Author Archive: Thomas Norris

May 30, 2011

Summer Tips to Clean Your Ride

Snowy Cars

Remember this? Your car does.

Now that Memorial Day officially marks the beginning of summer and the temperature is creeping back up, it's time to take care of that neglected car that battled the cold winter and the spring rains. Outside of work, a lot of fellow SLayers are into cars ... Some show them off, others focus on making them faster. And given the fact that we are professionally obsessive about keeping our data centers clean and tidy, that obsessiveness is pretty evident in how hard we work to keep our cars clean.

Since today is a holiday in the US, I want to take a break from the down-and-dirty server stuff to give you a quick glimpse at what many SLayers are doing today: Cleaning their rides. Like a lot of the technical troubleshooting we do, it's best to stick to a particular flow of steps to cover all the bases and get the best outcome. The following steps are the ones I take to bring back the showroom-floor shine. Since the typical car detail can run anywhere from $50-$300 this is a great way to save money every month ... so you can order another server or upgrade the hardware on an existing one. :-)

What You'll Need

  • Bucket
  • Soap
  • Sponge or Microfiber or Sheepskin Glove
  • Clay Bar
  • Wax and Foam Wax Applicator
  • Quik Detailer
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Tire Shine - Optional
  • Microfiber Towels - The more the merrier
  • Beer (or beverage of choice) - Optional ... also the more the merrier
  • Bonus: Swirl Remover - If you're using a rotary buffer
  • Bonus: Finishing Polish

Note: In all steps where washing is involved, rinse first to get any loose dirt off then gently scrub and rinse off. Car should be parked in the shade to avoid water spots. All steps after clay barring MUST be done in the shade.

Step 1: Washing the Wheels
Make sure your brake rotors have cooled before hitting them with cold water, otherwise you could risk warping them. Because of the dirt and grime wheels get, I recommend using a separate bucket and sponge for this step.

Step 2: Washing the Rest of the Car / Drying
Always work from the top of the car to the bottom, and the best practice is to do one panel at a time.
Frequently rinse your sponge or glove to release the dirt it picks up.
When scrubbing the side panels, it's better to go up and down instead of side to side or in circles.
Drying panels as soon as you've rinsed them helps prevent water spots.

Step 2.1: Tire Shine (Optional)
Try to keep Tire Shine on the tires only. If you get it on the wheel, it'll just allow dirt and/or brake dust to attach to the wheel.
Don't overdo this or it will just splash back onto your car when you start driving.

Step 3: Clay Bar
Spray Quik Detailer onto surface and gently rub the clay bar from side to side.
Fold the clay bar between sprays. This keeps the clay bar surface clean.
Dry leftover Quik Detailer with a microfiber towel.

Step 3.1: Swirl Remover then Finishing Polish (optional)
Best when used with a rotary buffer at high speed.
If doing by hand, using pressure, apply in small circular motions.
Remove with a microfiber towel.

Step 4: Wax
Using either a foam wax applicator or rotary buffer on low speed, apply wax as thinly as possible, otherwise it will be harder to remove.
When the surface looks hazy, remove with a microfiber towel.

Step 5: Quik Detailer & Glass Cleaner
Use Glass Cleaner on windows and mirrors.
Quik Detail the whole car again.
These steps clear off any leftover dust from waxing as well as remove any water spots from water that may have crept out after waxing.

Step 6: That's All!
Crack open a beer and gaze at your beautiful car ... *wipe drool off of face*.

The process can take as long as several hours to complete depending on how bad your car needs a cleaning. If this process has been completed recently, you can skip Steps 3 and 4, as clay barring is only needed ~2-3 times a year and waxing every 2-3 months.

If you're like us and you love showing off your car, after it gets all dolled up, post a link to a picture of it here in the comments!


July 15, 2010

Oh How I Love You Caffeine, But Should I Trust You?

While we've discussed how much us techies love, crave, and abuse caffeine what are some questions that may come up on the most abused substance in the world? What side-effects are there? How much caffeine is too much caffeine? Are there any benefits?

