Posts Tagged 'Summer'

June 13, 2011

Do You Have This in My Size?

For many people (including myself), finding a job this summer was a challenge. Looking back, my classmates and I asked so many questions: Will I find an internship? Will it be paid? Will I have to move? Will they hire me after graduation? You know ... those little details.

When I'm faced with uncertainty, I find myself asking tons of questions like those, and the night before starting my legal internship at SoftLayer, the "new question" machine went into overdrive. How early should I leave to get there on time? What projects will I have? How many hours will I work? Will I make a good impression?

Over the years, I notice that I tend to focus on that last question — "What impression will I make?" Time and time again, I've found myself answering that question by finding the perfect outfit.

What seems like ages ago (but was actually only four years ago), I began pursuing a career in fashion, so while the question, "What should I wear?" might be natural, when looking at any new job, it's probably not the right question to be asking for this one. I'm not exactly required to strut down Fifth Avenue in designer shoes to enter the office of a luxury department store (which I did one summer) ... I'm driving up to the SoftLayer headquarters in Dallas, Texas, where you're more likely to see black T-shirts than suits and ties.

Feeling unsure about whether I can "WOW" some of the brightest people in Dallas in an industry where I am a rookie, I am pretty nervous, and I'm sure everyone has been in my shoes. Some of us ask too many questions, others ask too few, and some, like me, ask the wrong ones. My advice is to focus on one simple question: "Do we fit?" To unpack those three little words a little more, "Will this company value me as much as I value it, and will I enjoy being employed here as much as they enjoy employing me? Will our relationship be mutually beneficial?"

In today's job market, some people can't afford to ask these questions, especially considering the fact that "the right fit" tends to be the toughest aspect to quantify. Hiring and accepting an offer necessarily involves some risk, and the best choice might be decided by a gut feeling. After my first week at SoftLayer, I'm happy to say that I'm sure I made the right choice.

Walking through the office, the atmosphere is laid-back, but don't be fooled. As relaxed and friendly as my coworkers are, they are also working hard, pouring themselves into the work they do. Coming from a business and a legal background, I thought this type of environment was only something I could read about in an article covering a cool new startup in BusinessWeek or the New York Times. Luckily I was wrong.

A company that values an employee's autonomy is hard to find, and it takes the right employees to not abuse that privilege. From my one week of experience here, it's clear SoftLayer has made it work, somehow finding the elusive combination of work, play, and success. That difficult important question is easy to answer: Yes, we fit ... just as perfectly as a Christian Louboutin.

-Sarah

June 6, 2011

What I Know: Hosting & BBQ

Last week, Thomas talked about his summertime passion, and it immediately got me thinking of mine. There are two things I know in this world: Hosting and Barbeque. They may be on the opposite ends of the spectrum, but both integral parts of the SoftLayer culture.

Being Texas born and bred, I hear stories that my first baby bed was actually a refinished barrel pit, and at the tender age of 4, I started my first fire right where I used to lay my head. By the age of 7, I graduated from grilling to smoking, and by age 10, I was expected to have mastered the art of mixing fire, smoke and the perfect rub to deliver a baby back rib so tender that you have no choice but to 'slap yo mama!'

I have to admit that I am not an official member of the 3 Bars Barbeque team, but my ribs and steaks have been taken on the road to multiple parts of Texas, and they've won contests in Memphis for their fall-off-the-bone tender texture and their "mmm mmm good" flavor. I can't really divulge my award winning recipe, but I can share my cooking method used to achieve that fall off the bone rib.

You've got to understand that smoking takes time. I generally allow one hour per pound on a nice rack of baby back ribs. In SoltLayer operations terms, for a 6lb rack of ribs, that means you'd have time to register a new domain name, provision a RHEL 5 Cloud Compute Instance, provision 2 dedicated database servers (1 in Dallas and 1 in San Jose), configure the CCI as a Web server, clone the CCI once in Dallas and once in San Jose, order eVault and add a second vault for redundancy, add local load balancing to both sites, use the previously registered domain name and set up Global Load balancing between the IPs of both local load balancers, setup rsync between web servers for one website and configure MySQL replication between your two new database servers (and you'd still have just enough time to configure the eVault backup that you ordered about 5.5 hours previously).

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, I promised a "cooking method" lesson:

1. Get Your Ribs
Everyone dresses their meat differently ... Some prefer to marinate, some don't. I find that it doesn't make much of a difference, so I usually will remove my ribs from the fridge and rinse the before setting them aside to allow them to warm to room temperature. While that's happening, I continue the rest of the process.

