Hard Drive Crash and Online Backup Providers for Developers

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Backups are one of those things that you never think about until you need them. Recently the data drive in my workstation started acting very strange, locking up the PC while trying to perform operations, controller errors, etc. The hard drive itself was a Seagate Barracuda 3TB STATA3 drive, only around 2 1/2 years old, it was way to early for this drive to fail.

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But I have an online backup provider, so I’m good to go right? That’s what I thought, but apparently I was very, very wrong. I’ve been using Carbonite since around 2010. Back then they backed up everything, I didn’t have to worry.

But over the years they’ve become more and more restrictive with what they back up. I’ve had my data drive selected for backup, but apparently Carbonite selected, automatically, what files and folders it would back up.

Just as a note, I had about 1.25TB of data in my Documents folder to backup and my total data drive utilization was 2.5TB, what did Carbonite backup, 45GB of my Music.

I’ve been paying $60 bucks a year to basically back up the least critical parts of my system for 5 years. It’s been about 5 years since I lost data due to a hard drive crash, and it’s not going to happen again. Carbonite seems perfectly fine for standard home users (non IT\Developers), but it’s painfully obvious that it doesn’t work for me.

I’ve been trying to repair the drive, hopefully I can get some of my data back. If your interesting in seeing how you can repair a hard drive take a look at the video below.

So now that I’ve been burned again, I’ve updated my requirements for my backup plans.

  1. Local backups are required and I’ve selected a WD My Cloud EX4 with WD Red drives as my local/NAS storage solution. But due to some previous failures of WD2GO Cloud Service I won’t be using that as my cloud backup provider.
  2. More control and flexibility over what’s backed up. Carbonite automatic is great for standard Windows installs (i.e. MyDocuments in the normal location, etc) but not for an IT Pro\Developer setup.
  3. Unlimited or reasonable cost to store a few TB’s worth of data.

Based on the selection criteria I’ve selected CrashPlan as my new Cloud Backup provider. First they are very explicit about what’s not being backed up, which Crabonite is not. Secondly they support local and cloud backups and finally they have unlimited storage for $60 a year, same price as Carbonite, way more features.

Hopefully I won’t have this issue again, needless to say I’ve bought my last Seagate drive for a while. I’ve had issues with Seagate drives in the past and when I was building my new computer they had the only 3TB drive available. But it’s just not worth it, next time I’ll just RAID 0 some WD drives like I should have in the first place.

Resgrid is a SaaS product utilizing Microsoft Azure, providing logistics, management and communication tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire departments, career fire departments, EMS, search and rescue, CERT, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

Product Market Fit for Slow Sales Cycles

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There are a ton of a articles, books, blogs and postcasts out there detailing when you know you have Product Market Fit. Marc Andreessen is usually credited with coining the original term so I won’t deviate here. Product Market fit is generally accepted as having a product that satisfies the needs of a target market.

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So how do you know you have product market fit? Much like everything in the world there are tons of possible and correct answers. But it really does vary with your business, product and market.

I’m going to explain how I see product market fit for my SaaS business, Resgrid, which targets non-profit, volunteer organizations. Which if your trying to sell a reoccurring service to has to be the worst combination of attributes to a quick and efficient sales cycle.

On a Quora Answer Nadim Hossain founder of BrightFunnel notes that the average sales cycle for companies in their network is 112 days. For Resgrid our sales cycle is over double that at 294 days. This is observable from our paying customers from initial account creation (we have free accounts) to first payment or first contact via email. So it takes about a year for our sales cycle to fully complete, this means that evaluating product market fit based on companies falling out of a sales cycle too slow for actionable feedback.

So how is another way we at Resgrid determine if we have product market fit? It’s easy, we talk to potential customers in our target market. We focus on first responders and at the moment we are focused on all volunteer or combination fire, search and rescue and CERT departments. When we talk to those customers and they ask us if our software can meet their needs the more times we can say “Yes” the better our fit is.

Of course we will never be able to say “Yes” to every question, but when we first started out there were far more “No”’s or “We’re working on that in the future”’s then “Yes”’s. So for us, we know when were zero’ing in on product market fit when we honestly say to customers that at the time they ask the question we can fulfill the need.

If you have a faster sales cycle, then using your funnel to determine product market fit is a good way to go, but let that from interacting directly with your potential customers. This of course doesn’t mean were stopping developing or enhancing features. Quite the opposite, we have a very health backlog of features to add and enhance. To full our backlog we taken input from existing customers, potential customers and our own roadmap\experiences.

