Blog posts

  • Mar, 2020
  • Mar 12, 2020 It was the night before Airecon
  • T'was the night before Airecon, and all through Harrogate, not a gamer was stirring, not even a MtG player. Landed in Harrogate this afternoon and checked into my hotel. Promptly received a free upgrade to a club room, which in itself is fantastic, but the benefits that come with it are even better. There's access to the club lounge which comes with free drinks and nibbles. I'm currently on my second bottle of Corona (yes, I chose it on purpose) and I have tortilla chips, popcorn, sweets and crisps....

  • Mar 03, 2020 Birthdays
  • It's my birthday tomorrow! Yay! I don't really get all that excited by them anymore to be honest. They're just a reminder that I'm not 16 anymore and they're always pretty disappointing. Same sort of stuff. Same sort of day. My amazon wish list for anyone that wants to buy me anything…. :D Stuff Matt wants Anyway. I'm going to my mums tonight, she's making her world famous Cornish Pasty, and there will be cake....

  • Feb, 2020
  • Feb 28, 2020 3 weeks on
  • So here we are, three weeks on from the phone call from the doctor where I was told that I was prediabetic. It's been a fairly productive three weeks, I've gotten control of both my calorie intake and my exercise levels. The exercise bike that I purchased is generally used most days (today is a rest day on account of my calves telling me so) and I'm generally having less than 1800 calories a day, with the occasional pure Huel x 3 1200 calorie days to keep things interesting....

  • Feb 17, 2020 Borderline
  • I started to write this post nearly two weeks ago. I say I started to write, I created the basic post, figured out how to put images in to a folder so that Hugo would see them and generate them and then I didn't actually write the post. Post was dated the 6th Feb. It's now the 17th Feb. So. Here we are. I had my bi-annual blod test done and general check up at the doctors late January....

  • Jan, 2020
  • Jan 28, 2020 Airecon 2020
  • In just under two months, I'll be travelling to Harrogate to attend Airecon. Airecon is a board gaming convention that runs over the weekend (Fri-Sun). It's a fantastic weekend, away from digital distractions and an oppertunity to sit down with friends (old and new) around a table and play board games. Tickets are still available here on the Airecon website. The convention is running from March 13th to March 15th....

  • Jan 27, 2020 Ended up buying working copy
  • Without buying any more hardware, and wanting to use the equipment I already have to not only update my blog, but to do further development work concerning not just AWS but pretty much anything, there wasn't much choice. £19.99 feels like a bit of a sting, but only because we're so used to free software and iPhone/iPad apps being so cheap. Supporting indie developers is important, and to be fair there really is nothing else out there....

  • Jan 26, 2020 Just how many days does January have anyway?
  • It's almost payday. Which is great because I have no money left. At all. Working copy worked a treat, git push is a paid for feature, you can free trial it for 10 days but then it's £19.99 to unlock. It's one of those where you get to use paid features for a certain amount of time and then when the developer decides, they charge another upgrade fee. I'm not using this enough to warrant that at the moment....

  • Jan 16, 2020 Working Copy
  • Downloaded working copy, have set up the git repo on here and have cloned down from codecommit. Created a new file, renamed it, am now typing into it. When I commit and push, this should trigger the build and deploy process as per expectations. Let's see what happens....

  • Jan 14, 2020 Going Serverless
  • My website has been offline for pretty much 5 months or so, simply because I wasn't using it all that much and the AWS credit that I had, finally ran out and those $40 of services that I was running (and being billed for) every month just wasn't really affordable. One of my colleagues at work happened to mention hugo, I had a look into it and it looked moderately easy to migrate over from wordpress....

  • Jun, 2019
  • Jun 13, 2019 Optimising AWS account creation
  • I’ve been told that when the company I work for first started to create new AWS accounts, they would have to set aside a day for it. A director also had to be tracked down in order to get hold of the company credit card details. Fast forward a few years and this process still took at least an hour – maybe two hours depending on what it was you were creating....

