Author Archive: Shawna Furr

March 31, 2010

I Am the Cell Phone Person

Being the “cell phone person” here at SoftLayer has its challenges, to put it mildly. I thought that working with mostly boys (yes, I meant to say boys) would be a breeze compared to a bunch of women (we tend to be a bit ummm, picky?). I was terribly wrong! They are WORSE! Especially with gadgets like cell phones, considering the field we are in. For some reason a lot of them think that because they can configure a server they also know exactly what is wrong with their phone without actually troubleshooting it at all or why they MUST have this phone or that phone.

Reboot?! Why?! Hmmmm that was one of the first things I learned to ALWAYS do. I learned this from Jacob Linscott, my first IT guy back in 1997, who I work with once again; he is our Director of IT – Linux. I learned very quickly that I had better not EVEN think about calling him until I had rebooted my computer. Amazingly enough, I’d say the odds on a reboot fixing the issue with both computers and cell phones is very high, but that’s about the only thing that is similar in regards to issues between the two. I have been amazed at the multitude of varying issues as well as the information you can find online to fix a phone without having to call the carrier; and, that is a real life saver!

What baffles me is that everyone seems to know what’s wrong with their phone without actually researching it. When I say “So you Googled that and found info that said it was most likely the issue?” I get “nah, I just think that’s it.” I just shake my head, take their phone, and walk away. I Google my rear end off all the time! I am as specific as possible when I do a search. Such as, “my 8320 can send SMS, but is not receiving them.” Seems obvious, right? Wrong!

One would think the Geektopia of staff we have would do the same, WRONG! There is a world of knowledge and information out there regarding any number of BlackBerry and iPhone issues if you simply just take a few minutes to type your issue into a search engine. Heck, you don’t have to use Google, you can use whatever search engine you want! I’ve sent out emails regarding tips and tricks, the problem I seem to have is getting people to actually read the info. Admittedly, we get hundreds and hundreds of emails a day, some days thousands, depending on what group lists they are on; so I’ll give a little slack. It’s simply a case of missing the obvious, like when you are trying to fix a computer and it won’t work and it turns out to be the simplest thing that was forgotten, happens with phone issues too. Everyone just goes into panic mode when their phone isn’t functioning, amazing how we lived without cell phones just 20 years ago.

When SL was starting up just a few years ago, our VP of Sales was the cell phone person and he wasn’t too thrilled. He couldn’t WAIT to pass it on to someone else. I was the chosen one or sucker, depending how you look at it. I remember sitting in my cube my first week at SL, which wasn’t too far from his office, and giggling when he had to call the carrier and deal with some phone issues. I don’t giggle anymore. They told me by no means was it a punishment, taking over this particular job duty, but some days I wonder—especially the days when I get stuck on the phone for hours and hours trying to get a phone fixed, repeating myself over and over to 5 different people in 5 departments! It’s a source of some major meltdowns to say the least.

You see, we have about 130 phones throughout the company in four different locations. Dallas has Corporate and the DC and of course Seattle and WDC. So a lot of phones, a lot of folks, a lot of issues; from “My phone got ruined when I went hiking wearing khaki’s and got caught in a rain storm, the rain soaked through and ruined my phone, can I have a better one now?” to, “I lost it at the Christmas Party, sorry” to “If I step on it, does that mean I have to pay for it, because I want a better one?!” Yes, those are just a few of them, and obviously some of my favorites.

I, with the help of a few others, just recently upgraded 31 phones; Lance our CEO is cool like that. You see, the 31 were 8700c BB models, or fondly referred to as “coasters” around here. Of course they were spread across our four locations, so this required lots of coordination with someone on the other end of the line. This upgrade took over a month due to device issues (new phone to market at the time).

The guys in the Dallas NOC all know better than to laugh as they hear my cursing due to being on the phone for countless hours; or if they do, they’ve gotten much better about hiding it. The point of all of this is to remind you that if you have a company cell phone and it has issues, be kind to your cell phone person and know that you are not the only one with an issue. Cell phones break. Cell phones die. Cell phones get dropped on the ground, in the toilet, or, my favorite, thrown across a room in anger every single day. So if your cell phone person can’t get to you RIGHT THAT MINUTE, try trouble shooting it yourself. No, not installing things, but maybe just try and look up your issue, and let them know what you found. Send them the link or print it out. It will make their day. Trust me on this one!

December 23, 2009

He Can Eat How Many Chipotle Burrito’s???!!!

You’ve all heard how great it is to work for an innovative and cutting edge company from other staff, so I won’t bore you with things you already know. Let’s talk SL culture a bit; let’s get into the real “meat” of what motivates and fuels the staff on a day to day basis—the Dallas NOC staff specifically. It’s a bunch of dudes and me, the only chick. Yes, I am brave… very, very brave!

