Category: AWS

Passing the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam

I passed the exam today, so before I’m inundated with work stuff and AWS re:Inforce next week, I thought I’d write this up while it was fresh in my head.

I set my intentions this year to move forward learning more about AWS and getting a few certifications along the way. I started a new job in January that has some production but mostly test/dev workloads in AWS. Once I got my  AWS credentials, I was off and running. I logged in and took a look around at what was running. I started trying and failing at a few things, but I learned a lot along the way.  

Promising myself I’d get my AWS Certified SysOps Administrator Associates (SysOps) certification this year, so I set off in that direction. I’m going to admit, It’s better to have a little bit of experience in AWS before you dive into that exam. My boss suggested I try for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associates (SA) exam first, so I changed course. I discovered there was even an more entry-level certification, the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam so decided to try that one first while studying for the SA. 

Cover of textbook
Cert book to curl up with

To start my study, I purchased a book by Anthony Sequeira on May 17th and set to reading. I also started the Linux Academy course on the same topic. My SA study group started on June 3rd, held by this local group called The Item which stand for “The Inclusive Technology + Entrepreneurship Movement”. My husband decided to join the group as well, now we’re both studying to become SAs!!! 

Linux Academy is my go-to learning resource

To study for the exam, we get on Zoom 3x a week and talk about the topics on the exam. We use Qwiklabs and the ‘A Cloud Guru’ course on Udemy and of course Linux Academy’s course and playground to reinforce what we’ve talked about for more practical experience and reinforcement.

Now, back to the Cloud Practitioner exam. I will admit, I like getting information from various sources. I tend to grasp certain topics better when the delivery comes in several formats (blogs, books, videos, podcasts, tutorials, flash cards). I also tried Amazon Polly which translates my notes to speech. It was such a hit! With just a few tags to make the speech more ‘human’, I was able to listen to my notes on my commute using MP3s downloaded from S3 (AWS Simple Storage Service).

Code with Markup
Writing SSML markup

I can say, with 100% certainty, that the icing on my studying cake was watching the AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials course on their site. This was what I watched in the days leading up to the exam in addition to taking practice exams on the Pearson website.

We talking about practice.

I didn’t fully grasp IAM roles and polices until I watched the Identity and Access Management video in the ‘AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials: Security’ video by Blaine Sundrud. His explanations and white-boarding really hit it home for me. Also, what gave me confidence on the understanding the Well-Architected Framework (on top of having read it) was the video on AWS. I recommend watching it and reading it as well. These concepts are important to grasp. 

3x5 cards with writing on them
Yes, I’m Old School

I stayed up late the night before and got  up early on test day just to watch more of the videos on AWS. I also did a few more runs on the practice tests, scoring 93-100% all the way. I felt ready. I got a few good luck emails from the CTO, my boss and a few team mates. I got to the PearsonVue location early and was ready to go. The wait almost did me in. With 2 people ahead of me for my 9AM test appointment, I didn’t get into my test chair until 9:30.

Once there, I was off and running. I was done in almost 30 minutes, but marked several for review. After reviewing about 10 or so questions, I started from the beginning and went over each question again. They gave my 90 minutes, so I used an hour of it. I wasn’t in a rush after having waited over 30 minutes to get to my workstation. When it was all over, I exhaled, ended the exam and found out I passed.  

My main advice to anyone studying for either exam is to practice. Go through the console and get an idea of where everything is. Then step through creating the resources and getting a feel for what the configurations looks like. Read the  FAQs for key service and don’t forget to commit the Well-Architected Framework to memory. In my opinion, your success on your practice exams will closely mimic your success on the real exams. Sadly, my results haven’t been posted to my account yet. I was hoping they’d be up before the AWS conference next week so I could stunt in the certification lounge.

I took a LOT of notes

The resources I used for the Cloud Practitioner exam are as follows:

  • AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam Book $
  • Linux Academy course $
  • AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials videos (free)
  • AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials Bootcamp at AWS Public Sector Summit $
  • Pearson Test Prep Practice Exams from the book (free with book)
  • Amazon Polly for text to speech of my notes (free)
  • AWS Well-Architected Framework PDF (free)
  • AWS Well-Architected framework training course (free)
  • Good old fashioned flashcards (free)
  • Copious notes (free)

You don’ t need all of this to pass this exam. I’m just fortunate to have access to so many resources, so find what works within your budget and work hard. To find out more about AWS certifications and to register for an exam, visit AWS training and certification and set up and account.

Good luck and I’ll see you when I’ve taken the SA exam. 

*UPDATE* I got my results! Now it’s official. I can proudly flex my badge and get into the certification lounge at AWS re:Inforce and re:Invent.

