# Thursday, 07 June 2018

GCast 1:

A Lap Around Cloud and Azure

What is cloud computing, why is it important, and how does Microsoft Azure fit in?

Thursday, 07 June 2018 17:22:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, 06 June 2018

I have twice begun a screencast web series; but each time it fizzled as I ran out of time, motivation, and/or subject matter.

This time, I'm optimistic and I have a lot to say.

So, starting tomorrow, I am re-booting "GCast", a technical screencast in which I will walk through a technical topic in a short video.

My new computer and a fresh install of Camtasia Studio and Adobe Premiere Elements will help.

I’ve recorded a few episodes and I’ll be releasing them here once a week, for now. The first 2 are about 20 minutes long, but I plan to keep most videos 5-10 minutes.

Tomorrow's episode is A Lap Around Microsoft Azure and talks about the advantages of cloud computing in general and Azure in particular. 

I hope you like it an I hope you keep watching.

GCast | Video
Wednesday, 06 June 2018 09:03:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, 05 June 2018

HollowHills"he Hollow Hills continues Mary Stewart's Arthurian Saga, begun with Merlin's early years in The Crystal Cave.

In this second volume, King Uther, hoping to avoid the shame of conceiving Arthur via Ygraine on the night her husband was killed, commits the infant to the care of Merlin. Merlin keeps the boy safe until it is time for him to become king.

Merlin places the future monarch in the care of trusted friends; then, travels across Europe, where he learns of the sword of King Maximus - a sword prophesied to belong to the rightful ruler of Britain. Merlin then begins his quest to find this sword and get it to Arthur.

In some ways, The Hollow Hills is even stronger than The Crystal Cave. It continues its focus on Merlin, but it is Merlin the man, cognizant of his destiny and responsibility that we see, and his story is compelling.

I love the very-human Merlin that Stewart creates. His only "magic" is his advanced education and his ability to (sometimes) see the future and the distant present; but that is enough to grow his legend as a powerful wizard.

I love the way Stewart brings to life the legend in a very real sense. Merlin seeks and discovers the legendary sword of a long dead king and leaves it where Arthur can find it, cementing the boy's claim to the crown of his father.

The story follows Merlin from Arthur's birth to his ascension to the throne after Uther's death. Because Arthur's story is so well known, there are few surprises; but Stewart's prose and her gift of building characters makes this an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, 05 June 2018 08:30:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, 04 June 2018
Monday, 04 June 2018 09:38:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, 03 June 2018

6/3
Today I am grateful for a walk along the Fox River in St. Charles yesterday

6/2
Today I am grateful to get my photos and videos transferred to and organized on my new computer.

6/1
Today I am grateful for the NBA Finals and the NHL Finals

5/30
Today I am grateful for a hot bath last night.

5/30
Today I am grateful for Taco Tuesday.

5/29
Today I am grateful for a walk around Irving Park last night.

5/28
Today I am grateful for a boat ride around Vancouver, BC yesterday

5/27
Today I am grateful to participate in a successful Imagine Cup Finals yesterday.

5/26
Today I a m grateful to make it safely to Vancouver after a full day of travel yesterday.

5/25
Today I am grateful to spend time this week with my boys while Nick was in town.

5/24
‪Today I am grateful to Nick for helping me set up my TV and DVD player yesterday. ‬

5/23
Today I am grateful to watch the Cubs-Indians game at Wrigley Field last night.

5/22
Today I am grateful for online training courses

5/21
Today I am grateful to speak at the Chicago Data Science conference this weekend at the University of Chicago

5/20
Today I am grateful for an afternoon in Kenosha, WI

5/19
Today I am grateful for a long walk along the river in Chinatown last night.

5/18
Today I am grateful for
-Dinner with Carol last night
-Seeing the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the first time

5/17
Today I am grateful for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

5/16
Today I am grateful for my first Personal Training session in months.

5/15
Today I am grateful to watch a series of storms yesterday through a large window from the shelter of my living room.

5/14
Today I am grateful to celebrate Mother's Day with someone else's mother.

