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r_adams

Moving from physical servers to the "cloud" involves a paradigm shift in thinking. Generally in a physical environment you care about each invididual host; they each have their own static IP, you probably monitor them individually, and if one goes down you have to get it back up ASAP. You might think you can just move this infrastructure to AWS and start getting the benefits of the "cloud" straight away. Unfortunately, it's not quite that easy (believe me, I tried). You need think differently when it comes to AWS, and it's not always obvious what needs to be done.

So, inspired by Sehrope Sarkuni's recent post, here's a collection of AWS tips I wish someone had told me when I was starting out. These are based on things I've learned deploying various applications on AWS both personally and for my day job. Some are just "gotcha"'s to watch out for (and that I fell victim to), some are things I've heard from other people that I ended up implementing and finding useful, but mostly they're just things I've learned the hard way.

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Original author: 
Russell Brandom

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If you've spent any time flipping gadgets, you've probably noticed that they're much easier to buy than to sell. One can buy a used iPhone from half-a-dozen places at this point, often with no more than a few clicks — but try to sell one, and you're stuck with either eBay or a hodgepodge of forums and mini-marketplaces.

A new iOS app, launching today, claims to fix that, offering a streamlined path from listing to payment. It's called Sold, and it serves as photographer, broker and banker for each item, finding a price and a seller for you automatically, and collecting its fee from arbitrage. If the system works, all you'll have to do is snap a few pictures and pack a single box — as long as you're willing to let Sold set the price...

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Original author: 
(author unknown)

A month of planning and the day is nearly here. We're kickstarting our game despite the game nearly being done, and documenting the experience. We're set up, lots of art, lots of rewards and incentives, and lots of sleepless nights.

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Ever noticed anything a little different about the drop-down menus on Amazon's website? Ben Kamens has, and he's published an illuminating explanation on his website. According to Kamens, lead developer at Khan Academy, the distinguishing factor is Amazon's speed — moving your cursor along the site's main drop-down brings up submenus almost instantly. That kind of responsiveness is rather unique in web design, and, as Kamens explains, it's something Amazon achieved thanks to a subtle, yet clever algorithm.

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Today, a large collection of Web hosting and service companies announced that they will support Railgun, a compression protocol for dynamic Web content. The list includes the content delivery network and Web security provider CloudFlare, cloud providers Amazon Web Services and Rackspace, and thirty of the world’s biggest Web hosting companies.

Railgun is said to make it possible to double the performance of websites served up through Cloudflare’s global network of data centers. The technology was largely developed in the open-source Go programming language launched by Google; it could significantly change the economics of hosting high-volume websites on Amazon Web Services and other cloud platforms because of the bandwidth savings it provides. It has already cut the bandwidth used by 4Chan and Imgur by half. “We've seen a ~50% reduction in backend transfer for our HTML pages (transfer between our servers and CloudFlare's),” said 4Chan’s Chris Poole in an e-mail exchange with Ars. “And pages definitely load a fair bit snappier when Railgun is enabled, since the roundtrip time for CloudFlare to fetch the page is dramatically reduced. We serve over half a billion pages per month (and billions of API hits), so that all adds up fairly quickly.”

Rapid cache updates

Like most CDNs, CloudFlare uses caching of static content at its data centers to help overcome the speed of light. But prepositioning content on a forward server typically hasn’t helped performance much for dynamic webpages and Web traffic such as AJAX requests and mobile app API calls, which have relatively little in the way of what’s considered static content. That has created a problem for Internet services because of the rise in traffic for mobile devices and dynamic websites.

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David S. Rose

By 2045, human beings will become a new species, half human, half machine.

Or so futurist Ray Kurzweil believes. He argues that by looking at the how tech is being developed that one day we will sort of merge with machines and society will reach a state of "technological singularity."

That's because, in part, computer processors double in speed every year while they get increasingly smaller. One day, we'll inject tiny computers into our bodies like medicine or add them to our brains to make us smarter. 

In the meantime, tech is always getting faster, cheaper, and spreading to more markets and industries. And this creates a lot of opportunity for startups, until the day when we all turn into cyborgs.

"Because of this totally changing nature of society and the community business world, any company designed to succeed in the 20th century almost by definition has to fail in the 21st century," David S. Rose, Associate Founder of Singularity U and founder at Gust, tells Business Insider.

So what does that mean for startups today?

In order to prepare for the singularity, Rose says, entrepreneurs need to figure out what technology will change and over how long, determine what effect that technology will have on a particular market, figure out what holes there will be to fill, and then actually build a business that will intercept that market hole when it comes around.

Amazon, Rose says, is the perfect example of a company that built a business with the singularity in mind.  

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos foresaw a world where there was no longer a need for physical bookstores, so he decided to build one online. Once Bezos nailed down the distribution side of books, he had to start thinking about ways that competitors could kill his business. Given that the cost of storage, networks, and other digital technologies were dropping, Bezos realized the potential in digital books.  

Enter the Kindle.

Instead of waiting for a company like Apple to take him out, Bezos took himself out.

"He deliberately shot himself in the foot because he knew that if he didn't do it, someone else would," Rose says.

And someone eventually did. Apple announced in 2009 that it would be coming out with an iPad, and shortly after that, the tech industry proclaimed that the Kindle would die, but it didn't

Even though Amazon doesn't release its exact number of Kindle sales, the company has continued to expand its Kindle lineup and announced in November that worldwide Kindle device sales over the holiday shopping weekend doubled

Obviously, Amazon continues to face competition from the likes of Apple and Google. But Amazon is the perfect example of what a Singularity-focused business looks like, Rose says. 

