War on Spam; and Gazelle’s Contribution

pexels-photo-685674

There is a war on spam and the good guys are winning.  Here at Gazelle, we are making some changes to do our part in this struggle.

New standards have emerged that require changes to be made to the way we handle sending email reminders. We believe things are moving in a positive direction and our inboxes will be thankful the Internet is fighting back hard in this ongoing war on spam.  

The Problem

Over the past 15+ years, it has become increasingly common for spammers to hijack your identity and send thousands of emails claiming to be your.email.address@xyz.com.  This confuses consumers because the email appears to come from someone they trust. Historically, email providers like Gmail have chosen to tolerate 3rd parties sending email on your behalf because there are legitimate use cases. But this is starting to change.

New standards like DKIM are now being implemented that will affect the way Gazelle is able to send email on your behalf.  If we do nothing, the prognosis is grim. In order to maintain our +98% email deliverability rate, we must comply with the new DKIM standard. Once major players (like Gmail) adopt the DKIM standard we can easily predict +40% of our emails will fail. Gazelle is essentially getting caught in the crossfire of new standards designed to curb SPAM. 

The Solution

There are a lot of ways to prevent SPAM, and we are following all the current rules defined by industry norms.  But on January 15, 2018, we are moving to fully adopt the DKIM standard. This move means we are holding ourselves to a higher standard before we are required to do so. In terms of fighting spam, this is a great thing and it will even improve your customer’s experience with Gazelle email reminders. 

What will be different?

Prior to this change, email providers like Gmail would attach a notice “From: Your Company Name via gazellenetwork.com” when an email is sent using a 3rd party provider who is not fully DKIM compliant.  Eventually, they will stop doing this and just block the email outright.

View of a non-DKIM Compliant Email

dkim 1

 

View of a DKIM Compliant Email

After Gazelle’s change on January 15th, email providers will treat us like a normal email and will drop the “…via gazellenetwork.com” notice.

dkim

Customizing Your New Gazelle Email Address

After January 15th, all email will be sent from YourGazelleEmailAddress@gznmail.com. You can customize your new Gazelle email sending address in your account “Settings” which will help identify your business to your customers. If you don’t customize your Gazelle email address before the deadline, we will simply choose one for you based on your company name.

Please let us know if you have any questions. We are committed to ensuring a smooth email delivery experience for you and your customers.

 

At Gazelle, December is “Bit Rot” Month!

forest-autumn-orange-colorful-699624

What is Bit Rot?

Bit rot is a technical term for the natural deterioration of software. Bit rot is like tooth decay. At first, it is not noticeable and everything seems inconsequential but if you look closely you can see it, and if you ignore it the downhill spiral accelerates until one day you look up and realize you are in the software graveyard of the world.

The question for any software company quickly becomes “What are you doing today to ensure you stay relevant?” To be honest, we are doing a lot…

How to avoid Bit Rot?

You can’t. Bit rot happens, it is just a fact of life. Every year Google Chrome is going to release 4-6 updates to its browser, Apple is going to update their iOS platform, Hackers are going to exploit security flaws, and companies will scramble to release security updates to patch the holes.  In short, the software world is constantly pushing forward, and if we don’t keep up with these small incremental changes, over time we will be left in the dust.

Our Approach to Bit Rot

At Gazelle, we have decided to dedicate the entire month of December, every year, to cleaning up bit rot.  An entire month might sound extreme but the consequence of not doing this is far too great. We choose December for a few reasons:

  1. Fixing bit rot requires a structured plan – If you don’t set aside time every year to do this, other priorities will inevitably creep up.  This is an easy task to justify setting aside when we have lots of other new features we want to develop.  But if we do that, over time we will end up spending more and more time chasing preventable bugs as the product deteriorates.
  2. Starting fresh every January is a really good feeling – Having a clean slate at the beginning of the year enables us to better plan next years development schedule. We have a lot of improvements planned for 2018 and having the bit rot behind us enables us to accomplish more than we otherwise would be able to achieve.
  3. Most software updates happen over the summer – Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and many of the libraries we use inside Gazelle usually release their annual product updates between May-August of each year. By waiting until the end of the year we are able to address everything at one time.
  4. New bugs get resolved within the user community – When big companies release new products, it is rare to not have any bugs. Immediately following any major software update, you expect to find bugs. By being patient we allow the user communities of each product to flush out any bugs and give the companies time to respond with additional updates. By the time December rolls around most of these bugs have been resolved and our confidence in utilizing the updated product increases.
  5. Coordination around the Holidays – With the holidays comes vacation time and varying degrees of availability.  As a team, focusing on bit rot in December is nice because we don’t need to coordinate as much and it lets us work with our own schedules giving flexibility around the holidays.

