Well Hey There!

I'm David Shepherd

Web Application Support Professional Seasoned Security Professional

More About Me


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Hi. I'm David Shepherd. I'm the guy behind reInventParties.com (@reInventParties). This is a personal project. Designed, developed & promoted by me. To be clear, I'm not making money on this and I have no sponsors.

I've been around

I launched my first professional web site in July 1996.
It was a Job Listing/Human Resources information site for DLA. From 1998-2000 I was the Technical Lead for the IRS.gov public site. I led the engineering team plus forecasted site demand to ensure we had capacity to meet the needs of taxpayers on April 15th. In those days 'scalable architecture' meant that you could add more hardware and network capacity to meet demand. We could manually scale down (by powering off hosts), but costs never actually decreased.
I left federal service in 2000 to join LMI and have spent the past 17 years as a consultant and IT service provider to various federal agencies. Beyond consulting, the majority of my work is in support of software development and administering Dev/Test/Prod systems. I manage a team of engineers that support Web based systems from initial concept to retirement. I have worked a wider variety of tasks than I would have ever imagined possible.
I truly love my job and enjoy what I do.


My boss agreed to send me to re:Invent this year. Sweet!
This is my first year attending, so I started collecting guides. I posted a collection of them to my personal blog. I don't get much traffic on my blog, so I shared it on the AWS subreddit. It got a few comments and one of the redditors suggested a list of parties would be helpful.

I took the bait and committed to creating one.
At the same time I was taking the Certified Solutions Architect-Associate course from Ryan Kroonenburg at A Cloud Guru. In the course there is a lab on building and serving a static site from an S3 bucket. I have been managing webservers forever and the idea intrigued me. I like the idea of having the functionality of a webserver without the cost of an EC2 instance. I also wanted to see what a site with some OK traffic would cost to run and this project seemed like a good fit.

So I followed the lab and learned the tools.


After a little pondering I landed on reInventParties.com for the domain name. I registered reInventParties.com with AWS for $12.00. That is a steal since it includes privacy. I looked at static website templates and found one that seemed about right. I started hacking at the template until I had an acceptable initial site. I added some guides and initial list of events (All official AWS sponsored). I created the appropriate S3 buckets & posted the content to the S3 buckets. I configured Route53 to point at the buckets and...

I started a twitter account (@reInventParties) to try to bring in some users. I've been a twitter user since '08 and have had some success. I started some accounts you may know, like @SchneierBlog & @USCERT_gov. I transferred both to their rightful owners when they were ready to take over. I followed all the related AWS accounts I could find. I followed people talking about re:Invent. I started interacting with people talking about re:Invent. I started tweeting site updates.

I kept searching and finding new content, updating the site and tweeting updates.


Is there anybody out there?

My original reddit post had just 31 upvotes and 42 comments. At least half those comments were from me.
This site did better

Month Sessions Users Twitter Impressions
October 2,874 1,794 23,100
November 14,448 7,828 87,500

How Much!?!

Nowhere close to what I expected.
Total Project costs = $15.40
About the price of a Large Pizza and drinks.

UPDATE: November costs

November costs - S3, Route53, Data Transfer, Bandwidth - $0.68
Traffic Traffic Traffic

More Traffic, less Costs? HOW??

On November 1st an "external entity" emailed a request that I remove 4 images from the site.
They claimed ownership of the images. It was an honest mistake on my part, so I immediately removed the images.
I decided to embed the twitter feeds from @reInventParties & @reInventSwag to replace the images.
Comparing the October and November Data Transfer you will notice that the data transfer dropped from 8.672GB to 0.139GB.

That minor change cut costs significantly.

Thanks "external entity"

October costs - S3, Route53, Data Transfer, Bandwidth - $2.72
Traffic Traffic Traffic Traffic Traffic
September costs - Domain Registration = $12.00

Lessons learned
Most Sponsors tolerate being listed Some will demand removal. :(
Some Vendors are simply AWESOME Like @LucidChart, @DeloitteDigital & @PGSSoftware
Be VERY CLEAR that your site is not AWS affiliated or endorsed Thankfully AWS was cool about it
Tweets with images get traction ALWAYS add an image
Maintaining the site by hand is painful Need a tool to manage content
People are willing to help Need tools to make helping easy
Contact Info

I'd Love To Hear From You.

This has been tons of fun. Thanks for being part of this little adventure.

Where to find me

Twitter @sheffus
LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com

Email Me At


Call Me At

Phone: (571) 339 9877
Party: (804) 53P ARTY