events

Yesterday I attended AWS Summit event and wanted to post my impressions and notes from the event. As you can see in the image below there were quite a few people there:

Overview during lunch break

Keynote

Keynote was given by Amazon.com’s CTO Werners Vogel. Some notes from the keynote:

  • It was quite a big event: 3000+ attendees
  • Intel was introduced as platinum partner. Last month I attended to AWSome Day and they mentioned Intel have manufactured a special chip for EC2 only (C4-type instances). It’s designed specifically to address heat considerations.
  • They have now more than 1 minnion active customers
  • According to Gartner, AWS has 5-times compute capacity than 14 closest competitors combined (which also explains the specific requirements to reduce heat in chips)

  • There were guest speakers who emphasized different features of AWS
    • GoSquared: Experimentation, how it is easier to try out new technologies in a cost-effective way
    • iTv: Microservices as opposed to monolithic applications
    • OmniFone: Scalability
    • Just Giving: Distributed regions and data analysis capabilities
    • AWS VP of public sector: Usage in public sector. It started after 12 and everyone started leaving.

  • New features introduced

    • Elastic File System: SSD-based, automatically replicated, auto-resized file system. Currently in preview mode, will be released this summer
    • Machine Learning: Makes it easier to analyze big data for search intent, demand estimation etc.
    • Lambda: Event-driven, fully-managed compute service
    • EC2 Container Service: There is a big shift towards Docker and containers. He said: “The container is now the output of your development process”

  • Generally microservices approach is favored: Building large solutions with smaller blocks allows faster, cost-effective solutions which can be adapted easier to changes
  • Security and their compliance with major certification requirements is emphasized. But he didn’t mention shared-responsibility principle which AWS adopts. Just because you AWS doesn’t mean you’re compliant to all the regulations as well.
  • They have support for hybrid solutions but according to AWS’s vision it’s not the destination, just a transition
  • He made an analogy that fighting the cloud is like “fighting the gravity”: It’s a fight you cannot win!

Track sessions

After the lunch break there were a lot of sessions about various AWS features. I picked Technical Track 1 which included EC2 Container Services, Lambda, CloudFormation and CodeDeploy

EC2 Container Service

I know using containers is a big deal nowadays but still haven’t the chance to try it out myself. I was hoping from this session to find out more about it but didn’t benefit much from it as it didn’t cover the very basics. But in the light of keynote, it’s obvious there’s a huge demand on containers so will be the first service I’ll try next.

Lambda

This is a very cool new service. Instead of running every small job in small services in small EC2 instances now we can get rid of all the maintenance and costs and just let AWS run our code whenever an event is triggered.

  • It currently supports a wide variety of event sources such as objects put to S3 buckets, DynamoDB table updates, SNS messages etc.
  • SQS support is coming soon
  • Currently it runs node.js but it can be used to launch a Java application but native Java support is coming soon so it can directly execute Java code.
  • It even allows access to underlying processes, threads, file system and sockets
  • It’s charged per invocation so you don’t pay anything for idle times.

Infrastructure as code

The focus of the session was CloudFormation but a client of AWS showed how they used Eclipse to deploy with a single click so it can be done in several ways. (That’s why the title of the talk wasn’t CloudFormation)

This is also a great tool to automatically launch a whole infrastructure based on ERB configuration files. I don’t have much experience in this one but was a nice session to see its capabilities in action.

CodeDeploy

This is yet another cool new feature just gone out of preview mode. You can automatically deploy new code based on your rules. For example, you can deploy one-at-a-time. It verifies every deployment and moves to next one. Or you can deploy new version on half of the instances meaning that half of your system will be available even if the deployment fails. Or if you like some adrenaline rush you can deploy to all instances at once :-)

You can specify pre and post scripts that handle the clean-up tasks and verifying the deployment.

CodeDeploy has been GA (General Availability) but 2 more services were introduced yesterday: CodePipeline and CodeCommit

The idea is to fully-automate the whole process from source code checking to deployment which according to the speaker is a very time consuming task in their own applications.

Conclusion

It was a nice big event and I’m glad I had the chance to attend to it. The content was rich to cover every aspect of AWS. I decided to attend to the sessions instead of labs as I can do them online here. It’s also a bit overwhelming to see there’s so much to learn about but that’s always a challenge in this industry anyway. As Werner Vogels said in his keynote: “Innovation is continuous!”

