Posts Tagged 'Events'

September 19, 2011

Tips for the Unseasoned Traveler

This year has been exciting for me at SoftLayer. I took on a new role here as a member of our marketing team, and in that role, I've played a big role in our trade shows. We participate in a huge number of trade shows each year, and I've been lucky enough to meet thousands of current and (hopefully) future SoftLayer customers. To give you an idea of how often I'm on the road, I probably spend about 2-3 weeks each month away from home ... And that means I am in airports all the time.

I happen to be one of those weirdos that actually enjoys traveling, but honestly, the travel experience at airports and on planes can be pretty annoying at times, so I thought I'd put together some traveling tips before my next trip so I can hand out the URL when I see violations. Here's the short list of tips I've come up with in my travels:

At the Airport

  • When going through security do not choose the “Expert Traveler” line if you are not an expert. The experts will know you don't belong, and we will sneer at you.
  • The security line is not the time to make jokes on terrorism. In fact, there's never a good time to make jokes about terrorism, especially at an airport.
  • If you are selected for random screening, please do not throw a fit. The officer doing the pat down probably isn't trying to make a pass at you and hates the process just as much as you do.
  • If your boarding pass says Group 5 there is no point in huddling near the boarding area when the airline representative has called Group 1. You are the reason the boarding process is moving slowly.

Boarding the Plane

  • When the flight attendant announces that everyone should move into their row so other passengers can get by you, he/she is probably talking about you.
  • If you have a small enough bag to place under the seat in front of you, please do so. There is a person in Group 6 with a full size carry-on bag that would rather not have to check his bag because your shopping bag is taking up his valuable space.
  • If you are seated in the back of the aircraft, don't place your bag up in the front bin just so you do not have to roll it to the back. The people sitting in the front of the plane would rather not have to wait for everyone to get off the plane so they can walk to the very back to retrieve their bag.

On the Plane

  • You aren't fooling anyone by trying to hide your cell phone between your knees after the cabin door closes.
  • If the person next to you puts on their headphones it probably means they are not interested in having a flight long conversation about your life.
  • Please don't get mad at me if I decide to put my seat back. If you need more legroom, spring for First Class or at least an exit row. If you absolutely need me to stay upright, ask me nicely, and you'll have a lot better chance that I'll be able to help you out.
  • I got the window seat so I wouldn't have to get up if someone next to me needed to get into the aisle ... You got the aisle seat with a little extra room, so please don't have an attitude if I need you to move to get into the aisle. That's the tradeoff.
  • Yes, the armrest is shared, so you have a right to half of it ... This means that if your arm is on my half of the armrest and you're in my personal space, we have a problem.
  • If you decide to talk to the person sitting next to you on the flight, please keep your voice down. People five rows behind you are not interested in your conversation.

And lastly ...

  • Do not eat foods that may make you gassy before you travel. Passing gas in a plane where air is re-circulated is not cool.

Safe travels!

-Summer

August 4, 2011

Blood, Sweat and Tears: The Server Challenge

When you're walking down the aisles of an expo hall at a technical conference, what do you expect to see? Stacks of collateral? Maybe a few giveaway T-shirts? A fancy switch-ball or two? How about a crowd of people watching as a fellow attendee slams hard drive trays into a server enclosure and frantically plugs in network cables as a digital clock times them?

Cynical attendees might look at the Server Challenge and think of it as a gimmicky way to draw a crowd to our booth, but when you step up to the server enclosure to compete, you're getting a crash course in SoftLayer's business (along with an exciting tangible experience).

Before your first attempt, you'll learn that SoftLayer is a hosting provider and that you'll be reassembling a miniature version of the larger server racks we have filling data centers around the country (soon to be around the world). You see that one of SoftLayer's biggest differentiators is our network configuration: A public network, a private network and an out-of-band management network connection to every SoftLayer server for free ... And when the clock starts, we can share even more of the SoftLayer story.

Our goal is to let you experience SoftLayer while you're just hearing about other companies. As it turns out, the experience draws people in:

One of the coolest parts of pulling together that time lapse video from OSCON was seeing the reactions on the faces of the participants when they finished. The challenge sparks a surge of adrenaline, so when competitors stop the clock, they expectantly check to see how they fare against the conference's Top 10 times.

In the last conference alone, no fewer than five other companies (who don't even have a connection with the hosting industry) approached us to ask how they could build their own Server Challenge. Needless to say, the Server Challenge is becoming a SoftLayer conference staple ... And we're looking forward to the hottest competition ever at HostingCon 2011 next week!

Between your study of server schematics and your dissection of the winning run's strategy from the end of the OSCON video, make sure you click through to George's HostingCon preview so you can learn where to find SoftLayer in San Diego.

-@khazard

P.S. Space is limited for the HostingCon Party, so if you'll be in town, make sure to let us know so we can give you a promo code for free admission!