5/13
Today I am grateful to see Freddy Cole at the Jazz Showcase last night.

5/12
Today I am grateful to attend and present at my first Toastmasters meeting in months.

5/11
Today I am grateful to finally catch up on my sleep.

5/10
Today I am grateful for all these free drinks and food that Starbucks now owes me.

5/9
Today I am grateful for:
-Dinner with Tim last night
-5 days in California

5/8
David Giard updated his status.
Today I am grateful for:
-The hospitality and generosity of Greg and Sharon and their family
-Lunch with Gail yesterday
-An afternoon with my Uncle Bill and Aunt Jean
-A drive to the Pacific Ocean at Point Reyes National Seashore

5/7
Today I am grateful to Kim for a ride to San Rafael yesterday.

Sunday, 03 June 2018 22:53:37 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Friday, 01 June 2018

After creating an Azure Virtual Machine (VM), you may wish to add one or more disks. Maybe you want to increase your VM's storage; capacity or maybe you want to separate some data from the operating system disk. Either way, open your Virtual Machine properties in the Azure Portal and select "Disks", as shown in Fig. 1.

Di01-DisksMenu
Fig. 1

The Disks blade displays, as shown in Fig. 2.

Di02-Disks
Fig. 2

Under the "Data Disks" section, click the "Name" dropdown of the first empty line; and select "Create Disk", as shown in Fig. 3.

Di03-DisksCreateDiskDropdown
Fig. 3

The "Create Managed Disk" blade displays (Fig. 4).

Di04-CreateManagedDisk
Fig. 4

Provide a disk name, resource group, region, type, and size. I generally prefer to create a disk in the same resource group and region as the VM. You can create a new empty disk, or one based on an existing snapshot.

Click the "Create" button to begin creating the disk, which will take a few minutes.

When finished, you should see your new disk listed in the VMs' Disks blade, as shown in Fig. 5.

Di05-Complete
Fig. 5

Repeat this process to add any more disks you like.

When you connect to the VM (via Remote Desktop for a Windows VM and via SSH for a Linux VM), you will see the extra disk and you will be able to read to and write from this disk.

Azure | IAAS
Friday, 01 June 2018 10:09:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, 31 May 2018

MagicianApprenticePug is an orphan on the Midkemia world. He is apprenticed to the wizard Kulgan, learns a bit of magic, saves a princess, and is granted a lordship. Then a war breaks out between the people of his homeworld of Midkemia    and the Tsurani of Kelewan, who travel to his world through a "rift" in space.

"Magician: Apprentice" Tells the story of Pug, of his friend Tomas, who receives a magic gift from a dying dragon, and of the war between the invading Tsurani and the people of Midkemia. The stories are straightforward tales of high fantasy, in the tradition of Lord of the Rings, but simpler. Major themes are Pug's coming of age and the contrasting cultures of the two warring societies.

I enjoyed reading it, but found the book unsatisfying by itself.  This book and "Magician: Master" were originally published as a single volume titled simply "Magician". Following the success of "Magician", Feist expanded the story and released it as two separate novels. But it the two together form a single story and Book 1 does not hold up well on its own. To appreciate the story, you must read both volumes.

Still, it is a good start to a good story and it is well told.

Thursday, 31 May 2018 18:04:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Creating a virtual machine (VM) may be the simplest thing to do in Azure. Azure VMs are very similar to on-premises VMs; in fact, they are built using the same technology - Microsoft Hyper-V.

You can create an Azure VM with just about any operating system, software, and data that you want. Hundreds of templates are available, pre-installed with a variety of configurations.

Azure supports Windows machines and Linux machines. (Did you know that about a third of the VMs in Azure are running Linux?)

The first step in creating an Azure VM is the same step when we create any Azure resource - Navigate to the Azure Portal, log in, and click the [Create a resource] button (Fig. 1) at the top left of the portal.

VM01-CreateAResource
Fig. 1

From the list of resource categories, select the "Compute" category; then select the template on which you want to base your VM, as shown in Fig. 2.

