Jason Specland: An Occasionally Funny Software Guy

Making it up as I go along. Always.

A New Job!

As many of you may have noticed* I have been kind of quiet as of late**. Well the very big reason for that is because I’ve been busy hunting for a new job.

I’ve just completed my very first week as a Cloud Solution Architect for Microsoft. I am absolutely over-the-moon excited about this amazing opportunity. I’m still drinking from the firehose of figuring out this enormous company and my role in it, but thus far everyone’s been absolutely delightful.

* No one noticed, because no one reads this blog. It’s just for me.
** I also almost never post on it, so how would you (which is to say no one) ever know if I was quiet or not?

My New Project: The Cheapo Blog

I work for BlueMetal, and we’re a big Microsoft partner. In fact, we’ve been partner of the year for the past three years running. That means that I build a lot of stuff in the Azure cloud. I’ve come to like it a great deal. I’m amazed by how simple it is to create super-powerful infrastructure at the click of a mouse, or the deployment of an ARM template.

I was so impressed with Azure that I moved my personal WordPress blogs from Dreamhost to Azure. That… was a bit of a mistake. Not because the performance was bad. It was quite good, in fact. But the problem is that even when sharing an App Service Plan between all of my blogs, using the Azure cloud as a private person who is not a corporation can get a bit expensive. My WordPress hosting costs shot up from about $10.99/mo. to about $80. Now, I had a ridiculous deal on Dreamhost. (Crazy Domain Insane, I believe they called it.) I’m certainly getting a bit better performance, and I could trivially scale it up. But that’s a lot of cash to spend every month.

A reasonable person would say, “Dang, let me migrate my blogs right the heck back to Dreamhost!” I am not a reasonable person.

Using only Azure resources, can I create a new blogging system that has performance that’s equal to or better than my WordPress blog, while still being way, way cheaper? I bet I can. It won’t be functionally competitive with the gigantic WordPress ecosystem, but I don’t use most of the stuff in the gigantic WordPress ecosystem. I’m just a simple country blogger.

Now let’s add another degree of difficulty on to this project. At work, I have a Visual Studio Enterprise subscription, with that delicious $150/month in Azure credits at my disposal. And let me tell you, I use that stuff all the time. In fact, since I’m working on different projects with different configurations, I don’t develop on my work laptop anymore. Any time I need a new work environment, I build one from scratch by building out a new VM in the Azure cloud. Easy peasy!

The downside is that I’m used to mindlessly building infrastructure on Azure, but never having to deal with the bill. For this project, I’m going to see if I can do this entirely on my own, with only my own money, using absolutely no resources that belong to my employer, and nothing that is unlicensed in any way.

There are several challenges involved in this. The first one is most obvious: I don’t actually have a Windows PC at home! What can I say, my family went all-in on the Mac a few years ago. My instinct would be to just fire up an Azure VM with Visual Studio and RDP right into it. But that would eat up a fair amount of money that I don’t want to spend.

Fortunately, my Mac is entirely capable of writing .NET Core web services using either Visual Studio for Mac or Visual Studio Code. I fooled around with Visual Studio for Mac for a little bit and it didn’t thrill me. It’s great for Unity (which I’ve dabbled in) and Xamarin (which I haven’t). But I’m building web apps, and VS Code is extremely capable for my purposes, so I’m going to go with that.

And so begins the adventure! Wish me luck!

Classes and Performances – August and September

I’ll be teaching the following drop-in classes at the PIT:

Sun, 8/12: 6-9 PM
Sun, 9/2: 6-9 PM
Fri, 9/7: 7-10 PM

As per usual, the classes take place at Simple Studios, and cost $20 in cash. See you there!

I’m going to be on vacation for two weeks in August, so I won’t have many performances, but my Armory team, Falcon Toss (caw!) is performing on:

Fri, 8/31: 9 PM
Fri, 9/14: 9 PM

As per also usual, the shows take place at The Tank and cost $5 in cash or $6 with a credit card. See you there, too, hypothetical person who goes to all of my stuff!

