DP-900 Azure Data Fundamentals

Happy to share that I sat the Beta for this exam and passed – here is a link to my study guide https://gregorsuttie.com/2020/06/09/dp-900-microsoft-azure-data-fundamentals-exam-study-guide/

Another exam done, and the data side of Azure is something I would love to explore further if I ever get the chance.




Think of the next person

I have been lucky enough to work with one manager who was very good at being disciplined and I wanted to share with you some of my learnings and talk about some stuff I have seen of late which really isn’t helpful and how easy they are to remediate.

So what is IT industry discipline, well it’s not something you read much about or will find in books, for example, it’s just something you pick up as you progress in your career and is much easier to pick examples of what not to do and then have a way to make things better.

Making things better should always be at the back of your mind in the IT industry, how can we make things better. I have a developer background so most of what I will talk about will cover some basic stuff yet I still see it on almost every project that I come across.

If you think about the above paragraph of making things better here is a good rule of thumb, imagine the next person who comes along has even less knowledge about whatever the thing is your doing, how can you help make their lives a little bit easier?

Here is a list of some examples

  • Don’t leave server folders lying around like New Folder, New Folder(1) – instead, have a proper naming convention and stick to it (think of the next person coming along).
  • Don’t leave crap lying around with xxx appended to the start or have DELETEME items lying around anywhere – instead source code everything and delete the rest (think of the next person coming along).
  • Don’t leave old deployments lying around instead archive them off, or have a process to delete the last x number of deployments (think of the next person coming along).
  • Don’t have one person having vital knowledge about a system in their head, document it, and share with as many people deemed reasonable – instead document everything, yes everything, there I said it, we all have things we should have documented yet we don’t (think of the next person coming along).
  • Don’t let people leave your company without doing a proper handover – companies have on-boarding processes, where is your off-boarding process? (think of the next person coming along).
  • Don’t move to the Cloud and suddenly we don’t have any diagrams – instead diagram your architecture and keep it up to date, have a process in place to check this diagram is still valid (think of the next person coming along).

The above is much more than technical debt, everyone has technical debt but this is about thinking about the next person.

We can improve, we should improve processes today not tomorrow or next week. Small improvements over time make a big difference.

I am going to be adding to this blog post over time as more things come to me but for now, think of the next person each time you do something on a project or when its related to work – go that little bit extra and before you know it you’ll enjoy working on the project when the processes in place are right.

Don’t forget to checkout my YouTube Channel.




Changing Azure VM’s Default Locale

I had a task at work where I was asked if I could ensure that all new Azure Virtual Machines created had the default of being set up for English (United Kingdom) rather than English (United States), not an unreasonable request by any stretch, so last week I had a look into doing just that.

The customer project I am working on uses Virtual Machines for people to do their work and the new Virtual Machines are deployed using Octopus Deploy with some ARM templates and PowerShell – all good so far.

My initial thought was I wonder why you can’t have this as an option to choose when installing a new Virtual Machine from the portal, turns out its unlikely because in fact there are a number of settings you need to change in order for the new Virtual Machine to truly be set up for English (United Kingdom) rather than English (United States).

I started off by looking at running some PowerShell into a custom extension and running that when the Virtual Machine starts, after a lot of fiddling around and trying things it does work.

The PowerShell I was using looked something like this:-

Set-WinSystemLocale en-GB
Set-WinUserLanguageList -LanguageList en-GB -Force
Set-Culture -CultureInfo en-GB
Set-WinHomeLocation -GeoId 242
Set-TimeZone "GMT Standard Time"

# restart virtual machine to apply regional settings to current user. You could also do a logoff and login.
Start-sleep -Seconds 40
Restart-Computer

Note that the above PowerShell works, the only caveat to this is that once the Virtual Machine is available to connect to you can check the system local from

Control Panel > Clock and Region > Region > Administrative Tab >

Above, we can see that the Virtual Machine still defaults to English (United States) but with a reboot that will change to English (United Kingdom).

We want this to be the case for all users who might log onto the Virtual Machine, we could use PowerShell DSC (desired state config) to do this or a number of other ways.

When I reached out to twitter for some help and guidance on this I had a number of replies but this one was the solution I went for https://twitter.com/stuartpreston/status/1284096930981847045

Stuart was very kind to even create a GitHub repo to tackle this issue and you can find his solution to the problem there, he adds a custom script variable, passes in the commands to run and a timezone variable and “it’s basically using a combination of stuffing your script into customdata and having additionalUnattendContent run that script in a first logon.

To wrap this up it works: –

  • using PowerShell
  • using a custom extension with a PowerShell script
  • or by adding content to an Arm Template that runs a script upon user logon


QuickStart: How to get started with Azure Maps

A while back I took part in a really cool hackathon at the Microsoft offices in Edinburgh and part of it was displaying data on an Azure Map. Now we found the docs a little less than straightforward so I put together a quick blog post and a GitHub repo

Log into Azure and create an Azure Maps Account, once you have done this gran the authentication key from the Authentication area and then grab the primary key, and then I pasted this into the html file.

