Online Training Endeavor –

I’m no stranger to leading training at this point in my life. Having taught a couple of courses at Harper College, and I’m looking forward to teaching more there in the coming months and years. However between my 6 week course-runs, I find myself itching to continue the teaching and sharing of knowledge while growing my own skills.

For reference, my bookmarks of IT blogs is a fairly sizable list. I like to work through the new posts on these to stay current on technology and related news.

Phew! We made it through the list. While there’s not always a new post on each of the above, I often right-click my bookmark folder and open all and browse anyways. There’s always something interesting to read about, some new PowerShell script or event to learn about, etc. I would love to contribute similarly, but alas… blogging is not my strong suit.

Introducing TechSnips

Reading Adam Bertram’s blog one day from that above list, and I noted that he has begun working on a new company called TechSnips. He left his day job and has begun founding a community of IT professionals that aim to share knowledge and training materials with the world. He has been a blogger and PowerShell contributor that I’ve followed for a while, and now I have officially joined his ranks as a TechSnips Contributor in his new company. (Tip, you can too!)

Unlike Adam, this isn’t my day job. Sharing knowledge, helping train the next generation, and the feeling of giving back to the IT community are my desire with this new program. It’s a fairly open ended contribution style with a flexible scheduling and quite a few of in-demand skills to build content around (PowerShell, Azure, AWS, Windows Server, etc). Sure there are some deadlines once you submit an idea to film, but again it’s flexible and all content is Contributor driven, just communicate when necessary and all should be well!

With TechSnips I’m now able to connect with like-minded IT Pros in a multitude of fields and from around the world. Together we are collaborating and working on new Snips (5-15 minute concise tutorials), as well and putting together full courses for partnered learning platforms online such as Packt and Pluralsight. We also hang out in a fun and welcoming Slack, and the and water-cooler video chats on a weekly basis to stay in touch. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I look forward to filming and creating a lot of new material in the coming months!

I’ll be keeping tally of my course and snip creations, and look forward to sharing with everyone. Keep an eye out for more, as my first snip should be getting published soon!



IBM to Purchase Red Hat

So I’ve been diving into Linux more recently, and my interests in automation around Ansible / CentOS usage might be changing. Hopefully Ansible remains a configuration management without license requirement after this news, but my choice of OS may be shifting more Debian / Ubuntu based from now on.

The technology used in this career changes quick, so it’s not a real surprise to see this acquisition pushing everyone forward in some way. We all just need to adapt to the change, because who knows what enterprise distro will be preferred by then. In the meantime, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a large shift over to SUSE if IBM changes Red Hat’s discourse considerably.

IBM Press Release:

Red Hat Press Release:

From Student to Instructor in ~ 3 years

Earlier this year Harper College of Illinois approached me with the opportunity to teach the CompTIA A+ Certification preparation course. This was the first certification that I had earned in my IT career about 4 years ago, and now I was being given the chance to lead new students through it. I did not expect a huge turnout for the course, but boy was I in for a surprise. Not only did the class have enough students to run, but there was also going to be a new Apprenticeship program beginning for CyberSecurity apprentices from local companies. There were 9 students in total.

This fledgling SysAdmin, whose only experience teaching was setting up some Lunch and Learns for technical staff and leading some Model United Nations simulations in college, jumped in the deep end with this new pursuit. Over the last 6 weeks (6 week course, two 4-hour classes per week), I have spent long hours preparing for edge-case questions, building scenarios to use the knowledge, and apply my own experiences to the materials to give real-world business case situations for its use. In this process I’ve taught myself some new material, learned about different teaching styles to keep people from yawning, and discovered that while normally I’m quite introverted this process of teaching is very fulfilling and brings out a more talkative side.

Using both materials provided by the college and my own home lab excess materials, we have dug into the entire list of objectives for the 901 and 902 CompTIA A+ exams. I hope that I have set up my students and apprentices for success, and built some relationships in the meantime as a guide into a career in IT. It is my hope that the students will lean on what we have covered, and if needed reach out to me as a sounding board in the future.

The Continuing Education department has invited me to teach the spring semester as well. I am immensely looking forward to a batch of new faces to the A+ class. With a little more time to plan, we’re hopeful to make the next round even more fun for everyone involved.

This next course run, I plan on blogging at least once a week about topics covered, stories of use cases, and digging a little deeper than the base objectives along the way.