VM02-Compute
Fig. 2

If you don't see the VM you want, you can search for it by typing a partial description in the search box. This will display matching templates from which you can select, as shown in Fig. 3.

VM03-Search
Fig. 3

After selecting a template, a blade with a brief description displays. Fig. 4 shows the blade for an Ubuntu server. Click the [Create] button at the bottom of this blade.

VM04-VMDescriptionBlade
Fig. 4

The "Create virtual machine" dialog displays with the first tab - "Configure basic settings" - active, as shown in Fig. 5. Complete the forms on this tab.

VM05-BasicSettings
Fig. 5

  • At the name field, enter a unique name for your VM. Choose one that will make it easy for you to identify it when you return to the portal to manage this VM.
  • At the "VM disk type" dropdown, select "SSD" for a Solid State Drive or "HDD" for a standard hard drive.
  • At the "User name" field, enter a name for the local administrator account on this VM.
  • At "Authentication type", select either "SSH public key" or "Password" to specify how you want to log into this VM. I have selected "Password", which causes the "Password" fields to appear, requiring me to enter a password twice. Passwords must meet complexity requirements, including a length of at least of at least 12 characters and inclusion of numbers, alpha characters, and special characters.
  • If you have an Azure AD configured, you can configure your VM to use this for authentication by selecting "Enabled" under "Login with Azure Directory".
  • You will likely have only one Azure subscription; but if you have more than one, you can select the subscription with which to associate this VM.
  • At the "Resource group" fields, select an existing resource group or create a new one. Resource groups are a logical grouping of resources that you want to manage together. If there are existing Azure resources that will interact with this VM, you may want to place them all in the same Resource Group.
  • At the "Location" dropdown, select the region in which you want to create this VM. Location considerations include proximity to the people managing this VM; proximity to people using this VM; and proximity to any other resources that will interact with this VM.

When the tab is complete, click the [OK] button at the bottom.

The second tab - "Size" - will display, as shown in Fig. 6.

VM06-Size
Fig. 6

On the "Size" tab, select the size machine you want to create. This is a long list, but you can filter or search to make it more manageable. Note that not every size is available in every region.

After highlighting the desired size, click the [Select] button at the bottom of the tab.

The "Settings" tab will display as shown in Fig. 7.

VM07-OptionalFeatures
Fig. 7

Azure provides default values for every setting on this tab, so it is not necessary to change anything. However, you can configure your VM to connect to a specific virtual network or subnet or assign a specific IP address or change any of the settings you like.

When you are satisfied with the settings, click the [OK] button at the bottom of the tab.

The "Summary" tab displays what you have configured, in case you want to change anything at the last minute. It also validates that all your selections are complete and consistent. If the validation lists any problems, you should go back and correct these. 

After validation passes and you are satisfied with your selection, click the [Create] button at the bottom of the blade.

After a few minutes, Azure will create and deploy the VM based on your configuration.

Once it is created, it is your VM and you can connect to it as you would any local VM. Use Remote Desktop to connect to a Windows VM or use SSH to connect to a Linux VM.

Azure | IAAS
Wednesday, 30 May 2018 21:46:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, 28 May 2018
Monday, 28 May 2018 10:13:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, 27 May 2018

IMG_0659Two weeks ago, I attended my first Imagine Cup event - the US Finals in San Francisco. Yesterday, I attended my second.

The Canadian Imagine Cup Finals took place in Vancouver, BC. Six finalists competed for the right to advance to the International Finals in Redmond in July.

This event was smaller and shorter than the corresponding US event; but equal in energy. Every one of the teams showed great creativity, strong technical skills, and impressive presentations.

I was excited that all 6 finalists came from schools with which I work. First place went to SmartArm - a project that provides affordable prosthetic arms for amputees - a team I helped mentor at the UTHacks hackathon in January in Toronto.

I'm getting used to these Imagine Cup projects and competitions and I'm looking forward to the world finals.

Sunday, 27 May 2018 17:35:17 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)