Ep#86 Terraform to Technical Educator with Ned Bellavance

September 7, 2022

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About the Guest

I'm an independent consultant in the world of technology. I focus on creating content around training, education, and marketing. Among other things, I create courses for Pluralsight, host the Day Two Cloud podcast, and write content for several tech marketing firms.

Episode Summary

#jonmyerpodcast #jonmyer #myermedia #podcast #podcasting

What happens when you decide to make a training video on Terraform and no one else has attempted it? Well our next guests decided that Pluralsight needed a "Getting Started" video on Terraform and since it was his first video for them, he wasn't expecting it to be a big hit. But that's exactly what happened, his Getting Started Video is in the Top 20 year over year! Ned is also the co-host of Day Two Cloud and the person behind "Ned in the Cloud".

Interesting in learning more about Brand Relationships and Content Creating. Check out my podcast with Corey Quinn HERE!

If you're interested in learning more check out the AWS WAF Website.
Are you looking to attend an AWS Summit or maybe AWS re:invent, more information here!

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

Guest: Ned

Yeah. There's something about the natural flow of conversation when it's clearly not this heavily scripted, blessed by marketing and legal, gone through all the stages of PR. It's just like, no, we're two human beings talking. And this is like why people go to conferences or at least a lot of the people I know, go to conferences it's to have that same sort of natural interaction, the hallway track the it like you're listening in on a hallway track conversation basically. And I, I like that.

Host: Jon

Please join me in welcoming founder of Ned in the cloud and technical educator, Ned Bellavance to the show. Ned. Thanks for joining me.

Guest: Ned

Hey Jon, thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here or be over zoom with you as it were.

Host: Jon

We are technically here in virtual presence.

Guest: Ned

We are, and we're also not that far from each other in a, in a physical proximity way. I mean, we're not in the same room, but we're in the same state, so that's a good start. <laugh>

Host: Jon

Uh, we're not in the same room yet. Stay tuned folks, because we're gonna be doing some live podcasting live streaming coming up in the future. We've already acquired Ned for a short period of time doing that and locked them down.

Guest: Ned

Yes,

Host: Jon

Don't worry. We'll get rolling. I, so Ned, let's talk a little bit of a backstory about you and yourself. Actually, how we came to get introduced. We were at the New York summit together and a good friend introduced us and I'm like, you look familiar to me. I can't place my finger on it.

Guest: Ned

That was one of the stranger experiences because the AWS New York summit was the biggest event I had been to since COVID started since the pandemic. So I was feeling a little anxious about being around that many people, uh, you know, kept my mask on for certain portions of it, especially when walking the bigger expo floor, but it was fantastic to finally meet a whole bunch of people face to face and then have these natural meetups with people that I didn't know, but that knew someone I knew. And that was the case with you is we were just like, Hey, you, you also look familiar. And I feel like, uh, I feel like we got some stuff to talk about. And here we are.

Host: Jon

In fact, we had a lot of stuff to talk about. We probably ended up talking what it was like 30, 45 minutes time flew by. We also met ano I met another colleague or whatever, uh, Michael Levann and I was just on a live stream with him. So it's weird how these natural progressions happen when you're in that face to face interaction that you can't get over zoom or virtual

Guest: Ned

Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And that's, I'm very excited that conferences are back and, uh, you know, leaving aside any anxiety I might have over, over large crowds, I'm excited to see people in person and have that natural interaction and just the surprise and spontaneous things that can happen when you're not in this rigidly scheduled zoom type environment.

Host: Jon

So Ned, you have a, a number of things going on as a technical educator, technical trainer, you have net in the cloud day, two cloud let's, let's dive into a couple, all of those sure. Is it net in the cloud first or day two cloud? What came first? And how'd you come up with things?

Guest: Ned

Uh, net in the cloud came first. That was when I was ready to launch my own blog. I needed a name and I kicked around, I don't know, 30, 40 names I had 'em all on the list in OneNote. And I was waffling between two or three. And I, I said them to my wife and she's like, well, Ned and the cloud, obviously, how could you go with anything else? And I was like, but my name's in it. What if I wanna bring other people she's not enough? That's the name? Just go with it. So it started as my own blog because I've been doing a lot of blogging for the consulting group I was working for. And it became clear to me that, you know, there may come a day that I'm not working for that consulting group. And Hey, wouldn't it be nice if I had my own thing that I owned <laugh> of all the stuff that I've written of, all the content that I've generated to point to is almost like a resume to people, but also to share the knowledge and the experience that I gained from being a consultant, cuz I'm sure you know, this Jon, when you work in consulting, everything's sped up about five times faster than it is when you're working in a typical job.

Host: Jon

Yeah. So going off the name first, I had the same feeling, the same functionality where I thought of, of various names. Actually I had various names and do you know the pain in the butt to change those everywhere socially and to make sure that SEO kind of gets the new name versus the old name. So good choice for net to cloud because it works. That's why I went with my name now because you can't go wrong I guess.

