All posts tagged ‘webservices’

File Under: Business

Amazon Contest Eyes AWS Developers

Amazon Web ServicesAmazon Web Services today launched a contest for developers building their web business off of services like EC2 and S3. The Startup Challenge will award one winner $50,000 in cash and $50,000 in AWS credits, plus potential investment from Amazon.

New startups are commonly using one or more of these web services available from Amazon:

  • EC2 hosts web applications. Our tutorial helps you Get Started With Amazon Cloud Computing.
  • S3 is the “simple storage solution” used by even big name startups, like Twitter.
  • EBS provides persistent storage to EC2.
  • SimpleDB is in beta and provides access to structured data.

In early October Amazon will pick five finalists in the contest, which the public can vote on. A panel of judges will determine the eventual winner. The contest application form is straightforward, with seven long form questions to answer, including the problem being addressed and target customers. Anyone with a qualified entry (I’m assuming this means a site that uses AWS services) receives $25 in AWS credits.

Need some inspiration? Amazon has a list of AWS case studies that show how sites are using their services.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Amazon Expands Elastic Computing With New Storage Service

Amazon Web ServicesAmazon Web Services has released a new storage service that, at first, may look a lot like their S3 offering. The new service, Elastic Block Storage (EBS), is meant to increase the usefulness of their EC2 computing cloud.

In case you’re confused by all these services, here’s how Amazon describes their latest addition:

EBS gives you persistent, high-performance, high-availability block-level storage which you can attach to a running instance of EC2. You can format it and mount it as a file system, or you can access the raw storage directly. You can, of course, host a database on an EBS volume.

While S3 is great for storage, EBS is more flexible with its uses. EBS is used in tandem with EC2 instances. But normally, when an EC2 instance goes away, its storage disappears, too. EBS is, as Amazon says, persistent. It sticks around.

Cloud Computing providers RightScale say EBS opens up Amazon’s services to many new customers. Applications not written directly for Amazon’s other offerings are easier to incorporate with EBS. Amazon even points to a tutorial for running MySQL on EBS.

The costs are similar to other Amazon Web Services, which charge by usage. Storage is 10 cents a GB per month. I/O requests are 10 cents per million. There’s a AWS calculator to help you figure out your own costs.

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File Under: Software & Tools

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk Simplifies Automation

Amazon’s automated human intelligence service, Mechanical Turk, has become more useful to a general audience. To use the service in the past required advanced programming skills. Now Amazon has created an interface to bulk load tasks that require human eyes.

Mechanical Turk answer options

Mechanical Turk can help with data collection and correction. Many are already using the service for filtering out obscene photos/comments, or appropriately categorizing and tagging items. Most pay just a few pennies for the answers.

The site is equally catering itself to the workers. There seems to be plenty of interest in the work, called Human Intelligence Tasks, or HITS. I accidentally posted my test HIT, and received eight responses before I could take it offline.

One of the recent changes to Turk are the HIT templates that give requestors an example to start with. Then Amazon provides a comma-separated file to fill in with your data and re-upload. Previously this had to interface with your database via web services.

The name Mechanical Turk comes from an 18th century hoax. A chess-playing machine invented to impress a royal was later revealed to be controlled by a human. As such, Amazon calls its service “artificial artificial intelligence,” because HITs are automated, yet completed by a human.

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