A Budding Entrepreneur at Gangplank Chandler: Amena

Amena, one of our Gangplank regulars, is launching her own business: An educational game for kids.

Over the last year, she’s create a business plan, designed the prototypes and built her own website. To get her business to the next level, she’s started an IndieGogo campaign as well:

Link to IndieGogo campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/celebrate-the-salah-game-pre-beta-campaign#/

amena_screenshot2 amena_screenshot

She explains:

The Heart Story

As a Muslim growing up in America, I learned my faith through the traditional methods of watching my parents, relatives, family, and friends. I remember watching my mom helping people in a selfless way. I remember vividly witnessing my father’s interaction with people with a warm and welcoming smile. However, as I didn’t have that interaction, I  learned my faith by watching my parents. Having that connection with my mom and dad while learning my faith was missing.

So when I became a mother of two beautiful children, I wanted something different. I wanted to offer something for my children that will build a bond around my faith. Like any mom out there, I bought DVDs for my children to watch at home, or in the car. I also purchased many books about being a good Muslim, and to understand the basics of Islam. My children did learn, but buying books and DVDs still had the disconnect I once felt when I was a child. These ways of learning did not help me as a mom to interact in a fun hands-on way with my children.

That is the heart of how my venture began to start a company called Aspire Learning Tools,  that creates mindful games for spiritual kids. I wanted something engaging, fun, and interactive, while learning their faith! I wanted my children to experience making their own connection with Allah (God). I wanted them to understand their faith and how to practice their faith.

The Project

I began developing the Salah(Prayer) Matching Game around December 2015. I did so with one goal in mind, to bring more fun faith based games for Muslim families, Islamic schools, homeschoolers, and anyone who wants to learn more about who we are as Muslims and what Salah (Prayer) is in Islam. Since then a lot of work has been done to the game…both the physical box and visual design. Also, this two-year journey has lead to much traction in Arizona and all over the USA. I have worked with two schools in Arizona, created 20 prototypes that where sent out in the USA, and worked with local families. I have also created a Facebook Page to allow awesome folks like you to rate and write a review about the game. After hundreds of surveys and interviews from a speech therapist, Muslim, Non-Muslim educators, and families, the game is ready to go to the next level!

Community Podcast Studio fundraiser, Fundraver, June 10, 2016, Gangplank Chandler

Join us, Friday, June 10, 2016, 7:00PM to Saturday, June 11, 2016, 1:00 AM for Fundraver, an Electronic Dance Music event to raise funds to improve the Gangplank podcasting studio. The podcast studio is part of Gangplanks Studios Initiative which strives to build culture and vibrancy in cities, creating cities where people desire to live, work and play. Fundraver features bass music artist Viperactive.

“We want to build a better sound environment at Gangplank. Gangplank’s sound studio has brought together some of the best groups, podcasts, and solo vocal artists in Chandler,” said Julian Gooden, Viperactive. “Many artists have used this collaborative space to cut their first album in all kinds of genres from EDM and house to rap, R&B and even classical guitar. Many artists have been able to cut their first album thanks to this immeasurable resource.”

fundraver

“The space has been an incredible help to many artists and collaborators who had the talent but needed a place to make their first professional-level recording,” said Christopher Murray, Gangplank volunteer and Marketing Analyst with Gangplank anchor company, HiringSolved. “Our fundraising goal is $2200 for this project.”

“It’s about time we upgraded the aging equipment at Gangplank studios and create a sound-proof space to encourage more sonic collaboration and creation,” added Gooden. “Our goal is to upgrade the studio by constructing a sound-dampening roof and adding soundproofing material to the studio walls.”

Buy tickets or donate to the cause via the Eventbrite page.

A Mentoring Profile: Derek Harris

Meet Derek, one of our mentors at Gangplank in Chandler:

derekharris

As a seasoned business analyst & business developer, Derek Harris is successful at executing corporate vision and strategies that help increase your company’s footprint, expand market share and generate sustainable revenue and EBIT gains.  He has over 25 years business experience in transportation, construction, pro sports & entertainment and management consulting. Specializing in startups and emerging companies, Derek co-founded Zagg Media Partners – Strategic Growth Advisors. He serves as senior business strategist.

Derek is available the first Tuesday of the month from 1:00-4:00pm. Email or click on this link: chandlerbusiness@gangplankhq.com to schedule a session.
1. What projects are you working now — and excited about?
Well currently, I’m developing our Sirius Bookkeeping & Tax Strategies Brand and working with contractors, freelance professionals, and smaller businesses.  A lot of newbies and quite a few oldies in business really underestimate the value of detailed financial operations and metrics. For example, for many companies, a 2% reduction in waste or financial restructure could equal the net profits of a 10% increase in new sales. There are hundreds of strategies and techniques used by Fortune 500 & 1000 companies that are applicable to smaller businesses.

