Labs at re:Invent 2016: GO!

The Hands-On Labs room is open! Find us in the Veronese room (close to the business center, if you’re following signs – across from the Lego display). We’re here all week. See our full schedule and highlights here.

Day 1 is the perfect time to set some goals:

  • Finish a Quest. There are 22 to choose from – may I suggest the newest Security on AWS Quest? Or, learn to build your own Alexa skill with the Alexa Skills Development Quest. Finish a Quest at re:Invent and claim your t-shirt – hurry, supplies are limited!
  • Qwiklabs t shirt
  • Challenge yourself! This year, a totally new type of lab challenges you to solve a problem. No steps, no hints, just your own smarts. Finish the Challenge Lab at re:Invent with 100% completion and claim your sticker! While supplies last. 
  • Qwiklabs Challenge Lab
What will you learn this week? Browse the catalog – something for everyone – and see you soon!

re:Invent Hands-On Labs room

re:Invent 2016: Ready, set…

For the fifth year, Qwiklabs is at re:Invent, bringing Hands-On Labs to you! We’ll open the doors tomorrow morning, bright and early. Even if you’re not at re:Invent, keep an eye out this week for ways you’ll be able to join the fun (:

Find Qwiklabs in the Hands-On Lab room, in the Venetian. Here’s our schedule, and why you should swing by:

  • We’re open Tuesday thru Friday, starting at 8 am. You can find our schedule (and highlights!) here: http://reinvent.qwiklabs.com/ 
  • Earn a badge at re:Invent and get your Qwiklabs t-shirt! Only for re:Invent badge-earners, you’ll look spiffy in your comfy new tee. Once you earn your badge, come see us in the waiting area and claim your reward, while supplies last. 
Qwiklabs shirt

New Quest: Security on AWS

A secure cloud environment is critical to doing business today. Prepare yourself (and your resume) to take on the security dragon with the newest Qwiklabs Quest: Security on AWS. Click here to enroll.

Security on AWS Quest badge

In this Quest, you will start by learning the basics of IAM and security-related tools like VPCs and the AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF). Then you’ll level-up to more advanced tools and use cases. This Quest is a great way to study up for the AWS Certified Security – Specialty exam (more on that tomorrow).

There are a total of six new labs in this Quest. If you’re an Advantage Subscriber, you already have unlimited access to the new labs (smart move!). If you’re not a subscriber, now might be a good time to consider signing up

Here’s all the new stuff (the Quest costs a total of 69 credits, or save with a US $55 subscription):

Notice something different about us?

qwikLABS has a new look. Click here to check it out! You’ll notice a few new features that we think you’ll like (whether you do or not, we’d love to hear about it). Most of the changes are small, but we hope they will AWSome-ize your lab experience. 

New AWS lab interface

Do you like my UI?.

Here are some of the changes you should know about: 

3 reasons why Darth Vader is working on his own Alexa skill

1. Voice design is today’s Jedi mind trick. 

2. Vader wants a free t-shirt. It matches the rest of his wardrobe. 

3. So his Echo can answer him when he asks “Alexa, where is the Rebel Alliance base?” Hint: Not Alderaan. (Too soon?)

When Darth Vader asks, he gets what he wants. And what better way for him (and you) to take advantage of the latest lab, Working with Alexa: Build a Decision Tree Skill

This lab features a cleverly designed decision tree template. Take the lab, familiarize yourself with key concepts, then use the lab as a template to build and publish your own skill. It’s that easy to become part of the (growing) Alexa Developer community. Bonus: it’s part of the Alexa Skills Development Quest! These aren’t the labs you’re looking for…..

Alexa Badge

Can you imagine this pinned to Vader's cape?.

Need another reason? Check out how developing an Alexa skill can make your trip to AWS re:Invent 2016 a little easier… (Stay tuned- more on that later this week!)

New Quest: Serverless Web Apps Using Amazon DynamoDB

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Your mission… earn your DynamoDB badge. Photo courtesy of JD Hancock(CC Attribution)

The newest AWS Quest, Serverless Web Apps using Amazon DynamoDB awaits! With great power comes great responsibility, and DynamoDB and Lambda are powerful tools in your arsenal of AWS skills. Build a super hero mission dossier generator that retrieves data from DynamoDB via Lambda functions – and send super heroes on missions to save the world!

