Cert Addict!

Wow.  I cannot believe it has almost been two months since the last post.  That is a fair proportion of my two year target.

So to recap, it is interesting to look back on the last post.  For example, I did pick up AWS SysOps again and did this:

My very top secret project has progressed up to a point but stalled when it came to building a UI.  And also – guess what!  – I had another epiphany or lights-on moment, whatever you want to call it.  Given the nature of the application it struck me that that the whole thing would be best suited to a serverless-Lamdba-API Gateway-S3 architecture.  I am now a Certified Architect so I can do these things.  It is not that big a step.  Many of my Python routines can be pulled into Lambda as-is.

This does mean of course that I will be moving from EC2 to Serverless before serving any real customers.

It also means I cannot reveal the brilliant idea and name for the application just yet.

Certification Addict

I have decided to conclude my year of AWS Certification hoarding by doing the Associate Developer exam.  There is a lot to be leveraged from knowledge learnt on previous exams so not leaving it too late is an advantage.  I also think that the topics will support my various projects nicely.  In fact it was while going through API Gateway modules that I decided to rework my very top secret project.  Yes, I know I am a certification junkie.

After that, I think I will give AWS studying a rest for a while.  The next stage up hurts my head thinking just thinking about it.

DevOpsDays London 2018

I attended my first DevOpsDays in September.  Will definitely do it again.  Very chilled,  great talks – much more varied than I had anticipated.  I really enjoyed the Open Spaces too.  I will add links to my favourite talks in My Picks below.

I was particularly inspired by a lightning talk on how some deliberately over-engineered their profile web-site in order to learn as many technologies as possible.  This is a sentiment I share.  Most of the things I work on privately are done this way.

My Picks

I thought I had read and seen everything about the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey so was surprised to enjoy this book as much as I did.  

“At this point it dawned on him that the leopard had not seen him in the monkey suit before” was one go the funniest lines I have read in a while.  Well recommended.

I also saw Tina: The Musical which gives me an excuse to share gifs like this:

Finally, links to DevOpsDays talks I enjoyed:

Overengineering Your Personal Website – How I Learn Things Best – Jamie Tanna – here.

Neurodiversity and the Essence of DevOps – Jeff Sussna – here.

Why are Distributed Systems so hard? A network partition survival guide – Denise Yu – here.

Tickets and Silos Ruin Everything – Damon Edwards – here.

The Replacements Moments

Wow.  Almost two months since my last post.  Two strangish months during which I have felt like I have fallen off the mission wagon and yet have still put in a lot of reading and studying.

I think part of the problem is a lack of focus.  At the beginning of the year it was a case of head down, study for AWS certifications.  I had planned to roll straight into AWS Sysops but didn’t for two reasons.  Firstly I was  studied/exam’d out.  Secondly, I currently work in a GCP world and without any private AWS stuff going on was concerned that anything I learnt would instantly be forgotten through lack of use.

So I have not done that and have not done any GCP studying or certification either for similar reasons.

What have I done since last post?  Well, as per that last post, I attended a brilliant hands-on Kubernetes course (free!) run by Google and Jetstream.  I also attended the Pipeline conference which amongst other things has inspired me to do a talk sometime soon.

I have kept reading too.  I felt the need to finally read The Lean Enterprise.  It felt like a collection of ideas brought together in one place for enterprise level convenience – which was probably the point.  Some great ideas in it though.

I have also been re-reading Building Microservices – probably my favourite book since I started down this path, along with the DevOps Handbook.  I have probably read the former’s testing chapter three times.

So what next?  I have not got my hands dirty for a while.  Time to re-read Python books and build something.  I know I said that last post too.  I have also got an AWS Summit to go to.  There will also be more reading – a bit of this .  I am also thinking of revisiting The Art of Monitoring to find out if my “out of depth” moment comes a bit later second time around.

My Picks

God, I love Infinity War.  Standards-wise, surpassing modern Star Wars easily.

I have missed running.  Started again, very slowly.  Thought about blogging it -everyone loves a good exercise blog don’t they?  And then thought better of it.

Finally, many years too late I have discovered The Replacements.  Watch!

Certification Time

Blimey, I cannot believe it is almost a month since last post.  That’s what a holiday season does to you I suppose.

