Learning Deep Learning

Our phones can take us on 600 mile road trips with turn-by-turn instructions. Don’t feel like driving? Use that same phone to summon someone who is happy to chauffeur you. 

Need an image for the perfect meme when your buddy tells you about a crazy dream he had last night? Here you go –>

Cats don't care

You’re welcome. Photo courtesy of Trish Hamme(CC Attribution)

Of course it’s not all about cat videos. One of the fastest growing technologies today is found in the realm of Deep Learning. 

Deep learning uses networks to learn levels of representation and abstraction (think of this as classifying or categorizing things by many different characteristics). Deep Learning uses those levels to make sense of data like images and sound. Advances in Big Data mean that Deep Learning is able to learn better, faster, and more efficiently.

So what’s it good for? Medical technology, Artificial Intelligence (like self-driving cars), and voice recognition. (Have you spoken to Alexa, Siri, or Cortona lately? Is it just me or are they getting smarter?)

I’m not trying to say that you should know more about Deep Learning…. but you really should. Not only does it permeate daily life, but it’s cool! How does one learn about Deep Learning, you ask? Not to worry – there’s a lab for that! 

The Introduction to Deep Learning lab is perfect for beginners, but still fun for more advanced users. Not only does this lab do interesting programmatic work, it is also totally free of charge. 

You will complete 3 Deep Learning projects:

  1. Teach your program to recognize things in a photo (psst this is my favorite one!). Upload a photo (baby picture? your dog? selfie from your last vacation?) and challenge a program to identify what it is. No hints! It’s eerily accurate. Next you will teach a program to recognize objects in photos it has never seen before.
  2. Computer cat

    Curiosity kills? NBD, I have 9 lives. Photo courtesy of angela n.(CC Attribution)

    Teach a program learn to read handwriting. Spoiler alert, the program learns to read (messy) handwriting with 98% accuracy.
  3. Give a monkey a typewriter and you may or may not get Shakespeare, but give this program the Shakespeare command and you get fully formed, properly punctuated Shakespeare-esque poetry! Sort of. You be the judge. “His life impossession craves thee.”

It is the first lab in the qwikLABS NVIDIA Deep Learning Quest. It’s a free intro lab, so I encourage you to check it out!

Badges in the phone system, or Got flair?

"Because if they take my stapler"

Photo courtesy of JD Hancock(CC Attribution)

We need to talk about your flair. No, not terrible buttons you pin to your shirt for your shift at Chotchkies. I’m talking about your qwikLABS flair!

Earn badges that show off your skills and expertise (like Solutions Architect-Professional Exam Prep, or Corporate Apps on AWS for Windows). Don’t pin these badges to your shirt – instead, you might post them on LinkedIn or Twitter. By completing a Quest and earning a badge, you gain experience, skills, and confidence in that particular area of AWS. (Read more about Quests and earning badges here.)

A better way to flair at work

Does your team use qwikLABS for training at work? (Check out this post on using share groups to get teams up to speed on AWS.) The Amazon team uses qwikLABS as a professional development tool. When someone at Amazon finishes a Quest, he or she gets to add the badge they earned to their profile in the company phone directory, recognizing their efforts and accomplishments. Does your company do something similar?

AWS badges

Do these come in buttons…

This type of recognition, in the company directory, can be a water cooler conversation that you actually want to have.

  • See what Quests you and your team members have in common.

  • Ask your coworker about the new SysOps Associate Exam Prep Quest badge that you might have your eye on.

  • Know who might be able to help you out with a new project with a service you’ve never used – like someone with the Deployment and Management Quest badge – and the best part is they’re only a phone call away!

How does your team recognize accomplishments? 

You need to take this

Hello, AWS labs?

Hello? We have new AWS labs! We made them for you. Photo courtesy of Delwin Steven Campbell(CC Attribution)

We have new AWS labs, and they are calling to you. Even better, two of them are free, just the way we like them! Let’s dive in.

But wait, there’s more…

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Discovery apples

Apples meet Amazon Web Services. Photo courtesy of Nick Saltmarsh(CC Attribution)

Teachers have a tough job, and it’s getting tougher by the day. Students have the entire world at their fingertips thanks to the smartphone in their pocket, the computer in the library, the tablet in their backpack, and Cloud computing giants like Amazon Web Services delivering constant content. Teachers at all levels have faced this dilemma for generations: how to get students engaged and learning about the cutting edge of the latest technology (and how to keep pace yourself). 

