Wow, it was December 2014 when I climbed on board this train. I’m sitting in a pretty interesting place and feel I owe the world some reportage.

In terms of what it’s like to work to work here, I don’t have much to add to last year’s write-up.

Since then I’ve got my fingerprints all over two AWS services: CloudWatch Events and Step Functions. There are few things as much fun as helping ship something and watching people start to use it.

If you want opinions on what those products mean and how well they work, there are lots of blogs out there written by people who are less biased.

But here’s one amusing sidelight. When I came to work here I felt like I was facing a thousand-mile-high wall of technology and knowledge and experience, and damn little of the stuff I knew felt relevant. After six months it was less scary, but I still feel like a Perma-noob much of the time. Well, except for the Amazon States Language — they needed a JSON DSL, with a specification, and a parser inside the service, and (it became obvious) a downloadable command-line version. I smiled, because had this rare feeling of “I know exactly what needs to be done here, as well as almost anyone in the world, and how to do it.” I wonder if that’ll ever happen again in my whole life.

What makes me happy · Turning IT from Capex into Opex.

Writing code that processes billions of messages per week with good O()-notation behavior.

Working in an almost-entirely-asshole-free environment.

My paycheck.

Hearing about the weird shit people do with the infrastructure we rent ’em.

Working in Vancouver.

Cloud hypergrowth.

What makes me scared · Cloud hypergrowth.

What makes me unhappy · Working when it’s nice outside.

Videoconferencing technology.

Male-dominated professions.

I-5 between Vancouver and Seattle.

What makes me impressed · Network design that enables things like VPCs at scale.

Serverless. I’m pretty sure there’s a there there.

Linux. Seriously, no sense of strain after all these years.


CloudTrail. Maybe the most radical AWS service. I can’t imagine running a serious business without something like it. The combo with CloudWatch Events makes me smile too.

What makes me dubious and cynical · AI. *gasp* OK, the best implementations can now beat humans at Go and (even more impressive) reliably distinguish between photos of cats and dogs. But OMG the hype. My advice: Try linear regression first.

Node and NPM.




Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Doug K (Feb 13 2017, at 09:30)

Perma-noob is the way of the world in IT/CS, though I do know a few guys still making a decent living out of COBOL.

A friend was with Cisco for decades, ending up high in the cloud(s) management area. He just started a new job, told me he feels like he's not earning his paycheck yet.

Does this happen in the other professions I wonder.

CloudTrail is a thing of radical beauty as you say.


From: Bob Haugen (Feb 13 2017, at 12:22)

cynical and dubious: Node and NPM.

Not arguing, just curious about your reasons.


From: Peter J. (Feb 13 2017, at 12:58)

I'm curious to learn what about Node and npm makes you queasy. I agree on the latter---although yarn helps a lot, it doesn't (and perhaps can't) fix the model, IMHO---and am relatively agnostic on the former.


From: Bruce Thomas (Feb 14 2017, at 03:19)

I object to the notion that the I5 freeway enters Canada. The last time I checked, its northernmost point was the Peach Arch.


From: Maggie (Feb 14 2017, at 04:00)

I feel the same about AI. It’s crazy to hear some people’s fears regarding it.

It seems that even Elon Musk has some fears regarding AI, and he said that we must become some kind of cyborgs, in order to compete with future AI entities.

Any chance of writing about the weird things people do with the infrastructure that you rent to them? Just asking out of curiosity! :)


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