Four New Labs for AWS Olympians

An accomplishment of any size is something to be proud of

Photo courtesy of eddiecoyote(CC Attribution)

Are you in Rio watching athletes performing incredible feats? Imagine how much training each person put into reaching the pinnacle of their sport. 

Your career is just as important, and qwikLABS has a mission to help you train to be your best.  Each AWS lab you take, each Quest you complete, adds new strengths and skills to your arsenal (and your resume). 

So tighten your laces, grab a handful of chalk, and vault into four new additions to your training program! 

  1. Parallel File Copy and Consolidation for Amazon S3: Take big data through its paces. Learn to copy and aggregate large amounts of data with different utilities (S3DistCp, awscli, and hdfs dfs to name a few), then compare results.
  2. Introduction to AWS Application Discovery Service: This one’s on us! Learn how to discover and tag resources to plan for successful migrations. For a free lab, this is a pretty deep dive….
  3. Deploy Docker Compose Microservices to Amazon EC2 Container Service: Stick the landing with the Amazon ECS CLI when you deploy example Docker Compose apps! 
  4. Using AWS Elastic Beanstalk with .NET: Continue your .NET on AWS workout, this time working with AWS Elastic Beanstalk for application deployment.

Good luck on your next competition, whether it’s the 100 m butterfly or an interview for your dream job.

How to show your qwikLABS badge – and get away with it

Completing a qwikLABS quest and earning a badge is a huge accomplishment – and one you should be proud of. When you earn a badge, you demonstrate to the world that you mastered a skill set with Amazon Web Services. Not only that, you have real, hands-on experience with the AWS Console. Whether you earn a badge on your own or your employer sponsors your qwikLABS lab work, your badge is undeniably yours. You earned it! 

By default, your badge is not public when you first earn it. You maintain total control of what information is shared, when, and how. You can post a link to your badge anywhere you want (online profiles like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), you can send links to badges through email, and you can even copy/paste a link onto your resume. But first, you have to choose what information to share and make your badge public!

qwikLABS profile

Profile roulette anyone? Here's what a badge looks like.

Alexa, what’s the new qwikLABS Quest?

Today we’re announcing a new quest, and it’s all about Alexa! Have you met her yet? Alexa is the voice behind the Amazon Echo, Tap, and Dot devices. The technology is at the cutting edge of voice design. 

Check out the Alexa Skills Development Quest now.

You do not need an Alexa device for this Quest. Testing tools and an Alexa voice simulator are available in the Amazon Developer Portal (same great Alexa voice, just through your browser). 

The new Alexa Quest walks you through creating 5 different types of Alexa Skills. “Skills” are very similar to apps, but instead of your phone or tablet, you use them on an Echo device. You learn how to design each type of interaction between the skill and the user (practical applications of voice design), as well as the AWS Lambda infrastructure that runs behind the scenes. 

As you go through the Quest, you will download templates for each type of skill you create. After completing the lab, the skills you build in the lab will remain in your Amazon Developer account. You can customize them to build your own skills. Plus, you can add this badge to your CV!

Here’s a sample of what you’ll do in your Quest (should you choose to accept it):

1. Introduction to AWS Lambda – Learn the basics of AWS Lambda, the infrastructure behind running your Alexa skill. This lab’s a freebie, and it knocks out a requirement for the Serverless Design with AWS Lambda Quest too. 

2. Working with Alexa: Build a Fact Skill – This is a good first-time Alexa Skill project. Familiarize yourself with the practical applications of voice design as you learn to set up interactions between your users and your Alexa skill.

3. Working with Alexa: Build a How-To Skill – This skill’s interactions are a little more complicated so you will get an in-depth look at setting up utterances and custom slots. Minecraft-ers, you will like this template. 

If you haven’t met Alexa yet, head over to this browser-based simulator and say hi. Planning to publish your own Alexa skill, or interested in more Alexa resources? I’ll share my Alexa experience here tomorrow. You can learn from my mistakes 🙂 

Tweet us (@qwikLAB) when your Alexa skill is live with the hashtag #AlexaQuest. You can be one of the first developers to publish an Alexa Skill – and get the t-shirt to prove it! 

Meet the new Quest: Serverless Design with AWS Lambda

The newest AWS Quest is here! Serverless Design with AWS Lambda takes you deep into the hot new trend in Cloud computing. 

Click here to check out the new Quest!

Let’s go behind the scenes with the newest AWS Quest, for some Q&A.

I want to use Lambda for event driven programming. Is it more efficient than what I’m using now? How does it work?

This Quest can give you a bunch of insights into how Lambda can help you improve your efficiency (and reliability, and your monthly bottom line too). Test drive event driven programming with Serverless Architectures with Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon Kinesis Streams with AWS Lambda. Build a real-world application using AWS Triggers, which combines DynamoDB Streams and Lambda. 

YOLO! You only lab once

Question: Why can I only take a lab once?

We hear this question on a pretty regular basis. “I paid for credits, spent the credits on a lab, took the lab, and you’re telling me I have to spend more credits to take the lab a second time?” It’s a valid question, and the answer is worth exploring (TLDR: subscribe to qwikLABS and take a lab as many times as you want!). 

The hands-on qwikLABS approach is dramatically different from other sources of online training. A lab is not like a book that you buy and read over and over. A lab is more like a sandwich – you only eat it once. 

qwikLABS for lunch

A lab is like a sandwich…

Get your lab on at AWS Chicago Summit

Are you in Chicago? Check out the AWS Summit, happening now. Say hi to Dave, the qwikLABS on-scene expert!

https://qwiklabs.com/

Many labs were taken.