  • May, 2019
  • May 20, 2019 Bullying
  • I’m not sure about you, but my main experience of bullying at school was on the receiving end. I was bullied mainly about my weight. I’ve always been big. It’s never been that fun. It restricts some of the things I can do, it results in being pointed at and laughed at by strangers, it results in unwanted comments from some other strangers too and ‘friends’. The worst part of this was at school....

  • May 16, 2019 Finally sorted the http redirection and port 80 problems
  • Right, after finally getting around to it, I’ve sorted out my httpd conf so that it’s working as expected, moved some common parameters into a separate common configuration file, set up an additional VirtualHost entry and turned on listening through port 80 again. Also taken another image of that so that when the spot instance invariably fails, I’ve got a new golden image to go. I should probably add in some backup scripts and config backing off to s3....

  • May 16, 2019 Yorkshire Pudding recipe
  • The below makes 12 – but if you only fill the tins halfway up rather than most of the way up you’ll end up with crispier puddings rather than big floppy ones. You will need: 250ml of milk (I’ve used whole, semi and skimmed – it works well with all) 163g of plain flour 5 large eggs (you can also use the measuring jug method – break your eggs into the jug, say they make up to 400ml, pour them into your bowl, add 400ml of milk, pour that into your bowl and then pour flour in up to 400ml line then pour that into the bowl- what’s important here is equal measurements of the ingredients)...

  • May 09, 2019 AWS Summit in London
  • The AWS summit was absolutely fantastic. Met up with a few colleagues I haven’t seen for years, learned a few new bits and pieces, saw some really energetic and charasmatic people present ideas, solutions, challenges and ideas and mingled with around 12,000 people who were all interested in AWS. It was mind blowing to think that there were people all around me, brilliant people, trailblazers, thinkers, do-ers. I can’t wait to go back next year, and all it did was whet the appetite to get out to AWS Re:Invent in Vegas....

  • Mar, 2019
  • Mar 29, 2019 Relationships
  • This one has been brewing in my head for a few weeks now. It’s strange. Do you ever feel like your life is a little bit like playing The Sims? Trying to juggle work, home, friends, other responsibilities and maintain all of those different relationships? You used to have to give them a phone and have a chat with them to maintain that level of friendship. Absolute nightmare to manage, it still gives me palpitations now....

  • Feb, 2019
  • Feb 27, 2019 Social media is bad mmmkay?
  • Came across this YouTube video earlier. If one of the guys involved in putting together facebook (who has since left) is telling you to stay away and not use it, you should probably do that....

  • Feb 25, 2019 Bamboo fixed
  • Turns out Bamboo wasn’t working properly – I think I’d started to create a test job, and that had broken the DB patch/reboot job. Just re-ran it through and all seems good now. Need to stop it from emailing me every night and having me just ignore the emails. I might tie it into SNS or something. It’s good to have something to play with....

  • Feb 25, 2019 Tetris 99
  • Last week I was on holiday from work, looking after the kids on half term. I found that a new game has hit the Nintendo Switch E-Store – Tetris 99. It’s Tetris meets Fortnite and it’s amazing. A fast and frantic battle royale with 99 players all playing tetris at the same time, with a slightly updated version of the Tetris theme that we all know and love and with completed lines being sent to opponents that you can target in order to scupper their plans....

  • Feb 25, 2019 $40 a month on EC2 instances
  • Looks like my main web server instance is costing less than $2 a month on a T3 Micro. That’s a spot instance with a fairly high bidding price set so that it’s very unlikely to ever be outbid and is still the cheapest way to provision EC2 capacity. By the same token, my database server is also a T3 micro instance and that’s looking to cost just under $7 a month on demand – same uptime as the web server so you can see there’s a $5 saving....

  • Feb 25, 2019 Stability is a wonderful thing
  • Not a single server outage in the last three weeks. Which is great, it means that I’ve gotten everything set up properly as far as server updates, security groups and maintenance are concerned. Bamboo seems to be doing what it’s meant to do and is rebooting the servers nightly. Everything seems to be working properly with regards to database backups and everything. I need to double check what the monthly cost is looking like when I start to run out of promotional credit at the end of this year....

  • Feb 04, 2019 New job!
  • Today I start my new job. I’m really excited. Even though its just over the road from where I used to work, and the commute is pretty much exactly the same as what I have done for the last 7 years, I still drove over there yesterday to check out the car park in a bit more detail, find the visitors spots I’m supposed to park in and just make sure that nothing has changed in the last three months since my interview....

  • Feb 01, 2019 SSL redirection – now working
  • Thought I was having some apache woes earlier this week. Looks like it was just a red herring and the real issue was the 80 > 443 forced redirection I’d set up. Properly set up and test now. You never know, I might even start getting traffic....

  • Jan, 2019
  • Jan 31, 2019 Lemmings
  • I’ve always had a thing for lemmings. It’s my go to Amiga game and always one of the first ever things I fire up when I plug the Amiga in or Amiga forever. There’s something oddly satisfying about getting those little guys from the entrance of their hazard filled world to the exit. I got to thinking the other day, I played a lot of lemmings during my early computer stages....

  • Jan 28, 2019 One week to go!
  • Just one week until I start my new job. Excited is an understatement. Can’t wait to get going. My playing around with bamboo was in preparation for this, and it seems to be running pretty well – it’s updating and rebooting both of my ec2 instances nightly using AWS tasks and emailing me using SES to let me know whether the job has passed or failed. Everything seems fairly stable....

  • Jan 16, 2019 Note to self
  • Make sure that bamboo isn’t backed off to the RDS instance you deleted, and if it is, make sure you take that final snapshot so that you can easily move it over. Oh, also be aware that mariadb isn’t compatible with bamboo unless you throw in some startup arguments. It was a fun couple of hours at least. Yay....

  • Jan 16, 2019 DB backups
  • Since we’ve got a dedicated DB server, not running as a spot instance now (so it shouldn’t just disappear whenever the hell it wants) and we’re not running RDS, I’ve re-implemented nightly sql backups to S3. Gosh technology, isn’t it great?...

  • Jan 16, 2019 Testing DB migration
  • Yet another DB migration – this time to a dedicated box running mariadb. Testing to make sure that posting a new post works and it appears in the right database…....

  • Jan 16, 2019 Certbot and Let’s Encrypt
  • The only way to use Amazon’s free SSL certificates is if you pipe them through something like cloudformation, use them with cloudfront or a load balancer. Tried that for December and it turns out its fairly expensive to run an ELB for a month – it’s all fine and dandy whilst I’ve got EDU credit to burn through but I can’t afford $20 a month to shortcut an easy way to SSL cert up the site....

  • Jan 14, 2019 Helpful tip
  • It’s always a good idea not to forget your password. Especially to your blog, especially when you haven’t posted to it for months. So, yeah, it’s also a good idea to not remember your password and then be fooled by it not working because you’ve locked your account out yet there’s no visual feedback of having done so. I find more and more that I’m just letting my phone randomly create a password for me/store it in my keychain – seems better that way, plus when I do actually start forgetting important things it won’t matter, because my phone will for all intents and purposes be me anyway....

  • Nov, 2018
  • Nov 28, 2018 AWS RE:Invent
  • As a professional working with AWS, is there any event in the calendar year that is more exciting than AWS RE:Invent?  Gutted I didn’t get the chance to go this year. I am SO EXCITED by the new tech coming out of there though.  Robotics AND SATELLITE DATA!?  Amazing stuff....

  • Nov 23, 2018 Happy Black Friday!
  • Today is the day we get to see which retailers have elastic scaling infrastructure and half decent architects with forward planning and those who do not. CDKeys and ChaosCards have already been hit with downtime post mail shots – don’t email your customer base if you can’t cope with them all clicking the link at the same time. Chaos tried to put a queing system in front but the site still ended up offline mid browse....

  • Nov 22, 2018 Running from RDS….again
  • In the middle of a migration from the local EC2 instance of mysql back to RDS. Need to burn through this promotional credit somehow. Lets test that DB writes are still working….....

  • Nov 22, 2018 Promotional credit can not be used for Reserved Instances!
  • I’ve started to play around with Bamboo and a few other bits and pieces in an evening and I’ve managed to find a few promotional $150 vouchers for AWS that you would usually get from AWS training courses on ebay – prices range from about £11 to £35 depending on expiry. Bamboo will not run on a T3 micro – it just doesn’t have the CPU capacity – definitely needs 2cpus, even for a tiny installation – that’s Java for you 😉...

  • Nov 08, 2018 WAF is pricey – for personal use
  • Turns out that WAF costs $5 per acl and $5 per rule per month. And that $10 protection I had in place for a simple geo block against China and a few other countries I was getting probing attacks from wasn’t included in the AWS credit I’ve got so I’ve turned it off.   Done some playing around with ALBs and fail2ban including setting up a custom filter for script attacks but need to do some further refinement with x forwarded for headers and what not....

  • Nov 07, 2018 We’re SSL enabled
  • Since I’ve got $300 of AWS credit to use up before December 2019 and my t3 micro instance isn’t really doing a good job of that, I decided I might as well throw up a load balancer, get the certificate assigned to it and set up route53 properly to that alias. So far so good. Green padlocks are fun....

  • Oct, 2018
  • Oct 22, 2018 What next?
  • So I passed my AWS solutions architect associate exam on the 27th September. I think I ended up with about 87% Pretty happy with that. Now trying to decide if I’m going to go for the systems administrator exam and developer exam or if I’m going to concentrate on solutions architecture. I’m also eyeing up an open university degree in computing. I say I’m eyeing it up, I’ve registered and I’m waiting to see if I get approved for a part time student loan....

  • Oct 22, 2018 Digital Mickey
  • Picked up the October Mickey Mouse memories edition from the Disney store this week. Wasn’t sure about it when I first saw it but after looking at it for a few minutes and realising it’s the same terminal colour scheme as I use on SecureCRT for my Mac, and it’s full of binary, I absolutely love it. Pretty sure the binary will say something. Haven’t worked it out it googled it yet....

  • Sep, 2018
  • Sep 20, 2018 I published an amazon skill
  • I’ve put together a skill as part of a tutorial from acloudguru and I’ve had this published by amazon. If you’re studying for your AWS solutions architect associate exam and you’d like to stream exam tips and tidbits of information to your Alexa – have a look at it here. https://skills-store.amazon.co.uk/deeplink/dp/B07HJ4T9DH?deviceType=app&share&refSuffix=ss_copy...

  • Sep 19, 2018 Practice makes perfect
  • I’m 3/4 of the way through my acloudguru AWS training course for solutions architect associate and decided that now I’ve done most of the VPC chapter and my understanding of the subject is helped infinitely by my experience, it was time to use the practice exam voucher on the AWS.training site to see how far off I am with less than 2 weeks to go until i sit it....

  • Sep 19, 2018 Costings
  • This is absolutely crazy.  Look at the price difference between a t3 micro and a t3 small running spot.  It’s well under half the price.  Much cheaper running it this way than having apache on a t2 small and a seperate RDS instance.  S3 backups running well – or they are now that I’ve sorted out the cron job. Had a little issue with a misplaced * instead of a 0 which meant I got 60 backups between 1am and 2am rather than just one backup at 1am 😉...

  • Sep 12, 2018 Manflu is real
  • So less than a week after returning to school, Harry has brought a cold home. More importantly than that, he’s shared it with me, and now i have the cold. Luckily, this appears to be a cold that is paying attention to Day Nurse, so I’m at least getting a clear head once the tablets have kicked in. Lots of stuff going on recently, passed my AWS certification exam, got another one at the start of October, so that’s going to be good....

  • Sep 12, 2018 Migration complete
  • So the RDS instance has been terminated now. I’ve got S3 backed mysql backups running nightly, so I’m saving myself an absolute fortune. Still some tuning to do and I’m not sure if I’m going to stick at spot pricing or look into reserved pricing. I need to get some tuning in place first with regards to apache and mysql and make sure with Trusted Advisor that I’m running at the right sort of level....

  • Sep 12, 2018 Migrated the DB
  • Turns out that running an RDS database is quite pricey – moving this over to the EC2 instance whilst I re-evaluate my architectural decisions. Spot pricing looks to be the best way forward still, but I need to make sure I’m getting backups – will have to set up a nightly mysql backup to s3 I think, probably the best way to do it. Test post to make sure the database is working as it should be....

  • Sep 05, 2018 AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
  • I’m on the train on the way back from Manchester to Leeds after having completed my AWS Cloud Practioner examination.  I passed!  Not sure on my score yet, waiting for the report and the certificate to be available from my certification account.  I’ve just realised that this is my first certification since getting my Network+ way back in 2004. That’s insane. 14 Years.  No wonder interviewers asked me if I’d considered getting certified for anything recently – its like those restaurants that have restaurant of the year 2004-2005 on a sticker in the window – it just looks out of date....

  • Sep 04, 2018 Auto updating Route53 DNS when you launch a new EC2 instance based on an AMI
  • I came across an issue with my DNS entries that mean every time that my spot instance was terminated, I had to manually change the A record. That’s not very cloud-like. Found an article(below): The problem with the article, is that the API has changed since it was written and the script no longer works. Steps 1-5 are spot on, and most of step 6 is perfect – aside from the script – my fixes are below, I’ve updated the api call and also added in a path statement so that the script will run non-interactively....

  • Sep 04, 2018 Route53 config updated, cron job added, wordpress storage offloaded to an s3 bucket
  • Interesting lunch hour today – had to fix a script I’d found to update route53 dns records on reboot because the API has changed since the guy wrote it. Gave him my additions and it works a treat. Also got bucket storage set up, so my images are all being server from S3. More technical data on what I did to come soon. Exam tomorrow. Eeeeek....

  • Sep 02, 2018 A few tweaks
  • So as expected, I’m going to need to make a few tweaks to the ami and the image running along with adding a bit of scripting magic to make things run more smoothly. In regards to the ec2 instance, spot requests are definitely the way to go. The cost saving is insane, and it’s not like this website is business critical. That said, I would like to keep it up and running which in itself presents a few challenges....

  • Aug, 2018
  • Aug 26, 2018 We’re in the cloud!
  • Technically we were always in the cloud. I mean, after all, the cloud is just somebody else’s computer, right? I was using a hosting company called tsohost, been using them for years and years and years. £50 a year, they manage the underlying infrastructure and I manage the sites and mail and whatnot. Mail was crap, it was slow, the ssl certs kept erroring and to be honest, I didn’t think I was getting value for money....

  • Aug 26, 2018 A new site, a new photo
  • So, I’ve got this new site all set up and running, split into several sections to have a proper separation between tech posts, photography posts and other stuff. We’ll see how it goes. Three separate RSS feeds, for three separate areas of interest with varying levels of updatedness. But hey, if it gets me away from Facebook, that’s good. Photo was taken at my dad’s 60th birthday celebration the other day....

  • Aug 26, 2018 Well hello there!
  • New site, new hosting, new blog, new content. New hosting that I built myself, I might add, in AWS (woo). Using my Cloud Engineering skills. In fact, more to the point, everything that you’re seeing here, this blog, the photoblog, the underlying infrastructure, I built it all from an IPad Pro, tethered to a mobile phone from a caravan on the east coast of England. Now that is 21st century engineering, yo!...