and black screen false-positives.

    Tomorrow will tell.

    Thanks for your patience and understanding.

    And if you want to complain or vent at someone: find me.

  • End of a sort of day off

    Date: 2009.09.05 | Category: tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    We’re at the end of a day off mid way through the events. It was a sort of day off because most of us were working at least part of the day. On a totally non-technical note, I just snapped this pic from the rooftop of Wave Apartments where we are staying. It is kind of nice to stop and reflect on how far we’ve come and somehow posting this pic of GCCEC while having a frostie at a BBQ with some of the team seems appropriate.

  • Hands on Labs – on site and almost ready to rock and roll

    Date: 2009.09.04 | Category: setup, tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    First day on site – and first post! My name is Kyle Rosenthal – and I am the content manager for HynesITe, the group that puts together the Hands on Labs(HOL) and Instructor led labs(ILL) for TechEd – here in AU, North America and now in Europe. This is our 5th TechEd Australia – starting all the way back at TechEd Canberra.

    So – what goes into the deployment of the Hands-On area? A lot of time and effort! Basically we will be deploying to the HOL/ILL area on a total of 5Tb of data – to 180 machines – in 3 days.

    This starts at my place generally for TechEd AU – Once a year my wife’s patience is tested as I take over the kitchen table and suck a year’s worth of power in one week.

    This year is sort of different – we have moved to a new house and I have invested in a new table. :)

    However – when Kim and Ted arrived – the kitchen table was back in use!

    The setup this year for us is Windows Server 2008 R2, Hyper-V, and our custom support front end that will assist you the attendee in getting to your lab as quickly as possible. This does mean that in the process of getting ready  for the event we will start, save, snapshot and export about 300 virtual machines. In addition we then will touch all the lab manuals that help you to get through your lab.

    To do this we have 8 machines in the back end that form our core infrastructure, with gigabit network everywhere.

    So we loaded up the car and headed to the coast, the drive from Brisbane to the Gold Coast meant another hour’s worth of work time available for Kim and Corey – one in the front seat and one in the back seat – with laptops in use. This meant that in true geek style when a file needed to be transferred between their laptops – no usb device was needed. So – if you happened to be beside the Pacific Highway and saw an Ad-Hoc wireless network named “Driving” appear and then disappear – that was us.

    Now we are complete and on site ready to start the next stage of the deployment.

  • From Sydney to Reality

    Date: 2009.09.03 | Category: netbooks, setup, tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    I’ve just landed on the Gold Coast, dumped by bags in the hotel room and walked to the Gold Coast Convention Centre.

    After meeting Jack Morton’s Patrick, and donning a hi-vis vest – its into the Technical Learning Centre to witness the setup of the 2575 HP Mini-notes/netbooks.

    There are about 13-14 long trestle tables, each with and average of 20 machines laid out. 8 staff are out and about unwrapping each box, putting it on the table, and initiating the Windows 7 TechEd image. This is a sight to behold. It feels somewhat like an Industrial Revolution-era factory. A study in time and motion.

    Time is critical now. We cannot delay TechEd, nor stop the setup of the Technical Learning Centre – so its all hands to the wheel to complete the imaging tonight. Being a production process that is now in production, and costing per hour – it is way too late to change anything. Either the image, the process or technology involved in the imaging.


  • What’s in a colour?

    Date: 2009.08.26 | Category: Australian Partner Conference 2009, networking, planning, tech•ed 2009 | Response: 0

    Have you been to tech•ed in years past? Have you seen the array of colours used for cables in CommNet areas, Recharge Bars, around the Exposition Halls and inside the Session Rooms? You’ve thought either the person laying all those cables is colour blind or needs some serious tips from House & Garden on matching seasonal hues? Not so.

    In an event such as tech•ed, managing data cables is in itself, a job which could challenge the best of logistical minds.  There are over 1,200 Cat5e UTP cables to install or over 8,200m to lay down, plug into switches, test, secure to desks & stage plinths and of course plug into computers at the other end. Don’t forget the task of recollecting them all at the other end in a manner that doesn’t result in the biggest bunch of copper and plastic spaghetti in the world.

    To help with the taming of this cable mammoth, a colour coding system is used to make what would normally be a challenging task just that little easier.  With experience, we’ve established the best combination of lengths. The colours were chosen based on what are standard available colours without the need for excessive custom makes :

    • Grey Cables : 2m
    • Yellow Cables : 3m
    • Green Cables : 5m
    • Orange Cables : 8m
    • White Cables : 10m
    • Purple Cables : 15m
    • Blue Cables : 20m and over

    The result is cable installers and the technology team can quickly identify the appropriate cable. It hasn’t always been like this. Before we had a colour coding system for the lengths we had a huge wastage issue with excess length. So much a number of years ago we reduced the cabling costs by 30%.

    What happens to all of the cables after the event? You would appreciate the cost involved when replacing cables, not to mention the environmental impact. To maximise integrity, cables are used for no more than 2 events and so costs are amortised. If cables have been in trafficable areas, such as where trolleys and feet run over them, they are replaced after each event.  At the end of the event, the task of recollecting, rolling and sorting patch leads is job that may leave you chrysophobic, but the method of colour for length has made our “Where does that cable go” jigsaw easier to piece together.