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Final Thoughts – The Labs

I’d just like to document some of the final thoughts I’ve had about these labs that we’ve done this semester. This is more for the benefit of those taking the class in the future, specifically those who are doing the Amazon EC2 labs.

One thing I did, which has saved me who-knows-how-much time was using a dynamic dns service for my servers. I had one for each of my three major servers (web server, listing server, submit server) which allowed me to hard code my calls during testing. Not only did I not have to refresh as much to get my server, but it also saved me when the submit service load balancer started having problems during the past two (or more?) weeks. Scott Chun has a good description of how to set up your server to register with’s dynamic hostname service. Read about it here.

One thing I would have done differently would be to store those URLs in a config file (elementary 240 stuff) so I’d only have to change it in one place to make the switch from hard-coded to load-balanced.

Something that was mentioned several times in class, and I would still love to see a tutorial on how to do this, was an alternative to frequent image persisting. Especially for minor script changes I didn’t realize I needed until having started the persist process, heaven knows I’ve had more of those than I needed. The solution is to have your server automatically check out the files it needs from a CVS/SVN repository on startup. I’m only an amateur shell scripter, but I assume there are two things the script would need to do. 1) check out the files. 2) make sure they have the correct permissions. Anyway, this would have been a real time saver.

It would have been fun to get a little experience with Pound in the labs. That’s the only thing in the entire process that I don’t feel I could go off and do right now. Sam says it’s pretty simple to figure out, I guess I’ll be finding out in a couple weeks when I’m off on my own to try it.

This class has really been an enjoyable experience. Earlier in the semester when I gave up on Python, I thought I’d feel some remorse at the end for not having stuck with it. Well, I don’t. The architectural concepts the labs have illustrated really do transcend the languages used, and I’m glad I didn’t get so bogged down in the language that I missed the point (that’s the reason for scrapping the EJB labs, right?). One thing I do regret is that Sam isn’t making us use a template for our demonstration for Jeff Barr. Speaking of that, Nathan, you’d have gotten my vote for best design. Did anyone else have a design for consideration?

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