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Here at iXsystems, our coworkers occasionally bring their doggy companions in for a visit at work. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet most of them. More than pets, these furry canines provide invaluable moral support and are the best secret keepers in the office.

Prada

Our head honcho, top dog, and ruler of the lounge area, this Miniature Pinscher means serious business. He usually comes into the office accompanied by Matt Olander, but we all know who’s the alpha and who’s the beta in this partnership. ;)

Prada goes bonkers over the medicine balls we have in the office.

Jack

Next is Josh Paetzel’s loyal black Lab who goes by Jack. He came in once to frolic with other doggy peers. And by frolicking, I mean he laid in the middle of the room while the two miniature pinschers ran circles around him. haha

That deep, soulful gaze melts our hearts~

Buddy

He’s a regular attendee at our trade show and out-of-office events. Buddy and his owner Denise Ebery always pull attention to our booth table, so he’s definitely an expert within our marketing department.

Buddy’s always curious and active, here he’s manning (or is it “dogging”) a table at a trade show.

Captain

Our latest addition to the iXsystems family is a Great Dane mix. Chris Williams adopted him from an animal shelter, and he’s quite the gentle giant.

Our unofficial canine mascot, complete with our labcoat and daemon horns. lol

Our team arrived in green and cloudy (haha get it?) Portland on Tuesday afternoon. We dropped by the Oregon Convention Center in the evening to attend the Opening Expo Hall Reception. The crowd of attendees waiting for the reception to start was impressive. Free drinks and food were served everywhere as people mingled among the Expo floor.

Bluehost was the sponsor of the night. Their booth, featuring a ping-pong tournament as the main attraction, was one of the first ones we encountered as we walked through the doors. They are a large web-hosting company based in Utah, hosting over at least 1.9 million domains with its associate companies.

The bluehost booth, didn’t get a picture of the super-ninja player though.

They had a super-ninja ping-pong player on staff. He started the game down 8 points, and if anyone could get 3 points off of him, they would win one year of free web hosting from Bluehost. No strings attached, that was how confident he was. I couldn’t resist, and challenged him. In less than five minutes, I was thoroughly beaten, but still walked away with a cool T-shirt.

Our first full day of the conference began the next day at the FreeBSD table. I had the honor of meeting board members Justin Gibbs and Deb Goodkin of the FreeBSD Foundation. They’re both very nice and good-humored people. We chatted about a variety of topics, from the nine board members spread out across the world to the chemical BPA compound and its effects on aquatic ecosystems.

Justin Gibbs and Matt Olander in front of the FreeBSD Foundation table.

Throughout the day, FreeBSD fans and BSD newcomers stopped by our table. Denise and I passed out FreeBSD horns, DVDs, and stress balls while Deb helped take donations to support the FreeBSD Project. Matt booted a demo of the latest BETA1 release of PC-BSD 9.1 from his VirtualBox and enlightened all about the joys of PC-BSD.

We also had the pleasure of chatting with our fellow open-source neighbors. PhpBB, a popular open-source bulletin board, had a table right next to ours. PhpBB is a user-friendly, flat-forum that has a strong following of community members. Check out their main site: http://www.phpbb.com

Now what about a raffle for a free iPad? ;D

They had a raffle by the end of the show, and my name was one of the ones chosen! Denise and Matt joked at this rate I’ll win the lottery. I’m not holding my breath. Steve Atkinson from their support team presented me with an adorable customized phpBB teddy bear. They’re an awesome team who are passionate about their project, and I hope we will get to see them again next year.

That’s the schedule… for one day! O.o

OSCON is a huge conference. Attendees were constantly on the go. If they were not running to and from the many talks and keynotes, then they were amassed at the coffee shops or the lunch line to recharge themselves. For those who could not leave the Expo Hall or did not have time to go to all the talks, the talks were conveniently streamed onto video screens throughout the convention center and also posted online on the OSCON website.

On another note, I really liked Oregon’s conscious efforts to be eco-friendly. There were plenty of billboards with green messages, automated hand-dryers, numerous recycling bins, and even taxis with environmentally-safe emissions. What was really cool was our first-hand encounter with TaxiMagic, an online mobile app for booking taxis on the go. TaxiMagic, as I soon found out, is an iXsystems customer and runs on FreeBSD.  So people know their payment information is safe. ;D

This is actually a pic of TaxiMagic I took in LA, but same idea.