I used this in the Azure Advent Calendar Maps page just zoom in to see more people.

Anyways Azure Maps has a tonne of functionality which you can read about a bit more.

Don’t forget to checkout my YouTube channel.

Enjoy!



DP-900 Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals exam Study Guide

Describe core data concepts (15-20%)

Describe types of core data workloads




Azure CLI – Interactive Mode

If you are using the Azure Portal to do some tasks it may be time to take a look at using the Azure CLI (Command Line Interface) as this can be a good way to learn to start automating some tasks. Handily the Azure CLI has an interactive mode.

You can use Azure CLI in interactive mode by running the az interactive command. This mode places you in an interactive shell with auto-completion, command descriptions, and examples

Read the blog post and then checkout my video tutorial at the bottom of the article.

You can read more on the Azure CLI interactive mode docs.

Screen shot of the AZ CLI

If like me you like to automate tasks (for numerous reasons) then the Azure CLI can be harassed to script out repetitive tasks into lets say a deployment script.

Imagine the scenario where I need to work with Virtual Machines and I want to learn the Azure CLI commands for listing the VM’s I have and then go ahead and create a brand new VM. Lets take a look at how to do that below: –

Create a Resource Group using the Azure CLI
az group create –name myDemoRG –location westeurope

Create a Resource Group using AZ CLI interactive mode
az >> group create –name myDemoRG –location westeurope

The difference here is something called scoping and you can learn about scoping. It’s the same command we type but we don’t need the az at the start as we are currently scoped at the top level.

If you have read about scoping in the above link lets now take a look at working with virtual machines.

Create a Virtual Machine using the Azure CLI
az vm create –resource-group myDemoRG –name myDemoVM –image win2019datacenter –admin-username gsuttie

Create a Virtual Machine using AZ CLI interactive mode
az vm>> create –name myDemoVM –resource-group myDemoRG –image win2019datacenter –admin-username gsuttie

The difference here is something called scoping and you can learn about scoping. It’s the same command but this time in the Azure CLI interactive mode we are scoped to working with Virtual Machines, this is accomplished by typing %%vm and means we can create, list, delete VM’s whilst scoped to using Virtual Machines.

Summary
If your not familiar with using the Azure CLI then take a look at trying out the Interactive mode which will give you defaults and examples.

Lear more :-




Azure Greg – YouTube Channel

Today I am announcing my official Azure Greg YouTube channel – this is where I will be recording demo videos and showing tips and tricks I pick up as I go – feel free to subscribe and get notified of the content as I release it.

I have a few videos up already which include the following: –

  • Rehearse your talk with PowerPoint Coach – Here I show off how to use a feature in PowerPoint called Research with coach, this helps you when rehearsing your talks. The AI feature listens to you as you present and gives you feedback during and a report at the end with tips on how to improve.
  • PowerToys – how to install and start using it for Windows.
  • Learn about Hugo – How to get up to speed once Hugo is installed, you can use this to create your first ever blog using Hugo.
  • How to install and customize the Windows Terminal – In this video, I take you through how to install and then customize the Windows Terminal.
  • Azure Resource Graph – In this video, I demo Azure Resource Graph and talk about an example JSON file you can use for any subscription which will give you an excellent inventory of your Azure resources.

If there is something you would really like to have me cover in a short video please do let me know. I will conduct twitter polls from time to time to ask what people would like to see.

Thank you to the current subscribers – there is a lot more content on the way.



Introducing Skylines Summer Sessions

Today we kick off what we have called Skylines Summer Sessions.

Over the Summer months, Skylines Academy, myself and Richard Hooper will be interviewing guests from around the world on Azure related subjects, we get to ask them some fun questions and guests will also be giving us a demo on their subject which will be available on YouTube Live for you to ask questions 🙂

You can catch our first episode with Thomas Maurer who is talking to us and giving a demo on Azure Arc today!

Join us at 6pm GMT +1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n164SSoC388&feature=youtu.be

Tune in, ask your questions, and learn about Azure every Tuesday throughout Summer. You can find out more over at the site.



PowerToys

If you haven’t heard of or used PowerToys then this blog post is for you.

Microsoft PowerToys is a set of utilities for power users to tune and streamline their Windows experience for greater productivity. Inspired by the Windows 95 era PowerToys project, this reboot provides power users with ways to squeeze more efficiency out of the Windows 10 shell and customize it for individual workflows.

To get up to speed with PowerToys then check out my YouTube video below.

You can find the source code for PowerToys here: – https://github.com/microsoft/PowerToys

I hope you find PowerToys useful.



Azure Tips n Tricks

I have had a fair bit of time recently and spent most of my time learning the content I wanted to learn, nice to have that time right?

I have been going through the Azure Tips n Tricks website and videos created by Michael Crump, you can follow Michael on Twitter and please also check out his twitch stream which is a lot of fun.

There are currently around 260+ blog posts and videos which cover a number of Azure tips and tricks and I reckon everyone will learn something by checking them out, I have learned a tonne of new things already.

Here are a list of some of my favorites so far: –

Plenty more to go through, but I do recommend everyone has a look at them as you will absolutely learn something new.