EuroTek2018 & Thai Cave Rescue

This was my first scuba-related conference and naturally I had no idea what to expect. The conference was without doubt, a top five highlight of 2018, an absolutely fantastic two day experience that surpassed any expectations I had.

The show is in it’s tenth year and is scheduled every other year, being the tenth anniversary I understood it was a little more special than usual. We were one of the first through the door on Saturday morning, keen to get in a see what everything was all about. The organising team, who all have normal day-jobs had done a fantastic job of pulling together talks, merchandise, attendee bags and some very handsome lanyards and registration cards.

Lanyard

Lanyard

The first talk of the weekend was from Emily, a boat operator and subject matter expert of all things shipwreck in the Orkney Isles. Emily explained the history of the famously scuttled German WW1 Grand Fleet, walking the audience through the salvage efforts that took place and everything that is left which can be seen today. Emily’s understanding, excitement and commitment to the subject was nothing short of absolute which made for a very gripping and interesting talk.

As many readers will know, Scapa Flow is one of my Scuba aspirations and the reason I began to explore technical diving. The talk did nothing but generate an even bigger desire to visit the ships and truly experience them under the water. Believe there is a Southern Scuba trip in the works for late 2020.

Emily Turton’s Talk

Emily Turton’s Talk

Following the Scapa talk, Polish diver Krzysztof Starnawski talked through some of his cave explorations and world record-breaking diving achievements. His talk was incredible, Krzysztof is recognised as one of the worlds leading extreme cave explorers and deep diving experts. Regularly diving solo to depths of over 200m and many hundreds of meters deep inside cave systems. The videos he shared showed him pushing professional-grade equipment beyond it’s normal capabilities, a $1,200 dive computer imploded in front if this face (it lasted until 280m!). If Krzysztof’s talk wasn’t enough on it’s merit alone, the nuggets of humour he provided made it truly enjoyable. His blasé attitude to the most serious of diving protocols wouldn’t normally be forgiven, but his experience and expertise was without question.

The Conference Floor

The Conference Floor

They keynote talk wasn’t missed by anyone present over the weekend, the talk was focused on what was without question the biggest diving-related news story of 2018; quite possibly the biggest diving news story of all time. The Tham Luang Nang Non Cave Rescue brought British cave divers into international headlines for several weeks while the world hung on to hope that the Thai football team were found alive and then ultimately saved. During the operation the British team shared only limited information (they explained why during the talk), so this was the first time anyone had heard a warts-and-all story from the team themselves before and the first time since the event that the entire team had been brought together.

The story was mind blowing, frankly. The behind the scenes glimpse of what went on didn’t disappoint and the team shared everything to the diving peers present in the audience. Rick Stanton talked about a largely un-reported initial rescue of four Thai workers who were also unknowingly trapped during the initial stages of the rescue, Richard Harris described some of the unprecedented medical challenges of the operation. The part that took me by surprise was just how difficult this effort was, it was made even more real with video and photographs of the cave route. The group had accepted that some loss of life was inevitable and received diplomatic immunity in order to proceed with their operation. Thankfully as we now know, all of the boys were brought out alive. The Cave Rescue Team received awards and a five-minute standing ovation from the 800 delegates, an incredibly moving moment.

The Thai Cave Rescue Team

The Thai Cave Rescue Team

The highlight of the second day was a talk from Alex Santos from PhilTech on the difficult task of victim recovery following a maritime disaster. Alex shared a number of videos, best practices and potential difficulties with the audience with the aim of raising awareness of if/when anyone is requested to perform similar tasks. This was a very real presentation and while somber in places was very well presented.

As I write this on the train journey home I continue to be surprised at just how fantastic the conference was. Unfortunately we’ll need to wait until 2020 for the next show!

Thank you to Southern Scuba, the speakers and the EuroTek organising team. Great weekend!

February 2017 - The Missing Blogs

February started with friends, having dinner out and settling into our new home after a busy Christmas and beginning to the year. We spent time absorbing Upnor, taking walks along the beach and past the castle, enjoying the pub and surrounding area. We watched as the boats slowly begin to re-populate the river, the process is now an unexciting and gradual affair, very different than when it used to be a big weekend with a crane and a rush at high tide!