Guest: Ned

Yeah. And it's easy to remember. That's the two big things is you're it's already established and it's easy to remember and it sticks in people's heads. So that's, that was all very important stuff to me when I was picking the name. And then when it came time to go off on my own, which is what I did after working for that consulting company. About three years ago, I decided to go independent and just do this content creation and training and education thing full time. I toyed with the idea of establishing an LLC under another name, same concerns, right? What if I want to bring other people in and what if I want to do this and that? And once again, my wife, the voice of reason was like no people know N in the cloud, just make that the company name. And if you need to bring other people in, like, that's fine. You can always do a doing business as something else, but you know, you already have this established name, just stick with it. And I was like, wow, why? That is why I married you cuz you are the voice of reason here. <laugh>

Host: Jon

I feel the same way with using my name. And then I, what I did is I ultimately created Meer media mm-hmm <affirmative> and whoever wants to join underneath it, you think of all the companies that are out there that are name brand companies. They're somebody's name like Louis Viton, everybody works under, you know what I mean? You work under that. So what's wrong with net in the cloud, right? You can have people who work right underneath N in the cloud.

Guest: Ned

Exactly. I think about all the law firms that are out there, they're all using their own names, kind of a vanity thing too, but <laugh> so I yeah, establishing my own brand and that my own company happened about three years ago and right around that same time I was approached by Ethan Banks of packet pushers to start a cloud focused podcast for their group of the, their family of the packet pusher's podcasts. And I said, yeah, that sounds really good. I had been doing a podcast for the consulting company that I was working for and it was just a natural extension to go, well, I'm not gonna be doing that anymore. Once I leave one would think so instead, why don't I start a new podcast and stick with the cloud theme and the cloud focus and call day two cloud. And the, the thought process behind the naming for that was you have a lot of products and architectures and whatnot that talk about the Greenfield cloud deployment, the day one consideration.

Guest: Ned

But I wanted to dig into sort of what's day two look like with operating the cloud, maintaining it, uh, the things that crop up that you might not have thought of during the initial planning phase, but are certainly gonna come around and smack in the face and cloud is constantly evolving and changing. So the things that you thought you knew, the architecture that made the most sense last year, you know, is not the one that makes the most sense this year. So having discussions like that, and then it's kind of branched out into, we've had some good career discussions where we're just talking about, like, if you wanted to be a developer advocate or you wanted to be a product manager or something like that, what does that look like? If you wanna move into management or a leadership position, what does that look like? And we talked to people who have made that transition and what that looks like. So if you're a cloud architect today, but you want to be, uh, the head of the cloud department with a managerial title, what does that look like? And should you even do it because sometimes staying technical is the thing that you actually wanna do.

Host: Jon

So day two cloud has really evolved not only the day two type operations are things that might have once made sense. Now no longer really makes sense to more of still staying technical, but you know, bringing out some of those technical careers, those things that you want to do, how do you work this? How do you do that? But you stayed within the technical community.

Guest: Ned

Absolutely. So the, the folks who tend to listen to the podcast are generally systems engineers, uh, cloud architects, uh, someone in a DevOps role. But we do have a smattering of folks who are more on the executive side of the house, uh, especially in the startup world, cuz those people also tend to be very hands on still. So for them, it sort of bridges that gap between hands on and the, the leadership functionality. And I think that's a sweet spot for me. That's kind of where I want to hang out and, and the people I want to interact with. So that's who it attracts and that's who we have as guests.

Host: Jon

I think it's nice to have a nice mixture of guests from not only the C-suite, but down to like the practitioners of folks who are hands on, cuz you indicated, uh, those who are in startups tend to have multiple hats and multiple roles as they're getting the company off. So you need those folks on there. Let's talk about the technical educator part of your career because I know you're well known in the Terraform community.

Guest: Ned

Yeah. I, I have built a bit of a name for myself, uh, with Terraform. So I was introduced to Terraform via a blog post by Scott Lowe. Uh, he used to be at VMware and then he's, he's moved around a few times. I think he's at Kong now, but he wrote about Terraform back in 2017 might even been 2016. It was right around that timeframe. And it hit me at just the right moment because in my consulting career, I had had a couple cloud projects come across my plate where I was deploying things in Azure or AWS. And I'd just wrapped a project where I'd written thousands of wines of cloud formation for deploying this healthcare application in AWS. And it was painful. It was, this was preamble. So this was all JSON. This was all handcrafted. And I saw Terraform and I was like, oh, okay, this, this immediately makes sense to me.