I’m excited about this brand because we’re combining the disciplines of basic-level bookkeeping & accounting with high finance strategic consulting and creating accessibility on a non-corporate level. It’s a fresh and disruptive approach.

 2.  What’s your favorite part about mentoring?
My favorite part about mentoring is when aspiring entrepreneurs talk about their ideas and then, seeing the excitement on their faces and hearing the passion in the voices.  And to be able to add some value to that through ideas, guidance, and referrals gives me great satisfaction.

3. Are you a Star Trek or Star Wars fan?
Both.  But, I’m from the old school.  I remember when the first mobile phone prototype was revealed on television…  Captain Kirk whipped out the fictional device known as the “communicator”.   It’s the perfect throwback and reminder of just how powerful the human imagination and innovation through technology has become.

4. What do you know now …that you wish you had known earlier as an entrepreneur?
I started my first business at age 12. And then later, my most successful business right out of college. Having very little resources and no network, my climb to success was a very long and drawn out process.  I learned a lot on my own and through trial and error. There was no internet or knowledge base access that many take for granted today.

But, even when I achieved a certain level of success, I didn’t realized that that was just the beginning of my entrepreneurial education and that you can’t do it on you’re own.  To maintain success you have to rely on your inside people and outside advisors.  This really hit home when I joined a management consulting firm years later and worked with several “hard-headed” business owners who were just like me and making the same mistakes.

 5. What do you do for fun and relaxation?
What’s that?  No really, I like to hike, travel, cook, catch a good game, or take in a live music set.  My goal is to take 2-3 months off each year for travel. I think that offers me the most fun and relaxation. I’ve always loved exploring different cultures, cuisines and architecture.

A New Mentor at our Chandler Location: Kevin Walsh

Walsh
Kevin is a business attorney at Quarles & Brady LLP in Phoenix who focuses on providing practical legal solutions to his clients. He concentrates his practice in the areas of start-ups and emerging growth companies, capital raises and general business counseling. Kevin represents clients in a variety of industries in a wide range of business transactions, including business entity formations, joint ventures, commercial contract negotiations and intellectual property licensing. He received both his JDA and MBA from Villanova University and his BA from the University of Notre Dame. In his free time, he enjoys home brewing and spending time with his family. Email or click on this link: chandlerbusiness@gangplankhq.com to schedule a session.

Digital Life Skills for Teens & Young Adults, November 7, 2015, at Gangplank Chandler

You would be hard-pressed to find a teen that isn’t on social media. It’s all fun and games when they begin using it, but did you know there’s another step? When teens enter their upper-class years in High School and early college, how they present themselves online could be the difference in getting an internship or job.

8571247015_b60b0feb92It’s a great time to begin separating the personal from the public, and this event will show you how. We will discuss about how your brain reacts to social media and the science behind it.

Dani Cutler, digital content creator, will also discuss ways to keep public and personal items online separate, and why now is a good time to think about setting up a more professional profile with LinkedIn.

Ruth Carter, attorney who specializes in social media law will discuss privacy online, safety, and the legalities about social media and what potential employers ask for and seek out on their own.

The presentations will be in discussion-format, and there will be time at the end of the event for Q & A. This event is geared toward juniors and seniors in high school and freshman in college, but all teens and their parents are welcome. Join us!

CraftHack Camp August 8, Keynote by Derek Neighbors

Take your crafting to the next level at CraftHack CraftCamp. Aug. 8, 2015 at TechShop in Chandler, AZ.  a conference for crafters by crafters.

 

Network with other craft artists and craft designers. Learn from each other how we have transformed our crafts into our life passions and/or small businesses.

 

  • Demonstrations
  • Tips
  • Ideas
  • Inspiration!

 

Schedule

Morning sessions, 9-noon, TechShop, 249 E Chicago St, Chandler, AZ. Scheduled panels will be on:

 

9 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.:  Main Room

KeyNote talk with Derek Neighbors.

 

9:15-10 a.m.: Main Room

Setting up your Ecommerce Cart

 

Interested in setting up an e-commerce site to sell your crafts? Here are some tips and ideas to think about:

– What kind of ecommerce site options do you look at?

