This Day In History: 01/08

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Today's a day for Fugal Writing and History of Jazz II. The second half of pedagogy should be interesting -- the professor has a completely different method of provoking thought and response than the previous professor. At some point today, I also need to run over to the bookstore and pick up the remainder of my books. I need to get a Burkhart anthology as well, as that was one of the few books I sold back but shouldn't have as an undergrad. My music textbooks tended to stay on the shelf of academia that all music students should eventually generate, but the computer science and math books weren't so lucky. Those overpriced pontifications of uselessly important theory rarely lasted more than a term before being sold back to buy the next batch.

While at home, I also came across my textbook for 20th century world history from a core curriculum class in 1997 that I learned nothing from. I remember setting the book aside so I could read it on my own when I no longer had to, and I've actually been reading it pretty steadily over meals since I got back to Tallahassee. I tend to do better with materials I get myself interested in, rather than materials other people push upon me. After modern history, I'm not sure what I'll study next, but part of my New Year's resolutions include constantly learning something that I don't necessarily have to learn (which precludes music fields by default).

I also finished up parts for the first movement of my string quartet, and started rough work on the second movement. If all goes well, I will finish this movement in about a month.

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Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Our ad-hoc basketball team lost to "Maxx Attack" last night, 46-22. Our lack of organization was pretty apparent and at the beginning of the second half our coach left for the hospital bleeding profusely above the right eye. Still, it was fun, and we're bound to improve after a few more games and some weekend practice. We're in League 6, which is the entry-level league in Tallahassee Rec Sports, so it looks like we'll be playing "fun" teams and good teams that just happen to be new to the league.

I have two sections of sight singing, with 13 and 14 people in each. All but 5 had me last semester for Fundamentals so they're already used to my chalky ways. I've lost 10 of my old students to bad grades, major changes, and alligators, so thankfully the classes won't be too crowded.

Jesus 'healed using cannabis'
Michael Vick still on top

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Thursday, January 08, 2004

My week is going along at a pretty good clip. I'm wrapping up on a project at work in preparation for a move to a new project next week, so development isn't quite as heavy as it was last week. No big plans for the weekend -- just more of the same.

Patch 1.14 was released for Warcraft III yesterday. It fixes a lot of bugs, so check it out if you play.

Yesterday's notable search terms:

    incest in today's society

Football fan banned for penis stunt
The Australian word for waitress is beer wench
Teen's phony tens
Virginia realizes that childrens' nude summer camp may be a bad idea
Photoshop can no longer be used for counterfeiting

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Pearls of Wisdom from Yearbooks of Yore

7th Grade, 1991

Sadly, I was!

8th Grade, 1992

The sweets guy is the one that brings candy to class. This note would be completely unremarkable, were it not for these happenings a decade later .

8th Grade, 1992

"You impudent little freak" was a catchphrase for a very very short period of time in 1992 -- was it from SNL or something? "Bammafied bamma" lasted much longer.

9th Grade, 1993

The obligatory inside joke that no one else will ever get. I read this for probably the first time since it was written and the old levity of the joke immediately washed over me like an incoming tide of horseshoe crabs and industrial foam. We had a particularly white-bread band director and we were playing one of those uselessly trendy band arrangements where either Swearingen or Curnow try to be hip, and she remarked "This sounds like one of those songs you kids would be playing on your ghetto boxes". Every single day for the remainder of the year, someone would call out from the back of the room, "What's a ghetto box?" You had to be there.

10th Grade, 1994

Yes, my nickname in high school was The Urinator. I wore it like the badge of honour that it was.

10th Grade, 1994

The obligatory "Why the hell did you ask me to sign your yearbook since I am way more popular than you and ignore you in said English class" note.

11th Grade, 1995

The correct response is either the Japanese ellipsis (...) or a capital WTF. Either is appropriate.

11th Grade, 1995

I was very short in high school, but I've grown by leaps and bounds since then.

12th Grade, 1996

I wrote a song called Bubba's Fried Chicken Stand for the jazz band. And, every other entry in this yearbook mentioned crew or boats or cockswines.