Guest: Ned

And it is so much easier to read and edit and maintain, you know, this, this really appeals to me. And around the same time I had been at an expo and struck up a conversation with the folks at Pluralsight, just, just chatting with them, talking about what they do. And I thought to myself, I feel like I could make a course around Terraform and Pluralsight at the time had no courses on Terraform. And so I said, Hey, why don't I do a getting started course for you folks? And they accepted and that in 2017, I published my very first course at Pluralsight getting started with Terraform. And since then I published 25, 26 additional courses on the platform, um, spanning all kinds of different things, including AWS Azure hash core products. And I think that's, uh, that's a, yeah, that that's about it right now, but who knows where the future will take me?

Host: Jon

What's your number one course on Pluralsight and how well is it doing man? I curious,

Guest: Ned

Well, I, I can't share exact numbers I think. Yeah, but I can tell you that the getting started Terraform course, which I've refreshed twice completely like full overhauls twice since that 2017 version that remains my most popular course and it's not terribly surprising. Getting started. Courses tend to be the most popular because that's the 1 0 1 that's where everybody starts and for some folks that's enough. Okay. I, I got the ball rolling. You've got enough information to go do your own thing. You don't need to dive any deeper though. I do have other courses that dive deeper into this specific clouds or just Terraform concepts in general. But yeah, the getting started continues to be my number one. And it is consistently in the top 50 courses in the entire, uh, Pluralsight catalog, which is, which is very nice to me. I, I hit a home run on the very first swing and that was just absolute luck. I was the right place, right time. Right. Technology.

Host: Jon

You don't have to worry about doing any better, but I'm sure you strive to continue to get to those top 50. How did you come up with the content for this getting started? I, I wanna know like the methodology of what you created, how did you break it down? Was it really long and some of the lessons, I mean, you know, dive into it a little bit for me.

Guest: Ned

Yeah. I, so curriculum design at the time was a brand new concept to me. I'd never really done it before, but I'd taken a lot of technical trainings prior to that, you know, sat a lot of courses to learn about Microsoft exchange or VMware or whatever other technology it was. So I had an idea for how trainings should flow. And I took this concept from a red hat training that I took, which was you want relatively short pieces of lecture or presentation followed by a demonstration, followed by having someone do some hands on work. So that was sort of my guiding principle designing the course was I wanna have a hands on component. And at the time there was no way to provide labs through the Pluralsight platform. So it was, I had these exercise files that I'd like you to do. And so I will have some lecture, a little bit of demo, and then here go do the exercise, you know, pause the video, whatever, and come back to it.

Guest: Ned

And then it was just like the other big thing that Pluralsight pushed. And they, they gave me a lot of information about course design and the way that they think about it, which helped me think more clearly about it. They push the idea of having a story, which unifies the course. So put it into a real world context, a real world situation. How could you build up the skills in a natural progression? So the person really feels like they're moving through a real world scenario where they're building out something as opposed to just wrote learning from the book. So I developed a, the most recent version of the course. The core concept is that you have been brought into a project to work with Terraform, and someone's basically handed you this Terraform configuration. They found online and you need to take that configuration and make it way better, cuz everything's hard coded everything's static. It's it's, it's not great, but it's the starting point. And the progression of the course is learning about the different things in Terraform that allow you to make that config configuration, more dynamic, to support multiple environments, to take variables this input. And by the end you have this real robust configuration, but it's a natural learning process of each component. As you make that configuration better.

Host: Jon

I have a spitball idea for like you're getting started. You could have done like your thousand lines of code and cloud formation in JSUN then, uh, Azure. And then, well guess what folks we're gonna narrow this down to like 50 lines. Here's what you do in how and Terraform. And they're like, oh my God, I can't believe you made me type all that content

Guest: Ned

<laugh> yeah. I mean, to be honest, that environment that I deployed using cloud formation, that was thousands of lines. I never converted that over to Terraform, but I would bet if I did, I could get it down to, you know, now

Host: Jon

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Guest: Ned

I never converted that over to Terraform, but I would bet if I did, I could get it down to, you know, a hundred to 200 lines worth of code and Terraform to deploy out the exact same architecture.

Host: Jon

Now you have a number of courses on Pluralsight. Terraform is your best and most performing one, but do you have a favorite course besides that one that's performing great. You know, that home run hit is probably one of your favorites. So we, we have to slide that aside because that's obvious.

Guest: Ned

Yeah. I, I think the other course that I really, really enjoyed creating is the, uh, AWS networking deep dive course. And that's in line with their certification that's specifically around advanced networking. So they have a specialty certification. And so I developed the course around the objectives for that certification, but I really just had a lot of fun digging into the networking of AWS, cuz I knew a decent amount, right. But I didn't know the full depth and breadth of what you could do in a VPC, how everything connected together. And so what's funny is you, you come with this assumption when you're a learner that the person teaching, you knows everything, right? They're all knowing all, seeing they are a deep, deep expert in everything that you're, they're teaching you. And ideally they do know what they're talking about. Right? <laugh> you don't want someone who's just like staying one paragraph ahead of you because then if you have a question, they have no answer if it's not textbook, right. But for anybody who's ever taught something or developed a course, you learn that subject matter much, much more deeply than you would if you were just a practitioner because having to develop it and explain it to somebody else, forces you to think about it in that teachable way. And that requires you to take a closer examination about your assumptions, of what you think you know about a product versus how it actually works.

