My HiringSolved Away Mission to Phoenix NAP

Getting Going

My trip to the NAP Datacenter was an unexpected journey. I wasn’t supposed to go, actually. Trevor had invited me to go months ago and I couldn’t make it that time, but when I heard HiringSolved was going on another field trip, I asked if I could join.

Shon was enthused about the outing for a moment, but then realized I couldn’t go. “You need two forms of ID, so it’ll have to be next time.”

“It just so happens I’m carrying two!” I was back in on the away mission.

Arrival

 

Photos of Phoenix NAP facility.

Photos of Phoenix NAP facility.

We parked at a building that I had passed many times before. A very nondescript and boring building from the outside. I had driven past the corporate art and boring block architecture many times on my way to Arizona State University back in my college days.

We exited at the boring building and walked up to a tinted glass door–a common accent for the hot Arizona sun. Nothing impressive so far.

“This is by design,” Shon told me. “Notice how there are no logos or labels of any kind on this building”

Now that you mention it, this building is pretty nondescript… I was thinking. Has anyone even moved in? I see the cars around and everything but surely they’re just here for the Waffle House across the street.

Nope. This is NAP. And despite the cozy name, the security here never sleeps. We got up to the nondescript door of the nondescript building and Shon hit the nondescript buzzer on the nondescript pole in the nondescript cement.

A nondescript voice answered: “Bed—fft ba—ft and be—-ndfssf”

I didn’t really hear it.

“Shon Burton, HiringSolved,” Shon said into the speaker.

Click. The doors were unlocked. We walked over and Shon was saying, “See? There’s nothing signifying what this place is. Again, that’s by design. I’m surprised they even have numbers on the door. Usually they try to hide even the address at these things.”

Clearly this wasn’t Shon’s first rodeo.

Entering the Center

I sheepishly walked in with my hands firmly at my sides. Then clasped behind me. Then crossed in front of me. I didn’t know where the hell to put my hands.

The two security guards were wearing kevlar vests and a bulletproof pane of glass separated them from us.

One of them started grilling Shon on what hard drives he was taking in.

“Brand X,” Shon said.

“How many gigs?”

“X gigs.”

“How many drives?”

“Just two.”

“And your guest?”

“This is Christopher Murray. He’s new and we’re giving him a tour.”

They looked at me and said, “Two forms of ID please.”

I fumbled around in my Beatles wallet and pulled out my green card and Arizona driver’s license.

“Wait, you have a green card?” Shon said.

This was the first time I explained my Irish heritage and how even after living in the USA for 26 years (since I was 2 years old), I am still an Irish citizen. I saved some of the hairier details for later.

The mission that day was to infiltrate the data center, remove the failing drives, and replace them with newer, more reliable ones–some real cyber-punk shit!

The guards handed Shon and I a pair of badges to get us into the data center.

Behind them, I noticed a grip-ton of TVs set up to surveil the surrounding campus as well as the hallways of the complex. They probably had them on display like that to remind people they’re being watched.

The place was a fortress.

Data Meditations, Scorpoyotes, and Porn

I started to think about how malleable data is.

The Pirate Bay, for instance, has node accounts at data centers all over the world that activate in the event that one is taken down. It doesn’t matter if their building blows up because there will always be another backup of the data somewhere else.

For Gangplank startups like HiringSolved, however, this building blowing up would be quite a different situation.

If this building exploded, imploded, burned down, fell into the swamp, was raided by scorpions, coyotes, scorpion-covered coyotes, or giant scorpion-coyote hybrids that stabbed all the security with their scorp tails while half of them ran high powered magnets through the complex to wipe everything; all the startups would be doomed.

Or at least you’d think so.

When I brought forth my Scorpoyote concerns Shon showed me how I shouldn’t be so concerned.

“Technically, at least for us, it’s inaccurate to say we would be doomed. We securely replicate our data to [web server]. So in the event Phoenix NAP becomes a smoking crater, we would be back up and running in a short amount of time (minutes not hours).” Shon explained.

15 years ago I would have been right on the money. Multi-datacenter replication was so expensive that only the very top companies could afford it. Today, thanks to OpenStack, Rackspace, and most of all AWS, if your startup is taken out because your DC goes down, you’re not doing it right.

As it turns out, most of the security was there to prevent theft and non-destructive intrusion. Not destruction. Data and infrastructure are fairly easy to replicate today. Theft or worse, subtle infiltration is a much more significant risk for most. Again, replication and virtual hardware took much of the destruction risk away.