12th Grade, 1996

See? Growth.
Oiled prisoner escapes from prison
Self-cleaning underwear goes weeks without washing (but will then eat your genitals and take over the world)
It's a battle not written in stone

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Damp: (adj.) slightly moist; unenthusiastic or depressed

Listen (0:30 MP3)

The problem with the slower pieces is that they end just as I start getting into them. This piece is for strings, marimba, flute, and solo viola.

Share your imagery in the Comments section!

For those of you who are new to the Museday Tuesday phenomenon (or as the Muppets like to call it, the m'nah-m'nahn), here are the rules:

  1. The composition can be for any instrumentation. It can have an actual score or be a pure synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
  2. It must not be longer than thirty seconds.
  3. It does not necessarily have to have a start, middle, and end -- it can just be a fragment of something grander.
  4. It must be composed in a single sitting, in thirty minutes or less. If time runs out, I post whatever I managed to finish, be it good, indifferent, or makeup on a corpse.
  5. The title of the piece must be a word from a random word generator, although this word doesn't necessarily have to be incorporated in the piece.

Intel quits the One Laptop program
The day the world almost died
Male monkeys pay for sex

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Weird Search Day

or "how I stumbled upon the URI! Zone"

  • Pee Pee Galore
    This is the name of the Bond girl in the childrens' adaptation of Goldfinger.

  • dreaming of kissing a coworker
    Last year, I wrote an article in which I did NOT kiss any coworkers, which probably wasn't much help to this lovelorn daydreamer. He or she should probably submit a story to the newly reopened Today at Work site, back from a two year hiatus and run by Justin, a former Zone reader.

  • centaurs humping
    I would imagine that the basic positioning of humping centaurs is similar to that of normal horsie humping, and there are plenty of images of THAT on Google. The only difference: the male centaur might try to cop a feel with his all-too-human hands during the act. (There was also a search query for "boinking spaniel" in my logs, but I figured one entry about humping was sufficient).

  • skipping school on friday, monday, tuesday and wednesday, is it obvious?

  • A Muppet christmas: letters to Santa beaker hot chick
    The "hot chick" is Petra Nemcova. In the show, Beaker uses Dr. Honeydew's Wish Machine and ends up with a girlfriend who talks just like him. He then uses the Machine again and vanishes with her for the remainder of the plot.

  • Enharmonic Panic Attack
    I'm stealing this as the too-awesome title of my next jazz chart.

  • onion big booty and pig breast cant stop
    I'm going to presume that this searcher has KTS (Keyboard Tourettes Syndrome), which results in an uncontrollable urge to type random vulgarity on Google. The "cant stop" at the end is obviously a cry for help.

  • reese witherspoon's nose damaged by drug sniffing
    Thankfully, there was no permanent damage to Reese's nose following her court-ordered community service.

  • bologna "desperate housewives " -italy -joe-bologna -joseph-bologna -pony
    I don't even have the first clue about what this person was possibly interested in, although he apparently filtered out any subsearches related to Italy and ponies.

  • craigslist missed connections home depot paint desk
    you looked pretty studly carrying two paint cans in each hand although i wondered why anyone would need that much puffin bay gray. when our eyes met i dyed a little inside but you varnished before i could say hello.

  • low backed dresses that reveal posterior cleavage images
    This could easily be an advertisement for that online quiz where you have to determine whether a shadowy crack is part of an ass or a chest.

  • looking for girls in christiansburg VA that posed nude on the web
    Dear searcher, please keep me posted on what you discover.

  • if it comes to you to watch the infint while the parents are gone give us games online to practice baby sitting
    I'm guessing this poor soul from Miami had just received a babysitting job, and used a strange combination of BabelFish and Google to translate this query from Spanish. If you are a Flash game developer and are looking for the next big thing, try creating an online version of Adventures in Babysitting -- there's a ready market.

  • Judge has sheriff arrested over jail food
    Jiu-jitsu defeats pit bull
    Driver warned of sexual gorillas in jail

    tagged as website, searches | permalink | 5 comments

    Friday, January 08, 2010

    Friday Fragments

    brazenly breaking the boredom barrier

    ♠ My latest side project to reduce site upkeep is to sort and transfer all of my photos into my Picasa account. After deleting several hundred variations of "This is Booty sitting on a bed", I still ended up with a sizable collection, and have migrated over all the Cat Pictures, the Delta Mu pictures, my personal pictures from 1979 - 2004, and the Marching Virginians pictures.

