The bike break

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

A bike commute leaves me more refreshed than a run in the park, a round of video games, or reading a book. David Byrne wrote about this in Bicycle Diaries:

It (biking) facilitates a state of mind that allows some but not much of the unconscious to bubble up. As someone who believes that much of the source of his work and creativity is to be gleaned from those bubbles, it’s a reliable place to find that connection.

There are lots of things I’m looking for when I’m riding a bike: cars turning right, traffic lights, pot holes, babies in strollers, tourists on Segways, etc. On the surface, these look like annoyances, but they are a secret gift: for my own safety, I’m forced to live in the moment. It’s a needed escape from a day spent coding and planning.

 

How Pixar and Toy Story almost didn't happen

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

When Pixar was working on their first film, Toy Story, the original draft closely followed a checklist of required elements provided by Disney. Disney has been producing animated films since 1923. Lion King, released a year before Toy Story, won two Academy Awards and grossed $783 million.

Then, why was the checklist-driven draft of Toy Story so terrible that Disney shut down production?

Pixar was writing a story they didn’t own. One of the checklist items: edgy characters. Applying that edge to Woody, the main character, resulted in an unwatchable jerk.

Pixar’s crew, led by John Lasseter, rewrote the film in their own voice:

We went back to what we wanted, and that was: the characters liked each other. Because we like each other.

Focusing on telling a great story instead of a checklist worked: in the eight years since the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature was created, a Pixar film has won it six times.

Each of their 11 films are among the 50 highest grossing films of all time.

 

Server Navigation: filtering, groups, and the keyboard

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Features Bullet_white Comments Comments

Previously, if you had a large number of monitored servers on Scout it was a minor pain to navigate between them. Now it’s easier: you can filter your servers by name and servers are listed under their assigned group.

You don’t even need a mouse – let your fingers do the walking. Hit the s key to reveal the servers menu. Use up/down arrow keys to navigate between servers. enter takes you to the selected server. esc hides the menu.

It should feel intuitive and a lot like OSX’s Spotlight tool.

 

Don't want your server named after hostname?

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Features Bullet_white Comments Comments

If you’re using Scout’s cloud server functionality, you know that new server instances in Scout are named after the machine’s hostname.

In some cases, the hostname isn’t that useful (especially if your servers are on EC2). Now, you can specify a name for the server from the Scout command:

scout --name="Memcached server" KEY ...

... for example, would name the new instance ”Memcached server”. Documentation on naming your server from the scout command is here.

As always, drop us an email if you have any questions!

 

Behind the scenes of a self-funded business: a week on RescueTime

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development, Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

One of the things I was most curious about before starting Scout was what my day-to-day life would look like as a business owner versus life as a developer. How much time would I spend writing code? Answering emails? Handling the business bits? Would I work more?

Three years after launching Scout, I’d like to help answer that question. I used RescueTime to track activity on my computer. Since almost all of my work is from my laptop, it’s an easy way to get a breakdown.

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API Blank Slate

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

A couple of years ago I went to Argentina. I don’t speak Spanish. This meant a lot of the basic conversations I’d have with locals were frequently interrupted by me paging through a translation guide. I felt very disconnected: basic exchanges were cumbersome.

When I work with an API for the first time, it often feels the same. A lot of my time is spent referencing documentation just to get basic things working. That’s asking for a lot of effort at this stage of the relationship. I just want to know: is there chemistry between your API and me?

  • Does it even work?
  • How fast is the response time?
  • Is the data in sync with the web interface?
  • What can I access?

Spending a lot of time trying to get my first method call working is frustrating. When we built the Scout API, I wanted to make that initial experience easier.

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