CC Bill, the emperor of porn payment processing, dedicates an entire floor of NAP to process transactions but they are no better off than the smaller startups housed there. Despite their massive scale and tenure in the digital space, they use a lot of the same data techniques that younger organizations use to mitigate destruction risk.

The Value of Data

Bits… they’re just a bunch of 0s and 1s. All theoretical, yet valuable. It’s a lot like how we value a person for their personality. It’s not the mass of the person that makes them valuable, it’s the synapses and electronic messages firing through the brain. The memory signature of a human being is quite like the data in this building. Really it’s just an extension of our own brain, isn’t it?

Perhaps that thought progression is what’s driving Trevor the astrophysicist, engineer, and CTO of HiringSolved to consider a possible future in neuroscience one day after he makes his buh-zillions.

 

Script Kiddie Danger

scriptkiddie

Not many people get to see this kind of thing. When I was a kid they took us to go see the factory where they made Coca Cola. Sure the assembly-line machinery was pretty cool, but nobody was carrying a taser.

They never take kids to things like data centers. Well, they never did in the 90s. There weren’t as many of them, in their defense. I have no idea where kids are field-tripping to these days, but if we really wanna trip them out we should take them to a data center.

On second thought, I’m not sure a group of rowdy kids could be trusted in a place like that. With things as fragile as they are, there isn’t much a kid couldn’t destroy.

Even with everything is locked away in black lockers like a goth Saved By the Bell.

Servers are just like your tower or laptop at home really, they need a power strip to plug into and an operating system to run their programming.

If a kid got in there and pressed the red button, they’d muck up the ongoing processes that the software company was performing. Right?

Wrong.

It does not work this way. Dennis the Menace could literally go into the datacenter, open the locker, plug in a Makita and start drilling holes in servers while our users happily went about their business.

Also, before Dennis could drill enough servers to make a difference, he would have been tazed in the head by one of the Kevlar-clad heroes.

If he turned everything off, yes, things would go down. HiringSolved would have to fire up the web server nodes until NAP security fixed the issue.

As a side note, HiringSolved’s entire cluster has in fact been completely powered off before. Not by a menacing kid, but by a clumsy ASU Computer Science intern and his stray elbow. Guess what happened? Nothing! HiringSolved powered back up to crawl sites and serve users like nothing happened.

We have a highly available redundant design. A datacenter being taken out is rare but if it happens we’re ready. If we weren’t, we would be morons.

Security Upon Security

After the security check and being processed, we walked through a glass door on the right that clicked to unlock and we went down a narrow hallway.

Halfway down the hallway there was a wall made of glass where we could see a bunch of tech security experts looking over their monitors right into our eyes as we passed.

They were seated on a series of graduated steps much like the bridge on a Starfleet C-class ship or some kind of secret nerd council or tribunal.

Their demeanor was very serious. A curly, long-haired ginger one I looked at gave me a stoic glare that sent chills through my soul.

I shuddered and kept walking, keeping my mouth shut so as not to set off some kind of security lip-reading software that detects stupid people.

When we got to the end of the hall we arrived at the most interesting part of the technology. The airlock room. Or whatever it was. It’s an airlock in the fashion that it was a room you entered and could not progress through until the doors on both sides had been locked.

Trouble in the Airlock
Airlock-Testing

There was a guy in there fumbling with the communication device on the wall. He seemed flustered and I couldn’t hear what he was saying through the door but it didn’t look good.

All of a sudden a green gas poured through hidden vents in the ceiling and in flew two automated drones with mounted machine guns and quadcopter flight.

They pointed their lasers at him and started firing. The portly young man in the death trap started trying to fight them off immediately and started coughing as the green gas started melting his skin. The gas billowed through the room until it was fully opaque. We couldn’t see anything.

Then *boom* we saw his disfigured bullet-ridden face smack against the glass door. He slumped to the ground and a giant spatula lowered from the ceiling to scrape his body from the floor and into a vacuum opening that had appeared on the far wall.

He was swiftly brushed into the vacuum where him and all the green gas flowed into the abyss. A pipe came out of the floor in the middle of the room and sprayed a solution everywhere. Squeegees dropped out of the ceiling to clean up the remaining specs of human. It all ended with a chirpy *ding* sound and the glass door slid open.

