Articles

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.

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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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Article

Moving to Campfire for Hosting Support

2 Apr 2008

If you’ve been a hosting customer of ours over the past few years, you’re likely familiar with our IRC channel for live hosting support. We’ve recently decided to move more of our efforts online and moving to Campfire, which is where we spend a good portion of our day collaborating together anyway.

Ways to Get Hosting Support

There are a number of ways that you can get your hosting questions answered.

PLANET ARGON Documentation Project

If you have any questions or problems, first take a moment to check out the PLANET ARGON Documentation Project. We teamed with several of our friendly hosting customers to create numerous tutorials related to managing hosting accounts on our servers:

  • http://docs.planetargon.com/

You can find a lot of tutorials that have been written by other great customers like you. Don’t hesitate to correct any typos, mistakes or stale information in the Documentation Project.

PLANET ARGON Community Forums

Perhaps you have a question that wasn’t answered by the tutorials; post a message or read previous posts on our community forums.

Before you ask a question or respond to another question, please read our our posting guidelines.

PLANET ARGON Live Chat Help

If you didn’t find what you need in any of the tutorials or forums, the next place that you should go is our live chat room.

Stop by our Campfire web-based chat room. We’re typically there during our standard hours of support.

  • http://www.planetargon.com/chat

Drop by and introduce yourself; ask a question, answer a question.

PLANET ARGON Technical Support

If none of the resources above have helped you solve your problem, you should submit a support ticket to our technical staff or call us at +1 503 445 2457, +1 877 55 ARGON.

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Article  |  Studio

Planet Argon winter dinner party 2008

20 Mar 2008

We’ve been so busy the past few months that we almost forgot to post photos from our team dinner party in January.

The dinner party was hosted at Noble Rot, a wine-bar and restaurant in Portland, Oregon. We had the whole upstairs to ourselves with personal chefs and excellent food.

It was a great opportunity to have everyone bring their loved-ones for a intimate evening out together. :-)

Here are a few photos from the event.


Melissa, Allison, and Daniel


Pinot Noir


Robby and Paige


Personal chefs prepare our dessert!


View from above


The Planet Argon team

Thank you to the Noble Rot and Melissa for organizing this excellent evening out.

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Article  |  Studio

Meteorites: Thanks for the extra hour Daylight Savings Time

20 Mar 2008

The Autumn of the Multitaskers

“Neuroscience is confirming what we all suspect: Multitasking is dumbing us down and driving us crazy. One man’s odyssey through the nightmare of infinite connectivity”

Jeff Raskin on ‘Intuitive Interfaces’

“Many claims of intuitiveness, when examined, fail. It has been claimed that the use of a computer’s mouse is intuitive. Yet it is far from that. In one of the Star Trek series of science fiction movies, the space ship’s engineer has been brought back into our time, where (when) he walks up to a Macintosh. He picks up the mouse, bringing it to his mouth as if it were a microphone, and says: “Computer, …” The audience laughs at his mistake."

Edge Cases are the Root of all Evil

“Most Edge Cases are presented in the conference room. You get a cross-functional team together to come up with some solutions to The Problem (insert meeting title here). You have people from all the departments that The Problem touches (plus a few more hangers-on who weren’t invited to the party, but personally felt that The Problem could not be solved without them). You brainstorm ideas, go on tangents and then finally inspiration strikes you.”

Easy, Intuitive and Metaphor, and other meaningless words

“Many tasks, that were once hard, can become easy. Learning to ride a bicycle as a child is precarious, often involving falling off, scuffing knees, and occasional tears. But as experienced cyclists riding a bike is easy. The process of transition from hard to easy is one of learning. All the time we spend in education is aimed at turning the hard into the easy. Not by changing the tasks at all – but instead by changing us.”

Where the Heck is My Focus?

“There’s nothing wrong with the point-and-click navigation model of the mouse, although it can degenerate into mystery meat navigation if you’re not careful. I don’t expect web designers to create keyboard-centric websites; the mouse is a natural and intuitive enough way to navigate web sites. But so is the keyboard, in certain circumstances. What frustrates me is when web developers fail to pay attention to the most rudimentary of keyboard support in their designs.”

