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Author: chrisbell

Chris Bell is a software engineer based in Leeds, UK. Enjoy his personal accounts and insights into the weird and wacky world of software development.

Bus timetables for the smart home with Alexa, node.js and AWS Lambda

For my sins, I use public transport for commuting, specifically First Buses in Leeds. I don’t work to a strict regiment, so on a morning I’ll catch the next bus into the city centre, whichever that may be, and from whichever stop that might be (I have the luxury of being served by two different bus stops).

Whilst First Group have made good efforts to bring bus timetables into the 21st century with the release of their native apps, they leave somewhat to be desired in terms of usability and convenience. What I really want on a morning is to know when the next bus is, and I want to do it as I’m walking out of the door. It’s possible with the existing apps, but they are slow and clunky – especially when you need to request information about multiple bus stops.

Without further ado, I’d like to introduce the Alexa skill I’ve been developing recently – “NextBus UK”. Continue reading Bus timetables for the smart home with Alexa, node.js and AWS Lambda

You WILL use LetsEncrypt. StartSSL certs invalid overnight.

“You WILL use LetsEncrypt.”
A client recently complained a securely hosted widget was loading without styling (stylesheet not loading). Seemed to look fine in both Chrome and Firefox.

Then I updated to the most recent version of Firefox, and I could see the issue in all its glory. A hard refresh in Chrome also surfaced the issue – presumably clearing out any cert related caching. Continue reading You WILL use LetsEncrypt. StartSSL certs invalid overnight.

Setup your own private docker based continuous delivery pipeline… for free!

Now Docker for Mac is production ready, developing docker based applications has never been easier. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a local, CI and production environment, all powered by docker, and enabled to support continuous delivery. The aim is to complete this all within 30 mins. Ready? You’ll need the following ingredients. Continue reading Setup your own private docker based continuous delivery pipeline… for free!

2014 in review

2014-goalsAfter getting a whiteboard for Christmas 2013, I decided to get into the habit of writing down my goals for the coming calendar year. This post is just to reflect on how that went, but also review some of the other achievements I’ve had in 2014.

It’s important to recognise the wins in your career and life, as it’s so easy for them to get hidden amongst the drama of the daily grind. I’d urge you to do the same, whether it’s on a blog or on a piece of paper. Continue reading 2014 in review