# Saturday, April 25, 2015

Azure Storage consists of Tables, Queues, and Blobs. To use any of these features, you must first create a Storage Account. This article describes how to use the Azure Portal to create an Azure Storage Account.

Sign into your Azure account and navigate to the Azure Management Portal (https://manage.windowsazure.com).

A list of Azure service categories displays on the left. Select the STORAGE category (Figure 1)

Figure 1

Click the [+NEW] button (Figure 2) at the bottom left of the Portal page.

Figure 2

The New Item menu (Figure 3) expands with DATA SERVICES and STORAGE already selected.

Figure 3

Select QUICK CREATE to display the CREATE STORAGE ACCOUNT dialog as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4

At the URL field, enter a name for your new storage account. This name must consist only of numbers and lowercase letters and it must be unique among storage accounts.

At the LOCATION/AFFINITY GROUP, select a region in which to store this account. Generally, in order to minimize latency, you should create your storage account close to whatever clients will be accessing data from this account.

At the REPLICATION field, select a replication option. You can select Locally Redundant, Geo-Redundant, Read-Access Geo-Redundant (the default), or Zone Redundant. A description of each option is below.

Locally Redundant

Select this option to create 3 copies of your data within a single data center. External users will only access one copy of the data.


Select this option to create 6 copies of your data – 3 within a data center in the region you selected and 3 within a different data center in another region. External users will only access one copy of the data.

Read-Access Geo-Redundant

This option is identical to the Geo-Redundant option, except that external users can access in read-only mode the data stored in the secondary region.

Zone Redundant

Select this option to create 3 copies of your data within multiple data centers. External users will only access one copy of the data.

A Note on Pricing

The cost of each option is reflective of the durability and availability of your data, so Read-Access Geo-Redundant is more expensive than Geo-Redundant, which is more expensive than Zone Redundant, which is more expensive than Locally Redundant. You can view the current pricing at http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/details/storage/.

Click the CREATE STORAGE ACCOUNT icon to create your new storage account.

Saturday, April 25, 2015 2:47:15 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, April 23, 2015

This was the 7th Chicago Code Camp and the first time in years that it took place in the city of Chicago. The multi-platform conference had been held in Grayslake, IL the past few years but returned to the city that bears its name as the Illinois Institute of Technology hosted this weekend's event.

About 350 attendees showed up to see talks covering languages, tools, DevOps, and soft skills.

I delivered 2 presentations: The Hitchhiker's Guide to Azure Mobile Services and Effective Data Visualization.

I was able to hear MVP Michael Blumenthal talk about Powershell; Matt Stratton describe the Chef tools;  Angela Dugan talk about fear and self-doubt among software developers; and some advice on project recovery from DevMynd CEO JC Grubbs.

The Chicago Code Camp was the first conference I attended in Illinois (back in 2011) and it remains a strong voice in the community. I love the fact that it has returned to the city. The high turnout is an indication of the strong developer community here in Chicago.

At least half a dozen of the conference organizers stopped me during the day to thank me for Microsoft's sponsorship of the event.



Thursday, April 23, 2015 3:34:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 20, 2015
Monday, April 20, 2015 3:27:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 13, 2015

Episode 361

Dave Voyles on WebGL

Monday, April 13, 2015 3:24:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, April 6, 2015
# Sunday, April 5, 2015

Today I am grateful to watch the game and have dinner last night in Indianapolis with Nick Giard.

Today I am grateful that my taxes are completed and filed early this year.

Today I am grateful to Jesus Christ, who died for my sins.

Today I am grateful for an afternoon yesterday walking around Chicago acting like a tourist. I visited the Chicago Temple - a church sanctuary 23 floors above the Loop - and I rode the water taxi up and down the Chicago River.

Today I am grateful for dinner and ice cream with the Kevin and Darlene last night in St. Louis.

Today I am grateful to attend a .NET User Group in St. Louis last night.

Today I am grateful for a brief visit yesterday in New Jersey with my cousin Linda and her family, who I haven't seen in years.

Today I am grateful to Rowena, Esther, Fernanda, Brian, and all who made the US MVP Open Days a success!

Today I am grateful for the toughness shown by the Spartans in the last few games.

Today I am grateful for dessert with Oksana last night.

Today I am grateful that my cousin Kevin - who has been a widower for years - found someone to share the rest of his life with.

Today I am grateful I got to witness an exciting 4th-quarter comeback and a last-second victory by the Bucks last night at the Bradley Center.

Today I am grateful I finally got my Illinois driver's license yesterday.

Today I am grateful for an exciting Spartan victory over an excellent opponent, sending MSU to yet another Sweet 16!