“They just murdered somebody,” I said.

“Shhh,” Shon said.

Shon badged first and motioned for me to follow.

I began to walk in and a piercing horn sound filled the air. Red lights flashed at the door’s entrance.

Shon whipped around and grabbed the badge on my neck to put it on the sensor. “You have to badge in too!”

But it was too late. We hit the deck as bullets went flying all around us.

What actually happened:

The befuddled gentleman in the enclosure finished whining into the speaker. We heard another voice come through our speaker and say, “Okay. You two can badge in and get in there with him now.”

“Alright. Back up,” we heard the loudspeaker say. By that time, Ian had caught up with us. I looked at him for some reciprocation and said “Dude, this place is badass.”  He nodded. It wasn’t his first time here, but he couldn’t deny the coolness either. (He tried).

“Yeah, your first time visiting one of these things is usually pretty intense. It gets less so when you’re running in and out to change hard drives all the time, but I have to admit it’s still pretty cool,” he said.

What I didn’t realize until after the trip is that the ‘airlock’ room we were in was actually measuring our weight down to a fraction of a gram and our weight while exiting would be compared to the original. Just another security measure to ward off theft.

That must be why the guards needed to know the brand and capacity of the drives we were bringing in as well as taking out. Hmm…

I exited the airlock totally ignorant of my weigh-in and entered the actual farm. The farm is a habitat for many a scurrying nerd. I spotted a silverback neckbeard, the duckbilled hipster, and even a water buffalo.

There are vents on the floors between each stack of servers. If left alone, servers can generate quite a bit of heat, actually. They’re kept to an appropriate temperature by a cycle of cool air that blows up from the floor on one side, then up and over the lockers to the other side where the hot air is vented out. So, if you get too cold, you can go to the hot side or vice versa.

I found this useful as I hadn’t dressed for either cold or hot weather. I was kind of in the middle (t-shirt with slacks). I found myself making the rounds once or twice.

Delicate Handling

Every part of the process was delicately and carefully handled. Removing a drive and replacing it is a serious undertaking for a business that relies on data. Each drive was handled like a newborn. It was clear that this server meant their livelihood. It was like defusing a bomb.

Ian added some nice-to-know stuff as I checked out the digs. Such as how the yellow housings that tracked along the tops of all the servers in the farm were the hamster highways where hamsters delivered written network codes from one side of the farm to the other.

Trevor explained how segments of each drive’s data was copied throughout the other drives, so if you lost one it was easy to recover from the other. With limited resources as a startup, this method serves very well and has prevented any major catastrophes at HiringSolved.

The guys joked about a marketing piece I wrote about our “thousands of servers” when in fact we have a much fewer number.

When it was time to go, I had soaked in the importance of data centers like this and the reason security is so important for them. When HiringSolved’s data does eventually need the capacity of thousands of servers, we’ll look back on this moment and think of how cute things were back then.

headshotAbout the Author: Christopher Murray is a growth hacker at HiringSolved. He’s also a Gangplank Chandler community member and volunteer where he supplies a weekly newsletter; edits blog posts; and handles community promotions. He started with HiringSolved in November 2014, and has immersed himself in the knowledge of sourcing, HR, and Recruiting. Christopher has a background in freelance writing, hacking, and marketing. His duties at HiringSolved include site content growth, writing patents & press releases, conducting email blasts, and charting their trajectory in the new media landscape.

The Rules of Nerf Blaster Safety

clint-eastwood-nerf-guns

 

1. Treat every blaster as if it’s not loaded.

Check the blaster by pointing at the nearest person and pulling the trigger. Hoard Nerf darts even if you’re sure your blaster is full.

2. Always point a blaster at anyone or anything you are willing to pwn.

If someone is present and you have a blaster in your hand, it is your duty to aim upon said person.

3. Never be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

You are not responsible for the entire path of every dart you fire from your gun.  If you hit your intended target, high-five! If you hit an unintended target, high-five!

4. Keep your finger on the trigger when a blaster is in your hand.

Never “index” your trigger finger.  This means to keep your trigger finger straight, and to raise it up to rest flat alongside the body of your blaster. Just don’t. Even when you are not on target and ready to fire, your trigger finger should always be inside the trigger guard and never resting straight, flat alongside the body of your blaster. Every year, 1.8 million Nerf-owning Americans miss a perfect opportunity to nail some punk like right in the face.

