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Here's Johnny!


November 8th, 2008 last updated November 8th, 2008

So it's been about six months since I last took the time to update my blog - though in the meantime I've redesigned how comments are submitted to better fend off the hoard of spammers. Just today I've started receiving waves of spam url comments which appear to be from stanford.edu - but are in fact exploiting a redirection security flaw in one of their web pages to make a bunch of porn sites appear legitimate. I've notified the webmaster, we'll see if they do anything about it.

So what have I been up to for the past several months? Well I've been back at Willamette for about two months now, pursuing my Computer Science degree and doing my level best to wreck havoc on the school's network. I've been trying to set up a FTP based file sharing service on campus, though as yet I haven't found a good FTP crawler / indexer, so suggestions would be awesome. In about two weeks I'll be heading up to Eugene to participate in the ACM's ICPC programming competition - maybe I'll be inspired to write something about the tournament - we'll see.

Over this summer I had an increadible opportunity working for NetBase Solutions, a company which makes context based search engine software. It's a pretty slick tool, much better for research than Google or even sometimes Wikipedia. A friend and I were hired as interns to work with Amazon's EC2 cloud computing network porting some of their software to the far more scalable cloud and out of real world data centers. We were in charge of every step of the project, and powered through on our own terms.

EC2, and Amazon's other web services, are truly amazing resources. You request from Amazon how many machines you want, and within 2-5 minutes they're up and running. You have root access and the power to install and run just about anything you want, full ability to manage the firewall settings of each machine, and basically do whatever you want. Each machine runs as little as $.10 an hour (which comes out to ~$72 a month, not bad at all for a dedicated, fully managable box, which can be restored or duplicated if there are problems with the click of a button). It can still start to become pricy fairly quickly, if you use EC2 on any kind of real scale, which made working at Netbase all the better. Three months to play around with and learn how to use EC2 without the expense. And since then, I constantly find myself wondering what tasks I could accomplish better on EC2 than on my Windows box or on my webhost. Haven't yet utilized it for personal use, since it is still extra money, but I can't wait till I find a good reason.

Anyways, expect a few more updates in the next few days - I might even have some new scripts to throw up if you're lucky! If I ever find the time for it, I want to revamp the look of DigitalGemstones.com as well, but no promises on that one.

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