Generally, you'd want to stay with around 1-2mg's of caffeine per pound of body weight. Which, for the most part, a 1-2oz shot of espresso or a cup of coffee all come out to approximately 100mg's of Caffeine. A lot of this is based on tolerance but the most common side-effects from caffeine "intoxication" can cause things like insomnia, a rapid heartbeat, irritability, muscle twitching and increased urination. Speaking of which, much like after drinking alcohol you must make sure you keep yourself hydrated. You know where this is going, if you plan on mixing caffeine with alcohol via the common Jager Bombs, Cherry Bombs, Vegas Bombs, Bombs, you should be warned that this can lead to bad decision making.

Aside from the obvious benefit of caffeine providing that extra "pep" in the day, it has been shown in many studies that Coffee (the most common source of Caffeine) is extremely high in antioxidants. It has also been found to be a cancer fighter including reducing your chances for cirrhosis and liver cancer which is the #3 cancer killer. The ingredients found in Coffee most definitely synergistically work together and would be the best choice by far if compared to your endless choices of energy drinks. Most energy drinks also contain the same array of ingredients, B-Vitamins, Taurine, Caffeine, Ginseng, and Guarana (pre-cursor to Caffeine). If you are still determined to get an energy drink shoot for one of the coffee drinks unless coffee just isn’t your thing.

Always keep in mind that if you feel like you NEED Caffeine to keep you going day-to-day it's likely that the Caffeine from the day before kept you from sleeping as well as you could have. I always recommend a Caffeine detox to keep your tolerance down and to avoid getting dependent on it but man those headaches make me want some coffee!


P.S. If some of this didn't make sense, I may have rambled on a bit and I confess.. I drank a Venti Starbucks Double Shot on Ice with an extra shot of espressob(6 shots total of espresso)...

For more info on Caffeine Wikipedia is THE place to go:

April 30, 2010

Staple Supplements

No one has really talked about anything health related on The Innerlayer and everyone at SoftLayer works hard to stay on top of our customer needs. For that reason in this fast paced industry we all have to stay healthy. Here’s a couple of supplements that help me stay healthy and at the top of my game that I take on a daily basis and I feel they should be considered by anyone who reads this.

The first is Fish Oil. This is a cheap supplement that you can buy practically anywhere and this supplement is rich in Omega-3’s which is an Essential Fatty Acid(EFA). Fish Oil contains Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) both of which are beneficial to the brain. Studies have been done that have found it to also reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and also lower body fat. Fish Oil can practically be called a miracle supplement as many people benefit from its supplementation in practically all ailments in life.

The second group is Pro and Pre “biotics”. These can be cheap or can get a little pricey depending on the number of strains and size of the “colony”. I mention both as one as these in most cases are combined. Probiotics are microorganisms that are known as “good bacteria” in that they balance your intestinal tract and colon. What Prebiotics do is stimulate growth for existing “good bacteria”. The most common culture you will find is Lactobacillus Acidophilus which you will usually find in yogurt products. Furthermore, supplementing Pro/Prebiotics is a must especially after taking antibiotics as this is meant to kill all bacteria in your body as well as the “good bacteria” in your intestinal tract.

Though both of these certainly aren’t a cure all they definitely are supplements that keep your body and mind in check. I can’t recommend any supplement over these two alone and if you haven’t heard of either of these I invite you to do some research on them as the results will astound you. You can start at the links below. I welcome any comments you might have either positive or negative on this subject.