Blissfully Ignorant Shoppers Happier with Choices

“The researchers used three experiments to arrive at their conclusion. Two of them were consumer test-style experiments in which subjects were asked for their opinion of chocolate in one and hand lotion in the other. In each experiment, one group of subjects was given lots of information about the product, the other group much less. In each instance, the subjects who had little information were more optimistic about the chocolate or hand lotion than those who had more information.”

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Article  |  Studio

Daniel versus Potholes

20 Feb 2008

Daniel was recently mentioned on OregonLive for helping the city improve the road conditions in Portland. This was aimed at helping bicyclists from spotting pot holes on their commutes to work.


Photo from wildsheepchase on flickr

Kudos to Daniel for helping improve the quality of Portland’s streets for bicyclists and cars.

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Article  |  Studio

Planet Argon visits London!

13 Feb 2008

It’s been over a week since we got back from London and I am starting to get to sleep at a decent hour again. Three of us; Robby, Andy, and myself were invited to London for a week to visit one of our larger clients in London and Bromley, which is a suburb of London. We stayed at the Thistle Marble Arch just off of Oxford Street well know for its shopping. Oxford Street is a broad bustling street packed with shoppers night and day, one morning I even woke up to hordes of people queuing up to get into Primark from my window. Which then meant I had to go shop at to see what all the fuss was about.


We spent a lot of time on the London Underground

We had three full days of client meetings and three full days to ourselves to run around and sight-see. The weather was spectacular, sunny almost every day.

The business part of the trip was very informative. We met with our client in Bromley, visited their operations office and their print distribution office, commandeered a small room and rearranged the furniture, talked for three days straight about improvements on the administrative and public interfaces of the application, and met over ten new people from the company. It was great to finally meet some of the people that we’ve been working with for the past nine months and elicit Interaction feedback from our client so that we can continue to design and develop a solution that compliments their workflow and future marketing campaigns.


Andy Delcambe commuting on the train from London to Bromley

We also did a fair amount “getting to know you” type socializing. Something we were all happy to do since we had been working together for half a year with few if not all of us having ever met in person.

We also visited one of their vendors, who are responsible for the development of a 8+ year .NET project that we’ve been interfacing with via Ruby on Rails. Andy has been having weekly conference calls with developers there and he got to have a few pints and work side-by-side on some lingering tickets. Their offices were directly across the street from Buckingham Palace, which meant that we got to walk around and see where the Queen lives.


Walking past Buckingham Palace

Once we finished working for the week we had a few days to be tourists. The touristy part of the trip was mellow and, well touristy. We did a lot of walking, visiting various neighborhoods. Since our client is in the travel industry, they were kind enough to supply us with some free tickets for a guided bus and river tour. We went all around London on the river Thames and saw many sights. We saw Big Ben, Parliament, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and the London Eye. I could never have seen so much by foot. We went to the British Museum, The British History Museum, The National Portrait Gallery, The Tate, Buckingham Palace and many more places. We drank flat, “bitter” beer at pubs with names like “Three Tuns” that had carpets, dark wood paneling and “jacket potatoes.” We took the tube with our “oyster cards” everywhere and our fearless transportation leader Andy kept us headed in the right direction at all times.
Our trip was heavily documented by Andy and Robby who have graciously posted torrential amounts of photos Andy Delcambre’s photos and Robby Russell’s photos.

Oh yeah! And it was great meeting those of you who came out to join us for drinks on our nights off!

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Article

Google Street View for Portland, Oregon

10 Oct 2007

Last night, while working late in the office, Andy noticed that Google now had Street View for Portland, Oregon.

Here is our current office location (for the next three weeks).

In a few weeks, we’ll no longer be facing this side of the block as we’re moving around the corner.

…and a closer view of the exterior of our new studio.

Thank you, Google, for putting Portland (streets) on the map!

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