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The AWS Solutions Architect exam is a marathon. I had no idea what I was in for when I signed up for my CloudGuru account in November and resolved to pass the test. I watched the AWS official training video and thought, “yeah, yeah, yeah,” as the trainer emphasized that you should already know all about architecture before thinking about taking the exam. I’ve been an architect and senior developer for over ten years. I got this.

I dutifully watched the lectures, read the white papers, and spent my morning coffee hours viewing re:Invent presentations in a blissful haze of…


The Missing README from No Starch Press — ISBN-13: 9781718501836

Sometimes the most challenging part of being a Software Engineer isn’t writing the software: It’s all the other aspects of the job. “The Missing Readme,” written by Chris Riccomini and Dmitriy Ryaboy and published by No Starch Press, seeks to provide a concise guide in the style of a project Readme to the other aspects of the Software Engineer job.

Except for a few odd geographical metaphors in the introduction, the book provides an accessible, handy guide to practical aspects of being a Software Engineer. The subtitle is “A Guide for the New Software Engineer.” …


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Database Administrators rarely have a greenfield database with simple, clear role-based access. Users and roles tend to grow organically, and building a clean data access hierarchy can be like unknotting a tangled mess. Additionally, the forces of entropy never stop, and maintaining transparent data governance requires continual diligence.

In this article, I outline how a DBA can create stored procedures in Snowflake to capture Roles and Grants into tables, create views on those tables, and visualize and alert through the up-and-coming BI tool, Metabase.

When a user runs “show roles” in Snowflake, they will see the roles granted to the…


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Modern Database Administrators face significant security challenges on cloud-enabled databases like Snowflake. Whether setting up a new database or assessing user security on an existing database, you will want to monitor user authentication and access patterns to prevent unauthorized access.

This article provides a quick startup template ensuring your access points are secure and a means to monitor user activity to keep your database safe.

  • Monitor and Alert on security
  • Give users the Minimum Privilege on the database
  • Enforce Separation by using Limited Role Access

Snowflake’s Access Security Challenges

Snowflake is a data warehouse provided as a Software as a Service through HTTPS. Since…


The EXA Retrospective

Those who know me well know that I am a Critter and an avid Table Top Role Playing game fan. For those that don’t know about Critical Role, it is a live D&D game featuring professional voice actors. The aspects of the game have many similarities to being on a development team, except that the team is really good at interpersonal interactions.

In the words of Matt Mercer.

That’s the magic of role-playing games. You get to create something like you that’s in some ways like you a little more aspirational. Then by living in that space, kind of make…


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Psychology says that humans are able to process up to 7 pieces of information at a time in our short-term memory. That’s why we have trouble processing JSON objects quickly. There is too much information for our little brains to hold. To turn JSON into actionable data, we need to load it into tables and use SQL to narrow the scope.

Here are some interesting JSON sources with more recipes than I can comprehend. I’d like to summarize this data to find something delicious to cook — Preferably before lunch because I’m getting hungry. …


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Scrum is a Software Development Lifecycle Methodology

Scrum is a Software Development Lifecycle Methodology based on the principles laid forth in the Agile Manifesto in its most basic form. This article describes how using the basic principles can improve Scrum by adding a Zero Defect model to the backlog and refactoring how we do Retrospectives.

Let’s start with the Scrum definition.

In a nutshell, Scrum requires a Scrum Master to foster an environment where:

A Product Owner orders the work for a complex problem into a Product Backlog.

The Scrum Team turns a selection of the work into an Increment of value during a Sprint.

The Scrum…


Bringing together two systems can be tricky, but the data insights you gain are worth it.

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Snowflake is an excellent modern database that couples the power of traditional SQL with modern data lake architecture. AWS Glue is a native ETL environment built into the AWS serverless ecosystem. Together they make a powerful combination for building a modern data lake.

This article will detail how to create a Glue job to load 120 years of Olympic medal data into a Snowflake database to determine which country has the best Fencers.

Integrate your Snowflake Credentials into Secrets Manager

AWS provides a utility called Secrets Manager to store passwords, and it has several features, including automated password rotation that make it very attractive for secure storage.


Let’s transform our deploy processes this year

Person setting off fireworks
Person setting off fireworks
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Why DevOps?

DevOps is a cultural shift that combines development and operations into a single team. The automation framework is a key backbone to implementing a successful DevOps transformation. This article details the practical stages to implement DevOps on your stack.

Ask yourself:

  • Do my developers test their features automatically or manually?
  • Do my teams integrate their features automatically?
  • Do we deliver artifacts to production manually?
  • Do we prove code works automatically before promoting?
  • Do we continually prove code works with the same tests?
  • Do we release working features to production automatically?
  • Can we recover production errors automatically?

All of these stages…

Tim Burns

Data architect. See my blog https://www.owlmountain.net/. My opinions are my own.

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