Search This Blog


Tuesday, July 31, 2012 + eCommerce Hack Day (Dwolla/Etsy) is excited to be a prize sponsor of the upcoming eCommerce Hack Day. It's put on by Dwolla and Etsy and is the first-ever New York City hackathon focused on the ecommerce space. It'll be held August 4-5 at the AlleyNYC offices in midtown Manhattan.

eCommerce Hack Day
eCommerce Hack Day
Building an ecommerce application has a lot of moving pieces and a ton of work needs to be done behind the scenes.'s hosted services fit right in. Here are just a few things that developers can use IronWorker, IronMQ, and IronCache for:
  • Use IronWorker to process transactions or send emails in the background. Or fire up lots of workers to crawl sites and compare prices. Or process a ton of images to provide the right look for your app.
  • Use IronWorker's scheduling capabilities to kick off jobs every 5 minutes, on the hour, or just about on any schedule you want. Pair it with SendGrid or Twilio to send out personalized emails, SMS, reports, and other notifications.
  • Use IronMQ to break up the workload, send messages between process, and perform many tasks asynchronously.
  • Use IronCache to store temporary data and coordinate across a large set of stateless processes.
The list of sponsors includes a collection of top cloud and API services. Which means we'll be in good company. It also means developers will have a really strong array of services to use to build some pretty inspiring applications.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

.NET Just Got Some Iron Behind It

IronWorker now supports .NET so you can run .NET code at scale. Let your .NET workers process big data, send massive notifications, collect data from API's, schedule tasks, etc. All in the cloud, no servers required.

Here's a quick Hello Worker example so you can see how easy it is to get started.

Write the Worker

This is just a simple worker that parses the task payload and prints it to the log.

Compile It

Compile it as you normally would with Visual Studio (or gmcs for mono users: gmcs hello.cs). You should now have a hello.exe executable.

Create .worker file

The .worker file defines the dependencies and since we only have an .exe file, that's all we need to define.

Upload Worker

Now upload the code package:

> iron_worker upload hello

Queue Worker

Now that your worker is uploaded, you can start queuing up tasks! Let's queue one from the command line:

> iron_worker queue hello --payload '{"query":"xbox"}'

Generally, you'll queue up tasks from your application and to do that, you just need to post to our create task endpoint in the IronWorker API, here's example code for queuing tasks in .NET.

That's it! Now you can queue up any number of jobs you want and IronWorker will handle the rest. Massive compute power at your fingertips.

Full code for this example here:

Thursday, July 19, 2012 + Box Hackathon is excited to be a sponsor of the upcoming Box Hackathon. The theme is Redefining Work and it'll be held on August 11-12. Hundreds of developers will be there looking to build the next great piece of business software.

Box is all about creating products that has the power of traditional enterprise software with an interface that's super easy to use. is all about creating drop-dead simple cloud services that lets teams do massive things asynchronously. 

Need to pre- or post-process a document? (IronWorker
Need to do work at set times? (IronWorker scheduling) Need to process a ton of docs? (IronWorker) Need to orchestrate some workflow or coordinate activity among a set of processes? (IronMQ and IronCache). Boom, boom, boom, and boom!

We'll be in good company at the event – Twilio, Parse, Mashery, Firebase, and TokBox are also sponsors.

Box Hackathon Sponsors

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Serverless PhantomJS with IronWorker

PhantomJS is a headless WebKit with Javascript API. From it's website, "It has fast and native support for various web standards: DOM handling, CSS selector, JSON, Canvas, and SVG." In other words, PhantomJS is a great solution for things like web crawling/scraping, headless website testing, etc. The perfect match for IronWorker.

Q: So why do I need IronWorker? 
A: Fast, easy, scalable, parallel, "serverless" implementation.

I'll expand. IronWorker is a worker system, also known as a task queue. It's designed to run scheduled tasks, asynchronous jobs passed from your apps, and oftentimes heavily parallelized work. The power of IronWorker is easily seen after you've used it, so here's a tutorial to get up and running with PhantomJS in just a few minutes.

What's about to happen...

You'll be using the IronWorker command line interface to build and ship two workers to the IronWorker platform.

crawler loads up the PhantomJS library and crawls Google Maps for pizza places in San Francisco. For each match found, that worker then kicks off a second worker,

processor then follows the link, grabs a screenshot of the page, and posts it to the imgur anonymous API.

All without ever dealing with a single server or installing any software or packages yourself. Pretty cool huh?

The builders are separate workers that kick off automatically when you upload your workers and the system detects in the .worker file that you called the build() command.

Let's get started!

Step 1: The Basics
  1. Sign up for a free account at
  2. Create your first project. This is your workspace and can be used for all services. We’ll be using IronWorker.
  3. Install our iron_worker_ng gem (gem install iron_worker_ng). At this time, the recommended way to manage your workers is using our command line interface tool, which is offered as a Ruby gem. This doesn't mean you'll be writing any Ruby though.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Guest Post: + Team Healthify = Hacking Change in Healthcare

Sabrina Atienza and George Ramonov are emerging experts in the areas of big data and healthcare information. This is their story from xHack 2012, a hackathon sponsored by RadiumOne and 

Hello world, we're two aspiring hackers from UC Berkeley: Sabrina Atienza and George Ramonov. We comprised Team Healthify at xHack 2012 held this past June. 
From the start, we were prepared to fulfill the stereotype of Berkeley crazy. Our vision for the hackathon appeared overly ambitious, borderline insane for only twenty-four hours, a likely dysfunctional mess, doomed to elicit a few chuckles at best.

But that wasn't the case and here's how it went:

The grand vision was to create a social media surveillance system that discovers meaningful Twitter content in the midst of noisy data. In our vision and our final version of Healthify, the HTML5 mobile/web application pulls thousands of tweets from Twitter, applies machine learning algorithms and natural language processing to analyze the relevance of tweets to keywords in a customizable dictionary, geolocates those tweets deemed relevant, plots them on a Google Map with distinct markers for distinct keywords, and then displays an information window for each marker, revealing the text of each tweet for audiences to read, gawk at, gasp at.

As an added bonus, spurred in part by hack prizes, we developed a generalized Greasemonkey plug-in that lets users embed interactive Google Maps into posts, which in our case displayed the Healthify map of infectious disease tweets.

We spent the majority of our time at the onset writing a single Python script to aggregate Twitter data, analyze the relevance of tweets to our chosen dictionary of infectious disease terms, and geolocate relevant tweets via Google Maps API. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Console (HUD) Version 4 Released - Better all around

The New HUD
The latest update to the user interface, otherwise known as HUD, is live. Taking into account all the great user feedback we've received, we strived to make this release easier to use and nicer on the eyes. Here are some of the major changes: