Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

QnAMaker Went Live – Bot in a Day

There were lots of exciting things to come out of Build 2018 in early May this year.

Among the many detail level items was qnamaker.ai came out of beta.

As many folks know, I’ve been hosting Bot in a Day Workshops at various Microsoft Technology Centers (MTCs) in the northeast.

With qnamaker.ai going live, came some changes, including a migration from the beta portal to the Azure Portal.

The general instructions for migrating your QnAMaker knowledgebases can be found here:
https://aka.ms/qnamaker-docs-migrate

Unfortunately, you’ll quickly discover that with that change, there’s a breaking change in code that requires _more_ than just upgrading nuget packages.  (You must update all your nuget packages… in fact, be careful, because some of the new dependencies are out of date… so keep updating until everything is flush)

In the live era of QnAMaker, you must also contact the correct host.

After you’ve re-published your migrated knowledgebase in the live environment, you’ll see the familiar deployment details.  Among them will be one new detail, that host name:

This changes what you have to pass in to the constructor for the QnAMakerService in your code.

The way the Bot in a Day Workshop lab sets up configuration is via web.config.  In your bot project, you’ll need to add a new configuration key to the configuration/appSettings section of the file.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to provide the parameter to the constructor of the  QnAMakerService…  see the example below.

https://gist.github.com/GraniteStateHacker/a8d86f28a9bbc86c3c249c173e499643.js

Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Global Azure Bootcamp 2018 – Manchester, NH, United States

THANK YOU!

Global Azure Bootcamp 2018, held at over 280 locations around the world on Saturday, April 21st, 2018 is in the books.

These are exciting times.  When Microsoft airs commercials that point out that “there is more computing power at your fingertips than in past generations”, I think that’s a severe understatement.  There’s more computing power at your fingertips today than there has ever been, over the cumulative course of human history.

Further, Microsoft has never been more clear about their commitment to Azure, to the point of burying Windows within their own organization.  It’s not that Windows is gone, it’s that Windows is merely a client to Azure, and their new organization structure reflects this.

I was mostly focused on the Granite State event location, and had my hands full with that… though I did assist the Burlington / Boston event as well, especially getting local sponsorship in the form of custom t-shirts from Insight/BlueMetal.

Thanks so much to all the folks who contributed to make it happen… Peter Lamonica of Manchester Community College for making the facilities available to us…   Carl Barton, Xamarin MVP, Roman Jaquez, Patty Tompkins, Marie Patrick in the Granite State (New Hampshire) community for presenting, and Patrick El-Azem, Dave Stampfli, Bret Swedeen, and Gino Filicetti from Microsoft itself, for presenting, and taking the content up a notch.  All helped organize the event.

The event really was perfect for the Granite State Users Groups, LLC, an organization I created several years ago specifically to enable users groups to plan events and manage their own resources in the process.

We shared a lot of learning!

Topics included

  • Azure 101
  • Azure Functions
  • Lift & Shift
  • App Services
  • Azure Resource Management
  • Azure Networking
  • Bot Framework
  • Cognitive Services
  • Azure DevTest Labs
  • SQL on Azure
  • Azure IoT Hub
All of the support from Global Azure Bootcamp central made some of the harder parts easy… in particular setting up lunch, and providing sponsorship for things like $300 Azure passes and the like.
In retrospect, we had a few minor misses:
  • We didn’t print up schedules for everyone, which was a mistake.  We had enough to effectively share, but should have just printed out a copy for everyone.
  • We had coffee, but it didn’t arrive till near end of day.
  • We didn’t take enough photos. 🙂

Azure Passes!

Manchester Community College floor plan

Jetbrains stickers

The “Go-kit” turned into a stack of boxes.

Custom event tshirts from BlueMetal/Insight

Our schedule, with some marked up for specific rooms

Locked & loaded early, ready to roll.

Schedule on display

Our 3rd classroom was a bit remote from the rest of the event.

Carl Barton presenting Azure Functions in session 1.

Panorama of Carl’s session

The school MPR in panorama, rolling with Patrick El-Azeem’s Azure 101, just one of several sessions rolling at the time.
Patrick El-Azeem presenting Azure 101
Tech in the 603, The Granite State Hacker

Mobile First, Cloud First as Redefined in Build 2016

There were a number of very cool announcements made at Microsoft Build’s 2016 kickoff today, Wednesday, March 30th.  On first brush, one might not notice the common theme across the announcements, however.

These things may seem disconnected, but if you look again, they’re not… nor are the other less obviously connected major announcements such as:

Microsoft has been promising Mobile First, Cloud First for a long time. Until today, there’s been a consensus that Mobile First meant Tablet and Phone…  as in those hardware form factors get updates and features before classic alternatives.  Today Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, addressed the developer crowd and clarified (or perhaps more accurately “redefined”) what “Mobile First” really means.

Mobile First, Cloud First has morphed to mean something more like “Portable First, Cloud First”, with portable referring directly to the Universal Windows Platform…  write your code once, and the user can take it to any device (desktop, laptop, phone, IoT) and use it as naturally as possible with the whatever human interface device is available (keyboard, mouse, touch, ink, voice, text, etc)…

And there is, indeed, how all the announcements fit together. 

All of the announcements made today talk about how Microsoft is diversifying the human interface, yet keeping the context of all your work and play available across all devices.  Your apps are there, and they work just as naturally with voice commands as they do with ink. 

Note that keyboard and mouse are relatively unnatural compromises in human interface paradigm, and their use will be diminished in the future. 

If pen and paper is the natural choice, Ink will replace it. 

If voice makes sense, it will be available.

If an intelligent actor might assist you, Cortana and your trusted “Network of Experts” (Apps and BotFX bots) are there. If a virtual or augmented reality makes sense, your apps will join you on Hololens. 

If an Xbox controller is the right choice, no problem. 

All of these things can be enhanced significantly with DirectX 12, even for non-games.

And the Cloud will interlink them naturally so that you can flip from tablet to Hololens without skipping a beat. (in some ways, live process migration is really becoming a reality;  when the apps are the same across every deployed device, the only thing that needs to transfer from device to device is user data, and that’s happening via cloud.)

One segment that didn’t see much love today:  the Web.  Or did it?  Bash for Windows 10 is a bit of a stretch to connect to the coming shift, but really, it is meant to make it easier for developers to deliver web-based, cloud-hosted solutions using Visual Studio to non-Windows hosts.  Indirectly this will aid in the creation of services that might support Bots made with the BotFX, for example.  All of this is based predominantly on JSON over REST / HTTP.

Some would point out that Windows 10 Mobile (formerly Windows Phone) didn’t get any stage time, either, but the reality is that Microsoft no longer sees the smartphone edition of Windows to be a separate thing.   Windows 10 is converging on “The Best Windows Ever”, Windows 10… smartphone or not.