Spin a AWS server from a disk image

I was able to successfully create an AMI (Amazon Mirror Image) of the Laravel server that I just created. I launched it and it worked perfectly. Creating an image from a running instance is quite easy. Just go the EC2 Dashboard. Select Instances and choose the Instance you want to clone. Go to Actions and select Create Image. It takes several minutes to create an image. Once the AMI is created, you can launch another instance using the AMI that you just created. It took close to 3-5 minutes before the server was able to serve Laravel page that was recently installed. In the future, if I want to launch a clean Laravel install, I can just launch an instance based on the AMI I just created.

Prime Membership to $100

Amazon’s prime membership just went up to $100. Personally, I don’t have a prime membership. I don’t really shop at Amazon that much. Maybe, about 10 times in a year. It’s a lot less now. I don’t shop that much enough to warrant spending that much money to save money. I’m not a movie watcher either, so I’m not really missing anything. I’m ok with Netflix $8 per month. Lately, I have been considering of not shopping at Amazon because it has gotten more expensive. Not only they apply sales taxes now, but the number of items that come with free shipping have gone down. I’ve bought items before from other online retailers because it was free shipping and they didn’t charge me sales tax. That’s Amazon loss.

Amazon Ads on Ubuntu

Canonical plans to integrate Amazon search results in the next release of Ubuntu 12.10. This is an unpopular move to most Linux users because most Linux users want an ad-free environment. I recently moved away from Ubuntu due to the fact that I have to deal with technical issues every time there is a new release. I have to constantly fight with issues that were previously resolved and now broken again with the latest release. The introduction of Unity just made things even worse. I hate Unity. That’s one good reason, I moved away from Ubuntu to Linux Mint and Mate, since Mate is based on Gnome 2. Now, with the introduction of Amazon search results, in Ubuntu 12.10, will result in more Ubuntu users moving away to other distros. Good luck, Canonical. I hope you think more about your user base, that what actually goes into your pocket books.

Kindle Fire HD 8.9 4G

I was just drooling over Amazon’s latest Kindle Fire 8.9 HD. The 32GB version sells for $499, while the 64GB version is a hundred dollars more at $599. With the Kindle Fire HD, you get a 9 inch screen with a resolution of 1920×1200 HD display. It’s built-in polarizing filter, and anti-glare technology, giving you rich color, and deep contrast, from any viewing angle.

See Video.

In terms of sound, the Kindle Fire HD comes equipped with Dolby audio and dual stereo speakers for crisp, booming distortion-free sound. It’s powered by a high performance 1.5Ghz dual-core processor with Imagination PowerVR 3D graphics core, for fast and fluid performance. At least that’s what Amazon claims. The wireless connectivity features a dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for 40% faster downloads and streaming.

With the Kindle Fire HD, you have access to over 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, books, audiobooks, and popular apps and games such as Facebook, Netflix, Twitter, HBO GO, Pandora, and Angry Birds Space. It also has an integrated support for Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and more, as well as Exchange calendar, contacts, and email. Skype video calls with the front-facing HD camera are free. You also get a free unlimited cloud storage for all your Amazon content.

If you can’t find a Wi-Fi hotspot. You can connect anytime using the Ultra-fast 4G LTE service. It’s limited to 250 MB a month for 12 months with a one-time payment of $49.99 – no monthly payments. That’s one year of service for $50 dollars. Also included is 20 GB of additional Cloud Drive storage for your photos and more, plus a $10 Amazon Appstore promotional credit. You can save hundreds of dollars in the first year compared to what you would pay for other tablets.

If $499 is a little too rich for you, there’s a Wi-Fi only version of the Kindle Fire HD for $299.

Or go with a 7 inch Kindle HD for just $199.

If you’re really in the market for a tablet, I suggest you wait for a couple of days. Apple is going to be introducing the iPad mini on September 12. Maybe. That’s the rumor. We won’t really know until that day what Apple has under it’s sleeve.

Amazon Pushing For Internet Sales Tax

One of the biggest advantages of shopping online is avoiding sales tax. If you buy a product from a company that does not have a brick and mortar store in the state that you live in, you don’t have to pay sales taxes. That’s the advantage at the moment. It’s a considerable savings that can amount to as high as 10 percent of the purchase in some locations.

Recently, Amazon has been backing a bill that will allow states to collect taxes from online retailers. Amazon is perplexedly behind it, since from their point of view, the taxes doesn’t really affect them that much. The sales taxes collected will be shouldered by you and me, the online shoppers. So, why would Amazon risk this by shooting itself in the foot? Wouldn’t shoppers look for alternative ways to shop somewhere else other than Amazon?