    ♠ When I ran the MV Trumpet website eleven years and twenty pounds ago, there was a media embargo on any pictures that might show recognizable alcohol bottles (since the site was linked from the main Virginia Tech pages). Necessary Photoshopping (before that became a recognized verb) led some people to think that the trumpet section had their own gang sign.

    ♠ I've never understood why gangs form gang signs with their hands. When all five fingers are connected to the same hub, there's only a finite number of permutations available to represent your gang (which is similar to the reason why most international flags look like cheap knock-offs of Italy). Gangs would be much more interesting if their call signs were full body contortions like a Michael Flatley pose.

    ♠ Riverdance was one of many VHS tapes in the drawer at the Bed & Breakfast we stayed at in Pennsylvania. We did not watch it, opting for Vanilla Sky instead. That movie turned out to be much worse than I remembered, mainly because the sum of the movie's parts added up to nothing significant, much like today's snow forecast.

    ♠ Now that I've walked through downtown Columbus in single-digit weather, the current cold snap seems pretty warm to me. The overabundance of space heaters wherever I happen to be also helps a tad.

    ♠ When I was a kid living in a house with the thermostat perpetually set at "room temperature minus ten", we had one of the old-fashioned space heaters with visible, exposed elements that you could burn crackers (and yourself) on. If you stuck any long, narrow foods (such as the aforementioned crackers) through the grille, they would immediately turn black and fall to the bottom of the heater. This is probably what led me to becoming a Boy Scout, where the same thing occurs on a larger scale around the campfire.

    ♠ Plans for this weekend include sushi tonight, a CustomInk holiday party tomorrow night, and some sort of potluck affair on Sunday night. I might also finish off my photo move to Picasa and start on whatever project comes next on the unending list of "Stuff I'll Never Do But Will Write Down Anyhow". Update: The Photo Migration is complete!

    ♠ Have a great weekend!

    Man has a drive-through breakfast
    Swiss court sets fine to match income
    Sunbeam, magnifying glass set fire to home

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 6 comments

    Tuesday, January 08, 2013

    List Day: Pragmatic Musical Instrument Selection

    • In elementary school, I chose to play the trumpet because it was easy to carry, had all of the melodies, and didn't involve depletable accessories like reeds. Plus, it had a smaller section: does anyone really want to compete with 20 other kids just to play a clarinet or violin solo?

    • I stopped playing the trumpet because you lose your tone quality every time you go for more than a week without practice, which means that there's always a rebuilding period when you want to start again.

    • I briefly tried playing the guitar around 2005, but stopped after it exacerbated the typing pain in my left hand, which originally stemmed from writing code at $10 per line and/or mashing WASD in computer games.

    • I briefly practiced jazz piano because I am incapable of playing separate rhythms with the right and left hand simultaneously, and jazz harmonizing is more of a cerebral chord-tracing activity than a need to perform a fugue.

    • I would never be a drummer because there are too many bits to pack up and transport everywhere. Seasonal church timpanists must hate life -- all of that bulk for one pitch, and there's no way they could rewrite the Honda Fit commercial to fit a timpani next to that surfboard.

    • I considered learning the accordion, but they're too expensive for a hobby that would likely last two months.

    • I also thought about violin, but it seems like one of those instruments where I would permanently pick up a bunch of bad habits without starting from the beginning under the watchful eye of a teacher.

    • Based upon all of these lessons, I am currently learning the bass guitar. My dad had a spare, it involves playing a single note at a time, I can learn it on my own, at my own pace, and a plucked string will still sound the same if I don't practice for a week.

    Question Time: What was your "primary" instrument throughout the years, and why did you chose it or stay with it?

    tagged as lists, music | permalink | 6 comments

    Wednesday, January 08, 2014

    Time-Lapsed Blogography Day

    • 19 years ago today, in 1994, I ran in an indoor track meet (the 55 and the non-scoring 300), and then worked on my science project about the composition of regional groundwater for four hours. A couple days later, I would learn that the project was just supposed to be oral, nullifying the utility of my 32 pages. My dad would then make me finish the paper on principle.

