Articles

Article  |  UX

The kids are alright...

3 Mar 2010

My nephew just turned 5 years old, which means that I was recently seeking a birthday gift. Last year, I had taken him to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) where he appeared to have a great time playing and learning. Money well spent.

In the back of my mind, I had been planning to purchase him an annual membership so that he could go more often. As his birthday neared, I began to look into this and was quickly discouraged by their membership packages.

At first glance, this may seem straight forward and reasonably priced. Yet, none of these plans were targetting my situation. You see, my goal was to purchase a membership for my nephew. One that might allow myself, his parents, grandparents, or babysitters to take him. Currently, this isn’t possible because their plans require named adult(s) and a number of kids they can take. I’m sure this works for many people, but I believe that a better option would be one geared towards the individual kids.

When I went to review their plans, I was expectig to purchase something like this:

..but all I could do is purchase a membership for some adult(s). Feeling disatisfied with my options, I decided to get in touch with OMSI. I sent in an email over a month ago to explain my scenario and see if they had a way to setup a special membership. Unfortunately, they never bothered to respond. Perhaps I’ll need to call someone in their offices to inquire, but regardless… I really find their strategy flawed.

Story time…

When I was younger, I had several membership cards to various attractions. One was GoKart license, another for an aquarium, and one for an amusement park. I was proud of my GoKart license and kept it in my wallet as kid. I remember getting newsletters in the mail from the aquarium letting me know about upcoming events. This would motivate me to ask my parents to take me (or find someone else to do it for them). I could imagine that this sort of membership model would be a great way to engage kids and invite them back on a more frequent basis. Kids are great at getting adults to take them to do stuff…

In the end, Micah (my nephew) didn’t get a membership pass and OMSI didn’t convert a ready-to-buy birthday shopper.

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Article  |  Work

New Contiki global search results

2 Nov 2009

We’re currently working closely with our long-time clients, Contiki, on improving the user experience for their customers. Our design team recently deployed a new interface for their search results, which allows their customers to research, save, and compare trips that they’re evaluating for their dream vacation.

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Article  |  Development

Take the Ruby on Rails Hosting in 2009 Survey

13 Jan 2009

The team at Planet Argon introduces the survey for people who deploy Ruby on Rails applications! That’s right, we’ve decided to collect, organize, and share valuable information about how people are managing their deployment process.

We invite anyone who is involved in the deployment management of Ruby on Rails applications to participate in the Rails Hosting in 2009
survey
, which will be close on February 1st. Sometime thereafter we will publish the results, along with the anonymous raw data, for use by everyone in the community—including our competitors. Here at Planet Argon, it is our mission to strengthen and improve our hosting-related products and deployment
services
based on real feedback from the trenches. So please, if you have a few minutes to spare, take our survey and help us take a giant step into future of Ruby on Rails hosting.

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Article  |  Studio

Happy New Years 2009!

31 Dec 2008

NEWSLETTER: 012009 – New Years

PLANET ARGON New Years Newsletter

December 31st, 2008

  • Client Projects in 2008
  • Boxcar Redesigned
  • Going into 2009

We wanted to send you a quick note to wish you all a Happy New Year.
Our team had a very successful year and are looking forward to
another great year in 2009. This last year has seen the launch
of client projects that we’ve worked hard on all year, and 2009
brings with it some exciting new products that we will be
announcing in the next few months!

Recently launched Client Projects

AlphaClone

Planet Argon recently helped launch AlphaClone.com, a premier stock
research and portfolio simulation service for individuals and professional
investors alike. Planet Argon worked with the AlphaClone team to design
and develop the product from ideation all the way through deployment.
AlphaClone is hosted using the same technology that powers Rails Boxcar
and is being managed by our team of deployment specialists.

Contiki

Planet Argon has been collaborating with Contiki, a worldwide leader in
vacations for 18-35 year olds, as the primary Interaction Design and
Development team behind their online presence for nearly two years. In 2008,
we helped grow their community base beyond the 100k member threshold and it
continues to grow as we expand on ways for their customers to connect with
each other before and after their travels through tips, photo sharing, and
planning reunion trips!

