How to Leverage AWS for Web Developers with Adam Elmore

Episode Summary

Adam Elmore joins Corey to chat about all things AWS, including a course he’s creating for developers to help them learn how to leverage AWS for their businesses. Adam explains how his skills and thirst for knowledge led him to complete every certification that AWS offers in a mere six weeks, how he started contributing to the AWS CDK, and how he hopes to continue helping developers with AWS in the future.

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

About Adam

Adam is an independent cloud consultant that helps startups build products on AWS. He’s also the host of AWS FM, a podcast with guests from around the AWS community, and an AWS DevTools Hero.

Adam is passionate about open source and has made a handful of contributions to the AWS CDK over the years. In 2020 he created Ness, an open source CLI tool for deploying web sites and apps to AWS.

Previously, Adam co-founded StatMuse—a Disney backed startup building technology that answers sports questions—and served as CTO for five years. He lives in Nixa, Missouri, with his wife and two children.

Links Referenced:

Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Chief Cloud Economist at The Duckbill Group, Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.

Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I’m Corey Quinn. Every once in a while, I encounter someone in the wild that… well, I’ll just be direct, makes me feel a little bit uneasy, almost like someone’s walking over my grave. And I think I’ve finally figured out elements of what that is. It feels sometimes like I run into people—ideally not while driving—who are trying to occupy sort of the same space in the universe, and I never quite know how to react to that.

Today’s guest is just one such person. Adam Elmore is an independent AWS consultant, has been all over the Twitters for a while, recently started live streaming basically his every waking moment because he is just that interesting. Adam, thank you for suffering my slings and arrows—

Adam: [laugh].

Corey: —and agreeing to chat with me today.

Adam: I would say first of all, you don’t need to be worried about anyone walking over your grave. [laugh]. That was very flattering.

Corey: No, honestly, I have big enterprise companies looking to put me in my grave, but that’s a separate threat model. We’re good on that, for now.

Adam: [laugh]. I got to set myself up here to—I’m just going to laugh a lot, and your editor or somebody’s going to have to deal with that. And maybe the audience will see—[laugh].

Corey: Hey, I prefer that as opposed to talking to people who have absolutely no sense of humor of which they are aware. Awesome, I have a list of companies that they should apply for immediately. So, when I say that we’re trying to occupy elements of the same space in the universe, let me talk a little bit about what I mean by that. You are independent as a consultant, which is how I started this whole nonsense, and then I started gathering a company around me almost accidentally. You are an AWS Dev Tools Hero, whereas I am an AWS community villain, which is kind of a polar opposite slash anti-hero approach, and it’s self-granted in my case. How did you stumble into the universe of AWS? You just realized one day you were too happy and what can you do to make yourself miserable, and this was the answer, or what?

Adam: Yeah, I guess. So. I mean, I’ve been a software developer for 15 years, like, my whole career, that’s kind of what I’ve done. And at some point, I started a startup called StatMuse. And I was able, as sort of a co-founder there, with venture backing, like, I was able to just kind of play with the cloud.

And we deployed everything on AWS, so that was—like, I was there five years; it was sort of five years of running this, I would call it like a Digital Media Studio. Like, we built technology, but we did lots of experiments, so it felt like playing on AWS. Because we built kind of weird one-offs, these digital experiences for various organizations. The Hall of Fame was one of them. We did, like, a, like, a 3-D Talking bust of John Madden, so it was like all kinds of weird technology involved.

But that was sort of five years of, I guess, spending venture money [laugh] to play on AWS. And some of that was Google money; I guess I never thought about that, but Google was an investor in StatMuse. [laugh]. Yeah, so we sort of like—I ran that for five years and was able to learn just a lot of AWS stuff that really excited me. I guess, coming from normal web development stuff, it was exciting just how much leverage you have with AWS, so I sort of dove in pretty hard. And then yeah, when I left StatMuse in 2019 I’ve just been, I guess, going even harder into that direction. I just really enjoy it.

Corey: My first real exposure to AWS was at a company where the CTO was a, I guess we’ll call him an extraordinarily early cloud evangelist. I was there as a contractor, and he was super excited and would tweet nonsensical things like, “I’m never going to rack a server ever again.” And I was a grumpy sysadmin type; I came from the ops world where anything that is new shouldn’t be treated with disdain and suspicion because once you’ve been a sysadmin for 20 minutes, you’ve been there long enough to see today’s shiny new shit become tomorrow’s legacy garbage that you’re stuck supporting. So, “Oh, great. What now?”