Ark Sidechain — Azure Quickstart

Your own customizable Sidechain and Explorer in < 20 minutes

A shout-out to Jarunik and his voter sponsorship program for this article!

This deployment method can be used to jump-start your journey to your own BridgeChain in the process outlined here by Alex Barnsley.

Pre-Requisites: Active Microsoft Azure account (Trial is OK) — and know how to connect to something via SSH (PuTTY for Windows)

End result:
– Ubuntu VM in Azure
– Azure PublicIP and Firewall configurations pre-built
– Your own SideChain node and Ark Explorer running in < 20 minutes
– Re-usable and customize-able deployment script

1. Virtual Machine Quick Deployment

Navigate to:
Click on the big blue “Deploy to Azure” button to be taken to Login with your account (Trial or not, either work). of the Github page

You should only need to input data for 3 empty fields (Resource Group, Admin Password, and DNS Label), but full details for this section:

Subscription — if not already on your current one.
Resource Group — ‘Create New’ only option that will work unless you wish to edit the template yourself.
Location — Trial availability varies by region. Select whichever you are permitted access to via trial, or if paid, any will do.
Admin Username — This is the account you will sign into the server with.
Admin Password — Secure string and has high complexity requirements.
Dns Label Prefix — This is the unique DNS name that you are giving to this VM. It is mandatory that this name be unique in the Location Datacenter as a whole (It will self-check after input) **Remember this for easy SSH
Ubuntu OS Version — Only option is 16.04-LTS at this time.
ARKNSG Name — This is the name for the firewall group to permit SSH as well as Ark Node/Explorer port access to this VM.

A typical fully filled out template

Currently, the VM produced is a Standard_A1 size VM. This is a very low-cost resource VM for tutorial purposes (Can be scaled-up after deployment if desired or via template adjustment)

Click Agree, and Purchase to begin deployment. Should take 5–10 minutes.

2. Connecting to VM + Ark Deployer

You are welcome to explore your new VM’s Overview, etc, by clicking on ‘Resource Groups’ and finding your new group, and the VM inside. Lots of configuration items here.

Ifyou do not remember your Public DNS name or IP address (For SSH), Go to: Resource Groups > My-Ark-RG > MyUbuntuVM > Overview. This has all the general information you will need.

View of the VM Overview panel — Public IP and DNS Name on right-hand side

Connecting via SSH

The Public DNS Name for all VMs follows this pattern:

So in my case here:

Use this as the Host Name in PuTTY, and click ‘Open’

Click accept when prompted to trust the new VM and login with the credentials used during the VM Template deployment page.

Login using the admin username and admin password that you input earlier in this tutorial.

Starting here, is the default quick-installation method with the chain being named “MyTest”. If you wish to customize, please see the bottom-most section of this article.

Run the following command (It’s a one-liner, copy and paste the full contents from here or from the Github page):

curl -o- | bash

This script will complete all of the installation steps to get both Ark node and Ark explorer running for your sidechain, with all Default values. Total installation time is about 10 minutes.

There is 1 important item to locate in the stream of data being output to the console (For wallet control, etc). Your Genesis Passphrase details!

Just after the Node gets installed, there will be 3 lines of text to record. Copy and Paste works just fine out of PuTTY, so grab these lines outlined in Red.

test deploy node example

This information will be used later on, as you explore Ark past the deployment phase with Alex Barnsley. Copy and Paste it right out of the console window for safe keeping.

3. Final result — See Explorer in action

This is the Public IP of your server, and the port required to view the Ark Explorer for your sidechain (4200). The API should be available on Port 4100.

You can highlight the URL straight from the PuTTY window, such as: and hit CTRL+C to copy it. Paste into a browser, and voila!

4. Customizing Your Deployment

If you wish to customize your deployment of Ark within the bounds of Ark-Deployer, download a copy of:

Within this file, you’re welcome to edit the list of variables on lines 21–31 and personalize them. These variables all align with an optional parameter of Ark Deployer (See GitHub:

You can then run this new version of your script against a new VM, or, you can uninstall the original node/explorer and re-install using the script again. I would recommend just rolling out a new server for ease of use, but that’s your call.

To quickly make a personalized copy of the script (GitHub account)

  • Click on “Raw” on the same line as your file name and copy the URL
  • You can now, on a prepared VM, run via SSH:
  • curl -o- [paste raw gist URL here ending in .sh] | bash


Enjoy following along with Alex Barnsley’s guide going forward in your Ark journey with this amazing and far more in-depth article about Ark: