Jason Haley

Ramblings from an Independent Consultant

My 30 Day Challenge and Update on Azure Cloud Certification Studying

It has been a long time since I’ve regularly written in my blog … or anywhere for that matter.  I have been meaning to start writing again but I just haven’t been committed to it enough to do it – until today.

Today I am starting a 30 day challenge for myself – to write something every day for 30 days.

This challenge isn’t to make 30 days of blog entries, but to write something – maybe even just in word or a notebook (ie. doesn’t have to be published).  I want to move toward a cadence of at least one decent blog post a week, but no promises.

Update on studying

Yesterday I signed up to take the 70-534 exam at the end of this month – which gives me around 4 months to study for it.  In November, I was about ready to signup for the exam but found out the exam was going to change so I didn’t finish my studying (I wrote about that last year).

I have been learning and using more and more products and features of Azure for quite sometime, so I think I know the majority of the content on the exam – I just need to freshen up my knowledge on some of the things that I haven’t used in awhile.  Plus I need to practice getting tested on my knowledge again.

Boston Code Camp 27

Yesterday was Boston Code Camp 27.  We had a good turn out. I met several people from out of state and also met many people that were attending a Code Camp for the first time.

As often happens, I didn’t get to attending any sessions but everyone I spoke with all had very nice things to say about the sessions they attended.

I presented two sessions:

Introduction to Azure App Service Environment

The room was to hold up to 18 people and I think there ended up being 12 – 15 that attended.  As I started the talk and poled the people about their experiences with Azure, I quickly learned they crowd needed mostly background on App Service and a little about App Service Environment … so I spend quite a bit of time showing them around Web Apps and discussing App Service in general and maybe 10 – 15 on App Service Environments.  Maybe next code camp, I’ll split it into 2 parts: Part 1: App Services, Part 2: App Service Environment.

The slides for the talk can be found here: https://jhaleyfiles2016.blob.core.windows.net/public/AppServiceEnvironment2017.pptx

Going Independent

This room was about the same size as the other, but there was at least a handful of people standing and sitting on the bench of to the side – so maybe 20 people or so.  I’ve given different versions of this talk at least a dozen times in the past 7 years.  Thirty minutes is usually not enough for this one (I gave a two hour version of it earlier this month), but I think I covered the important points. I think the group yesterday may have been the largest percentage of full-time employees that I’ve ever give the talk too – usually it is only 1/3 – 1/2 but it was closer to 2/3 to 3/4  … which is good since that is the audience I targeted the presentation to.

The slides for the talk can be found here: https://jhaleyfiles2016.blob.core.windows.net/public/Half_GoingIndependent2017.pptx

Talk: WebApps and WebJobs

Last month (December 14, 2016) I presented at the Western Mass Development Technology User Group.  The group meets in Agawam, MA about two hours west of Salem, MA – if you are in the area you should check out their meetup site: https://www.meetup.com/Western-Mass-Development-Technology-Users-Group/

I was a fun time and a great group of people interested in learning more about Azure. 

I split the time between WebApps and WebJobs and tried not to make too many comparisons with Cloud Services (since only one person was familiar with them).  We spent most of the time in either the Azure portal or in Visual Studio, but for anyone interested my power point presentation files can be downloaded from this link: https://jhaleyfiles2016.blob.core.windows.net/public/Western%20Mass%20Dev%20Tech.zip

Late November 2016 Update on Azure Cloud Certification Studying

The day after I posted my last update (November 2016 Update on Azure Cloud Certification Studying) I found out the 70-534 exam (the one I am studying for) was going to have some major changes on November 22 - Azure Architecture Exam (70-534) Gets ARM Refresh.

So I had two choices: Cram for the exam and take it before Nov 22 or Step back and widen the material I’ve got to learn to pass it.

Since then, I’ve decided to postpone taking the exam this year.  I am not really doing this to just get the certificate (ie. pass the exam) I want to know that I know the material … and right now I don’t know some of the new things they are adding to the exam.

Also, I’ve been meaning to get back to blogging and have decided to start writing about some of the topics I am learning while studying for the 70-354 exam – so this week I am planning my first blog post (or set of blog posts) … still in the planning stage.

Boston Code Camp 26

Yesterday was Boston Code Camp 26.  I presented Cloud Services vs. Web Apps for the first time.  The slides can be found here: https://jhaleyfiles2016.blob.core.windows.net/public/CloudServicesVsWebApps.pptx

If anyone who attended my talk has any feedback, I’d love to hear from you. 

It was nice to see old friends and meet some new ones yesterday.  I only made it to one talk: The Power of Networking by Betsy Weber (@betsyweber).  There were many other talks that I would have gone to, however I found it more enjoyable to catch up with the group of friends I only tend to see at Code Camps and Dev Camps.

I will be presenting a more detailed and demo oriented talk comparing Cloud Services and Web Apps at the North Boston Azure Cloud User Group Nov 29th, in case anyone missed my talk yesterday or wants more detail.

