AWS Lean Startup Event 2012

AWS Lean CloudThe planets aligned this week which meant that I was in Sydney for the Amazon Web Services Regional Premier Lean Startup Event, with the highlight being able to hear from Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup. A huge thanks to my friends at Slattery IT who got me registered for this event. Here are my notes from the event.

Eric Ries – The Lean Startup

I am a huge fan of the Lean Startup movement, so it was a thrill to hear directly from Eric Ries. His talk mirrored others of his that can be found all over the web and the content followed much of what is available in the book, but it was inspiring and awesome nonetheless.

From Miscellaneous

This is a copy of a similar presentation from another conference.

Here are some of my notes from the talk.

  • you can now rent the means of production and compete with big players
  • join the global conversation at #leanstartup
  • this is the boring part of entrepreneurship
  • Ghostbusters is the original movie on entrepreneurship
  • startup = experiment
  • we live in a time where we can build anything we can imagine – need to ask not can it be built but should it be built…
  • entrepreneurship is management
  • most products Eric has built have failed!
  • Frederick Winslow Taylor stated things that are obvious now yet had to be invented then – work needs to be done as efficiently as possible and breaking work into tasks
  • all of the tools of general management are based on planning and forecasting – but making an accurate forecast relies on a long operating history – need a new entrepreneurial toolkit because the world is filled with uncertainty
  • the pivot – successful entrepreneurs did not have a better idea, they take the leanings and change the direction without changing the vision
  • runway should not be amount of money remaining but amount of pivots remaining
  • achieving failure is successfully executing a bad plan – this is like getting good fuel mileage when driving a car off a cliff
  • the lean revolution was led by W. Edwards Deming and Taiichi Ohno
  • Agile only works well if you know who the customer is
  • failure is the great equaliser of quality
  • “we learned something important” is an excuse, need to learn early
  • ask what experiment am I trying to run, and what learning can I take from that
  • build > measure > learn loop – minimise time through the loop
  • measurement will slow you down but optimise the part to optimise the whole
  • drive down the batch size to one day – continuous deployment – many features take longer to prioritise than to build
  • The Toyota Way says foundation is long term thinking, the startup way says foundation is accountability
  • brink of success is indistinguishable from goofing off – need innovation accounting
  • business plans are rarely achieved – achieving failure – leap of faith assumptions need to called out
  • build a minimum viable product, iterate experiments and look for upward trends, pivot when returns are diminishing
  • better to have bad news that’s true than good news that’s made up
  • pivot meeting should be a milestone in its own right, need good information to make a good decision – micro scale experiments that help make future decisions
  • lean startup is still early adopter stage

Dr Werner Vogels – The Lean Cloud

Dr. Werner Vogels is the CTO of and opened the startup event. Here are some notes from his session.

From Miscellaneous
  • Animoto – upload images and music, analyses the music and creates a movie around the mood – went from 15 to 5000 servers in a number of days
  • web services is now called cloud…
  • Australia is not yet an Amazon Web Servixes (AWS) region – soon? – Asia Pacific region is based in Singapore
  • the number of objects in S3 has increased by 250% per annum consistently over the last 5 years, currently 762 billion
  • cloud is defined by its benefits not its technology
  • scaling is as much about using the Cloud to scale down as it is to scaling up
  • lowers cost – eliminate CAPEX, reduce OPEX
  • increase agility – not constrained by resources(eg. waiting for or buying servers), reduce time to market
  • remove heavy lifting – like scalability, security, reliability
  • foundation for next generation architecture, infrastructure cost should grow with your income
  • resource models changing due to competition, limited capital, power of customers, faster time to market
  • lean manufacturing – the machine that changed the world, lean startup
  • remove waste that does lead to direct value for the customer
  • an elastic and pay-per-use infrastructure – follow their demands to eliminate waste for peaks in traffic
  • AWS makes deployment, testing and staging trivial – tools for red-green deployment for example
  • need to build security in from the ground up when building a cloud application – lots of tools available
  • advantage of AWS is you are on a continuous innovation curve
  • DynamoDB – uses low latency SSD, predictable performance, zero administration NoSQL – database is no longer the bottleneck
  • no need to have your own transcoding anymore, it all sits on the cloud

8 Securities /  Q&A Panel

8 Securities gave an overview of their use of AWS ahead of a short lean cloud panel.

From Miscellaneous
  • are all the lessons US lessons? No, early on some cultures said this would not work, particularly admitting failure, the grass is not greener in Silicon Valley, understand the underlying principles, figure out how to translate strengths and build on the Lean startup principles
  • there is a new book by Jeffrey Liker who wrote The Toyota Way (The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership) – Toyota  has translated the approach to as many plants in the USA
  • need to communicate and connect with your employees – we are still solving simple problems
  • good thing about having a small amount of customers is that when you screw up you can apologise… personally
From Miscellaneous

OSDC 2009 Day 2 Wrapup

Day 2 of the OSDC conference, one talk delivered today with Paul King on Using Groovy for Testing. The following are my notes from the sessions that I attended.

