Posts Tagged 'Challenge'

February 9, 2012

Choose Your Own Adventure

I was unbelievably busy last week, and surprisingly, the busyness I'm referencing did not even involve my official responsibilities in compliance. I was planning on writing a blog to share some of the fun/insane/ridiculous things that happened, and I thought of a way to mix it up a little and make a challenge out of it for our readers.

Have you ever seen those image-based logic puzzles where you're given a series of images and challenged to put them in order to create a story? Here's an example:

Logic Puzzle Example

What story are those pictures trying to tell? A boy [6] grabs a fishing pole [4], and finds a fishing hole [5]. He baits his hook [3] and waits for the catfish to quit posing [2] and bite the hook! He takes his catch home, and his mom fries it up [1]. MMMM Good [7]!

You could probably interpret it a different way and "choose your own adventure" where the anthropomorphized fish deep fried the boy ... Depends on how far outside the box you think. The answer the question was meant to have is the one above. Now that you see how it works, I have a logic puzzle for you to try and figure out about what happened during my week last week.

All ten of the pictures below were taken in the span of 56 hours ... If you can come up with the correct story, I'll send you a prize (detailed below). If you can come up with a creative story that isn't correct, I can probably find something to send you as well. Without further ado, here are the pieces of the story [Click for Larger Version]:

Logic Puzzle Example

If you've been to the SoftLayer Blog this week, you know that we have a "Kids Meal" kind of special going right now where for the next few months if you buy a server and email us, you can get an official SoftLayer Bobblehead! To piggyback on that giveaway, the first person who posts a comment with the correct order of the photos to answer the puzzle (or the funniest answer if no correct answers are posted), will get my personal FULL SET of official SLobbleheads. Yes, the full set! You won't have to wait to place your server orders in the next month to complete your bobblehead collection (though I hope you still keep ordering servers).

So what are you waiting for? Tell me the story!

-@SKinman454

November 21, 2011

The SoftLayer Server Challenge - ad:tech Expertise

If you've visited SoftLayer at a large conference this year, you probably came face-to-rack with our Server Challenge. Your task: Reassemble our miniature rack of SuperMicro servers in the fastest time at the conference. To do this, you need to install twenty drive trays in five servers and connect network cables in the correct switches to mirror the server rack setup on our data centers. If you're able to score the best time, you win an iPad 2!

In the sometimes-boring world of collateral and T-shirts at trade shows, the activity around this competition stands in stark contrast. It's been huge hit everywhere we go, so if you haven't had a chance to try your hand at the challenge, I'm sure we'll bring it to several of our 2012 shows. As a way of rewarding those of you who loyally follow our blog, I thought I could give you an advantage by sharing some tips for when you're in front of the Server Challenge rack ... And to give you an idea of how important these tips can be, look at how close the top two times were at ad:tech NYC:

That's right. 17 hundredths of a second between victory and defeat. Now are you ready to take some notes?

SoftLayer Server Challenge

The Start
When you start the challenge, don't look at the timer to see if your time started ... If it doesn't start, we'll stop you. By focusing your attention on the network cables or drive trays (whichever you choose to start with), you can save yourself a half of a second.

SoftLayer Server Challenge

Network Cables
You don't have to connect the network cables first, but I have to choose something to complete first, so the network cables won the coin flip. When you're connecting the network cables, it's best to grab all three cables of the same color and try to snap them in together. Plugging in the cables one-by-one requires three times the work.

SoftLayer Server Challenge

Hard Drives
When you're tackling the hard drives, the key is to line up the drives and have them installed completely before moving on. My tip for installing the drives is to tilt them in on a sideways angle, not at an upwards angle. If you try and tilt the drives upwards, you'll most likely get the drive tray stuck and have to remove it to try again. If you can do it precisely, picking up two drives at one time has worked well, and our all-time record of around 54 seconds took that approach.

SoftLayer Server Challenge

SoftLayer Server Challenge

SoftLayer Server Challenge

One last pointer: Lock them in place immediately after installing them. If you leave the latch open, it makes it harder to get neighboring drives installed, and it's such a small incremental effort to close the latch that even if you perfect a "close all the latches" technique at the end, you'd still end up spending more time.

SoftLayer Server Challenge

The Finish
Don't forget to put both hands back on the timer to stop your time. :-)

SoftLayer Server Challenge

Now that you're equipped with some of the best Server Challenge tips and tricks, we want you to start training. In 2012, we expect to see someone complete it in under 50 seconds ... And that person probably will carry the all-time record home – along with a new iPad 2!

Keep an eye on our Event Schedule for upcoming shows, and if there's a conference where you really want to see the Server Challenge, let us know and we'll see if we can set it up.

Good Luck!

-Summer

November 14, 2011

My Road to LPIC-1 Certification

I've been a Linux user for many years, but for various reasons I never bothered to get a certification even though it's a fantastic validation of Linux skills. When I moved up in the world by joining SoftLayer, my attitude quickly changed.

As a new Systems Administrator at SoftLayer, one of the first challenges I was presented with was to try for my LPIC-1 certification. True to SoftLayer's motto of "Challenging, but not Overwhelming," I was given 3 months, a practice environment and reimbursement for my fees if I passed the tests. With an offer like that, it was impossible to refuse.

