As they say, when one good thing comes to an end you are merely inviting a doorway to open up the the next good thing!
So……. I made it! If you would have asked me would I have reached this goal 6 months ago, I would have chuckled and said no! I don’t have the time. Now, I could fill this last post of my 100 Days Of Cloud challenge full of meaningful statements to try and convince you why this is a great challenge, or I could tell you the deep and meaningful ways in which this challenge has had an impact on my life…….
So…… I will!
Pre Covid was awesome, kids doing well in school, enjoying their activities and excelling, me and my fiancee flew out to Las Vegas in February and tied the knot!!! Yup true LV wedding but without Elvis!!! Things were going great…… and then Covid hit!
I’m going to use this last post of my challenge to really take stock of the why, how, where and when of this whole challenge. Use it to see what I have accomplished, did it meet my expectations, and maybe use it as an orientation tool into the new year.
Where do I start…. ok lets do this!!
I don’t think I can talk about my journey without COVID being at the heart of it. Now, its been a devastating situation for many people who have either suffered with loosing a job, money or the ultimate loss of a friend or family member to this terrible virus. Since the end of February we have all been living with the same fears and constraints to our daily lives which has stopped the status quo and forced us into new ways of living, entertainment and family life.
I really do see myself as one of the very fortunate individuals who has had the chance to take stock and refocus some of my energy back into family and work life in a different manner, and I am pleased to be able to take some positive out of the negative the pandemic has thrust upon us all.
Yes, we have all had extra time at home, no more travelling up and down motorways (which I did a lot of) and rediscovered arguably the most important part of our lives, family.
For me, the pandemic threw me into a position of being pretty much permanently on the go, whether that was with work and visiting clients around the UK, or whether that was taxiing one of my kids to their activities, which again took me and my family across the UK. To someone who found themselves still able to work, but from home now a lot more, meaning that I went from working in the car on the phone to client sites, to being perched on a little table in the bedroom.
By the end of March and into April, it was clear the kids were starting to struggle somewhat with the lock downs, so I decided to buy my daughter some equipment for her to practice singing (She loves singing and is learning the piano), and this is where my drive to where I am now began.
For years I have always wanted to give a little bit back to the community when it comes to my line of work. I have made many friends over the years in the same line of work and learned from some great community contributors and i have always felt an urge to want to give back. So I took this opportunity to build a plan to move toward that more public way of working.
I had my daughter wanting to do more with music recording, I had my son petering me to become a streamer and I was working from a tiny table at the bottom of my bed…….. It didn’t take long for me to work out that the situation we were in with COVID was one for the long run, so…….. a plan was hatched!!
I made a deal with my kids that I would buy a new PC!!! Yay!!! and that PC would act as a base station for the whole family to continue their experiments and entertainment whether that be live streaming, music recording and production or me…… what was I going to do? Then it hit me that hey, virtual meetup’s live streaming, video and blog content are all feasible mechanisms to help share any knowledge I may have, but there was one slight problem I needed to over come…….. I needed to learn all of this at the same time!
With the sudden push to the technologies I happen to have been working with…… Cloud Compute, Teams etc. now almost being household names, my daily work load increased over this period, but it didnt’t stop me buying a audio interface, a microphone, some leads, dust off the old Drum kit etc. and that’s what I did. by the time April had ended and into May, me and my daughter had made some pretty rudimentary recordings, but my son was still adamant he wanted to be a youtuber!!
Amongst the increased workload, came the clarity of me realising there was a lot that I didn’t really know about in my line of work, again I don’t think I am much different to may people in my line of work, but I think there is a certain level of cynicism in the Tech industry toward Consultants and Architects being the ‘font of knowledge’ that sometimes they are help on a pedestal for! So, what was I going to do about that? How was I going to keep up with the pace of change, hit the certifications I needed to acquire to stay current? Extra work 9-5, new activities with the family etc. It was time to fine tune the plan a bit.
So at this point I was aware of several things I was looking to accommodate and to try and simplify my working position, in a nutshell I was a seasoned Infra/Ops Consultant looking to move into a Data/AI and IoT world, which is a broad statement, but should paint that picture.
One final thing……. this had to be fun…….. maybe a little extravagant? Just for a laugh, I wanted to try and make it fun somehow.
What led to the 100 Days of Cloud challenge?
So after a couple of months playing around with a powerful laptop and recording and streaming equipment I decided to upgrade to a decent camera, mainly because I wanted to be able to film from a different angle, so I made a few more purchases of equipment over June and July, and basically had a bit of fun helping the kids do a few bits and pieces.
At this point it was clear that blogging might be a good place to start, so I dusted off my old blog site, gave it a new logo and name and bought myself a domain: jonnychipz.com. After toying with the idea of blogging about tech series, starting off with networking, maybe doing a few tiktoks? maybe do a few videos, I decided to set up all my social accounts ready to take the plunge and try a bit of everything to see what made sense.
At about the same time, I was looking around the internet for a local Azure meet up group, for which I couldn’t find one, so had actually started to generate some interest in a group I had called the South Wales and West Azure Community User Group – SWWACUG!!! Rolls off the tongue doesn’t it! And I had started a little bit of a message campaign across Linked In where I had drummed up quite a bit of interest in the group and then….
Welsh Azure User Group
I was approached by Anna McNally of Microsoft to attend the first Welsh Azure User Group Meet Up which I believe was in July. The core team were looking to pull together a group of likeminded individuals to help drive the WAUG message of promoting local business and Azure forward…… I was in, no problem I was ready to help in any way!
