Earlier tonight, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation from Chris Munns of Amazon at the offices of First Round Capital about scaling your software on AWS past the first 10 million users. I already had some experience with AWS, but I learned quite a few new things about how to leverage AWS, so I decided to write up my notes in a blog post for future reference, and as a service to other members of the Philadelphia tech community.
Without further preamble, here are my notes from the presentation:
I found myself between jobs a short awhile ago, and suddenly had a few weeks of downtime. Since I had an open invitation to visit Sweden and Denmark from friends living there, I figured I would take the opportunity and head over. I took a few pictures, and noted some observations about those countries.
First, Know Some Locals
If you want to take a package tour and see the parts of the country that are tourist attractions, feel free. But you’ll get much more out of the experience if you know locals who can show you things that they think are interesting. I was fortunate to know both Pinky Fennec and Joel Fox, who were more than happy to host me while I visited.
Public Transit is Amazing
The train system in Stockholm is pretty extensive. Trains and busses run pretty much everywhere you’d want to go. Both systems used a wireless card that you could buy with a week’s worth of fare, and just swipe it at the turn style or at the front of the bus. Subway stations had displays above the tracks stating how much time until the next train would arrive. When bus schedules said that busses arrived on the quarter of every hour, they meant it.
It was also pretty much the same in Copenhagen, except I spent more time on busses. The bus service there was simply phenomenal. They had busses that would arrive every 8 minutes, and they meant it. I regularly commuted from a friend’s place on the outskirts of Copenhagen to the central part of the city every single day.
Getting from city to city was also fun. I rode on what amounted to the Swedish version of Amtrak from Stockholm to Copenhagen. It was a single train ride, about 400 miles in 5 hours. That’s an average of 80 mph, but with the stops we made I’d say we did somewhere between 90 and 100 mph most of the time. The train ride was exceptionally smooth, and several times when we started moving I thought that the train next to us was moving. Naturally, these trains were also on time.
I’ve been playing around with Google’s programming language known simply as Go lately, and have learned quite a bit about concurrency, parallelism, and writing code to effectively use multiple CPU cores in the process.
An Overview of Go
If you are used to programming at the systems level, Go is effectively a replacement for C, but also has higher level functionality.
It is strongly typed
It can be compiled
It has its own unit testing framwork
It has its own benchmarking framework
Doesn’t support classes, but supports structures and attaching functions to variables instantiated from those structures
Doesn’t expose threads, but instead uses a construct called “channels” for communication between different parts of a Go program. More on channels shortly.
Each year, The Dorsai Irregulars have their own annual convention known as “Dorsai Thing”. It is a weekend long event, held in a different city each year, where we all gather, socialize, and hold our semi-annual business meeting. This year, it was held in Phildelphia, and it fell on my shoulders to run the event, dubbed “Liberty Thing” While I’ve worked at plenty of conventions before, this was the first one where I was effectively the Con Chair. This was an entirely new thing for me, and I wanted to write a blog post about some of the things I learned during the experience.
So Linode has gotten onto the IPv6 bandwagon. In addition to each Linode getting an IPv6 address, they will also gladly assign an entire /64 netblock to your specific node on request. That gives you all sorts of flexibility for bringing up IPv6 services. And this blog post is going to be all about how to make use of multiple IPv6 addresses.
As of this writing, everything I mention will work on a Linode running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and Nginx 1.1. There’s no reason that these instructions shouldn’t work on other distros or versions of Ubuntu with some modifications.
When hotel reservations open, that is the single busiest time of the year for Anthrocon’s webserver. In fact, it even caused us performance problems last year. That was not so good.
So this year, I decided to try something different. Instead of leaving the regular website up and running, which involves using Drupal, I instead decided to replace the entire page with a relatively static “countdown” page, which displayed a countdown timer and automatically started displaying the hotel link at 11 AM on the opening day.
First, some stats for the Anthrocon website:
Peak bandwidth: 1.6 Megabits/sec
Peak connections: 1,400 concurrent connections
And now some status for Passkey, who handled most of the traffic:
This page is here so that if something happens leaving me in a state where I am no longer able to run my websites, people will know what to do.
