Interesting new budget EC2 instance

Amazon has released another interesting option for their EC2 instances.  T2 is their new lowest price point instance.

You can read the details about it in the AWS blog post.  The benefit it provides is if you have a low use machine that needs to burst now and then.  The T2 instance has a “credit” system that accumulates during low CPU load that you can use when you need it.

On the surface, a T2.medium instance (w/4GB RAM and 2 vCPUs –but factor in the burstable credits thing…) in the 3 year reserved base Windows category running 24/7 is $546 upfront and $122/year.  This cost is based on using the US East region.  It’s a nice option if you have a need for a machine that has a light load with an occasional burst now and then.

Hops 2013 – Off to a good start

Hops close up

My cascade hops are off to a great start this year.  It took three weeks to reach about 10 feet in height! See photos below.  I’m looking forward to wet hopping some beers with the wonderfully aromatic cones from these in the next few months..

This is the 3rd year for these hops.  I received rhizomes from two wonderful friends in May 2011.  In the late winter of this year, I dug out and cut excess rhizomes to give to others who were ready to start growing them.

Digging these up revealed to me how aggressively they  have been spreading underground.  Kind of scary.

Hops 2013 start

April 12, 2013. Hops are off to a shooting start.

Hops at 3 weeks

May 3, 2013. Hops at about 10 feet after 3 weeks.

Code PaLOUsa 2013

Code PaLOUsa 2013 takeaways

This past Friday and Saturday (4/26 – 4/27/2013) were well invested at Code PaLOUsa, hearing great talks and meeting new people.  This is a “Louisville original” software development conference, in what I think is it’s 4th year.  Recorded videos of some presentations will be posted on the InfoQ site.  If you’re curious about what the sessions were, check out the site–they’re listed.  Update: someone is placing presentations on a github page.

For $250 it was worth the investment.  I point this out because I made the decision to go even without being  reimbursed from my employer.  It meant that much to me to experience the event.  This is the first time I’ve paid my own way but may do it more.  Many of the talks I attended were excellent.  I was amazed how much some of these presenters were able to effectively cover in 60 minutes.  For talks where they were diving into code, many had a link to a github page where they posted their examples.  That seems to be a growing trend that’s fantastic.

The most interesting point to me about attending this conference was it’s the second non-GIS non-Engineering conference I have ever attended.  It was across the spectrum of software development.  The quality of speakers were generally higher than I have seen before at software user conferences and project presentations.  Many of them flew in from across the US and Canada to present here in little ‘ol Louisville.  While I can access a lot of great training conveniently online, such as with a PluralSight account I have, being in the atmosphere of a conference gives an energy you can’t get anywhere else. It invigorates excitement in my work and inspires me to raise the bar higher.

While I did benefit from picking  up some cursory knowledge I may not have had before, I most enjoyed getting insight into how others get their work done.   It’s only a small window to see it, but it’s interesting and helps me see things differently.   Seeing these non-GIS presenters in action was a great experience from that perspective.

What were some specific  highlights I took away from the conference?

Here’s a list. Some of these were the focus of presentations, some were nice tips mentioned in passing.  I have included links to presentations where possible.

  • Coding can save lives!  Check out the Humanitarian Toolbox.  Amazing.  Great keynote presentation.
  • Twitter is a great tool to keep up with what’s going on at a conference, as well as updates afterward
  • Kanban – I’ve somehow missed hearing about this process.  It has become popular.  This came from manufacturing in Japan and many are using it as a lean software development process.  I assume it falls into the realm of agile techniques, focusing on  improving software quality by reducing excess “ceremony” and delivering working code to customers incrementally.  What stands out about Kanban is the concept of pulling work rather than pushing work: team members pull what they have capacity to do.  Will definitely dig into this more.
  • Measuring the health of development projects – DocOnDev, great speaker; cumulative flow diagrams are great
  • Accessibility and Responsive design – just the right thing to do
  • Real World info on using Agile on projects
  • json2sharp – generate C# classes from JSON, a nice little time saver
  • Rich UIs using Knockout.js and CoffeeScript – have heard of CS but had not seen it, Amir is a great speaker
  • Construct 2 – very interesting HTML5 game development platform
  • Refactoring code – flatten out your code, remove the sawtooths – I hadn’t really though of it this way before, presentation by Matthew Groves
  • SignalR – real time communication, amazing
  • Rapid Prototyping – I missed this one but heard it was a great talk