In addition, OSCON featured pictures of the “O’Reilly animals” in their conference materials. Fun trivia: the idea of using animals was inspired from quirky designs on 19th century wood engravings. Sadly, most of the animals on the O’Reilly book covers are now endangered. Within the main convention hall, there was an O’Reilly table designated to spread awareness of endangered animal species. Which brings me to my next topic:

FreeBSD is helping to save the gorillas!

Koko thanking Penny for introducing her to FreeBSD. Or that’s what we would like to think. ;D

It is true. Verified by our own Matt Olander and Larry Maloney, Koko, the famous gorilla who understands more than 1000 signs in ASL, uses FreeBSD. In fact, the Gorilla Foundation, founded and led by Dr. Penny Patterson, has a main site: http://www.koko.org, that runs on FreeBSD. If you’re not already a member of the Gorilla Foundation, we encourage you to sign up and support their noble endeavor.

Now, if that doesn’t convince people to try FreeBSD, I don’t know what will.

On an early Friday morning, we departed from San Jose International airport. After two flights and one extended layover, we arrived in a lush, green town otherwise known as Bellingham, Washington. The team had an early dinner together, and because we all woke up at an ungodly hour, everyone decided to turn in early for the night.

The exhibit floor was jam-packed and in full swing by the time we checked in the next morning. By noon, LinuxFest NorthWest checked-in over 700+ registrations on their Twitter feed. As trade shows go, LFNW is known to be small and have a more intimate, laid-back atmosphere. However, Jakob Perry, the event organizer, told Denise that this year they had over 1000 check-ins in the first day- a record number of attendees since the first show in 2004!

The gals at Deaf Inter-Link showing us some love.

The team had the latest stable release of FreeNAS set up at our FreeBSD booth. James demonstrated how to stream music video via FreeNAS, and Ben, Annie, and Denise handed out FreeNAS CDs and PC-BSD 9.0 DVD’s while talking to attendees.  Daemon horns were passed out and soon circulated all across the floor, even extending to the kitchen staff.

Our influence extends to the kitchen staff as well. Serving up grilled salmon with a generous helping of FreeBSD!

I checked out Krita, a KDE drawing program that is available for many operating systems, including FreeBSD. They had a Wacom tablet at their table, and with my limited artistic capabilities I did a quick test drive. At first glance, the program has similar core features comparable to GIMP and Photoshop. There’s a cloning option that allows you to create a completely symmetrical shape while only drawing half of it.

Checking out the Krita program with a tablet.

We attended the after party on Saturday night, hosted at the Spark Museum of Electrical Invention. Food and drinks were served, and we had a chance to explore the exhibits. Hundreds of inventions and cool gadgets were on display, detailing centuries of technological development. Near the end, the museum staff gave us a live demonstration of the Tesla coil. It was an impressive light show, as 4 million watts were generated and then zapped at a Faraday cage holding a live human being. The volunteer, of course, survived the ordeal without a scratch.

4 million watts? Not a problem...

On Sunday, James gave a talk on FreeNAS, explaining the history, GUI, and many useful features, and answered several questions in regards to the 8.X release. A couple of people came by our booth afterwards to pick up FreeNAS CD’s or to chat it up with the team. The show was considerably more toned down the second day, and we wrapped it up by late afternoon.

It was a fun and peaceful weekend in Washington. It was my first time going to such a close-knit conference and the experience itself was novel and quite an eye-opener.  Everyone was very nice and friendly, and I already look forward to next year’s show.

Visual Media

I had the opportunity to attend Visual Media 2012 “Unveiled” in Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco last Thursday. This trade show is specifically geared towards professionals interested in social media, graphic design, and creative marketing.

An inside look of Fisher Atrium inside SF Mission Bay Center.

 

Seminars were held on the second floor, and I dropped in on David Sparks’ “How to Become an Online Influencer” seminar. He encourages others to take a proactive angle and take advantage of social media to get the maximum exposure for their company. He’s a brilliant speaker, with endless energy and engaging topics. With every key point, he is able to pull a relevant example or case study that effectively drives the point across.

To summarize, social media is fast becoming an invaluable method for a growing business to develop a relationship with their clients. In order to gain recognition, one needs to give recognition first. Through a series of interviews, blogs, news articles, podcasts, and intensive email follow-ups (one which I soon experienced first-hand afterwards), Sparks spearheaded his way into a successful media influencer who’s articles was featured in PC Computing, PC-World, and Wired News.