I was very down on Cloud in those days and I encountered it with increasing frequency as I stumbled my way through my career. And at the end of 2016, I wound up deciding to go out independent and fix… well, what problems am I good at fixing that I can articulate in a sentence, and well, I’d gotten surprised by AWS bills from time to time—fortunately with someone else’s money; the best kind of mistake to make—and well I know a few things. Let’s get really into it. In time, I came to learn that cost and architecture the same thing in cloud, and now I don’t know how the hell to describe myself. Other people love to describe me, usually with varying forms of profanity, but here we are. It really turns into the idea of forging something of your own path. And you’ve absolutely been doing that for at least the last three years as you become someone who’s increasingly well known and simultaneously harder to describe.

Adam: Yeah, I would say if you figure it out, if you know how to describe me, I would love to know because just coming up with the title—for this episode you needed, like, my title, I don’t know what my title is. I’m also—like, we talked about independent, so nobody sort of gives me a title. I would love to just receive one if you think of one, [laugh] if anyone listening thinks of one… it’s increasingly hard to, sort of like, even decide what I care most about. I know I need to, like, probably niche down, I feel like you’ve kind of niched into the billing stuff. I can’t just be like, “I’m an AWS guy,” because AWS is so big. But yeah, I have no idea.

Corey: Anyone who claims, “Oh, I’m an expert in AWS,” is lying or trying to sell something.

Adam: [laugh]. Exactly.

Corey: I love that. It’s, “Really? I have some questions to establish that for you.” As far as naming what it is, you do, first piece of advice, never ever, ever, ever listen to someone who works at AWS; those people are awful at naming things, as evidenced by basically every service they’ve ever launched. But you are actually fairly close to being an AWS expert. You did a six-week speed-run through every certification that they offer and that is nothing short of astonishing. How’d it come about?

Adam: It’s a unique intersection of skills that I think I have. And I’m not very self-aware, I don’t know all my strengths and weaknesses and I struggle to sort of nail those down, but I think one of my strengths is just ability to, like, consume information, I guess at a high volume. So, I’m like an auditory learner; I can listen to content really fast and sort of retain enough. And then I think the other skill I have is just I’m good at tests. I’ve always said that, like, going back to school, like, high school, I always felt like I was really good at multiple-choice tests. I don’t know if that’s a skill or some kind of innate talent.

But I think those two things combined, and then, like, eight years of building on AWS, and that sort of frames how I was able to take all that on. And I don’t know that I really set out thinking I will do it in six weeks. I took the first few and then did them pretty fast and thought, “I wonder how quickly I could do all of them.” And I just kind of at that point, it became this sort of goal. I have to take on certain challenges occasionally that just sound fun for no reason other than they sound fun and that was kind of the thing for those six weeks. [laugh].

Corey: I have two certifications: Cloud Practitioner and the SysOps Administrator Associate. Those were interesting.

Adam: You took the new one, right? The new SysOps with the labs and stuff I’d love to hear about that.

Corey: I did, back when it was in beta. That was a really interesting experience and I’ll definitely get to that, but I wound up, for example, getting a question wrong in the Cloud Practitioner exam four years ago or so, when it was, “How long does it take to restore an RDS instance from backup?” And I gave the honest answer instead of the by-the-book, correct answer. That’s part of the problem is that I’ve been doing this stuff too long and I know how these things break and what the real world looks like. Certifications are also very much a snapshot at a point in time.

Because I write the Last Week in AWS newsletter, I’m generally up-to-the-minute on what has changed, and things that were not possible yesterday, suddenly are possible today, so I need to know when was this certification launched. Oh, it was in early 2021. Yeah, I needed to be a lot more specific; which week? And then people look at me very strangely and here we are.

The Systems Administrator Certification was interesting because this is the first one, to my knowledge, where they started doing a live lab as a—

Adam: Yeah.

Corey: Component of this. And I don’t think it’s a breach of the NDA to point out that one of the exams was, “Great. Configure CloudWatch out of the box to do this thing that it’s supposed to do out of the box.” And I’ve got to say that making the service do what it’s supposed to do with no caveats is probably the sickest shade I’ve ever seen anyone throw at AWS, like, configuring the service is so bad that it is going to be our test to prove you know what you’re doing. That is amazing.

