Why we don't schedule deployments during off-hours

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

Years back, before Scout, I used to schedule deployments outside the regular workday. I didn’t give it much thought – it was what my consulting clients were used to. However, we changed that practice with Scout.

Many web applications, including Scout, have customers around the world. There isn’t a perfect time for a deployment. With that in mind, we started scheduling deployments when it’s best for us.

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5 Pillars of Rails Cluster Monitoring

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

Photo by mollypop

My how you’ve grown! A couple of years ago your little Rails app was on a single server. Now you’re on a whole cluster – you’ve got web servers, database servers, HAProxy servers, and more. I’m so proud of you!

Monitoring your Rails cluster has gotten more difficult though, huh? When it comes to monitoring a cluster of servers, there are lots of options with overlapping features. Some products are open source, some aren’t. Some are hosted, some aren’t. At Scout, we’re very happy with our monitoring stack. We know a bit about monitoring, so what are we using under the hood to monitor our Rails/Sinatra cluster?

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Determining free memory on Linux

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

When checking the amount of free memory on a Linux server, it’s easy to think you’re running out of memory when you’re not.

For example, here’s the output of free -m on a server with 4GB of RAM:

With a quick glance, you might start sweating. Only 39 MB of free memory? Put down the antacid – you’ve got a lot more free memory than you think.

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Our failed experiment: great on the rack, bad in the mirror

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

My left arm is one inch longer than my right. My right foot is a half inch longer than the left. For me, trying on clothes is an adventure: what looks good on the rack often doesn’t on me. I thought of this recently when we decided to end development of a new product.

There wasn’t anything wrong with this product. It worked, looked good for a BETA release, and wasn’t a support burden. The problem? We didn’t use it. The magnitude of not using our product became clear when we compared it to Scout, our product that we use daily.

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Scout for the iPhone: BirdDog

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Features Bullet_white Comments Comments

Shawn Veader of V8 Logic has released BirdDog, an iPhone application for Scout. The app is on sale for $1.99 through Thursday.

With BirdDog, you can track the health of servers you are monitoring with Scout. BirdDog provides an alert history for each server, highlighting any active alerts. It’s a simple way to stay on top of your server infrastructure for the price of a cup coffee.

You can download the application from the iTunes App Store.

I pestered Shawn a bit about BirdDog and iPhone development below.

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Embedded Customer Support With Rapportive

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in HowTo Bullet_white Comments Comments

A big part of providing good support is making it painless. At Scout, Andre and I handle all of the support requests. Once we’ve gathered the account information, it usually doesn’t take much time to help. The problem is quickly putting the account information together. We don’t want to use a dedicated support application – we usually handle just a couple of support requests per-day.

Why not view all of the account information right from Gmail, where the support request originates? We’re using Rapportive with a custom Raplet to make it happen. When we receive an email from a Scout customer, we see their Scout account info.

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