Using VS Code extensions to help with AWS CloudFormation templates

Writing CloudFormation templates by hand is time consuming and error prone. Usually I know what is is that I’m trying to create and and know roughly what the options are, but remembering the exact syntax in json or YAML is near impossible.

VS Code has a number of extensions that can make this a lot easier. Tab code complete with plugins like “CloudFormation Snippets’ makes writing new templates incredibly quick and easy:

By default with this extension, type cfn then Tab to auto complete the skeleton of a CloudFormation template. If you have autocomplete on tab turned off you can turn it on in your VS Code settings, or manually use Ctrl-Space to trigger:

After pressing Tab you get an empty template:

As I’m writing a template for a new DynamoDB table, I enter dynamodb-table under Resources and Tab and it adds the skeleton ready to complete:

This saves time in having to look at what the required and optional attributes are, but unless I’m missing a feature it doesn’t have any auto completion to help select values for some attributes where valid values are from a list of options. For example, for DynamoDB BillingMode, the available options are PROVISIONED or PAY_PER_REQUEST. I can go look that up in the docs here, but it would be nice if it would offer tab complete for those too.

Wind Turbine manufacturing location at Calshot, near Southampton, UK – Microsoft Flight Simulator

If you fly over Calshot near Southampton, you’ll see this manufacturing site for wind turbines:

Wind turbine blades at Calshot, UK

Flight Simulator’s scenery generator clearly doesn’t know what to make of these large objects, and so probably thinking they are streets, it places auto gen houses along them:

Blades with houses on them

Taking a quick look in Google Maps, you can clearly see this location in more detail:

Calshot, UK – Google Maps

Microsoft Flight Simulator: Why are (most of) the bridges still solid?

You’d think a couple of years after release with regular world updates and patches that most bridges would now be modelled as bridges, and not photogrammetry draped over elevation data. At least significant landmark bridges such as the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge are now (very beautifully too) modelled accurately and yes you can fly under them without hitting a brick wall:

Bay Bridge, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

You don’t have to fly too far however before you start to see these again, here’s the Carquinez Bridge in Crockett, about 6 miles to the NE:

Carquinez Bridge

Don’t try flying under this one, it doesn’t end well.

Installing Windows Insider beta Windows 11 ARM on a Macbook Pro M1 with UTM/QEMU

I downloaded the Windows Insider beta of Windows 11 for ARM, and took a look at what’s involved to get it installed and up and running under UTM?QEMU on a Macbook Pro with an M1 CPU (ARM).

First, since the download is a .vhdx disk, I used the import option in the UTM frontend to import from the downloaded file. I also checked the option for the Spice drivers:

After starting to boot, the installer requires a network connection and it appears to get stuck:

Articles such as this one recommend to press Shift-F10 to get to a command prompt, and then enter this command to continue with the install skipping the requirement for a network connection: oobe\bypassnro

At this point the installer reboots and restarts, and this time you get an additional option on this dialog allowing you to skip the network requirement during installation:

After a short setup of a couple of minutes, Windows 11 desktop!

Next, the resolution seems to be fixed at 800×600, so knowing I checked the box in UTM for the Sprice/virtio drivers, I noticed there was a CDROM iso mounted on drive D:

Running the installer, it started up, and keeping all the defaults for now, installed without any issue:

All in all, pretty easy, only about 20 mins setup and it seems pretty snappy so far!