Host: Jon

I'll tell you about the AWS networking exam in a second because I, I had some hard learnings. I failed my exam, uh, first going into it. I took it at an SKO thing, but uh, how much does real world experience come into play when you're making a course?

Guest: Ned

It's definitely a significant component. I, another good example is I'm in the process of redoing the desktop learning path. That's on Pluralsight. So it was originally done by Greg shields. And now I'm redoing the, uh, all six, uh, courses that are in the learning path. And I don't have real world experience running Azure, virtual desktop day to day. But what I do have is five years of experience running various VDI. Well probably more than five years of experience running various VDI products, including RO remote desktop services upon which a V D is based. So having that real world experience and having had go through the design process for VDI, specing out hardware, dealing with users, dealing with user profiles, which is just like the only thing that's worse, uh, than user profiles and VDI is printers

Host: Jon

<laugh> cause they don't follow you, right? Or they never work.

Guest: Ned

They never install rights, the wrong drivers, you it's a nightmare. So having gone through that before, even though it's a new product, I have all that real world knowledge to fall back on and I can kind of see where the pitfalls are gonna be for the person who's learning. And that helps me just put up signposts and go, Hey, pay attention to this part. Cause this part's super important. Whereas this like this is on the exam, you probably need to know it, but in real life, that's not the thing that you're gonna need to focus on as much. So I think it's the combination being an effective educator is a combination of real world experience that the lived experience of having done the stuff, but also just the, the skills that you build up, being able to design effective presentations and scenarios and curriculum, that's going to actually enable someone to learn.

Host: Jon

Do you find it difficult to learn or to understand both Azure, AWS, or various other technologies? Can you dive deep on both or you stay at a high level or you really have to like, all right, I'm shutting down my brain this week on AWS and I'm kicking it on for Azure. We don't talk it, it doesn't exist. So you can actually create content. I mean, I find it difficult talking two different clouds sometimes

Guest: Ned

Too. What's this two stuff.

Host: Jon

Hey, well there are only two, in my opinion, we will not touch on the third one cuz I don't think they like me.

Guest: Ned

The third rail. Yeah. Oracle cloud infrastructure, obviously.

Host: Jon

<laugh>

Guest: Ned

So it it's funny. I, I have worked on all three major us clouds let's say because I haven't worked on Ali cloud at all, but I know that's pretty big in certain portions of the world and it really does. It's a mental shift. Every time I move from one project to another. So I really do kind of like what you said, I have to like just have this compartment in my brain. This is your AWS knowledge. And when it's time to engage that I shut down the Azure and maybe the GCP stuff that gets, you know, squirreled away somewhere in, you know, deep storage, uh, you know, glacier storage glacier.

Host: Jon

I <laugh>, I was just about to say glacier, cuz you'll recover it in a while.

Guest: Ned

I'll get it back in a while. And this is just we're in AWS mode right now. And then when the next thing I have to work on is Azure. Then you know, everything gets packed away for AWS for a little bit. Um, and I have to kind of reboot everything in from Azure. And of course in the time that I was working on AWS, 300 new things have been released in Azure and GCP. So the service that I knew and was comfortable with has probably changed slightly since I last interacted with it. So I have to, you know, maybe catch up on the release notes a little bit or just play around in the portal a little bit to see what's new, what's different about the product before I start, uh, you know, teaching it or actually deploying something for somebody

Host: Jon

Real quick on the networking exam. There was a question on it and I can share it because I remember it. And I asked the guy who developed the exam and I was like, Hey, listen, I ran into him during our lunch at our SKO. And I was like, but I have a question on the exam. It said that, where did the E I P live for the E C two instance? And I was like, well obviously on the instance, because I can query the metadata and pull up. And uh, he, he goes, no, it lives on the internet gateway. That's where it's actually at. That's how it gets out. And I'm like, oh yeah, that makes sense. <laugh> yeah, I know. I failed that question. I, I had a tough time on just that question alone. It was a learning curve for it, but I understand

Guest: Ned

Yeah. Networking in and networking in any of the clouds is kind of weird. Right? Cause it's all software defined. Mm-hmm

Guest: Ned

<affirmative>, that's, that's a bit of a mental shift from what you may have had in, uh, an on premises network. Where in that example where something has a public IP address, like a server in your server farm has a public IP address that would, you would put that on the Nick configuration. Yeah. That public IP address. And then you'd have the routing being handled by probably by your firewall. But that's not how it works in AWS because everything's software defined. So they just allocate the elastic IPS at the internet gateway and then make that association between the internet gateway, that IP address and where it's at, which network interface it's attached to on the E C two instance. So it's, but it's all, it's all magic, right? Like <laugh> it actually associated anywhere.

