More reportage from inside the AWS factory. Looking for leaks or marketing? Nope.

Seems I’ve been here three months. It still feels weird to dig in and work on software without breaking frequently to explain it to the world. The main current project is stretching some envelopes so my explain-it energy is finding plenty of internal outlets.

News flash! · One of the things you get at any big tech company is an “onboarding task”; a little product feature or bugfix, the kind of thing that would take a person who knows the software and toolset about fifteen minutes. It took me a week and small change, learning how to check code out and build it and stage it and so on. A ten-line fix to not-very-complex code.

I just thought to check and sure enough, my little bug is now fixed in production world-wide. Used to be, in certain very-rare situations you could get an Auto Scaling Group into a state where it would silently refuse to be deleted. Well, no longer. Yay me.

Titans · The stories you hear are true: If you work here and build it, then you run it. Which means you get an extremely concentrated pool of DevOps excellence. I’ve been running Web sites since Nineteen-Ninety-Freaking-Four and am but a child among titans. I get to attend the occasional all-handses where it occurs to me that of the 100 most sophisticated DevOps people on the planet, a significant fraction are in the room.

Google and Amazon · Yeah, they’re different. Can’t write much though. OK, here’s one thing: Google engineers are (mostly) in low-rise buildings amid greenery and parking lots. AWS’s (mostly) in downtown high-rises. G has more green, but A is greener. I haven’t fully absorbed how this changes things, but I’m pretty sure it does. For example:

This morning I left home at 8:15 and biked hard for 10 minutes, stood in a crowded train for 8 minutes, and was hanging my coat up at 8:36. Almost nobody in the Vancouver office commutes by car; driving to work is a last-century mistake.


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From: Paul Morriss (Mar 05 2015, at 06:29)

My onboarding job was to look at code. We used conditional compiliaton and I had to answer the question "if we take out this symbol, will it break things". By inspection I determined not. It probably could have done with testing though.


From: Mark S (Mar 06 2015, at 16:20)

When I lived in Japan there were spacious bike parking space near a train station but I don't see a lot of them here in Vancouver.

(And I don't know if you do this, but bikers on the train take a lot of space so it can be an annoyance for other passengers especially during rush hours.)

While it may be true that driving to work was a last-century mistake, we need to have good infrastructure first until we can declare it as an obsolete way.


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