Monthly Archives: August 2013

VMworld 2013 – What to eat and where?

You’re in San Francisco, so NOW WHAT?  There are a million different ways to experience VMworld 2013.  You can maximize your inner nerd and fill your days with content, labs, tests, booths, and lectures – Oh my!  You can visit booths, gathering strategic intel on new products and taking their amazing schwag (I always pack a bag for this reason.  You can spend countless hours on the work you were supposed to leave at home, I guess, as well… 

Personally, I prefer to take a blended approach, but I tend to focus most of my additional energy consuming chasing down that elusive awesome out-of-town meal.  I’m not talking the free food during the hall crawls, the appetizers at the vendor “soirées”.  I’m talking downright belly filling awesome food to keep that fire going 24-7.  So, let’s eat!

You’re going to need some tools.  Social tools.  If you don’t like, use, or trust them… cool, but you better find a friend who does. 😉

Foursquare – (Apple, Android) – Location, Tips, Pictures, Popularity.  My favorite location-based app.  Check in at the location you’re at and get coupons, tips, etc regarding the spot.  I use the website and the app to research things around me or where I’m going to find rockstar spots!
Yelp – (Apple, Android) – Reviews, Pictures, Tips, Location, Popularity.  Primarily a review site, also has tips and location-based check-ins.
Foodspotting – (Apple, Android) – Pictures.  A great tool to look at pictures of food to inspire you in the area.  Drill down to a location, to an area, and I’m sure a few hundred other options.  Slide through pictures until you find something yummy and inspiring!  (integrates with Foursquare)
Instagram – (Apple, Android) – Pictures.  Another great tool for pictures, but a bit more.  Use this tool to follow the top 5 food bloggers in the area you’re going to and get some inspiration.  Once you find a spot, it ties to Foursquare, and lets you see every picture from that spot.  One of my favorite ways to eat.  (integrates with Foursquare)

You’re also going to want to use some websites:

Eater San Francisco – Eater.Com is a great site dedicated to finding what’s good, what’s hot, what’s coming, and stack-ranking them in different ways.  Hot Right Now, for example.  My favorite tool is the Eater 38 for each location.  the top 38 restaurants (in their opinion) – I use these on my “must see” list, and then buffer around it with the hot right now, and other top spots based on my personal preference.
San Francisco Gate – In Dallas, the local ‘rag that reviews restaurants, etc from a newspaper perspective is the Dallas Observer.  From a San Fran perspective, San Francisco Gate is the closest to this same feel.  Great information can be found for what to eat when you’re in X district of a big town.
Local Eats – (Apple, Android) – The app costs money, the site is free…  This is touted as a site that lists “where the locals eat”.  Not sure how they get their data, but it hasn’t fed me wrong YET.  Great lists for TOP X Food, but also Top 100, and top by neighborhood, etc.  Another great way to filter results.  Often I’ll find a location here, and check the current reviews on Yelp and Foursquare to solidify if it’s STILL good.
Zagat – (Apple, Android) – I didn’t list this above because I believe there’s a fee.  to me, the die-hard foodie, it’s worth it.  Some may not think so.  A score of 20 and above, you’ll be pleased.  24 and above, you’ll probably pay for it – but it will be mouth-watering good.
Google *duh* – Google has TONS of information in it.  For a quick cursory review, I tend to find a place I like and Google search it.  The location info will have reviews, pictures, AND a quick Zagat rating on it.  Great on your mobile device, on the go.

There are also alternatives around Facebook, Gowalla, and I’m sure a billion others – but I haven’t found them as useful, so they’re not getting mindshare here.

Do you have other methods you like to use to find the best place to eat as you travel around the county, please – let me know.   I’m always needing new tools to help find that next great meal.

I’m an EMC’er

Now that I ripped the band aid off (yes, I’m a ripper – I find it best to just get it over with!), I guess I should explain myself.

I worked at Heritage Auctions (HA.Com) for just shy of 10 years.  I can’t say enough great things about the opportunity, the company, the people, and especially the owners there.  Over the last 3 years of my illustrious career, I primarily focused my efforts as VP of IT on converging the data center.  After much research, debate, and negotiation a vast majority of our infrastructure landed on VMware for virtualization, Cisco UCS for compute, and EMC for storage.  And thus, the love affair began.

I’ve said it a thousand times, and I’ll say it again – thanks to great partners like Presidio, and a great friend in Tommy Trogden (@vTexan) – we were able to start the transformation of our data center into an amazing tool for the business.  UCS made compute sexy.  VMware is the leader in the hypervisor market for a reason.  And, EMC storage provided drastically needed performance, scale, and availability like we’d never had before.

One of our investments was in EMC’s VMAXe – thanks to some cunning sales work by Aaron Skogsberg (@dweebiak) we ended up with the 16th one off the line after the gigantic enterprise customers grabbed theirs up.  This VMAX was supposed to bring Tier1 to a new sector of customers, making it easier to use / manage / implement / install.  Everything he promised was true, and I was in love (not just with Aaron, but with EMC).   After being asked to be a reference customer, I got sucked into a whirlwind of events that included speaking to other prospective customers, doing roundtables, videos, speaking at Brian Gallagher’s ESD all hands!!!, two Chad’s Worlds, speaking at EMCWorld with Fidelma Russo, speaking at VMworld, and the list goes on.  I even got elected to be part of EMCElect in 2013!  I was in love with the EMC product, I was infatuated with the EMC culture, and I had made hundreds of great friends at EMC.

My staff joked constantly that I was going to leave any day, and I told them they were being foolish.  I had a great job, at a great company, with no reason to leave.  Why start over?  Why take the chance?  Besides, EMC has thousands of customers who love them as much as I do – I’ve seen them all pack into a Bruno Mars concert and come out wearing blinky schwag.  I’d received plenty of calls from recruiters, etc asking me to put myself out there, and I’d always said no, until now.  One day, I got a call asking me to interview at a manufacturer and I said no.  A few days later, knowing that my (now manager) Trevor Starnes was looking for someone, I started that fateful conversation.  The ‘ol “what if I….” and that was all she wrote.  A few interviews and a resume (that I hadn’t written in 15 years) later, and I was in.

I’m excited, and scared, and excited.  I haven’t felt more overwhelmed and useless in my life and I love it.  I’ve got so much to do, and it’s just day 2.

This change isn’t a sprint, but rather one of those awesome hardcore Ultramarathons.  I’m going to document my transition from VP of IT to PreSales Engineer and all of the things I learn between.  From perfecting the art of chest-bumping, to crying at night after some VP of IT tells you that your beloved EMC sucks.  As embarrassing as it is, coming from the Ops/IT world, I’ve already had to visit the local IT support numerous times to beg forgiveness as I’ve been locked out of every system I’ve tried to get into.  I think I’m gunna have to bring him some Hypnotic Donuts tomorrow to make amends.