Host: Jon

Yeah. All managed behind the scenes. Ned. How do you come up with the content you create? Is it something that you say or suggest for Pluralsight, you know what, this is the next one or do they come and approach you? What do you think? What, what about this?

Guest: Ned

It's a bit of a combination. So they do have a curriculum or, or a catalog of things that they would like developed and sometimes, you know, they'll publish opportunities and I'll go and go. Yeah. That one I know enough about and I feel comfortable developing a course for it. Uh, otherwise sometimes it's just me raising my hand going, there's this new thing that came out. I like to do a course on it. And I usually get the blessing pretty quickly, like yep, go for it, go make that course. Um, they have to do the calculation on their side. Does it make sense to put it in the time and effort and the platform space for a particular course? So I have to make, you know, at least a somewhat compelling argument to do that. Um, but I don't just create stuff for Pluralsight. So I've gone outside of that walled garden.

Guest: Ned

And uh, I also have a YouTube channel where I just create my own content, uh, mostly around Terraform and hash Ashley Corp vault though. I've been known to touch on some other technologies and a lot of those are just something new came out and I wanna explore it a little bit. So I'll do some exploration and I'll write something up about it and then I'll shoot a video about it. Uh, or something that I banged my head on real hard because it was confusing or the documentation wasn't clear, Hey, I'm gonna put together a quick video that explains what's really going on behind the scenes. And I, I know you, you prefer to do the shorter two to three minute videos and a lot of mine are 10, 15, sometimes 20 minutes long. I do put chapters in. So if you just wanna jump straight to the demo and see it in action, you can do that.

Guest: Ned

I keep everything in a repository on GitHub. So if you just wanna look at the demo files, you can do that. If you wanna know what's happening behind the scenes, if that's relevant to you. And that's interesting, then you can watch that portion of the video where I break down. So this is what you see, but this is what's actually happening behind the scenes with Terraform or vault or with the cloud that it's interacting with. And sometimes that's a key component to understanding the weird behavior that you'll see when you're using Terraform or vault or, or really anything is like, you think, you know what it's doing, but it's actually doing something slightly different. And when you push it to its breaking point, that gets exposed because it's a, it's a leaky abstraction sometimes

Host: Jon

Speaking of content creating, do you find, you mentioned, uh, you put it on the GitHub. Uh, do you find the value of putting the videos in the files on there or people pulling 'em down and looking at 'em a lot because I I'm curious as a content creator, if it's another platform that I need to start pushing to.

Guest: Ned

Well, so the stuff that I have on GitHub, I have a repository called Terraform Tuesdays, and that is all the code examples of what, what I'm doing in the demos for the videos. So it's not the actual videos themselves. Yeah. It's just the, the exercise files, but it's something where I know people are gonna wanna follow along and gotcha. To help them follow along. And also just as a reference for myself, when I need to do something outside of, you know, the YouTube video, it's like, oh, I really need, you know, some code that does X, well, I know I have it all in this one repository here. So I just have to find the presentation that included it and then extract it out and use it. So it's got 245 stars on, on GitHub. It's it's, I mean, it's not gang busters, right. But it's, I know people are looking at it and part of it, I'm just maintaining it for myself.

Host: Jon

I'm not sure I'm gonna be pushing the GitHub anytime soon. I do write some code, but not enough to really see the value for me to actually get it out. I don't even think anybody's gonna look at, or I'm gonna get any stars right now. I guess I'm thumbs down. Speaking of your content, creating let's, let's jump into that. Ned. How do you create your content? What kind of setup do you have that you're creating this awesome content and how, and who is doing the editing to get it out there so quick?

Guest: Ned

Oh, geez. It's well, so <laugh>, that's a more complicated question than it might initially seem. So, I mean, if we're just talking straight up gear, right. Uh, I've got, um, I got the El Gado key lights to, for my lighting situation. I've got the shore SM seven B microphone going into a road caster pro that's. So that's doing all of the, the additional preempt that's necessary. And uh, I forget exactly which camera I have. Uh, but it it's a Panasonic of some kind it works. And it is just specifically for that purpose. I never take it off the stand basically. Uh, so that's like my basic setup. Right. But in terms of editing, it really depends on the platform. So for day two cloud, we have a dedicated team of editors, like freelance editors that we send the audio files to. They clean it up, fix all the flus, make sure all the levels are good and send it back.