I have managed to spend a fair bit of time  working on my mission over the festive period.  I finished a very basic free Python book and have graduated to this.  (I like Python).  New book looks like it will lead me to Virtualenv and creating some basic hosted apps that I am looking forward to Dockerising.

What about Kubernetes?  Well I hit a few stumbling blocks.  One of which was cost, the K8s cluster suggested by my materials cost me about £100 per month.  Not the end of the world and I know I can stop and start instances  but still.  There were also some technical challenges that I am not quite ready to solve.

On a brighter note, I discovered that AWS Re:invent 2017 has lead to hundreds of podcasts with a wide range of engaging subjects.  That lead me to kook at a certification path which is the reason I will be doing a “Cloud Practitioner” exam this week.  I do understand why some people in the industry are distrustful of certifications – they can lead to a lead of a lack of variety in the skill gene pool – but this have given me a target and incentive.  I am going to try and climb the path to become an AWS Certified Professional DevOps Engineer before the end of the year.  That will show ’em.

My Picks

It has to be the AWS Training and Certification bonus material videos by Blaine Sundrud.  The subnet, Bastion, NAT gateway networking chapter is the most useful and fun 10 minutes I have spent in my studying for some time.  (I cannot provide a link as it is embedded in the AWS Cloud Practitioner digital training materials – it is free.)

The AWS Re:invent 2017 podcasts can be found here in all their glory.


Completed The Terraform Book

(Spurious cultural reference ahead …)

I loved The OA.  One of many idiosyncrasies is the great variations in episode running times, naturally supported by Netflix unscheduled TV.  It struck me that blog lengths could be the same.  So here is a short and sweet one.

Today, whilst being more or less snowed in, I finished The Terraform Book – both reading and working through it.  I am managing to get through these topics faster than before which is encouraging.  As ever, I got hit by a couple of issues listed below but worked out solutions:

Invalid DNS record on Cloudflare

Removing splat braces

Most of my work is now checked in here.

I think Kubernetes may be next (gasp!), or maybe a bit of Python.

My Picks

The OA.  Ha ha.


Oh Man, So Much to Update on ….


Obviously after listing next areas of study in previous post, I would pick up something else entirely – Terraform. Back in James Turnbull land with this marvellous book. I had been looking at Ansible but was put off by all the Vagrant stuff which seemed too anti-container to me.

I have had some crunchy issues to work through. Frustrating at times but I have learnt a hell of a lot working through them – as ever learning a lot of newbie stuff on top.

One such lesson was what happens if you check your AWS access keys into a public Github repo. Turns out you get the attention of AWS and to a lesser extent Github pretty damn quick. Very impressive response particularly as I had no idea what I had done it initially.

As well as another lesson in just how easily an idiot can introduce a vulnerability, I had to figure out how to do the following to get back onto an even keel:

  • rotate IAM access keys
  • remove commits from a public repo (admittedly not really necessary once step above had been completed)

Big hugs to AWS for their response to this issue.

As the Terraform tutorial makes extensive use of Git, this has also been a great way to reinforce my Git skills.

I have realised I am in a space where I have learnt enough to be bold but not enough to avoid doing dangerous things. As with my Docker API faux pas, I am grateful I am doing this on my personal AWS account. Like Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back taking on Vader before finishing his training.  Handy (haha) but ultimately doomed.

Weekly Webinar

Not been great at sticking to this goal, but a colleague referred me to this – particularly relevant to recent work challenges.

Back on SRE

Reading-wise, same colleague recommended the SRE book as a capacity modelling resource. He didn’t know I had a copy. Perfect opportunity to jump forward a few chapters to read about Intent Based Planning.

Black Friday

When trying to find Ansible learning materials that didn’t use Vagrant, I came across Udemy who had some Black Friday deals. I have purchased Kubernetes, Ansible and Python courses.

My Picks

Bladerunner 2049. Just because. I probably love it for all the reasons others don’t.

Curb Your Enthusiasm. Makes Mondays worthwhile. Will miss it when it is done.

Noel Gallagher – Who Built the Moon?. I adore this. And I am not a slavish follower of all things Oasis either. I took my copy of Standing on the Shoulders of Giants back to the shop on the grounds it was pants.