Using EC2 to (re)Distribute “Repurposed Virtualities”

They give everyone the power to create their own version of Windows and share it with others. Granted, that’s not the kind of thing too many non-techies, or even techies, wake up in the morning with an overwhelming desire to do. But why not? I’m still getting used to the idea of creating my own versions of Windows, haven’t even released anything yet. But since everything I’m building is open source, there’s no reason someone couldn’t take my package, make some changes, and then redistribute it with their customizations. Trust obviously becomes a pretty important issue here.

via Scripting News: Caprica and repurposed virtualities.

This sounds a lot like what already goes on in the EC2 community around public AMIs. If you take a look at the list of public AMIs (over 4,000 at this point) you’ll see that many are bundles of the OS with one or more application packages. For examlple Drupal and Asterisk AMIs are easy to find. Most the public AMIs are Linux-based, but nearly 300 use Windows as the core OS.
I’ve done this sort of thing building a Linux AMI that started with a base image from RightScale to which I added Apache, MySQL, PHP, Drupal, and more configured to work together. Once I saved the AMI, I had a proto-type server that I could use to quickly scale up our web cluster. I’ve also shared the AMI with colleagues interested in getting started with Drupal.
So, having an AMI that contains Dave’s work is certainly doable and an excellent idea. I, for one, would certainly try it out.

links for 2010-02-26

  • DigiD stands for Digital Identity and is a system shared between cooperating governmental agencies, allowing to digitally authenticate the identity of a person who applies for a transaction service via internet. With increasing numbers of public authority offices implementing the DigiD system, it is easy to begin using their range of electronic services after first choosing your own login code (user's name and password) at In short: DigiD provides users with a personalised login code for the full spectrum of contact with various governmental bodies.
  • Sudo module allows administrators to use the site primarily as a normal user but add permissions to their account as needed for the performance of administrative tasks. Unlike user-switching modules (masquerade, impersonate user, devel's switch user), Sudo accomplishes this by toggling a configurable set of permissions on the current user's account. This is useful not only for testing a site but also on production sites, in cases when it is desirable for administrators to use the site both as a normal user and as an administrator and yet all activity must come from the same account.

Are You Being Captured by the Tech Industry?

The moral of the story of the Facebook patent and all the recent news fromApple and Google: Tech companies are no better or worse than big companies in other industries.

They are all about keeping the stock price high, growing at the expense of their competitors, and the role of users is the same as customers in other industries, you’re a source of revenue.

via Scripting News: Big change in the tech world.

Dave has a number of good points in this article. He points out that the tech industry is becoming no different from the airline, insurance, and health care industries: large and motivated strictly by preserving profit and stock price. Users are merely a source of revenue, customer service falls away to a bare minimum, and you are locked in to their services.

Is there anything you can do? Sure. Get control of your data and services. Find providers that don’t lock you in and capture your data, pay them for their services. Keep local back ups on media you own. Remember, all those digital photo, videos, blog posts, emails, assorted documents, are your personal property. Treat them like you would physical artifacts.

links for 2010-02-23

  • Have you ever wished that Cookies were a lot bigger so you could store more data on the client, or that you could make cross-domain Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax) calls? If so, you are in luck. Both of these techniques can be accomplished using invisible Flash. So, just what is invisible Flash? It is not really invisible, however, it is 1 pixel by 1 pixel, which makes it pretty hard to see. And, it can be used as a way to tap into the capabilities of the Flash Player. In this article, you will learn how to build invisible Flash files that let you to store up to 100 KB of client-side data and make cross-domain Ajax calls — all without your users ever knowing that Flash is being used.