Guest: Ned

So that's all taken care of for me, when it comes to the YouTube videos, that's all edited by me. I loaded up into a video editing program and I don't do a lot of editing. I've learned to do things while recording that make it easier for me to edit after the fact, like I'm not trying to edit out every flu. I'm not trying to edit out every, um, and ah, that comes across. It's more, okay. I really screwed up this part. I'm gonna go back to the beginning and just redo this whole portion. And I have little transitions that I use so that I, when I finish one section, I know it's good that I know if I have to restart it all, I can just go back to where I was at the beginning of that section and go from there. So I've done some things for myself to make the editing a little bit easier, but yeah, all that editing is done by me, me, and then for Pluralsight, I have an editor that I pay to, to edit the courses for that. And she cleans up all my stammers and stutters and whatnot in the audio and also puts all the call outs into the video to direct people where to look in the video and whatnot. So she does a great job of that and that I'm happy to ship that off to her. Uh, maybe someday I'll do the same thing in my YouTube videos, but I don't know.

Host: Jon

I'm open one day. I do all mine there. I do have like a video editor, but I understand where you're coming from. It takes time and effort to do your personal ones, let alone the ones that you put out there for like Pluralsight or a professional. Now I know you didn't call out the video editing software that you're using, but do you have templates in there? Is there a standard here? Are you running like a high class software that you get it all done? Because I know we talked about this offline of like, wait, that's all you do. Why am I putting in so much effort into, so <laugh>,

Guest: Ned

Uh, to be honest, I, when I started doing work with Pluralsight, their standard software that they recommended was Camtasia because it's relatively easy to learn for the newbie. It's, it's, uh, it's not a really steep learning curve, so you can get onboarded and start using it. No problem, especially to record and edit. Uh, I've thought about trying to learn some more difficult software that has more bells and whistles. But so far I haven't hit the limit where Camtasia can't do the thing that I wanted to do. And so I just keep using the thing. I know how to use, cuz I'm fast with it. Right. And I've built up, uh, some things in the library inside of Camtasia, like my transitions and my lower thirds and all that. So it's all just a matter of dragging and dropping that into the video when I need that component. And so, yeah, I mean, I, I can edit things in a pretty speedy fashion, but I haven't gone full overboard with a, you know, a dedicated editing control ball and the buttons and all that jazz. Like I'm not there. And if I ever, if it ever gets to that point, that I should really be hiring somebody to do that. That's not the best use of my time.

Host: Jon

I think you were calling out the device on my desk.

Guest: Ned

<laugh>

Host: Jon

I use two software. I have to use one to record and one to edit because the one that I do use to edit doesn't record, but the one that I record I can use to edit go figure. But I, I wanted to up my game a little bit onto my videos and transitions though. I don't wanna do this long term either. I mean, who wants, I do enjoy it? You know, that's really what kind of gets the crowd going, but it does take a while to do, do you, oh, go ahead.

Guest: Ned

I was, there is, there is a tremendous benefit behind editing yourself and I know anybody who's ever created a podcast or video or whatever, usually finds it very painful to listen to themselves or watch themselves initially. And you do. I, I, for those who are just getting started, I, I will comfort you and say, you grow used to it. You do grow numb to the fact that you're staring at yourself or listening to yourself. And it's just, you become a little more robotic about it. So if that's the thing that drives you crazy, you'll get used to it. Uh, but beyond that, watching yourself and also listening to yourself gives you the opportunity to improve. You see where you might be struggling with filler words and different people have different filler words. My worst ones are. So I use so like way too often. And when I try to remove it, I end up using another filler word like now, or lets or something like that.

Guest: Ned

So there it's, it's impossible to get away from them. It's more just like being aware of how you use them. And maybe trying to tone it down a little bit. You learn to kind of pause speaking instead of saying I'm an, ah, a lot, you learn how to talk to the camera in a friendly way and maintain sort of a, a friendly pre, like there's just, you learn so much about your presentation skills while you're doing the editing. I would say for anybody when you're getting started, edit your own stuff for at least the first six months after that. Sure. Farming out to somebody else. But that first six months it's gonna be this feedback loop. You know, we think about DevOps. We think about feedback loops. We think about, you know, how, how do I improve? How do I iterate? How do I get better if you're not seeing yourself, if you're not seeing the results of the recording and what's required to edit and improve it, then it's gonna be difficult for you to improve as a presenter or a creator.

Host: Jon

I think that's the best advice I've ever heard for creating your own content is to do your own editing right away. Uh, I learned it the hard way, obviously when you, and I'm right there with you, I could not stand the sound of my voice. You're like, do I really sound like that? But I think that's really key the pauses. Now I've gotten a lot better at the pauses where you don't wanna use those filler words. Sometimes you start having to brain flu and you're like, uh, uh, you need something to kind of fill it in. And the power of the pause allows is your brain to catch up. So you can talk about it. There are a number of other things where you continuously ask a question and I still have this sometimes where I will ask you a question, add on to that question. And then repeat that question before you get a chance to answer that question. So I've gotten a lot better at it where I will pause afterwards. And if I never get to the second part of that question, no big deal, cuz the conversation has taken a natural twist to it and we're onto something else.

