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

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: 

qwikLABS Acquires Outlearn

We recently acquired Outlearn, a seed-stage Boston-based startup backed by General Catalyst Partners. Outlearn created a technical learning publishing system designed to make it easy for subject matter experts to publish custom learning paths using existing web content and original content authored in Markdown.

Outlearn was created by an amazing roster of all-star talent that we are very happy to now have on our team. We’re also very happy to welcome General Catalyst Partners as a qwikLABS investor through this transaction.

We plan to use the Outlearn team’s expertise to improve the learning and authoring experience on the qwikLABS product and to accelerate our growth in the years ahead. The Outlearn service has been shut down, but the company’s vision of flexible, modular online learning for software developers and IT professionals lives on.

If you were inspired by Outlearn, we would love to talk to you. Click here to connect.

qwikLABS

AWS re:Invent 2016 – Seeking your pro-tips

Attention! We are seeking your best tips, tricks, and must-not-misses for AWS re:Invent 2016. Been before? Heard from re:Invent veterans? What should you do to get the most of of your re:Invent experience? 

Send us your tips – tagged with #qwikLABS – tweet us @qwikLAB, post on our Facebook wall, our LinkedIn page, or comment on this post (sending an email does not count). Next week, we will pick the 10 best tips and share them with you. 

….And what’s the fun of a contest without a prize? The 10 winners will get 15 qwikLABS credits each, good for any AWS lab (or labs) in the catalog!

The deadline is September 16 if you want to be eligible for the contest.

Some ideas to get the conversation started…

  • What one event is an absolute must?
  • What’s your strategy for getting the best seats?
  • Who has the best swag? 
  • What was the most useful thing you brought home with you? (Maybe a handful of qwikLABS token cards..?)
  • Unforgettable breakfast spots, where you run into the most interesting people?
  • Which event has the best snacks?

Good luck!

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! 

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

Ol

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. 

qwikLABS road trip: AWS Summit NYC

Were you at the AWS Summit in NYC? We hope you had time to swing by the hands-on lab room! Even if you didn’t make it, we hope to see you at the next one

AWS Summit: Hands-on labs

Lab-takers hard at work.

While you’re at an AWS Summit…

There’s always a ton of speakers, events, and programs with AWS experts and super-users. Usually you can find qwikLABS there too! If you haven’t been to one yet, or if you’re thinking of going to the next one, here’s why you should make the trip:

    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.