Keynote: Simplicity

Marty Pauley delivered the keynote, my notes are as follows:

  • good code is easy to read, beautiful (aesthetically pleasing), useful
  • evil code is difficult to read, ugly, but it is still useful (otherwise you would have no code!) because unfortunately it is still in use
  • good code should be fast, concise, advanced, maintainable
  • “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci
  • comments are an indicator that you’re code is crap, documentation and comments are not the same (documentation is useful), ironic that some languages put documentation in comments (eg. JavaDoc)
  • always out your scripts in a module, makes it easy to read (the comment was made in relation to Perl) and makes it easier to test (one script that calls one module, that can then call other modules)
  • Google is good example of simple (as compared to Excite and Yahoo! at the time) – search engines started complicated and became simple
  • Example of simple first is that Americans used the Space Pen in space (highly engineered pen that would work on all surfaces and work in space), but when they asked the Russians what they used, it was a pencil
  • “Java was designed for stupid people! – was designed because it was deemed to hard to write code in C”
  • look outside your current toolset, we all have problems in common

How to get Rails Web Applications Accepted in Industry

Harley Mackenzie presented this talk, my notes are as follows:

  • why Ruby? – expressive language, object oriented as everything is an object in Ruby (lends itself to good, readable, maintainable code), dynamic allows to delviver scripts quickly and maintainable
  • hard to find Ruby people? – many recruiters do not understand the roles they are recruiting for, Chuck Jones (of Warner Brothers cartoon fame) looked for artists knowing he could train them to animate, the same goes for quality developers
  • open source – lower initial cost, source will never disappear as will always be around in some way, don’t emphasise the FREE but the FREEDOM, dynamic languages you always have the source (not compiled)
  • efficient – productivity important to industry
  • elegant – write easy, maintainable code
  • reliable – “testing to oblivion approach”, everything has tests, commercial environments do not value testing, all say it is a good idea but will not pay for it
  • expressive – easy to understand what the code is doing
  • why is Rails not adopted? – management are risk averse (don’t want to go outside the Microsoft norm), corporate IT motivated by fear and uncertainity (like to do things the way they are always done), loss of control (don’t understand and don’t like when you know about things they don’t), outsourced IT providers (only in it to make a buck so resistance to change)
  • solutions and adapt (know what you can change and what you can’t)
  • demonstrate – give them a VM (“take the puppy home for the weekend), find the champion
  • cloud solutions – if you can’t deal with anorganisation and their infrastructure, bypass it (use Amazon or similar)
  • draw the line – sometimes you have to walk away than comprimise (figure out where the line is), usually can deal with server operating system, web server and database but not the language it can be written in

Open Source Web Apps in Azure

Jorke Odolphi delivered this session, my notes are as follows:

  • software as a service (SaaS) – multi-tenant, pay as you go
  • platform as a service (PaaS) – applicationn frameworks, languages
  • infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – pay as you go, scale (like Amazon EC2, GoGrid)
  • Windows Azure is an operating system in the cloud, where you run applications, designed to scale
  • lots of servers sitting in shipping containers (2,000 servers per container, 7 hours to get up and running after delivered) with VM’s running Windows (called the Fabric)
  • components – web role (front end facing, static content, ASP.NET 3.5, WCF, Fast CGI applications such as Perl, http(s) inbound), worker role (like a Windows service), storage (blobs, tables and queues)
  • running PHP in Azure – Eclipse tooling available (WindowsAzure4E)
  • MySQL in Azure – run as a worker role (configure ports and storage)
  • Tomcat running in the Azzure Cloud (
  • No environment yet in Australia, but Singapore coming soon, pricing

Desktop Applications for Web Developers

Ben Balbo presented this session, my notes are as follows:

  • cloud issues – network outages, working offline, server outage, application failure affects everyone, access/ownership of data, dependence on third party to fix bugs
  • Google Desktop Gadgets, Adobe Air, Windows 7 – just HTML, all the information stored in the gadget or via a web service
  • Mozilla Raindrop – Mozilla’s reaction to Google Wave, pre-alpa, a local web service
  • WordPress + Google Gears
  • iPhone applications
  • XUL – XML User Interface language from Mozilla, load any interface around Firefox (use Firefox as a framework)

Using Groovy for Testing

Presentation I gave with Paul King, and was an interesting experience on how to break down a 3 hour presentation to a 30 minute talk (which we started about 20 minutes prior to the talk commencing)!

Business, Law, Open Source

Brendan Scott presented this talk and these are my notes from the session:

  • each decision you make limits your subsequent decisions
  • Starting a business has effect on how easy it be to sell down the track (setting up within a corporate vehicle) – selling of shares make this easy as the legal person transfers. Most businesses are setup where the owner owns all the assets and personally signs up to all the contracts such as phones where their name is on the contract (makes it hard to transfer later on)
  • stay away from partnership (and the use of the word partner)
  • Pov Ray had pre-open source licencing, wanted to sue someone who was bundling it and selling it – needed copyright ownership to sue but had to go and find all of the contributors first
  • code consents in case somebody takes code and uses it in breach – keep records of who, what, when
  • IP Ownership – once you have transferred rights, it is very difficult to recover these rights, you need to get legal advice early
  • dispute resolution – usually because people not speaking to each others, lawyer can help you identify issues, send the nasty letters, courts look favourably if you have tried to sort out the issue
  • negotiations – lawyers familiar with the lines of argument
  • legal arcana – knowing the legal secrets and finding holes in contracts, etc…
  • copyright – owned by employee unless agreed otherwise
  • don’t lie about your products and services (Part V 52 Trade Practices Act)
  • Part V, Dvision 2 Trade Practices Act – don’t exclude warranties, limit recourse to repair or replace, it is illegal to exclude warranties

