My 2024 Microsoft Certification Plan

I’m currently studying to take a couple of Microsoft Certifications. I’m using Cloud, BI, Data and Analytics technologies all the time but with my current work break, it seems like the perfect time to schedule a couple of Microsoft certification tests.

Update: I’ve passed the three certs mentioned: Azure Cloud, Data and AI Fundamentals.

In thinking about what to take and how to study, I went to and came across an interactive PDF (see below). I liked that the pdf is interactive – in a browser it will take you to just what is needed for more info! Hover over the image and try the link for more! (Note: click once to pull up the PDF in your browser and then make a second selection to go right to that location on

Click on image for downloadable PDF!

I ended up thinking I should take the fundamentals Cloud, Data and AI and maybe the latest Power BI exam. My Power BI certification expired in 2020 and PBI is updated monthly so it might be time to take it again.

I asked to help me summarize the 4 exams for this page. The results are below and pretty good (I think), I especially liked the “citations” feature of – great for research!

AZ-900: Azure Cloud Fundamentals

The AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals exam is designed for individuals aiming to showcase a basic understanding of cloud services and how Microsoft Azure delivers them. It covers a broad range of topics including cloud concepts, core Azure services, security, privacy, compliance, and trust, as well as Azure pricing and support. Candidates for this exam should have a foundational knowledge of cloud services and how those services are provided with Microsoft Azure. The exam format includes multiple-choice and multi-response questions, and it typically consists of 40-60 questions to be completed in 60 minutes. A passing score is 700 out of 1000.

DP-900: Azure Data Fundamentals

The DP-900: Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals exam is an opportunity to demonstrate knowledge of core data concepts and related Microsoft Azure data services. This exam is intended for candidates beginning to work with data in the cloud. It covers topics such as core data concepts, working with relational and non-relational data on Azure, and an analytics workload on Azure. The exam format includes 40-60 questions, and the duration is 65 minutes. A passing score is 700 out of 1000. Candidates should be familiar with the concepts of relational and non-relational data, and different types of data workloads such as transactional or analytical.

AI – 900: Azure AI Fundamentals

The AI-900: Microsoft Azure AI Fundamentals exam is designed for candidates having basic and foundational knowledge in the field of machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) concepts, and related Microsoft Azure services. This exam covers topics such as AI workloads and considerations, fundamental principles of machine learning on Azure, features of computer vision workloads on Azure, and Natural Language Processing (NLP) workloads on Azure. The exam format includes 40-60 questions, and the duration is 65 minutes. A passing score is 700 out of 1000. It is an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of common ML and AI workloads and how to implement them on Azure.

PL-300: Power BI

The PL-300: Microsoft Power BI Data Analyst exam measures your ability to identify business requirements, clean and transform data, build data models, deliver actionable insights, enable others to perform self-service analytics, and deploy solutions for consumption using Power BI. The exam focuses on evaluating the candidate’s skills in designing and implementing data models, creating and managing reports and dashboards, and securing data in Power BI. The exam format includes 40 to 60 questions in different formats such as multiple-choice, true/false, drag and drop, list builds, and case studies, to be completed in 100 minutes. A passing score is 700 out of 1000. I passed this in 2021 so time to take it again!

Microsoft Challenges provide free vouchers for Certification Exams!

Online Examples of Work

Over the last couple of years, I’ve created visualizations using R, Python, Power BI, Tableau and Qlik. Here are a couple of places where I’ve put these examples.

RStudio – as best I can remember, I was thinking about using RPubs to host content 4 years ago.

Published MERA Bar plot to RPubs

Power BI – Using the same dataset only loaded from a parquet format (ADSL Gen2) into Power BI the same visualization can be created.

Data Loaded from Parquet file in Data Lake
Transform Data – Power Query – Data Load of Home Owner Parquet File

With the data has been loaded into Power BI a simple bar chart visualization can be created.

