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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The Short and Sweet SSL How-to

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

Got a site you need to serve up via SSL? Here are your Cliffs notes. This assumes 1) your site already runs without SSL; 2) you’re using Apache and Ubuntu; 3) you don’t want any browser warnings, so no self-signed certificates.

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3 Developer-Centric Takeaways from Ben Franklin

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

Before a recent plane trip, I checked out the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin from the library. Franklin might have the greatest list of accomplishments in American history. I was curious to learn how he did it. Three developer-centric takeaways:

The Socratic Method

Like developers, Franklin loved a spirited debate. In his early teens, he found another “Bookish Lad” who also enjoyed an argument. They exchanged several letters over the “Propriety of educating the Female sex in Learning” and Franklin’s father happened to find them. His father noted that while he had the upper hand in spelling and punctuation, he fell woefully short in style. He dropped his previous abrupt approach and picked up the “modest diffidence” of the Socratic method. Words like “certainly” or “undoubtedly” were replaced by “I conceive” or “it appears to me”. Franklin quotes a line from Alexander Pope:

Men should be taught as if you taught them not,
And things unknown proposed as things forgot,

Franklin spent his life persuading people. He credits the modest approach as a big reason for his successes.

For us developers: yes, that blog post on “Why SOMETHING sucks” may get attention, but it’s probably not going to build anything constructive or result in relationships with people you’d actually enjoy working with.

The place for open source

If Github (and the Internet, electricity, Linux, etc) were around in Ben’s time, he’d have some prolific public projects. One of the many amazing things about Franklin is that he didn’t patent his inventions:

This doesn’t mean he didn’t like building wealth. In fact, he wrote a book about that. He knew when to give it away and when to charge for it.

There’s more than typesetting

For Franklin, all takeaways seem to lead here: he showed the kind of impact you can make with a keen sense of balance. Out of any job I’ve held, being a developer lends itself the most to an unbalanced life. You can always make your application better looking, more featured, faster, leaner, etc. You can code and deploy from almost anywhere at any time. Before long, you can begin to measure your worth solely by code.

Franklin made his living as a printer, but his focus on improving himself outside of his typesetting skills is what made him so influential.

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Three New Tools in my Mac Toolbox

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

It’s always satisfying to find tools that make your workflow smoother. Here are three that I started using recently:

iTerm2 is a Terminal replacement with a ton of features. The three that make the most difference in my workflow are search, mouseless copy, and tabs which you can tear away into their own windows and easily recombine. I haven’t gotten into some of the other features yet, like a hotkey-driven HUD-like terminal, Expose for your tabs, and autocomplete. The few that I am using make the switch worth it. And, the price is right (free).

Kaleidoscope is a very well-implemented diff tool. Kaleidoscope isn’t free, but it’s worth paying for: it starts up quickly, looks great, and integrates seamlessly with git.

Mouse Locator highlights your mouse pointer after it’s been still for a period of time. The use case for me: when I have multiple command line windows open (especially on a multi-monitor setup), I frequently lose the pointer in the dark windows. Mouse Locator solves that. I set the trigger delay time to about 1 minute (so it activates the first time you move the mouse after a minute of inactivity), and a very short display time (it fades out immediately). Once you set it up, you never have to think about it again. Mouse Locator is also free.

Your Recommendations?

Word-of-mouth from like-minded users is a great way to discover new Mac tools. Got one you really like? Let us know in the comments!

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