Apr 28, 2018
It has been 3 years since we last hosted a local a session of the Global Azure Bootcamp in Utah. This year I decided that it was time we bring it back, so I volunteered to host the event. Along with the global sponsors we had a couple of local organizations step up to help us out. The first was the Computer Science Department at Weber State University. Weber State hosted the event at their main campus in Ogden Utah. The second local sponsor was ZAACT, a company headquartered in Draper Utah that is a Microsoft Gold Partner specializing in SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure. Zaact provided some give-aways to share with the attendees.
After reaching out to a few people for help presenting I ended up being the only presenter. That made for a long day - but I really enjoy these events and love to share information with others. I believe I love it so much because I believe that I actually get much more out of it that what I put into to. I honestly believe that everyone has something to teach me, and I hope that in return I can share some knowledge with them. Also, I believe the best way to learn anything is to teach it to others. So for me, presenting at an event like this is a win-win!
Since I was the only presenter, and since the project I am currently working on has been in crunch mode for the past couple of months I knew it would be difficult to create new content for the event. Luckily Frank Boucher from Montreal, Canada had organized a similar event in November of 2017 and had graciously offered to share the content they used with anyone who wanted it. I forked his Github repository, reviewed and updated the content and used it as the base of my presentation.
You can find my updates here: https://github.com/mgerickson/Bootcamp-Azure-Asp.Net-Core-DevOps
There was a pretty diverse group of attendees at the event. While I had initially intended to have each attendee go through the labs on their own we decided it would work out best to do the exercises as a team, allowing anyone who wanted to follow alone with the group.
We were unable to get through all of the labs, but we did get a great introduction to Azure with some good hands on experience. I was able to present all of the content, just not do all of the labs.
While our numbers were smaller than I wished it was a very interactive group. I love having those in attendance participate, and this group did not let me down! Thank you to everyone who attended!
The feedback that I have received has been very positive. And, at least for now, I am highly motivated to ensure that we don't miss future years of participating in this event. I am also interested in organizing some other local events. I'm thinking that we need a similar event for AWS. Knowledge of "the cloud" is becoming more important all of the time and ensuring we have well informed technologists in the area is important.
Please let me know what you think about these events. And let me know if you would be interested in attending future events - especially if you would like to help present and share your knowledge with the community!
Keep your head in the clouds!
Apr 25, 2018
After I shared some of the groups that I know about with the attendees I decided that it would be worthwhile to share the list with others.
Quick disclaimer - while I have attended meetings of several of these groups I have not been able to attend nearly as often for the past few years. I am providing information that is available online, trying to pull it together into one place. But I cannot confirm how active the groups are or how valuable their content or meetings are at this time - that leaves a wide open opportunity for each of you to join them and help make these groups great!
Here is what I've come up with - PLEASE let me know what other groups or events you know about so we can build up or local technology communities! Also, please let me know if you have any experience with any of the groups, I'd like to be better informed to share the information with others in the future.
The SLC .NET User Group
The Northern Utah .NET User Group
This is the group that I have been able to attend the most over the past couple of years. They meet very consistently and have an especially fun meeting every October when they use microcontrollers to make some fun Halloween gadgets.
The Utah Valley .NET User Group
Utah Geek Events
This organization puts on the annual Utah Code Camp and other events. They also share information about other independent events that happen in the state. This is a good site to keep an eye on. They also have a Slack Channel that you can join.
Utah Azure Meetup
Utah AWS Meetup
Utah Java Users Group
Utah Node.js Meetup
ReactJS Utah Meetup
Salt Lake Valley Angular Meetup
Salt Lake City Data Science Meetup
Girl Develop It SLC/Provo
Aug 18, 2016
I don’t remember when I first started to use these techniques but over the course of taking many technical certification exams I have created a process to track my progress through the exam.
I feel like this helps me in several ways. It helps to give me an overall perspective of how I am doing on time, which keeps me well paced through the test. It gives me insight to how likely I feel I am to pass the exam helping me not get too anxious when I hit a series of questions that “stump” me. It reduces the time required to review questions at the end of the exam reducing the chance of making bad “guesses” at answers as I finish up the exam.
