Google Cloud Data Engineer Professional certified!

 
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One more GCP certification on the list! This one was by far the most interesting one in a while as it gave me a chance to review topics that I don’t work with every day: Machine learning and Big data.

Let’s dive right in, here is the preparation I followed. To begin with the online classes:

Read Google official documentation about the services in the scope of this exam:

  • Cloud Storage, Google Transfer appliance
  • Cloud SQL, Cloud Bigtable, Cloud Bigquery, Datastore
  • Pub/Sub, Dataflow, Dataprep, Datastudio, Datalab
  • Stackdriver, KMS, Machine Learning and its API

Then jump on the Google Next videos:

You can review case studies but don’t spend too much time on them. There is now a practice exam for the Data Engineer, quite similar to the type of questions you can find in the real exam:

https://cloud.google.com/certification/practice-exam/data-engineer

My feedback on the exam:

  • Check the scope of this exam, be prepared for design questions on database models, optimization and troubleshooting
  • Know Bigquery VS Bigtable VS Datastore VS Cloud SQL
  • Dataflow and how to deal with batch and stream processing
  • Read as much as you can and play with machine learning!
  • How to share datasets, queries, reports is really something that comes often, don’t underestimate security aspects
  • Understand Hadoop ecosystem, learn about the typical big data lifecycle on GCP

Good luck to everyone taking this exam!

Google Cloud Platform – Machine learning APIs

 
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I have been watching a few Google Cloud Platform videos recently from Google Cloud Next and really enjoyed the demo in one of them: Machine learning APIs (Demo @11″35).

The idea is simply to record your voice (here using the microphone on your laptop). Then the audio file is sent to Cloud Storage.

By using Google Speech, you can not only get a transcript of your record, but you can add additional context words in your API call to make sure GCP understands it perfectly.
Example:

"speechContext": { "phrases": ["GKE", "Kubernetes", "Containers"] }

I tried to work on the script to do the exact same thing and decided to share it if you want to try it at home.
Prerequisites are:

  • A GCP projet
  • Run the following command on your laptop:
    brew install sox --with-flac
  • Download and install Google Cloud SDK
  • Create a Cloud Storage bucket
  • Create an API Key and give it access to Google Speech
#!/usr/bin/env bash

# Configuration
GCP_USERNAME=<my-user-email>
GCP_PROJECT_ID=<my-project-id>
BUCKET_NAME=<my-bucket-name>
API_KEY=<my-api-key>

gcloud auth login $GCP_USERNAME
gcloud config set project $GCP_PROJECT_ID

# Recording with Sox (brew install sox --with-flac)
rec --encoding signed-integer --bits 32 --channels 1 --rate 44100 recording.flac

# Upload to Cloud Storage
gsutil cp -a public-read recording.flac gs://$BUCKET_NAME

# Prepare our request parameters for Google Speech
cat <<< '
{
    "config": {
    "encoding":"FLAC",
    "sample_rate": 44100,
    "language_code": "en-US",
    "speechContext": {
        "phrases": ["<My context word>"]
    }
    },
    "audio": {
        "uri":"gs://'$BUCKET_NAME'/recording.flac"
    }
}' > request.json

# API call to Google Speech
curl -s -X POST -H "Content-Type: application/json" --data-binary @request.json \
"https://speech.googleapis.com/v1beta1/speech:syncrecognize?key=$API_KEY"

# Cleaning
rm -f recording.flac

If you are interested in learning more about AI and machine learning, there is a great video from Andrew Ng which covers the state of AI today and what you can do to be the next AI company!

Solo-hiking Tour du Mont Blanc

 
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Hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc was a great adventure! Not only for the beautiful alpine views but for the great people I met along the way. With a total of 170 km and about 10 kilometres of ascent/descent, it is better to be correctly prepared and equipped. This tour is usually done in 8 to 12 days between June and September.

