Microsoft Learn

Microsoft Learn in my eyes is highly under rated, I want to show you why there is more to it than you have probably realised.

Learning Paths
Learning paths are a great way to explore a topic, there are currently around 1000 learning paths, so what are you waiting for, there is something for everyone in there, which means you. #alwaysbelearning

You can filter your learning by –

  • Product
  • Roles
  • Levels
  • Type (Learning Paths or Modules)

Bookmark your learning choices and come back to them, you owe it to yourself to have learning goals and to finish the learning path or module, don’t start it and leave it, become good at finishing and not good at starting.

Collections are where you can group your own collection of learning paths and modules which might relate to a specific learning goal you have. This is perfect if you are studying for an exam or want to know more about a more general topic like server-less as an example.

If you complete a module within a learning path you earn points and badges along the way and you can see these listed under achievements which can be found under your profile and looks like so: –

I myself have realised I haven’t been using Microsoft Learn for a while and there is a lot of great new content which I am off to check out now.

Let me know which level your on – I’m currently on level 8.

Global Azure BootCamp 2020 – Glasgow Edition

Saturday April 25th, 2020 is the date for this years Global Azure BootCamp Glasgow edition, in conjunction with the Glasgow Azure user Group.

You can read about last year’s event and learn about whats involved and the format for the day, were looking for 6 speakers to come to Glasgow on April 25th and give a 60 minute talk on anything Azure related.

The call for speakers page to submit a talk is now open

The page for signing up to attend will go live Monday 20/01/2010.

We hope to see you there!

Azure Advent Calendar wrap-up

The #azureadventcalendar was a shared idea between myself and @pixel_robots

Some quick stats as I write this: –

15,800 thousand YouTube views
15,000 website views from over 120 countries
1,300 hours of videos watched
1,200 subscribers

We set out with the idea of asking the Azure community for 25 videos / blog posts with a Christmas theme, with the idea in mind that it would give people the chance to show off their skills, learn new skills and contribute back to the community over December.

We asked people via twitter who would like to contribute to this idea in the middle of September to give people time to decide if they could manage to contribute in December (a 20-30 minute video isn’t easy, especially towards that time of year).

Before we knew it we had more than 25 filled up and it was clear that this might be a bit more popular than first thought, we increased it to 50 and before you know it we had increased it to 75. In order to avoid too many duplicate subjects we decided to cap it at 75.

Wow! 75 videos/blog post contributions would be pretty amazing.

We considered several ideas but wanted to keep it simple: –

  • Anyone could contribute
  • We could have had advertisements but kept it without as it was a community project for the community by the community and this was important to us both.

I would create the website and keep that up to date daily, and chase people for content, Richard was looking after our YouTube channel and scheduling the videos to go out at midnight.

Richard also designed the logo which I loved the second I saw it and we decided to use this as the brand and he also created video thumbnails for each video for people to use on twitter, videos and blog posts.

Now the real reason this was successful was due to the contributors, we were both blown away by the quality of content from each contributor and the Christmas theme just made it pretty cool.

Richard and I both had our Twitter and LinkedIn full with tweets and articles with the above logo in it, very regularly throughout the month which was super cool to see.

The website was basic and I was updating it daily with links to blog posts and using a very simple .Net Web app, and using Azure DevOps to build and deploy the web app to Azure, I also made use of staging slots to deploy the changes, check the links etc worked and then swapped the staging slot for production – super easy to do and well worth it.

Richard had the YouTube channel setup with the logo and scheduled the videos to be released using a schedule which was pretty sweet. He also created a thumbnail for each video for the contributor to use as they saw fit.

The highlights for me were many, but one that stands out for me personally was seeing people who had never taken part in something like this, some had never created a blog post, many had never created a video before.

The hard part of the project was chasing people for content, especially when it was mid December and everyone is busy!

To end this post I want to mention the next project which you should keep your eye on by Joe Carlyle and Thomas Thornton called the #AzureSpringCleanup – personally looking forward to see more azure community coming together and creating awesome new content.

Please leave any feedback you have on the #azureadventcalendar below.

Azure Resource GitHub Repository

I have started a GitHub repository for a place to put the following so that the community can benefit from resources I have came across from the community.

  • Azure Exam Guides
  • Azure Useful Resources
  • Azure Policies
  • Azure DevOps Resources

I’m looking for others to contribute to this so that the community has a place to find helpful info.

If you have an Azure Exam Study guide let me know and I’ll add a link to it from the Exam folder to your blog or create a quick pull request.

If you have any useful Azure Resources which aren’t listed then please either let me know or create a quick pull request.

I’m gong to be adding to this over time throughout the year, I’m looking for contributors so we can grow this out to be something useful to a lot of people.

Link to the GitHub Repository:-

Failure(s) and comfort zone

I wanted to cover some of the failures I have endured during the year. It’s not something you read a lot about from people and its important to talk about failure(s). I tend to mention my success’ but its also relevant to realise that there have been a number of failures in 2019.