Guest: Ned

Mm-hmm <affirmative> that's another thing is, and this is more of a podcasting thing, less of a creating videos. When you're interacting with another human being, it's gonna be unpredictable and you have to embrace that unpredictability and move forward with it. Yeah. So you may have everything scripted out to a T and let, so I'll tell you a little anecdote of when I was still creating podcasts for the consulting group, we had some internal folks that wanted to be on the podcast. They'd been developing this really cool C I C D project. And they'd implemented team city and octopus deploy. And they were just super jazzed about what they put together. And I was like, this is really cool. You should come on, talk about it. And so let me kind of, one of them showed up and he played bass in a band. He was used to being on stage and he just rocked up with a couple notes, you know, scribbled down on a piece of paper, good to go.

Guest: Ned

The other guy came in and he had typed out notes with everything he wanted to say verbatim in the notes. And that's how he presented during the podcast. He just read the notes and hold on, let me turn the page. And so then we added team city to our, and it was awful, awful. And I really had, it took me a while to just prime away from the notes. And that was a beast to edit too. But I think what what's important, the lesson to take away from there is don't overs script. Don't overthink it and let things flow naturally. It's gonna feel more natural to the audience and it's just gonna feel better to you once you get used to it. So I guess if I was a surfer, I would make a surfing analogy, but I'm not <laugh> so

Host: Jon

I'll just say, just do it. Um, <laugh> that works with everything. You're saying how many times during your recording process, do you a rerecord or B realize? And when I say rerecord, you scrap it or you start the, the recording over or B you just go pause, make a clap that you indicate that where you're at within the session. And then just repeat that

Guest: Ned

When it comes again, it depends on the format, right? If I'm doing a podcast with somebody else, generally it's more on them. I usually feel comfortable with whatever I'm saying, and I've spent many, many hours in front of a microphone <laugh> so even if I mispronounce something and repeat it, I don't need that edited out. I'm I'm a fallible human. That's fine. But I can tell when somebody else doesn't feel good about a response and I want them to feel free to pause things and I re-ask the question or just have them count themselves back in and start at the beginning of their answer. And then we have an editor who snips it all out, makes it perfect. And that makes me happy cuz I don't have to do it now when I'm creating content for my Pluralsight courses and for other similar avenues, I actually have this little clicker and it's a dog training clicker. But what I do is when I flub something, I click like that and that creates this big spike in the wave form. And then when I'm doing my editing, I can see where those spikes are. And if I see some spikes, I'm like, all right, that's where I screwed up. Those are the spikes letting me know I screw up and that's the good take. And I could just snip it out without even listening to it. So it's a, a nice, uh, visual cue for an audio medium.

Host: Jon

<laugh> that's nice. I do a clap or a long pause cause I'll look at the audio wave and I'll be like, wow, there's a long pause there. Okay. And as soon as I start listening to it, okay, I gotta clip that out. There have been times that if it's a short video, whatever it may be, that I will actually scrap it. And rerecord I've actually been known to do a rerecord, maybe four or five times and the naturalness comes out. You really want to get certain key words out there, whether it's like a paid type thing where you, you have to follow somewhere of a script somewhere of a verbiage, but you don't want it to come across like, oh yeah, folks, you wanna go buy this? You just wanna talk natural. And I've, I've been there on all occasions. So it's nice to know I'm done. The only one that does that. My question. Do you leave flubs in there for Pluralsight, for the naturalness to make sure that you you're vulnerable. So as a human or do you try to clear 'em all out or as less as possible?

Guest: Ned

See they have standards <laugh> so I do have to adhere to some of those standards. Yep. But I don't mind leaving in mistakes. When I say mistakes, I don't necessarily mean verbal flus where I mispronounce something. I wanna edit that out because I want the information being conveyed to be technically accurate. But if I'm doing something in a demo and it breaks or it screws up, I would rather show the part where it breaks or screws up. Because as technologists we know when you go out in the real world with the stuff you just learned in the classroom, things are going to break in new and novel and frustrating ways. So a knowing that the instructor has to deal with the same pain and sort of seeing their troubleshooting process is huge. And it also just makes you feel more comfortable about the fact that not everything you're doing is going to be perfect either. So I do like to leave some of those mistakes in, I don't intentionally make those mistakes, but they're just going to happen. And when they do, I wanna leave them in to make the learner a little more comfortable. I've already established. I know what I'm talking about. So now I just wanna establish that I'm also a human being that makes mistakes and sometimes software doesn't work the way you expect it.

Host: Jon

Demos typically don't work the way you expect them.

Guest: Ned

Know they don't when it goes really smoothly, when everything goes, right. I feel like something went wrong

Host: Jon

When everything goes right. It's usually the pre-work right before the demo. You do a demo before you get the live audience. Yep. It all looks good. Then you do a demo and then it doesn't work. Mm-hmm

Guest: Ned

<affirmative> cause you forgot to tear down the one thing that gets redeployed, but it throws an error and then you're like, ah, scrambling, cuz I screwed it all. Yeah. <laugh> it certainly happened to me.

