Monday, 28 November 2016

Watching the Formula Pi Races

Avid readers of our blog will know that Blogtrottr are sponsoring this year's Formula Pi races; a test of wits and skill for coders of all ages from around the world.  For those of you not yet in the know, Formula Pi races involve racing identical self driving robots on a track, however all the robots are run off a Raspberry Pi which use the code sent in by the competitors.  The aim is to ensure your code gets the robot around the track quicker than any of the other robots on the track, a task much less straightforward than it sounds.

Since the test races we have seen great improvements in the races, although we are glad to see that there is still plenty of chaos to keep us entertained.  In the heats you can see how well all 16 competitors from around the world have done, the coding experience on the track ranges from a few hours experience to many years.  It is certainly worthwhile watching the highlights available on YouTube.

Race Two is already underway with full length videos currently available on Youtube, and Blogtrottr are continuing to sponsor and watch.




Find out about taking part in 2017 at http://www.formulapi.com/

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Carnage on the Race Track!

Blogtrottr are proud to be sponsoring the Formula Pi races in 2016; a test of wits and skill for coders of all ages from around the world.  Formula Pi races involve putting identical self driving robots on a track, all run on a Raspberry Pi using different code which is sent in by each competitor.  When the lights turn green the aim is to ensure your code gets the robots around the track quicker than any of the other robots on the track, a task much less straightforward than it sounds.

The first test races for the Formula Pi winter race 2016 series are now underway, and they are keeping us tuned in.  In the first test session a false start, numerous crashes, pile ups, flips and the loss of a wheel on one of the robots helped highlight a few potential issues whilst also providing entertaining watching.  There will be things to improve on for when the races take place in November.

The next testing session was on Monday 24th October, no doubt providing more entertaining watching.  
Entries to the the final races themselves close at the end of the month, and Blogtrottr will be continuing to sponsor and watch.




Find out about taking part at http://www.formulapi.com/

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Feeling buzzed up about innovative uses: how billing provider Chargebee use Blogtrottr

We are always passionate about what Blogtrottr does, and keen to hear from our users about the more novel ways they use our product.  When we heard from Chargebee, a SaaS billing provider (who incidentally are one of our suppliers as well as our customers) about how they have solved some of their own internal business issues by using Blogtrottr we were pretty excited.

Chargebee is able to use Blogtrottr in more than the traditional ways:  Of course they subscribe to a number of blogs to keep up to date on current security issues and possible vulnerabilities, and manage this via Blogtottr to ensure they miss nothing vital.  However in addition to this they have used Blogtrottr innovatively to solve issues, and are happy to let us share some of these solutions with you.  

Here is Balaji Jayaraman, CSO of Chargebee, with more details:

RSS Feed
Chargebee uses both internal and external monitoring for our service. For internal monitoring we use Amazon's cloud watch. Cloud watch monitors CPU, memory, disk and other application related custom metrics that we use. We had incidents where we thought cloud watch would do its job but it would have gone down and we wouldn’t know about it.

We started to use Blogtrottr to get cloud watch status as RSS feed so that our team will know that we have problems with cloud watch and we can closely monitor our production instances.

Email Updates
We needed to have all the updates Amazon does with respective softwares installed to its instances. For instance, for any critical update, we would get notified via emails in real-time. This way we get to know about OS updates or fixes immediately.

We have integrations with other service providers. Some have email subscriptions but some have only feeds. We use Blogtrottr to get their status updates via email.

Alerts & Monitoring
When we get payment failure alerts, we also get notified at the same time from Blogtrottr regarding payment gateways status. This makes it easy for the monitoring team to check payment gateway's status than spending time in analysing on Chargebee’s end.

You can see why we were excited to hear from them.  Chargebee have been innovative in the ways they have used Blogtrottr to utilise its potential.  We are really glad to be part of such an interesting solution, especially for such an fantastic company.

Want to share how you use Blogtrottr with the community? Get in touch by emailing phil@blogtrottr.com

Monday, 15 August 2016

A quick way to subscribe to RSS feeds using Chrome

We recently received this fantastic suggestion from Alejandro on how you can setup Google’s Chrome Browser to auto-detect RSS feeds available on the websites you browse and to give you a quick way to subscribe to a feed on Blogtrottr.

1. In Chrome install the extension ‘RSS Subscription Extension (by Google)’ by going to https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/rss-subscription-extensio/nlbjncdgjeocebhnmkbbbdekmmmcbfjd and selecting ‘Add to Chrome’

2. Edit the extension’s settings by selecting the ‘Subscribe to this feed’ button (RSS feed icon) in the ‘Omnibox’ (top right of the browser) and choosing ‘options’

3. Click ‘Add’ and enter the following details:

Description: Blogtrottr
URL: http://blogtrottr.com/?subscribe=%s&email=YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS (replacing YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS with your Blogtrottr email address)



4. Click ‘Save’

5. Select each of the other options (Bloglines and My Yahoo) in turn and select ‘Remove’

6. Check the option ‘Always use my default reader when subscribing to feeds’ (unless you want to preview feeds to check their quality before subscribing)


Now whenever you visit a website in Chrome with an RSS feed the ‘Subscribe to this feed’ button will turn orange. Just click on the button and then click ‘Feed Me’ to add the feed to your Blogtrottr account.

Thanks for the tip Alejandro!

Have a fantastic tip you want to share with the community? Get in touch by emailing phil@blogtrottr.com

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Blogtrottr and Craigslist

You've probably noticed that your Craigslist subscriptions have been increasingly slow to update recently, and regretfully I must announce that, due to blocks implemented by Craigslist, we're now no longer able to reliably access their RSS feeds.

We're not the first service to have this problem - Feedly, the web based reader service, has also had a prolonged and well publicised issue, but after making every effort to work with Craigslist to find a solution they still find their access denied; and now it would seem that we're next on the list.

While this is unfortunate, we've decided to respect Craigslist's wishes and accept it with good grace.  While we've reached out to them about this (however have yet to receive a response), reaching a resolution with Craigslist at this point seems most unlikely - although of course we remain open to revisiting this in the future should the situation change.

I understand that, for some of you, Craigslist is a central part of your Blogtrottr usage - if you find that your account is now unneeded, please do log a support ticket and we'll of course hook you up with a refund for the remainder of your plan.

We'll process existing subscriptions on a 'best effort' basis, but it's likely that they'll stop working entirely in the near future.  Please accept my sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused, but hopefully you'll appreciate that there's not a great deal we can do about this without Craigslist's cooperation.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Microsoft stop security notification emails

Since July 1st, Microsoft have suspended certain email security notifications, meaning that Windows system administrators and security professionals may need to adapt their monthly "Patch Tuesday" routine in order to keep up with the latest security updates.

While the Redmond based software company offers a customisable web based security dashboard, myBulletins, it's hard to beat the convenience of having bulletin emails delivered straight to your inbox.



Microsoft maintain various technical security notification feeds, amongst which are the monthly Microsoft Security Bulletins (pictured above), and the Microsoft Security Response Center blog feed (below) which provides an excellent monthly summary including active attack status, exploitability rating and potential impact for each patch, allowing you to prioritise your deployment accordingly.



Saturday, 12 April 2014

Heartbleed

A serious vulnerability has recently been uncovered in several recent versions of OpenSSL, a software library that is used for handling secure communications on many websites.  Netcraft estimate that around 17% of SSL webservers are affected by the bug.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to reassure our users that, while Blogtrottr also uses OpenSSL libraries, we've never run any of the versions with the vulnerability, and so aren't affected by this issue.


Further reading: