Posts Tagged 'Tv'

August 10, 2010

Where do we go from here?

We are about to move, and in my new home, it turns out to be cheaper to get my daughter a cell phone than it is to add a home phone... That wouldn’t be particularly remarkable, except that she just turned 7 -- this year! That got me to thinking: I am part of the generation during which computers went from curiosities to appliances... That is, I remember a time during which the only thing at home comparable to today’s PCs was an IBM Selectric typewriter my mother used. So, yeah, I am old.

I would guess that the first piece of technology a child uses is still the TV. Sure, we use phones around them and some use baby monitors, but I think most parents have used the one-eyed baby-sitter at one time or another. And with the familiarity with a TV, is it that much of a leap to viewing a computer monitor? Is the leap from remote control to a keyboard that huge?

And as our children get more and more familiar with technology at younger and younger ages, I’m thinking this is putting us more and more into an “On Demand” society. Through the past decade or two I have watched that concept evolve from pure marketing to reality; you can get non-programmed TV at the touch of a remote button, you can order pizza online, and, thanks to the innovation of Softlayer, you can create a turn-key server solution in a matter of hours.

As much as I worry about how my daughter will adapt to the technological leaps she is going to face in her lifetime, I am also curious about the wonders she will get to experience and build upon. This is one of the many reasons I am proud to work for Softlayer—we will create more of those wonders before I am done. And who knows? Some day she may be writing here about how it used to take a few hours to create a turn-key server solution and that her father must be really old to have ever lived in a world without computers...

December 16, 2009

Buying a New TV?

Going out and looking for a new TV is not what it used to be. Of course, since this was the first time I actually bought a TV instead of just inheriting a used one, I really don’t know what the old way was. But I’ve heard stories, and I expected a fairly easy experience.

I first decided to get myself a new TV after a great month here at SoftLayer. I figured it was high time I rewarded myself with the biggest and best picture money could buy. I went to Best Buy thinking there can’t be that much to look at in TVs. Man was I wrong. I literally spent more than three and a half hours staring at all the TVs they have on display. I even talked with one of the guys that are supposed to “help you,” but all that did was make me more confused. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, big TV with a crystal clear picture. But after wasting all that time, I left Best Buy confused and empty handed.

I knew there had to be a better way to choose a new TV than staring at the store display until I was cross-eyed. When I got home I started a 2-week research project to find the perfect TV for me. I read all sorts of blogs, forums, and recommendations online. In those 2 weeks I compared all aspects of all the TVs that are available. I found out that there are currently 4 types of TVs on the market: DLP, Plasma, LCD, and LED. I knew DLP wasn’t the way to go, because it is becoming an extinct technology for TVs as LCD and LEDs are the newer types of TVs. Plasmas are also becoming a dying type of technology but every person I talked to and all my research said Plasma TV gives you the best picture hands down. So, naturally I started leaning towards Plasmas. But while there are advantages to Plasmas, there are disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage with a Plasma TV is the risk of “burn-in” on the screen. This is when you leave a still image on the screen for a long time and the plasma burns a ghost image on the screen. This could become annoying if you were to change channels and you still have the score of a game on the top corner. In the newer models this “burn-in” issue is almost completely gone. It still could happen; but, that is if you leave an image on your TV for over 2 hours, and really who does that anyway?

After an exhaustive look at all the reviews, forum, and searches on the best TV, I finally came to a decision. I was going to buy myself a new Plasma TV and that was that. Sunday I got in my car and went back to Best Buy. This time I was prepared so I walked right up to one of the guys and talked with him for the better part of an hour. I asked a few more questions and then decided I was going with the 50” Panasonic Plasma TV. Once I made the purchase and figured the hard part was over, Best Buy Guy, asks me how I was planning to get my new TV home. Our conversation goes a little like this, with him laughing at me the whole time:

Best Buy Guy: So how are you getting this TV to your house?

Me: I was hoping we could put it in the back seat of my car, will that not work?

Best Buy Guy: (with a smirk on his face) We can try, but I doubt it.

Me: Well doesn’t Best Buy deliver?

Best Buy Guy: Yes, we do. It’s free if your purchase is over $1,000.00

Me: (My TV cost me total $1070 with warranty, so I’m thinking no problem, right.) Ok well can I have it delivered then?