I have shared this technique with several people over the past few years. Most say they have found it useful. As with any technique that claims to make some task easier I suggest that you see how it feels for you, and that you adopt any parts of it that you believe will be helpful as you pursue new certifications.
Before You StartBased on my experience you have a few tools available to you as you sit down to start your exam. You typically know how many questions are on the exam. You know how long you have to complete the exam. You often have an idea of the minimum required score to pass the exam. And finally you have a blank sheet of paper and something to write with.
Before I press “start” on the exam I create a tracking tool for myself with the blank paper. It looks similar to this:
First look at the top right corner of the paper. Here I list the key information that I know about the exam. The time limit, the number of questions and the anticipated pass percentage. I calculate the number of questions that I will need to get correct to pass the exam. Finally I note the time that I hit “Start”.
I know that all of this is information that you already know, and some of it is available in the testing engine. I have found that writing it down before I start helps me to settle down a bit, and it means that I won’t have to use any mental energy to think of these things during the exam.
Next I start at the top left of the page and I create a grid with a row for each question. This almost always takes at least two columns. In this sample I’ve shortened the first column and show a second column as an example.
Next to each number you will see there are three columns. I also add a line for every 5 questions to help keep things lined up.
While Answering QuestionsOnce I’ve finished preparing the paper I take a deep breath and hit start. As I work through the test I use the grid I to track how confident I feel about each question I answer. I check the first column for questions I feel very confident of the answers. I check the third column for answers I have no confidence in. and Finally I check the middle column for the rest.
A quick look at this during the exam will give me a feeling for how well I am doing overall. If I see too many check marks in the third column I start to get a little worried. I don’t worry too much about how many are in the middle column, from past experience I know that I have to be very confident in the answer to mark the first column.
I answer all questions on my first pass through the test, but I also leave behind some information as I go. When I am not confident in my answer I will often leave myself a note about my thoughts. This can take the form you see next to questions 12 and 15. Here I identify how many answers are needed, for instance in my sample of question 12 I have put a 2 in parentheses indicates the question is asking for the 2 best answers. On question 15 there would only be a single answer for the question. I then also note which of the possible answers I believe to be wrong by writing a slash through the option. I also note which I believe to be correct by underlining the option. This will reduce the time I need to review the question if I come back to it after completing my first pass through the questions.
Most people also have experienced situations where a question later in the test helps them to recall something that would be useful in answering an earlier question. To help me find something like this I might make a comment with the question number. In my sample I have noted that I don’t remember what a “widget” is and I need to know that for question 6. I also have found that writing down a note like this can help to keep my mind working on that question in the background as I continue through the test.
After Completing all the QuestionsOnce I have complete my first pass through the exam I’ll do a quick check of my time. This will help me to decide how to approach reviewing any questions. Based on the time I have available, and the number of questions I have marked in each category, I will go back and review questions. On my sample paper you can see where I have totaled the number of questions from each column to give me a better idea of what my actual score might be.
I seldom return to the questions that I marked in column 3. The only real exception to that is if I believe I’ve remembered something that will truly help me select a better answer. This comes from the notes I might have made (like “what is a widget”). I will tend to return to questions where I eliminated some possible answers on the first pass (like questions 12 and 15).
I’m certain everyone has heard the advice that you should not change answers to questions when you review your test. I’ll let you make your own choice on that, but my approach is to consider that I might have been reminded of something while reading other questions that makes the changing of my answer less of a random thing and more the implementation of “newly remembered” knowledge. and change answers accordingly.
After You Hit EndOne the test is actually finished because I have either ran out of time or hit “end” to complete the test I do two last things. First I will make of list of any topics that I feel like I need to focus on based on the experience I just had with the test. These may be things that I found I didn’t know as well as I would like, or topics that I felt were heavily covered on the exam which I feel I should do some more study on. While I am not able to take this paper with with me after the exam writing them down helps me to remember them. Then I can make note of these topics after I leave the testing center.