December 28, 2009

Winter Has Arrived

This year it seemed as if winter hit us like a train. Just 2 weeks ago it was 65 here in Washington DC. Three days later our high was in the thirties and we got about 3-5 inches of snow (If my timeline is wrong that’s too bad). Tonight, there’s a Wintry Mix and a Winter Weather Advisory. A Wintry Mix in my mind is either you are doomed with lots of ice or it’ll just be a standard boring rain. Ice of course is much worse than snow. So what’s this mean? NO! It doesn’t mean run to the store and buy up all the bread and water you can fit into your cart. It means it’s time for a little check list of things some people forget about when winter punches through their town. And yes, a lot of this can be ignored for those of you that are “cold” down south in the 60’s. And yes my friends in Dallas, water turns into ice at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

  1. Check your windshield wiper blades and fluid. This is great when trying to get the thin layer of ice off your windshield.
  2. Check the tread on your tires because driving through snow without much tread can be quite a task.
  3. Although the old trick of tossing your old batteries in the freezer to get more life out of them works, in this case it does not. During the summer the heat puts added stress on your battery and when winter rolls around your beat up battery has a harder time cranking through the oil that’s now thicker from the drop in temperature. So it’s a good idea to get your battery checked out.
  4. Make sure to have an ice scraper in the car. Life sucks when you are waiting for your heater in your car to melt the ice off on the outside.

I wrote this checklist because I failed on 3 out of 5 of them during the storm that blasted everyone on the East coast. ‘WTFBS’ can be easily remembered for other reasons. Your Grandma may not like that, but you’ll be screaming it if you forget (Wipers, Tires, Fluid, Battery, Scraper).

Here’s a little excitement from the last storm. Sorry the picture is weak (taken via Blackberry).


There was still a good 5 hours of snow left. Luckily, there was a slight wind that was blowing a lot off the top of my car, although not so helpful on the driver’s side. The snow the next day was piled almost to the top of my window. I measured about 18” of snow total the next morning.

March 13, 2009

SSD. A Peek Into the Future?

Remember back in the day when Beta and VHS tapes were "it" for movies until those crazy discs called DVD's came out? Well some of you may not remember those days *rolls eyes*. Anyway, for me at least I couldn't imagine there being anything better until LCD TV's and Blu-rays became the norm. Now the question is what could possibly be better than Blu-ray? This next step could be movies written onto a chip something like a flash drive. After all we've seen flash drives go from 64MB to an astounding 64GB all packed into a small USB keychain in no time.

Your thinking, alright that's great and all, but what is SSD? It stands for Solid State Drive and could just very well be the beginning of the end for Disk Drives.

Here at SoftLayer we offer the best SSD's you can find on the market which are the Intel X25-E's (The E stands for Extreme Edition). Unlike the X25-M's which are multi-level cell (MLC) the Extreme Edition's are single-level cell (SLC). Usually you think that multi would be better than single. For space yes, but performance wise, it adds about 100MB/sec to the write speed. They both however, have identical 250MB/sec sustained read speeds.

Okay, so how can SSD's help your server?

Where SSD's scream is their I/O performance. According to benchmarks done by Tom's Hardware (TH) using IOMeter (Database Benchmarking), the X25-E's are pushing over 5,000 I/O operations per second falling to ~3000 dependant on the queue depth. Comparing this to a 15.5K Seagate Cheetah is like comparing a Cassette Tape to a CD, as the Cheetah maxes out ~500 I/O operations per second. TH did several other benchmarks including File Server, Web Server, and Work Station benchmarks, yielding similar results giving the X25-E a lead of about 10 fold over the Cheetah. Access times are also no competition at 0.1ms vs. 5.7ms. The TH review is definitely worth the read if you are looking into such an upgrade and can be found at:,2158.html

Going Green?

SSD consumes only a fraction of the power that a HDD uses. According to Intel the X25 uses only 0.06W at idle and peaks at 2.4W under load. Your typical Hard Disk Drive will use on average ~7.5W at idle and ~10W under load.

As well as using less power, since there are no moving parts that in turn means higher reliability as well as less noise generated. Less noise means us tech's won't have problems hearing you on the phone from the ringing in our ears from working in the datacenter *lol*.

Taking SSD to the extreme …

Samsung recently released a video where they strung together 24 Samsung 256GB MLC SSD's resulting in 6TB of storage and 2GB/sec of throughput. For your viewing pleasure:

Who knows what the future has in store for us, in ten years we may look at this video like we look at this one:

One thing is for certain, quieter, faster, more reliable, and more energy efficient datacenters.

Subscribe to Author Archive: %