Lightning Talks

An extended session of lightning talks. here are the notes:

Make my PHP 66 Times Faster

  • slow code read in a really big library everytime it is run
  • idea is to make a socket call and run off the server, loading only once

Something About Cars

  • entertaining comparison of programming languages to cars

The Coming Programming Language Crisis

  • entertaining look at new programming langauges, recruiting for the Australian LOLCODE Developers network! (see

OSDC – Open Source Developers Club

  • parent organisation for the conference
  • like meetings (found about every third session, people attend a session that is not their usual language)

Hosting Web Sites In The Cloud

  • created Grocery Choice, wanted something that had scale initially but assumed would not need it going forward
  • Amazon EC2 – virtual machine farm, upload your VM to the cloud (takes about 3 hours)
  • using commercial, licenced server so limited to CPU’s that coule be run
  • can move your instance onto a larger virtual machine
  • pay as you go, for what you use

Geography, Databases & Government


Phoebe’s Netbook

  • Phoebe is 4, has an original eePC
  • the distribution is very easy for children
  • TuxPaint and other programs in Linux that are good for kids

GMT (Generic Mapping Tools)

  • set of command line tools
  • pscoast – will show a map, can then map cyclones as they move down the coast

Byte code optimisation using Promise

Open Source Licencing vs Microsoft

  • starting a business with no money
  • do something disruptive – is a potential client trying to solve a problem that your product addresses
  • low-end disruption – easier way of doing something that already exists (eg. MySQL vs Oracle)
  • new-market disruption

Handy Python Functions

  • if building libraries, pleause use doc tags!


  • open source SMS gateway
  • written in Ruby
  • will be released shortly


  • written in Python using pygame
  • open source, GPL
  • team based, strategy game

Google Wave Bots

  • Wikifiy
  • Piratify
  • Flippy

Barcamp Brisbane III: The Search For Flock Wrapup

Barcamp BrisbaneHere is my better late than never wrapup of Barcamp Brisbane III (held last weekend at the East Brisbane Bowls Club), a worthwhile meetup of locals willing to share their skills with others.

Discussion at Barcamp Brisbane III

Discussion at Barcamp Brisbane III

From the lightning talks that I attended:

Speed Intro

A new concept was the speed introductions, one minute to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Worked quite well, met a bunch of new people and got a good vibe of the different passions of the attendees.

Favourite Cloud Applications

Session presented by Michael Rees.

None of the applications were particularly new to me, but these were my takeaways for more of a look:

  • Gliffy – online diagram and flowchart editor
  • Slideshare – for uploading of presentations
  • Prezi – requires Flash, but is a big space to show text and is a new and interesting way to show presentations
  • Delicious – not new, but Michael uses it as a home page
  • – from the guys that brought us the wayback machine, they have a service that allows you to upload audio and video maintaining the original resolution (although the upload is quite slow apparently)
  • Evernote – I have used OneNote for convenience of late, but a place to store and search for notes on multiple platforms and phones, this is a service that Michael pays for as well
  • Online Storage – LiveMesh is a favourite, gives you 5GB that syncs anywhere. He also mentioned Live Sync P2P, SkyDrive and Amazon S3

Introduction to Git

Attended two sessions on Git, a discussion and then an online overview.

  • A local repository, distributed
  • Competitors are Mercurial and Bazaar
  • Git is not as good on Windows environments right now
  • Github uses for public hosting
  • Gitgui is a an interface to Git, amongst many others

This is certainly the next generation of version control, but I have concerns on how to get this working in the enterprise especially since I have enough trouble convincing people to commit let alone to commit often. Can see its potential for open source and independent or small developers however.

Groovy, Griffon & Grails

Paul King and Bob Brown gave a good introduction to the G3 technologies. I was especially interested in Griffon, since I hadn’t spent any time looking at it previously.

Government 2.0

Was interested to listen into the discussion about PublicSphere / Government 2.0 by Des Walsh, and the opportunities it may present. Des has posted a more in-depth post here:

Drupal Hosting

Discussion about Drupal Hosting:

  • Open Atrium – intranet website incorporating wiki, forum, internal-twitter – theme around existing modules
  • Aegir – Drupal Hosting System
  • Suspect that much like Linux, we will see many distributions in future
  • Acquia are the Red Hat of the Drupal world
  • Drupal 7 has gone full TDD with 80% coverage

Fish Shell

An online demonstration of the Fish Shell, which can be best described as a shell that adds a bunch of added functionality to bash, such as better history and visualisations.


A good way to get a launch into some new and interesting technologies and meet some new people. There is apparently another planned before the end of the year.