    • 17 years ago today, in 1996, school was cancelled because of the foot and a half of snow that fell on Alexandria. I finished composing Benality, my eighth composition in my first seven months as a composer.

    • 15 years ago today, in 1998, I was home from college on break and went to TOWER RECORDS to buy new CDs.

    • 11 years ago today, in 2002, I prepped for the classical music listening exam with Mike, Kathy, and Mark in my Parkwood apartment.

    • 10 years ago today, in 2003, the FSU Music Theory basketball team, "Diminished Five", lost to "Craven Moorehead and Associates", 47-15. I always hated our team name (picked by a professor) because it made us sound mentally challenged.

    • 9 years ago today, in 2004, Anna and I had dinner at Ruby Tuesday, where I was obsessed with their chicken fingers cooked in buffalo wing sauce (pouring it on afterwards was unacceptable).

    • 4 years ago today, in 2010, we discovered our favorite cheap, unpretentious sushi place, Aoba, on Route 7.

    • 3 years ago today, in 2011, we won second place in a Christmas Trivia contest at Page and Brian's Holiday Party.

    • 2 years ago today, in 2012, I spent the day writing briefs about UNIVERSAL CORE, which stole the first half of my year, Alias-Covenant-style. Last year we learned that the entire effort had officially been killed via policy memos.

    tagged as memories | permalink | 3 comments

    Thursday, January 08, 2015

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Lie to Me, Season One:
    This is a show about a group of investigators skilled at knowing when people are lying based on their reactions and facial tics. There may be a germ of truth to the underlying science, but the show overdramaticizes it for entertainment's sake. It's more procedural than serial, but is fun enough to watch while running my treadmill into the ground. Free on Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: B

    In a World... (R):
    Although the premise seems a little too targeted for widespread appeal, this movie about movie trailer narrators competing for voiceover gigs in Hollywood was a short, pleasant diversion with enough fun jokes and cameos to keep things moving. Free on Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: B+

    Homeland, Season Three:
    No season of Homeland has been as good as the original, and I was mostly checked out for this one. The writers run a few plot points into the ground this season, especially involving Brody's teenage daughter, who I was already sick off after her first episode. The season wraps up nicely, but you may lose interest along the way.

    Final Grade: C+

    Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris:
    The gimmick of writing an autobiography in second person tense gets old pretty quickly, but luckily the book also works as a series of related vignettes that can be read cover to cover instead of skipping around like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. There are no big surprises, and NPH comes off about as likeable as you could imagine, but this might be a good book for an airplane ride or a dentist's waiting room.

    Final Grade: B-

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    Friday, January 08, 2016

    Data Day: The Age of Things in My Living Room

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    Monday, January 08, 2018

    2018 Plans

    2017 was a year of trial and error, between dipping my toes in the shoals of a software startup and figuring out how to take care of a small human while still maintaining a minimally viable amount of health, wealth, and leisure time. Now that our six-month trial period has ended and we are truly in charge of growing the Maian Empire, 2018 will be all about stabilization and process improvement. Here are some of the changes I expect to make this year:

    • Consume more new content: Movies, shows, albums, games -- I'm not picky about what I'll consume, but I'll make sure that I'm not just rereading old books or playing Overwatch all of the time. It is very easy (and fun) to make a game of Overwatch be the mortar between the bricks of baby care in my schedule, but it tends to introduce a feeling of sameness across days that already sometimes seem too similar. I would also like to read new books as my vocabulary is getting a little rusty -- I have "what is that word that means ____?" moments far more often than I used to.

    • Get back on the treadmill: After five straight years of maintaining a minimum of 2 hours per week jogging, treadmill time petered out at the end of 2017, such that I only used it 1 time in the month of December. Though the extra exercise is not strictly necessary since my smallest pants have started to fall off my hips from just walking Maia around the forest and mall, this will be a good way to have some extra solo time and watch some new TV shows.

    • Learn to play the soprano recorder: I have a recorder and a d'Auberge book which should be sufficient to play nursery rhymes for Maia so she is regularly exposed to annoying music. I will do some trumpet or electric bass at some point too, but the recorder is very portable, reasonably quiet, and doesn't require daily practice to maintain.