Blue1

We like to eat, if you didn’t already know. Our own CTO, Sam Fleitman, actually competes in BBQ contests. We are his sponsor; go 3 Bars BBQ (best ribs you will ever eat)! Work hard, play harder, eat like pigs (and eat pigs too, we love bacon), that’s what we know and love! On this particular day, I decided to go pick up Chipotle for anyone who wanted some. Chris “Mank” Menard was goofin’ on William “Blue” Spencer; and, somehow it was decided that if Blue could eat 3 Chipotle burrito’s in under an hour, we’d all chip in and pay for his lunch. Blue can be somewhat of a braggart, so everyone was into it. Little did we know…

Blue2

He began on his first one, polishing the puppy off in around 3 minutes flat.

Let me be sure you understand and know the Chipotle burrito. These things are packed full: meat, rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce; they are a good 1-2 pounds each I’d imagine.

He starts the second one, and this is where we all think he’s going to slow down. That first one was a breeze, but the rice should start to expand in his stomach within no time. Wrong again, this one went down just as easily, but he decided to take a bit more time. This one clocked in at 3 minutes, 30 seconds. Although he was admittedly full, as you can see from his expression, he forged on…

Blue3

Blue took a brief break, to let it all settle in before the 3rd and final burrito, but only to have some Mt. Dew and mess with our minds. We knew we’d be buying those burritos, especially when he decided to toy with all of us with this pose. Yes folks, that is the 3rd one, almost gone.

Blue4

The 3rd was downed in about 4 minutes 15 seconds and that was only because he was having too much fun messing around with us, as we stood on the other side of the table in amazement, horror, and total disbelief. The guy is an eating machine!
We even got our next order free, thanks to the Manager at Chipotle (around $150). When I picked up the order, she asked why there were 3 for Blue, I explained the situation; she loved it and told me that if he did it, to give her a call and the next lunch order was on her! So, I kindly gave her a ring; and, the following week, we got lunch paid for completely!

Blue5

Thanks for entertaining us Blue! What’s next? It’s been long enough…Hopefully you will be reading another blog soon, with another meat-tastic challenge!

August 24, 2008

Inventory Envy

Before coming to SoftLayer in February of 2007, I worked for a large format printing company. What does that mean you ask? We printed LARGE signage, not as large as billboards, but think about a mall and all the signs in the windows and inside the stores, this is called POP (point of purchase) and that’s what I did. I was in charge of making sure schedules were met, materials were ordered (all of them, for the entire company), maintained vendor relations (so I could get what I wanted, when I wanted it) and helped start up their online ordering system, those were a few of my jobs.

I’ve been helping out the inventory team in the Dallas DC as we are getting rid of the old and bringing in the new so to speak, saying bye-bye to the legacy servers that use up too much space and too much power. Our COO asked me for my help, knowing I had an inventory background. I had also worked with one of the inventory guys at my last location. He worked in the shipping/fulfillment department, so he was always aware of inventory levels and things like that, and was responsible for letting me know when we needed more of a particular item in his department (he always did an excellent job).

Yesterday I was putting legacy servers back to a basic config and he was scanning all parts back into the portal and back out based on the basic config. I was amazed at the system. I knew our portal for our customers was amazing, but hadn’t really delved into the inventory side of our reporting, etc. until then. We know where every single piece of hardware is in each of our facilities at any given time. Each stick of RAM, each HDD, each RAID card and the list goes on and on and on. It’s simply amazing. I joked with him saying “our old bosses would freak out if they had a real inventory set up like this, wouldn’t they?” he laughed and agreed.

I had to constantly order things last minute and over night, rush delivery because inevitably, someone would not tell me they took the last roll of vinyl, the last pallet of 20” x 40” boxes, whatever it was, it happened all the time. Taking on so many hats at my last job, I didn’t have time to readily go around and check stock all the time, I relied on each department to tell me and inevitably, it failed over and over again. I had complained for years that people could just walk off with whatever they wanted, as there was no sort of tracking system in place at all. Sure, each thing had its place, but an actual inventory count at the end of each month, reports? HAHAHAHAHA.

SoftLayer not only helps our customers every single day but they also built a system so that it would make their employees lives much easier as well. Every single aspect of this business was painstakingly thought out with the amazing team of guys and gals we have here. If a report doesn’t exist, they can make it happen, sometimes in a day, sometimes it’s not so easy, but they can do it. These guys are super heroes; I’ll let them tell you what kind of super powers they have.

-Shawna

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