Serverless Architectures using AWS Lambda

lambda As a developer, managing a Linux operating system is pretty far down the list of things I want to be doing. As Werner Vogels said:
“I’ve tried hugging a lot of servers in my life and believe me, they don’t hug you back. They hate you.”

The following post describes how you can break free of managing servers in AWS while maintaining industry standard security. The key enablers of this approach are S3, Lambda and Security Token Service (STS).

This might be a good time to grab a coffee. There’s quite a lot to cover, but it’s worth it. There’s no servers to manage, and you only pay for the time when your code is actually executing.

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Mapping Under Uncertainty

mapusa A few weeks ago I came across a post on reddit asking how to draw a map given the distances between cities.  I can never resist a good coding challenge, so next time I had a free afternoon I decided to give it a shot.

Like most problems, it turns out that plotting points on a map is quite easy if the data is perfect.  However, if the data is imperfect then things get a whole lot trickier.  Below is a description of the problem and how I solved it.

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Animating ProgressBar Skin in Flex

Stop WatchWhen I was in university (college) I was told a story about a large office building which had notoriously slow elevators.  People would often spend several minutes waiting for the elevator to arrive at their floor and the occupants of the building complained about the problem often.

In an effort remedy the problem the owners of the building hired an engineer to come in and recommend ways to speed up the elevator service.  The engineer reviewed the existing elevator system and all compatible upgrade options.  Eventually the engineer came back with his recommendation:

The most cost effective way to improve the elevator service was to cover the elevator doors with mirrors.

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Using Vector Paths with Degrafa

raindrop2 In the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to work alongside Greg Dove. Greg is one of the core contributors to the Degrafa framework, and it’s been a good chance for me to look into Degrafa more and learn what can be done with it.

The below example is something I created while playing with Degrafa Paths (using my movable components library again).  Paths were a huge revelation for me because they allow you to create skins (buttons etc) with arbitrarily complex shapes.  Now able to create speech bubbles and starbursts without having to embed a PNG asset.  That’s really cool :)

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Facebook Iframe Resizing Solution

Magnifying Glass Recently I have been working on working with a Facebook application which resides within an iframe.  However, the application could change size as the UI state changed, and the iframe needed to change size to match.

Luckily for me Facebook provide a prebuilt solution for this which you can drop into your page with only a few lines of Javascript.  They even provide a demo application.

Unluckily for me, after following Facebook’s instructions perfectly, the resizing didn’t work!

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Dynamic UI Components (with source)

wwf Back in February 2008 I wrote an application called PostACard which ended up winning the 360|Flex API Contest.  I’m really proud of what I was able to create (less than 20 hours total development time) and I have always wanted to go back to it and see if I can extend it further.

Recently I have been playing around with the source code some more and in particular have been trying to see if I could reuse the movable component libraries I wrote.  As part of this I have tidied the code up a bit and have extracted it from the rest of the application.  Check out the demo below.

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Accurate Car Simulation in Flex

car_top2 The demo below came from a technical challenge I set myself a few weekends ago.  I often like to set myself small challenges like this… I guess it’s kind of like doing a cross word puzzle.

The challenge this week was to accurately simulate the movements of a car in 2D.  Most people don’t realize this, but when a car turns it is rotating about a point outside itself, and that point is perpendicular to the wheels.  It’s a little hard to explain, but if you check out the demo below then it all should become clear.

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How to Draw in Flex

pencil Eye candy is an important, if often over looked, part of any Flex application.  Unfortunately for me, I am much more of a developer than a designer and this has often left me with the short end of the eye candy stick.

The strength of being a developer however is in the custom functionality we can add.  Recently I have put together a DrawableOverlay Flex component which can be used to allow the user to annotate/draw on any part of the application.

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