3 competitive advantages of developer-run businesses

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Older baseball players typically have plenty of power and discipline but are slow runners with lower batting averages. It’s kind of obvious: as we get older, we get bigger and more patient, but we also get slower. This characteristic even has a name, described as (you guessed it): old player skills.

Bill James, a famous baseball historian, studied these players and found that younger players that start with these skills fade away faster than than their peers. The players that have long careers are often those that have speed when they’re young and are able to adapt as the gifts of youth fade.

What does this have to do with small, self-funded, developer-run businesses like us?

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What makes a great developer?

By Derek Bullet_white Comments Comments

James Gray, lead developer of the Scout Agent, takes a stab at the eternal question “What makes a great developer?” in the latest RailsCoach Podcast Episode.

Besides talking about Scout’s blended open-source approach to monitoring, James also talks about The Pomodoro Technique (a time management process), his time at the helm of the RubyQuiz, NoSQL, and other topics.

You can listen to the podcast episode here and follow James on Twitter as well.

 

Rackspace & Scout Webinar - Monitoring in the Cloud

By Derek Bullet_white Comments Comments

A couple of months back when we announced our partnership with the Rackspace Cloud I mentioned that 1 of 5 hosts monitored by Scout is in the cloud. Monitoring in a cloud environment brings some unique challenges.

On Thursday, January 21st at 1pm Central I’ll be leading a webinar with Rackspace where I’ll show how Scout makes monitoring your cloud enviroment a snap. Using Scout, I’ll show how to:

  • monitor cloud servers automatically when they boot
  • update monitoring on your entire cluster in one click

In other words, you’ll learn how to get the day off the next time your monitoring infrastructure needs to be updated.

If you’re looking at deploying more of your infrastructure to the cloud and are curious about monitoring solutions this webinar is for you.

 

Free memory on Linux: free -m vs /proc/meminfo

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in HowTo Bullet_white Comments Comments

How much memory is really available on your Linux box? Don't use /proc/meminfo to find out, use free -m instead. You may have more memory available than you thought.

Here's an example. /proc/meminfo says about 330MB is free:

    ~ $cat /proc/meminfo 
    MemFree:        340996 kB
    ..

free -m gives the following:

    ~ $free -m
                             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
    Mem:          1024        691        332          0         86        288
    -/+ buffers/cache:        316        708
    Swap:         2047         68       1979

You'll see the "buffers" and "cached" columns, which tell you about the amount of memory that the kernel is using for filesystem buffers, etc.

This sort of cached data will be freed by the kernel when an application tries to allocate more than what is "free", which is why the "-/+ buffers/cache" line is really the important line to pay attention to when you're checking out the free memory on a system.

So in this example, 708MB is how much memory is technically available for allocation should an application need it. The "buffers" (86MB) and "cached" (288MB) will be released by the kernal if they are needed.

All credit for this post goes to Eric Lindvall, who also wrote the memory profiler plugin.

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Sphinx Monitoring Plugin

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Plugins Bullet_white Comments Comments

Sam Sinensky wrapped up ‘09 with a Scout plugin for monitoring Sphinx, an open-source SQL full-text search engine. The Sphinx Monitoring Plugin can be found here.

Just provide the paths to your Sphinx log files and Sam’s plugin reports the following data:

  • Queries per-minute
  • Average query time
  • Average time per rebuild
  • Index rebuilds
  • Average results returned

Like with any Scout plugin, you can plot metrics from the Sphinx Monitoring Plugin against other metrics. For example, the chart below shows the relationship between the Sphinx query rate and the server load:

Resources

 

SMS Notifications

By Andre Bullet_white Posted in Features Bullet_white Comments Comments

12/23 - UPDATE - Scout Agent v5 has exited the BETA phase. If you're already using Scout, upgrade instructions appear when viewing a server at scoutapp.com.

We’ve prepared a BETA release of the Scout Agent that supports SMS notifications and makes creating your own plugins easier. We and a group of beta accounts been running it internally for some time, and now we invite you to try it out.

Get the New Agent

1) Install the Scout agent gem version 5.0.2:

sudo gem install scout

2) Change your crontab entry for Scout so it runs every minute, which is just
* * * * * on Linux. Your current setup is */3, */10, or similar.

Dual-tier SMS Alerts (Ultimate Accounts only)

When things go really wrong it’s important you find out quickly. Using Scout’s triggers, you can now specify a separate threshold for SMS alerts. For example, send an email alert if disk capacity is over 70% and an SMS alert if disk capacity is over 90%). Here’s how:


1) Enter your SMS info in the new "notifications" section of Scout:


2) Edit/create a trigger. You’ll see a new option for the SMS threshold:

When the entered threshold is crossed, you’ll receive an SMS alert. SMS alerts are currently available only on Ultimate accounts.

Easier Plugin Creation and Editing

Because the new Agent pings us every minute, it is much more responsive to changes you make in configurations on Scoutapp.com. Any changes you make will be picked up within 60 seconds by the new Agent, regardless of your plan level.

Explicit Checkin Times

When you upgrade to the new Agent, you'll see the "Server Contact" box on your server homepage, providing visual confirmation of most recent and next checkin times:

Summary

Get your new Agent here:


sudo gem install


We’d love your feedback on the new Agent and functionality. Leave your comment here or send an email with with any comments.

 

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