The LPIC-1 tests are not easy, and it took a lot of work to pass them, but if you're interested all you need to succeed is a solid background in Linux and the time to dedicate to preparation. Here are some of the things I learned along the way:

  1. Don't attempt the LPIC-1 exam unless you have at least a couple of years' worth of hands-on Linux experience. Seriously, it's not for newbies.
  2. Acquire at least two test-prep books, and read one of them every day. I used O'Reilly's LPIC-1 Certification in a Nutshell and LPIC-1 In Depth by Michael Jang. Both are easy to read, have good explanations of concepts you need to understand, and provide valuable tips in addition to practice exams.
  3. Set up a practice environment. It's essential for reviewing commands you may not be familiar with.
  4. When you think you are ready for the first exam, take a few free practice tests online. There are a number of them available.
  5. I didn't buy any test-prep software, but I did download a couple of trial versions as they offered some free practice questions.
  6. Take all of the practice exams available to you several times each. You'll get more comfortable with the format of the test questions and will also learn which areas you need to revisit before the actual test.

After earning the LPIC-1 certification I received a nice surprise in my mailbox along with my certificate. Apparently Novell and the Linux Professional Institute have a partnership: By earning the LPIC-1 I had also satisfied the requirements for Novell's Certified Linux Administrator (CLA) certification, so now I can enjoy the benefits of having two IT certifications for the price of one and I have SoftLayer to thank for it!

-Todd

March 14, 2011

SoftLayer SxSW Server Challenge

As the doors open to the trade show at South by Southwest (SxSW) Interactive 2011, SoftLayer is poised and ready to greet attendees with a brand new "Server Challenge" in booth 400. In previous iterations, the Server Challenge involved reassembling a single server with about a dozen components. In this challenge, we're going bigger. Literally.

In SoftLayer's booth, we have a 12U rack loaded with five servers and three network switches, and the challenge is to put it all back together as fast as possible. Check it out:

If you're roaming the trade show aisles, swing by and try your hand! Fastest time wins an iPad 2.

-@khazard

December 14, 2010

SoftLayer Social Media Adventure

If you've been watching @SoftLayer and following our posts on Facebook, you know that we've been spreading the holiday spirit by giving away "swag bags" to our social networks. At this point, we've shipped packages full of SoftLayer goodies to exotic locations like Germany, New York City, India, Southern California, Ireland, Brazil and Flower Mound, TX.

For our first few giveaways, we asked our followers to post a phrase like "I love @SoftLayer! They're Bigger, Better, Badder. For hosting that rocks: http://softlayer.com/." We got a great response, but that task was a little too easy. To make the next set of giveaways a little more challenging, we started asking SoftLayer Trivia questions and rewarding the first correct responder. The content of the questions spanned the spectrum from SoftLayer-specific facts to off-the-wall esoteric trivia.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • At Parallels Summit in Feb, four SoftLayer employees caught something. What was it and how has it been used?
  • A SoftLayer executive shares his name with a Houston-based rapper. Who is he?
  • What is SoftLayer's ASN? What is the server capacity of our Dallas facilities? IPv6 addresses are how many bits?
  • The SoftLayer "3 Bars" logo is based on a seven-layer model. What is it? What are the seven layers? What is the most common protocol you hear of from it?
  • In the holiday song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," what did "my true love" give to me on Day 11?

What kind of swag are we talking about here? I thought you'd never ask:

As you can see, we're not just sending out pens and paperweights.

Don't be sad if you're just now learning about these giveaways ... As it turns out, this blog post is your opportunity to get in on the action. Last week, we teased the idea of a "Social Media" adventure, and here it is.

The first ten participants to complete all of the tasks below win their very own swag bag.

  • Leave a comment on this blog post telling us which one of our data center locations you'd choose for your next server and why.
  • Visit our Facebook page and leave a post on our wall with your favorite feature of SoftLayer's offerings
  • Post a Tweet that includes "@SoftLayer is awesome" and #socialmediaadventure
  • Click through to the YouTube page for the video above and leave a comment on it like "SoftLayer's hosting rocks!"
  • Send an email to khazard@softlayer.com with your blog comment author name, Facebook name, Twitter handle and YouTube username so we verify you've completed the adventure.

If you've had a tough time finding that perfect present for the person who has everything, the SoftLayer swag bag might be exactly what you're looking for. Instead of circling the mall for half an hour looking for a parking spot, you'll complete our challenge in about five minutes, and your SoftLayer gear will be on its way to you.

On your mark. Get set. GO!

-@khazard

April 5, 2008

Top 10 Things to Do with a Dead Horse

Mike Jones and I recently attended a conference, and one of the keynote speakers was Vijay Govindarajan from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. His presentation on business strategy encouraged us to 1) Manage the present, 2) Selectively forget the past, and 3) Create the future.

His main point of emphasis was to be sure that we did not focus so much on the present that we lose touch or else when the future arrives, we’re left behind. Along those lines, he mentioned that there may be some "dead horses" at present in your business. By a dead horse, he means a line of business that at present is declining. So what do you do about these dead horses? A la David Letterman, he gave us a Top 10 List that I’ll pass along to you.

10. Whip the horse a little harder
9. Change the rider
8. Harness several dead horses together for increased speed
7. Emulate the best practices of companies riding dead horses
6. Proclaim that it’s cheaper to feed a dead horse
5. Affirm that "This is the way we have always ridden this horse."
4. Declare that "This horse is not dead."
3. Have the lawyers bring suit against the horse manufacturer
2. Engage a consultant to study the dead horse

And number 1, Promote the dead horse to a senior management position.

At SoftLayer, we try to be all about creating the future. Whether it’s opening up our API’s or adding new features to our portal or opening new geographically diverse data centers or leveraging our geographic diversity to roll out new products and services, we have the future in mind. Yes, you’ll see some new wrinkles once our Virginia data center goes live in a few short weeks. We promise to keep any dead horses from stinking up the place.

-Gary

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