Guilt Free Book Club Upcoming Books (May – October)

The Guilt Free Book Club is perfect for people who like to read or even those that don’t.  A friendly group of people that like to meet once a month and share time together.  Usually talking about the book they just read or wished they would have read.

The group meets the Second Wednesday of every month at 6pm.

The Upcoming List

May

We’re going to do an exercise from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Better Edwards.  The woman who’s name I forget will select the exercise and invite an artist.

 June

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life by Brian Grazer 

July

A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius: A Memoir Based on a True Story by Dave Eggers 

August

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (comes out in July)

September

Socrates Café: A Fresh Taste of Philosophy by Christopher Phillips

October

Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss

Digital Storytellers Meetup & Creative Bootcamp

Who: Ita Ema (View from Above Entertainment) is the mastermind facilitator for anyone interested in crafting their story—whether it is for a business website, blog, comedy gig, feature film or fantasy novel—you see there is no end to genre or medium; all are welcome.
What: The meetup is part instruction, part project-sharing, part accountability and support group for telling the story that entrepreneurs and creatives need and want to tell. The Creative Bootcamp is a 5-hour ‘Get it Done!’ workshop to follow through on creative story-telling projects.
Where: Gangplank, Chandler (usually the conference room)
When: Meetup is every other Monday at 6-8 p.m. Bootcamp is approximately once a month. Check the Gangplank Calendar and newsletter for upcoming schedule.
How much: This is social capital at its best! A valuable investment of time for PEOPLE to PARTICIPATE in LEARNING how to craft their story and DO their storytelling with BOLDNESS along with a COMMUNITY of creatives who COLLABORATE, and Oh! happen to build FRIENDSHIP in the process. (= no monetary fee)

Urbie's blank slates

Urbie’s blank slates

This meetup group brings together an eclectic bunch. We have our regulars, we have our once-in-awhilers, and we always have newbies. And that doesn’t mean they are new to story-telling necessarily, but in some cases new to the craft and this group. Beth, a voice coach, is working on a musical she wrote many years ago decided to pull it out of the attic storage box and re-write it digitally. Ariel who is a programmer, musician and former firefighter shuffles around her many projects including an epic fantasy novel. I cannot count all the comedy guys who bring in their projects, one of which is a story about the comedians themselves.

I bounce around to a different project every meetup, but my first “Get ‘r Done” project was a video I created for a non-profit’s AZ Gives campaign. I wanted to raise money for a “real restroom” at this non-profit’s recycling facility. I brought my ideas to the group one night about a year ago and we had fantastic fun brainstorming and flushing it out—no pun intended! I then narrowed the story down and created a script, did some on site shooting. I brought the footage in for our fearless leader, Ita, to help me with editing software in the Gangplank computer lab and I recorded the voice-over in Gangplank’s podcasting room. It’s not the project per se that sealed the deal for my commitment this storytelling group, it is the honest feedback and collaborative spirit of participation for my own projects, as well as for those of others’. When I see their stories come together and witness the progress they make, it’s a beautiful thing.
Learning the story arch and the beats for fun and fiction is in some sense a no-brainer, yet it is quite the ‘Ah-ha!’ moment when you see a story is crafted into a business plan. We have numerous entrepreneurs creating stories for video and audience-building on their websites and online marketing. April is a long-time Gangplanker and WordCamp 2013 Director plugged in her Powerhouse Posting Process online courses through Made Better Studio.
Self-assigned homework spurs participants onward between meetups and that has organically grown into the ‘part support group’ aspect. Marissa pounded out the story arch for her online tutorials for home-schooling parents and shot the video after one visit to the meetup. BOOM!

During Bootcamp it's 4 X 45 minute blocks of nose to grindstone

During Bootcamp it’s 4 X 45 minute blocks of nose to grindstone

Others of us struggle to fit creative time and energy into our daily or weekly schedules and we’ve found ways to hold each other accountable along with sharing tips and tricks—everything from apps to track and time productivity, to inspirational videos, to online script writing and animation tools. Ariel attributes her writing 15,000+ words in the last few weeks to the learning, camaraderie, and support to Digital Storytellers. Rob, eventually hammered out his Bottom Five Comedy material between meetups and says, “The Digital Storytellers group helped me narrow my focus so that I could complete my first short film script, get my website up and running, and begin a feature. Without Ita and the group, I’d still be stuck with a million random story fragments.”
Even our fearless leader finds himself progressing on otherwise top candidates for procrastination projects such as a feature-length script, Full Field the Basics video series and now a crowdfunding campaign story. Ita says, “Sometimes you don’t know where to start, but it you can just take the first step that’s enough to get the ball rolling.” And he certainly has helped us do just that and more!