Best Buy Guy: Sure, not a problem. It will be about 2 weeks from now.

Me: Are you serious?

Best Buy Guy: Yea, I am.

Me: Well, I was hoping to be watching it today. What else is there?

Best Buy Guy: Well you could call a friend who has a SUV or truck. Or you could go to Lowe’s across the street and rent one of their trucks for $20 for 75 minutes.

Me: Well, let’s try fitting it in the back of my car first.

Best Buy Guy: (With a smirk on his face) Sure.

I move my car to the front of the store and we try to get it in the back but sure enough Best Buy Guy knows what he is talking about and it doesn’t fit. So what is a guy who wants his TV now to do since they won’t deliver it for 2 weeks? I went over to Lowe’s and rented a truck. Cost me $20.80 for the whole 10 min that I used it, but I figured waiting another 2 weeks for my TV was not an option. I drove this big ass truck over to Best Buy and had the guys load my TV in the back. It was about this time I realized I didn’t have any straps or string to hold the TV secure while I drove home. One of the guys who loaded it in the back told me, “If you just don’t gas it hard the TV should be fine.” I just looked at this guy thinking, “Yea that’s really going to work.” I asked them if they have any string. The guy tells they can’t give me any because if they give me string and it breaks, and the TV breaks, then they are liable for the string breaking. Funny how they cover their ass over string; STRING! As I was trying to figure out how I was going to get this TV home with the load boy staring at me, I saw a piece of string that was already tied to the truck. It was a small white string tied in knots to the corner of the truck. I asked the guy to put some slits in the corner of the top of the box so I could use this one piece of string on the corner to keep it from falling. He did and eventually I got my TV to my house, going 15mph the whole way home.

I love my new TV, once I got it home, but I have never been so frustrated tying to buy and move a TV, and I hope I never have to do this again….until either the TV goes out or I decided to buy a bigger one! This was an experience I encourage everyone to try at least once. My advice is to do your research before going to the store, and have a truck or SUV to be able to move it from the store to your home. And be sure to bring your own string!

November 2, 2009

It’s All About Perception

American cars aren’t reliable. That is what the 70’s and 80’s taught me. Up until then it was about the only choice. Enter the Datsun’s, Toyota’s and Mazda’s they were lower priced and didn’t break down as often and it wasn’t like breaking a chicken bone to turn on the blinker. Today, American cars are much more reliable and the 3 or 4 I have had in the last 10 years have had few or no problems at all. But ask anyone my age and you got it; America cars aren’t reliable. You know what they say, “perception is 9/10th’s of the law” or is that possession. Oh well.

Would you rather have an RCA Small Wonder or Flip Video device? I bet that due to the great marketing minds of the world and the type of folks that read blogs you want the Flip Video and you are now on Google trying to find out what the heck an RCA Small Wonder is. This is probably more related to marketing but even now that you have searched and you know what the Small Wonder is, which would you buy? It’s the perception that RCA is old and wasn’t and still isn’t very reliable. It’s also why Radio Shack is now just The Shack, it was time to rebrand because Radio Shack was for the “Bolt-On” generation and The Shack is for the “integrated” generation. Where is all this leading?

In a recent meeting I was asked why we sell more LAMP stack operating systems (RedHat, CentOS, Debian, Etc.) than we do Microsoft Servers and the point was made that there is still the perception that Windows in insecure and has lots of bugs. I believe Microsoft has a huge mountain to climb to rid the world of this perception whether it is true or not, much like the American auto industry. Even if they release a secure and stable product today, and they have, it would still take many years for our society to realize it. Why? Because much like RCA, Microsoft was around when technology was just starting to become cool. As Lance (our CEO) would say, “RCA and Windows NT Server came out in a time period when the people using them were in a bolt-on mentality and today’s users are fully integrated into the technological lifestyle.” What does that mean? The bolt-on generation saw things happen and had do adapt: knobs on TV’s became remotes, rotary phones became push button became cordless became bag became cellular phones, arcade games became pong became Atari became Nintendo became Wii video games, Commodore became IBM XT became clones (running Windows 3.1) became Dell (running Windows 95) became servers (running NT4.0) became the Internet (running LAMP stacks and Windows servers), and this list could go on and on. I think I need a t-shirt that says “I’m a Bolt-on”. My kids however, are fully integrated into this lifestyle and don’t realize how bad some things were in technology to get to where we are today. They wake up every day and technology is everywhere they turn. Of course technology still changes quickly and people have to adapt, but the changes aren’t as life changing as they were when technology was young. The bolt-on society is much more forgiving of mistakes with technological advances where the integrated society wants perfection. They hear on TV and the radio that Windows is insecure and had/has bugs and they want instant gratification and perfect technology. Some of the bad stigma Windows has is due to the bolt-on generation using Windows desktop software and applying those bad memories to the new Server products from Microsoft. If Vista is unstable and insecure then Server 2008 must be as well, right? Linux, on the other hand, was a server OS first and then became a desktop tool. It just didn’t get scrutinized like the Windows OS’s and since it’s desktop product isn’t as mainstream its issues are mainly low key and under the radar.

