Why I failed and what I’d do differently next time

Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash

At the start of this month (June 2021) I set out on a challenge: to publish thirty articles in thirty days. Now, at the end of the month, how did I do? Well… I failed. I only managed to write & publish about one article every other day. Including this one, I wrote thirteen articles. Just under half of my goal of thirty. Not great. In this article I’ll look at what went wrong, share some of the results I did achieve, and explore what I’d do differently next time.

What went wrong? The underlying difficulty I had was getting…


Three books on computing, hardware, and information everyone should read

It’s good to know a bit of history. The past influences us in the present and helps inform our future. Computers being a big part of the modern world, it’s healthy to have some background understanding of how we got all these fancy toys, and a bit how they work. The three books in this article explore the topic of computers and information and will leave you with a much better understanding of how the hardware in your phone works, and some of the key people in history who helped make it happen.


Exploring the similarities between the land of fondue and sushi island

Definitely Hyrule. Or maybe Wartau, Switzerland.

For seven years I lived in Tokyo, Japan. More often than not, when I revealed to a Japanese person that I originated from Switzerland, I’d be told something along the lines of, “Ahhh. Swissu! That’s the Japan of Europe.” To many Japanese, Switzerland reminds them of Japan.

Last year I moved back to Switzerland — my first time living here as an adult, and the “Switzerland is the Japan of Europe” thing has been rattling around in my head since. Although this is certainly somewhat of a generalization, in more ways than one there does seem to be some truth…


How I develop AWS Lambda functions locally using a test-first approach

Photo by Lars Kienle on Unsplash

In this article I share an approach I use regularly to develop AWS Lambda functions (and other serverless projects) locally. It assumes a basic familiarity with AWS Lambda or a similar “serverless” service. The article will first introduce the approach, and then walk through a short example making use of it.

I’ve frequently seen other developers use the “guess and check” approach to AWS Lambda function development: Write some code; deploy and wait a long time; invoke the function; check the result; repeat. This isn’t that surprising given how many guides to developing AWS Lambda functions have you repeatedly deploying…


A mechanical calculator based on the Leibniz Wheel

You are asked to multiply together 731 and 379. How do you do it? Maybe you ask Alexa, Siri, or Google. You might reach for your phone. Maybe you have an abandoned calculator laying around. Or, perhaps you momentarily think about pulling out paper and pencil, before laughing at the ridiculousness of the thought. But, what you probably don’t reach for is a pocket-sized canister containing a mechanical calculating machine. But not all that long ago, in the 1950s, you might have.

Produced between 1948 and 1972 by Contina AG, the Curta was such a pocket-sized mechanical calculating machine. Invented…


Eight out of thirty articles written

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Two weeks ago I set out on a writing challenge: I would write thirty articles within the thirty days in June — a “30 days, 30 articles” writing challenge. I am now half way through my self-inflicted challenge. How am I doing? In this article I’ll evaluate my progress and share some observations thus far.

I had a few reasons why I wanted to do this challenge. I wanted:

  • to decrease my perfectionism. By being somewhat forced to write an article each day, I have to lower my standards and not fret over little imperfections. …


Three odd quick-reads that will leave you scratching your head.

Book covers collage
Book covers collage

Sometimes it’s nice to have a short book to read which can be finished in an afternoon. In this article I share three short and rather different books. What do these books have in common? Well, they’re all short, and they leave you scratching your head a bit, wondering “Huh…?” These books won’t be the ones seen on any top 10 list, but somehow they’ve each left a lasting impression on me.


Create a simple animated winners’ podium from scratch using React and Framer Motion

Gamification! … was a buzzword a few years ago. Despite that, it’s still common to find gamified elements in Apps and SaaS products today — game elements like points, rankings against others, etc. In this article we’re going to look at how we can create a winners’ podium that animates winners one by one for added dramatic effect. We’ll be using React and an open source library called Motion. At the end of this article you’ll see how simple it is to build something with fancy animations. I’ll assume that you have no more than basic React experience.

We’ll do the podium together, then you can try the cards in the bottom half!

Framer Motion


Three different recommendations to broaden your perspective

Summer is here! Whether you’re spending your summer holidays at home in a Staycation, or off in your isolated cabin deep in the mountains, here are three books you might consider bringing along to keep you entertained during your downtime. Each one covers a completely different topic and might help broaden your perspective.


Setting the burst and rate throttling limits on an AWS API Gateway REST API’s Stage without any 3rd-party plugins using Serverless

Editing a Stage’s default method throttling limits in the AWS API Gateway Console. This is what we want to configure via Serverless.

In this article, we’ll look at how one can set the default method burst and rate throttling limits on an AWS API Gateway REST API’s Stage without using any 3rd-party plugins or dependencies. We’ll assume at least some familiarity with Serverless and AWS CloudFormation.

The Serverless Framework allows us to configure many settings through the provider section of a serverless.yml file. For example, you can configure the usage plan for your API which allows you to set request throttling limits on each API client (API key) you create. However, not all API Gateway settings are exposed by Serverless. …

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