Play Framework + Docker + CircleCI + AWS + EC2 Container Service

aws software presentations

I was invited to speak earlier tonight at the Phoenix Java User’s Group on Play Framework, DevOps, and AWS.

I decided to do a basic walkthrough of Play Framework, and to build a continuous deployment pipeline live as part of the presentation. I wanted to actually implement something so that (a) I would be forced to pick specific technologies I could talk about, and (b) I could talk about the real-world challenges of implementing something.


My Talk on Choosing the Right Framework for Running Docker Containers in Production

general software presentations

I spoke today at Iterate.PHX, a DevOps conference put on right here in Phoenix, AZ.

My topic was on choosing the right framework for running docker containers in production. I specifically focus on the “multi-container VM” paradigm since if you’re OK to just run a single container per VM, then you don’t really need a framework at all. In that case, Docker is really just your deployment artifact.

The slides are below, and if there’s a video of the talk I’ll add that here as well. Enjoy!


A Common Pattern in Successful Companies

software entrepreneurship

I’ve been helping software teams accelerate and succeed with DevOps and Amazon Web Services for a few months now (See Phoenix DevOps), and one of the more rewarding parts of the job is getting to observe how multiple different companies operate.

I’ve seen high-performing teams in companies that are about to IPO, software teams in Fortune 100 companies, startups of about 10 engineers, and software-based companies of no engineers at all! It’s been incredibly enlightening for me to learn about how people organize themselves to get sh*t done.


A Simple Tool for Snapshotting Your EC2 Instances

aws software


I wrote a simple tool that makes it easy to create an AMI of your EC2 instance, and then to delete all AMI’s older than X days/hours/minutes with a single command. Check it out at

This works especially well for backing up WordPress blogs hosted on a single instance in AWS.

Full Post

There are many ways to do backups in AWS. One of them is creating an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) of your EC2 Instance so that you have a moment-in-time backup which you can use to launch a new EC2 instance in minutes.

It’s not the world’s most robust backup method. First, in order to guarantee that your file system is consistent at the moment of your snapshot, you have to agree to reboot your instance. Second, if you’re backing up data where even a few minutes of data loss is a big deal, this solution isn’t for you.

But sometimes it’s actually the best solution.


A Comprehensive Guide to Scaling Web & Mobile Apps on AWS – Part 1

aws software

I published a 12,000+ word guide in January on on building scalable apps on Amazon Web Services. I’ve been a longtime Hacker News reader so it was gratifying to see the article get 500+ upvotes on Hacker News! It also attracted about 30,000 readers in the first 24 hours of publication.

Part 2 of the article is brewing right now, mostly in the form of gaining the real-world experience necessary to write a thorough and helpful guide.

Read the Article on

Update/December 25, 2016 : has been down for a few days now, so if you’d like a copy of the article just email me and I’ll send you a PDF.

Regarding Part 2, I have all the knowledge and experience to write it, but I’ve been busy getting our new “DevOps as a Service” company Gruntwork up and running. I’d like to make it a Q1-2017 goal to publish Part 2, and will report back here once I’ve formally committed to that. Thank you for all your interest!

Update/January 6, 2017: Looks like AirPair is back online, so you can view the article there now!

Living on $1 Day

social dynamics zen general

This past weekend, I volunteered at a clinic in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico (better known to Americans as “Rocky Point”). The clinic was makeshift, conducted in a church in a local neighborhood. It was completely free to the residents and funded with donations.

The surrounding residents would be considered low income by American standards, but I sat on many pre-visit interviews with them and most of them don’t think of themselves as struggling. They’re really just living their lives.

The locals have differences in their lives that I simply haven’t experienced. In my makeshift Spanish, I learned that one woman, Guadalupe, had been waiting at the free clinic for about 8 hours, not knowing when she would be seen.


What I Learned Teaching Programming to 14-Year Olds

general software

Yesterday I volunteered at CodeDay Phoenix as a mentor. The goal of the event was to take young kids (mostly middle school and early high school) and give them an opportunity to code something in 24 hours.

As a mentor, my job was to “walk around and help where I could.”

The first group I walked up to was creating a tool to help you come up with something to do for the day. The idea was that it would take your current location, your preference on whether you wanted to eat, play, build, or socialize for that day, look up some locations in a local database and then make a suggested schedule. It was actually kind of a cool concept!


AWS Developer Fundamentals

aws software presentations

My second presentation at Desert Code Camp 2014.2 was on Amazon Web Services.

It was exciting to see standing room only during the talk! My main concern was keeping it interesting. The natural temptation for this kind of presentation is to do a “documentation summary” but that risks afflicting the audience with severe boredom. So I used a lot of visuals and everyday analogies in explaining AWS.

I spoke both about the big picture, and then went into detail on two of the most popular AWS services, EC2 and S3. I also briefly described VPC, IAM, RDS, DynamoDB, Glacier, and SES. I received numerous positive comments on the talk, so I’m pleased post the slides below.


Doing Business in The Right Order

lessons learned entrepreneurship

Recently I celebrated my 10th year at Omedix, the company I started when I was 24 years old. At 34, it is a little hard to imagine I’ve done anything for 10 years!

The milestone has made me reflect on some of the early decisions I made when I first got started. There were many really good decisions, but there were plenty of bad ones, too. And of course when you’re in your early 20’s you have that perfect combination of extreme confidence and supreme ignorance. Sometimes that can be a good thing, and sometimes it can be as bad as it sounds.