Hello GistBox!

Over the past 3 months, I’ve been feverishly coding GistBox. And while Backbone and Rails make for great companions, I’m honestly pretty burned out. Thus, it is with great pleasure that I’m able to take a step back and just work on some marketing. This blog is a piece of that work.

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Credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

There is a lot that goes into writing a piece of software on your own. Half the time, you’re just debating with yourself over design choices. And unless your roommate or significant other is also a developer, you quickly become your own echo chamber. Every free moment becomes an opportunity to obsess over some minute UI detail or screw around with potentially useful (but many times stupid) Rails gems.

The moment I launched GistBox two weeks ago from the comfort of a hotel room, a huge weight was lifted from my back. Little did I know that I would then transition into fragile-ego mode, during which I would be constantly checking Mixpanel for new user registrations. For the obsessive, the two most dangerous activities to be doing in front of a computer are (1) day trading and (2) trolling for new users during the first week of an app launch.

Then came the random challenges involved in developing on a third-party platform. About a week ago, I noticed a sharp spike in the requests made to get raw Gists from GitHub. Turns out this was not just a matter of the server being slow. 1 out of every 5 requests were simply getting dropped on the floor, forming green mountains in the New Relic response time graphs.

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I freaked out for a couple days and nagged the hell out of a poor GitHub support specialist. Then I got smarter and realized I could code against such scenarios by retrying failed AJAX requests and setting a much lower timeout on the backend. Then, as I was feeling proud of my tidy piece of work, GitHub fixed the issue. Except now I had a more robust system. Silver linings.

An indirect side effect of having to pay out of pocket for servers and helpful services (how can anyone live without Mailchimp) is that I’ve become very conscious of the money I sink into the demon that is Amazon Prime. What used to be a routine $40 video game purchase is now a battle of priorities. 10 hours of first-person shooter fun or a month’s worth of dyno runtime on Heroku? Every purchase begins to be calculated in server-time, even if that purchase happens to be a new frying pan.

Much thanks to all the hundred or so registered users trying out GistBox. I would be in the throes of abject depression without you guys! Please keep using the app and be sure to email me any feedback. Cheers and here’s to a great year.

P.S. If you’re not a GistBox user and it looks promising to you, you can login with your GitHub account.

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