    • Try new things in cooking: I have a small pouch of simple recipes that get us through the week but I'd like to do more cooking this year. Rebecca got me the book, Salt Fat Acid Heat, for Christmas which teaches about food science and what happens when you add different ingredients to a pot -- this is perfect for me since I never really follow a single recipe exactly.

    • Don't work more than necessary: Work is going very well and it's nice having specific important assignments to deal with that are done when they're done. I don't need to look busy or seek out new assignments just to fill up 40 hours in the week. I plan to continue the stay-at-home-dad'ing for as long as it's fulfilling and don't plan on working more until I want to. It's also amazing how much money you save when you can no longer go to real sit-down restaurants.

    • Maintain programming skills: Eventually, I'll mix a little programming back into my daily routine. Whether it's continued open-source development or just a daily programming brain teaser, I want to make sure that Microsoft Word doesn't become my most-used application.

    What are your plans for 2018?

    tagged as lists, day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

    Wednesday, January 08, 2020

    List Day: 10 Things to Appreciate in the Next Decade

    1. Being able to describe the era briefly as "the twenties" in casual conversation and never having to say "the aughts" or "the teens" again.

    2. Our new screen porch. No bugs allowed!

    3. A new satellite work location just down the road in Herndon, eliminating the need to drive in Tysons.

    4. The full payoff of our mortgage (between 1.5 - 4.5 years away, depending on how much money we throw at it).

    5. Between 1 and 3 new Presidents.

    6. Upbeat party themes based on 100-year anniversaries, such as Prohibition, the Russian Famine, the Rise of Mussolini, and the Great Depression.

    7. Maia reaching the age where she can play real (board and video) games with us.

    8. The grand opening of the Silver Line, Phase II, followed by 1 - 2 productive years of operation before major concrete repairs are needed.

    9. Continued evolution of virtual reality technologies.

    10. Maia's 12th Birthday followed by my 50th.

    tagged as lists | permalink | 1 comment

    Friday, January 08, 2021

    Review Day

    There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

    Schitt's Creek, Season Five:
    Another quickly-watched season with a good balance of awkward and heartfelt humor. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: B

    Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm (R):
    The majority of this movie is a retread of the first with less reason for existence -- while there are a few laugh out loud one-liners here and there, most of the humor feels obligatory and the targets seem too easy. It's also no longer clear who's in on the shtick which reduces the shock value. The wrap-up and final reveal is good though, just barely making the rest of the movie worth watching. Free on Amazon Prime.

    Final Grade: C+

    Outside the Jukebox:
    This autobiography of the Postmodern Jukebox creator reads easily, blending musical nerd trivia, motivational one-liners, and a minimum of self-aggrandizement. I finished it in a couple days and enjoyed it, but you'd have to be already be a fan of Postmodern Jukebox to consider it

    Final Grade: B

    The 100, Season Seven:
    I'm pretty sure Netflix finally got around to implementing "Watch at 1.5x" speed for this show. The extended 16-episode final season consists of a ton of one-off origin stories that all end up exactly where you expect them to, and a revolving array of beautiful people covered in mud and wounds so they all look the same. The 100 has always been a show where interesting worldbuilding ideas smother any sense of character development, and this season tries so hard to answer every question (even those I didn't really care about) that it forgets to elicit any investment in its characters. Like previous seasons, people suddenly have changes of heart and betrayals and lamentations to keep the plot moving, but thankfully we don't spend endless episodes with the main characters hating each other. The season is an unfocused whiplash of factions, new worlds, and lore until, suddenly, the writers realize there's only a few episodes left and they have to wrap everything up. The ending was fine. Free on Netflix.

    Final Grade: C-

    tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

    Monday, January 08, 2024

    Cloud Troubleshooting Day

    originally posted on LinkedIn

    This is the play-by-play of my investigation into an abnormal Amazon Web Services (AWS) bill: how I traced back to the root cause, how I learned that Amazon itself was partially to blame, and the resulting outcome. There are no brilliant deductions or magic bullets here -- smart cloud administration usually boils down to (1) the availability of relevant, explorable data, (2) simple proactive alarms, and (3) the patience to wade through Google's increasingly irrelevant search results for answers.