I sat a number of Azure exams last year and failed on more than one occasion. I learned from this that no matter how much you study and put in you wont always have a successful outcome.

I wrote numerous blog posts which were sitting in my drafts folder for a long time which will never see the light of day.

I recorded umpteen videos which I never released and I still have them on my laptop, which again will never see the light of day.

I created PowerPoint presentations which yep you guessed it wont ever be used for talks.

I started numerous books and never finished a single book, was asked to review 3 or 4 books and again didn’t get the job done.

At times throughout the year I spread myself too thin and was trying to do too much, end result was the above.

Everyone has failure’s its part of becoming a better version of you.

As I reflect on this past 12 months its clear to me that failure is a good thing. Failure has taught me that each time I fail I learn something about myself which is key if you want to improve yourself.

I have spent the last 2 years investing in myself, I commit myself to learning new skills and gain knowledge, with this comes failure, failure in my eyes means I am doing. It’s easy to say you want to do this or that but if your not actively doing something about it then it wont ever become a reality.

I have never given up after failing an exam or throwing away a presentation or a video, I use it to motivate myself to do better then next time, I keep the content as reminders.

The trick for me is to have goals, I write my goals on a piece of paper and have that pinned above my computer monitors on the wall. Last year I failed in only one goal and then this year I knocked it out the park, I kept the paper there until I had achieved that goal and now its been replaced with a new set of goals.

Stop holding yourself back
I stopped holding myself back, I used to think I’d love to do x or do y but I never truly thought I had anything to offer.
I spoke to some people at conferences who weren’t blogging but were right into tech and I suggested they should start, I wanted to say stop holding yourself back and just do it, they know they’re stuff and weren’t sure why they hadn’t been blogging.

I watched people speak at user groups and conferences and I thought wow I’d love to do that, I did nothing about it, I was holding myself back, scared I would make a fool of myself, I might still, but I am going to be going after it and see where it takes me.

Everyone has failures, you don’t hear about them, stop holding yourself back if that’s you, if your not failing regularly then perhaps your still in your comfort zone.


How I had a successful 2019

This year has been an amazing year for me, too many good things to recall if I’m honest and I’ll keep it short, below are some of the highlights for me (in no particular order)

  • Invited to meet Scott Guthrie at an ask me anything session in London
  • Awarded MVP in Azure in August
  • Helping run the Glasgow Azure User Group
  • Ran the Azure Global Boot Camp, Glasgow Edition
  • Attended my first ever Microsoft Ignite in Florida
  • Attended my first ever Experts Live Europe in Prague
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure DevOps Engineer Expert
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Security Engineer Associate
  • Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
  • Helped work become Gold Certified in a few more competences
  • Blog has had over 200,000 hits this year (50 posts this year)
  • The Azure Advent Calendar has been a huge success, more info on that later this month.
  • Joined TechSnips.Io
  • Started a YouTube channel
  • Named in Nigel Frank International in the Top 20 Azure influencers on Twitter
  • 3 podcast appearances

Looking forward to 2020 which will bring the following :-

  • Ignite the Tour London
  • Ignite the Tour Zurich
  • Scottish Summit (doing a talk and helping out)
  • Azure Global Boot camp (organising & more on that next week)
  • MVP Summit 2020
  • Ignite 2020
  • Hopefully lots more travelling
  • Hopefully attending conferences
  • Reach 5000 twitter followers
  • Recording some training material

It has been a huge amount of fun, learned more a lot about myself, visited a number of places.

My number one highlight might sound corny but meeting the people who make up the community has been incredible, Ignite and at Experts Live I met so many awesome people that I have chatted to on Twitter. I’ve met people I’ve looked up to and asked for advice from and the people who inspire me.

If you need help or have questions about anything please reach out to me on twitter or LinkedIn, always happy to help with anything I can.

I could never thank everyone but trust me I’m thankful for meeting each and every one of you.

This #azureadventcalendar has been a fantastic way to end the year and soon I’ll be at Ignite the Tour London and then the Scottish Summit here in Glasgow at the end of February.

Huge waves and thanks to everyone who I chatted to throughout 2019 and lets do it again next year.

Happy Holidays! – Gregor.

Azure Advent Calendar – Week 1 recap

Week 1 of the Azure Advent Calendar has come and gone and we have seen some incredible content.

Content covered includes: –

An Azure Poem, Azure Governance, Azure Logic Apps, Azure Service Health, Azure Container Instance, Azure Devops Pipelines, Azure NetApp Files, Azure Certification Paths, Azure AKS, Azure API Manangement, Azure Lighthouse, Azure Site Recovery, Azure Functions, Azure WebApps, Azure MFA, Azure Role Based Certification,  Being Successful in Azure, Azure Migrate, Azure Key Vault, AKS monitoring with Prometheus and Terraform for Azure.

