Review of ec2Phone or ElasticPod. Manage your EC2 instances with your iPhone

April 14, 2009

Recently I bought ec2Phone for the iPhone in order to start and manage my Amazon EC2 images.
After entering your access and secret keys you can start up an image. The secret key is still readable after entering it, which I find a bit negligent.

I was unpleasantly surprised that there is no listing functionality. You have to enter the image identifier yourself. You need another tool if you don’t have that information ready. After filling in the necessary parameters like number of instances, instance type etc., the image is started.

Start AMI

Starting image

After the image is started there is nothing you can do with it except shutdown or reboot. This was a bit disappointing. What surprised me more was that the next time I ran an image, the AMI id and availability zone were remembered by ec2Phone but not the number of instance or instance type. I do not understand that design decision.

Not much to do.

Running image. Nothing to do!

For some pet project I always have this workflow.

  • Find image
  • Start image
  • Attach EBS volume
  • Go to terminal to execute some scripts
  • Connect browser to image

In my workflow only the start image is supported by ec2Phone. This is a bit thin. When you compare this to the (free) Firefox plugin ElasticFox it has only a small percentage of that functionality.


Together with the fact that there is no support for European EC2 images I think ec2Phone/ElasticPod is just too lightweight to justify its current price.
However the developer has said that terminal integration and image listing are on the backlog for the next release. If he would add EBS support it would be a nifty iPhone app for me.

Apache CXF and Glassfish Metro for consuming web services

September 6, 2007

For a project I need to call some web services for which there is a WSDL schema. I have briefly looked at some contenders and only took consuming of web services into account and not the producing of web services,

I decided to go the JAX-WS route, since this appears to become a standard: JSR 224. Java 6 will have it as a feature.

The JAX-WS choice does mean that Axis2 cannot be used. I don’t really mind since I’ve experienced some real pain there in previous projects. I’m not the only one. Hani sums it up nicely.

JAX-WS contenders

A bit of googling looked like the contenders are:

  • JBossWS
  • CXF
  • Metro

Because it seemed I was the first one using the here unnamed web services, I first decided to play with Amazon web services, because documentation and examples for Amazon web services are widely available.
This excellent article explains how to use AWS ECS with Metro and with CXF. I did not go for the ANT route and used wsdl2java and to generate the Java code.


JBossWS seems a bit tied to JBoss 5 and because I need to work with JBoss 4.0.5, I ignored that option.

Since I will consume a webservice, I feel that JBossWS could still be viable. However the pain I had converting the CXF Geronimo stuff to JBoss stuff (more on that later), confirmed my suspicion that JBossWS would not be an easy route in my environment. This is not to say that when using JBoss 5, you cannot have total bliss with JBossWS.


CXF is still an Apache incubator project. It is a merge of XFire and Celtix. The wsdl2java script did run without problems. When you want to use the generated code you need the following jars, according to the documentation:

  • cxf.jar
  • commons-logging.jar
  • geronimo-activation.jar (Or the Sun equivalent)
  • geronimo-annotation.jar (Or the Sun equivalent)
  • geronimo-javamail.jar (Or the Sun equivalent)
  • neethi.jar
  • jaxb-api.jarv
  • jaxb-impl.jar
  • stax-api.jar
  • XmlSchema.jar
  • wstx-asl.jar
  • xml-resolver.jar
  • jaxws-api.jar
  • saaj-api.jar
  • saaj-impl.jar

I could call ECS without any problems, however the Geronimo jars were a thorn in my eye, I tried to replace them with a JBoss equivalent. I entered a world of pain. With problems (update JBossWS) and then javax.annotation.PostConstruct problems.
So I concluded that it was not possible to remove the Geronimo jars. Upgrading to the latest JBossWS implementation got me dependent on JBoss 5 it seemed, which is no option.
So if you can live with Geronimo jars and 15 jars in total, give or take a few (removing 1 or 2 seems not to break anything) then you are good to go.

Although I ran into the same observation as Glen Mazza. jaxws:enableWrapperStyle not working in CXF


I downloaded the standalone version instead of a complete Glassfish distribution.
I had to alter the script, because WSImport needs JAF. I added the activation.jar from the JBoss distribution to the classpath in the script. The generated code enabled me to call ECS without any problems.
I needed the following jars:

  • webservices-extra.jar
  • webservices-rt.jar
  • webservcies-api.jar

Compared to CXF, Metro just seems more environment friendly. Of course this could be complete rubbish, since those three jars can be completely bloated with everything but the kitchen sink.

For now I will use Metro and see how this will go.

Amazon Flexible Payment Service

August 3, 2007

I just got a mail from Amazon saying:

This is a brief note to a select group of AWS customers to let you know that we are beginning a limited beta of Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS).

Amazon is at it again!
So naturally I tried to sign up…
US-based credit card only… Bummer.

Just like the Amazon Visa card they keep pushing in my face which is US only.
Rewards Card 77. V47075815

Or the electronics merchandising rules which do not apply to us Europeans.

They need to tweak their merchandising rules…