Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017! What’s new ahead?

In a couple of hours from now, we will be bidding farewell to Year 2016 and welcome Year 2017! It is one of those posts that I have written every year to re-look at what have I done within the year and some of the goals that I am looking at achieving in 2017. The post that I wrote in Year 2015 can be found here – Goodbye Twenty Fifteen, Hello Twenty Sixteen.

 

Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)

In April this year, I was re-awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award by Microsoft but this time it has been rebranded to Cloud and Datacenter Management technical expertise. It has been an exciting journey so far as this is my second award by Microsoft. I enjoy spending time advocating the various technology to the community especially in the area of PowerShell and automation.

 

Condeco Software

Today marks the completion of 12 months with Condeco Software and to be honest, it has really been a busy year as a Technical Consultant within the Asia Pacific side of the organization. Practically, every single day we are filled with tasks be it is a Challenge, a Simple Task or Meeting(s) that keep all of us busy!

I had so much fun being able to be part of all the transition within the organization especially where we are kick-start the utilization of Microsoft Azure as part of the public cloud solution to support our Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business. What it means to our customers is that, we do care about your overall user experience and we are there to present you with the best at all times!

 

Travel

Travel_Countries_Travelled

One great point about working as a Regional Technical Consultant that covers the Asia Pacific region, it means that we are readily made ourselves available to the customer so that we can shower them with our professionalism and at the same time some care which they deserved to ensure they are ripping every benefits out of the investments.

Of course, with that to say, it does not means that for my whole year of travel which covers 4% of the world is solely for work! I do have fun in Seattle (Washington, United States) to attend to the MVP Summit that is hosted by Microsoft. It is one of the great session where you get to interact with the product teams and meet other fellow technology lovers. On top of that, I am so honoured to be able to sit in the same room with other fellow PowerShell Conference Organizer on the other side of the world to do up a video for the PowerShell 10th Anniversary. The video can be found here.

 

How many goals was achieved?

So how many goals that I have set in December 2015 has been achieved in Year 2016?

I was suppose to be an Avid Reader but I guess I pretty much failed this point because I have not completed even a single book till now. For this, I have to bluntly admit that I failed to do so and this shall be carry forward to Year 2017 and hoping this time my perseverance can pull me through!

Secondly, my goal was to be a better Leader in my new job role and I have to say that I did made some advancement in that area and all thanks to my current manager(s) that made it possible. I personally would like to thank Nicholas Yap (Operations Director, APAC) who is my reporting manager for guiding me all these while and opens up a lot of opportunities for me! Without the kind of support at the backend, it would not be possible to shape me in who I am. I am happy and more than willing to work with him to strengthen the team!

Lastly, for all the work that has been done to the PowerShell Community, I am really honoured to say that we have completed the second PowerShell Conference in Asia and we are looking at organizing the third one that will be held around the same timing as the last two years.

 

Finally, what’s next?

There are of course many a times where we do lesson learnt during times when we failed to achieve some tasks or goals. However, I think over the last 12 months, I have grew much more stronger than before and the following will be the rules that I am trying to adhere.

  • Strengthen the product knowledge – One of the key that I would like to achieve in this year is to thoroughly understand the product my company is offering as I felt that there are a lot into it that has yet been covered as it may not be that commonly being used. It is vital as the Evangelist within the organization to be able to understand what the customers do not understand, know more than what the customers should know and do the impossible for the customers within the limit within the Engineering practice.
  • Strengthen the presentation skills – One of my weakest link is that I felt and I am pretty sure many felt the same is that my presentation skills isn’t that well polished yet and therefore need improvement work on it.
  • Excel and go beyond – In year 2017, I hope to excel even more not only for myself but for my customers and partners. To excel and overcome any issues and potential risks. Go beyond and bend the rule as that will be another challenge up for me as a technical folk!

Cheers and Happy New Year to all the readers to this site!

