Hightrack 2015

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Now that 2015 has just started, it is a good moment to share with you how 2014 has been at Hightrack and what we expect of this coming year. Our mission has always been clear, and it will stay like that: help you make your life more productive. That is why last year we worked very hard and focused in improving the user experience: new mobile apps, an enhanced web version and more features that we considered essential —such as offline sync or email to task.

We know that there are things we have done well and others that we have to improve. That’s why we want to share with you our plans for this adventure that starts now:

At Hightrack

2014 was the year we consolidated our position. We are thankful for the support of more than 35,000 users like you, which have seen their productivity increase by 20%, as they have told us in our latest survey. We have also received a great boost as one of Spain’s leading companies in the sector. We have won and shared with you several awards, such as MadridStartup_10 or The Heroes Club.

For this new year, we redoubling our commitment to our roadmap. You will be able to check a new monthly update service in which we will share our improvements and bug fixes. Our master plan for 2015 is to give you a constant influx of new features.

 

In Communication

If there is something we feel specially proud of is of all the suggestions, ideas and reviews you have shared with us. We have listened to each and every one of them through Twitter, Facebook, our website, our email and in every opportunity we’ve had to meet face to face. We are bearing them all in mind: all of them make Hightrack a better service.

As of today, we have also replied to each and every one of the 4,709 cases that you have sent us through our support service, and we have done that quickly and effectively. The average response time has always been less than a day and we have solved 90% of the problems in less than 48 hours.

However, we aim for an even higher degree of transparency, and that is why this year you will hear more from us, and more often. We will inform you of every new step we give, and for that we would like to count on your feedback.

The most imminent change has to do with our website: we will launch a new version in a few days and we’ve made an effort to place the tools to interact with us closer to you.

 

In Contents

In less than a year, you have helped us become global leaders in productivity. That is possible because of the team that supports us and that makes a difference in the most important aspect: productivity. In order to continue in this path you have set us on, the people at GTD Lab® have joined our team, so we can offer you GTD® content of the highest level.

We have always been committed to high quality content, and we know you share our mission. The books, articles and videos we have presented have not only been very well received by our user base, but also been key in the improvement of your productivity, as you tell us in your feedback.

So, we are going to improve the Academy with a new space in which we will publish videos, articles and tutorials on a weekly basis. We are sure they will be of great use to improve your productivity and make the most of Hightrack —independently of the level you start with when you join us.

With the launch of our new website, all our content will be available in both English and Spanish. It has been one of the top requests we have received, and that is why it will be available from the first day our new website is out.

 
 
We start 2015 with you and it’s going to be an exciting year: we will improve, we will grow and we will conquer new markets. We want to count on you to reach our goals together.

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Hightrack syncs Offline

Hightrack syncs Offline

Ready to discover our latest feature? In the last months we’ve listened to your feedback, and the top request for mobile devices was Offline Sync.

We’ve been working hard and this time Android users are first. Now you can download Hightrack from Google Play and enjoy it for your Android phone!



Also we’ve introduced missing features, fixed bugs and improved the speed and the performance.

HIGHTRACK ON GOOGLE PLAY

And what about iOS? Just wait a week and you’ll have your release with Offline Sync too!

Thanks again for your support and constant feedback. We’re working with it on future releases with more features and added functionality for the next months. Stay tuned for the news.



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GTD Lab + Hightrack = Productividad sin límites

gtd
¡Hoy es un gran día para Hightrack! Arrancamos un nuevo curso y qué mejor que hacerlo dando la bienvenida a Jeroen Sangers, Alberto Barbero, Antonio José Masiá y José Miguel Bolívar, o lo que es lo mismo los fundadores de GTD Lab, la comunidad de referencia de GTD en España.

Desde el primer día hemos escuchado, leído y analizado cada una de las sugerencias que nos habéis mandado. Y una de las más solicitadas era la de integrar Hightrack y GTD. Hemos iniciado esta colaboración con GTD Lab con el fin de garantizar el punto de vista genuino de GTD tanto en el desarrollo de la aplicación como en el contenido de la Learning Zone.

En nombre de todo el equipo de Hightrack quiero aprovechar para darte las gracias por tu apoyo y confianza durante este primer año. Estamos seguros que con las nuevas funcionalidades, las mejoras del servicio y más incorporaciones que iremos compartiendo en las próximas semanas, podremos ayudarte para que tu experiencia con Hightrack sea aún mejor.