While I have no plans of buying a farm anytime soon, sometimes accidents and sudden illness happen. That also means that if I am in a persistent coma of some kind, or have a terminal condition, please don’t keep me on life support for months or resuscitate me–just let me pass on peacefully.
Designation of Executor
I designate Samuel C. Conway, PhD as my virtual executor to organize such things. In the event that Sam is not available, then I designate Tom Geller as virtual executor. They’ll know what to do, or know people who will.
All my websites – Including (but not limited to) this one, IsSeptaFucked.com, and SeptaStats.com, Sam (or someone he designates) should be the new webmaster/site admin. Please keep the websites operational where possible. Where appropriate, pages should contain a note about what happened. Please update this page with a link as well.
I would prefer that my social media be kept in situ. If you don’t speak Latin, that means “leave it the hell alone!” My Facebook security settings allow anyone to post on my wall, and having had a few of my own friends pass away in recent years, it was really nice reading comments and notes left by their friends and loved ones. I’d love if my friends did the same for me on my Facebook wall.
Anything that is publicly available on my GitHub account should already be available under an open source license. If it’s not, please assign the copyright to the Free Software Foundation. They seem pretty chill about letting people use their code.
Funeral, Grave, and Memorial Service
My family has a series of plots purchased in a cemetery, I will leave it to them to bury me there. I expect something about cheetahs written on my tombstone. I mean it! While friends are welcome to come to my funeral, I’d rather there be a Celebration of Life held weeks/months after my passing so that friends can travel from further distances to attend. A hotel would be an ideal spot for this. Having alcohol on hand for guests would be a really good idea. I expect my friends to laugh, cry, and damage their livers while talking shit about me.
Here, look at my pile of spare change that I’ve collected from the last few years:
Just look at it. Half of that pile is pennies! The pile of pennies is worth what, $5? $10? The pile of nickels and dimes on the other side is probably 7 or 8 times that. I seriously think that if I take that many pennies into a bank to deposit that the security guards will shoot me just on general principle. Can’t say I’d blame them.
We, the Zerg Swarm, believe that our special process, known as “infestation”, can improve your life in numerous ways! Being a part of a group like the Zerg Swarm means that you’re never lonely, and there will always be someone there for you. Your body will become more powerful than you have ever dreamed before; with our patented improvement system, you will be able to lift more, run faster, and eat nearly anything! Many sentient life-forms consider the Zerg look to be attractive:
“Wow, that’s gorgeous“, says Tserisa, a dragon who later opted for infestation. “Kinda handsome“, says a clockwork gryphon.
Usually, when a being opts for “infestation”, it is a permanent process. But we are prepared to offer, for a short time only, a free 30-day trial infestation! We will send a personal representative to guide you through the metamorphosis, and in adjusting to your new abilities. If at any time you are unsatisfied with the trial, the representative will either correct it or reverse the change.
If you wish to keep the infestation, we accept all major credit cards, Terran credits, Minerals, even masses of glucose! We will make all steps to make the Zerg work out for you.
You will be covered in a toenail-to-eyebrow warranty for the first three years. After market parts, unless obtained from a registered Zerg dealer, will not be covered.
Side-effects: May cause extra limbs, chitin, altered color, and odd looks from others.
Often this is done on the basis of referrals–if I think a con is interesting/cool, there’s a chance I’ll know someone who is on staff and inquire through them what the staff experience is like. If I receive positive answers, I’ll inquire about joining staff.
If it’s a convention where I don’t know any staff, I’ll volunteer first and see how I like it. If I have a positive experience, I’ll inquire about being on staff in a future year.
Why Do I Work So Many Cons?
Many reasons. First, it gives me a chance to make positive contributions to the community. Second, it provides me with a bit of structure to the convention–having to be in certain places at certain times helps me better organize how I spend my time at the con. And finally, it gives me an opportunity to meet people–I’ve made many many friends over the years just by staffing cons… and getting to see these people again at future cons makes the experience just so much more fun.