Python – Of course, this same dataset can be loaded into Python as a csv and using Visual Studio Code yet another visualization can be created.

Final version – Bar chart showing relationship between Claims History and Local Weather Conditions

It should be noted, GPT-4 helped with the code and also creating a “statistically significant” relationship in the data with the Local Weather Conditions (either normal or severe) adversely impacting Claims History.

Data Literacy

Recently, I worked on developing and delivering a Data Literacy for Decision Makers Workshop. It was a great experience which required me to work on my own soft and technical skills.

Read more about my experience here! Note: this is on Medium. You don’t need a subscription to read but you will be prompted to “sign in”. Feel free to close the prompt to and read the content. Or maybe consider a subscription to Medium – it’s a great site!

GPT-4 and Code Interpreter are hotter than Barbie!

Happy Summer! I’m looking forward to seeing Oppenheimer and Barbie on vacation next week. Both are summer blockbusters which are hot, hot, hot! Explosive and blowing up everywhere. So… What could be bigger and a “real-life actual” game changer?
Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT-4) and Large Language Models (LLM’s).

It’s hard to describe how jaw-dropping Open AI GPT-4 Plus is and for only $20 per month how it can change your life. The ability to load a dataset, run analysis, plot the results, and have the python code available with narrative describing the rationale behind advances statistics is unbelievable. It’s clean, fast, and overall, technically accurate. Note: I’ve executed the python code generated by GPT-4 in my own Jupiter notebook and Visual Studio Code to check the results.

I’ll post additional thoughts on my node.js Azure sandbox but don’t wait for me – go get a subscription and try it out for yourself!

Data Warehouse, Data Lakehouse and Data Mesh

Last year, I read a very interesting blog post by Darwin Schweitzer a Microsoft technologist who discusses how to consider emerging technologies in the context of building sustainable enterprises. The blog posts relates the learning patterns organization adopt to newer data technologies replacing existing capability. The approach covers the strategic, organizational, architectural and technological challenges and changes with scaling enterprise analytics.

Three Horizon Model/Framework – strategic
Data Mesh Sociotechnical Paradigm – organizational
Data Lakehouse Architecture – architectural
Azure Cloud Scale Analytics Platform – technological

Read more by following this link: is worth checking out!

Recently, I watched a webinar hosted by TDWI, Databricks and Carto. The topic was Unlocking the Power of Spatial Analysis and Data Lakehouses. A copy of the webinar and the slide deck shared is available here. What I liked about the session was the use of Databricks and a Data Lake to provide Spatial Data. There was also a brief discussion on the role of the Open Geospatial Consortium. This group is working on the specifications for creating a geoparquet file. For anyone with an interest in GIS, Mapping, Data and Analytics this is worth checking out!

ESRI Tapestry Segmentation

For the last 20 years, ESRI has been capturing geographic and demographic data. In the 90’s Acxiom (and others) came up with Lifestyle Segmentation. ESRI started in 1969 and today maps “everything” down to the household level.

I’m surprised by the accuracy of Tapestry Segmentation. The top three segments in my zip code are: “Top Tier”, “Comfortable Empty Nesters” and “In Style”. Pretty accurate – with one data point. I’m an Empty Nester who would like to be “In Style” or “Top Tier” but feel very lucky and fortunate to be “comfortable”.

The 45243 Zip Code

Here is a link to a PDF with more on Tapestry Segmentation and my personal segment.
Just in case you we’re interested here are the details on “Top Tier” and ‘In Style“.

15 Years since Hans Rosling first excited the world!

Classic Hans Rosling Bubble Chart – on main Tableau page!

I had a chance to take a look today at Tableau Public. I’ve used it in the past but to be honest Tableau is my third favorite visualization tool (behind Qlik and Power BI). I was impressed to see they used an example mimicking the famous TED talk by Hans Rosling. If you haven’t seen this and you’re interested in data and analytics – its a must watch! 🙂