Proponents of the legislation argue that this bill will level the playing field between brick and mortar and online companies. Point taken. On the other end, opponents are arguing, that online retailers will not really benefit from collecting out of state taxes. In addition, who wants to deal with 9000 tax codes across the United States. The bill does have an exemption to online sellers with less than $500,000 in remote sales. That’s the key. More about this later.

How will each individual state enforce taxes? Will they force online shoppers to state their online purchases on their returns? Does that work? Will people be honest enough to state their online purchases on their returns? Will states force online retailers, such as Amazon, to provide them tax information every year? It sounds like a much more complicated mess than it looks.

As I mentioned earlier, there are online stores that are exempted. Stores that have less than $500,000 in remote sales. The key will be finding smaller online stores that wouldn’t charge you sales taxes for your online purchases. Maybe, this would encourage would-be entrepreneurs to build smaller online stores.

Potentially, this could level the playing field to a field that politicians are already trying to level.

Kindle Cloud Reader on Ubuntu

Amazon has Kindle eBooks for both Windows and the Mac OS. With Kindle eBooks, users are able to access purchased books for the Kindle to be read from a Windows or Mac OS computer without a need for a Kindle device.

What about Linux users? Don’t fret. Although there is no Kindle eBooks application for Linux, users can still go directly to the Kindle Cloud Reader to access their books. Just hop to https://read.amazon.com, and login with your Amazon Kindle credentials.

You can now access and read your books directly from any of the popular browsers. It’s that simple. Kindle Cloud Reader even gives you the option to download the file to your computer for offline reading.

Kindle Cloud Reader works in any platform, not just Linux. It works in Windows, Mac and just about any flavor of Linux. Kindle Cloud Reader really is an incredible tool because you have access to your Kindle books anywhere.

Kindle Fire

Amazon released today the Kindle Fire at a mere $199. A recent trip to Apple’s website and at the Apple Store in San Francisco just confirmed to me how the iPad is out of reach to so many people including me. At least to the ones that are on a tight budget. Priced at $199, the Kindle Fire seems much more palatable to normal people like you and me.

Aside from the standard of reading a book, the Kindle Fire can also play movies, run applications, games, play music, and it comes with a revolutionary cloud-accelerated web browser called Silk. You’ll have access to over 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines, and books. The application and games will be sold from the Amazon Appstore.

In addition to all the goodies so far, you also get free cloud storage for all your Amazon content. I really like this feature. If you fill up your memory, you can always retrieve it from the cloud. The Kindle Fire comes with a vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle. That’s neat. It’s also powered by a fast powerful dual-core processor.

If you’re a Amazon Prime member, you will have access to unlimited, instant streaming of over 10,000 popular movies and TV shows.

Ok. I’m sold! I want one. Check out the promo video here.

Amazon’s Black Eye

When I saw an article yesterday that Amazon had a problem with their cloud services, I dismissed it as something temporary, something that can be fixed, in perhaps in several minutes, in maybe an hour or two. But when the news today surfaced that Amazon was still struggling to get several hosted sites online, I started to wonder what in the world was happening with the cloud. The cloud was supposed to be this super, highly redundant. highly resilient system. Maybe it isn’t.

Foursquare, Quora, Reddit and a host of other social websites rely a great deal on Amazon Cloud Services to serve their content. Maybe, it helps to have yet another option, just in case Amazon, or any other the cloud provider stumble as we’ve seen these past two days. The fact is, the cloud is not quite perfect. They may promise 5 nines, but we all know its not a 100% proof. The downtime alone, the past two days, have already made a big dent towards reaching the metric. So what are the lessons learned for many online companies who depend much on the cloud?

Should these companies have another backup plan in case the cloud fails?

Kindle for the Mac

I was browsing the Apple App Store the other night, and I came across an application called “Kindle” for the Mac. And, it’s free. So, I downloaded the application and installed it. Amazon recently made the “Kindle Apps” available to anyone with a smartphone and a computer. You don’t need a Kindle device.

Kindle Apps will work on the PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and the Windows 7 phone. If you own a Kindle, you can synch any of the Kindle Apps to work in conjunction with your Kindle device. So, Kindle owners are now able to read the books they’ve purchased, not only in the Kindle devices, but also on their computers and smartphones.

The Kindle app for the Mac comes empty. There are no books. You will need to download the books from Amazon’s website. To download, just click on the “Shop in Kindle Store” link on the top hand right corner of the window. You can purchase thousands of books, including the latest releases, as well as download all the free public domain books that are available.

If you already own a Kindle, you just have to register the application with your Amazon credentials. To synch the books you’ve already purchased, you just login and the application will download all your books. It will also remember the last page you’ve read as well as synch any annotations you have created on your Kindle device.

I downloaded two free books, the Art of War by Sunzi and The Adventures of Sherlock Homes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I can see reading on the Kindle can be an expensive hobby. Reading electronically does have it’s distinct advantages. At least, you don’t have to lug around a book everywhere you go.