Using a public Amazon EC2 Image on your account

Recently I have been in the need of having an image of Amazon Web services EC2 (Stand for Elastic Computing). Amazon was a pioneer in the offer of VPS, other companies have step up like Rackspace, Microsoft and Google.

However one thing that I most say is that Web Services from Amazon is a bit confusing if you are new into having to launch an image. The Dashboard just show you too much, that might get you confused.

Amazon web service dashboard
Amazon web service dashboard

So to start using it, can be a major task. Here is a quick follow through instructions on how to get an instance running without breaking a sweat:

  1. Go to EC2
  2. Under Images, select AMI
  3. Change the filter from Owned by me to Public Images
  4. Go through the description of the thousands of images available. Once you find the one you want, check the ID which should be something like: ami-asd1312
  5. Select it and Launch
  6. This will take you to a wizard to configure your instance from that AMI (Amazon Image)
  7. The final step is to connect to your instance, you do this by selecting the Public DNS and the user which would depend on the distro you are using. For example, ubuntu for ubuntu, fedora for fedora, and user1 for Amazon Linux.

That’s it, once connected you will be able to ssh into the machine and be able to operate it. Althought as you can see this is only once service, there are many ways to configure your instances and this will only be a first step to jump into what Amazon offers you.

Remember this is a paid service and that you are being billed, so make sure to keep an eye on your configurations, budgets and how you treat your VMS.

The help files give you instructions on how to install a regular LAMP server and how to configure it the way you want it.

Python on the College Scene

Python is the most frequently taught programming language in introductory computer science classes. There are many universities and colleges training students in Python, as well as many online classes to help introduce new people to coding, via Python.

Not sure if I would see this coming soon to universities around the world like Latin America and Africa, but I hope that there is a change of heart at the universities and start pushing innovation.

pyuniversities

New Linux distros

Looking into the transformation on the Linux side, with micro-distros like Qubes OS, and CoreOS. Looking into my new laptop to get the distros installed and configured. qubes

And with the other layout:
cluster

Great development on different sides, making the resources optimized into performance.

Re-thinking Math

KDE algebraic calculator with visualization in 2 and 3D.
KDE algebraic calculator with visualization in 2 and 3D.

This is an idea and argument that have been prominent meeting with other geeks and people that have had certain success in science. The teaching and use of math in today’s society is pretty low. People complain that people on the street is in need of a calculator even for simple calculations. Also the lack of a mathematical brain, makes people less able to solve everyday problems.

This come in a time that I am teaching someone close to me, pre-calculus as I get the chance to remember some of the things that at the time, seemed so confusing. The funny part is that even thought I believe they are still somewhat confusing, the way the math is being taught also tells me that many of the issues with math depends on the weak links in the chain of understanding the process.

These holes in the process make people less enthusiastic about math. Math problems usually were mainly about the process of solving issues through several steps of calculation. Miss one of these steps and the result will most certainly be wrong. Of course this is nothing new, we can see all these with simple math examples like making a double digit sum, if the first one is wrong, the result will also be wrong.

My proposal is to re-think the problem and maybe take it from a higher level view. Instead of focusing in the process, really target the result. For that, we should let some of the things that stop us from doing that, example, the process. Learning to get results and positive results might be a better motivator than the constant failure of figuring out through quirked processes. Another major idea we should get over  is rethink the whole technology dependency. In all honestly we are dependent of technology for almost everything, transportation, cooking, shitting, entertaining etc. So I don’t see anything wrong with having to depend on technology to calculate. After all, thats usually what technology really has taken over.

However the answer is not just to use a calculator and be done with it. but actually excel in calculating things. That means not only really learning how to use a calculator but other tools like spreadsheets, and of course advanced mathematical models. This basically offer a whole new set of challenges, because we would focus on conceptualizing the mathematical formulas and types of calculations technology offers us.

As a Linux user is really amazing how much mathematic-centric software is there available for every distro. From 3D graphical calculators like Kalgebra to programing language modules ready to be used, like Python’s Numpy. If you are not a Linux user and all you have is Excel, you can spend a good 2 month studying the functions including in the package, as an OpenOffice developer I can give you a hint to see the ones in OpenOffice Calc here. You can see how many of these you have no idea how to use and probably will say that you have no idea why would you ever need it, and that’s the third part of the problem. Inheriting a mathematical education that function in the terms of concepts, there could be a lot of time devoted to inserting the concepts into everyday life.

Sure, you aren’t and probably won’t be an engineer, but at the same time, there should be more people with an engineer means so that engineers can actually move up the scale to think more advanced areas of the knowledge in math for calculating things. In all, I would prefer lessons like Khan Academy to devote to understanding a calculator, drill on those Calc/Excel functions and also more programmatic lessons whenever on Python or Javascript.

In the end, society itself would be able to be less intimidated by math as well as using more math into their daily life. Being able to use a larger percentage of their calculators will make people perform more complex calculations and eventually demand a more calculative data, like stats, analytics and such.