Boxcar Redesigned

In 2008, we began redesigning our deployment and hosting services by turning
Rails Boxcar from a simple VPS into a scalable deployment platform. In addition
to 3 different Boxcar plans, we are now also offering custom managed hosting
packages on dedicated hardware for high-volume sites. These packages leverage
the same technology as our Boxcar plans allowing for simple deployments and
simple scalability. Combined with our new consulting options, we’re giving
our customers access to more ways to grow their sites without the headaches
of managing them.

To top it all off, we recently launched a new site for Rails Boxcar, sporting
a new look, testimonials, and more detailed plan information.

Remember to sign up for our new Rails Boxcar Newsletter! ;-)

Going into 2009

Our team is currently working on a collection of internal projects and
consumer-facing products that we will be launching in the first quarter
of 2009. We are still evaluating new client projects for 2009, so if you
know anybody looking for a Design and Development team, don’t hesitate to
have them give us a call at +1 503 445 2456 or contact us online at:

You can also follow us online at:

Again, we hope that you had a great 2008 and are looking forward to a successful 2009!

The Planet Argon team!

Alex, Allison, Carlos, Chris, Dan, Dawn, Gary, and Robby

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Article  |  Work

We Launched: AlphaClone (private-beta)

25 Nov 2008

We were contacted by one of the founders of AlphaClone nearly a year ago. They pitched us on a very complicated project that would need to be simplified so that their customers could easily interact with it. After a vigorous ITER-ZERO process, we kicked off the project last February and earlier today, our clients sent out private-beta invitations to people and we’ve opened up a few features to the public.

They describe themselves as, “AlphaClone is a research service that let’s investors follow the stock ideas of top money managers. AlphaClone simulates, or clones, the performance of investing in these ideas at the time they become public. AlphaClone is the first professional-grade cloning service for self-directed and professional investors alike.” (link)

We’ll go into more details about some of our design decisions in the project in future posts, but did want to invite you all to take a peek at what we’ve been up to for most of the year.

AlphaClone — Find the smart money

We’re excited to see how people respond to the site and we’re really excited to be part of this innovative project!

Take a look at:

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Article  |  Studio

Planet Argon Goes on a Field Trip!

17 Sep 2008

Excluding the morning machine that is Robby; the rest of Planet Argon had rarely, if ever, seen the likes of the beloved office at a grisly 7:15am… until Wednesday, August 27th, that is. The day at the office began and ended before much of the team typically batted their sleep-encrusted eyes awake each morning. Backpacks in tow and jokes amok, the team trekked swiftly to the train station to board the northbound train, destination: Seattle.

For weeks, there had been mounting anticipation of this day of fun peppered with work outside the office. Most of the group had minimal time logged on a train, all were looking forward to seeing the Seattle Mariners vs. the Minnesota Twins, but an ever-so-slight sense of unease wafted about:

>"Did anyone bring their iPhone charger?"

>"Will we be near outlets?"

>"How will we ration battery power?"

>"What time is it?"

>"Who’s playing ‘I Spy’ with me?"

>"Who’s having a beer with me?"

All legitimate concerns for an eclectic team with one goal in sight: Accomplishment. The bar is never too high if fun is the mission, especially when work’s necessities are there to keep the gang’s psyche balanced.

Gary on the train

With a projected high of a mere 64 degrees, the team wasn’t phased as they settled into the high-back Amtrak seats; various breakfast foods and their mini army of MacBooks strewn across the conveniently placed tables.

A winding 4 hours to reach the stadium which happened to be mere steps from the station left the team with ample time to accomplish tasks across the board. The lack of a true wi-fi connection didn’t hinder Allison, Robby, Chris, Gary and Alex from setting up a bluetooth network with each other.

Beers in hand and game faces on, a grueling battle of wits ensued between Alex and Dawn; Travel Scrabble style.