The final thing that I do is to compare my actual score with the results of marking my three columns. For instance if on this hypothetical exam I scored 81% I would do the math to see that I must have gotten about 49 questions correct (the math says 48.6 – I find that it seldom works out to be an exact number of questions – maybe some of it is rounding and possible some questions are scored differently than others). I compare this to the results of totaling up my check marks. In this case, it is likely that I got nearly all of the questions that I marked as “very confident” or “OK” correct. I had marked 16 as “very confident” and 34 as “OK”. I use this as a gauge for future exams to better know how to interpret my “self grading”.
A Final ThoughtA while back I wrote a post about how I feel about technical certifications (http://mgerickson.blogspot.com/2015/05/thoughts-on-technical-certifications.html). In that post I presented the typical reason I pursue certifications. I also discussed some of the common feelings I have heard others express about certifications.
Please let me know what you think of my approach, and what you would do to improve it!
Aug 13, 2015
|Notes - Page 1|
|Notes - Page 2|
We have skipped around some in our reading, and I have not captured notes for every chapter. I'll continue to publish the notes I have taken every few days. I'll capture notes for the chapters we have covered that I failed to capture notes for. And I'll work to capture notes for the remaining chapters as we work our way through them.
I'm looking forward to any thoughts or feedback - get talking everyone!
Aug 6, 2015
Recently I've been playing around with Sketchnotes (here is a link to a site that describes Sketchnoting if you are not familiar with it). I struggle to use them strongly (and probably well), but I'm trying to get better at it. I do feel like there are many benefits of sketchnotes both for the person who takes the notes, and for anyone with whom those notes are shared. With this in mind I decided to scan my notes for the chapter we discussed today and share them with our team. I had some feedback, mostly positive, but I'm not sure if they helped too much.
I decided to post the images here - maybe someone else will find them useful.
|Notes - Page 1|
|Notes - Page 2|
Please let me know what you think.
Also, after putting the notes together I decided I would prefer to change the flow some - I just didn't have time to do it. If I decide recreate them I'll post an update (in the mean time I've included a picture of a rough outline of what I'm thinking from my whiteboard).
|Better Layout of Notes|
Aug 4, 2015
I recently had an experience that reminded me of the value of serving others. While this was a big experience it reminded me that the benefits can come from even small acts. I hope that my brief account of this experience will help all of us remember the importance of serving others. It doesn't have to be done in a faraway place. Nor does it have to be a large act. You can serve your employees, your manger, your family, your friends and even people you don't know - the benefits will come to everyone when you do.
After reading my account of this trip please take my challenge seriously. Then please share experiences that you have had with the rest of us!
My Trip to Guatemala
|One of the rooms we cemented|
- We mixed and poured cement in about 20 homes (in bedrooms, kitchens or both)
- We installed about 20 Chapina Stoves
- We painted both the inside and outside of the village school house
- We installed a playground at the school (designed by Ken from People for Guatemala)
- We taught interested members of the village to sew on (mostly) donated sewing machines
- We taught interested members of the village to cut hair
- Each of the youth taught English lessons to the students at the school
- Lessons were taught on human relations, alcohol and smoking concerns and basic business skills
- We held a health fair where healthy skills and other health lessons were taught
|The school house we painted and where the youth taught|
|A home in the village with a pile of gravel for the cement|
I close with a challenge to everyone who reads this. Even if you do it for the "selfish" reason of bringing joy to your life know that you will also bring joy and help to others - if you follow through. Watch for opportunities to serve others. Make it personal, find someone, close or far, who you can help. Do something, big or small, to help someone else. And do it often. I believe that keeping it personal will bring the most benefit to you.
It is possible to provide help in other ways. Consider following one of the links at the top of my story and donating to these organizations to help their causes. Or find an organization close to your home, or that focuses on an issue that you are passionate about. Many of these organizations are able to make great things happen when they have enough support.
I know that you will feel the joy of this service and others will benefit from it. It will make your life, your community and the world a better place!
Please remember to share your experiences and let others know of the experiences you have. We'll all be better for that!
Jul 29, 2015
But hopefully we'll all find some awesome images from these sites.
27 Superb Sites With Royalty Free Stock Images for Commercial Use
Thanks Dave Lang!
Of course I needed to include an image to include in this post - the one I picked is from from Unsplash!