Microsoft has some challenges in the coming years and may need to take a few lessons from the American car manufacturers and “The Shack”. I believe a large separation of the desktop OS’s and the Server OS’s is needed and it all starts with rebranding the server choices. Maybe the desktop OS keeps the Windows name but change the Server Operating System to “Insert cool trendy name here” and drop Windows from it completely. This is just my opinion and I could be wrong.

This was a long read so I think I will go get in my unreliable American truck and hit the road, I am just 33,000 miles from hitting 300K!

June 8, 2009

Instant Gratification!

Wow, where did we come from to get to here?

How many readers remember being your Dad’s remote control for the TV, heating a bit of oil that covered the bottom of a pan till it sizzled to make popcorn, percolating coffee pots, wondering how long it would take for enough hot water to take a shower after your primping older brother hogged it all? What about “fast” forwarding cassette and VCR tapes or thawing a chicken breast for hours on the counter? The list goes on and on.

My absolute favorite was sitting around on a Friday night at about age 10 at the baby sitters with my brother listening to the radio just hoping that “Shake your Booty” would come on the radio so we could record it instead of having to go buy it.

The amount of time we used to sit around waiting for things to happen was huge! Today, it’s all in an instant!

We have five remote controls or at the very least one really smart one that can do it all. Microwave popcorn that takes minutes and no cleanup, instant coffee – just add water, instant hot water heaters that never go cold, mp3 players that you can just click and go from song to song with no waiting; DVD/DVR that you can just go from scene to scene or skip those boring commercials… and you can use that same microwave to thaw your chicken in no time at all.

Today you can be listening to the radio in your car and click a button and it will tell iTunes what song it was and queue it up for your next download, you just have to love technology and the speed at which it happens.

I also remember the days when we had a rotary phone with an 82.5 foot cord that you could string across the house to the bathroom or in front of the TV and keep talking. Then it became the wall phone with the 84 foot stretchy cord and the number keys were on the handset, how cool was that? It never failed though- no matter how long the cord, you always needed more!

Today, you can Facebook, Tweet, chirp, yell, chat, and instant message from just about anywhere, even from a Jet Blue jet flying through the air. That is just pretty cool stuff.

In my previous life before I became a booth babe and a bloghogger I was known for being fairly technical in the world of Microsoft Windows Server and Citrix MetaFrame. They actually worked pretty well for a few of the company apps I had to deal with along my career path. The hardest part was actually setting up the application server to be just perfect and getting it on the wire to allow the employees to do their jobs.

The real challenge was getting more servers added to the pool in a timely fashion at month end for accounting or at rush times of the year for the sales group. It takes time to blast an OS no matter what method you are using, then get the app installed and functioning and then add it to the pool. Sure, I came up with a few tricks on how to image Citrix and they worked but it was still a waiting game trying to procure the hardware, install the image, get the server racked and cabled, etc. It never failed, a week before I had them ready the sales and/or accounting group managers were all over me because it was MY fault that they had slow applications. A few times just about the time I had the servers ready they didn’t need them anymore, I missed the rush.

Welcome to Instant Servification! CloudLayer, oh CloudLayer, I would have paid out of my own pocket back then to have this technology. With the release of hourly billing you can just use them when you need them even if your peak loads are only a fraction of one day. You create your golden image, save it, and push it out to as many as you need for as long as you need, and then when your peak usage is over, cancel them like high interest credit cards!

That is instant Gratification at its best! Welcome to SoftLayer how can we help you?