Preparation & equipment

  • Buy a guide book with the minimum info to understand the tour and its signage. Most people on the tour had this one for French speakers: TopoGuides – Tour du Mont Blanc – FFRandonnée and this one for English speakers Tour of mont Blanc – Kev Reynolds
  • Buy a map, IGN maps are not needed if you have a guide book and a GPS you can trust in term of accuracy and battery in the mountains
  • Make a list of the required gear and pack your bag with the minimum. Remember that you will have water and food in addition. This list was the best I found.
  • Prepare and decide your route in advance, make sure you have the alternative routes available if you decide to take any variant from the official TMB trail or if the weather doesn’t allow you to take the variant for example.
  • I traced my route on View Ranger using the web version, exported it in gpx file and imported it into Gaia GPS which has one of the clearest design on mobile and was very easy to follow in the fog! All my gpx files are available here: [Download GPX TMB routes]
  • Forget about weather apps on your phone, only this website is used by locals and proved to have accurate weather reports: http://chamonix-meteo.com/

Planning

  • Planning should be done carefully based on the physical challenge you want to experience:
    • Less than 10 days will be a though challenge, but you can take the bus or use chair lifts to shorten the trek, it can be a good option if you are limited on time
    • 10 days should be good and let time for variants as I did
    • More than 10 days will be comfortable and let time to do extra trails
DayItineraryNight/RefugeRoute
DepartureHome ➤ Les HouchesChalet Les Méandres (ex Tupilak) 
Day 1Les Houches ➤ Les Contamines (Variant Tricot)Gîte le Pontet VR
Day 2Les Contamines ➤ Refuge Croix du BonhommeRefuge de la Croix du Bonhomme VR
Day 3Refuge Croix du Bonhomme ➤ Rifugio Elisabetta (Variant Col des Fours)Rifugio Elisabetta VR
Day 4Rifugio Elisabetta ➤ Rifugio BertoneRifugio Bertone VR
Day 5Rifugio Bertone ➤ Rifugio Elena (Variant Bernada)Rifugio Elena VR
Day 6Rifugio Elena ➤ La FoulyMaya Joie VR
Day 7La Fouly ➤ ChampexAuberge Gîte Bon Abri  VR
Day 8Champex ➤ Trient (Variant Arpette)Auberge Mont blanc VR
Day 9Trient ➤ Tre le ChampGite le moulin VR
Day 10Tre le Champ ➤ Chamonix (Variant Lac Blanc)Hotel VR
Return Chamonix ➤ Les Houches  ➤ Home All GPX files

Booking if sleeping in refuges

Booking can be easy if you go through an agency, many people get the best rooms in refuges by using an agency. It is also possible online thought http://www.montourdumontblanc.com/. And finally it can be done by phone but make sure you confirm a second time the reservation a week before with the refuge.

Google Cloud Architect Professional certified!

 
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Taking the GCP Architect exam is quite a challenge as there is very little study material or practice questions available at the time of writing this post.

Exam preparation

To sum up the exam without saying too much, it was 50 questions for a total of 120 minutes. Timing is friendly, I had about 15-20 minutes left before the end. Half of the exam worked pretty easily by proceeding by elimination to remove the craziest answers. I was surprise to see a split screen with questions on the left and a listbox on the right allowing to switch between the 4 use cases available at the moment.

About 15 questions were related to use cases. They seemed more complex, even confusing sometimes. I had to use only 2 use cases out of 4, the rest of the questions is more general and seemed to be what I would categorize as medium level questions.

Important points to review

  • Prepare yourself with the 4 use cases available, work on them for an hour as if they were your customer and how you would deal with each point (means which service you would use on GCP instead of what they have)
  • Read about BQ, Bigtable, CloudStorage, Pub/Sub, Dataflow, Dataproc and when to use all of them
  • Container engine vs Compute Engine vs App Engine
  • Know cloud related business terms: capex, opex, tco, capacity planning
  • Best practices regarding IAM, audit logs and how to secure them
  • Know resources that are global vs regional vs zonal (some major differences with AWS)
  • Know how are structured the different databases
  • Learn everything about instance groups, load balancers, stress tests
  • CI/CD on GCP, how to architect perfectly dev/qa/stg/prod environments
  • You will have to look at Java and Python code as expected
  • Cloud deployment manager is part of the exam and interesting to know in details
  • Migration: how do you deal with existing DC, move data around, etc
  • Network: VPN, firewall, tags

Once again, good luck to everyone taking this exam!