Host: Jon

So now before we wrap things up, I wanna understand how do you juggle all this content that you're creating, uh, from podcasts, the Pluralsight. So the stuff that you put on your website, I mean, it seems like a lot of work.

Guest: Ned

Yeah, it is. You're not wrong. <laugh> I think, well, thanks

Host: Jon

For joining the show. That was like the answer for that.

Guest: Ned

It is Jon. It is uh, end out. No, um, <laugh>

Host: Jon

Mike drops

Guest: Ned

You. I would love to say that I am deep into Todoist or I have everything in Asana or I have this really complicated or even not so complicated organizational structure that I follow for all of my projects. And I have tried, I've tried everything. I've tried Trello boards. I've tried checklists in one note, I have tried writing stuff down on paper. I have tried just about every organizational system that I know of. And I stick with each of them for about two or three weeks and then I stop and it's just because that's not how my brain wants to work. So I have yet to find a system that's perfect for me. A lot of it is just planning it out in my brain and blocking out time in my calendar and then sticking to that as best I can. But I still scramble. I still run against deadlines and go, oh crap. I have to have that course finished in a week. And I haven't even recorded the first module. So I better get on that. You know? And generally speaking, I, I make sure the content is good. So even if it's a little behind people don't mind, but I, I do try to deliver everything on time and not over commit all the time.

Host: Jon

N the more and more that I learn about you, we are so much alike. Oh my God. From zoom to Google docs to now trying different methods to tracking, I swear I two to three weeks might be, uh, a little less than may. Maybe I do three weeks on a, on a new thing. I'm like, oh yeah, I got this notebook. I'm gonna write it all down. And you know, I tend to write things and sometimes don't go back and look at 'em. So like, oh, I forgot about or a task

Guest: Ned

Mm-hmm <affirmative> oh yeah. I've got a, I got a whole checklist of things to my left right here of tasks that I should be working on, but I haven't added anything today and I haven't checked anything off and I'm like, uhoh am I slipping again? So I'm gonna, I'm gonna try to stick with this for another couple weeks before I give up and reboot on something else. We'll we'll do whatever that thing is.

Host: Jon

You haven't got it done because this is the second podcast you and I are on today. So am I on that list? Jon podcast check,

Guest: Ned

Uh, the show notes were, and actually as a check mark next to it, I did it. I did.

Host: Jon

You did do some this. See? That's great. You got it all done. No, no worries about that. So Ned real quick, some advice you give others who wanna not only start out creating content for courses or creating content for YouTube, like videos or howtos or demos, what advice would you give folks?

Guest: Ned

I mean, the two biggest pieces of advice I would give. Number one, you have to do it about something you're passionate about. If you don't care that much about it, people are gonna know <laugh> and your content's not gonna be engaging. So whether that's a point of frustration, like you were trying to do something and it just didn't work the way you expected. And, and you wanna share that with the world that is perfect. You're feeling passionate. Maybe you're angry about it. That's gonna make for a great blog post or a video. The other thing I would say is don't over complicate it. You know, I just talked about all these systems that I try to put in place for things, things, and you know, the problem with all those systems, they are complex and they take maintenance, which is where I always fall down. So make things simple. Don't overcomplicate it. And don't think you have to have a really involved setup initially for shooting videos or writing content. Just, just do something it's gonna be terrible the first few times, you know, I'm sure you've got some stuff on your YouTube channel. And I know I do from when I first started, that makes me cringe, but you get better and you only get better with practice. So keep it simple, practice a lot and go with your passion.

Host: Jon

I thought for there, you were a saw my TikTok today, or we were more liked than I thought, because I literally said the three secrets to podcast success, and one was pick a topic you're passionate about. That was my number one, two record and post it. And number three was grind it out. Like if you, if you feel that it's getting tough and you get tired, keep doing it and keep doing it some more. So when you first started off with that, that first one, I'm like, oh my God, what is he? We are definitely a really alike.

Guest: Ned

I think what that reflects is not so much that you and I are very alike, although we are. I think what it really reflects is the things that lead to success are going to be common across a lot of people. So if you ask a bunch of creators, this question, you're probably gonna get some variety of those three points, because I think those really are some of the keys to success.

Host: Jon

I agree with you Ned. Thank you so much for joining the show. I had a lot of fun, great conversation all around.

Guest: Ned

Yeah. Absolute pleasure, Jon. Thanks for having me on.

Host: Jon

All right. Everybody founder of Ned in the cloud and technical educator, Ned Bellavance, I've been your host, Jon Myer. Don't forget to hit that, like subscribe and not notify because guess what folks as always we're outta here.

 

 

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