Adam: [laugh]. Yeah, I don’t have any shade through I’m not as good with the, like, ability to come off, like, witty and kind while still criticizing things. So, I generally just try not to because I’m bad at it. [laugh].

Corey: It’s why I generally advise people don’t try, in seriousness. It’s not that people can’t be clever; it’s that the failure mode of clever is ‘asshole’ and I’m not a big fan of making people feel worse based upon the things that I say and do. It’s occasionally I wind up getting yelled at by Amazonians saying that the people who built a service didn’t feel great about something I said, and my instinctive immediate reaction is, “Oh, shit, that wasn’t my intention. How did I screw this up?” Given a bit of time, I realized that well hang on a minute because I’m not—they’re not my target audience. I’m trying to explain this to other customers.

And, on some level, if you’re going to charge tens of millions of dollars a month for a service or more, maybe make a better one, not for nothing. So, I see both sides of it. I’m not intentionally trying to cause pain, but I’m also not out here insulting people individually. Like, sometimes people make bad decisions, sometimes individually, sometimes in a group. And then we have a service name we have to live with, and all right, I guess I’m going to make fun of that forever. It’s fun that keeps it engaging for me because otherwise, it’s boring.

Adam: No, I hear you. No, and somebody’s got to do it. I’m glad you do it and do it so well because, I mean, you got to keep them honest. Like, that’s the thing. Keep AWS in check.

Corey: Something that I went through somewhat recently was a bit of an awakening. I have no problem revisiting old opinions and discovering that huh, I no longer agree with it; it’s time to evolve that opinion. The CDK specifically was one of those where I looked at it and thought this thing looks a little hokey. So, I started using it in Python and sure enough, the experience was garbage. So cool, the CDK is a piece of crap. There we go. My job is easy.

I was convinced to take a second look at it via TypeScript, a language I do not know and did not have any previous real experience with. So, I spent a few days just powering through it, and now I’m a convert. I think it’s amazing. It is my default go-to for building AWS infrastructure. And all it took was a little bit of poking and prodding to get me to change my mind on that. You’ve taken it to another level and you started actively contributing to the AWS CDK. What was your journey with that, honestly, remarkable piece of software?

Adam: Yeah, so I started contributing to CDK when I was actually doing a lot of Python development. So, I worked with a company that was doing—there was a Python shop. So actually, the first thing I contributed was a Python function construct, which is sort of the equivalent of the Node.js function construct, which like, you can just basically point at a TypeScript file and it transpiles it, bundles it, and does all that, right? So, it makes it easy to deploy TypeScript as a Lambda function.

Well, I mean, it ends up being a JavaScript Lambda function, but anyway, that was the Python function construct. And then I sort of got really into it. So, I got pretty hooked on using the CDK in every place that I could. I’m a huge fan, and I do primarily write in TypeScript these days. I love being able to write TypeScript front-end and back, so built a lot of, like, Next.JS front-ends, and then I’m building back-ends with CDK TypeScript.

Yeah, I’ve had, like, a lot of conversations about CDK. I think there’s definitely a group that’s sort of, against the CDK, if you’re thinking in terms of, like, beginners. And I do see where, for people who aren’t as familiar with AWS, or maybe this is their entry point into cloud development, it does a lot of things that maybe you’re not aware of that, you know, you’re now kind of responsible for. So, it’s deploying—like, it makes it really easy to write, like, three lines of TypeScript that stand up an entire VPC with all this configuration and Managed NAT Gateways and [laugh] everything else. And you may not be aware of all the things you just stood up.

So, CloudFormation maybe is a little more—sort of gives you that better visibility into what you’re creating. So, I’ve definitely seen that pushback. But I think for people who really, like, have built a lot of applications on AWS, I think the CDK is just such a time-saver. I mean, I spend so much less time building the same things in the CDK versus CloudFormation. I’m a big fan.

Corey: For me, I’ve learned enough about JavaScript to be dangerous and it seems like TypeScript is more or less trying to automate a bunch of people’s jobs away, which is basically, from I can tell, their job is to go on the internet and complain about someone’s JavaScript. So great, that that’s really all it does is it complains, “Oh, this ambiguous. You should be more specific about it.” And great. Awesome. I still haven’t gotten into scenarios where I’ve been caught out by typing issues, and very often I find that it just feels like sheer bloodymindedness, but I smile, nod, bend the knee and life goes on.