    Setting the Stage

    I run a modest web empire with very predictable month-to-month costs and web traffic. This array of sites and services has run entirely on AWS since 2015, mostly because the cloud was cool back then and I needed to justify the cost of my first 3 AWS certs.

    Halfway through the month of December 2023, I received a CloudWatch alarm projecting a 172% increase in my monthly bill. I did what all busy cloud administrators wish they could do: I turned off the alarm and resolved to figure it all out after Christmas!

    Finding the Root Cause

    My investigation began in earnest on December 28, using the AWS Cost Explorer dashboard. The basic view of my cost data showed the spike occurring in the cryptically-named "EC2-Other" category, which is like a pu pu platter of miscellaneous charges related to the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service. I had to filter the graph on "EC2-Other" data and group by "Usage Type" to get a more detailed breakdown of what's in this category.

    Applying Filter and Group By criteria will make Cost Explorer data more useful.

    The detailed breakdown showed me that only two subcategories of activity were abnormal: DataTransfer-Regional-Bytes which measures data traffic between Availability Zones (AZ) in a Region, and CPUCredits:t3 which is the Uber surge charge you get slapped with when your EC2 instance is working too hard. It made sense that my server would have high CPU utilization to handle the spike in data transfer, but I knew for certain that all of my web empire was in a single AZ, so there should have been no new intra-AZ traffic.

    Step 2 in the investigation was to look at the CloudWatch logs for each server in my cloud architecture to see which ones were working too hard. The culprit jumped out immediately -- while my servers usually hovered under 10% CPU use, one server's energy levels matched those of my six-year-old on each successive day of Winter Break.

    "Why don't you go outside and run another lap around the house before bedtime?"

    Step 3 in the investigation was to log into the stressed out server and examine the access logs for unusual requests. I used the tried and true log analyzer, WebLog Expert, which has served me well over the past 20 years and immediately found out what was causing the extra web traffic.

    Misbehaving web crawlers is so 1998.

    According to its developer page, "Amazonbot is Amazon's web crawler used to improve our services, such as enabling Alexa to answer even more questions for customers." While I concede that Alexa needs all the help it can get in this regard, this charity case is not worth $20 more in cloud spend.

    Putting the Pieces Together

    With all of my investigative steps documented, I was able to do some research and figure out the root cause.

    1. In November, the Amazonbot discovered an instance of MediaWiki running on one of my servers (a book wiki for the Wars of Light and Shadow series by fantasy author, Janny Wurts) and decided to index it.
    2. This is educated conjecture based on my logs, but the Amazonbot seems to fail at recognizing that certain URLs represent the same page. For example, it may think that and are completely different pages even though the number at the end of the URL is just used to identify different visitors. This apparently caused it to build up a backlog of wiki pages it thought it hadn't visited yet and the number of requests skyrocketed in December. In other words, the Amazonbot is playing SessionID Go: Gotta collect 'em all! and isn't responsibly throttling the resulting requests.
    3. Most importantly, the Amazonbot itself is running in AWS but it's in a different AZ than my servers. So I'm getting charged once for the extra CPU utilization needed to handle the bogus requests (CPUCredits:t3), then charged again to move the requested data into another AZ (DataTransfer-Regional-Bytes).

    After Actions

    1. I added a "Disallow" rule to my robots.txt file, which is effectively a polite way to tell the Amazonbot to pound sand the next time it wants to visit my server. If the bot continues to visit, I can rudely block it in my Security Groups instead.
    2. I reactivated my billing alarm so I can stay ahead of the next impending crisis.
    3. I should probably contact the Amazonbot team and let them know about this problem, but it appears that others have already done so and it doesn't seem like there's been any response.

    So far, so good!

    Lessons Learned

    1. Explore Before You Deduce: Gather as much data as you can before you commit too hard to any one debugging path. Making sense of what's in front of you is a different skillset than figuring out what's going wrong, and jumping to a likely root cause too soon might dissuade you from other possibilities.
    2. Use CloudWatch billing alarms: You don't need a vast array of alarms hooked into the innards of your servers' performance to stay financially responsible. A simple "Warn me when my bill goes over $X" alarm is sufficient.

    tagged as website, programming | permalink | 1 comment


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