Resources

review, event, place, personal

I wish I had hobbies! In the past I tried drawing comic books and drumming. They are nice pastime activities but they require a lot of effort and dedication. I just couldn’t find it in me to spend so much time on these activities.

I realized the only activities I don’t mind spending too much time on are developing software and playing with gadgets. One way to improve on these is to join a group. I tried OpenHack meetup group for a while but there was not much going on. Then I discovered this gem: London Hackspace!

Home, sweet home!

I’m writing this post on a comfy couch in their HQ on Hackney Road. This is my first time here but I already fell in love. It’s a great place full of gadgets, laser cutter, 3D-printers, wood and metal workshops, robotics corner and much more! Basically there are no rules. It’s open 24 hours and you can come in anytime you want and can work on any project you want. They also have a very comprehensive library full of tech books.

Everything is DIY. Even the membership card is not given to you automatically but you add your Oyster or any other RFID card to the system by yourself.

They have a very busy events calendar as well. Almost every day there is some event going on. From robotics, to 3D printers or lock-picking. There is no way you cannot find something that you’re not interested in. Check out their Flickr photostream. You can see how diverse the activities are. There is even a bad TV night on Saturday nights!

Long story short, these are just my first impressions but I’m planning to spend a WHOLE LOT of time in this place. I’m sure I will learn a ton of new stuff and have a lot of fun.

Resources

review, book, productivity, career

One of the challenges of being a software developer is keeping current. Technology moves so quickly that it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. At times like this you can definitely use some productivity tips. This is how I landed on this book. It has productivity tips alright, but it has so much more to offer.

Soft Skills by John Sonmez

The software developer’s life manual

The subtitle explains it clearly in a few words. The book is not only about productivity but it encompasses all aspects of life. From money management to fitness, from career tips to handling failures it indeed proves to be a life manual.

This is unique book in the sense that it has sections about fitness and spirit. To be honest when I first started reading the book I was planning to skip those sections. But then it hit me: Most of the challenges I have to face are not technical. Technical problems are easy to solve especially in the age of Google and StackOverflow and all sorts of online resources. The real challenge is keeping the motivation up, staying healthy and fit (standard beer & pizza based diet of a developer doesn’t cut it) to increase productivity and overall success, managing your money wisely (which unfortunately means I shouldn’t buy every gadget I see!)

Structure of the book

The book is 504 pages and divided into 7 main sections:

  1. Career
  2. Marketing yourself
  3. Learning
  4. Productivity
  5. Financial
  6. Fitness
  7. Spirit

In the first 2 sections, you can find many helpful tips & tricks regardless you are an employee, freelancer or an entrepreneur. Apparently John Sonmez went through all these stages in his career so he knows what he is talking about.

As I mentioned keeping current is key in our industry and Section 3 addresses this need very effectively.

Since there is so much to learn time management becomes an issue on its own and that’s when you need to improve your productivity. You might not like some of the advice he gives (like quitting watching TV!) but deep inside you’d know he is right.

Money management is especially crucial if you are trying to run your own business. I don’t think finance is any developer’s strongest suit so this section is something to read twice for people like me!

I recently lost a lot of weight and now feel much better about myself. And better yet I feel a lot more productive. Physical fitness is very important. Since our job doesn’t force us to be fit it’s very easy and tempting to let it go. But the consequences are dire! So incorporating a healthy diet and exercise is extremely important to be successful. This section comes with a lot of great advice and techniques to address this.

There’s no way you can achieve any significant level of success if you are not mentally prepared for it. Final section of the book covers mind and soul. From handling relationships to getting back on horse after a failure, it comes with a lot of useful advice and references to good resources.

These 7 sections are divided into 71 chapters in total and they are very easy to read. Since it takes minutes to read each chapter I never had to put it away in the middle of a chapter.

About the author

I like and respect the author, John Sonmez, as he is very prolific and successful. So from the first page I knew for sure the information in the book is not theoretical or made up in any way. Even Uncle Bob’s prologue is an evidence that this guy is methodical, persistent and follows the plan until he achieves success. This is exactly the kind of person you would like to get career advice from!

Conclusion

Generally I find such books fluffy and stating the obvious but not this one because I know I’ve been following the author’s work quite some time now. I know he is very candid and sincere and so I know every word in the book is written by a developer who already had similar challenges and tackled them. Overall, this is definitely a great book to read and keep around for future reference.

Resources