In case you missed it, yesterday I was more than a bit pissed off at Amazon AWS S3. Actually, I hope you did miss it, because I was wrong and they were right, and I lashed out in frustration.
Here’s what I though happened: Out of the blue, Amazon S3 changed something so and neither Pat (who does the audio engineering/uploading of each of our podcasts) nor I could set the permissions on the latest show to public, and we were screwed. Not having a way to get tech support other than buying the “Silver” support plan that at least let me put in a support ticket, I did so. Response time was decent, but not solving the problem.
What really happened: “It was the open source java app that I use… inadvertently switched from 0.7.1 to 0.8.0 in the move to the new computer,” Pat confirmed late last night, and that new version doesn’t like the beta of IE9. It wasn’t Pat’s fault – he was pushing (and being pushed by yours truly) to get the show up even though he was about to do a presentation at the Business of Software Conference in Boston. It was my fault.
Four other points worth mentioning:

  • Kudos to Mike Culver, AWS Evangelist. At the height of my frustration, I reached out to Mike Culver. I’d met Mike a few years back at a European Software Conference (Why go to conferences anymore? The people you meet.) He reached out immediately to the AWS tech working the problem, got involved and boiled the tech’s 731 words of AWS-speak down to: “So when Pat tries to set permissions, are you certain that he is logging in to S3 with the same credentials that he used to upload the object? A lot of these third-party tools make it easy to switch accounts by clicking on a drop-down list, and I am asking the questions to verify that he didn’t accidentally switch.”That’s when I realized this was my bad. And to top it off: Mike was in London at the time, so all this was happening in the middle of the night for him. That’s dedication and professionalism above and beyond the call of business duty.
  • Kudos to Jason A., Amazon Web Services. Going over the ticket history, Jason was professional, courteous and knowledgeable, and I was not.
  • Give tech support people permission to tell you you are an idiot. If I had said at the beginning, “Jason, be blunt and tell me if I’m being an idiot,” and he had said, “Bob, we run a gazillion S3 instances! 99 out of a hundred times it’s a bug or a config issue in the client you are using – that why we built our own console! And, you are being an idiot,” the podcast would have been out yesterday.
  • We don’t speak the same language anymore. There used to be a time in this business where people spoke either Windows, Mac or Unix, knew one programming language really well and could communicate fairly easily with other IT people. Not no more. There’s dozens, hundreds, thousands of API’s to web critical web services, frameworks, languages, OS’s spread over content surfaces ranging from web sites, blogs, tweets, webinars, videos, screencasts, podcasts and more. As developers we need to converse and be conversant in far more technical knowledge domains than say a decade ago. As people, there’s only so much breath you can handle with any depth.

Ok, I just wanted to set the record straight, maybe point out a few things worth learning from my mistakes, and move on. Thanks for reading.


  1. Bob,
    Don’t sweat it, and Kudos for admitting a mistake. Rarely see that on tech blogs.
    You’re right about the domain knowledge, though. Probably a few pain points for cure available to the right ISV’s in the future.

  2. Right on. If I had a dollar for every time my complaints about Amazon Web Services turn out to be my fault, it would just about cover my hosting costs there.
    Ben Dilts

Write A Comment