November 21, 2007

Smells Like SoftLayer

Seattle baby! That's what's next. With that being said I thought I would blog about Tom Hanks. I know you wish you had thought of this one too. I chose him because I figure he has done enough movies and other things that I can actually have enough content and he did do "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail" and they are both closely related to our expansion. Why, you ask? Right now we have a few guys in Seattle installing cage nuts -- 17,280 to be exact. That is 1 cage nut installed every 5 seconds for 24 hours straight (Sleepless!). I hate that I am missing out on that fun. Writing blogs is nice too I suppose.
So here we go Tom Hanks and SoftLayer!

SoftLayer works because we are all "Bosom Buddies". We all get along. Hopefully all of us will continue to be famous afterwards and not just half of us. That would make for a lot of "Happy Days" in the future. We also have quite a few "Family Ties" as we have a brother/sister pair (Fleitman), and 3 brother pairs (Kinman/Laude/Guerra/Harris) and we can't forget the Father/Son set (Rushe) family keeps things fun and busy! If we continue to grow at this rate we will all be making a "Splash" soon when we leave our competitors in the dust. When that happens we will have a party to rival the likes of the "Bachelor Party" and we can invite "The Man with One Red Shoe" and will need some "Volunteers" to serve the Hors D'oeuvres.

I bet most of you didn't know that Tom Hanks was in "Real Genius" but I will use it anyway because we really do have some real geniuses here (Everyone take a bow). This keeps us from turning into a "Money Pit" and on the top of our game. I could say that before SoftLayer all of us would have been just a bunch of guys with "Nothing in Common" but it seems that "Every Time We Say Goodbye" we seem to end up back together. Even having to go through the "Dragnet" is worth it, because we all want to be "Big" and have the last laugh in the "Punchline".

We all drive in from "The Burbs" almost daily just to make sure we make our customers happy and we let the kids watch "Turner and Hooch" on the in-car DVD on the way to daycare. Once we get here we keep the "Joe Versus the Volcano" attitude and will take on any problem and get it solved.

To keep it light, once a year we go play in Muenster and Sam cooks up the BBQ on "The Bonfire of the Vanities" and we pig out and have a blast. There are some great "Tales from the Crypt" after those parties. Sam and his cooking crew won 3rd place last year and that puts them truly in "A League of Their Own".

Meanwhile the guys are still "Sleepless in Seattle" and Lance is spending his nights thinking of the next location. I really doubt it will be "Philadelphia" at least I hope not, too many Eagles up there. Go Cowboys!

Note: I am pretty sure I am the "Forrest Gump" of SoftLayer. I think Gump had ADHD like me and that is why he wanted to be and do so many things in his life. I take pride in that! You can always tell by my blogs.

Back to being the best -- in "Apollo 13" the most famous line in the movie (true story too) was "Houston, we have a problem" I bet there are some competitors to SoftLayer out there that are saying that same thing right about now with our continued growth and that isn't some kid's "Toy Story" that is the honest truth. We do it with customer service and the best product. Why? We just like hearing our customers say over and over, keep doing "That thing you do" and we will keep buying your service. That hurts the competition sometimes. We aren't sorry about that. We will go "From the Earth to the Moon" to continue to make our customers happy and we will make sure "You've got Mail" when something important is coming and it will not be just another "Toy Story 2". Even if it is like "Saving Private Ryan" we do anything we can to make it happen. All while walking "The Green Mile" because taking care of our environment is very important to us. (You didn't think I was going to talk about the death penalty did you?)

Some people like to look at us as a "Castaway", but we truly are a "Band of Brothers" on the road to fruition instead of the "Road to Perdition" like so many others. I welcome all readers to try and "Catch me if you can" in this blog and let me know of the movies I have missed so far. I will admit I have skipped a few TV appearances so you have to let me slide on those.

One of these days I might have to blog on "Freedom: A History of Us" and let you know where we all came from and what got us here. It is a long list of "Great Performances" that would impress you. Some of us were the smart geeky type and some of us were "The Ladykillers" and could have fun at an airport in "The Terminal".

I am getting close to the end now so the Narrator would now say, "Elvis has left the Building" on the "Polar Express" or was it in a pack of "Cars", oh well either way. I hope reading this blog has been an enjoyable experience and not like trying to "Crack the Da Vinci Code".

-Skinman

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