Phew that’s a lot to learn about in just 1 week, there is a lot more to come so please subscribe to our dedicated YouTube Channel 

So far we have over 700 subscribers, and there has been over 350 hours of videos watched which is absolutely awesome.

The Azure Advent Calendar website has been view in over 120 countries around the globe and had almost 6 thousand hits in the last 90 days.

We wanna take this time to thank everyone for taking part and hope that everyone is enjoying the #azureadventcalendar so far, we appreciate all of the tweets, LinkedIn coverage etc its been a blast so far, loving all the Christmas jumpers on show etc.

Thanks all from Gregor and Richard aka @Pixel_Robots

Azure Resource Graph Dashboards

I attended a session at Experts Live EU 2019 which was about Azure initialization from zero to hero: on-boarding, governance & resources deployment and one of the subject was Azure Resource Graph.

Azure Resource Graph  is a service in Azure that is designed to extend Azure Resource Management by providing efficient and performant resource exploration with the ability to query at scale across a given set of subscriptions so that you can effectively govern your environment.

With Azure Resource Graph you can write queries against your Azure resource so you can gain some very insightful information into your resources., before it wasn’t possible to see all of your resources if you had more than 2000. Queries that you write can be kept private or shared, shared queries are stored within a Resource Group for other users to run.

Resource Graph Explorer allows you to open existing queries, create new queries and run them within the portal and see the results.

An example of a query would be like so: –

I wont show the results for obvious reasons 👀

The really nice benefit I see from Azure Resource Graph is that you can save these to a dashboard and share the dashboard with members of your team/company.

At Experts Live EU @ExchangeGoddess shared an example dashboard which is a simple json file.

The beautiful thing is that the json can be exported and imported into your subscription(s), it doesn’t store subscription id’s etc as it only contains the queries. I was able to take this file and import it into a brand new dashboard and instantly see a very useful dashboard which looks like the following: –




Clicking on the charts take you to the actual query which produces the dashboard, the queries are written in a language called Kusto. You can learn more about Kusto on Pluralsight.

You can grab the json file which @ExchangeGoddess kindly shared from my github repo and then within dashboards insode the Azure portal simply use the upload capability to upload the json file and bingo you’ll have a nice new dashboard where you can learn about your resources and learn more from the existing Kusto queries within the dashboard you now have.

Big thanks to @ExchangeGoddess for sharing this, enjoy!


ExpertsLiveEU 2019 – first time attendee

The ExpertsLiveEU 2019 conference in Prague, Czech Republic, has just finished and I am back in the hotel writing this blog post and wanted to write this before I travel back home to Scotland.

You can read about the 3 day conference at ExpertsLive EU.

The conference has about 400 attendees, with attendees from around 30 countries, the content was fantastic as were all of the speakers. There were a lot of people there who were very smart people, the caliber of speakers was very high indeed.

I learned a lot from most of the sessions and now have a list of things I either need to start learning or ares which I need to learn more about and do a deep dive into that area further.

The speakers referred to being T-Shaped

I believe I am pretty well versed in a number of areas of Azure with a breadth of topics I know a decent amount about, I plan to choose a couple of ares next year to dive deeper into.

I love coming to conferences as you spend the day learning and asking questions, and then you socialize afterwards or during and that’s the real value for me. Making connections and networking are my favorite part and you learn so much more longer term as well.

Being able to speak to product owners and product managers at Microsoft has given me the most value. I speak to these types of people, make a connection, get their contact details and can ask the questions any time.

With Ignite 2 weeks ago, and now this conference I’ve learned the value in attending, meeting strangers, asking them about what they do, and so on and its been an absolute blast, I’m also getting less shy which can only be a good thing.

I will definitely be back at Ignite and at ExpertsLiveEU next year all going well.

Azure Web App Staging Slots

With this years Azure Advent Calendar I made some site improvements and also upgraded the site from .Net 2.2 to 3.0, the code built and ran locally just fine, I push it to production and boom! – sites down, not good for a number of reasons.

The take away from this is I knew better, I tried to push some changes which in hindsight could easy have broken the site and by running it locally I thought its all good, the site has no tests as its content only.

By upgrading the site and attempting to add in Azure Application configuration I ran into some nuget package issues which I though I had resolved.

Get to the point of the blog post already Gregor!

Azure has a thing called Azure Deployment Slots for Web apps and with this feature we can have the following: –

  • Have 2 copies of the site running at the same time (one prod, one staging)
  • Deploy new features to Staging ad then test (however you test)
  • If all is good you switch slots so that the new version is now the prod version and the old prod version is switched into the staging version – if anything is borked then switch back and your back to good.

That’s the short version of what deployment slots are used for, I encourage you to take a look at them and I have this now setup for the azure advent calendar and wont be so careless next time.