At about this stage me and my wife were talking about upsizing the house, with three kids in high school it was clearly becoming a bit cramped, plus hey, where was I going to keep the new PC?!?! So we stared hunting for appropriate space and property…… and we found it in August! Boom we had our family plan! The build and set up is and is still being such a fun event, I know it may seem a little over the top, but hey, its all in good fun!! Check out one of my youtube videos if you want to see more on that!
100 Days Challenge
Throughout July and August I dabbled with blog posts and even managed my fist YouTube video, but it was clear that I needed some practice and a mechanism to follow, then one night I watched a Scott Hanselman Azure Friday video where Gwyn Pena was talking about the 100DaysOfCloud Challenge, it was like the lightbulb ignited in my head! This was it, it was a way for me to focus, learning, it had the intensity I needed to keep me motivated, it would enable me to Blog, Git, document, record all my activities over this 100 day period, basically to see what works for me and what doesn’t.
So let plan my tech path way…….
At the beginning I knew I wanted to look at these areas:
- Azure DevOps
- Azure Developer
But I didn’t know how far I would get, I created my GitHub Repo, I was bought a load of books for my birthday in August, so I made a start. I think my first official 100 Days post was on 25th August: Day[1/100] #100DaysOfCloud – Jonnychipz is giving it a whirl! – Cloud Computing with a side of Chipz
Its quite funny even this short amount of time later reading back through my first few blogs. They still ring true but I launched into an area of some familiarity but clearly one I knew I needed to learn more on….. DevOps.
For me this was the biggest surprise. I genuinely wasn’t expecting anything as such and I would just be one of those random IT people posting about stuff that nobody would ever read. It was clear for me to try and be engaging, and to show a little bit of my personality off, (Tech people like me tend to have a stereotypical personality!!). But wow, within the first few days of posts, I was being liked and retweeted by the 100DaysOfCloud community members, then I managed to meet up (virtually) and talk with other Azure community contributors and MVP’s, and it continues to now, every day, that building of virtual connections, meeting some simply brilliant people who I wont mention on here, because there are simply too many to mention, they all know who they are and all I will say is that both in my work and on social media, I have some truly awesome people who I am glad to call my colleagues acquaintances and friends! If we have met over twitter, over the last few months…… thank you to each and everyone person I have liked comments from, retweeted or shared the odd bit of banter with……. wow, I can honestly say I didn’t know the power of community.
I have had the honour of being invited to speak on a number of user groups and events in such a short space of time, I have been asked to speak in work about my challenge in an attempt to help people find the journey for themselves.
What Have I achieved?
- Blogging – Over 120 posts in the last 5 months aiming for over 8k viewes by the end of the year.
- YouTube – Around 12 videos in the last 5 months and going from 0 – over 100 subscribers in that time.
- WAUG – Helping organise and run to date 3 successful events and planning for our Jan 21st event.
- Events – Spoke at and/or appeared on at least 5 live events other than WAUG in the last 5 months.
- Certification – Completed AZ400, AZ104, AZ204, DP900, AI900, PL900, AudioCodes ACA and 3 Open Hacks (Enterprise Scale, DevOps, Containers) in the last 5 months.
- Twitch – Going from 0 to over 20 followers
- TikTok – Releasing 3 tiktok videos and going from 0 to 15 followers
- MAPA – Listed as an Azure Champ
- Work – Being asked to talk at two main all hands calls and being nominated as a Cloud Advocate internally with BT Enterprise.
More importantly, the technical knowledge I have picked up, the new friends I have made, the platform I have given for my kids to use are things that are genuinely priceless.
I have had so much fun over the last few months being the curator of my own destiny, building a PC, setting up a studio, playing with RGB lighting, recording, 3D Printing, playing with IoT and Azure features…….. it has truly being an absolubte blast, and I thank everyone for the support they have shown me in this time!
Is now the time to set new goals?
In short, yes I think so. I have given it some thought and I know a lot of people have done a round 2 of the challenge, but this has been a big sacrifice of time for me any my family, I don’t this I am fully clear on my direction from hear, but I feel that I have made significant in roads that will hopefully help shape the coming weeks and months!
One thing I am going to do between now and the new year, is chill! I’m taking a break for a week. I may still tweet the odd thing here and there, but I think I need it to spend some time with my family and refocus my energy for the new year. Like I say, quite where I take this is to be determined, and I know I will need the support from all the awesome community folk out there. So I will make a pledge to aim for the following over 2021:
- Create at least 2 pieces of YouTube content each month
- YouTube – Aim to get to 321 subscribers by the end of 2021
- Aim to grow my twitter following to 2021 followers by the end of 2021
- Create at least one blog post on a specific Azure Topic each Month.
Other things I would like to achieve:
- A regular Live streaming channel on Twitch – format TBC.
- Finish Off Terraform / Python studies and gain certs
- Aim to complete the AZ220 IoT Exam
- Aim to talk in at least 6 events by the end of 2021.
If you have read all of this I truly thank you, if you have any feedback or ideas I would welcome them!
For now, a huge thank you to everyone that has shown me support and encouragement over the duration fo this challenge, it means so much for me to have achieved this. Pleas nobody be a strange as for me this is not the end!
I think I’m just getting started!
My Main ReadMe Page is all set up with a bit about me!
The guys at 100DaysofCloud have set up the GitHub repo to be cloned and also have a great repo containing ideas and areas to collaborate on: https://github.com/100DaysOfCloud/100DaysOfCloudIdeas
My Github Journey tracker can be found here: https://github.com/jonnychipz/100DaysOfCloud
Please Watch/Star my repo and feel free to comment of contribute to anything I push! I really look forward to hearing from anyone who is going to jump on the journey around the same time as me! Lets see where I get to in 100 days!
I would encourage others to jump on this journey, I’m not sure that I will be able to commit every day for 100 days, but as long as I can complete 100 days that will be great!