Adam: [laugh]. When you’ve got a project that’s, like, I don’t know, a few months old—or better, a few years old—and you need to do, like, major refactoring, that’s when TypeScript really saves you just a ton of time. Like, when you can make a change in a type or in actual implementation stuff and then see the ripple effects and then sort of go around the codebase and fix those things, it’s just a lot easier than doing it in JavaScript and discovering stuff at runtime. So, I’m a big TypeScript fan. I don’t know where it’s all headed. I know there’s people that are not fans of, like, transpiling your Lambda functions, for instance. Like, why not just ship good JavaScript? And I get that case, too. Yeah, but I’ve definitely—I felt the productivity boost, I guess—if that’s the thing—from TypeScript.

Corey: For me, I’m still at a point where I’m learning the edges of where things start and where they stop. But one of the big changes I made was that I finally, after 15 years, gave up my beloved Vim as my editor for this and started using VS Code. Because the reasons that I originally went with Vi were understandable when you realize what I was. I’m always going to be remoting into network gear or random—on maintained Unix boxes. Vi is going to be everywhere on everything and that’s fine.

Yeah, I don’t do that anymore, and increasingly, I find that everything I’m writing is local. It is not something that is tied to a remote thing that I need to login and edit by hand. At that point, we are in disaster area. And suddenly it’s nice. I mean things like tab completion, where it just winds up completing the rest of the variable name or, once you enable Copilot and absolutely not CodeWhisperer yet, it winds up you tab complete your entire application. Why not? It’s just outsourcing it to Stack Overflow without that pesky copy and paste step.

Adam: Yeah, I don’t know how in the weeds you want to get on your p—I don’t know, in terms of technical stuff, but Copilot both blows me away—there are days where it autocompletes something that I just, I can’t fathom how—it pulled in not just, like, the patterns that it found, obviously, in training, but, like, the context in the file I’m working and sort of figured out what I was trying to do. Sometimes it blows me away. A lot of times, though, it frustrates me because of TypeScript. Like, I’m used to Typescript and types saving me from typing a lot. Like, I can tab-complete stuff because I have good types defined, right, or it’s just inferred from the libraries I’m using.

It’s tough though when GitHub is fighting with TypeScript and VS Code. But it’s funny that you came from Vim and you now live in VS Code. I really am trying to move from VS Code to, like, the Vim world, mostly because of Twitch streamers that blow my mind with what they can do in Vim [laugh] and how fast they can move. I do—every time I move my hand, like, over to the arrow keys, I feel a little sad and I wish I just did Vim.

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Corey: There are people who have just made it into an entire lifestyle, on some level. And I’m fair to middling; I’ve known people who are dark wizards at it. In practice, I found that my productivity was never constrained by how quickly I can type. It’s one of those things where it’s, I actually want to stop and have my brain catch up sometimes, believe it or not, for those who follow me on Twitter. It’s the idea of wanting to make sure that I am able to intelligently and rationally wrap my head around what it is I’m doing.

And okay, just type out a whole bunch of boilerplate is, like, the least valuable use of anything and that is where I find things like Copilot working super well, where I, if I’m doing CloudFormation, for example, the fact that it tab-completes all the necessary attributes and can go back and change them or whatnot, that’s an enormous time saver. Same story with the CDK, although with some constructs, it doesn’t quite understand which ones get certain values to it. And I really liked the idea behind it. I think this is in some ways, the future of IDEs, to a point.

Adam: Oh, for sure. I think, like, the case, you call that with CloudFormation, you don’t have really typeahead in VS Code, at least I’m not using anything. Maybe there are extensions that give you that in VS Code. But to have Copilot fill in required prompts on a CloudFormation template, that’s a lifesaver. Because I just, every time I write CloudFormation, I’ve just got the docs up and I’m copying stuff I’ve done before or whatever; like, to save that time it’s huge. But CodeWhisperer, not so much? Is it not, I guess, up to snuff? I haven’t seen it or played with it at all.

Corey: It’s still very early days and it hasn’t had exposure outside of Amazonian codebases to my understanding, so it’s, like, “Learn to code like an Amazonian.” And you can fill in your own joke here on that one. I imagine it’s like—isn’t that—aren’t they primarily a Java shop, for one? And all right. It turns out most of my code doesn’t need to operate the way that there’s does.

Adam: I didn’t know that they were training it just internally. Like, I’m assuming Copilot is trained on, like, Stack Overflow or something, right? Or just all of GitHub, I guess.

Corey: And GitHub and a bunch of other things, and people are yelling at them for it, and I haven’t been tracking that. But honestly, the CodeWhisperer announcement taught me things about Copilot, which is weird, which tells me that none of these companies are great at explaining this. Like I can just write a comment in this of, “Add an S3 bucket,” and then Copilot will tab-complete the entirety of adding an S3 bucket, usually even secure, which is awesome. They also fix the early Copilot teething problems of tab-completing people’s AWS API credentials. You know, the—yeah, they’ve fixed a lot of that, thankfully.

Adam: Yeah.

Corey: But it’s still one of those neat things that you can just basically start—it gets a little bit closer to describe what you want the application to do and then it’ll automatically write it for you on the back-end. Sure, sometimes it makes naive decisions that do not bear out, but again, it’s still early days. I’m optimistic.

Adam: Yeah, that reminds me of, like, the, I mean, the serverless cloud, so serverless framework folks, like, what they’re doing where they’re sort of inferring your infrastructure based on you just write an app and it sort of creates the infrastructure as code for you, or just sort of infers it all from your code. So, if you start using a bucket, it’ll create a bucket for that. That definitely seems to be a movement as well, where just do less as a developer [laugh] seems to be the theme.

Corey: Yeah, just move up the stack. We see this time and time again. I mean, look at the—I use this analogy from time to time from the sysadmin world, but in the late-90s, if you wanted to build a web server, you needed a spare week and an intimate knowledge of GCC compiler flags. In time, it became oh, great, now it’s rpm install, then yum install, then ensure present with something like Puppet, and then Docker has it, and now it’s just a checkbox on the S3 page, and you’re running a static site. Things don’t get harder with time, and I don’t think that as a developer, your time is best spent writing by hand the proper syntax for a for loop or whatnot.

It’s not the differentiated value. Talk to me instead about what you want that thing to do. That was my big problem with Lambda when it first came out and I spent two weeks writing my first Lambda function—because I’m bad at programming—where I had to learn the exact format of expected for input and output, and now any Lambda function I write takes me a couple of minutes to write because I’m also bad at programming and don’t know what tests are.

Adam: [laugh]. Tests are overrated, I don’t spend a lot of time writing t—I mean, I do a lot of stuff alone and I do a lot of stuff for myself, so in those contexts, I’m not writing tests if I’m being honest. I stream now and everyone on the stream is constantly asking, “Where are the tests?” Like, there are no tests. I’m sorry. [laugh]. Was someone else’s stream.

Corey: Oh yeah, it used to be though, that you had to be a little sneakier to have other people do work for you. Copilot makes it easier and presumably CodeWhisperer will, too. Used to be that if AWS launched new service and I didn’t know how to configure it, all I would do is restrict a role down to only being able to work with that service, attach that to a user and then just drop the credentials on Twitter or GitHub. And I waited 20 minutes and I came back and sure enough, someone configured it and was already up and mining Bitcoin. So, turn that off, take what they built, and off the production with it. Problem solved. Oh, and rotate those credentials, unless you enjoy pain. Problem solved. The end. And I don’t know if it’s a best practice, but it sure was effective.

Adam: Yeah, that would do it. Well, they’re just like scanners now, right, like they’re just scanning GitHub public repos for any credentials that are leaked like that, and they’re available within seconds. You can literally, like, push a public repo with credentials and it is being [laugh] used within minutes. It’s nuts.

Corey: GitHub has some automatic back channel thing—I believe; I haven’t done an experiment lately, but I believe that AWS will intentionally shoot down the credential as soon as it gets reported, which is kind of amazing. I really should do some more experiments with it just to see how disastrous this can get.

Adam: Yeah. No, I’d be curious. Please let me know. I guess you’ll tweet about it so I’ll see it.

Corey: Can I borrow your account for a few minutes?

Adam: Yeah. [laugh].

Corey: Yeah, it’s fun. Now, the secret to my 17 Ways to Run Containers On AWS is in almost every case, those containers can be crypto miners, so it’s not just about having too many services do the same thing; it’s the attack surface continues to grow and expand in the fullness of time. I’m not saying this is right or wrong; it is what it is, but it’s also something that I think people have an understated appreciation for.

Let’s change topic a little bit. Something you’ve been doing lately and talking about is the idea of building a course on AWS. You’re clearly capable of doing the engineering work. That’s not in question. You’ve been a successful consultant for years, which tells me you also know how to deliver software that meets customer requirements, as opposed to, “Well, the spec was shitty, but I wrote it anyway,” because you don’t last long as a consultant if you enjoy being able to afford to eat if that’s the direction you go in. Now, you’re drifting toward becoming a teacher. Tell me about that. First, what makes you think that’s something you’re good at?

Adam: So, I don’t know. I don’t know that I’m good at it and I guess I’ll find out. I’ve been streaming, like, on Twitch just my work days, and that’s been early signs that I think I’m okay at it, at least. I think it’s very different, obviously, like, a self-paced course are going to be very different from streaming for hours, so there’s a lot more editing and thoughtfulness involved, but I do think, like, I’ve always wanted to teach. So, even before I got into technology—I was pretty late into technology; it was after high school. Like back in high school, I always thought I wanted to be a professor.

I just enjoyed, I guess the idea of presenting ideas in ways that people understood. And I live in an area—so I live in the Ozarks, it’s not a very tech literate area. It became, like, this thing where I felt like I could really explain technology to people who are non-technical. And that’s not necessarily what my course—what I’m aiming to do. I’m trying to teach web developers how to leverage AWS, and then sort of get out of the maybe front-end only or maybe traditional web frameworks—like, they’ve only worked with stuff that they deploy to Heroku or whatever—trying to teach that crowd, how to leverage AWS and all these wonderful primitives that we have.

So, that’s not exactly the same thing, but that’s sort of like, I feel like I do have the ability to translate technology to non-technical folks. And then I guess, like, for me, at this stage of my career, you know, I’ve done a lot of work for a company, for startups, for individual clients, and it feels very, like—I just always feel like I’m going in a hole. Like, I feel like, I’m doing this little thing and I’m serving this one customer, but the idea of being able to, I guess, serve more people and sort of spread my reach, the idea of creating something that I can share with a lot of developers who would maybe benefit from it, it just feels better, I guess. [laugh]. I don’t know exactly all the reasons why that feels better, but like, at the end of the day, my consulting kind of feels like this thing I do because I just need money.

And now that I need money less and less, I just feel like I’d rather do stuff that I actually am excited about. I’m actually really excited about the outcomes for creating a course where, you know, I think I can maybe—my style of teaching or something could resonate with some group of people. Yeah, so that’s it. It’s AWS for web devs. The thought is that I’m going to create courses after this. Like, I hope to move into more education, less consulting. That’s where I’m at.

Corey: I would say you’re probably selling yourself fairly short. I’ve seen a lot of the content you’ve put out over the years and I learned a lot from it every time. I think that there are some folks who put courses out where, one, they don’t have the baseline knowledge around what it is that they’re teaching, it just feels like a grift, and another failure mode is that people know how to do the thing, but they have no idea how to teach it to someone who isn’t them. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with not knowing how to teach; it is its own distinct skill. The problem is when you don’t recognize that about yourself and in turn, wind up having some somewhat significant challenges.

Adam: Yeah. No, I know that one of the struggles is, I work with pretty obscure technologies on AWS. Not obscure, but like, I have a very specific way I build APIs on AWS and I don’t know that’s generally, if you’re taking a bunch of web developers and trying to move them into AWS is probably not the stack that I use. So, that is part of it, but that’s also kind of to my benefit, I guess. It works for me a little bit in that I’m less familiar with maybe the more beginner-friendly way to enter into AWS.

It’s been years, so I think I can kind of come at it a little fresh and that’ll help me produce a course that maybe meets them where they’re at better. Yeah, the grifting thing, I’m definitely sensitive to just this idea of putting out a course. It was hard for me to really go out there and say I was making a course, even on Twitter, because I just feel like there’s, like, some stereotype—I don’t know, there’s an association with that, for me at least, for my perception of course creation. But I know that there are people who’ve done it right and do it for the right reasons. And I think to the extent that I could hit that, you know, both those things, do it right and do it for the right reasons, then it’s exciting to me. And if I can’t, and it turned out not good at teaching, then I’ll move on and do more consulting, I guess, [laugh] or streaming on Twitch.

