Summer Learning Plan 2024

5 minute read article Leadership   Technology   Wisdom   Career   Learning Comments

I know summer in the US is a couple weeks old, but I’ve been thinking a lot about learning lately and wanted to write about my summer learning plans. By the way, summer 2024 runs from June 20 until September 22 which is 94 days.

In my post titled Always Be Learning, I mentioned a few things I wanted to focus on, but I didn’t give too much detail; that’s what this post will be.

Azure Admin

Ok, I know everyone has an opinion on certifications, and maybe one day I’ll address my thoughts in more depth, but for now, I’ll simply say this: I work for a Microsoft Partner and certifications are important for that partnership.

In the last 18’ish months, I’ve taken and passed the exams for AZ-900 (Azure Fundamentals) and AZ-204 (Azure Developer Associate). I wrote about my experience with AZ-900, so check it out for the approach I used and my thoughts on the exam. AZ-204 was taken last September, and I don’t recall it being too difficult, but I have been doing dev work in Azure for a few years. I have to “renew” it soon.

I’m currently working towards AZ-104, the Azure Adminstrator certification. I’m struggling a bit because as I mentioned in the Always Be Learning post, I don’t do a lot of the things covered on that exam in my day-to-day job. Things like setting up virtual networks, especially complex vnets with lots of subnets spread across multiple regions.

My current approach is much like my approach for AZ-900:

  1. Use the MS Learn learning paths as my baseline education
  2. Use my personal Azure account (I have monthly credit) to try to get as much hands-on experience as I can
  3. Watch John Savill’s videos on YouTube
  4. Watch AZ-104 content on both Pluralsight (my personal account) and Udemy (work account)
  5. Take a practice exam, see where the gaps are and go back to step 1

Steps 1-4 involve taking lots of notes on notecards so I can easily review them.

Here’s my moment of humility: I have failed the exam twice now, BUT my score has improved each time. The first time I took it, I went in with no prep. The second time, my prep was just a Udemy course, but even when I was watching it, I didn’t feel like the instructor was doing a good job. I probably stuck with it too long. Now I’m back to the plan I described above.

Seriously though, fuck virtual networks.

More C# and .NET

C# is my bread and butter, but I can always be better, so my plan is to do lots of katas to explore new language and framework features. I’m also working on some utilities to help with the maintenance of this blog, all in C#. I have some ideas for trying to port them to other languages once I have them fully working, but more on that later.

As I mentioned in My 5 favorite ways of keeping the technical axe sharp, I really enjoy the Gilded Rose and Vending Machine katas, but I’ll expand into some others. Bank OCR is always a fun one (and one that was the subject of an interview I did a few years back).


I’ve always been fascinated by C, and I have dabbled in it, but I’m certainly not fluent, and that’s what I want to be. I remember writing one small C app back in the late 90s for a project I was working on, but I had another experienced C dev making sure I didn’t F things up too badly.

In college, and on my own in the 90s, I learned Pascal. I remember a buddy of mine buying Borland C++ and thinking it was the coolest thing ever, but I had no idea WTF to do.

At least once or twice a year, I walk over to one of my bookshelves and pick up the copy of K&R’s The C Programming Language I’ve owned since the mid-90s. I flip through, and every so often, I’ll sit down and start working through it, but I never get far because other things grab my attention.

I recently picked up a bundle of books from Humble Bundle, and in that bundle are “C Programming: Absolute Beginners Guide” by Greg Perry and Dean Miller along with “Learn C the Hard Way” by Zed Shaw.

I’m feeling motivated to do this because I have a lot of time on my hands, AND I think, after all these years, learning it will make me a better programmer. I’m sure many will disagree with the second half of that, saying I should learn “X” or “Y” instead. Eh, it’s my time, and this is how I’m choosing to spend it. Also, I like this quote from Zed early in his book:

I don’t think that anybody should be writing new C code. If that’s the case, then why am I teaching you C? Because I want you to become a better, stronger programmer, and there are two reasons why C is an excellent language to learn if you want to get better. First, C’s lack of nearly every modern safety feature means you have to be more vigilant and more aware of what’s going on. If you can write secure, solid C code, you can write secure, solid code in any programming language…Second, learning C gives you direct access to a mountain of legacy code…

Seems legit.

I plan to go through one or both of the books, and then work on porting some of the utilities I mentioned earlier just to see if I can do it. Thankfully, they’re all console-based.


I’m on a 577 day streak in DuoLingo. I can read Spanish, and I’m starting to understand it when I hear it, BUT what I need to get better at is speaking. Thankfully, I work with a lot of people from Mexico, and EVERY SINGLE ONE has offered to help me work on my Spanish. Unfortunately, I haven’t worked up the nerve to do it yet.

I’d like to get to the point this summer where I can hold a basic conversation, and order things in a restaurant without sounding like a total dork.

Final Thoughts

I’d like to say I’ll finally learn the guitar this summer, but I know that’s adding a lot to an already busy learning schedule. At the very least, I plan to look for a teacher because I think that’s my best path forward.

When I pass AZ-104, I’ll blog about it.

Keep learning!

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