Upon arrival, with some lovely beers and tasty meals to follow; the posse ventured through the waves of mediocre merchandise vendors into the bowels of the manmade-strocity that is Safeco Field.

IMG_1905

The game itself proved to be pretty fruitful, with the Mariners pulling ahead only for the Twins to ultimately reign victorious, 5 to 6. Details can be viewed here.

IMG_1956

The game may have been over, but the day trip was in full swing. The ride back proved to be a time when everybody at Planet Argon loosened their collars, so to speak. Work was hammered through, unfortunately nobody was hammered. Games modern and classic were played, jokes too lewd for the internetz were uttered and carried on well through their peak. Observational humor stayed strong, a child with the voice of an alien and the curious name of ‘Elliot’ (E.T. anyone?) dashed through the aisles much to our amusement… Hilarity ensued when he donned a hoody just like his 1980s fictional counterpart.

Also not captured on film were shenanigans involving a suspicious program “PhotoBooth”, which many cite as the reason society is crumbling. Dubbed the “Photobooth Palz” by onlookers, the culprits allegedly were creating questionably inhuman images with nothing more than their own faces and hands. Any information or details should not be reported to authorities.

To the dismay of many, including the Argonistas, the train became delayed by approximately 1 hour; just mere tiptoes from the Vancouver, WA station after the conductor announced a freight train “left a huge mess”… Which of course prompted the team to speculate on what really happened:

>"Foul play"

>"A train surprise"

>"A drug bust"

>"Large-beaded necklaces"

>"Elllllllllllliot!"

Alex was permitted to exclude himself from the no-table discussion as he was studying Planet Argon’s bible, Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins.

Planet Argon arrived back in Portland on the heavy side of 10:00pm, reprogrammed indefinitely by the day’s happenings.

It was a bleary-eyed journey, never low on laughter or yawns. Cliches aside, the literal traveling definitely made the entire excursion worthwhile… Anybody can simply go to a baseball game, but it takes a true posse to mix business with pleasure and find solace in the transit itself.

IMG_1878

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Article

Ignite Portland 3

19 Jun 2008

We were fortunate to be able to sponsor Ignite Portland 3, which was held at the Baghdad theatre in Portland, Oregon.

What is Ignite? Let’s let them answer that (from Ignite Portland site)

“If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds? Around the world geeks have been putting together Ignite nights to show their answers.”1

Several of us from Planet Argon came down to enjoy the evening. Here are a few videos that I (Robby) took on my Flip.

  • “Fracking robots, dude!”:, by Sharon Greenfield

A Short Course On How to Ride Freight Trains – Gerry Van Zand

Don’t get mad, make a video! – Phillip Kerman

(coming soon)

As sponsors, we had an opportunity to go up in front of the audience for 15 seconds. Allison got up to introduce everybody to Planet Argon.

Additionally, it was fun to watch just how active Twitter was during this event.

Thanks to everyone who came up to introduce themselves and to all the speakers for making it an fun and educational evening!

1 http://www.igniteportland.com/about/

2 As sponsors, we had an opportunity to go up in front of the audience for 15 seconds to pitch our company.

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Article  |  Studio

Monthly Pricing Plan for Rails Boxcar!

10 Apr 2008

By popular demand.. we’re happy to announce that we’ve just rolled out monthly subscription plans for Boxcar, our professional VPS hosting solution for Ruby on Rails applications. That’s right! You can now order a new Boxcar on a month-to-month basis for just $99/month.

Our team has been building a completely new account management and billing system for the past few months and just launched the initial version. Our aim was to get the essentials out to our customers and work with them to learn more about their goals for managing their Boxcars. Over the next few months, we’ll be building automation tools to simplify the process for deploying Ruby on Rails applications to your Boxcar. Be sure to stay tuned and follow Boxcar on twitter as we’ll be posting information there as we launch these changes.

For more information, visit railsboxcar.com or contact us.

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