Corey: You are very clearly self-aware enough that if you put something out and it isn’t effective, I have zero doubt that you won’t just stop selling it, you’ll take it down and reach out to people. Because you, more so than most, seem very cognizant of the fact that a poor experience learning something does not in most people’s cases, translate to, “Oh, my teacher is shitty.” Instead, it’s, “Oh, I’m bad at this and I’m not smart enough to figure it out.” That’s still the problem I run into with bad developer experience on a bunch of things that get launched. If I have a bad time, I assume it’s, “Oh, I’m stupid. I wish someone had told me.”

And first, they did, secondly, it’s the sense that no, it’s just not being very clearly explained and the folks who wrote the documentation or talking about it are too close to what they’ve built to understand what it’s like to look at this thing from fresh eyes. They’re doing a poor job of setting the stage to explain the value it brings and in what scenario, you should be using this.

Adam: It’s a long process. I want to launch the course in the fall, but in the process of building out the course, I’m really going to be doing workshops and individual—like, I just have a lot of friends that are web developers and I’m going to be kind of getting on with them and teaching them this material and just trying to see what resonates. I’m going to a lot of trouble, I guess, to make sure I’m not just putting out a thing just to say I made a course. Like, I don’t actually want to say I made a course, so if I’m going to do it, it’s like most things I do I really kind of throw myself into. And I know if I spend enough energy and effort, I think I can make something that at least helps some people. I guess we’ll see.

Corey: I look forward to it. Any idea as far as rough timeline goes?

Adam: Yeah, I hope to launch in the fall. But if it takes longer, I don’t know. I’ve heard people say, to do a course right, you should spend a year on it. And maybe that’s what I do.

Corey: No, I love that answer. It’s great. You’re just saying I want to launch in the fall, which is sufficiently vague, and if that winds up not being vague enough, you could always qualify with, “Well, I didn’t say what year.”

Adam: [laugh].

Corey: So, great you know, it’s always going to be the fall somewhere.

Adam: [laugh]. I just know, like, when someone says you should spend a year I just do things very hard. Like I really, like, throw a lot of time and obsess, like, I’m very obsessive. And when I do something, it’s hard for me imagine doing any one thing for a year because I burn myself out. Like, I obsess very hard for usually, like, three months, it’s usually, like, a quarter, and then I fall off the face of the earth for three months and I basically mope around the house and I’m just too tired to do anything else. So, I think right now I’m streaming and that’s kind of been my obsession. I’m three weeks in so we got a few more months and then we’ll see, [laugh] we’ll see how I maintain it.

Corey: Well, I look forward to seeing how it comes out. You’ll have to come back and let us know when it’s ready for launch.

Adam: Yeah, that sounds great.

Corey: I really want to thank you for being so generous with your time and taking me through what you’re up to. If people want to learn more, what’s the best place for them to find you?

Adam: Yeah, I think Twitter. I mean, I mostly hang out on Twitter, and these days Twitch. So, Twitter my handle—I guess you’ll put it, like, in the thing description or something. It’s like the phonetic—

Corey: Oh, we will absolutely toss it into the show notes, where useful content goes to linger.

Adam: [laugh]. It’s like A-E-D-U-H-M. It’s like a—it’s the phonetic way of saying Adam, I guess. And then on Twitch, I’m adamelmore. So, those are the two places I spend most my time.

Corey: And off to the show notes it goes. Thank you so much for being so generous with your time. I really appreciate it, Adam.

Adam: Thank you so much for having me, Corey. I really appreciate it.

Corey: Adam Elmore, independent AWS consultant. I’m Cloud Economist Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice, whereas if you’ve hated this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice along with an insulting comment that attempts to teach us exactly what we got wrong, but fails utterly because you’re terrible at teaching things.

Corey: If your AWS bill keeps rising and your blood pressure is doing the same, then you need The Duckbill Group. We help companies fix their AWS bill by making it smaller and less horrifying. The Duckbill Group works for you, not AWS. We tailor recommendations to your business and we get to the point. Visit to get started.

Announcer: This has been a HumblePod production. Stay humble.
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