Azure Storage Exploration!

Hey There, during my work studying for my Azure Exam/Working on my Hug the Cloud project. I’ve found accessing and understanding my stored data a bit confusing.

Luckily, someone shared this link with me.
Here you can find a number of available azure file/table/queue explorers.

I chose the first explorer ‘Azure Storage Explorer’
It works well, is easy to use, and is totally free.

Once you have it downloaded you’ll be met with this page:

Use add account to create a new storage view.
Use add account to create a new storage view.

Go to your azure portal and find the info about your storage account in the ‘manage access keys’ section. (You can see the manage access keys button at the bottom of this photo):

From Azure Portal select Storage -> 'Name of Storage Account'
From Azure Portal select Storage -> ‘Name of Storage Account’

Use the name and the primary key and put that info in here:

This has made it much easier for me to organize my project data, and understand what’s happening inside my storage accounts.

Notice the three different types of storage? (Blob, Queue, and Table)

Looks pretty good
Looks pretty good

Let me know if you have any questions!
Had a great time at TreeHacks last weekend. Check out this link for some great Stanford hacks!

This is what a standard Hackathon table looks like at 4am
This is what a standard Hackathon table looks like at 4am

Kinect Hackers Resources!

I’ve found a couple helpful links for folks looking to develop with Kinect.

First Understanding what’s happening with the sensors:
This site does an excellent job explaining how the Kinect calculates depth.

Second the SDK:

This is the home page for all things Kinect Dev.
I would recommend scrolling down to the support page at the bottom of this site. The FAQ is a great start.

Third:Developer Groups
The Kinect Community Forums are great
OpenKinect is another active and resource rich community

Please let me know if you have any other resources to share!
I’d love to see your hack as well!

A knit bombed tree
This tree is wearing a sweater. A sweatree. A Tree-Shirt. A Car-tree-gan.

Hug a Cloud project Introduction!

Remember that flight where all the clouds looked like soft pillows?
And you imagined floating down and taking a little snooze on a bed made of clouds; resting your head on the softest pillow ever created.

Maybe when you think ‘cloud’ you think cloud computing and all the marvelous new ways cloud computing has made powerful scaling infrastructue available for all creators. And you want to give it a big high five.

Or maybe, you have a cloud certification exam you have to take and are feeling a little bit confused about the cloud and might want to take out some angst on the cloud.

Well, regardless of your cloud experience, I’ve been working on a fun little project to help get folks acquainted with how easy it is to begin developing for the cloud with a cloud!

The project will take place in three steps.
1. Setup raspberry pi to collect data
2. Setup your cloud
3. Connect a website to your cloud

All three of these steps have potential for numerous derivatives, but are presented in a very simple straightforward way.

I’d like to think of this series as the first step as you begin to build out much more complicated systems.

As a bit of a disclaimer, I am not expert on any of these three pieces, but I am passionate about learning and I do enjoy the number of fun project ideas that have sprung into my head since starting the project.

I’ll also be iterating on these project as I build up the complexity in the coming weeks. As for now this is the complete barebones solution: Version 0.1.

So lets get started with your raspberry pi!

Running Multiple Python Versions on Windows

So, you are learning to develop with Python and you keep hopping back and forth from Python 2.x and Python 3.x and possibly versions in between.

Beside running everything in a virtual environment, its sometimes nice to just get to the different REPLs to test tiny pieces of code.

This can be managed easily in powershell using powershell profile.
This link helped me learn about what it is and how to set it up.

But basically, you establish shortcuts by customizing a profile page with the things you need to access quickly.

Currently in my Profile I have a shortcut for starting Python27, Python34, and Sublime.

I’ll show you how I set it up.
First we’ll edit our Profile, then we’ll change the execution policy to allow this file to edit PowerShell.

Open powershell!

1. Type the following command and press ENTER:

Test-Path $profile

2. If False you need to create a profile, if true go to step 3:

New-item -type file -force $profile

3. Go to you PowerShell Directory. Step 2 will show the path to the location. For me its Users\tireilly\Documents\WindowsPowerShell.

4. Open your profile:

Notepad .\Microsoft.PowerShell_profile.ps1

5. Now in Notepad you can add your aliases.

This is what I have:

Set-Alias subl 'C:\Program Files (x86)\Sublime Text 2\sublime_text.exe'
Set-Alias python34 'C:\Python34\python.exe'
Set-Alias python27 'C:\Python27\python.exe'

Make sure you have the proper path to your existence of python. I have mine in my Root directory.

Now to activate this you need to set the execution policy to allow this to be activate each time you open powershell.

To do this follow these steps:

1. Determine your current execution policy.


This is just to double check you are restricted either way set it again to be sure.