2. Prepare the Pit
I like to use a smoker pit grill ... You know, something this:

3 Bars BBQ

I like to use split wood logs instead of flavored charcoal & wood chips. The wood you use is up to you; I usually do either hickory or mesquite and occasionally a log or two of apple (Beware that Mesquite burns very hot and is harder to stabilize at a consistent temperature when adding more wood to the fire later). Stack and light your fuel of choice in the smoker's firebox – the only place where you will have a fire ... The only thing that belongs in the pit is the meat and the smoke generated by the firebox.

Once you get your fire started, let it burn for a while so it can stabilize. You want the pit area to stay at a constant 225F ~ 250F. If you have enough prep time, you can also soak your wood logs for a couple of hours before you start your fire. This will cause the wood to burn slower and produce a slightly stronger smoke flavor in the ribs. This will also cut down on the amount of wood you "burn" through.

3. Prepare Your Ribs
While your fire is doing its thing and creating some good smoke, you can trim and season your ribs. Trim the membrane from the underside of the rack and season the meat with a dry rub (since it's better suited for longer cook times).

4. Start Cooking
Once your pit has stabilized at the perfect temperate, it's time to add the ribs. I use a rib rack just so I don't have to flip the ribs while they're in the pit, but if you don't have a rib rack, place your ribs on the opposite side of the pit from the firebox bone side down (you have to ensure that the fire doesn't reach your precious rack of ribs. If you are not using a rib rack, you will want to flip them about an hour and a half into cooking.

5. Keep Cooking
I use the 3–2–1 method when smoking: 3 hours on grill, remove the ribs, wrap them in foil, 2 hours on the grill in foil, remove the foil, and one more hour on the grill. By the time you get to that last hour, you'll already find it difficult to flip the ribs as the meat will start falling off the bone. If your seasoning is top notch, you won't need sauce, but the last hour is the time to baste if you want a different flavor in the mix. The 3–2–1 time frame is a loose guide to follow ... You'll need to keep an eye on the ribs to make sure they are not cooking too fast and that you're keeping the flame away from the meat, and you may need to adjust times if your temperature exceeds 250F.

6. Remove the Ribs
Remove your ribs from the pit and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes before your cut them. This break will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

7. Enjoy!
No instructions necessary.

Following these rules, you'll have a great rack of ribs, and if you took time while the ribs were cooking to order and provision that solution I talked about at the top of the post, you'll have an amazing high-availability two-tier hosting solution by the time you take your first bite!

-Harold

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!

-Tommy

July 10, 2009

The Kinmans are Taking Over

Yeah, it’s official…we have another one: me, even though I’m only a summer intern. The day after my 16th birthday couldn’t have been a better opportunity for me to begin my quest for company domination. Well, I think that will come later.

Anyway, it is my first job at my first company, ever. Softlayer’s really nice. They paid me one hour’s wages for sitting in a conference room and filling out a frightening mountain of paperwork (OK, well, maybe it was more like 5 or 6 forms), and again another day for visiting a few datacenter rooms in the Infomart (I think it was compensation for hearing damage from the noise in the rooms). Michael Scott would have scoffed and turned his empty pockets inside out. Anyway, my point is to tell you that the Kinman clan is taking over Softlayer.

Yep, you got that right.

Steve has 4 kids who will probably grow up and get promoted to manage some section of the company each. Gary’s kid (me) already has a spot, and I’m up to my ears in details about servers, processors, RAM, disk drives, routers, switches, fiber, etc. Heck, maybe Mama Carol and Papa Willie will come back out of retirement to work here too. Oh and Steve’s wife and my mom and…well, you get the idea. If your name is Kinman, you’re gonna work at Softlayer, whether you like it or not.

Someday, you’re gonna wake up in some kind of cubicle in a building on International Parkway and you’re gonna wonder how the heck you ended up there. And HR is just gonna tell you, “Well…your last name IS Kinman…” They may have to stop paying us to fill out forms to keep from going bankrupt because there’s gonna be so many of us. With that in mind, I’d say that the average current non-Kinman Softlayer employee has about three years, plus-or-minus, before the co-worker next to them is, you guessed it, a Kinman. Wow. Congrats Carol and Willie.

…just kidding. But speculation is fun, right? Until it actually happens. Muahahahahaha.

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