Tu productividad es lo más importante para nosotros.

On Track!
Enrique Gonzalo
Fundador y CEO de Hightrack

jeroen
Jeroen Sangers
El Canasto
@JeroenSangers

alberto
Alberto Barbero
Personas y equipos productivos
@Albarbero

antonio
Antonio José Masiá
Cambiando Creencias
@ajmasia

jmiguel
José Miguel Bolívar
Óptima Infinito
@jmbolivar

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GTD Lab + Hightrack = Productivity without limits

gtd
Today is a great day for Hightrack! We start a new school year, and we do it in the best posible way: welcoming Jeroen Sangers, Alberto Barbero, Antonio José Masiá and José Miguel Bolívar, founders of GTD Lab, a well-known GTD community in Spain.

From the very first day, we have read, listened and analyzed every suggestion you have sent our way. One of the most frequent requests was to integrate Hightrack and GTD. We are now collaborating with GTD Lab in order to guarantee that the GTD approach will be present both in the app development and in our Learning Zone content.

I want to use this opportunity to thank you for your trust and support during this first year, in the name of the entire Hightrack team. We are sure that our new features, service improvements and the collaborators that will join us in the following weeks will be of great help to improve even more your experience using Hightrack.

Your productivity is the most important thing for us.

On Track!
Enrique Gonzalo
Founder and CEO at Hightrack

jeroen
Jeroen Sangers
El Canasto
@JeroenSangers

alberto
Alberto Barbero
Personas y equipos productivos
@Albarbero

antonio
Antonio José Masiá
Cambiando Creencias
@ajmasia

jmiguel
José Miguel Bolívar
Óptima Infinito
@jmbolivar

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Hightrack and Lifehacker – Tech notes

A few days ago we got featured in LifeHacker. It was very exciting. We are very grateful for them talking about us but it was also kind of scary: we had been reading about other people getting their service beaten down and definitely did not want that to happen to us or to our users. Luckily, they warned us a few days in advance so we could get ready. This is the story of how we didn’t go down after being hit by a tsunami of lifehackers.

this is what a tsunami looks like

It all starts with preparation for scale. Our application consists of a DB cluster (mongoDB), a messaging queue (RabbitMQ), an API (written in PHP, served using Apache and APC) and applications (Javascript for the browser, and full native iOS and Android apps). We have one server for the browser app, the messaging queue and running the API, and everything is tied up together using Chef. The static website and the blog are run from another server in a shared hosting. We would like to have everything already decoupled, but we are not heavily funded and every euro counts.

All the pieces are upgradeable and decoupable; we can move the messaging queue to a new, beefier server if the need arises, or serve the browser app from a different server than the API. The applications are completely stateless, allowing us to horizontally scale as much API servers as we need. Customers’ information is held in the MongoDB cluster, safe from data loss in case one server died.

We thought most people would visit just our landing page, maybe browse the static site a bit, and a smaller percentage of the visits would actually go to the app and set up an account. First order of business was keeping the static site up. We also considered that getting some load off the API server would be good, and we could achieve that by offsetting the serving of the web app to another web server. This didn’t satisfy us completely in terms of API stability, so we also thought of raising some new web servers for the API. Finally, the DNS for the site was being served off an old shared hosting server and we thought that might also prove troublesome.

So, first thing we had to do was selecting a DNS provider. We had previous experience with Zerigo (DNS providers for our technical partner, Tecnilogica). They run a very nice, low latency service with a nice user interface that could come in handy if we needed to make changes quickly. We moved the hightrack.me zone to them and set up low TTLs for all the host records so we could react to unforeseen circumstances.

After setting up the DNS, we started surveying CDN providers to offset the static site and the blog to them. Using a CDN was a priority since we expected the heaviest load on our weakest server. We decided to go with Incapsula. The setup proved to be more eventful than what we wanted, but with the great help of their support team we had it up and running in just a few hours.

With all of this, we felt confident that everything was ready to hold the load, but we made even more adjustments. We prepared a landing page with a friendly “Hi Lifehacker, you’ve got us on our knees” message in case the influx of visitors took our application down and readied a kill switch for new users signup. These were last resort measurements we didn’t want to use.