AWS cloud practitioner badge
It’s Official

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Assigning Registered Domain Name to Lightsail Server

There are a few prerequisites to assigning a domain name to a Lightsail instance.

  1. You must have a domain name registered with a provider of your choice.
  2. A running Lightsail server
  3. Static IP assigned to your server.

Assign Static IP to Lighsail server

Log into the Lightsail Console and click on the Networking Tab

Lightsail Console- Instance Tab

Click Create static IP

Lightsail Console-Create Static IP

Select your static IP location. Note, you must already have an instance running in that region in order to attach a static IP to it.

Lightsail Console-Select IP Region

Select the instance that you’re assigning the static IP to from the drop down box. Give your static IP an unique, recognizable name. Click create.

Lightsail Console-Attach to an instance

Once you’ve clicked create, your IP will have a pin next to it, noting that is it attached to the instance.

Lightsail Console- Pinned Static IP

Assign DNS Zone to Lightsail server

Click on the HOME menu at the top of the page. Click on Networking > Create DNS zone

Lightsail Console-Home button

Lightsail Console-Create DNS Zone

Enter your domain name and click Create DNS Zone.

Lightsail Console-Enter Domain Name into DNS Zone

Click Add Record:

Lightsail Console- Add A Record

Lightsail Console- Add A Record and Domain Name

 

Add an A record:

Make sure the Type is A. Click in the subdomain box and enter www.yourdomain.com .

In the destination IP box, select your Static IP name and click save.

Nameservers:

You will be given a list of name servers to point your domain to.  I’m using Hover and here is how I point my domain to my Lightsail server.

Log into your  Hover account and on the overview tab, scroll down to nameservers and click edit.

Hover Console- Tabs

Hover Nameservers

Enter the name servers give to you in the DNS records tab in your Lightsail console. You must add at least two. Add additional nameservers by clicking the plus sign. When you’re done. Click Save Nameservers.

Hover- Edit Nameservers

Edit DNS Records:

Click on the DNS tab and review your current DNS settings. Click edit next to the A (*) record and enter the static IP or your Lightsail server.

Hover Console - DNS Records

Hover- Edit DNS Records

Click Save Changes and repeat for the A(@) record.

Test your changes by entering your domain name into a browser to see if your website loads.

If it doesn’t load immediately, be patient. It can take anywhere from 24-48 hours for DNS to propagate.

 

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WordPress on AWS

I was invited to Philly ‘burbs WordPress meetup to give a talk about how to install WP on AWS. I’d given this talk before in an impromptu setting, my dining room table, to my monthly coding group. It was more of a workshop, really hands on and at the end, everyone was a command-line hero in my book. Most, never having logged into a Linux server before, let alone deploying a server in the cloud.

Woman gesturing at Screen
Photo Cred: @accessamy

Liam, the group leader, saw a tweet about it and invited me to present it to his group. Here are the videos and the slide deck from the MeetUp.

WordPress on AWS Part 1:
https://youtu.be/e3GaqR0r7Os
WordPress on AWS Part 2
https://youtu.be/CCZPKvHvYlU
WordPress on AWS Part 3
https://youtu.be/ksVu2YbMLeg
Slides:
https://bit.ly/2qkuvEN

 

 

 

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How to SSH into your Lightsail Server from Windows

Lightsail is an Amazon Web Services (AWS) offering that allows you to quickly spin up a preconfigured virtual private server (VPC). It’s a wizard-driven server deployment that has everything you need to get a server up and running quickly and for a low and predictable price of $5 month. It a great way to get your app, blog or website off of shared hosting and onto it’s own server where you don’t have to jockeying for resources and you can scale up, if needed (not a hot add, but there are ways to increase your bundle)

When you deploy your server, you’ll be asked to download your key pair.

If you didn’t do it then, you can always go back to your instance and download them now.

I’m working on a Windows 10 workstation, so I’ll be using Windows tools to do this:

  • PuTTY Key Generator
  • PuTTY

Both can be downloaded here.

These tasks can be done on Linux and MacOS using the native SSH commands from the terminal and the .pem.

Open PuTTY Key Generator. Go to Conversions > Import Key

Generate a private key with PuTTY Key Generator

Browse to the .pem you download from Lightsail. Click Save Private Key. Give the private key a name and click save.

Save the generated private key with Key Gen

enter hostname

Close key gen and launch PuTTY. Enter the server IP, under Saved Sessions, give it a name then click on Connection > SSH > Auth. Browse to the private key you just created. Scroll back up to the Session category and click Save. Click open to launch your SSH session. Log into the server with the username.

Browse to the private key

log into your server

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