Jun 24, 2015
I wanted to start to share some of what I did to prepare for the exam - and hope that others are able to join me! I'm planning on a few posts about this exam, and my preparations - and I'm planning on continuing on with the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional exam soon too, so more posts about that in the near future as well!
Here is a quick list of the main steps I took:
- I signed up for the 1 year "Free Tier"
- I worked through some of the free labs at QwikLab
- I reviewed the exam blueprint and read the suggested whitepapers
- I worked through the sample questions offered on the certification site
- I took the practice exam offered by AWS/Kryterion
- I reviewed various FAQs for the "Products and Services" included in AWS
- I used my AWS Account to practice, test and learn things I had questions about
- I scheduled my exam with a not so local Kryterion testing center
- I took my exam
May 22, 2015
IntroductionWhen you setup your Amazon Web Services (AWS) account you create a root user that has full privileges in your account. These credentials are not able to be restricted and should be safeguarded. If they fall into the wrong hands someone else will have full control of your account. We all know that credentials should not be shared, but we also know that at times it does happen.
AWS allows you to create up to 5000 users within your account (see IAM Limitations). By default these users have no rights when they are created. But you can grant the user a highly customized set of rights including full control of the account.
It is a best practice within AWS to immediately setup users through the IAM feature. Included in this is a practice of creating an IAM user for you, the administrator of the account, to use for all of your work. Once this is done you can lock away the root account credentials so no one has to use them and no one else will ever be able to "own" your account. There was a very good presentation on this, and a strong case made for creating yourself an IAM user at a security session at re:Invent 2014 (SEC305 - IAM Best Practices)
Creating an IAM UserTo create a user that will have the administrative rights that you need to fully manage the account navigate to the IAM Users page. Click on "Create New Users" and you will be allowed to enter up to five new users at a time. There is an option to create access keys for the users. Access keys are required to make secure calls to the AWS service APIs.
When creating new users you are not prompted to create a password. Once the users are created you can select a user from the list of users and manage information for that user. If the user will need to access the AWS Managment Console you will need to create a password for the account. For our purposes be sure to do this.
When assigning a password you have some of the standard options. You can provide a custom password, or allow the system to generate one for you. You can also force the user to change the password the next time the sign in.
To give the new user administrative rights you also need to attach the "AdministratorAccess" policy to the user. This can be done by selecting the "Attach Policy" button on the user properties page. via a link on the user details page in the AWS Management Console. This will list the policies available within your account and allow you to select up to two policies for the user.
Simply attaching the AdministratorAccess policy will not allow the IAM user to see the billing information. To allow this you will need to be logged into the AWS Management Console as the root user and follow these steps:
- Navigate to the "Billing and Cost Management" page for your account
- Select "Account Settings" from the left navigation list
- Scroll down the page to the "IAM User Access to Billing Information" section
- Select "Edit" for this section
- Check the box for "Activate IAM Access"
- Click on the "Update" button
Once you have created a user you will use this URL to login with that user: http://
|IAM Dashboard Page|
Add Multi-Factor AuthenticationMulti-Factor Authentication (MFA) forces and extra challenge for a user to authenticate themselves. Typically you are challenged with a requirement to provide a username and a password. This is something that you know. Adding MFA also requires you to have something. So you end proving that you both know the correct information and that you have needed evidence.
AWS uses devices for the having part of MFA. There are two commonly used solutions for this. One is software based and the other hardware based. I have setup both for users in my AWS account. I first used a software based solution. Since I currently carry a Windows Phone I installed an application named "Microsoft Authenticator". There are apps that are available for both Android and iPhones as well.
I have also purchased 2 different devices that Amazon uses for hardware solutions. These are devices from Gemalto and are available as a fob that you can easily attach to a key chain and as a credit card sized device that presumably you could carry in a wallet. The credit card token seems like it might not survive a week in my wallet - but I might be wrong. You can find details about these options on the AWS website (MFA Details).
To configure MFA for a user navigate to the user details page and select "Manage MFA Device". Walking through the configuration you will first indicate the type of device you are configuring, either a software or hardware device. You will associate the device with the account. For a software device you AWS will give you a secret key to enter on the device, luckily this can be done by scanning a QRCode with your phones camera. For a hardware device you will enter the devices serial number into AWS. You will then provide two consecutive 6 digit numbers that are generated by your device and the MFA configuration will be complete.