May 17, 2011

Row, Row, Row Your Dragon Boat

Following a long-time tradition inherited from The Planet, SoftLayer proudly participated this past weekend in the 2011 Dragon Boat, Kite and Lantern Festival in Irving, Texas. The festival, filled with colorful lanterns and kites, cultural performances, and great food, is centered on a water sport that originated in China over 2,000 years ago: Dragon boat racing.

Dragon Boat

Every year, organizations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area compete against each other by filling a boat with 20 rowers and one "drummer" to propel a 35-foot dragon boat for 250 meters across Lake Carolyn in Las Colinas.

Dragon Boat

Having this event in our own backyard, we thought it'd be a fantastic opportunity for SoftLayer's "3 Bars BBQ" to show off its legendary culinary artistry. In addition to our group of private tents for employees to chill in by the lake, we set up a booth in the food vendor area with tons of delicious brisket, ribs, baked beans and potato salad. And since we're pretty well known for our swag, some free cups and frisbees made their way to the event and ended up sprinkling SoftLayer's logo all over the festival.

Dragon Boat

Under the "DragonSLayers" name, SoftLayer fielded two rowing teams that competed passionately to the chant of "Row, Row, Row!" Watching the races was a lot of fun, and it almost made me question my decision to stay ashore holding a four-pound camera. But hey, there would be no pictures if I hadn't!

With a blazing fast best time of 1:15.7, the DragonSLayers took second place in the corporate division!

Dragon Boat

Counting families and pets, we had over 200 SLayers come out to support our paddlers and enjoy an afternoon filled with fun performances, great food, friendly competition … and lots of dragons.

We look forward to seeing you out there next year! Until then, we'll be meeting in secret to train and hone our dragon boat paddling skills.

-Nick

P.S. If you want to see a few more pictures from the event, head over to our Flickr album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/softlayer/

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February 3, 2011

Access Logs: A Look at Egypt's Current Usage

Social unrest can affect our ability to serve our customers. In Egypt, the government recently cut off nearly all access to the Internet, so customers trying to access our servers from Egyptian IP space have been largely unsuccessful. How unsuccessful?

I gathered all the netblocks assigned to Egypt (currently around 5.8 million unique IPv4 IP addresses), and I queried our customer portal access logs and API for records of those IPs. We saw a massive drop on 1/28/2011. This coincides with reports on most major news networks that Egypt’s Internet access had been crippled. Prior to the January 28, the traffic was fairly typical.

Then this happened:

Between January 28 and February 2, about 0.2% of the traffic we normally see from Egypt reached our network. That means 99.8% of traffic was stifled by the network shutdowns.

As the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, the Egyptian government restored Internet service, and our logs clearly corroborate that report.

-Jason

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March 24, 2010

Location, Location, Location

South by Southwest (“SXSW”) Interactive wrapped up last week, and one of the recurring themes was how location-based services (LBS) are changing the landscape of social media. When you port social media apps to the mobile phone, a world of LBSs are opened to you.

There are many use cases for LBS, many for social media, and the intersection of the two are even more interesting.

As seen with foursquare and Gowalla, bringing in LBS into a social application that lets you add tips/comments to restaurants, bars, etc. instantly turns it into a quick way to see where the “hot” places are currently in your area. Adding game mechanics (like badges) only makes foursquare even more addictive.

This is the new hotness.

The New Hotness

The intersect between Location-based services and social media.

Is it any surprise that twitter started supporting location-based tweets this week? They’re simply keeping up with the trend. I expect to see location-appropriate contextual ads in applications on mobile phones more now. If you’re walking down 5th street, and you’ve given your application access to GPS information, advertisers would love to be able to tell you to drop by their shop on your way to wherever you’re headed.

ShopSavvy, for instance, could push notifications to customers using that app letting them know where deals are in their proximity.

There are detractors. Plenty of people still want to keep their location private. If you’re an at-risk person (in an abusive relationship, for instance) you should think twice before turning on location-based services. More and more websites/applications these days are starting to set very “open” defaults rather than restrictive defaults. As Danah Boyd recently said, we were once a people who kept information private and decided what to make public. Now we are more and more making data about ourselves public by default, and take more effort to decide what to make private.

Edit: A day after I posted this, I found an article by Kevin Nakao which provides more detail on location-based services. It is a great reader and can be found here.

September 30, 2009

See You in Houston!

Next week a crowd of SoftLayer peeps are making the H-Town connection at cPanel Conference 2009. Representatives from the support, operations, sales, development, and management teams will be out in full force meeting, greeting, and learning. The conference is from Monday Oct 5 to Wednesday Oct 7 at the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel. Stop by our booth if you'd like to chat. We're throwing a reception for our awesome customers and partners at the lobby bar on Monday at 9pm. If that's not enough, yours truly will be giving a talk on Tuesday about how to extend cPanel and WHM through a 3rd party API. Y'all get three guesses as to whose API we're showing off. :) Bring your ripest fruits and vegetables and ready your air horns. It's been a while since I've had a good, old-fashioned heckling.

Come on out if you can make it. We love getting to know the folks who pay our salaries. ;) See you there!

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