Urbie meets success: a finished product in a new medium

Urbie meets success: a finished product in a new medium

The fourth Digital Storytellers Creative Bootcamp was On Sunday, March 15. While all participants experienced successful outcomes, newcomer Urbie ( @urbie ) found out he could be a pirate at Gangplank via #tlap (Teach Like a Pirate Twitter chat), so long story, short teaching pirates connected to Gangplank pirates on the meetup.com app. Urbie came into the bootcamp with a laptop, a phone and a tablet along with a rainbow of sticky notes and pens. But more importantly he came in with true ‘Arrrrrrrr’ spirit! He had never tried comic strips before, but wanted to #BeDangerous and give it a try. He started from zero, added an idea and ended up meeting his goal of a publish-ready strip. I’m inspired!

Code Sisters: Closing the Gender Gap

I am happy to announce that Saturday, May 23rd will be the OFFICIAL kickoff of “Code Sisters,” a monthly, structured tutorial/workshop session for women learning to code. Each month, from 9:00 am to noon, we will teach a beginner level web development topic in a workshop/tutorial format. After a lunch break, there will be time for practice, project work, and mentoring.

These sessions are geared to help participants procure valuable skills, as well as gain the confidence to form their own software projects and join the hacker community at large. We expect women who complete these courses will be able to share their own software projects at events like the weekly Hack Nights that Gangplank hosts on Wednesdays.

In the meantime, the more advanced or adventurous have an open invitation to Hack Night and the “Code Purple” lounge, where Code Sisters and their “bros” can network, connect with mentors and project partners, and practice their skills.

If you know of a woman who might be interested in the group, please let her know about it. If you have skills and knowledge you want to share, please contact Ariel Strong <ariel@gangplankhq.com> or one of the people listed below.

We are actively looking for mentors – male or female – and would welcome your input and help as we put together future sessions.

Help from the Pirate Ship

From talking to ‘Plankers the last two months, I’ve gathered lots of ideas on how to structure an initiative to get more women into coding or just tech in general. I’ve heard many (sometimes opposite!) opinions on how to approach putting a Gangplank group together and lined up a number of potential mentors.

Thank you all. I appreciate the input, especially how to decide on a language and start learning as well as links to resources that we can use.

In fact, the response was so positive with so many good ideas, I wasn’t sure where to begin.

Opening up Code Sisters (unofficially operating at Gangplank since January) to a wider audience seemed like a logical place to start, but we needed a more structured format.

The dilemma was solved on Saturday, April 25th, after a Railsbridge Workshop for women hosted by Infusionsoft. Five Gangplankers attended the introductory Ruby on Rails event – Catherine Leyen, Eileen Kane, Ariel Strong, Trish Gillam, and Christopher Murray (who provided extraordinary technical support!).

There was consensus among Gangplank’s attendees that the format used for Railsbridge would be a perfect fit for Code Sisters’ purposes. The environment was nurturing and proved fruitful for learning a new skill. All of the women left with a decent understanding of the Ruby framework, thanks to the support of the team of volunteers, mentors and organizers who worked with each sub-group of the 50+ attendees.

On top of having a solid structure, Railsbridge provides their coursework online for free. It covers a variety of languages (Ruby on Rails, Javascript, CSS, HTML) and we intend to take full advantage. Soo…

The Shape of Things to Come…

This is only the beginning. We really don’t know how things will take shape, and we will adapt as we go. We want you to join us in this adventure and maybe eventually even steer the ship. In the spirit of Gangplank, we will be dangerous. Yaarrrgh!

 

Chandler Science Cafe at Hack Night, “Mission to Mars” with Rebeca Rodriguez

Please join us for the Chandler Science Café at Hack Night, “Mission to Mars,” with Rebeca Rodriguez, M.S., Space Management, Aerospace Engineer & Founder, Xplore BoX on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 7 PM.

Rebecca spent two weeks along with seven other team members from five different countries on a simulated mission at the Mars Desert Research Station, Utah. The Mars Desert Research Station is operated by The Mars Society to further the Society’s ultimate goal to explore and settle the Red Planet. Rebecca will talk about her experience at this Mars Analog Research Station, a laboratory for learning how to live and work on another planet.

