Greg Tyler

Weeknotes: 6th January 2020

Published on 11th January 2020

This week I wrote my first Lambda.

I’ve always thought of Lambda’s as one of AWS’s signature features. It’s one of the first I heard about and it really exemplifies what makes AWS differ from a traditional virtual hosting provider. Admittedly it’s not really a unique feature any more (Azure and GCP have their own alternatives), but it was an eye-opener to me when I first heard about the modern public cloud.

For the uninitiated, Lambdas/Functions are simple scripts which are run on-demand and you’re only charged for the execution time. They’re perfect for uncommon, intensive tasks so you can effectively pop open a server for 30 seconds every few hours as needed.

Anyway, I’ve never written one and we haven’t used them in any products I’ve worked on. That is, until this week, when I’ve written a very simple Lambda to restart one of our services on a semi-regular basis (which sounds as iffy as it is, but is due to reliance on a third-party image).

This has slightly been a rite of passage, and a good thing to cross off my personal development list, but it also indicates a growing confidence with cloud hosting and ability to just muck in with such things. Very exciting indeed.

We’re in the post-winter-break period now, in which everyone can freely shrug off responsibility for two weeks by saying they’re still getting into the swing of it. That might sound critical, but I genuinely like that we can all pick our own pace right now. It’s famously a bad time of the year for mental and physical health, and being able to pair that with a little self-care in your workload is really powerful.

My team has taken what I think is a very reasonable approach to our first sprint of the year: we’re fixing a bunch of bugs and “the basics” to make sure we’re in a good place to support our service and introduce bigger features. We’re also having a session next week to redefine what the service does, so we can better prioritise and align our work. Hopefully by the end of the month we’ll be designing and building high-quality unblocked work that’s really helpful to our users.