Regards,
Milton

What?! Do not TRY again?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I spent a week in Shanghai (China) for work. It was the second time in my life that I actually went to Shanghai and no doubt that it is really a nice place! This city is so amazing that it brings me various thoughts. I am really amazed at how Social Media is being utilized to the fullest until the extent where you are able to “get a queue number” and “order your meals” through the same social app. For this, I would have them covered in the next post or so.

When I was on my way to the Airport heading home, I was on the Uber and wanting to know which Terminal should I be heading for, I encounter the following error while surfing the Pudong International Airport website on my mobile.

2016-08-19 12.21.19

Notice the message shown above? It stated “Query error, please do not try again!”. Base on the experience that I had as a Software Engineer, I can derive that the whole purpose of such message is that there are probably an error retrieving data from the database or there are error displaying the data.

All-in-all, there was an error!

Error handling has exists for ages and why on earth it is so difficult to have some text or message that is much more friendly for end-users? By telling user not to try again, it just turn people off. Especially for users like me whom is relying on the website for important information for my flights details. Sometimes I ponder whether websites exists to provide information and services to users?

Well, there are nice message that could just gives assurance to users:

Oops! We met into some issue and hang on there while we are fixing it!

However, do not use this as a default one and expects users to be repeatedly seeing this! On top of that, once this message is being displayed, the backend system should also capture it as part of the System Error Logs and trigger the Web-Administrator.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Cheers,
/M

My First Ever Microsoft MVP Summit–Part 1

I just landed back in Singapore just 24 hours ago from this blog entry after a week in USA for the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Summit in Microsoft Headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Although I won’t be sharing about the content that I have went through during the week as it is under Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which makes the MVP Communities a more robust and strong one, but I will be sharing with you the experience that I get as a first-timer.

Not to forget, this is my first time in my life travelling to Seattle other than my past trips to USA. So bear with me if I sound like a newbie. *cheers!* There are quite a fair bit of “First-Time” within this trip that I have unlocked and I am really happy about it.

1st First Time

I took the route from Singapore –> Seoul –> San Francisco with Singapore Airlines and then met up with my friend for a bit before flying from San Francisco to Seattle with United Airlines.

2015-10-30 16.39.43

So yes, this is the first time I am flying with United Airlines. There are quite a fair bit of choices but I still chose to give it a shot for United Airlines although there are bad reviews about it. What assured me even more is the e-mailer from the CEO that things will get better. We will never know until we try it right?

2015-10-30 17.09.41

Like what any typical social media geek would do, I would love to capture moments and share it with my fellow friends online. Immediately on Instagram, I have friends who commented that they really love travelling on United Airlines for their last trip to Japan. Well, technically that is an International route which may defer in the kind of facilities I am receiving since I am on a domestic flight. Let’s embrace that!

 

2nd First Time

After more than 24 hours of travelling on road + flight, I have finally reached Seattle-Tacomo International Airport.

2015-10-30 19.42.01

Just hop off the plane and walking towards baggage area.

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Every airport has its own landmark right?

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Took this photo while crossing the bridge to the car park area where I could get a Taxi to the hotel that I am staying.

To be honest, there isn’t really any fuss in navigating around Seattle-Tacoma International Airport not because it is small but everything seems organized. There isn’t a need or much effort needed to bring me around and point me to the right direction for a First-Timer. Trust me, I have been to airport that are so much worse that you will realize that your only wish is “Get my bag, get me OUT of here!” that kind of feelings.

 

3rd First Time

After landing myself in Hyatt Regency Bellevue, as per request from my fellow Singapore MVPs, I head over to Bellevue Square to check out Microsoft Store to see if I am in time to get the Microsoft Band 2.

2015-10-30 20.49.12 HDR

2015-10-30 20.49.17 HDR

Like Apple in past, there isn’t any specific branded store in Asia-Pacific other than the ones operated by their distributor or reseller. However, I am hope to see Microsoft having their presence in Asia-Pacific just like what Apple is doing.

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Really excited that I get to play with the Microsoft Band 2 for the very first time since it just launches not long ago. Interestingly, only the size L is left in the store while the size S and M are all wiped out quickly. Therefore, I could only assist to fulfil the order from fellow MVP (Matt Hitchcock) who happens to be my room mate during the summit time.