Our Philosophy of Software

At Gazelle, we believe the right way to build software is to plan to support it for the long haul. For us, that means we are planning to provide support until the end of the Internet. This is a crazy big idea that we will cover more in another blog post, but when this is your mindset you do things like dedicating an entire month to doing all the boring but necessary things to ensure the future viability of your product remains strong.

 

Kubernetes – that thing you didn’t know you needed…

got kubernetes

 

We are smiling ear to ear this week about something that probably has you asking “Kube’a What?”

Last week we made a massive change to the way Gazelle runs, and odds are you slept right through it. That is because running Kubernetes is all about scale, stability, and speed of future development. We have dedicated nearly all of 2017 preparing for some sweet new features (and redesigns of old ones) that will be coming in 2018. Kubernetes is going to make this possible.

Why Kubernetes?

You can think of Kubernetes like a cargo ship. Hauling around 3 or 4 shipping containers is easy, but 100,000 steel boxes, yikes! You need something to organize and manage everything just so you don’t spend all your development time looking for a needle in a haystack.

Doesn’t everyone build software this way?

No. Most software is built to last less than 2 years. Running Kubernetes is a statement that says “We plan to be around until the end of the internet…” It is the kind of thing you do when you plan to support a software for the long haul. It’s like upgrading the repetition springs on a concert grand. What you had before worked, but in 5 years it is not going to be enough.  In order to manage our growth and keep our focus on future development, it was necessary to spend several months upgrading all the backend components of our system. We did this because we are serious about keeping our promise to build Gazelle with the long-term in view.

How does this impact me?

There are some immediate ways this will impact you:

  1. No more scheduled downtimes to upgrade our servers – Kubernetes enable us to dynamically update our servers without taking them offline.
  2. Faster Development of New Features – Kubernetes helps us focus more of our time on developing new features instead of fussing with our infrastructure.
  3. More Reliability / Possibilities – With less of our time spent updating our infrastructure, our team will be able to focus on improving features and focusing on customer service.

Give Credit where Credit is Due

Nathan did all the heavy lifting to reconfigure our entire codebase to run on Kubernetes. His dedication and raw talent is the reason Gazelle is technically punching way above our class right now. We are so excited to have him on our team and to be moving forward with an ambitious 2018 development schedule. Because of Kubernetes, we anticipate accomplishing more next year than we have in years past.

 

 

 

“Traffic” by Gazelle

Gazelle now uses local traffic patterns to calculate routes! We are super excited to be rolling out a new feature this week!

Gazelle is business automation software solving problems unique to piano technicians, and now Gazelle can add time to your routes at certain times of the day depending on your local rush hour(s) and traffic patterns. No more worrying about construction zones or afternoon school congestion! Simply turn on “Traffic” and Gazelle will add extra time to your routes using historical traffic data for your location.

http://help.gazellenetwork.com/cale…/gazelle-traffic-feature

No automatic alt text available.

Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma Preparations

In preparation for Hurricane Irma, Gazelle is relocating one of our secondary servers 500 miles to the west and taking several precautions.

As many of you know, we run Gazelle on multiple servers around the world that are each housed in buildings able to withstand a Category 5 Hurricane, Flooding, Earthquakes, and prolonged power disruptions. One of our primary server locations is in Virginia which is projected to be hit by Hurricane Irma next week. Today Gazelle is temporarily adding a server to our mix that is located in Ohio to ensure uninterrupted access from our customers around the world.

We would like to wish everyone the best, especially our friends and customers, who are in the path of the storm. Stay safe, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

cone graphic

Another large round of mobile updates

This morning we are releasing the 18th update to our native app…in just 5 months!

The reason Gazelle is continually improving is simple. We have an amazing group of users who support our mission and provide feedback on a daily basis. Sometimes the feedback is hard because you are pointing out ways we missed the mark, or could have done better. But it is always helpful and we listen to every word.

As we grow we want to take a moment to express how grateful we are for the folks who have built with us over the past 2-3 years and extend a big welcome to all the new folks who have joined in our mission over the past few months. Welcome to the Gazelle Family!

Image may contain: phone