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Cover image for Hi, I'm Kyle. I just wrote a book on learning AWS, I love helping others and working on side projects. AMA!

Hi, I'm Kyle. I just wrote a book on learning AWS, I love helping others and working on side projects. AMA!

kylegalbraith profile image Kyle Galbraith ・2 min read

Hi everyone! I'm Kyle and I just recently wrote a book on learning Amazon Web Services by using it.

I have been using the cloud my entire career. I have done things as straightforward as hosting, securing, and deploying static websites on AWS. To more complex things like running a distributed event-driven document extraction pipeline processing terabytes of data.

Early in my career I was introduced to AWS and was immediately hooked. I started learning the platform by focusing on problems I was facing and building solutions to them.

The first problem I ran into was hosting my portfolio site. I hated the fact that I was paying BlueHost $10/month to host something so trivial. Enter stage left, AWS S3 for hosting my portfolio website.

Once my portfolio site was in S3, I started to learn more services like CloudFront, Certificate Manager, and later API Gateway + Lambda. I didn't learn these services by diving straight into the documentation. I learned them by using them to help me solve my problem or implement more features for my portfolio.

Now as a Certified Professional Solutions Architect I believe this is the best way to learn not just AWS, but any cloud provider. In fact, that is the principle behind my ebook + video course. There is a vast sea of information out there regarding AWS nowadays. So much so that people are getting lost in all of it.

Instead of wading through pages and pages of documentation, in my course we focus on the problem of hosting, securing, and delivering static websites. We learn the services that help us build a solution to that problem.

So if you have any questions about software development, writing a book, using AWS, side projects, or any other random question, feel free to ask away!

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Ben Halpern

How do you convince yourself that it's worth the longterm commitment to writing a book? Sometimes I have a hard time committing to a long blog post.

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Kyle Galbraith Ask Me Anything

I don't know that I had to convince myself from a commitment perspective. I did, however, have to convince myself from a confidence perspective.

I had always wanted to write a book, but lacked the confidence in myself to do it. I have always had a bit of imposter syndrome when it comes to my writing, so writing a book was a bit terrifying for me.

So how did I actually do it? I started following folks like you, Saron of @CodeNewbie, #100DaysOfCode, and I saw all of these people facing their own fears and overcoming them. I even began coaching a few of these folks on various AWS topics. All of a sudden it clicked, I had knowledge that folks could benefit from.

Once I made that mental shift, the imposter in me fell away (for the most part) and I started writing everyday.

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Ben Halpern

Ah that’s really cool. I’m certain you learned a heck of a lot in the process!!

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Spiro Floropoulos

Hey Kyle!

So this: Certified Professional Solutions Architect

Can you describe that more? Where did you get that certification? Was it hard? How long did it take?

Your book looks pretty cool! How are you finding it's working out for you to sell the book yourself instead of, say, going through Amazon or something?

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Kyle Galbraith Ask Me Anything

Hey Spiro!

I have been certified through the AWS certification program as a Professional Solutions Architect. To get this certification you have to go through the previous associate levels. It is a difficult certification to obtain because you really need to know AWS inside and out. The exam itself aims to measure you for the following responsibilities:

  • Identify and gather requirements in order to define a solution to be built on AWS
  • Evolve systems by introducing new services and features
  • Assess the tradeoffs and implications of architectural decisions and choices for applications deployed in AWS
  • Design an optimal system by meeting project requirements while maximizing characteristics such as scalability, security, reliability, durability, and cost effectiveness
  • Evaluate project requirements and make recommendations for implementation, deployment, and provisioning applications on AWS
  • Provide best practice and architectural guidance over the lifecycle of a project

I had been developing green field projects on AWS for 3 years before I obtained the cert. Because I had a lot of exposure using AWS by building a lot of products on the platform, the exam wasn't extremely difficult. However, I have met folks that have used AWS for only a year or two and found the exam to be very tough.
One of the biggest takeaways for me was that you need to truly understand networking, auto scaling, high availability, fault tolerance, and hybrid cloud architectures to be successful at being an SA.

I chose to go the solo route for the initial phase of my book launch because I wanted to be able to iterate things quickly. So far it is working out very well. I use a service called Gumroad for payment processing and that was very quick to integrate into my site. That said, I am planning to release a Kindle and printed version via Amazon as well at some point in the future.

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Victor Bordo

I know you already have AWS certs so these might be loaded follow-up questions but I'm curious about your perspective :) Why are certs important? Do you recommend other devs put the time and effort into acquiring them?

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Kyle Galbraith Ask Me Anything

These are very relevant questions Victor!

I view certificates as important because they allow me another mechanism to demonstrate my expertise in a particular subject. This isn't to say that they are required, but in my opinion they are important for giving you another foot in the door when it comes to interviewing for companies.

I absolutely believe developers should put in the time and effort into acquiring them if the cloud/AWS is of interest to you. Don't just get them to get them. That is like going to detention just to go to detention because they are not easy to obtain. But if you are curious about the cloud and want to learn more, certifications are a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

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Andy Zhao (he/him)

Hey Kyle!

Any tips or advice for someone who wants to start a side project, but is often exhausted after work and has a hard time making time for a side project?

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Kyle Galbraith Ask Me Anything

Hey Andy!

This is a great question.

One tip I hear often and apply myself is working on my side projects for just 30 minutes a day. If I can do more because I have the energy I will do it, but I go into it knowing that is not a requirement.

Another tip, burnout is a real thing in tech. We all need to be mindful of our time and health, so if your exhausted one day take a break. The world will not end.

Lastly, pick side projects that you are truly interested in launching/building. Nothing will make you feel more exhausted than coming home at the end of a work day and working on another thing you aren't very passionate about.

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Andy Zhao (he/him)

Great points, thanks for the response! 30 minutes a day sounds a lot more doable than "work on a side project after 8 hours of work."

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glburgess

I love your drive!! I'm self taught, so excuse me if I can't find the correct terms to use, but I'm lost in that sea of information you mentioned and really need someone to throw me bouy....I'm creating a mobile app in React Native, Managed by Expo. Currently I have a REST API set up and connecting to my MySQL database via localhost. All that is working fine, but I realize I need to host that database somewhere for my mobile app to be actually functional. I signed up for all the free tier services on AWS and have absolutely no clue what services I actually need. Do I need EC2? Obviously I think I need RDS Instance....They sent me in the direction of AWS Amplify which I kinda felt was a little bit overkill for what I needed (but like I really know what I need). The database I connect to doesn't have sensitive data, the app doesn't use sign-ins or passwords, and I only fetch from the database and no posts, can you tell me what services I need or may want? Basically I just need to host my database and have an address with an SSL to plug into my API...I think....Do you think AWS Amplify would be overkill for what I've described? Your input would be so useful!

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JeffD

Welcome Kyle,

Just an advice, when I buy a book about SaaS or PaaS technologies I love to know if I can realize all the training (or a major part) with a free account. :)

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Kyle Galbraith Ask Me Anything

Thank you for the comment Jeff. With my course you can learn everything on the free tier. I will add something to the landing page that calls that out :)

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Veni Kunche

Hi Kyle! Thank you for doing an AMA. How long did it take you to write your book?

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Kyle Galbraith Ask Me Anything

Veni thank you for the question! In total the book took me ~8 months to write and produce the screencasts that went along with it. You can check out how I pushed for 100 days to get it across the finish line, here.

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Veni Kunche

Oh wow. That is awesome. I might startup up a #100DaysOfWriting challenge for myself. Thank you!