Logging in with MFAOnce you have configured your new user with the administrator policy and setup a password and MFA device navigate to your IAM signin page (it should be at http://
You are now able to administer your AWS account with your new IAM user.
Windows PowerShell for AWS Commands
New-IAMUser -UserName Mike
New-IAMLoginProfile -UserName Mike -Password
To reset the password for the user with the username of Mike:
Update-IAMLoginProfile -UserName Mike -Password
Attach the AdministratorAccess policy to the user with the username of Mike:
Register-IAMUserPolicy -UserName Mike -PolicyArn arn:aws:iam::aws:policy/AdministratorAccess
Enable a hardware MFA device for the user with the username of Mike:
Enable-IAMMFADevice -UserName Mike -SerialNumber
Setting up a software MFA device can be done with PowerShell, but it does require multiple steps and is, in my opinion, not worth it. If you are using a software MFA device I recommend following the instructions above to complete the setup from the AWS Management Console.
I hope this was helpful!
May 15, 2015
May 8, 2015
Apr 30, 2015
Mar 31, 2015
Jan 20, 2015
My first introduction to agile software methodologies came several years ago when I stumbled on Kent Beck’s book “Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change”. I remember that some of my first thoughts were that the current approach to creating software was not working and a radical change just might be the answer.
Finding that book started a journey for me. The journey continues today – it is to find better ways to create software and to improve the way in which teams work. There are several flavors of agile in use today but Scrum is one of the most well known and accepted.
I stumbled on this book while browsing around Amazon a while back and finally decided to buy it. The author, Jeff Sutherland, is the co-creator of scrum. I decided that the insights he might provide would be very interesting. At about 250 pages it is a pretty short book and a quick read.
The book really focuses on the “why” of Scrum. There are three key things I got from the book:
1) There are some descriptions of projects that have successfully been coached in Scrum and had extraordinary outcomes. The author shares experiences he has had in turning projects around It is interesting to understand the history and evolution of Scrum.
2) Understanding of the roles and processes and “keys” to successful Scrum.
3) The use of Scrum in non software work.
Here are my more detailed thoughts on these points:
Evolution and Success Stories of Scrum
I found it very interesting that the author had been a pilot for the US Air Force in Vietnam. He related that his Air Force training had taught him to do four things to control risk. The acronym is OODA: Observe; Orient; Decide; Act. As soon as these steps were complete the pattern would need to start again, observing the new reality, orienting to the new possibilities, deciding on the best course of action and executing those decisions.
He relates stories of several projects that he was a part of or that he was brought in to help with. The story of the birth of Scrum is recounted in his work at Easel where his team transformed the way they worked which helped them to deliver their product on the assigned 6 month schedule, under budget and with a lower rate of bugs than the team had previously been able to achieve.
The second story that really struck me was the salvaging of project “Sentinel” for the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). While there are challenges with any project, especially large ones, this had the added headaches of being a government project. It had technical challenges to be sure, but it also had to deal with a wide array of stakeholders. And while it might just be the cynic in me I believe that not all of the stakeholders were as focused on the potential results of the project as they should have been, but possibly more interested in how they could leverage their involvement into political clout or gain. After years of work, and the expenditure of most of the budget, an assessment was done that estimated it would take another 6 to 8 years and another $350 million to finish the project. The net result of switching the approach of driving the project to Scrum was finishing the delivery of the project with a smaller team, for a small percent of the original budget and delivering it in 20 months. When you see those results, especially in what could be considered a difficult environment, it is worth looking into. To get a more of the details of the FBI project drop by a bookstore and browse through chapter 1 of the book.
Keys to Successful Scrum
My thoughts about the keys to successful Scrum are influenced by several factors including my experiences, my recent training to become a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) and things I’ve read. This book included many points that validate what I have learned and experienced in the past as well as giving some new insights.
The key that continues to stand out for me is trust. I do not believe that success is achievable without trust between all people involved in Scrum.
