Spotlight Labs at re:Invent

Have you taken a Spotlight Lab session at re:Invent yet? Spotlight labs are a totally new type of event this year. You can register online – but in case the session does not fit your schedule, or in the event that the session is full and you’re at the end of the waitlist, you can always take any of the four labs at your own pace. If you’re at re:Invent, all AWS labs are available in the Hands-On Labs room. 200 workstations, experts throughout the room to help answer your questions, and snacks!

This year’s Spotlight Labs:

The lab catalog you’ve been waiting for

It’s here: the new, improved, redesigned lab catalog! Click here to check it out.

Select your next Quest with the greatest of ease. Know what you’re looking for? The Quest catalog gives you the number of labs in each Quest, the cost in credits (which you can ignore if you have an Advantage Subscription), and the estimated time needed to complete the Quest and earn your badge. 

Qwiklabs Quest catalog

The lab catalog got a new coat of paint too – you can see ratings, costs, and time estimates right there in the catalog. 

Qwiklabs lab catalog

Know what you’re looking for? Search is your new best friend. 

Qwiklabs search

We would love to hear what you think – and stay tuned for more changes, coming soon!

Got AWS Enterprise Support? Then you’ve got labs.

qwikLABS is now part of the AWS Enterprise Support perks! Read more here. Wondering what to do with your shiny new qwikLABS credits? Here are a few ways to take advantage of your new benefits:

Prepare for AWS certification with one of the certification exam prep Quests. (Here’s more about what a Quest is.) Did you know that to be part of the AWS Partner Network (APN), you need a certain number of AWS certified staff? 

qwikLABS can help you prepare for the Developer-Associate Exam, the SA Associate Exam, the SA Professional Exam, and the SysOps-Associate Exam. Which badge appeals to you?

qwikLABS badges: AWS Certification Prep

AWS re:Invent 2016 – Getting there

Las Vegas Boulevard South

Coming Soon: AWS re:Invent 2016. Photo courtesy of D-Stanley(CC Attribution)

Are you planning to be at AWS re:Invent in November? qwikLABS is going, and we hope to see you there! 

This is the first in a series of posts we’ll write leading up to the event. You will see all kinds of information, from packing lists to treasure maps. Today’s topic? How to get your ticket.

The easiest way, of course, is to register. 

Looking for a challenge? There are a few ways to get to re:Invent for less…

Win a ticket with the Serverless Chat Bot Competition

  • The challenge: Build a chat bot and win a ticket to re:Invent 2016! 8 tickets (plus other goodies) are up for grabs.
  • Deadline: Sept. 29
  • Click here for official details from the AWS team
  • Wondering where to start? Sign up for a free webinar from AWS. The webinar promises in-depth exploration of the skills you’ll need to master to build your own chat bot. 
  • … and finally, qwikLABS can help you learn to build a serverless chat bot! (Handy, eh?) With this Slack Chat Bot lab, you’ll get step-by-step instructions and a template for creating a chat bot. You can customize it to your heart’s content, then use it to enter the competition!

Earn the Alexa Developer Discount

If we find other nifty competitions or promos, we’ll be sure to share them. Good luck! 

Overheated? Turn up the AC with AWS IoT

Thermostat

The IoT thermostat looks a little different… Photo courtesy of alex_why(CC No Derivatives)

Is it hot in here? AWS IoT can help, and qwikLABS can show you how with our brand new lab: Introduction to AWS Internet of Things (IoT). Does this lab sound familiar? That’s because it was one of the #nextqwikLAB winners earlier this Summer. 

So what does AWS IoT have to do with heat? Other than IoT being hot new technology, this lab teaches you how to use AWS IoT to detect temperature changes in a simulated environment, and control the thermostat accordingly. It’s a three part lab (pretty in-depth for an intro freebie), but don’t let that scare you away. 

What I like about this lab:

  • This lab keeps you busy. In a good way! We try to keep intro-level labs simple. They are geared towards AWS first-timers and freshmen. This lab sticks to basic concepts, as an intro. But you do a lot, and when you finish, you feel like you’ve had a busy hour. 
  • You walk through a real-world scenario. Sounds obvious, but it’s great to get hands-on practice with a problem you know you will encounter in real life. As you go through the lab, envision applying the strategies and tools in the lab to your environment.
  • Lots of images. I appreciate visuals when I’m learning, especially when in unfamiliar territory (of course it’s a personal preference). I like to see screenshots that either confirm I’m doing it right, or point out that I’m doing it wrong and I need to try again. 

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! 

We’re phoning a friend…

Thanks to all who shared their ideas for the #nextqwikLAB!
You sent us 125 brilliant ideas. We were able to get the list down to 10, but now we are asking for help – phoning you – to select the final 3.
Vote below for your favorite idea for the next qwikLAB. 
The 3 with the most votes will be turned into qwikLABS. And if you happened to suggest that idea, you will win 100 qwikLAB credits. Voting for yourself is allowed 🙂

Continue reading “We’re phoning a friend…”