One for the road

Snag a token (or 2) and take a free lab at the event, or save it for later. Bring one home to your friend while you’re at it – save your souvenir budget. 

qwiklabs.com

New look, same price (free!).

If you’re in Chicago, I hope you swing by and take a lab or two. And if you’re not in Chicago, no worries, qwikLABS AWS labs are available anywhere with an internet connection. Take a look at our catalog and find your next lab. 

qwikLABS: The almond of tech learning

One of the things we have in our office consistently, 100% of the time, is snack food. Some of it is healthy (dried mangos) and some of it is a little on the junkfood side (even though the popcorn promises it’s a good source of vitamins).

Redshift-cluster

Generic clip-art lady with donuts – you can find anything on the internet…

Every day we sample a little of this and a little of that. We have our favorites that we keep stocked. We try new things and decide whether or not a second appearance is deserved.

The office favorite? Almonds. What do we like about them? They’re nourishing. Flavorful. Satisfying. They come in different flavors, and are delicious in (almost!) any iteration. Bottom line? Almonds are snackable, and good for you.

So what is the point, other than making everyone feel hungry? qwikLABS, with our hands-on lab approach to training, is the almond of learning new technology. Seriously, learning new technologies like AWS can result in massive career opportunities. And qwikLABS, with our snackable, good-for-you labs, should be in your browser’s recent history (if you’re not taking one right now).

How GPU Technology Conferences are Part of a Vast Conspiracy

… to make the impossible possible with GPU technologies! 

Last day of the GPU Tech Conference, be sure to take advantage of self-paced labs with qwikLABS. Get your lab on – starting at 9:30 (and if you’re not there, check out our online labs). 

Did you partake of yesterday’s baked-to-perfection cookies? Or are you just there for the robots?

Seriously looks like a great party, but even more seriously, take things into your own hands and get into NVIDIA technology, fast. Check out these live, hands-on labs and learn to program GPUs with C++, or Python, or Fortran, or MATLAB – any place, your pace. Check out labs on OpenACC and Deep Learning too (Intro to Deep Learning is free!). 

GPU Tech Conference 2016

So what flavor doughnut did you get? 

Check out the NVIDIA Deep Learning badge

Are you at the GPU Technology Conference? We promised pics – read on to see if you made it into any of the shots! 

Check the schedule for bootcamps and self-paced labs. You’ll find qwikLABS there! Even if you didn’t make it to the conference, check out the NVIDIA lab catalog, and try our newest NVIDIA Quest, Introduction to Deep Learning.

What’s a Quest, you might ask? And why should I care? Each Quest consists of a collection  of labs that focus on a specific area of GPU computing and practical use cases. At the end of a Quest, you get two things:

  • Advanced knowledge of that specific area of GPU computing
  • A shareable badge to show what you accomplished (looks great on your resume, social media profiles, and more!)

Why should I take the Deep Learning Quest? Deep learning is helping to solve big data problems such as computer vision (self-driving cars!), speech recognition, and language processing. NVIDIA provides high-performance tools and libraries to power these applications, and qwikLABS puts practical training, curated by experts, into your hands. Earn your Deep Learning Badge today!

As promised, here are a few snapshots of the conference. Have you checked out the self-paced labs yet?

Self-pacedlabs
Self-paced labs zone

Presentation3
Presentations

Presentation1
Are you in this shot?

Presentation2
How about this one?

Hi, my name is PuTTY

You’re cruising thru a lab at the speed of light when WHAM! “Using PuTTY….” Wait, what’s putty? Why do I need it? How do I use it? Is this a drywall tutorial? I’m so confused!

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. PuTTY shows up in many of the AWS labs (normally $8-$15 each, now free of charge – but only thru March 31), and often people have a few questions.

Do I need it?

PuTTY is a (free) SSH client. It gives you a command line tool, and allows you to control the remote host you create as part of your lab. You need PuTTY if you are using a Windows PC. If you use a Mac or a Linux machine, you’ll follow a different set of instructions.

Where do I get it? Is it free? Is it safe to download?

Read about it here. (Safely) download the most recent version here.

Once I get it, how do I use it? Screenshots please?

Once you get to PuTTY in the lab instructions, find the putty.exe file (likely in your Downloads folder) and double-click to launch it. Instructions will vary (so follow the instructions in your lab), but you’ll probably want to enter a host name like this*:

Enter host name for your PuTTY session
*If you’re like me, you’ll have to go back and add “ec2-user@” in front of the public DNS when you realize your connection didn’t work the first time.

Expand the Connection tree, then expand SSH, then click (don’t expand) Auth. 

Upload your PPK key for your PuTTY session
If you do expand Auth, no biggie, just collapse the tree (otherwise you won’t see the field you need).

You’ll see a field for your private key – browse to the PPK file provided by the lab (likely in your Downloads folder).

Wait, PPK file? Where do I find that?

Both the PPK file and the PEM file (if you need it) can be downloaded from your lab instructions.

Finding your PEM/PPK files
Find the Connection Details at the top right of your lab instructions screen.

PEM and PPK Download Tool
Click the dropdown to download each file.

When you connect, you might see a message like this (fascinating right?) – click yes to make the connection.

PuTTY Alert…and you’re in! Now you’re a pro. When was the first time you used PuTTY?