The team members need to trust each other. I have typically found this to not be too big of a problem – but if you see it you must attack it quickly and come to a resolution. This supports another key point of having self-directing teams. When teams trust each other they are better able to take on and support others in their tasks. It is also somewhat cyclical, when you trust people tend to perform which leads to even greater trust.
I have worked in consulting for several years, and it is something that I really enjoy. Unfortunately I have seen a lot of mistrust between the client and the consultant. And this often goes both ways. I believe that it is difficult to establish this trust, but when you can, and each party performs it becomes cyclical just like it does in the Scrum team.
I find that often trust issues result from a failure to see things through the eyes of others. The author brings up the point that it is natural for us to see our actions as being driven by circumstances and others actions being driven by character. When we make “poor” choices we rationalize it as responding to the current environment. But when we see others make what we consider “poor” choices we attribute it to a lack of character. These attitudes kill trust!
Then next couple of keys I identified from the book were again a validation of my previous thinking and experience – but they were enhanced by the language and the examples in the book.
The core key here is that people must be dedicated to the project – not in the sense of their attitude to the work, but rather in their work assignments. We act today as if multitasking is a good thing. We often pride ourselves on our ability to juggle multiple tasks and priorities. Research has shown that is a productive way to work. One of my favorite time management techniques is the Pomodoro Technique. The key to that is to focus on only the most important thing for 25 minutes, then to break for 5.
In Chapter 5 a study is presented that shows that multitasking is not only a drain on productivity, but it also makes you stupid. If you believe that study, and you want a productive, and smart, team working on the project you can see the point of focused assignments of projects. The other point backing up this key is actually the title of Chapter 5 – “Waste is a Crime” – let that one sink in and read the chapter for the authors thoughts!
The author also talks about the team size having a major impact on the success of Scrum. There are different thoughts and “rules” about this in the industry but he recommends that a team should be 7 people (plus or minus 2). Most of the projects I have worked on have been made up of many teams, and the typical team size is larger than that. Because of this I can’t really confirm this point, but I know (from experience) that multiple teams and large teams do create many challenges!
The next thought is that a happy person is a more successful and productive person. It seems that most of our reward systems today are based on the completion of achievements. There is a lot of research that tells us that those rewards (carrot/stick mentality) are actually harmful to attitudes and success. I’ve recently read another book that focuses on that directly (Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates us – by Daniel H. Pink).
We need to keep ourselves and our teams happy and enjoying the day to day work of the project. What motivates most people is not the end of the journey, but the journey itself (I recently tweeted this: It is said that happiness is not found at a destination but rather from the journey. Are you on a journey of happiness?). I believe that – but it can be difficult to remember that in the daily battles that we find ourselves.
For those that have not worked in a well functioning Scrum world you will find that it is a real change of culture. It is much more that just learning and following some techniques and ceremonies, it really does require a change in your thought process, your interaction with others and the way that you work. Really a change in attitudes and focus!
Non Software Work with Scrum
The final point that really struck me from reading this book is the areas in which Scrum is being used. Scrum was developed in a software/technology focused environment. I have always worked in the same type of environment so naturally that is how I have seen the world, and how I have seen Scrum.
I found it very interesting that Scrum is driving cultural changes in many non-technical businesses. This includes education, journalism, manufacturing, volunteer humanitarian efforts and even government to name just a few.
If you are interested in how Scrum is changing the non-software world be sure to read Chapter 9!
What have you read?
What books have you read on agile methodologies that you would like to discuss or recommend? My reading list is long, but I’m always looking to add good books to it!
Jan 2, 2015
I have two general types of podcasts that I try to follow. The first type is focused on technology and the second on business and leadership. Below is a list of the business and leadership podcasts that I am currently trying to keep up with.
Please share any related podcasts that you have found and enjoy so I can check them out as well!