Today, classrooms are full of digital natives. How can you, as a teacher, help your kids get ahead? 

student_ipad_school - 142

Photo courtesy of flickingerbrad(CC Attribution)

One steadily growing answer: teach kids to code. Between Minecraft, a coding training program disguised as a game, and programs like this inspiring story of homeless teens learning code as a gateway to marketable job skills, we see remarkable classroom experiences evolving every day. 

But what if you want to go one step further? Don’t get me wrong, as a kid, I loved learning to code (thanks Xanga!). But what if I told you that there are tons of resources, many of them free, you and your students could use to learn about the Cloud? (Here are about $130k reasons why it’s a good skill to pick up.) 

The Cloud is a pretty abstract concept, especially when you’re a total newcomer to Cloud computing behind-the-scenes. Hands-on learning in the form of science labs, field trips, practical demonstrations and more seem to have the most lasting impact on learning and retention, particularly for students in grade school or college. 

Fortunately, there’s a lab for learning the Cloud with Amazon Web Services (an industry all-star) – more accurately, there are 97 labs that give students hands-on experience with Amazon Web Services. All you need is a computer with an internet connection. You can start both teaching and learning today. 

Amazon Web Services Lab

This is not the lab I was looking for…

How do these labs work?

Your Cloud labs await you at www.qwikLABS.com.  There are over 30 introductory-level labs that teach you how to use Amazon Web Services, all of them offered free of charge. Start simple with a basic, here’s-how-to-store-files-in-the-Cloud with Introduction to Amazon S3 (includes a youtube vid). Students learn how to upload an image (maybe a picture of their pet, their favorite food, or a vacation snapshot – or a selfie?) into an S3 bucket. Spoiler alert, many of the images they see on the internet are stored in S3 buckets (Pinterest, anyone?). 

Need a little more help? Here’s a 4-lab lesson plan that walks you and your students through the basics of Cloud computing, using Amazon Web Services. The best part? All of the labs in this plan are totally free of charge.

Sample Lesson Plan for introducing students of all ages to the Cloud with qwikLABS

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…

Minecraft, the painless alternative to stepping on tiny plastic bricks

Have you ever stepped on a lego brick? Toy blocks have quite a history (and not just in relation to your decision to wear slippers). John Locke (writer and philosopher), Friedrich Froebel (often referred to as the father of kindergarten), Maria Montessori (teacher and first woman in Italy to earn a medical degree) and many others recognized the value of playing with blocks to encourage problem solving, identify dependencies and patterns, and visualize mathematics.

Minecraft's predecessor

A bare foot’s worst enemy.

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).

Introducing qwikLABS Advantage Subscriptions

Now available: Advantage Monthly Subscriptions at qwikLABS! Starting today, get monthly access to the entire catalog of 90+ AWS-authorized labs, for one low price: $55.00 USD. 

Sign up here.

Why is this a big deal? The value of AWS knowledge is undeniable. The new Advantage subscription gets you full access to the growing list of AWS lab topics. Take as many labs as you want, any place and any pace, all with access to the real AWS Console. No simulations here! 

And why start offering subscriptions? Testing the idea a few months ago (thanks to all who participated BTW!) and your response to unlimited labs last month convinced us that Advantage subscriptions are the best, max-value way to get self-paced labs into your hands. 

Simply put, the cost of earning a single Quest badge is generally higher than 1 month’s subscription for access to *all* labs (more about Quests here). So we truly hope you take Advantage! (See what I did there?)

Any questions about the new Advantage subscription option? Check out these FAQs, or send us your question and we’ll be happy to help. Subscriptions aren’t for you? No worries, basic and bulk credit pricing are still available, exactly as before. 

I’m in! Where do I start?

Here are a few suggestions. Don’t forget to get your subscription first!

If you’re familiar with AWS already and want to skip the intros, check these labs out:

If you are new to AWS, get your first look at the AWS Console in less than 30 minutes with Intro to EC2 – one of our 30+ labs free of charge – then dive deeper into more complex labs like part 1 of Building a Media Sharing Website.

Does one of these catch your eye? 

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?