In short, here's how startups should prepare for the Singularity moving forward:

  • Figure out where the ball will be a few years down the road.
  • Determine how to hit that ball when it arrives.
  • Figure out what could potentially take you out, and then take yourself out. 

SEE ALSO: Here's What Futurist Ray Kurzweil Thinks Life Will Be Like In The Next 20 Years

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amazon fulfillment center picking

In preparation for Cyber Monday and the holiday season, Amazon has hired an additional 50,000 employees to work in its 40 fulfillment centers across the country. 

Last year on Cyber Monday, online retailing's answer to Black Friday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second. It's expecting this holiday season to be its biggest yet. Early reports have Amazon's holiday sales up 40 percent over last year.

That doesn't happen by magic. Amazon plows billions into its fulfillment centers. As Cory Johnson of Bloomberg TV notes, Amazon has made $5.3 billion in capital expenditures in the past five years. $2.3 billion, or 43% of that, has come in the last 12 months.

NBC's Diana Alvear recently got a look inside Amazon's largest fulfillment center.

This Phoenix, Arizona-based fulfillment center could contain 28 football fields.

This fulfillment center is home to thousands of items waiting to be ordered. It's the largest of Amazon's 80 fulfillment centers around the world.

Last Cyber Monday, Amazon sold more than 200 items per second.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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The tech unit's sign, autographed by its members.

The reelection of Barack Obama was won by people, not by software. But in a contest as close as last week's election, software may have given the Obama for America organization's people a tiny edge—making them by some measures more efficient, better connected, and more engaged than the competition.

That edge was provided by the work of a group of people unique in the history of presidential politics: Team Tech, a dedicated internal team of technology professionals who operated like an Internet startup, leveraging a combination of open source software, Web services, and cloud computing power. The result was the sort of numbers any startup would consider a success. As Scott VanDenPlas, the head of the Obama technology team's DevOps group, put it in a tweet:

4Gb/s, 10k requests per second, 2,000 nodes, 3 datacenters, 180TB and 8.5 billion requests. Design, deploy, dismantle in 583 days to elect the President. #madops

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P. Craig Russell has released a video training DVD on graphic novel storytelling.

Below are some clips from his DVD that you can buy at www.artofpcraigrussell.com and Amazon.com (streaming). The Amazon video on demand is much cheaper but only available to those in USA.

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Amazon made back-to-back videogame announcements last week, showing its dedication to moving beyond music, video and e-books in the digital content space.

The first piece of news was Amazon’s new GameCircle, which allows gamers on the Kindle Fire to record and track their achievements and to save their game progress to the cloud — similar to features found in Apple’s Game Center.

The second addition is called Game Connect, an e-commerce distribution system that lets customers discover and download free-to-play PC games. Amazon is also handling some of the back-end features for the developers, such as selling virtual goods and subscriptions.

Take, for instance, Uber Entertainment, a 16-person development shop in Kirkland, Wash., that started distributing its game, Super Monday Night Combat, through Game Connect last week.

John Comes, creative director at Uber Entertainment, said that, until now, the company distributed its games only through Steam, the Valve-owned-and-operated digital game distribution platform on the PC. With Amazon, it now has two points of distribution.

“We’ve been working with them for six months. We were talking to various people about getting the game to more people, but for us, they can bring a lot of users,” he said.

Uber Entertainment’s Super Monday Night Combat game is a free PC download that makes money through the sale of virtual goods, similar to games distributed on Facebook. Uber does not have the infrastructure to charge customers directly, which makes a partnership with Amazon sensible. The retailer has millions of credit cards on file, enabling customers to quickly link their game play to their Amazon account.

Once games are linked to Amazon, users can pay and shop for virtual goods on Amazon’s homepage. For instance, Hippies in the game cost $9.99, a tank costs $4.49 and Captain Spark costs $7.49. Each character in the game has a landing page on Amazon’s site, enabling all the sorts of features you would normally associate with a product for sale on the site — such as the ability to add it to your cart or add it to your wish list.

The wish list capability appealed to Uber. “A kid can say ‘I really want this character for Super Monday,’ and parents can buy it for them,” he said.

This is not Amazon’s first foray into the digital distribution of videogames.

In October 2010, the company launched its digital games store, which offers customers more than 3,000 titles, including free-to-play and massively multiplayer online games. But with Game Connect, it makes shopping for virtual goods much easier. It also makes it much more comparable to the Steam service, though that targets a much more hardcore gaming demographic.

Amazon said terms of the store will be similar to industry standards used by Facebook and Apple’s App Store. It will share 70 percent of virtual good revenue with developers.

However, when it comes to price, Amazon will decide the cost of virtual goods, not the developer (although he or she will have some influence). Amazon will set a sales price for an app, and developers will set a list price. Amazon also uses this model on its Appstore for Android, where it distributes games and apps for developers.

It claims to have the resources to monitor sales across the board and come up with a strategy that will maximize sales much faster than a developer or publisher would normally be able to react.

In addition to helping with the payment process, Amazon says with Game Connect it will provide significant resources to the developer, including marketing, discovery, customer service and downloads. A spokesperson said in a statement, “We work hard to help customers find and discover great new games they never knew about and are focused on offering a great shopping experience along with fast and excellent customer service. We do provide a download service from the cloud for client-based games but provide a link to developer servers for browser-based games.”

The one situation where payment terms could get a little sticky is when a player originally discovers a game on Steam’s service, but then connects to Amazon to pay for the virtual goods. Amazon and Steam have likely figured out a way to compensate each other behind the scenes.

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