Interesting Stuff on the Web Jan 15th-31st

Mini Metro

This is a game with a beautifully crafted minimalist design. The game involves you constructing subway stations routes and seeing how your design holds as the city continues to expand!

Yet, as great as the game is, I really enjoyed reading their development blog that shows not just how they developed the game, but how they interact with the wider development community.

VR Cycling

This is a great hack that reminds me of see VirZoom at Boston FIG a few years ago. It uses an Arduino to track the bike’s motion and inputs that into a Unity game via an iphone interface. It makes you wonder what else you could repurpose from reality to act as a component in VR! I only wish that more people were developing for the GearVR.

AWS Environment Management

This topic has been pretty interesting to me, how to separate your environments to ensure the best separation of control and enhance your security. This is why I was very surprised to see the AWS Blog come out with a standardized architecture for multiple environments on a single account. I believe the largest issue here is that you’re placing all your trust on the Management section and the complex policies you have put in place.

multiple environments one account

I’m a bigger fan of splitting your non-production and production environments out between different accounts and creating a system to migrate data and applications between the two accounts. Having a well designed pipeline that already migrates data and applications between Dev, QA, UAT, etc. should make this a far simpler system to implement.

 

Space Shuttle Challenger

This week was the 20th anniversary of the terrible disaster of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Smart Homes

Smart homes keep on advancing, I’ve already picked up a Nest thermostat and looking at the Echo and integrating it with some Philip Hue bulbs… And Dome Alert fits in home protection – providing checks for flood, fire, freeze, and carbon monoxide. I’ll be curious to see if they publish an API that you can integrate into IFTTT – so you’re not just alerting the emergency services, maybe it contacts your family, or a neighbor if you’re elderly. Even if its not IFTTT, Amazon is looking to find reasons to integrate with your phone. seems to be heading that way, reaching out for integrations. Where CANT you put technology? This time the good ol’ padlock has been reinvented with a technical twist in the form of needing a thumbprint to unlock it thanks to TappLock! The part I really like about it is that you can grant access to others via the app… sadly for as glossy as it looks etc, I’d only use this indoors – My bike lock quickly become banged up just from carrying it around with the chain!

Google Shakeups

So Google Hangouts have come out with version 7.0 of their app and they apparently no longer want you to text off it. After forcefully moving texting from Google Voice to Hangouts, which was a nice move once I got over it… Now breaking up the service seems more than a little annoying. Talking about Google Services, it looks like Hangouts isn’t the only one with a broken relationship – Google Play Games have dropped their requirement to have a Google Plus account, another nail sadly in its coffin.

Commenting

This week we saw both the Google Docs finally allowing mobile commenting and an update to the GitHub comment markdown!  The easier it is to express yourself, the better it will be for everyone.

Serverless REST API

The AWS Lambda and API Gateway services look to be the next big step forward in cloud computing, and entire frameworks are springing up around it. Now it is even easier to implement thanks to Austin Collin‘s great step by step tutorial.

Safari’s Defensive Programming

Well what I really mean is the lack of defensive programming! Rather than having secure loose coupling between components, it appears that updates to their search component resulted in a product bug that crashed the browser. Prod bugs happen all the time, but reducing the potential for impact is an important development philosophy.

RIP Java Applets

After years, the Java Applet for browsers is finally coming to an end! But if you really miss them (you crazy fool) you can check out the online museum

People in Tech

This week, three people really stood out for me! PuppetLabs did a great interview with Trisha Gee, who has worked at MongoDB and now currently is a Developer Advocate for JetBrains. Next up was the story of Margaret Hamilton, a young programmer just out of MIT who went to work for NASA and developed the flight software for the Apollo space program! Last, but certainly not least, was Professor Minsky who founded the MIT AI lab and lead the industry, and sadly passed away this week.

Azure Stack

Azure is a very interesting service, developed my Microsoft, that was designed not only to be a competitor to AWS, but to be able to be run on top of AWS. One issue that developing with cloud services is local testing. You don’t want to checkin your code, and have to wait till its fully deployed to perform a basic integration test. Microsoft solved this with the release of the Azure Stack, allowing you to host a private cloud!