November 2016 Update on Azure Cloud Certification Studying

I have completed and passed the 70-532 Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions and 70-533 Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions.  I am currently studying for the 70-534 Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions exam … even though the MCSD Azure Solutions Architect certification has been sunset.  I figure I already bought the study guide and I seem to be familiar with most of the higher level material for the exam thanks to all the research I did prior to my Azure 101 talk in June.

Since July, I’ve noticed that I am more likely to write PowerShell scripts to do repetitive tasks in Azure (instead of going to the portal and doing the same thing over and over in the UI).  Last week, I even wrote some scripts for a VSTS build that solved the need to start/stop a web app before deploy and add/remove an NSG rule to a VNET for the build sever before and after deployment.  It is really nice to know that most of the stuff in the Azure portal is scriptable and that it doesn’t take long to create the scripts (once you get familiar with it).  I have to honestly say - before studying for these exams, Azure PowerShell scripts were always on my “things to learn next list” but taking the time to learn how to script things I could do in the portal UI just never made it to the top of the list.

Here are the steps I’ve taken to pass the 70-532 and 70-533 exams:

  • Use Azure on a daily basis
  • Read the study guides from cover to cover
  • Watch any videos I can on related material
  • Read through the Azure documentation to get more detail than is in the study guide
  • Purchase the practice exam – you get 30 days the practice questions as much as you want
  • Purchase the proctored exam after I’m done with the study guide
  • Take the practice exam no more than 2 weeks from your exam like it is the real exam
    • Get over the fact that you didn’t pass it
  • Take the practice exam and view the answers as many times as possible before the exam – and really search the web for the topic questions you don’t know and learn more about them
    • Do not waste your time memorizing the practice questions and answers – they are not on the exam.  Instead use the practice exam to get used to the exam format and topics and broaden your knowledge more
    • Learn to rule out the answers that are not correct – as fast as you can
    • With case studies – read the questions first, then you can read the case study and pay attention to the pieces you need to know
  • Take the exam

In the middle of both exams, I was certain there was no way I would pass … but I did pass them both on the first try – so keep your spirits up as you take the exam because it may not be as bad as it seems.

Update on Azure Cloud Certification Studying

I can’t believe it is now June and I have not taken any of the exams yet.  Very Disappointing.  Time to get back on the wagon.

The first 6 weeks of this year were great for my studying, then I fell off the wagon.  Life happened, I got busy with work, then with other Azure topics for things like the Global Azure Bootcamp and various other talks that I’ve given this year … and I lost my focus on the exams.

The past two weeks I watched about 18 hours of Build 2016 videos in preparation for my Azure 101 talk.  There are so many good Build talks that I haven’t even watched yet … but I need to stop and get back to the exams.

In the next month, I plan on taking 70-532.  I’m using Dan Stolts blog for studying advice: Azure Cloud Certification Jump Start 70-532, 70-533, 70-534 Exam Preparation

Oh, I’m also starting North Boston Azure Cloud User Group for people interested in Azure but find it hard to make it into Cambridge to the Boston Azure Cloud User Group

I’m still looking for a host for the user group until Microsoft moves to Burlington this fall – if you are a company in the Burlington MA area are interested in hosting us until October please contact me!

Talk: Practical WebJobs SDK and Extensions

Thursday night I presented at the Boston Azure user group.  My talk was “Practical WebJobs SDK and Extensions” to a mixed group of people with Azure and WebJobs experience and some who didn’t have any experience with Azure yet.

My deck is here: Practical WebJobs SDK and Extensions.pptx

My demo script is here: Practical WebJobs SDK and Extensions – Demo Script.pdf

The zip of all prepped demos and the live demo folder (the one we created in the talk) are her: Demos.zip

The Cheat Sheet that I referred is here: Azure WebJobs SDK Cheat Sheet 2014.pdf

Boston Azure Bootcamp 2016

This year for the Azure Bootcamp I presented Azure WebJobs and Websites.  We spent more time on the WebJobs topic and hands on lab than we did with the web sites lab.  The websites talk was the last of the day … and its really hard to get people to do a hands on lab late on a Saturday after being there all day.

For anyone who is interested in my material (presentations, hands on labs and code) – it is all in the https://github.com/JasonHaley/BostonAzureBootcamp2016Material github repository.

I really tried to focus on some real world useful topics with the Webjobs HOL … and of course, I’ve been recommending it to people I’ve been working with that are just learning what they can do with WebJobs.

The WebJob HOL (and the included code) includes the following sections:

  1. Create a Console Application project for the WebJob functionality
  2. Setup a storage account to use with the WebJob
  3. Add a function to the WebJob to watch a queue for Orders and then save to Blob storage
  4. Add a test function to verify the queue and blob logic works
  5. Modify the logic to use a custom NameResolver
  6. Modify the logic to use a custom trace writer
  7. Add functionality to save the Products to a storage table
  8. Add functionality to send an email once the order is processed
  9. Add a function to handle poison messages on the Orders queue to send out an email
  10. Add a function that emails when a certain number of error have happened
  11. Deploy the WebJob to Azure

If anyone uses it and has any suggestions or feedback, please let me know.