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My Mentor


Risk, Process, and Balance

The operations of a company will have intrinsic risk. Risk occurs each time we decide to take an action or an inaction. This means that anything we choose to do, or not do, has associated risk.

An organization which has an unhealthy aversion to risk has a much higher chance …


Configuration Management and the Golden Image

When operations first became a thing, system administrators stood up servers using a base image from their favourite distribution. Things were done manually. Some administrators created their own distros, some wrote customised shell scripts to be run once-and-only-once to provision software and settings. This method worked, but it was slow …


The Three Deployment Management Strategies

There are three deployment management strategies that could be used to maintain a system. Each has pros and cons which I outline in this document.

run once

A proceedure that is run once and only once to setup a system's configuration values and settings. A semaphore or flag generally blocks …


Simplify deployments with Upstart and uWSGI

As you know from my previous post, I recently deleted LinkPeek.com and after struggling to get it back online, I vowed to start utilizing configuration management. During this exercise, I noticed that the architecture I use in production seems overly complicated.

The current production deployment stack:

  • Nginx listen on …

Configuration Management vs Remote Execution

It's about time to learn the difference.


High load and CPU usage craftbukkit compared to vanilla minecraft

I started researching the best ways to use salt to provision minecraft servers. I wrote a salt state formula for the vanilla minecraft server deployment. The deployment worked out great so I decided to try my luck with plugins.

In order to use plugins and mods we need to use …


Honey! I just DELETED LinkPeek.com

During the day I am an ops sys-admin. During the night I am a husband, father of two, and a CEO of a bootstrapped start-up. After launch, my first project was to schedule regular backups of user data and archive off-site. My goal was to create backups but never need …


Tips for getting pull requests approved

Pull rejection sucks!

You have just coded, implemented, and submitted a pull …


The Pyramid community taught me the importance of test driven development

Sontek's patch

I greeted the UPS man in the middle of the street to sign for my new Lenovo ThinkPad T430. Because this was My first brand-new laptop purchase I rationalized the time I spent tracking the package from the factory in China to my hands in Connecticut. Once inside …


My top five suggestions for an independent developer creating a new product or service

1. Write everyday. Build a blog for the project and write about milestones, progress, and hurdles. Also keep a personal blog and write about hobbies. Read some theory about "copy writing" and search engine optimization. Write personalized email responses to customers. Great communication skills will have the most impact on …


The most valuable registration field: How did you hear about us?


How did you hear about us?


I first answered this question when joining Linode. I remember thinking "Wow, this is a great time to ask me!" because the real answer was still in my short term memory.


When I launched LinkPeek I applied this technique. After an amazing launch (thank …


I just purchased Instagram for 1B and all I got was this lousy image filter

Facebook purchased Instagram on Monday, April 9th 2012 for $1,000,000,000 US. Instagram, a free to use image sharing iPhone application, has absolutely NO REVENUE STREAM. The application is free to download, free to use, and has no monetization support from advertisements.

$1000000000.00 / 30000000 users = 33.33 …

nosslsearch cname is a bad idea and solution


Google SafeSearch and SSL Search for Schools suggests implementing the following changes to the network:
To utilize the no SSL option for your network, configure the DNS entry for www.google.com to be a CNAME for nosslsearch.google.com.

** Here are the reasons why this is a bad idea …

"I see" said the blind man, to the deaf dog, as he walked off the cliff.


"I see" said the blind man, to the deaf dog, as he walked off the cliff.


As far as I can tell, I am the originator of this version of this quote.

EDIT: changed "originator of the quote" to "originator of this version of this quote".


What do you name your python virtualenv?


What do you name your python virtualenv?

I name my virtualenv 'virtpy'. Is there a standard name being used out there?

Maybe we can come to a consensus as a standard name? Please feel free to post your virtualenv names here as a sort of poll.


How to save hundreds of dollars on groceries without clipping coupons

Jenn explains how she drastically decreased our grocery bill.


My 4 month old's 15 minutes of fame


Today I lost a customer

Today I lost a customer.

I added some new code to LinkPeek to accept coupons and I didn't think of an edge case. This ended up creating an uncaught exception in my server side code which ultimatly served the newly subscribing customer an HTTP 500 error page.

The damage was …


LinkPeek.com, webpage to image, was a by-product

tldr; When faced with pivoting or killing a project, take a good look at all possible by-products. Don't miss the hidden gem in a project's slag!

Last year I built yoursitemakesmebarf.com, a novelty web application which allowed anonymous link submission. The software would automatically take screenshots of submitted links …


LinkPeek.com Number One on Hacker News


Career development is a game of chutes and ladders

find out what is the ladder.


I'm petrified of launching my web application


I'm petrified of launching my web application because I'm fearful that I won't ...
  • acquire users
  • support my users well
  • scale in a timely manner
  • react quickly to feedback
  • monetize the application

But most of all I'm scared that nobody will like me. I'm scared of failure.

Now that I got …


Webmaster tools alerted issue turned out Pylon session files flooded inodes


Occupy Wall Street Stack vs Queue

Occupy Wall Street contributors claim to use a "stack" to determine speaking arrangements.

I plan to explain how the term "stack" used in this scenario does not align itself with the mathematical or computer science definition.

The term stack means First In Last Out or "FILO". For example: a person …


I cancelled my xbox live automatic renewal


A better way to show website backlinks

Early web pilgrims of the Internet fashioned search queries like
link:russell.ballestrini.net to gather backlinks for a domain.

I however advocate a revolutionary search pattern like -

"russell.ballestrini.net" -site:russell.ballestrini.net

to gather an improved representation of backlinks.

Click here to try now!


How do I calculate the M in my MVP?

Is my idea too minimal?


Deliberating the Viewers vs. Doers concept

America has succumbed to "spectatoritis".


Security Professionals: Yes we appear vulnerable but that attack vector will never happen

In loom of recent internet attacks many institutions have started scrambling in attempt to "strengthen" their security stance. I agree that auditing our systems and networks for potential flaws seems appropriate at this time to prevent getting "caught with our pants down". Incidentally, I have recently witnessed the introduction of …


Programming is like Alchemy

except instead of exchanging matter, we programmers exchange time.


Google Bot Attempts to Crawl Shortest Urls First


ATT Uverse Residential Gateway Broadband LED flashes red intermittently


Connecticut killed affliate marketing with Amazon.com


Dropbox Encryption with TrueCrypt

The best security acts like an onion.


How did Stack Overflow get initial traction?

Stack Overflow was a progressive and natural evolution of the standard clunky forum.

Using ajax it created a more fun and clean user experience.

Using badges and karma to gain responsibility allow forums post to become a game. People naturally like to see progression and growth, being able to watch …



© Russell Ballestrini.