tombola careers
tombola careers

#tombolalife

Blog | Tombola Careers

tombola blog
< back
Feb
7th

AWS meetup at tombola house

Posted by phil atkinson
aws meetup at tombola house
tombola hosted their first AWS NE meetup at our brand new tombola house building here in Sunderland.

Here’s the slides of my talk “tombola – a tale of config”

tombola hosted their first AWS NE meetup at our brand new tombola house building here in Sunderland.

Here’s the slides of my talk “tombola – a tale of config” 
(notes are attached to the slides if you download the presentation) :

Click to Download

read more
Sep
4th

Two years at tombola

Posted by phil atkinson
2 years at tombola
I can’t believe I’ve been here at tombola for 2 years, time really does fly when you are having fun. If you aren’t having fun and enjoying the work you do then you are in the wrong job. So much has changed it’s hard to decide where to begin…

I can’t believe I’ve been here at tombola for 2 years, time really does fly when you are having fun. If you aren’t having fun and enjoying the work you do then you are in the wrong job.

So much has changed it’s hard to decide where to begin…

The people make a company so I’ll start with the people. I’ve joined such a great team of people at tombola, it’s made me realise what a great team is and what they can achieve when they truly work together. We work on projects together as a team, with a single goal.  We communicate with each other, we push each other to be better and more importantly we trust one another.  This has allowed us, as a team, to deliver project after project, allowing tombola to grow as a business.

From a developer point of view the technology exposure has been nothing short of amazing. Not long before I started here tombola had just “moved” into the cloud but there was still lots of things to improve upon. I’d never used cloud technologies before so it was a real eye opener for me, it was like just discovering to write code all over again.  Since then it has been a roller coaster of new technologies we have explored and used: Docker, ECS, Terraform, Lambda, Alexa to name just a few.  Training, certification and protected time to learn is all provided by tombola so my skills are always improving, as they say “every day is a learning day”.

The projects I’ve worked on have all been different and there is simply too many to mention in detail. Each week brings something different, which keeps things interesting, whether it be: building a content management system, designing a promotional giveaway, architecting a new cloud solution or building a new deployment pipeline. Each project offers its own challenges and can often introduce you to even more technologies.

Joining tombola has also allowed me to grow in other ways, to try things I’d never done in the past, such as writing blog posts :)
others include: contributing to open source projects, investigating cutting edge technologies, going to developer conferences, presenting new tech ideas to peers, taking part in a hackathon..
I’ve worked as a developer for over 20 years but I’ve never worked for the right company, until now.

What will the next 2 years bring? We still have a vast technology roadmap to work through and with AWS bringing out new services all the time, who knows? Tombola is growing all the time, as is my team, and with a new HQ building to move into, it’s certainly going to be interesting.

Here’s a few of my previous blogs:

article: alexa-skill-from-hackathon-to-production

article: tech-brown-bag-runtime-configuration-management

 

read more
Jun
27th

Alexa Skill – from Hackathon to Production

Posted by phil atkinson
I’ve worked for many companies over the years (people say I’m older than I look) that just don’t bother with innovation, at least not to the extent that tombola does it. Recently I got a chance to take part in my first ever Hackathon. For those that don’t know what it is, you get to sit your projects to one side for a few days, and experiment with tech and ideas that you think would be interesting to try out and maybe work with people that you may not usually work with.

Hackathon

I’ve worked for many companies over the years (people say I’m older than I look) that just don’t bother with innovation, at least not to the extent that tombola does it. Recently I got a chance to take part in my first ever Hackathon. For those that don’t know what it is, you get to sit your projects to one side for a few days, and experiment with tech and ideas that you think would be interesting to try out and maybe work with people that you may not usually work with.

Here at tombola we love all things AWS and my team mates love the range of echo devices, they’ve been raving about them since their launch. I’m sure everyone on my team, myself included, now has at least one in their home. I thought it would be cool to build something with Alexa for my Hackathon so I gave it a shot.

My team had recently just finished our new social feed news stream and consumed it on our website https://www.tombolaarcade.co.uk/socialfeed so I thought it would be good if Alexa could read this out to the players.

the hotspot

Building a skill

When you start to build a skill you will quickly realise there are loads of useful documentation (https://developer.amazon.com/docs/custom-skills/steps-to-build-a-custom-skill.html) to walk you through the process, and an Alexa skill is simply an AWS Lambda function designed to convert spoken intents into API calls.  This is now even easier by using one of the many Alexa skills SDKs https://github.com/alexa/alexa-skills-kit-sdk-for-nodejs simplifying the amount of code you need to write.
The information feeds for the skill’s functionality just comes from API calls, which depending on your architecture you may already have existing, like we did here at tombola.
AWS even cater for developers to test their skill without the need to actually buy an echo device, you can interact with your skill using the Alexa simulator:

alexa simulator

Once you’re happy, publish it and wait until AWS approve it. If you are lucky enough Amazon will send you some free swag. :)

alexa bag

 

Production

When we demonstrated the prototype to our CEO he immediately recognised its potential, a new method of interacting with the players and a new way of delivering social content at no cost to the players.  It wasn’t long before a real production project was kicked off, with an enhanced functionality specification, and now we have released the “tombola news” Alexa skill: https://www.amazon.co.uk/tombola-Ltd-news/dp/B07D18H75B/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-skills&ie=UTF8&qid=1530092410&sr=1-1&keywords=tombola+news

Hackathons are a good way to let developers experiment and see what they come up with. You never know, your next hackathon idea may make it to production too.

read more
Jun
14th

Tech Brown Bag – Runtime Configuration Management

Posted by phil atkinson
Recently I took part in a tombola guild to investigate managing our application and system configuration. We have a lot of static configuration baked into our applications and various tools which means a config change is a deployment change. With our rapid growth of applications we need a better solution that lets us manage our configuration at runtime.

Fortunately it seems AWS already have the answer, SSM Parameter Store..

Recently I took part in a tombola guild to investigate managing our application and system configuration.  We have a lot of static configuration baked into our applications and various tools which means a config change is a deployment change.  With our rapid growth of applications we need a better solution that lets us manage our configuration at runtime.

Fortunately it seems AWS already have the answer, SSM Parameter Store..

SSM parameter store

Once the guild had a working prototype it was time to share the knowledge with the rest of the tech team.
Here’s the full presentation in all it’s glory: Click Here To View.

read more