Amazon Lambda Auto-Deployment For Your Alexa Skill Using AWS CLI

My latest project includes integration with Amazon’s Alexa voice service. My coworker Jordan already wrote an excellent post on how to get started writing your own Alexa Custom Skill. Amazon’s API makes it relatively easy to develop a new Skill, and with a number of languages to choose from (Python, Node.js, Java, C#, etc), developers can create a simple Skill in a weekend.

Read more on Amazon Lambda Auto-Deployment For Your Alexa Skill Using AWS CLI…

Utility to Initiate the Rebuild of Indices for CouchDB Design Document Views

I recently worked on upgrading a CouchDB instance and migrating it to a new server. Because of the upgrade and migration path, I needed to dump all data from the existing CouchDB, and then load it into the new CouchDB.

Fortunately, the Python libraries for working with CouchDB provide a convenient set of utilities to snapshot a CouchDB instance to a MIME multipart file, and then load that MIME multipart file into a new CouchDB. Although the utility handles all documents, attachments, and design documents, it does not provide a way to initiate a rebuild of the indices for views associated with design documents. I wrote a simple utility to aid in this process.
Read more on Utility to Initiate the Rebuild of Indices for CouchDB Design Document Views…

AWS IoT Help Button

We recently moved into our new building at 1034 Wealthy in Grand Rapids. The new building is much larger than our old one, and I find myself running around much more and stationing myself in different areas, depending on what I am actively doing.

To help ensure I can provide timely hands-on help—particularly for our printer (which is a common source of problems)—I procured one of the new AWS IoT buttons and programmed it to page me when pushed.
Read more on AWS IoT Help Button…

Easy Secure Web Serving with OpenBSD’s acme-client and Let’s Encrypt

As recently as just a few years ago, I hosted my personal website, VPN, and personal email on a computer running OpenBSD in my basement. I respected OpenBSD for providing a well-engineered, no-nonsense, and secure operating system. But when I finally packed up that basement computer, I moved my website to an inexpensive cloud server running Linux instead. Read more on Easy Secure Web Serving with OpenBSD’s acme-client and Let’s Encrypt…

Conference Room A/V Build-Out

We recently moved to our new building at 1034 Wealthy. We took the opportunity to update the A/V equipment for our conference rooms. Previously, we largely relied on projectors for presentation capabilities, an external USB microphone/speaker for audio, built-in webcams on laptops for video, and a table where we staged everything. This worked, but it was certainly not ideal. With the new building, I had the opportunity to standardize a new conference room A/V build-out that would be better suited to our needs.
Read more on Conference Room A/V Build-Out…

How (and Why) to Log Your Entire Bash History

For the last three and a half years, every single command I’ve run from the command line on my MacBook Pro has been logged to a set of log files.

Uncompressed, these files take up 16 MB of disk space on my laptop. But the return I’ve gotten on that small investment is immense. Being able to go back and find any command you’ve run in the past is so valuable, and it’s so easy to configure, you should definitely set it up today. I’m going to share how to do this so you can take advantage of it as well.

Read more on How (and Why) to Log Your Entire Bash History…

Ansible Communication with AWS EC2 Instances on a VPC

I’ve recently started using Ansible to manage Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) hosts on Amazon Web Services (AWS). While it is possible to have public IP addresses for EC2 instances on an AWS Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), I opted to place the EC2 instances on a private VPC subnet which does not allow direct access from the Internet. This makes communicating with the EC2 instances a little more complicated.

While I could create a VPN connection to the VPC, this is rather cumbersome without a compatible hardware router. Instead, I opted to create a bastion host which allows me to connect to the VPC, and communicate securely with EC2 instances over SSH.
Read more on Ansible Communication with AWS EC2 Instances on a VPC…

Managing AWS Route 53 Hosted Zones with AWS Lambda

On AWS, I use a Route 53 private hosted zone for Amazon VPC to allow me to conveniently address EC2 instances and other resources. While all EC2 instances are automatically assigned a private DNS entry, it is usually something fairly unintelligable such as “ip-172-31-51-229.us-west-2.compute.internal.” An entry like “website-production.atomic.aws” is much more helpful, especially when trying to configure communication between various EC2 instances that comprise a larger system.

I constructed an AWS Lambda function to automatically update the DNS records in my Route 53 private hosted zone whenever new instances are created. This ensures that the private hosted zone is up-to-date and can be relied upon for communication between EC2 instances.
Read more on Managing AWS Route 53 Hosted Zones with AWS Lambda…

Managing AWS CloudFront Security Group with AWS Lambda

One of our security groups on Amazon Web Services (AWS) allows access to an Elastic Load Balancer (ELB) from one of our Amazon CloudFront distributions. Traffic from CloudFront can originate from a number of a different source IP addresess that Amazon publishes. However, there is no pre-built security group to allow inbound traffic from CloudFront.

Read more on Managing AWS CloudFront Security Group with AWS Lambda…