I really like the way how technology has driven things these years and happy to see that Microsoft Retail Store has built mobile applications that empower the retail staffs to place order and perform transaction on Windows Mobile Phone. That kind of seamless experience where you need to walk to the cashier is long gone while now, as long as you build terminals around the store, you will be able to handle any huge volume of customers at any time! Hooray to Microsoft! Of course, #BringThisToAsia

 

4th First Time

Like what they all say, if you are here in the states, you should not miss out the food from The Cheesecake Factory.

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Please do not mistaken that I had all these on my own! I definitely have to share all the various delicious cakes with the other MVPs that I went with. The varieties of cheesecake that is available is really a widespread and this will keep me aiming for the MVP Summit 2016 so that I can continue with my indulgence of these nice delicacies along with the company from fellow elites.

I will wrap up the first part of these trip here and will continue with more details following the next few posts so that I can keep you in suspend of what I have been up to for the past weeks.

Cheers,
Milton

Learning to appreciate

Something suddenly struck my mind during lunch time today. So it goes where I have take-away some sushi (Salmon Sashimi) from Umi Sushi today when I made a trip down to Funan IT Mall during lunch hour. Just when I have settled down at my client place and almost ready to enjoy the sashimi.

So as per my dietary habit, I will enjoy my sashimi with light soy sauce and wasabi. Call it lucky or unlucky, I was given a pack of light sauce which I had difficulty tearing it open and finally gave up because:

  1. I am in my customer premises
  2. I shouldn’t be dirtying the place here
  3. I should be careful with my attire

Eventually I gave up on opening the pack of light sauce and tried to eat it without the sauce. At this point of time, this struck me that sometimes I (or maybe there are others) who enjoyed food or stuffs with additional topping which somehow destroy or cover up the original taste.

In this manner, we do not actually get to enjoy the originality of the things. Therefore, I think it is a good start that we should learn to appreciate things in its original manner and look at things in a different aspect.

If you were me, would you join me in appreciate food without any added sauce?

Cheers,
Milton

My thoughts on PowerShell Saturday #009 – Singapore

So a couple of days has passed from the last PowerShell Saturday we had in Singapore on the 24th May 2014. I find it is almost time that I should pen down some of my thoughts as this is fourth PowerShell Saturday that was organized in Singapore. So this make it 1 year anniversary since the start! Hoorrayyyy! (Thanks to leads for Singapore PowerShell User Group)

In particular, I am really happy to be able to speak at this event even though my session was short and perhaps or hopefully sweet. Another thing that I am happy is that during the Hands-On Lab session we had in the second part of the day, I see that there are lots of participants that really cracked their head to complete the challenges. Even though many of them may have simply made use of the search engine to derive to the answer but of course it will not be totally same. Even if you find the solution, you will need to understand the commands as the values that was given may be different. An example would be, getting the network adapter connection configuration using WMI and change the property from DHCP to Static if it is assigned through DHCP. So, even if you are able to find the solution from the internet; you will still need to be able to replace the value accordingly such as passing the right value derived and set it as a static value.

There is one part where Matthew uses the [System.Speech] assembly to make PowerShell speak! It’s really funny and one of that challenge which is categorized as the Bonus challenge was to challenge if the users is able to get that working.

Through out the sessions from the day, I really expanded my horizon on WMI as I have yet to really explore on that! It is really so useful and I must have really missed using them as I have moved on to some Project Management kind of role in my day-job. (That’s not the point, I still meddle around and stay geek!)

During lunch, I spoke a few attendees to collect some feedback in terms of the food that is being served and proudly sponsored by Microsoft Singapore (Shout out to Kinda Lau, THANKS!) and I am please to hear that they are satisfied with the food that is being served.

One of the lesson that I have learnt as one of the lead of Singapore PowerShell User Group is that, we should really test out all the tools that is required for projecting the slides so that we do not allow our anxious and precious PowerShell-ers wait!

Rest assured ladies and gentleman, Matthew (PowerShell MVP), Benjamin and I will ensure that we will have a smoother delivery of the sessions by the respective speakers!