The one thing we’ve never done to fill our backlog is look at our competitors. Chasing features is a great way to forever stay behind the curve and we at Resgrid want to set the curve and thus solidify our product market fit.

Resgrid is a SaaS product utilizing Microsoft Azure, providing logistics, management and communication tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire departments, career fire departments, EMS, search and rescue, CERT, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

VS2015 Apache Cordova, Ionic and Typescript First Impressions

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Happy days are here again! We got a new Visual Studio to play with and it’s got some amazing features for hybrid developers. If you, like everyone after Facebook said it couldn’t do a hybrid mobile app, thought hybrid app development was dead then boy oh boy you were wrong.

cordova-architectureIn the last year there has been more advancement in hybrid mobile app development then any other platform. Ionic is now the go-to hybrid development platform. Why? because it’s an opinioned UI and backend framework. This prevents “framework paralysis” and it’s super fast out of the box. The next big changes have been in tooling. Telerik’s AppBuilder is probably the best hybrid development toolchain out there and now we have Cordova development built right into VS2015.

Finally mobile operating systems like iOS and Android have far, far better built-in browsers that make hybrid applications far more capable and performant. Also in the case of Android where the eco-system is so fragmented we now have Crosswalk.

 

I’ve long been a fan of Telerik’s AppBuilder. Of all the native, hybrid and not so native mobile app development tool-chains I’ve used I believe it has the lowest friction for developers and the fastest feedback cycle. But that’s not to say it’s perfect. Not having a local build option can be a pain (it’s cloud build only and the local AppBuilder version has to match the server version exactly).

But now with VS2015 we have cross platform mobile app development built in with Apache Cordova Tools and C++ Cross Platform. So now I’m giving this a shot, to see if it can replace Telerik’s AppBuilder for hybrid development.

So now why would you want to have local Cordova builds at all? Normally I prefer cloud builds and for mainline development I still think it’s a good idea. But there are going to be cases where you need local builds. For example currently there is a Cordova Splashscreen bug that causes a black screen to appear only showing your splash screen for a split second. The fix for this is to not use the Splash Screen plugin but instead modify the underlying native project that wraps the hybrid application, basically set it’s background to the splash screen image. If your using a cloud build provider, your SOL, you can’t change that.

Another issue with cloud builds providers (or it could just be Telerik’s AppBuilder) is that they require the client tools version and server version to be the exact same versions. So if you got a few build servers, be prepared to a lot of NPM updating.

I’m using VS2015 RTM with all the Cordova tools installed. I have an older MacBook Pro which I’ve setup as a remote build host. Watch this video from the Ionic team about the initial setup and configuration.

You can install the Ionic Template from the Visual Studio Extensions gallery:

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Next I recommend using or taking a look at the Ionic TypeScript MDHA Starter project by Justin Credible on Github. It’s pretty overkill for most Ionic projects, but it’s a great starting point. Next what’s not included in Justin’s repo is some half decent TypeScript Definitions for Ionic. You can grab those from here, but they are a little dated but still work.

All in all this is a very good hybrid development experience and the tool-chain itself isn’t that difficult to setup and maintain. Compare this to Xamarin where every part of the tool-chain is very fragile and needs to be updated in multiple spots. Where the experience falls down a little is the simulator. The default simulator is Ripple, which is ok. But I’ve experienced caching issues with it, not picking up the latest changes. Additionally unlike the AppBuilder simulator which utilizes the chrome debug tools you have to bounce back and forth between Ripple and VS to see the console or interact with the debugger.

Overall it’s a decent experience especially for new hybrid developers used to Visual Studio. With Ionic support built right in it’s the best experience on Windows for that development straight out of the Visual Studio box. I still recommend Telerik’s AppBuilder as overall the experience is pretty frictionless, but it costs money a fair amount of it. Telerik’s Platform costs $470 a year for the lowest tier. Or you can use PhoneGap Build at $120 per year. Or finally you can use MacInCloud and get a dedicated Mac for $240 per year and build everything locally (or pay nothing extra if you have your own Mac).

This is just another tool in the hybrid app development toolbox the price point is good (free with Visual Studio Community Edition 2015) with the exception of needed or renting a Mac.

Resgrid is a SaaS product utilizing Microsoft Azure, providing logistics, management and communication tools to first responder organizations like volunteer fire departments, career fire departments, EMS, search and rescue, CERT, public safety, disaster relief organizations, etc. It was founded in late 2012 by myself and Jason Jarrett (staxmanade).

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