- Entreleadership: This is very focused on leadership with a particular slant towards entrepreneurs. I usually find this a very good show to listen to. They publish every two weeks and shows run about 30 minutes, so it is pretty easy to stay up to date. This is from Dave Ramsey’s organization – I know some people love him and some hate him… that will likely influence your liking of this podcast. He also as a book titled “EntreLeadership” which I also found very enjoyable. (http://www.daveramsey.com/entreleadership/podcast)
- The Chris LoCurto Show: I was first introduced to Chris LoCurto from the Entreleadership podcast – he was the original host. He later left the Dave Ramsey organization and went out on his own. Much of what he does in his new company appears to be focused on life plans and the pursuit of personal growth. The podcast typically focuses on such topics. I find it great for personal growth and leadership skills. Currently there are three episodes published each week, so it is a little harder to stay current on this one. Episodes typically range between 15 and 30 minutes. (http://chrislocurto.com/podcasts/)
- Startups For the Rest of Us: This podcast has a lot of information about startups and how to make them sustainable. It does have a technology theme, and covers ways to start and grow a business. Episodes are about 30 minutes long, and I only pick and choose which ones I listen to because of limited time, but I have found some value in them –for the entrepreneurial spirit. The show is published once a week. (http://www.startupsfortherestofus.com/)
- This Is Your Life with Michael Hyatt: I have just found this in the past couple of weeks and am trying it out. So far I have been pleased. Michael Hyatt published a book titled “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” in 2012. I have not yet read the book, but it is now on my list. Michael and his co-host Michelle work well together and seem to be well prepared for each episode. Topics covered range from personal development and leadership to productivity. (http://michaelhyatt.com/thisisyourlife)
- Read to Lead: This is brand new to me. I found this just a couple of days ago and have just listened to my first episode. I went back to an older podcast to give it a test. I listened to episode 43 with Simon Sinek talking about his book “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t”. I recently read this book (blog post with a review coming soon) and found it a great book! I figured this would give me some good insight into the podcast. I was pleased with my listen and plan to continue to give it a shot for at least a few more episodes. One thing I did not like about this show is the relatively long introduction – it seemed to take a long time to get to the meat of the show. (http://readtoleadpodcast.com/)
If you have a suggestion of an application for listening to podcasts at a fast playback speed on the Windows Phone please share.
As requested above please leave comments with a list of personal development, business or leadership podcasts that you listen to. I’d love some suggestions of others to try!
Watch for an upcoming post on the technical focused podcasts that I try to follow.
Sep 15, 2013
Last week my first Pluralsight course was published. The course is titled “Introduction to UML” and it can be found here: Introduction to UML. The course covers some of the history of UML, the basic building blocks that are used by many diagrams and coverage of 8 common UML diagrams.
I have been using Pluralsight training for a few years and I highly recommend them – and not just because I am now an author! If you haven’t tried Pluralsight yet you need to head on over to their website and sign up for a free trial (or contact me and I’ll get you set up)!
I hope you will take the time to watch my video, if you do please let me know what you think. Also, if you have ideas for other Pluralsight courses that you would like to see me create please let me know.
I’m starting work on my next course and it should be available before the end of the year.
Apr 27, 2012
This book focuses on how to approach the creation of a product with constraints placed on you and your team. It is pretty common to have minimal resources when starting a business. This includes money, people and the ‘right ideas’. Below are some of my thoughts about each of these limited resources and some of what I took away from my reading of the book:
1) Limited Money: The author talks about how it can be difficult to raise money to fund your startup – but follows up with this actually being an advantage. Here is a quote that I particularly liked:
"Constraints drive innovation, but more important, they force action. With less money, you are forced to build less, get it out faster, and learn faster."Having “too” much money could actually keep you from the hard driving and tight focus that is required to actually get a product out the door.
2) Limited People: Another issue the author talks about is the limited people that are typically available to a startup. This often means that you (and others) will need to fill multiple roles on the team – often with each role being something that would be a full time job. This again helps to keep a focus on doing the most important tasks, and knowing that some things simply will not get done. Be sure that understanding your customer (#3 below) is not one of the things that you let slip!
This is where you will call up any and all learning from your past about prioritization, organization and effectiveness. You will need to decide how best to schedule your days, weeks and months to maximize the efficiency of the work you do. The author calls out that he has found scheduling customer interviews on Mondays and Fridays to less effective than doing this midweek. Also, if you are actively building the product you will want to be sure to have some blocks of time that you can get in ”the flow”. Here is another section out of the book:
"Activities that flow typically have the following attributes:The author has found that early mornings are often best for him to achieve this flow – I find that late nights currently work better for me.