Did we miss saying that, if you are keen in speaking at one of the PowerShell Saturday session; please feel free to contact us!

Regards,
Milton Goh
[email protected]

Is free WiFi a good idea?

I just came back from Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) this morning in which I spent a good four full days over there on a leisure trip. This is the second time that I am visiting this beautiful city and I am really happy with the experience I had there.

If there is one thing that I would like to comment about this developing country, it will be how incredible they are in enabling most restaurant / cafe / roadside stall to provide Free Wireless Internet Connection to all patronage. Amazing isn’t it? For the whole of last year, I have visited Bandung (Indonesia), Bangkok (Thailand) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) and it is really amazing that I actually do not need to subscribe to the Data Roaming plan with my local telecommunication provider. (This really saves me approximately SGD15 – 20 a day!)

So why is Free WiFi good?

Imagine that while walking down the street during my leisure trip, I definitely patronize Cafe or Restaurant to fill my stomach with the local delights. Then at this time, it would be good to have Internet Connectivity to catch up with my friends on various social medias or simply to check my emails (office and/or personal).

When I am travelling, we try our very best to avoid taking the taxi even though taxi isn’t expensive at all. We love to enjoy the scenery that we can see with our bare eyes when we are walking from district to district (yes, I am sure, district!). So there are times when we really need the internet badly because some phone that doesn’t have the full GPS module or is based on A-GPS (Assisted GPS), we will be best to have internet to download the maps or to get our coordinates properly.

So what is the disadvantage over convenient?

Have any one wonder about the security over free WiFi? If it doesn’t bother you, carry on with whatever you do, if it does, be careful of what you do over the free WiFi!

Are you one that…

  1. Access personal information such as Internet Banking information over Free WiFi?
  2. Access secured information such that would expose your personal password (which may leads to losing of confidential information?)

Then probably you will need to be prudent of what you do using the free WiFi.

Cheers.
Milton Goh

My thoughts on – ComGateWay BuyForMe Service

Back in November, I was doing some research on switching my gigantic tower server into something that is a small-form factor machine that still slightly match up to my needs to run all my lab instances. So before I decide to let go of the tower desktop, I was deciding between Intel NUC or Gigabyte BRIX. As I resides in Singapore where mostly goodies (mainly latest technology) that was released will not be made available in Singapore market within three months or it will never appear due to whatever reasons anyone could think of.

At that point of time, I was pretty attracted by the latest release of the Gigabyte BRIX NUC with the Haswell chip. As a person who does a lot of online shopping, I chance upon the service provided by comGateWay (BuyForMe Service) where it really interests me. So in this post, I am going to share my thoughts of this service that I have went on to try making my first order from NewEgg through comGateWay spending couples of hundreds.

Here is the breakdown:

  • Who is this service for?
  • What is the charges like?
  • What is the process of the purchase?
  • What are the problems faced? (In my experience)
  • Who is at loss?
Who is this service for?

Generally, this type of service provided by comGateWay serves a few groups of people similarly to what vPost has to offer.

  • Shoppers who do not resides in United States but hope to purchase merchandize from retailers that resides in United States.
  • Shoppers hope to purchase from retailers who resides in United States that do not offer International Shipping.
  • Shoppers who do not have a valid United States credit card to process the payment for the purchase.

So I fall in one of the group where I am a resident of Singapore and I do not have a United States credit card along with a United States postal address.

 

What is the charges like?

Nobody runs a business like a charity and even charity also provide salary / wages to the volunteers even if it the bare minimum. So running a service like this require funding to keep the business healthy.

I am going to extract some sample from comGateway website directly instead. Let’s imagine I am now purchasing an item that cost me USD 100.00 and it weighs around 1.5KG, this is the charges comGateway will charged me should I use their service.

comGateway-BuyForMe-Service-Example

Credits to comGateway. Smile

From the image above, we can see that comGateway charges a 5% of the cost of the merchandize and does not include the shipping charges between my retailer to the designated address of comGateway. So it will cost me approximately USD 17.00 in order to process the international shipping from comGatweway designated address all the way to the lovely Singapore where I resides.

