Unraveling the now, while working on the next...

After spending a month reading both the CCSP All-in-One Exam Guide and The Official (ISC)2 Guide to the CCSP CBK, watching 23 hours of video on ITPRO.TV and working through over 400+ practice questions, I finally arrived at the exam centre with a Red Bull and Cadbury Boost to keep me awake.

I felt confident that I had done everything I could to prepare for the exam, so I wasted no time and quickly packed my laptop into the locker before completing the customary security checks.

The first 10 questions totally knocked my confidence, and I was beginning to wonder if all my studying was going to pay off. I guess after working through over 400+ practice questions (and getting 90% right) I expected to see at least one similar question, I was wrong.

By question 60 I gave up any hope of seeing a familiar question and decided to simply answer the questions to the best of my ability. I started to forget about trying to associate the question with an expected answer, and instead focused on asking myself, what would I do?

As I answered the last question I was exhausted mentally and really had no idea how I had done. Clicking the end test button I cringed waiting for the result, only to find out that my result was at the reception.  Even the lady sat outside the exam room had no idea how I did…..yes, I asked!

After getting my stuff from the locker, I wandered over to the reception eyeing the printout that the receptionist was folding. Did I pass? I asked. She handed me the results saying she had not looked. I took the results and unfolded the paper as I walked out into the sun - Congratulations! it read.

So after 3 weeks of waiting for my endorsement to be processed (3 weeks of refreshing my inbox - a habit I now need to break), I finally received the e-mail I was waiting for.

Studying up the Sky Garden - weather could be better!

Just finished reading The Name of the Wind - fantastic book. A must read if ever there was one!

As the undisputed leader in cloud computing (constantly expanding), there are more than a handful of reasons to use AWS to distribute your grid site to the world.

I personally hope to use more AWS services in future, and so thought I’d write this post to show just how easy it was to transfer my domain to AWS, and host the site using CloudFront. Besides where do you think those grid images are stored? (hint look at the source)......

If you checked my previous post, there’s a fair bit of optimisation work to be done before this grid site (and others) are really flying but I’m also hoping that at some point I’ll be able to take the AI generated site and augment it with whatever my mind sees fit (Lambda anyone?).

So here are the steps I took to migrate from my existing DNS provider over to AWS.

Note: I’m presuming you already have an AWS account and are familiar with the services and console. If not, you are going to want to spend a bit of time understanding the basics of AWS and securing your account. There’s plenty of info on the AWS site to get you started e.g. https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/security/improve-the-security-of-your-aws-account-in-less-than-5-minutes

Lets get started by signing into your AWS console (or registering if it’s your first time) by browsing to https://aws.amazon.com

You don’t have to use AWS to manage your domain but having everything within a single console makes life easier.

If you choose to transfer a domain to AWS, you’ll need to create a Hosted Zone first, that way you can specify the new nameservers when you start the transfer process. Oh and transfers might take a few days depending on your current provider.

If on the other hand you choose to register a new domain with AWS, you’ll find an automatically created Hosted Zone under the Hosted zones section of the Route 53 console.

I suggest creating a non www record at this point, so that you can test your domain is up and running, and bypass the CDN when testing e.g. thegrid.mydomain.com

The current IP address to use is but i’d suggest checking thegrid help just in case this has changed - http://help.thegrid.io/article/244-v2-add-a-custom-domain

Under the settings section of your grid site you are going to want to change the Custom URL to match the A record you just created. Use HTTP here, we will enable SSL on the CDN later.

Test your new domain by browsing to your new A record e.g. thegrid.mydomain.com

So you have a cool domain name and your Custom URL is working as expected. The next step is to create an SSL cert that you can use to encrypt your HTTPS traffic. This will come in handy in when we turn on HTTP/2 support as many browsers will not switch to HTTP2 when unencrypted.

If you have several domains you can add them all to the same certificate e.g. .com / .org / .net

There’s a load of options to choose from when creating a distribution but most of the defaults will suffice.

The options you are going to want to edit are as follows:

  • Origin Domain Name - this should be the same name as your Custom URL e.g. thegrid.mydomain.com
  • Viewer Protocol Policy - I’d suggest Redirect HTTP to HTTPS for this to get any future benefits from HTTP2
  • Alternate Domain Names - This should contain the same list of domains you added to your SSL certificate e.g. *.mydomain.com, mydomain.com
  • SSL Certificate - Choose Custom SSL Certificate and select the SSL certificate you created earlier.

You will want to make a note of the distribution Domain Name so you can update DNS to point to it in the next step e.g. xxxxxx.cloudfront.net

It’s also a good idea to wait until the distribution is showing a Status of Deployed and State Enabled

At this point your grid site (well some of it) is being replicated across the CloudFront edge servers around the world. The final step is to point the www and naked domain to your site. To do this we need to go back to the Route 53 console and create 4 new Record Sets.

We need an A - IPv4 Address Record Set and an optional AAAA - IPv6 Address (for future proofing) for the www and naked domain. Remember to choose Alias Yes and paste in the distribution Domain Name you made note of previously (or select from the dropdown). Queries to Alias records are free - bonus!

That’s it. If everything went to plan you should now be able to browse to mydomain.com or simply mydomain.com and see your AI generated site.

I’d suggest using a few test sites to make sure everything is working:

https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest - Checks your SSL cert

https://tools.keycdn.com/http2-test - Checks HTTP/2 is enabled

Here are a few things I just had to get off my chest.

Before I start, just let me say that I really want the grid to succeed. The concept is still solid, and with a few more knobs and a little more polish I won’t even consider reverting back to a static site on S3…

There were over 46 issues on this page alone last time I looked - https://validator.w3.org

The assets are scattered over at least 5 locations, meaning the site suffers from increased latency and can’t benefit from recent enhancements like http2.

To add to the latency, many of the assets are not minified / compressed, and make up around 20% of the requests.

If you add all the assets on the page, you end up with a total size of 63.3MB. Try rendering that on a mobile with 3 bars of connection.

Region specific but still something you need to consider.

Like 10 seconds page load slow. Of course if the above items are fixed, things would be much improved.

Kudos to the mobile friendliness score tho!

If you have an issue with your site, you don’t want to wait 48Hrs+ before you get a response (weekends included, the web never sleeps).

I raised an issue with thegrid.io support yesterday about the performance of this site and was told

A kind human will get back to you in less than 24 hours.

Well I finally got a response after the weekend

Getting our load times down is a top priority coming up and should improve when we launch our new design system here in the coming weeks.

Sounds promising right!?

Take a look at the logo at the top of the page. You can’t see the text right? That’s because the colors chosen by the AI didn’t take into account the images on the page.

In fact, some text on the page is hard to read, due to the lack of contrast against the background.

High Tech meets Low Tech at the 2017 London AWSome Day

Happy New Year!


Home made Oliebollen! It's New Years Eve....

Concept2 PM5

My PM3 finally gave up the ghost the other day so I decided to take the plunge and shell out for a PM5. The Bluetooth link allows me to use the ErgData app to upload instantly to the logbook - plus I found a use for the old Nexus 4!

Now lets see if I can complete the Dog Days Challenge over the next few weeks...

Arrived just in time for the weekend!

That’s my Sunday sorted…

When it's raining outside….

And relax….

Picked this up on the way to completing the Dog Days Of Summer Challenge

Tower Bridge

Lunch by the river


Withdrawal by Wave2

I started this back in January and never got around to finishing it, like most tracks I make. I decided to upload as is to clean the canvas.