Somewhere in the overlap between software development, process improvement and psychology

rants and opinions

#aws #reinvent 2018 – my tips, tricks and photos

AWS re:invent is huge. So here’s my tips and tricks:

  1. Good shoes. Not new ones, but comfy ones. There’s a lot of walking, the hotels are huge! This is about 1/6 of the registration hall at the Venetian. The scale is so big it’s hard to get it in a photo!20171128_094353
  2. Room snacks. You’ll get a lot of free food and drink but sometimes you need a snack, and you definitely will need water. Rather than use the hugely expensive hotel shops I go to the shops literally next door on the strip to buy bottles of water.20171125_134426
  3. Portable phone charger. Your phone will run out of batteries due to all the picture taking, tweeting and app shenanigans.20171128_134539
  4. Schedule your sessions early. Yep, I know it’s too late now, but there’s still going to be a lot of open repeats, and the overflow rooms are actually pretty cool, with a silent disco vibe of coloured headsets.
  5. Parties. There’s lots, follow @reinventParties for details!20171129_204953.jpg
  6. How to guide: Watch the Youtube How To Reinvent Guide
  7. Certification Lounge: If you’re certified, go to the certification lounge. There’s a slightly higher than 0 chance of the occasional seat – which is a remarkable thing at re:invent. And it’s full of doughnuts and retro games machines 🙂 20171127_161831
  8. Find a secret coffee shop. The main ones will have big queues and the generally available free coffee is ok, but I like to go to my secret coffee shop. Sorry, I won’t over expose it.20171125_082018
  9. Expect change. There will be some huge announcements, and a sudden unveiling DgPIq2qW4AEKuuoof loads of extra sessions so be prepared to change your schedule at the last moment. I tend to prioritise my sessions so I’ve already decided which ones I can drop and which ones I won’t. If you’re going to drop one, do it early so you can release the reserved seats. My account team are being tight-lipped, but based on the amount of stuff that’s been already announced, and their teasing – I’m expecting big things.
  10. Follow your learning style. There are all sorts of different things like presentations, chalk talks, deep dives, hackathons, workshops, gamedays etc. Do what works for you not what everyone else is doing.
  11. Painkillers. Take some, whether it’s flights, jet lag, crazy long days, too much partying or just the intensity of a big event, headaches are fairly inevitable. Or maybe that’s just me.
  12. Take an Echo. For music in your room, naturally 🙂
  13. Manage your swag! It’s possible to get too much swag. And then you need to buy another suitcase to bring it home. Doh!

Finally, keep track of what’s going on by using my reinvent twitter dashboard – I’ll be posting updates on twitter regularly.



How to remove duplicates in Amazon Music playlists

I’ve recently migrated to Amazon Music from Spotify and local media servers. It’s actually pretty good although getting my playlists migrated was a pain.

Uploading seemed to cause a lot of duplicates, so then creating playlists from the recently imported or added files caused a lot of duplicates in the playlists. I listen to playlists on shuffle so this annoyed me because it means the probability of duplicated tracks is higher and you miss out on the other files. I found a way around it though!

  1. Create your playlists however you want.
  2. On Windows, install the local Amazon Music app.
  3. In the Amazon Music Windows App you can select all of the files in a playlist, right click and add to a new playlist
  4. The app will popup and tell you how many duplicates there are and ask if you’d like them to be filtered out.
  5. Delete the original playlist
  6. Rename the new playlist.
  7. Rejoice in a lack of duplicates.

For Spotify playlists I used STAMP from FreeYourMusic – ok but expensive.

It managed most of the files on my wife’s spotify playlists fine, and produced a file of songs it couldn’t match. Some made sense because they were misnamed, or not part of Amazon Music so needed manual uploading from our local collection. However, across several thousand tracks it failed to match about 60 it should have.

Also, the CSV to Amazon Music doesn’t appear to work in STAMP on Android. STAMP support upgraded me to a multi-platform license and it worked on windows. Still, it saved me hours despite being over-priced and not perfect.

Send messages to another room using Amazon #Alexa #dirtyhack

Here’s a fun trick to get Amazon Alexa to send messages to the kids in another room or whatever…
This is a bit of a hacky workaround but it’ll do the job until Alexa can do push notifications.
1) Record some custom mp3s (or go to and generate some)
2) Save them with good names and upload them to Amazon Music in a “Messages” playlist, I recommend calling them “MSG_something”
3) From the Alexa app you can then choose a message to send to an Echo/Dot from the “Music and Books” area (the playlist and MSG_ prefix makes them easy to find)
For example, “Please come downstairs, dinner is ready”.
I use “z. msg” as a prefix so when my songs are sorted by names they’re all at the bottom. The msg_ bit is useful for searching by song to find them quickly 🙂

3D kung fu experiments

I’ve talked before about how Software Development is like Kung Fu, and since I do both I thought I’d have a play with some 3D modelling. First I tried creating a metallic surface, accentuated with bump mapping (best viewed in HD on repeat):

then I moved onto using bone deformations to try and get human looking movement from a non-human object (again with lots of metal and reflections just for teh lulz, best viewed in HD):