Today I am grateful to those who suggested that my illness yesterday was due to dehydration. They were right and I am better.

Today I am grateful for an active crowd full of questions at yesterday's Cloud Dev Camp in Denver.

Today I am grateful my car was not towed yesterday in Michigan.

Today I am grateful I got to hang out with Leon last night.

Today I am grateful for a phone call from Adriana - our first conversation in 35 years.

Today I am grateful for a chance to get back to Michigan for a few days.

Today I am grateful to spend most of Saturday with my son Tim.

Today I am grateful for a chance to learn and to be inspired and to see old friends at the KalamazooX conference yesterday. #kalx15

Today I am grateful for unexpectedly running into Paul at dinner last night.

Today I am grateful for my first time speaking at the Houston .NET User Group.

Today I am grateful for dinner last night with Paul, Brad, and Janet.

Today I am grateful for my first trip ever to Austin, TX.

Today I am grateful I made it safely to Austin yesterday after 1 flight, 2 Uber rides, a cab ride, & a 3-hour Greyhound bus ride.

Today I am grateful I slept almost the entire 3-hour flight from Chicago to Houston.

Today I am grateful for a hot shower and a hot latte to partially offset a lack of sleep this weekend.

Today I am grateful for all the Purdue students who showed up for this weekend's hackathon.

Today I am grateful I was able to catch up on some things yesterday that I can only get done in my office.

Today I am grateful for a few days in Miami in the middle of winter.

Today I am grateful for Yelp, which helps me find tasty and interesting meal choices in a strange city.

Today I am grateful for a chance to watch the Heat play the Suns in Miami last night.

Today I am grateful for all the birthday wishes yesterday.

Sunday, April 5, 2015 6:01:11 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The MVP team is now part of DX and we are actively working together to connect with MVPs. One step toward this was the

The event was organized by Esther Lee, Rowena Branch, Fernanda Saraiva, Brian Prince, and others.

Registration was capped at 100 and about 90 MVPs attended for 2 days of technical content, roundtable discussion, and providing feedback.

The content was mostly presented under NDA, but a few of the presentations were:
•    "What's Next for Developers?" presented by NuGet PM Jeff Fritz
•    "Overview of Microsoft's Digital Crime Unit" presented by Tim Pash of the Philadelphia MTC
•    "Working with your Evangelist: Understanding DX priorities" presented by DX Audience TE Nick Landry. I really liked Nick’s analogy of Evangelists as sherpas, helping to guide others to greatness (I hope I’m not violating any NDA by repeating that).
•    I gave an overview of Universal Apps.

Dave Voyles and Shahed Chowdhuri of the DX Audience team also presented, as did NuGet PM Jeff Fritz and CVP Brian Harry.

MVP Open Days have taken place in other parts of the world, but this was the first one in the US. The reception was very positive by the attending MVPs with many expressing a desire to see more events like this in the future.

Another Open Days event seems likely in the future, but the location is currently undecided.

MVPs and blue badges at the US MVP Open Days

A packed room

Me and Esther Lee – one of the event organizers

Hanging out with some of the organizers after the event

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 1:47:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Years ago, Brian Prince became famous for a talk on developer soft skills. This presentation resonated with developers at technology conferences and user groups because so few people were talking about this subject. Michael Eaton - a regular at technical conferences - recognized this lack of speakers addressing this topic and decided to create an entire conference focused on soft skills. This was how the Kalamazoo X conference began in Kalamazoo, MI in 2009.

Many tech leaders from around the region and the country converge on Kalamazoo, MI to lend their knowledge, including Cory House (Kansas City, KS), Alan Stevens (Knoxville, TN), Jim Holmes (Dayton, OH), Jay Harris (Hartland, MI), Cori Drew (Dallas, TX), Jeff Blankenburg (Columbus, OH), and Elizabeth Naramore (Cincinnati, OH).

I’ve been a fan of KalamazooX from the beginning and I’ve spoken at the conference twice. Those who follow me on social media will know that I begin each day by completing the sentence "Today I am grateful for...". That tradition was inspired by a couple of presentations at KalamazooX 2 years ago.

I've attended all but one KalamazooX conference, so I made a point to make it this year, even though my flight from Houston arrived in Chicago the morning of the conference and I had to drive to Kalamazoo. The morning flight meant that I could only attend the afternoon sessions this year; but they did not disappoint.

Elizabeth Naramore and Microsoft's Jeff Blankenburg each spoke about capturing the spirit of a novice, when you are driven by curiosity and unafraid to fail - before expectations make you think that there is something wrong with risking failure.

