Issue 107

Lori M Olson Lori M Olson Follow May 18, 2022 · 6 mins read
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DRD107: To be a star, be on the lookout for the next AWS.

OPED — Lori’s Unvarnished Opinion

Amazon Web Services

This tweet really made me think about how much the landscape of getting applications built and scaled has changed during my career. Not just Amazon S3, but Amazon EC2 as well. Today we take having all that computing power at our fingertips for granted. But it wasn’t always this way.

Once upon a time 😉 when Amazon EC2 and S3 were still in the “doesn’t Amazon just sell shit?” stages (2007), I was working at a startup on a mapping project where I calculated we’d need to purchase a machine worth about $15K-$20K, and run it 24/7 for about six-to-eight weeks, in order to generate the complete set of Google Map tiles we needed. And then we’d need to run it again for a second smaller set (about four-to-six weeks). And then there was the storage and backup we needed to buy to hold all those images (probably gonna run us another $10K-$15K). So this project was projected at about 14 weeks and over $30K.

We just didn’t have that much spare cash on hand. I had been reading about EC2 and S3, so I hired a fellow freelancer I knew was looking for work to take on the project of figuring out how to parallelize the tile generation process to run on a bunch of EC2 servers and store all the tiles on S3.

My friend charged us about $2K for the feasibility project, and $6k for the implementation. Took him about three weeks for the work, and about a week to run the project on EC2/S3. The only reason it took a week to run was because we got throttled, and had to find the right people to talk to at Amazon to get un-throttled. Turned out, in 2007, if you wanted to throw a couple of terabytes into S3 in a couple of days, you needed to tell them first 🤷‍♀️.

The total Amazon charges for the six really beefy machines we spun up plus the inbound data push to S3 were ~$1900, plus about $20/month in ongoing S3 storage.

So instead of 14 weeks and $30K, we got our set of tiles created in four weeks for about $10K (and I hadn’t even included person time in that first estimate!!).

What’s the lesson here? Keep your eyes open, because you never know when a bit of knowledge you stumbled on is going to save your boss mega-bucks and make you look like a star ⭐️.

We're Launching the New Branding!

We’ll be updating the school over the next week to reflect the new branding that was worked out before all of Lori’s eye issues hit. So let us know what you think when you check out your WNDX School courses.

TALK — Talk of the Tech

We have a feeling it wasn’t supposed to be this way, but there are issues with RubyMotion and M1 Macs. Fortunately there’s a building thread on the Motioneers Slack that has a ton of information. If you’re having problems, you can likely find the solution in the conversation somewhere.

It’s likely we’ve said this before, but we sometimes think the 80s, retro gaming thing is done a little too much. So when we spot something which is way outside that domain, we think it’s worthy of mention. Specifically, the artwork for this game created by Discorder Podo is really stunning.

Do you have a DragonRuby-related product or service you would like to get in front of well over 1,200 raving DragonRuby-istas? If so, please get in touch...we would love to help you get the word out in a sponsored spot like this!  Sponsored

GAME — All Things Gaming

We once met a guy who worked at a noted, big name video gaming company in Vancouver, BC, and the work sounded interesting. Until, of course, he told us the story about how he never saw the light of day from early-summer through October as he worked a zillion hours a week on nothing but car explosions. In other words, it sounded like he was a minute cog in a very, very big machine.

But take heart, if you want to work on video games but have no desire to repeat that version of Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell, there’s a way you can do that completely on your own. In fact, noted indie game developer Matt Hackett has just written an entire book on the subject entitled (not surprisingly) How to Make a Video Game All By Yourself.

Well worth a look if you want to bootstrap the next BioWare.

APP — All Things App

In the category of ‘not earth-shattering but dang handy’, we turn to our friend Peter Cooper of tech newsletter juggernaut Cooperpress. He tweeted fairly recently about this service which enables language-agnostic testing of HTTP timeouts of varying lengths. Check out before you build your own throwaway server to do exactly the same thing.

SPOT — Spotlight On…

What with Lori’s eye issues over the past few months, she had an accumulating backlog of projects to feature in this section. So without further ado, here’s Tactics Demon’s Diamond Dig as found on the DRGTK #show-and-tell Discord channel.

Tech newsletter content crunch? Intellog can help. And they have a special offer for DRD subscribers: they will curate and write the first issue of your newsletter for free. Find out more.  Sponsored

TWIL — This Week I Learned…

From Remote’s Head of Developer Experience and Education Cassidy Williams—AKA Cassidoo—comes a tweet about a great little tip which you will undoubtedly find comes in handy from time-to-time: cal 2020 at the command line. Try it, you’re almost guaranteed to like it. There’s also lots of other options which you can find at cal --help.

HAHA — And They All Laughed

Yeah, that’s about right.


That’s a Wrap!

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“When you’re a short actor you stand on apple boxes, you walk on a ramp. When you’re a star everybody else walks in a ditch.” — Michael J. Fox