Monthly Archives: December 2017

T-SQL Tuesday #97 – What I’ll be working to improve in 2018

T-SQL TuesdayThis month Mala has asked us to post about our Learning Goals for 2018. Now, there’s nothing like nailing your colours to the mast so you can come back in a year and see if you actually did something (though let’s not talk about my 2017 exercise plans!), so here goes:

Tech Learning Goals


I read TCP Illustrated years ago, so apart from IPv6 I’m pretty solid on the fundamentals. but the increasing number of ways these can be manipulated and managed has ballooned. And no matter where your data and applications are going to live in the future it’s still going to be essential to know how they can be connected. So I’m definitely pencilling in some time with our Network Infrastructure team to get an overview of what’s out there, and what they see as the future. I know I can bingle that sort of stuff, but it’s even better to get some professional advice

Then I’ll be hitting Pluralsight and other video and looking forward to building some very different labs to the ones I’m used to. For once the servers and the data won’t be the focus.

The aim is to sit in a meeting with our network team and keep up with everything! Though I might draw the line at memorising the Cisco model numbers like the seem to have

More Automation

I’ve increasingly automated a lot of my repetitive work tasks. But I need to automate a lot of the routine work that’s come in a filled up my ‘spare’ time. Now I’m as guilty as the next IT Pro about sticking to the easy fix for automation and sticking to technologies I know. Well, for 2018 I’m going to start branching out and make the automation to force me to learn some new technologies. So rather than sticking to PowerShell I’ll be looking at Python and Go in more depth, looking at more serverless Cloud technologies for data transformation and endpoints rather than spinning up more VMs or containers and trying to let other Cloud services take the strain rather than me.

If I get this right and make progress, then the other things on this list will come to pass. Freeing up time to work on the good stuff will be the biggest pay off.

New Personal skill

Improve my Writing

I’m not a natural writer by any stretch of the imagination, my natural inclination is numbers, equations and strange pencil diagrams that only I can decode. This tends to limit me when writing documentation, and blog posts take a disproportionate amount of time to write.

So I’m going to head to the Nottingham library to get some books on writing. And to make sure I put it into practice, I’m going to be keeping a journal from January 1st (don’t worry, it won’t be online!). Hopefully forcing myself to write everyday without an audience will help me with writing for an audience. So I’ve 2 weeks to find a nice pen and notebook to try and inspire my inner Samuel Pepys!

New non tech skill

Get better at marketing myself

In the classic British manner I’m happy to hid my lamp under a bushel. So for next year I’m going to try to put myself out there. I’m hoping this will be help along with some from improving my writing as above. I’m going to make more use of asking other tech friends to review session submissions with useful feedback. Asking for feedback from organisers on my submissions, including when I succeed so I can build on good things as well as fixing the bad.

And hoping that the increased blog posting from my better writing skills means I’ll have more content to share here, and from the new tech skills more interesting things to write about.

The metrics for this one will be the number of events I present at in 2018, the number of visitors to my blog.


To me that looks like a good solid set of skills to work on. They complement each other, so an improvement in one should help with another one. They can also be worked on at different rates, which stops things getting stressful if something has to be put aside due to other pressures.

pywinrm install fail – error in cryptography setup command: Invalid environment marker: python_version < '3'

I’ve been playing around with Ansible again for an incoming project. It involves Windows, DSC and SQL Server as well, so I needed WinRM available to do anything. Since I last played with Ansible installing pywinrm seems to have got a lot trickier. I followed a number of online guides, and kept banging up against this error:


Downloading/unpacking cryptography>=1.3 (from requests-ntlm>=0.3.0->pywinrm)
  Downloading cryptography-2.1.4.tar.gz (441kB): 441kB downloaded
  Running (path:/tmp/pip_build_root/cryptography/ egg_info for package cryptography
    error in cryptography setup command: Invalid environment marker: python_version < '3'
    Complete output from command python egg_info:
    error in cryptography setup command: Invalid environment marker: python_version < '3'

Cleaning up...
Command python egg_info failed with error code 1 in /tmp/pip_build_root/cryptography
Storing debug log for failure in /root/.pip/pip.log

This is on the Ubuntu/trusty64 image I’m using to build my control node with Packer.

With a couple of hours of bingling around I tracked it down to an issue with python’s setuptools package, which then meant an upgrade was needed to pip itself. The set of steps needed in the end is:


sudo apt-get install libffi-dev libssl-dev -y
sudo apt-get install python-pip -y
sudo -H pip install --upgrade setuptools
sudo -H pip install --upgrade pip
sudo -H pip install pywinrm
sudo -H pip install ansible

And this is now giving me a solid install each time, apart from a couple of deprecated warnings that aren’t anything that are going to affect my needs for a while.

Hopefully this will save someone else a day running around various github and support sites.

Nottingham and East Midlands PowerShell User Group

PowerShellInterested in any form of PowerShell usage and based around the East Midlands and Nottingham? Then this could be the group for you. We’re looking to cover anything that uses (or can be used with) PowerShell. So topics that are fair game include:

  • AD Management
  • Scripting
  • Source Control
  • DevOps
  • Azure/AWS/Cloud Provider of your choice
  • Exchange management
  • SQL Server
  • Pester testing
  • Continuous Integration
  • .Net Internals
  • Generally anything that would interest someone using PowerShell or give their career a boost!

Nothing is set in stone yet as we want to get some feedback from potential members. There’s a date booked for the 8th Febuary (Kick Off meeting), but what happens is up to you.

Would you prefer a traditional usergroup with booked speakers given presentations in a formal setting, or something more informal like a roundtable/whiteboard sessions? Or perhaps half and half?

We’d love to know what you’d like to see or learn. So please either drop a comment below or sign up for the Kick Off Meeting and give us feedback on Meetup.