2. Set Execution policy for yourself.

Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser

3. You’ll be prompted with “ExecutionPolicy: ”
Set it as unrestricted
It should look like this:
ExecutionPolicy: Unrestricted"
Press enter.

4. Comfirm by entering ‘Y’ and pressing enter again.

Now Restart Power shell and try typing in your alias!
Does Python Start?

If not, I’m happy to help if you have any questions.

This Photo is from 2010... Just saying
This Photo is from 2010…

How to Win at a Hackathon

These are things that I’ve found drive successful teams at Hackathon’s

Fundamental Principal:

You win by creating a good hack and presenting it well.

We’ll break this into two sections.

First: Create a good Hack
Build Small
Make it a topic you’re an expert in
Make it useful to you -> Build something you want
Try to find something that takes 3 or more clicks and turn it into 1 click
Use the Mentors to learn and create
Use the mentors to determine if you have a good project
Use GitHub
Take Advantage of the APIs and Sponsor Solutions – they’ll help you get far
Don’t build a working prototype
Build a robust demo application
Make it smoke and mirrors if necessary
Looks can go a long way to engaging customers
Follow the money (especially if you don’t want to start a company)
Make it engaging
Break down problems as you face them
Delegate amongst your team
Ask Why?
Don’t sit idle
Make friends
Spend time talking to the organizers
Tell a story
Stick to the fundamentals
Work to each teammates strength
Find a quiet space to focus
Watch the clock
Don’t get discouraged, enter another Hackathon
Go to the talks to learn more
Take some photos, take a walk, clear your mind

Most importantly, Have Fun!

Second: Present it well
Practice your pitch
Talk about these things: What’s the problem, how you fixed it
Tell a story
Don’t push back against questions
Have fun
Get up in front of people and make them listen to it
The mentors are good people to practice with
Use the science fair time to rehearse
Use the most articulate person on your team to present
Let the Sponsors know you used their product
Have a clear submission on Challengepost
Stick to the demo you’re comfortable with -> Don’t present Alpha on stage

The above tips are to warn and tip you off about the potential pitfalls of the next 24+ hours.

I think an example itinerary might help hackers who are serious:

1. Pregame

Go to the booths
Talk to the sponsors about their prizes
Brainstorm as you go from table to table
Engage with other hackers while you wait to talk
Ask them if they have any ideas if they have a team
Join a team of 1 to 4
Hash out a couple ideas – Three is a good number to take to the next phase
No writing just speaking

2. Learn and Plan

Learn the why? and how? of your project
Go to talks if you need to brush up on tech
Talk to mentors about what needs to get done
Find resources that will help you accomplish your how

Get on a whiteboard
Wire frame
Prototype and create user models
Talk to your team about the plan
Communicate what everyone is doing
Spend time setting up dev environments
Get going with source control
Practice a push or two to make sure everything works
Practice using GitHub!
Delegating a head developer isn’t a bad idea

4. Create

Start small
Get the first things in place as a team so everyone understands the framework
Begin to delegate as more pieces need to be worked in
Find a quiet spot where you can focus
Delegate tasks
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Continue to learn as you work.
Commit small changes
Spin up a VM or website to host your project and database

5. Submit

Submit early
Make your challenge post clear
Stop Building

6. Present

Practice your pitch and presentation
Know your demo back and front
Try to get feedback from the demo hour
Get on stage! Perform!

7. Reflect

Something happened in the last 24 hours…
Don’t let if slip your mind
Try to spend some time journal-ing about the experience
Pool the resources you acquired
Update your resume
Sign up for the next hackathon -> It will be better than the first.

If you came to this hackathon and you feel totally out of your element that’s okay.
Hackathons are a great place to be out of your comfort zone, there’s food, friends, and things to learn. I have a sample itinerary for those folks as well:

Go to the booths.
Ask the mentors questions about their companies. Ask them about computer science and development in general. Ask them why?

Find people who are in a similar boat and hang out with them, ask them about their experience with computers and computer science.

Go to the sessions to learn about development.

Start with Code Academy and move onto development with Touch Develop, Python, or JavaScript. Make something tiny.

Shoot for something adorable.

Practice using GitHub take tutorials online

Go around asking groups about their hacks, ask if they need users to test their interfaces.

Go to the presentations -> Take note of the good presenters, take note of the good demos

Connect with the people you met on Facebook.

Reflect (Like above)

Having said all that… You are here to learn and challenge yourself to do your best. Nobody is going to die. Take this time to put something behind you and move forward in your pursuit of Technical expertise.

This is what a Hackathon Looks like before Hackers arrive. The tables look barren.
This is what a Hackathon Looks like before Hackers arrive. The tables look barren.