Dawn Kuczwara in her presentation titled "Give It Up" told managers that it is necessary to relinquish control and allow your subordinates to manage their own work in order for most projects and teams to succeed.

Cori Drew spoke of ways she inspires her daughter to develop a passion for technology in her talk on "Geek Parenting".

Although primarily attended by software professionals, KalamazooX is very different from any other technical conference - it focuses on the parts of our career that is important - but ignored at most conferences. I've heard many people describe how inspired and energized they are by this conference.

I woke up in Houston at 3 AM and flew/cabbed/drove over 1300 of miles to attend. And it was worth it. I'm looking forward to next year.

Kalamazoo X speakers and organizers

A full room listens to Dawn Kuczwara

Elizabeth Naramore presenting “The Beauty of a Beginner’s Mind”

Conference organizer Michael Eaton introduces the next speaker.

View more photos at http://giard.smugmug.com/Tech-Community/KalamazooX-2015/.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 4:15:00 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, March 30, 2015
Monday, March 30, 2015 8:08:25 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, March 26, 2015

A number of friends and colleagues had recommended Uber and insisted it was better than taxi services. So I decided to try Uber for a few weeks while I was traveling out of state (Florida, Texas, and Colorado) these past few weeks.

My first ride took place because I was stranded in downtown Miami about 2 miles from my hotel. I was carrying a suitcase and a laptop bag and no taxis passed by. So I downloaded the Uber app to my phone and I requested an Uber pickup. Of course, as soon as I submitted the request 3 taxis appeared out of nowhere.

Here are my impressions after 3 weeks of using Uber.

The good.

The Uber app is very simple to use. Just click "Request driver" and set your pickup location. Your phone's GPS should determine where you are right now and set a default location. When a driver responds to your pickup request, the app displays an estimated time of arrival and texts you when the driver is arriving. The driver receives your phone number, so he may even call you if he cannot find you.

Every driver I rode with was courteous and some were interesting conversationalists.

Every driver drove a nice car. They were all late-model vehicles and they were all very clean.

Uber charges my credit card through its system. This means that I never have to worry if the driver accepts credit cards.

Uber automatically emails me a receipt. This is convenient because most of my travel is for business purposes.

Calling a driver is very easy. Outside of a major city's downtown area, it's usually necessary to make a phone call in order to request a taxi. The app is much simpler than a phone call.

Every driver spoke and understood English. If you've ridden a cab in a large city, you know that not all cab drivers speak English well enough to understand your instructions.

Most of the time UberX is cheaper than a taxi.

The Uber app offers multiple services - UberX, UberXL, Black Car, SUV - in case you want a larger or nicer car. Uber is not allowed at some airports, so the app allows you to call a taxi instead.

The Bad

Most of the time, the arrival estimates were optimistic. I only requested in a big city and each time, the estimate was less than 10 minutes - often less than 5. But about half the time, it took them at least twice that time to arrive. Only once did a driver arrive early.

When I opened the Uber app at my Chicago apartment, it notified me that, due to high demand, prices would be 1.3 times the normal rate. But just before I got into the car, I received a text message informing me that the price would be 2.3 times the normal rate. By then, it was too late to make alternate plans.

On my Windows Phone, the Uber app crashed. A lot.

One morning in Dallas, I requested an Uber and the driver went to the wrong place. He insisted he was at "the address I texted him"; but of course I had not texted him any information - I simply used the app. He had no idea how to get to my hotel and I was running late so I told him to cancel my request. When he charged me anyway, I gave him a 1-star rating. Uber later refunded the money (it was only about $5) and I replaced the low rating.

I received a very high bill when traveling from Midway airport to a location in suburban Chicago. Apparently, Chicago taxis charge 50% extra when traveling from the city to the suburbs. This was not Uber's charge, but it came as a surprise when I received the bill.

For taxis, Uber automatically adds a 20% tip by default. Although you can change this, I didn't learn of it until I was charged.

Lessons Learned

Always double-check the pickup location because they app can be wrong. This can be difficult to do if you are in a strange city, but look for nearby street signs and other landmarks to verify you are standing at the pickup location.

Prices are different for each service. UberX tends to be the cheapest. At the bottom of the app screen is the option to select from the available services (not all are always available). I wasn't aware of this and once selected the more-expensive Black Car service.

If possible, get a quote in advance. The Uber app allows this for most services. If the app won't give you a quote, ask the driver for an estimate. Don't be surprised.

Log into http://uber.com and verify all the options on the Profile and Payment screens.

My verdict

Overall, I had a good experience with Uber. I can avoid many of the problems i experienced now that I understand the system better. I think I will continue to use Uber in the future.

Thursday, March 26, 2015 12:23:18 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)