PageRuleAdmin – Add CloudFlare Forwarding URLs easily

For a lot of the things my wife and I work on it is useful to have redirects from one page to another. In the classic developer spirit, instead of always logging into the CloudFlare dashboard and manually updating everything, I threw together a small utility in a few hours which allows her (a relatively non-technical user) to easily administrate the forwarding url page rules for all of the domains that we have running in CloudFlare (which is most of them).

The application is just a basic ASP.NET Core 2.0 web application using traditional MVC patterns. CloudFlare, unfortunately, doesn’t really have a nice C# bindings for their SDK, so I just implemented the necessary calls using HTTPClient(). The core of the logic for interacting with the API is:

private async Task PerformWebRequest(string uri, HttpMethod method, string postBody = null)
var client = new HttpClient();

var request = new HttpRequestMessage
RequestUri = new System.Uri(uri),
Method = method,

if(postBody != null)
request.Content = new StringContent(postBody, Encoding.UTF8, "application/json");

request.Headers.Add("X-Auth-Email", UserEmail);
request.Headers.Add("X-Auth-Key", ApiKey);

var result = await client.SendAsync(request);

var resultString = await result.Content.ReadAsStringAsync();

return JsonConvert.DeserializeObject(resultString);

Note that the function is generic as I wanted to centralize all of logic which actually calls out to the API.

Take a look here for the github. I host the code on a Hyper-V Ubuntu Server VM, so unfortunately there isn’t a running example available.

Let me know if you find a use for it!

MS SQL Server Backups to S3 – On Linux!

Today I’m going to go over what is necessary in order to do full and transaction log backups for SQL Server Express on Linux. One of the big limitations of SQL Express is that it doesn’t include the SQL Agent, so most of the maintenance tasks that can normally be designed and implemented within SSMS need to be rethought. Thankfully Microsoft released sqlcmd for Linux, which makes it pretty easy to go ahead and do the backups as simple bash scripts scheduled through cron.


This post isn’t going to go through all of the steps to install SQL Server and the associated tools, but Microsoft has done a great job of documenting that on their docs site. In order to push the backups to S3 we will need the s3cmd tool:

apt install s3cmd
s3cmd --configure

You’ll need to have an IAM identity with at least enough permissions to write to the S3 bucket you designate in the script. In the configure prompts include the keys and specify what region you want to default to.

The Scripts

In order to do the backups, two scripts are necessary: one for the full backups and one for the transaction log backups. I’ve opted for a very simple structure since I only care about one database, it shouldn’t be very hard to modify the script to generate backups for each database, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader :).

Full Database Backups (

TIMESTAMP=$(date +"%F")

mkdir -p "$BACKUP_DIR"

chown -R mssql:mssql $BACKUP_DIR


s3cmd put "$BACKUP_DIR/<DBNAME>.bak" "s3://<BUCKET_NAME>/$TIMESTAMP/<DBNAME>.bak"
rm -f "$BACKUP_DIR/<DBNAME>.bak"

Transaction Log Backups (

DATESTAMP=$(date +"%F")
TIMESTAMP=$(date +"%H%M%S")

mkdir -p "$BACKUP_DIR"

chown -R mssql:mssql $BACKUP_DIR


s3cmd put "$BACKUP_DIR/<DBNAME>_log.bak" "s3://<BUCKET_NAME>/$DATESTAMP/logs/$TIMESTAMP/<DBNAME>_log.bak"

rm -f "$BACKUP_DIR/<DBNAME>_log.bak"

Then schedule them in cron:

0 0 * * * /root/bin/
*/15 * * * * /root/bin/

With the default schedule I have, full backups are taken at midnight and transaction log backups are taken every 15 minutes.

S3 Lifecycles

While the scripts do a good job of cleaning up after themselves, S3 will (by design) never delete your data unless you specifically tell it to. S3 has a nifty feature called “Lifecycles” which allows us to specify rules for object retention (it is a powerful feature that can be used for a number of other things as well). To access it go to the AWS Console and enter into your S3 bucket. Follow these steps to setup object retention:
1. Select the Management Tab
2. Select Lifecycle
3. Click + Add lifecycle rule
4. Name the rule something descriptive (“Expire all files”). Leave the prefix blank
5. Leave Configure transition blank
6. In Expiration set the following options: S3 Lifecycle Creation
7. Click Save

That’s All

At this point we have full and transaction log backups configured, being pushed off site to Amazon S3. These backups are soft deleted after 7 days and fully deleted after 14 days.

The Bus Factor

I’ve been meaning to write this for quite a while, as the bus factor is something I’ve (literally) run into in my career. For those of you not familiar with it, the “Bus Factor” is basically an informal measure of resiliency of a project to the loss of one or more key members. It’s basically the programming version of the old adage “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”.

Story Time

Some years ago I was a software development intern at a large company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The team I was on was broken into a U.S. development team, an offshore dev team in India and an offshore QA team in China. We had daily scrum meetings at 8 AM every morning so that the US and Indian teams could participate all in one. One day we got word that one of the senior-most developers had literally been hit by a bus while crossing the street (thankfully he made a full recovery, but it certainly slowed down that part of the team as he was out for 8 weeks or so).

How to Reduce the Bus Factor

I’m sure people can (and probably have) written entire books on the subject of reducing the bus factor, and spreading knowledge around through the entire team. Spreading knowledge is really the key element in bus factor reduction.

How many people currently work on a team where one or two people are basically the wizards who secret spells make critical things happen (like deployments or provisioning infrastructure assets, or SSL certificates, or any of the other million things that need to be done in order to make software work)? I know I’ve worked on several teams where that happened. I’ve also worked with people who wanted to increase the bus factor as they thought it gave them better job security (a notion I strongly disagree with).

In my experience one of the best ways to reduce the bus factor is to maintain an internal wiki where developers and administrators can document processes for anything which they are going to do more than once (and sometimes it’s good to document things that are being done once as well). Another great idea is to regularly schedule cross training (n+1 isn’t only a good idea for infrastructure, developers and admins should have a bit of redundancy as well).


I personally feel that there is an ethical responsibility for all engineers to be transparent in what they do. I never want to be the only person capable of doing something, instead I do my best to make sure that anything I do, which may ever need to be done again, is documented at least well enough that someone can probably piece it together. Doing this ensures that if I am ever hit by a bus the rest of my team won’t have to try to figure out the magical incantations I have developed in order to do a number of things.


At the end of the day reducing the bus factor is good for your team. You never know when you or one of your colleagues are going to end up no longer being available to work (they might be hit by a bus, or it might be something more mundane like taking a new job, or leaving for a few months for a sabbatical or maternity/paternity leave). As an engineer and a member of a team you have an ethical obligation to ensure that you are both sharing processes and techniques you’ve developed with your colleagues, and also trying to learn those processes and techniques from your colleagues.