After the seminars, there was an Evening Keynote in the main auditorium. David and Leeman thoroughly charmed crowd with their hilarious quips and magic tricks. They opened up the floor for Doug Cunningham and Jason Noto, co-founders of a San Francisco-based design studio called Morning Breath, Inc. They shared their story: a great example of two designers keeping true to their own style and interests as their career flourished: going from designing skateboards to making the CD cover art for famous musicians like FooFighters, Jay-Z, and AFI.

One of the pieces taken from Morning Breath's online portfolio.

I had a wonderful time at the show. I definitely recommend it for creative media professionals as there will be great demonstrations of art, printing, and media in shows as well as exhibits. There were great take-aways, delicious food, and entertaining shows. I definitely look forward to what they’ll have next year!

Lots of goodies at the banquet hall. :D Bruschetta, potstickers, and various desserts.

In the process of interviewing and chatting with all of our iXsystems developers, I recently discovered the existence of one who goes by the name of Chauncey Phillipson. Not much is known about him. He works off-site and almost never comes into the office, so why does his name keep popping up within our tightly-knit group of coworkers?

A reliable in-house source disclosed a very revealing anecdote about Chauncey:

“Well, Chauncey was a man who wore many hats at iXsystems. He worked in almost any department we needed him to: HR, Marketing, Sales, Facilities, Accounting; you name it, Chauncey worked there at one time or another.  Due to this, he was extremely difficult to get a hold of…elusive, even. In fact, you could sort of say that he was always there but never around.  People spent a lot of time talking to his voicemail and awaiting his return calls. He was in high demand.

He was an extremely friendly and polite person who took all of the work in stride, without complaint.  In fact, I think that’s what eventually broke him at iXsystems. You see, his true passion was fashion design…for hamsters and other small fauna. But, his job at iX was so demanding that he had no time to pursue his dreams. I think the pressure finally got to him, and one day he just up and vanished, never to be heard from again.

Despite all that, Chauncey was a joy when he was around.  He had a sweet, soothingly effeminate voice that was such a delight to hear whenever his answering machine would play his kindly recorded message. In fact, his voice was downright infectious.  We’d all lovingly imitate his lispy southern drawl around the office to make up for his absence.”

Some say he went to Thailand for an extended vacation. Others claim he attended a tradeshow in Europe. Here at iX, we would periodically receive postcards, signed “xoxo CP”, as shown below:

The marketing team pooled our resources and conducted extensive research. After much debate, I managed to narrow down his possible whereabouts to thirteen locations as shown below:

Perhaps we will never see Chauncey again. Or maybe one day he will show up at iXsystems unannounced. We will never know.

But according to a famous iXsystems urban myth, from time to time, you can hear Chauncey’s voice echoing through the company’s hallways at night when MattO talks in his sleep….

BAFUG @ iXsystems

Last night’s BAFUG had so many people! We had a record attendance, 28 people congregating in our humble iXsystems lounge. We had a bunch of iX team members too: Josh, James, Denise, Garrett, Peter, Annie, Ben, Val, and myself.

Ben posing with the signs we posted all over to help attendees find their way.

Be our guest, be our guest! Put the pizza to the test! haha

Pizza was ordered, drinks passed around. Conversation ranged from FreeNAS to SVLUG (Silicon Valley Linux Users Group) meetings. One topic that I thought was interesting was the announcement about Amazon EC2 and FreeBSD. It’s been known that a FreeBSD developer has fixed a bug in order for FreeBSD to boot on all Amazon EC2 instances (check out his notes: here). However, it’s not until recently that people have started taking advantage of it.

For those who aren’t familiar with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud  (like myself), it’s Amazon.com’s cloud computing platform. It provides users with flexibility and control over their virtual machines and servers. It is supported on many different operating systems ( including FreeBSD!), allows for “elastic” changes of capacity by allowing users to create and turn off servers at their discretion, and gives users root access to all the virtual machines so they can interact freely. For more info, visit Amazon ECs’s site.

More pictures of the BAFUG meeting can be found on the iXsystems Facebook and Google+.

Happy Birthday to both Annie and Jeff!

Ice cream bars were passed around the front office in commemorative spirit. Valerie also got them individual cupcakes. It was really cute! Too bad we didn’t get to sing… we save our beautiful voices for our customers. ;D

Annie's cupcake with a small bunny. :D

Jeff with his Transformers cupcake. Too bad Val didn't switch them... haha.

An interesting conversation with a coworker about one of our daily marketing experiences:
- “likes” post on iX Facebook wall
- sees notification on iX Facebook
- gets excited
- it’s for our own “like” on the post
- d’oh

We need more love on our social media! haha

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