A story of a web server installation

A recent interaction with AWS support reminded me of something that happened to me and a co-worker some years ago in a previous job. The people and companies in the story have been anonymized, but I’m “Eric”.


I (“Eric”) worked for the online development team of a large media company (The Company) “somewhere in Europe”. Some years ago our IT infrastructure was outsourced to India to The Service Provider, since “it’s cheaper to have them maintain our infrastructure”.

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Fallout Pip-Boy 2000 Mk.I replica – Part 4: Very small details

I’ve noticed before that this build has some issues with scale, but now it’s really hitting home. Some of the details are ridiculously fiddly.

Starting with the faux vacuum tubes; Not too bad, just smaller than any real vacuum tubes would be, and even then they aren’t actually fully shown from behind the grill.

Plastic test tubes + LED + resistor + fine mesh + 3D printed base = Faux vacuum tube.
The two finished “vacuum tubes” with an earlier prototype on the right.
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Fallout Pip-Boy 2000 Mk.I replica – Part 3: Iteration and some results

Current state of the project
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AccessDeniedException: Access to KMS is not allowed

So that happened. And I spent much longer than should’ve been necessary to figure it out. What I was trying to do was this:

  • Create a symmetric AWS KMS CMK
  • Use that to generate a couple of asymmetric key pairs
  • Save those key pairs to Secrets Manager, using the above CMK as the encryption key

I’d already set the following permissions:

kms:GenerateDataKeyPairWithoutPlaintext
secretsmanager:DescribeSecret
secretsmanager:CreateSecret

What I had neglected was the fact that Secrets Manager needs permissions to use the CMK. Adding these two helped:

kms:GenerateDataKey
kms:Decrypt

This is documented in https://docs.aws.amazon.com/kms/latest/developerguide/services-secrets-manager.html , under “Authorizing Use of the CMK”.

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Fallout 1/2 style Pip-Boy 2000 replica – Part 2: More design

I’ve added some more detail. Now I think this is getting to stage where there will be no more major changes, and where the next prints will the final pieces.

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Fallout 1/2 style Pip-Boy 2000 replica – Part 1: Design

Here’s another one of my projects that has been on the back burner for quite a while: A replica Pip-Boy 2000, as originally seen in Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics (with minor differences). I’m designing the prop in Blender, and mostly 3d-printing the parts. The Pip-Boy will be powered by a Raspberry Pi with a 5″ LCD.

Current design – front side
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DYI Pong console based on Arduino and an RGB LED matrix

The finished product

TL;DR: It’s a dedicated desktop Pong console for two players. An Arduino Uno provides the brains, and an Adafruit 16×32 RGB LED matrix the display. The only inputs are two potentiometers connected to two of the analog inputs left free by the LED matrix. There are a couple of pins still available, and initially thought I’d use them to add a push button for each player, but decided to go with a minimal user interface instead. Continue reading

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Free download of Savage Industries EDC One and EDC Two plans

It looks like no-one has yet taken advantage of the CC-BY-NC-SA licence under which Adam Savage kindly licenced his plans for the EDC One and EDC Two bags. I’m not planning on making one of the bags anytime soon, but I did want to take a look at the plans. Since I couldn’t find a free download anywhere, I decided to buy the plans and share them here:

EDC ONE
EDC TWO

If you do download a free copy to take a look, and then decide to make a bag, please consider buying the plans as well. It’s only $5 US, after all. And if you make something, don’t forget to share what you’ve made with the world!

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Explicit workspaces for Terraform

NOTE 2019-06-26: The original way this check worked with Terraform 11 no longer works with Terraform 12, as v12 checks that attribute names are valid. The code has been updated accordingly. Instead of a null resource, we now use a local_file data source with Terraform 12.

I’ve recently begun working with Terraform at work to move our infrastructure definitions to code. Like a lot of companies, we have some legacy applications that either have never been re-installed, or have been re-installed using a very long and usually outdated README or other document. Using a tool like Terraform and moving infrastructure into code makes re-installing a system much easier.

TL;DR: How do I make it work?

Workspaces

Terraform’s workspaces are designed to keep different environments (dev/production) separate. Mostly workspaces seem to work fine; For example, it’s quite easy to automatically select the correct variables based on the current workspace.

However, workspaces don’t keep the environments quite as separate as I’d like. Once you select a workspace, Terraform won’t go out of its way to remind you about which workspace you’re on. It’s only a matter of time before this happens: Continue reading

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Custom 3D-printed King of Tokyo monsters

What could be better than being a giant monster and beating other giant monsters into submission? Well, clearly, being a giant monster that isn’t represented by a cheap piece of printed cardboard with a small plastic base, but instead a good sized solid three-dimensional plastic figurine! Unfortunately, the Internet has been lacking in the department of 3D-printable King of Tokyo monsters, so I set out to deal with the issue.
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