Upcoming Performances and Classes in July

I’m going to be teaching the following PIT drop-in classes:

Saturday, 7/21, 6-9 PM
Saturday, 7/28, 6-9 PM
Saturday, 8/4, 6-9 PM

All drop-in classes are at Simple Studios, 134 W. 29th St., 2nd Fl. and cost $20 per person.

I’m also going to be performing in the following shows:

Sunday, 7/22, 8:30 PM I’ll be performing with “Gritty Reboot” as part of the “Moviepassers Premiere Night” show at the PIT Loft, 154 W. 29th St. (between 6th and 7th Ave.). $8

Friday, 7/27, 9:30 PM I’ll be performing with “Falcon Toss,” my new house team at The Armory. The Armory shows take place at The Tank theater, which is at 312 West 36th St. $5

See you there!

Drop-In Improv Classes at the PIT: June

I’ll be teaching the following drop-in improv classes at the PIT. All classes are at Simple Studios, 134 W 29th St, 2nd Floor, and cost $20.

_Please note that the times of Saturday and Sunday drop-in classes have changed. They now run from 6-9 PM.

Objects Have Power Friday, June 15, 7-10 PM
Building a Character from the Outside In and the Inside Out Sunday, June 17, 6-9 PM
Building a Character from the Outside In and the Inside Out Friday, June 29, 7-10 PM

For more information, and the complete PIT drop-in schedule go the Drop-In Practices page on the PIT website.

See you there!

POSTPONED – Upcoming Workshop at the Armory

This workshop has been postponed. I will update here when a new date has been chosen.

I’ll be doing my “Listening and Reacting with Emotion” workshop on Sunday, May 27th, from 1-4 PM at Simple Studios. The workshop is associated with the Armory, and not the PIT who is my usual employer. But just the same, any old person can join in for the usual price of $20. (Armory Performers only pay $12! So if you’re an Armory performer, and have been waiting to take one of my workshops, this would be a super-great chance!)

Sign Up Here!

Upcoming Classes!

I’ll be teaching the following PIT Drop-In Classes. All classes are at Simple Studios, 134 W 29th St, 2nd Floor, and cost $20.

_Please note that the times of Saturday and Sunday Drop-In Classes have changed. They now run from 6-9 PM.

Objects Have Power Friday, May 11, 7-10 PM
Invest, Don’t Invent Friday, May 18, 7-10 PM
Listening and Reacting with Emotion Sunday, May 20, 6-9 PM

See you there!

Upcoming Shows!

Some of Earth’s mightiest heroes (and many of the not-quite-so-mightiest heroes) have been transported from their home worlds by the evil Mojo, and will be forced to face mankind’s greatest fear: performing improv. I will be playing the role of Mojo, the producer and extra-dimensional puppet master.
Purchase Tickets

A troupe of English improvisers has been transported from the year 1813, and they are most delighted to be making their debut performance on Yankee soil. They will dazzle you with a montage of such characters and scenes as are certain to divert you famously, and your evening will be well spent in gazing upon their fine countenances as they engage in charades for your express entertainment. I will most likely be portraying a rakish bachelor of considerable wealth who is most desirous to marry a proper lady equal to my station.
Purchase Tickets

Upcoming Drop-In Classes at the PIT

I’ll be teaching some drop-in classes at the PIT in March:

Listening and Reacting with Emotion: Sunday, March 18, 2018, 3-6 PM
Objects Have Power: Friday, March 23, 2018, 7-10 PM

Only $20 for 3 hours!

Check out the PIT website for more info.

GEORGE/MARTHA at The Tank in February

GEORGE/MARTHA is moving from the PIT to The Tank!

Come join Liz and Dick for our premiere performance at The Tank.

Tuesday, February 6th, at 7:00 PM.
Tickets are only $10. Get ’em now!