Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The moment I hit Refresh



There comes a time in everyone’s life in when they need to “Hit Refresh”.  My father never graduated college but rose to a VP of Engineering by taking courses and surrounding himself with people willing to teach him and allow him to learn.  He ended up holding 4 patents in electronics and the medical field.  I enjoyed watching him learn circuit design and homebrew computers.  I was born in 1975 and by 1980 we had a TRS-80 Model III.  By 1984 I was programming in BASIC and by 1987 I was helping my father fix and sell computers.  Of a family of 6 we had one for each person and several more coming and going.  I was even beginning to write programs for people.  In 1997, I started my full-time career in IT working for a university, Windows 3.1, 95 and Netware over Token Ring and 10Base2.  By 2005, I had been fixing and programming computers for a long time but I needed a change, a challenge that would take me to the next stage.  I started on my Master’s degree in Computer Sciences and learning .NET/C#.  Then, I was contacted by an old co-worker that had changed jobs.  He was working for another education environment that was searching for someone to manage machines using SMS 2003.  I had never heard of SMS 2003 but I interviewed.  My friend knew I enjoyed a challenge and could master anything, having already taught me JavaScript, ASP and PERL.  My first day on the job I hit refresh and started a new path, managing machines from a central console.  I started on a path of installing SMS 2003 from the ground up! I found the world of Enterprise Management to be one of challenges, frustrations and how to properly manage machines.  As the only person managing SMS, it became necessary to learn every aspect and to perfect each area.  I began to create a blog and answer questions in the Microsoft Forums. I had mastered the software and wanted to help others.  I also wanted to learn more, enter the Microsoft Management Summit (MMS), but we didn’t have any funds for me to attend the conference.  I learned that speakers have their hotel and conference pass paid in full so I did the next best thing, I submitted a topic and was selected.  From there my life moved forward and I became a Microsoft MVP in 2009 and enjoy the award still.  People saw potential in my father and helped him grow, he and other IT professionals helped me grow, so I continue helping the next generation.  All it takes is someone to take an interest in your future. 

This post is part of the collection of #HitRefresh moments. Read more at www.hitrefreshbook.com

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Storing Family data in the cloud


We are creating more and more data with the arrival of the digital camera and cell phone camera.  But what about all the pictures you have already. How do you save those photos and at the same time share them with your family?  You could use Facebook as place to share old family photos and gather information but Facebook isn't designed for long term storage, data retrieval and archiving of high quality photos.

 

Enter Azure and Blob Storage (https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/storage/blobs/)

 

Put simply a Blob is unstructured data you store for retrieval via HTTP or HTTPS.  Data such as text files, pictures, or streaming files like Audio or Video. This data can be easily retrievable or stored for the long term.

 

Cool Storage - Files that you don't expect to access very often like a long term backup or possible the high resolution version of a Family Picture.

Hot Storage -File that you expect to use often and need readily available like a thumbnail or small 100k version of your high-resolution picture.

 

Understand that to make a hot file cool is free but if you want to thaw out your data for retrieval, there is a cost.

 

Now that we understand what a Blob is, how do we organize our data. 

 

Files are stored in Containers (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/storage/storage-dotnet-how-to-use-blobs) like Folders in your My Documents.  Pictures, Videos or you could break it down such as Smith Family, Jones Family if you trying to save your videos from a family tree.

 

Now that we have talked about the basics.  Let's look at what we can do with Azure and why data storage retrieval can be easy and benificial to many people distributed around the world outside of the business area.

 

Problem: Person has tons of family photos but doesn't know the identities of the people.  Several family members have helped out but members are all over the globe and it would be nice to catalog the data so you can search as well as download a high-resolution version of a family picture. 

 

Solution: Azure Blob Storage, Azure SQL and possibly a Web Front end all in the Central Region

 

I will take a simplified view of the cost of what it might take to get it started:

In the future, we will walk through the process of setting it up, right now we talk about the cost of getting started.

 

Blob Storage Cost

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/storage/blobs/

Cool Storage - Geographically Redundant Storage (GRS) because we want our data separated and backed up

Hot Storage - Locally Redundant Storage (LRS), these are the thumbnails and preview files that are small and won't matter if lost.

(https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/storage/storage-blob-storage-tiers)

 

Recall - Your cold storage is the high-resolution files that you shouldn't be viewing often.

 

10 family containers

5 hot - .05

5 cool - .20

 

Retrieving the data

5 hot - free

5 cool - $0.01/GB

 

There is a cost to store and replicate your data for later use

Saving and Replicating the data

Hot - Free

Cool - $0.02

 

 Azure SQL is required for us to save the metadata for the files like location, who is in the pictures, etc

 

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/sql-database/

 

Databases under 2GB is almost free at $0.0068/hr of access.  Given this data is only access when you search or write and this should be relatively small.  Should it grow beyond 2GB then you start to see your cost increase.

 

Ideally the database will show a picture no more than 100kb. Videos and Audio will need to be compress to smaller file so you don't pay for previewing the data.

 

But how do we access the data?  You create your Azure database here (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/sql-database/) add a specific IP address of your local machine and then you can create an MS Access front end to access your data.  Realize that searching and moving through will incur a cost. But you can also have a button to download the Cool Storage of the file.  When you perform this action, Cool Storage will be converted to Hot storage.

 

"Changing the storage tier: Changing the storage tier from cool to hot will incur a charge equal to reading all the data existing in the storage account for every transition. On the other hand, changing the storage tier from hot to cool will be free of cost."

  

 

 

 

Monday, July 24, 2017

O365 Client Management Dashboard

Have you every wondered why you only have 5 Collections in your dropdown? 


This is currently by design, 1702.  What you have is the top 5 largest collection, sorted alphabetically.  If you wish to look at a collection other than what is given you must use the Browse button.