Once we tested Incapsula with the static site, we decided to use it to serve the web application, too. It also works well with SSL, using your own certificate or allowing them to emit one on your behalf. Finally, we set up a new frontend server for the API and set up DNS round-robin to balance in 2/3 with our existing one (2 requests would go to our existing server per each going to the new one). We then sat in a room full of screens and waited.

We did this mostly for the looks ;)

We were running Google Analytics (real time), the Incapsula dashboard, our own KPI dashboard, Ducksboard, and several SSH sessions to the servers, showing load and logs. Having realtime information is always a nice thing, but in these situations it becomes essential. We are also pampered by our continuous use of Ducksboard: having all the business related information up to date in one place is a must.

Everything went smoothly save for one thing: during the first minutes, some users complained about not being able to log in with their newly created accounts. We pinpointed it to the new API server, so we took it off the DNS rotation and everything went back to normal in a few minutes. Later we found out the problem came from betraying ourselves. During the provisioning of that API server (using Chef on an AWS instance) we ran into some trouble with the Apache recipe (our recipe is custom-written for Apache 2.2 and the Apache on the server was 2.4), we decided to take the recipe off and install and configure it manually. Naturally we forgot a key extension and the application was unable to authenticate users.

Lessons learned:

1.

A CDN can save your life for cheap. Incapsula service is going to cost us around and kept us alive while getting thousands of new users. Cost per user is really low.

2.

Never, ever, betray your tools. If you have gone (as you should) down the path of automation, do not stray from it.

3.

Good selection of partners will save you a lot of headaches later on. Our mix of Hetzner (bare metal hosting), Zerigo (DNS), Ducksboard (KPI monitoring), and AWS (spot instances) has proven to be reliable over the years. The last-minute addition of Incapsula (CDN) was a nice pick as well.

4.

Being warned of these events in advance is nice. Everything can be set up in a few hours, but setting all this under pressure would be a nightmare. Low TTL on your DNS is a necessary evil.

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Hightrack and the Heartbleed Bug

Heartbleed
You may be wondering if Hightrack has been affected with the Heartbleed bug. No worries, everything is now safe and our web is currently unaffected.

Early this week we did detect the vulnerability in our systems, but we immediately took the necessary steps: we doubled backed up all your data (Premium and non-Premium users), we updated libraries and SSL certificates, and we deployed a batch of technical measures. All good in our side :-)

Want to change your password anyway? Just head to Preferences > Account and click on “Edit”. Thanks!

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Hightrack for iOS7 is here

Hightrack for iOS7

Ready to discover our latest app? Hightrack for iOS7 is now live on the App Store. Ready to download.

In the last months we listened to your feedback, we learnt from past mistakes, we introduced missing features, and we improved the speed and the performance.

We think it’s not just an upgrade or a nice redesign, but a whole new app. Although we kept the structure and main sections, you will find so many changes and additions, that you will enjoy a different experience.

The new stuff? Subtasks, new Quick Add, better tasks and events Cards, new Calendar, Today redesigned, a whole new Upcoming and much more. Go and discover by yourself.

Thanks for your support and constant feedback.

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Introducing Hightrack for Android

Hightrack for Android

Hightrack for Android is finally here! We know we promised this app some time ago, and we are certainly overdue. But the wait is over! Now you can download Hightrack from Google Play and enjoy it in your Android phone.



What are you going to find? A lightweight, agile and easy-to-use app with all of Hightrack mobile features: Today, Upcoming, Calendar and obviously Tasks. You will certainly like exploring the app by yourself, but here are our favorite highlights:

  • Quick Add: the always-on-top bar lets you create new tasks in a breeze. Just what you need when you’re on the move.
  • Today: kick-off your morning with this super useful screen. All tasks and events for the day in just one quick view.
  • Upcoming: all your activity for the next few days on a single screen. Quickly find those days without tasks or events, or expand any day to find out more details.
  • Calendar views: Agenda, Week or Month. Now with color-coded events —your schedule never looked so good!

But this is just our first step in the Android world. We’re already working on future releases with more features and added functionality for the next months. Stay tuned.



HIGHTRACK ON GOOGLE PLAY

THANK YOU for your loyalty, support and extreme patience.

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