Does it sounds cheap? Well, it really depends. Let’s take a look at the real-life example. The order that I have made.

comGateway-BuyForMe-Service-MyOrder

Just take note that when I was keying into the comGateway BuyForMe form, I didn’t include the shipping from NewEgg to comGateway therefore I was told that the final amount to be paid will be included which I need to clear before the item will be shipped out from comGateway designated address to Singapore.

 

What is the process of the purchase?

To better illustrate how comGateway works, this is an assumption that I have made in the following diagram.

comGateway-Purchasing-Route

  • Shoppers (illustrate myself) fill up the form through comGateway website. Make payment to comGateway first.
  • comGateway will then follow the instructions that I have provided through the form and make the necessary purchases through the “Vendors”. (For this part, I will explain a little more later on in the Problem section.)

All-in-all, NewEgg (or any other retailers) will not know whether you were the one that made the purchases. It is known to the retailers behind the scene which I have classified as “Vendors”.

Do note that any communication will always be between myself (or yourself) and comGateway and not to the intended retailers.

 

What are the problems faced?

If the merchandize that was purchase is not faulty, this service provided will be a perfect one. However, things doesn’t always ended up in a nice way or in any way that one would expect.

So it all happens when I received my Gigabyte Brix and I couldn’t get the system to boot up. Thereafter, I tried to lodge a support ticket with NewEgg directly but unfortunately since I am not the one that have made the purchase, that leaves me out with many details such as,

  • Order number
  • Invoice number
  • Order date
  • Purchaser email
  • Purchaser card type
  • Purchaser mobile number

So I felt a little frustrated and I contacted comGateway directly. So they told me that in order to protect the privacy of the “purchaser”, all these details could not be divulge to me. The only way is that they could aid in getting the “purchaser” to contact NewEgg to explain on the problem nature. (Look, for this, since the coordination will includes so many parties, this simply takes a couple of days before I could proceed with the next action.)

In the end, probably NewEgg have suggested to have the item shipped back to them so that they could process the returns either by swapping for a new set or doing a refund of the product based on the cost. When comGateway informed me about this, I could do nothing but to have it shipped back to comGateway designated address via DHL from Singapore. It costs me SGD 105.00 to have it shipped back.

After I happily (why happily? at least one item is off the tray now and things are moving) shipped it off, I patiently waited for the replies from comGateway to see if they have received my package before they once again have to go through the iteration of packaging the box to have it shipped back to NewEgg.

One greatest disadvantage of this multiple parties relationship is:

comGateway-Responses

The very first email that I have sent to comGateway was on the 24th November 2013 and this case was dragged all the way till 29th December 2013 before it decides to close a couple of days ago which I will have an email detailing it.

comGateway-Responses-01

At the time of creation of this blog entry, it is 3rd January 2014 at around 11.30am (GMT +8) so the it will be around 2nd January 2014 that they informed me the refunds is going through, like finally.

 

Who is at loss?

As per the topic, who is at loss for the whole process? Me, yes, the shopper will have to bear all the cost and charges for every action they have committed since the day they decided to buy from the retailers who do not support International Shipping. Let’s calculate the loss –

  • I made a total purchase of US$489.98 to NewEgg and I am getting back US$400.65. (a loss of US$89.33 which is for the miscellaneous deductions as highlighted above)
  • I paid comGateway US$24.50 as a fee for the service rendered. (the 5% charge)
  • I paid around US$10 for the shipping from NewEgg to comGateWay.
  • I paid SG$105 for the shipping from Singapore back to comGateWay.

So the total amount that I am getting back in reality is – SG$390 after conversion from USD to SGD.

 

Summary

I am not trying to discourage people in using this service provided by comGateWay, however, I hope that people would consider what to purchase online before deciding what service to be used in order to enjoy the same merchandize that folks are enjoying in United States.

I would definitely be using this service provided by comGateWay the next time when I am buying something but definitely not computer hardware.

Just my two cents. Cheers!
Milton Goh