- They have a clear objective.
- The need your full concentration.
- They lack interruptions and distractions.
- They provide clear and immediate feedback on progress toward the objective
- They offer a sense of challenge."
3) The ‘Right Ideas’: The author brings out the point that it is very easy to focus only on your desires and experiences when working to create a product – but cautions against this and talks strongly about the need to work very closely with your targeted customers. Be sure that you have an understanding of the pain points of your target customers and that you are not too focused on only your experiences or your desire to implement some fancy technology! Again a few quotes from the book should help illustrate the authors thinking:
"Given the right context, customers can clearly articulate their problems, but it’s your job to come up with the solution"
"Customer Discovery is about exploring what you don’t know you don’t know"In this section of the book the author also quotes Henry Ford “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”)
A large portion of the book really lays out a plan to be sure that you have a very open conversation with your users (or potential users) and to ensure that you learn from them what their ‘real problem’ is and validate your solution to that problem.
I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it if you have any thoughts of starting a company or building a product. But even beyond that, I think that it can open your mind to some new ways of thinking and delivering whatever product or service you deliver – even to your employer.
A final quote from the book that sums things up pretty well (in my opinion):
"Running Lean is a systematic process for iterating from Plan A to a plan that works, before running out of resources."You can find the book on Amazon here:
Or find the product page for the book on the O’Reilly site here:
Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book to review by theO’Reilly Blogger Review Program
Apr 18, 2012
So somehow I’ve now been bitten by this issue twice in the last few months… so it’s time to post about it (if only for myself) so I can resolve the issue faster next time.
In both cases this has occurred after disconnecting from the network and working without connectivity to TFS. After re-establishing connectivity I attempt to open the solution again, and get the error “Source Control – Unable to Access Database”. I’ve tried several things including deleting the workspace, and all local files, recreating the workspace and getting files locally again, but nothing works.
So the solution: Close Visual Studio and run regedit. Navigate to:
You should see a value named Offline with a value of 1.
Modify this to be 0.
Restart Visual Studio 2010 and things should run!
Mar 29, 2012
The organizers, sponsors and speakers are critical to the success of a major event like this, and as I mentioned above they all came through wonderfully! But to be truly successful I believe requires more than that – it requires a lot from the attendees too. It is obvious to me that the attendees have helped to publicize the code camp and encourage others to attend – the camp has gotten bigger each time. The attendees also participate in the event – interaction with speakers during sessions, networking in the halls and sharing with each other during lunch and other breaks all help to make the event better. I’ve presented sessions where, even with several people attending, there was almost no interaction with them – this is definitely not how I like to present. I thrive on the interaction with the attendees and feel that this makes a better presentation, and a better overall event.
So in the end I want to thank not just the organizers, sponsors and presenters of the code camp, but I also want to thank all who attended and participated – each and everyone helped to make the event bigger and better than ever before! And it leaves me wanting more… we’ll see you in the fall!
If you haven't taken the time to at least try out a user group or a code camp please consider it. It is a great benefit to you and to the overall community of developers! I think you'll find it worth your time!
Mar 12, 2012
There was a very wide variety of sessions to choose from and each session that I attended was great! I hope that those who attended my sessions were also pleased. There were about 50 sessions presented. It is a lot of work to put together such an event and to prepare and deliver sessions – I want to send a big thank you out to all those involved in making it a great event!
Coming out of the event I’ve got a few things that I was to spend some time focused on:
- Play with programming the Kinect – thanks Scott Golightly for a great intro session
- Build some Windows 8 applications – thanks Jerry Nixon for sharing the passion
- Dig into Server-Sent events and Web Sockets – thanks Jason Staten for a thought provoking look at the topics
As always there were far too many sessions that I would have liked to attend and not enough time. I’ll have to grab the presentations/materials from others off the web site at http://www.utahcodecamp.com/Downloads. I’ve posted materials from my sessions there, and added my talks to my SpeakerRate profile – If you attended either or both please take a minute to rate them for me at: http://bit.ly/mgericksonSpeakerRate.