Amazon Cloud Computing Seminar Recap

amazon web servicesThis morning I attended Amazon’s Executive Cloud Computing Workshop. I was able to snap some photos and jot down some notes I’d like to share. The presenters included Werner Vogels – VP & CTO at and Marten Mickos – Sun SVP. I very much enjoyed Werner’s discussion – he basically took us on a tour of the history of AWS (ec2, s3, etc) and some examples of how customers are utilizing their cloud infrastructure services.

Werner explained that using Amazon web services (AWS) helps companies move from capital expenses to variable costs. The basic idea is that instead of buying enough hardware to make sure you can handle spikes, AWS can grow and shrink as needed.

Here you can see how fast AWS is growing and how in mid-2007, AWS bandwidth passed the bandwidth used by Amazon itself. Werner said if they showed 2008 on the chart, the Amazon line would be gone as the growth has been that big. In fact, he said that Amazon’s ecommerce sites combined is only a moderate customer of AWS.

amazon cloud computing workshop

Do People Still Use the Noscript Tag?

I am curious: Are people still using the “noscript” tag in their Web pages? If so, why? What are you doing with that tag? Are you using it simply to tell your visitors with javascript disabled that they might be missing something?

I honestly do not see the need for the noscript tag anymore. With the ability to fully manipulate the DOM using javascript, isn’t it easier to create the page the way your non-script visitors should see it, then use javascript to move things around? For instance, if you want to tell non-script users that a textarea includes a javascript-powered WYSIWYG editor, isn’t it easier to hardcode a div in your page just above or below the textarea that says something like “The textarea utilizes javascript to offer more functionality and features.”, then use javascript to remove that div from the DOM when the page loads?

A Fantastic Resource From Smashing Magazine

Earlier this week, Smashing Magazine put together a fantastic resource for PHP developers. The post is a list of “50 Extremely Useful PHP Tools.” The categories covered in the post are:

  • Debugging Tools
  • Testing and Optimization Tools
  • Documentation Tools
  • Security Tools
  • Image Manipulation and Graphs
  • PHP Code Beautifier
  • Version-Control Systems (though, according to the comments, the tools listed in this section arguably do not belong there)
  • Useful Extensions, Utilities and Classes
  • PHP Online Tools and Resources
  • In-Browser Tools (Firefox Add-Ons)
  • Frameworks for PHP
  • PHP IDEs and Editors
  • Sources and Resources

The descriptions of some of the tools in the article could have been a little better, as I don’t even understand what some of the tools are designed to do. However, there are quite a few interesting items in the list. I will definitely be trying some of them over the next few months to see how they work and what they might be able to do for me.

Frustrated with Variable Input

I’ve spent the last week developing a new interface for our Web site at work to allow us to insert, modify and remove various course descriptions. The bulk of the time has been spent simply inserting over 500 different course descriptions to get the database populated initially.

However, along the way, I kept running into different items that threw me for a loop, causing me to have to go back and rethink the way I had written the script.

Optimizing Web Pages

With the new Web site I’m developing drawing nearer to its public debut, and with the entire backend being written from scratch by me, I’ve become concerned with optimizing the output as much as possible.

While searching for some resources the other night (I was mainly looking for a Firefox add-on that would display a page’s load time, the way Netscape used to do – the only one I found has not been updated to work with FF3, yet), I came across two interesting resources.

RSS Feed Creation – Development Perspective Questions

This is a question for anyone that’s worked on developing their own RSS feeds, as I am preparing to do for a few items on our new Web site.

When developing or starting an RSS feed, how did you decide how much information to include in the feed?

By that, I’m actually asking two questions:

  1. How did you decide how many updates to include in the feed? Did you decide to include all updates in the feed, from the beginning all the way up to the present, or are you only including the most recent XX number of updates; or maybe even the last XX months, days or hours worth of updates?
  2. How did you decide how to summarize the updates? Are you prompting content contributors to write a separate summary of the information; only including the first paragraph; including only the first XX characters of the article, etc.

I’m curious what other people are doing with their RSS feeds. The one RSS feed I’ve developed for private testing currently only includes the last six months of updates, and truncates the article to 500 characters or less (cutting it off at the last complete word before it reaches 500 characters – stripping out any incomplete HTML tags in the process).

Does this seem like a logical way to make an RSS feed, or should I be feeding complete content? What are your thoughts?