The Mars Society's Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah.

The Mars Society’s Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) in Utah.

In addition, Rebecca is a STEM education entrepreneur and the Founder of Xplore BoX, a subscription service where students receive a package with carefully selected projects and activities to explore the science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

“When I was 11 years old I visited NASA Johnson Space Center and from that moment on I was hooked on space exploration and science research,” Rebeca said. “Fortunately, my parents were highly involved and provided many hands-on activities like model rocketry to fuel my passion of becoming an aerospace engineer. I credit those hands-on experiences that showed me the application of all the theory I was learning in school to the success of completing my aerospace engineering degree and master’s in space management. The hands-on projects and experiments kept me focused on what I would be doing after school. Once I was working in the space sector, I noticed kids did not have the same hands-on opportunities I did and therefore decided to start Xplore BoX. I hope Xplore BoX facilitates a convenient way to expose your children to the sciences and that it sparks and nurtures their interests.”

Science Cafés are live—and lively—events that take place in casual settings, are open to everyone, and feature an engaging conversation with a scientist about a particular topic. Chandler Science Cafe, first Wednesday of the month, 7pm, at Gangplank Chandler is presented in association with the Arizona SciTech Festival and Gangplank Labs Initiative.

Free, open to the public, all welcome.

Storm Chasers & Weather Geeks Unite: MonsoonCon Returns to Gangplank Chandler June 13, 2015

MonsoonCon (formerly know as AZ ChaserCon) returns to Gangplank Chandler,  Saturday, June 13, 2015, 10 AM to 6 PM, free. The objective of MonCon is to bring weather enthusiasts, weather professionals, scientists, spotters and storm chasers together to share, educate, network and inspire one another. I believe together we can build a community of people who will be able to encourage the study of Arizona’s weather with emphasis on the monsoon, stimulate proactive brainstorming conversations and increase public safety awareness.

MonsoonCon 2015 features 12 News Meteorologist Matt Pace, PhDKVOA News Tucson Meteorologist Jeff Beamish, and National Weather Service-Phoenix Meteorologist Char DeweyStorm chasers presenting at MonCon include Jerrod Harris, Kem Poyner, Bryan SniderWill WilkensMike OlbinskiTrey GreenwoodCorbin Lee Jaeger and MonCon organizer Christian Cleary. 

Like MonsoonCon on Facebook or follow @MonsoonCon on Twitter.

The People That You Meet Each Day

I spied him over the top of my monitor. He’d walked in well enough, but I could tell by his confused look that he had no idea what to do now that he was inside. This happens frequently. I’d seen that befuddled look on the faces of Gangplank newcomers countless times.

As a Gangplank veteran, I consider it my duty to make visitors feel welcome. Plus, I needed a break from writing marketing copy.

“Today’s subject is Software-defined Networking, boys and girls!” I’d loudly announced to the 15 odd entrepreneurs working out of Gangplank as I arrived earlier. (The crowd had returned my excitement with odd looks and loud groans.)

“Hi, how’s it going?” I asked as I rose from behind my monitor and walked towards the visitor. Perhaps he was an entrepreneur, looking for a home.

He tells me his name, Todd. He wants to know how much is it to use a computer here. He’d like to download a large file that someone sent him via email.

“You don’t pay anything to use the facilities here,” I tell him. “At least not monetarily.”

His confused look returns.

“Walk with me,” I tell him, laughing to myself. “We’ll get you squared away.”

We walk past the hot desks, large tables with office chairs where anyone who wants to can come in, set up a laptop and get some work done.

“There’s no charge here,” I repeat as we walk. “Because payment is in social capital.”

“Uhhhhhhhh-huh,” he says, in that tone that says “I have no idea what you are saying.”

We walk past the 3D printers that line the back half of the main Gangplank workspace. I continue giving Todd an introduction.

“Basically, if you find Gangplank is a space you like working from, and the people here a community you find valuable, all that is asked to use Gangplank’s resources is that you find a way to contribute something back. What you contribute is up to you.”

He’s not from around here, he says. He’s passing through town on tour. Just wants to use a computer, “How much?” he asks.

I shake my head and chuckle.

