Logical Days

I was chatting to a colleague recently and I asked what his understanding of the XOR operator was. He said that he had heard “XOR” being mentioned, but he admitted to having no clue as to what it was. I didn’t find this particularly strange as this is not something that I remember being taught during my studies. My own foundational primer on the topic from my dad while I  was growing up.

My dad worked at Digital Equipment Corporation (which became Compaq and later HP)  and he believed (…and probably still does) that VMS was the most powerful operating system ever developed. He came from the time when hard drives were removed from disk enclosures and were physically lubricated with oil (at least this is what he tells me, citation needed). He carried around with him, books that described how the machines worked, to a level of detail not commonly seen today. Back then, as big as they were, computers and the processes in place to repair them were thorough and concise, yet, still very elegant (in a nostalgic manner) despite the complexity involved.

The advantage of his experiences for me,  was that I got to learn Boolean logic and the operating principles of simple gates. Some of my holidays as a child were spent building kit circuit boards out of 555 timers and decade counters (of which I’ve forgotten the model number) and completing truth tables, mostly by choice. One of my biggest dreams (I was ten) was to build a radio transmitter so that I could hear my voice on the radio (It didn’t occur to me then that I could call in to a radio station, but I suppose this would be different).

The lessons started off with binary, basically how computer systems work in zeroes and ones. This was followed by a lesson in the base 2 numbering system and how it differs from base 10. (I recall having read something explaining that if humans had, say 12 fingers instead of ten, we would probably have used a base 12 numbering system as the default.) Dad threw in some base 16 for HEX purposes and for my edification as well as base 8, just so that I can add something I’d never use to a already rapidly growing list.

Numbering systems all figured out , he moved me onto the AND logic gate and it’s theory of operation. In  the next post, I will try to explain the gates and their boolean operations as I remember them. I hope that you will find this useful or interesting and enjoy with me my little trip down memory lane.

The Presales Way

I recently came across my old notebook from 2011 when I started at Legacy EMC as a vSpecialist. It was quite nostalgic going through my notes, other scribblings and random ramblings but the most cherished notes regarded my role as a vSpecialist. My manager was Travers Nicholas (@traversn). He’s dynamic on stage as a presenter and also on a one-on-one basis and he was the person who convinced me to join EMC. I’m still grateful to him, even now, for recruiting me to one of the best teams and companies I’ve had the experience of working for.

During one of our first meetings he laid out the roles of a vSpecialist, the values of which I still try to live each day as a Systems Engineer at Dell EMC. The organization may be undergoing some changes but our mission and our role remains the same.  There were four key areas that was required of me which I would like to reflect on.

Sales Support:

The first thing we do as presales is to support our sales counterparts and to support the sales cycle. We work to ensure the technical win by understanding our customer requirements and we build the best solutions for them. We present to customers, we support VMware on EMC and VCE (now CPSD – Converged Platforms & Solutions Division) from a sales perspective.

Marketing Support:

To support the marketing team with events as a speaker or presenter or other role as required (running vLabs, booth support) at events such as EMC Forum or vForum.  To provide content such as presentations, documentation & news letters or similar and to promote EMC as the “Number One” choice for customers who run VMware. To speak at the Executive Briefing Centre session or local EBC On The Road sessions.


As a vSpecialist we had access to some extremely exciting, cutting edge information and content. This is only of value though, if everyone is aware of the information and can deliver the same message. Therefore, it was important for us to enable fellow presales team members and to deliver the “Why EMC for VMware” messaging. This messaging would be for both sales and presales as well as for our partner presales community.


Related to the enablement point above. There was tons of information, several weekly calls across both EMC and VMware portfolios. It was overwhelming at times because we were expected to know lots about a lot. We needed to learn so as to deliver the messaging.

Since then, I’ve moved from vSpecialist to the Advanced Software Division, transitioned to the Software Defined Solutions Division and now I’m part of the core presales focusing on the Telco space. My role has changed, the company has changed but I still operate by the vSpecialist principles instilled in me six years ago.

One other thing that Travers told me was “Read virtual-geek, often”. This, I still do today. The vSpecialists always wondered how Chad manages to do what he does – writing pages and pages of content for his blog, while still running the vSpecialst organization (and later global presales). It still remains a mystery but then again, Chad is amazing at what he does. Chad’s posts are detailed and provide a great source of relevant industry context.  Finally, I’m reminded of a line from a song famous among vSpecialists, “We’re number one, vSpecialists, we get the job done.” You can check out that video here.

Let me start blogging again…

There was a time when I would translate most of my thoughts into text and post them onto my blog. This has not been the case for several years. I’ve got tons of stuff in draft, on both this blog and my personal one mentioned above, but I have just never been able to push publish to get the best stuff out (read as: any stuff). It’s time I get these posts out. This is my plan for the next month. I also plan to bring at least one technology related post per week.

EMC ECS Appliance Overview Whiteboard

Andy Waterhouse, Global Presales Diretor, Advanced Software Division, EMC, provides an introduction to the EMC Elastic Cloud Storage Appliance.


So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish

It’s not often that one gets to meet a true friend, a person who adds value in more than just a single aspect of your life.

Today, this person, my friend, leaves EMC and starts a new journey elsewhere.

Our friendship started when ND joined EMC. Though we  had met previously on a Brocade training course, I thought he was a very strange fellow, somewhat eccentric, but obviously brilliant.  Our friendship grew at EMC, mostly because everything he did was so weird and he was easy to joke with.

ND, I thank you for challenging me daily, questioning everything, and for always being yourself, no matter how weird I believe you are. You’ve taught me so much and you drive me to be more in touch with industry. Your technical expertise are known in the industry and yet you’re still so humble (I would make people bow at my feet). Your name is known amongst your peers and your opinions are never questioned by anyone. I can only wish to be as revered as you are.

Thank you for being an awesome friend. I will miss you and so too will EMC.

How to Speed Read

I often find myself having to go through a bunch of documents for the information I  want. I eventually find what I was looking for. Sometimes its necessary to be able to find the information you need fairly quickly and at other times, when leisure reading perhaps, it’s not.

Here’s the technique I use:

I move my eyes really fast and glance over the words.

That is how you speed read.

Use at your own risk. You know have the powers of Rain Man.

Please note that this is by no means a serious post.