River Medway, Upnor, Kent

River Medway, Upnor, Kent

Victoria and I took time over Valentines weekend for some travel; we visited Dubrovnik in Croatia, a fascinating old city now famous in part for its role in the Game of Thrones TV series. We spent only three days in Dubrovnik, but that was plenty enough to see and experience the city. There were a few highlights; one was the bar on the cliff edge, which is reached through the sea-facing city wall, it had a fantastic view (and no bathrooms!). Another highlight was the restaurant we ate at for our ‘big evening’, the service was incredible and they prepared an entire fish, made a soup from the same fish and served it perfectly. A great trip, I blogged about Dubrovnik earlier in the year.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

When we returned home, Victoria treated me to dinner, also for Valentines - it was a very special dinner at home, we had fresh Cornish Oysters and Mussels delivered live all the way from Cornwall in the post! We had a great evening and learnt how to shuck an oyster and cook Mussels. I was unfortunately not terribly well after the meal, which I’ve since concluded must be some sensitivity to Oysters (see post). Big shame, but not Victoria’s fault!

Cornish Oysters at Home

Cornish Oysters at Home

Later in the Month I took a trip to Cisco Live Europe, hosted this year in Berlin, Germany. This was the first Cisco Live I had attended, and I had no idea what to expect, turns out it was a huge event – but a lot of fun. The only single-vendor conference I had been to prior was Palo Alto Ignite in Vegas, which was significant but not quite as big as this. I travelled with a colleague and some guys from a potential supplier; we had a great time absorbing both new Cisco technology and wrapping around on best practices on some existing, deployed tech.

Cisco Live, Messe Berlin, Germnay

Cisco Live, Messe Berlin, Germnay

Can’t forget to mention what is possibly the best lager I have ever tasted, here accompanied with a Schnitzel too, the Beer in Berlin was all fantastic. The restaurant around the corner from the hotel was visited on more than one occasion! We didn’t manage to visit the Brew Dog in Berlin, unfortunately, but did get a chance to see the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie (very underwhelming) and a piece of the Berlin Wall. Interestingly I learnt after our visit that there is a piece of the wall just across the river from home, at the Royal Engineers Museum.

Berliner Kindl and Veal Schnitzel, Berlin, Germany

Berliner Kindl and Veal Schnitzel, Berlin, Germany

Once home I spent some time upgrading our home network and trialled some Ubiquiti Networks equipment, a little bit challenging as none of their products supports termination of VDSL, but I managed to buy an old BT modem on eBay which did the job. The EdgeRouterX and 802.11ac WiFi are still working a treat, no complaints although I do think we could use another AP downstairs as the 5Ghz signal gets a little weak. I haven’t been bowled over by the ease of configuration of their router, but the WiFi wasn’t too bad – I did need to set up the Wireless controller on a Raspberry Pi, but that seems to be working well.

Ubiquiti AP and Router

Ubiquiti AP and Router

Cisco Live EMEA 2017 - What to Expect

Today I am lucky enough to be going travelling to Berlin, Germany with one of my colleagues; we'll be attending Cisco's annual conference Cisco Live EMEA. As many of you will likely know Cisco Live is the go to event for network engineering folks the world over, with classes, seminars and presentations from all manner of people across all kinds of topics.

Having not been to Cisco Live before I have tried to plan to focus my visit on subjects which are most important in our organisation at present. I can't however help but notice that there is a significant focus towards Cisco ACI, Automation, Application API Programmability, 'Zero-touch', etc. Almost all of these sessions are completely full, which demonstrates a very clear interest in the industry towards this area, something I look forward to hearing and seeing more of during the trip.

During the conference I have scheduled to attend the below sessions and plan on writing about them after and possibly even tweeting live!

  • Be my guest! - Design and Deploy Wireless Guest Access that Works [BRKEWN-2014]
  • WiFi Considerations for the Open Workspace [PSOEWN-2000]
  • Simplify Application and Infrastructure Deployments Using F5 BIG-IP and Cisco Nexus [BRKPLT-2300]
  • Nexus 9000/7000/6000/5000 Operations and Maintenance Best Practices [BRKDCT-2458]
  • Securely Designing Your Wireless LAN for Threat Mitigation, Policy and BYOD [BRKEWN-2005]
  • Ethernet Evolving - Ethernet at New Speeds, Deterministic Networking, and Power over Everything! [BRKCRS-3900]
  • Cisco Catalyst 3850 and 3650 Series Switching Architecture [BRKARC-3438]
  • Intermediate - Enterprise IPv6 Deployment [BRKRST-2301]

Particularly looking forward to the Nexus Maintenance Best Practices and WiFi sessions; both of these solutions are being adopted and depended upon more and more in our Enterprise.