We continue straight down the hall, past the free library, buzzing conference rooms, and podcast studio. Finally, we arrive at the Gangplank computer lab. He seems a very nice guy, about 50 years old I’d guess, wearing glasses, a gently worn pair of blue jeans, and respectable short sleeved dress shirt.

I help him log on to one of the eight iMac computers in the lab, all freely available to the public. I make small talk while he accesses his email.

“So what is this file?”

“It’s a pilot for a TV show that I’m in. ” he says.

“Uhhhhh-huh” I say using the same tone he had earlier. An actor, just about to make his big break. Yeah, right.

Todd downloads the video. Over the next 45 minutes I am amazed and delighted at his talent. As we watch, we talk about life, swap stories about our kids, and generally just get to be pals.

The people you meet at Gangplank are random and diverse – and always interesting. I love this place.

Todd Oliver, nationally known comedian, ventriloquist, and past performer on America’s Got Talent.

 

Craft Hack Celebrates Three Years at Gangplank

Science Rocks PHXCraft Hack began as a chance to meet other, local crafters, but has evolved into a network of artisans, teachers and Etsy entrepreneurs. Anne Watson Barber, Stephanie Liebold and I began Craft Hack at Gangplank in early 2012. Originally we just met to share space while we worked on our own projects. “It’s good to set aside time to do something hands on and get away from our screens,” Stephanie added. Soon we teaching skills, demonstrating new materials and trading tips on monetizing our hobbies.

“We wanted to be a place for people to enjoy crafting and if they are dreaming about making it into their own business, we have the resources here at Gangplank to help them launch their business,” Anne said. Anne is volunteer Mentor Coordinator at Gangplank Chandler and an Online Marketing consultant.

Each Craft Hack features a demonstration of a skill or material. In March, I demonstrated the new Shrinky Dinks
(could you smell the burning plastic?). Local artist Crystal Daugle recruited Craft Hackers to help her with her recent installation in Tempe, “Push Down and Tango.” Etsy shopkeeper Vesna Taneva-Miller taught the basics of craft soldering late last year.

Craft Hack is expanding this summer. In collaboration with TechShop, we will be producing a half-day crafting conference. It will include advice for marketing and production-scaling for craftpreneurs as well as highlight the many local projects combing business-training and craft skills to benefit local charities. Save the date: August 8, 2015. More info soon.

Join us second Monday of the month, 6 PM.

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The Emergence of the Maker Movement

The Maker Movement is becoming mainstream. Over 135 millions adults in the United States alone actively involved. It has become a world wide phenomenon with Maker Faires in Japan, Italy, Norway and Chile. Makers are doing more than just creating for fun or hobby. They are contributing nearly $29 billion to the U.S. economy annually.

Who would of thought that Martha Stewart would be talking about the 3D printed roses?  or That President Obama would be announcing $240 million in STEM commitments at the White House science fair?

The Emergence of the Maker Movement and what it looks like by the numbers.

The Emergence of the Maker Movement

 

 

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Chandler, AZ

Richmond, VA

Sault St. Marie, ON

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06/13 12:00am
MonsoonCon 2015

MonsoonCon (formerly know as AZ ChaserCon) returns to Gangplank Chandler, Saturday, June 13, 2015, 10 AM to 6 PM, free. The objective of MonCon is to bring weather enthusiasts, weather professionals, scientists, spotters and storm chasers together to share, educate, network and inspire one another. I believe together we can build a community of people who will be able to encourage the study of Arizona’s weather with emphasis on the monsoon, stimulate proactive brainstorming conversations and increase public safety awareness.

MonsoonCon 2015 features 12 News Meteorologist Matt Pace, PhD, KVOA News Tucson Meteorologist Jeff Beamish, and National Weather Service-Phoenix Meteorologist Char Dewey. Storm chasers presenting at MonCon include Jerrod Harris, Kem Poyner, Bryan Snider, Will Wilkens, Mike Olbinski, Trey Greenwood, Corbin Lee Jaeger and MonCon organizer Christian Cleary.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/MonsoonCon/580683235333199
Twitter:
@MonsoonCon
https://twitter.com/MonsoonCon
06/13/2015
Start: Time
10:00 am
End: Date
06/13/2015
End: Time
06:00 pm
Location
Chandler
Initiative
Labs
Name (Organizer)
Christian Cleary
Email (Organizer)
ccleary33@gmail.com

Type of Event
Open (Public)
Is there a cost?
Free