The Backstory 

Every super hero has a backstory, and this Quest is no exception. Start the Quest by learning the basics with Introduction to AWS Lambda, Introduction to Amazon DynamoDB, and Introduction to AWS API Gateway. (If you already completed these labs, you don’t need to take them again. They already count towards your badge. Unless you want a refresher of course!) 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

Now that you know the backstory, at the core of this Quest is a 3-part mission:

Part 1: Lay the groundwork for your mission. Create a DynamoDB table and practice adding data in several different ways. Then set up AWS IAM infrastructure you will need throughout the lab. 

Part 2: It’s up to you now… to create Lambda functions that retrieve data from the DynamoDB table in several different ways. Once you create the functions, you will test them. Challenge yourself to dig into the Lambda function code and modify the custom tests provided in the manual.

Part 3: Complete your mission! Conclude this three-part series by configuring an API using Amazon API Gateway and setting up a public website to retrieve information from your DynamoDB table via Lambda functions, using what you learned in all three labs to send super heroes off to save the world! 

Serverless Web Apps using Amazon DynamoDB Badge

This would look great on your resume.

Did you know that you can purchase a qwikLABS subscription? Get all-you-can-eat access to every single lab in our AWS catalog for $55/month. It’s the most economical way to earn a badge or two. 

Look mom, I published an Alexa skill

I created an Alexa trivia skill. Call me a nerd, but it was fun 🙂 If you haven’t already, check out the Alexa Skills Development quest from qwikLABS, the reason I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing Alexa Skills for the past couple of weeks.

My Alexa skill took me about 3 days between starting to work on the skill and clicking submit. It will probably take you less – I asked for outside help on my icon, which added some time (thanks to my sister-in-law for the awesome artwork!) and I spent an afternoon working on my trivia questions. 

Here’s what I learned about developing an Alexa Skill:

1. My skill got rejected. Guess why?

Take AWS and Windows for a test drive

Are you running Microsoft apps on AWS? Or interested in switching to AWS? You came to the right place for AWS for Windows training resources. Check out Scott Zimmerman’s blog post, outlining updates and new resources from both Amazon and qwikLABS available to you. Or check out the new training page, also on the Amazon site, AWS for Windows.

qwikLABS and AWS collaborated to develop four Quests, to help you focus on certain areas of AWS and Windows:

AWS Windows qwiklabs

One or two of these would look AWSome on your resume…

The top AWS for Windows lab? Creating Amazon EC2 Instances with Microsoft Windows, with an average of 4.3 stars in the past month. Take this lab and fulfill 8 credits worth of requirements for three of the four AWS for Windows Quests in one shot. And if you’re just getting started, may I suggest the top intro (free!) AWS for Windows lab: Introduction to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) with Windows Server (highly rated at 4.1 stars). 

Then follow up on the lab with a test drive: 

Comment (or tweet us @qwikLAB) to share how your project is going – we would love to hear your insights. You never know, your advice could make a great lab!

3 ways to save the world with AWS & Serverless Architecture

The Serverless Design with AWS Lambda quest badge would look great on your cape… so what are you waiting for? Learn what you can do with serverless design and AWS Lambda with the latest quest from qwikLABS. 

1. Use AWS Lambda to create your own Alexa skill – yep, voice design! 

You can build your own Alexa skill – and feel free to use the skill in the lab as a template to make your own! While the Amazon Echo might not pass the Turing test (yet), there is an incredible amount of potential in the device (and a free t-shirt). 

Meet the new Amazon Redshift Quest

Got data? If you have lots of it, Amazon Redshift can help. And qwikLABS can help too, with the newest quest: Advanced Operations Using Amazon Redshift!

Click here to see all the labs in this Quest.

Your Quest, should you choose to accept it, delves deep into the world of Amazon Redshift. You will learn to optimize for storage efficiency and query performance, use your data to create prediction models, and more. After all, what’s the point of all that data if you can’t use it?

Here are some of the things you’ll do in the Quest: