SSL redirection – now working

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.



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. The game came out when I was 10. I loved the puzzles. And I still love them now.

It teaches you to think quickly, it teaches you to manage resources. It teaches you logic and sometimes it teaches you to defy logic. You’ve got a limited amount of climbers and builders so you may well have to change your strategy part way through a level or start again.

Found this really interesting article on it today.

Anyway. The reason that lemmings has come back to the forefront is that Sony have recently released their mobile version. It’s laden with in app purchases but it is possible to play without spending a penny as long as you’re willing to limit your time playing to 20 mins here and there (actions cost energy and energy is limited).

The levels aren’t as clever or intricate as DMAs were. I’m pretty sure that they’re randomly generated to be fair. But they work. And they’re fun. Rather than assign roles to lemmings you assign them to squares on the screen. Tell it where you want stairs and the next lemming to hit that square will build them for you. Floaters with umbrellas? Just stick a floater space in. Every lemming that falls through it will glide softly to the bottom. Be careful though, effects wear off as soon as they touch the ground again so you might find yourself needing tiered floaters to get down safely.

At first I didn’t like the new control system. After a little while I realised there was no other way this could be done on a small touch screen.

Lemmings on iPhone

Lemmings is available here on the App Store and I heavily recommend it.

For me, it’s the quintessential puzzle game that helps to teach you how to think, how to manage things under pressure and how to know when the only option is to hit the nuke button.

Oh no!

One week to go!

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. Bamboo itself is the biggest server I’ve got running in ec2, but it’s Java – and Java likes to eat all of the RAM so, it is what it is.

Note to self

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.

DB backups

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?

Testing DB migration

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….

Certbot and Let’s Encrypt

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.

I started to look at certbot and lets encrypt as an automatic way of getting a cert in place, changed my apache config and here we are – running through a straight connection on port 443 to the web server.

To be fair, it was a little silly having a load balancer in front of a single web server, but I didn’t have the time to do anything else with it.

I’ve got a little bit of time now, so setting things up properly.

Helpful tip

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.

Happy New year everyone!

AWS RE:Invent

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.




Amazing stuff.

Jefferson Frank Salary Survey: Key Findings

Jefferson Frank Salary Survey: Key Findings

Sam Samarasekera, Business Manager at AWS recruitment firm Jefferson Frank, discusses the key findings of the company’s independent salary survey, exploring everything from diversity to salary benchmarks, certification and beyond. 


Amazon Web Services’ incredible growth comes with continued benefits to technology industry professionals, but until now they have been difficult to measure accurately. The Jefferson Frank Salary Survey just landed and, as the largest independent study of the industry, it offers a fascinating insight into our working environment. 


For the first time, you can get a detailed breakdown of how you can expect to be remunerated, as well as getting a more comprehensive idea of areas of growth. Not only is it valuable to make sure you are being rewarded in your present role, but it gives you a clear view of areas of development to improve your own self-worth.


It also provides a wealth of knowledge to anyone else involved in the industry, including customers and partners, to provide a detailed breakdown of the technology and what direction it is going in.


I’ve broken down some of the key findings from the 2018/19 survey:


How quickly is AWS growing?


Of the survey respondents, 65% of professionals had over 10 years’ experience working in the technology industry, with only 10% having less than three years in the industry. So this is a good indicator of the view of experienced IT professionals. Just 7% of those interviewed had more than seven years’ experience working with AWS, and 63% had only started working with it in the last three years, pointing to this being a huge period of expansion for AWS across the technology sector. 


How are companies implementing it?


With cost being cited as the most important thing to consider when choosing a cloud provider, it’s no surprise that companies are making the switch to AWS internally. Only 14% of companies that migrated to a cloud provider used contractors, which means increasing your knowledge base will make you a vital team member going forward. Its ease of implementation makes it a big draw, so if your company hasn’t already made the switch, you can expect it to sometime soon. The average time taken to migrate to the cloud is 10 months, and with 66% of companies using internal resources to make the change, it seems unlikely you will escape it.


Core skill set


So what do you need to brush up on? The amount of core products available to work with is vast and one of AWS’ key strengths, with users praising its scope for “tweaking” things rather than having to implement wholesale changes. At least one in five AWS professionals reported that they work or have worked with 43 different products, so there’s plenty to get your teeth into. The most popular by far is EC2, with 89% having experience with it. That’s a huge lead on S3 (70%) and CloudWatch (69%). 


Regarding AWS products, partners expect the biggest increase in demand in the next 12 months will be for Amazon EC2, AWS Lambda and Amazon EKS, which is a handy pointer if you wish to get a head start. Basically, if you haven’t already, you need to learn EC2!


What makes EC2 so popular?


The majority of respondents considered EC2 a part of their core skill set, with EC2 Auto Scaling a close second. EC2’s scalable capacity is undoubtedly its biggest feature and the reason behind its continued growth. Beyond the free tier, the speed and ease that can be added make it the go-to resource for capacity, with its pay as you go service also coming in for particular praise. Ease of use was another key reason behind its popularity and why it looks likely to continue to dominate. No wonder 76% of respondents listed EC2 as the most important area of product knowledge for cloud professionals.


Thirdparty tools


A lot of the development community has already had exposure to Jenkins, which explains why it’s the mostused thirdparty tool by quite a distance. Some 21% of respondents use it, with Terraform (13%) and Ansible (10%) lagging some way behind. The fact that it’s open source makes up for its tricky user interface, with users giving it many more ticks in the pros column than the cons.


Jenkins and Terraform are expected to be amongst the most indemand tools in DevOps and big data in the next 12 months, so familiarisation with these as well as Java will definitely give you an advantage.


The all-important certifications


Over half of the survey participants were not AWS certified before taking up their current role, so it isn’t essential if you’re considering a job change. However, twothirds of respondents now hold certs, so be prepared to knuckle down as it’s highly likely that you’ll be expected to gain them once you’re in position. If you simply wish to increase your earning potential or become more employable, they appear to be a must-have. 


The financial benefits of certifications


We’ll start with the bad newsless than half of responders’ employers paid for their certifications in full (49%), although a further 11% did contribute towards the cost. However, and this is the good news, 22% of professionals reported a direct increase in salary after passing their certs. Participants listed relevant certifications as their number one way to increase earning potential, so it’s a worthy investment even if you have to make it yourself. 


Which certs do I need?


The top certifications are AWS Certified Solutions Architect, AWS Certified Developer and AWS Certified SysOps Administrator. However, accreditations in programming languages such as Java and PHP will also be advantageous, although Python is expected to be the most in-demand language in the next 12 months.


If you’d like more detail, the Jefferson Frank Annual Salary Survey is an invaluable resource for any technology professionals. It’s available to download now and has a more comprehensive breakdown of salaries across the globe, as well as further information on products, certifications and tech trends in the past 12 months as well the coming year.