– Scaling up your crafting business

– Things to consider when picking an e-commerce cart

Panelists: Anne Watson Barber, online marketing consultant and ecommerce manager, TBA – ecommerce site owners from BelleChic

 

9:15 a.m.-10 a.m.: 2nd Room:

 

Selling Your Crafts on The Retail Scene:

Advice on selling your crafts in stores and boutiques, or at art walks.

Selling your crafts can be done via boutiques and shops — like Sibleys West, a Chandler boutique that sells items made by local artisans. Arizona has tons of art wallks — so Marnie can talk about her experience with both selling her glass work at art walks and fairs, as well as managing art walks.  Panelists: John Wolfe from Sibleys West, Marnie Buquo Brookins, glass artist

Speakers’ Bios:

Marnie: I started in stained glass in 2000 when we purchased a new home and wanted a custom window for it.  The addiction quickly adapted to fused glass about two years later.  GlassMelts, LLC began formally in 2007 when I applied for my first business licenses.  I have an associates degree in business Jobs have included everything from day care, retail sales associate, dental assisting, office manager, to special event planning and of course, an artist and small business owner.

 

10:15-11 a.m.: Main Room

 

Photographing Your Crafts

 

Tips for photographing your crafts — including how to make your own light box. Panelists: Jewel Clark, Digital Technologies and Websites manager at the Heard Museum, Jo Ann Lassell, creator at Josaics and instructor at TechShop

Speakers’ Bios:

Jo Ann Lassell is an instructor at TechShop Chandler, volunteers with Refugee Focus teaching women to sew, and it seems like she knows – or at least has dabbled in – just about every craft medium. You can find some of her mosaic pieces and workshop information on her perfectly-named mosaic studio page, Josaics.

 

10:15-11 a.m.: Second Room

 

Crafting for Charity

Ideas and inspiration from nonprofits and artisans who create crafts to make the world a better place! Panelists: Jacqui Mounce, Lisa Takata

Speaker’s Bios:

Jacqui Mounce, director of Microenterprise & Women’s Empowerment Program at Refugee Focus, a resettlement and immigration services to new Americans in Tucson and Phoenix. The program offers entrepreneurship and jobs training to women, with a focus on teaching them craft skills.

Lisa Takata, who participates in a program to buy and sell wool from Navajo families. She is a spinner and fiber artist who sells her work at the Phoenix Farmer’s Market and the Mesa Arts Center.

 

11:15-Noon: Main Room

 

Do you like to blog about crafts or the crafting world? Join two bloggers for a roundtable about the blogging world. Be prepared to show your site and talk about your passions! Panelists: Stephanie Liebold, of http://www.travelcraftjournal.com/, Kitty Carlisle, of  http://www.grammaticalactivist.com/, Kelli Donley, of http://africankelli.com/

 

Speakers’ Bios:

Kitty Carlisle is a writer and editor who says she was born with a pencil in her hand. She writes content for others and is almost finished with her first novel. She enjoys editing more than is socially acceptable and works on doctoral dissertations, manuscripts, resumes, and website content, among other things. Because the blogs she writes must be optimized for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), she can show you how to write content that will have people reading your blog and coming back for more.

Author/crafter/long-time blogger Kelli Donley will be part of our ?#‎chcraftcamp? panel on blogging. Check out http://africankelli.com/ for her sewing tutorials, hiking adventures, as well as her gardening, knitting, and baking projects.

 

11:15-Noon: Second Room

Crafting and Maker Spaces

 

Phoenix has seen an explosion in maker spaces – places where people can learn, build and share their inventions. Crafters and DIYers and inventors frequent these spaces — and often use them to launch their budding business ideas. Panelists will give advice on what it’s like to create and start your business in a maker space.

Panelists: Ryan McDermott, of HeatSynch Labs in Mesa, Amanda Tucker, events coordinator at TechShops

 

Lunch is on your own with new friends. Choose among Downtown Chandler’s diverse restaurants with vegan, vegetarian and other delicious fair.

 

Afternoon demonstrations begin at 1 PM at Gangplank, 260 S Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ. The afternoon session is open to everyone — you don’t need to register or pay for a ticket to participate!

  • Reserve a spot to display and demonstrate your techniques,
  • learn a new skill from our community of artists, and
  • discover local nonprofits who need your skills.
  • Open craft swap — bring items you want to discard and swap with other crafters. All remainders will be donated to charity

A reception will finish the day at Gangplank at 4 PM. Make new contacts with our local craft blogging community, get insight into starting, restarting or renewing your crafting business.

 

Proceeds for Charity

All proceeds after costs will go to Refugee Focus’ Women’s Empowerment Program, a Phoenix non-profit that helps refugee women become self-sufficent through micro-entrerprises.

 

Location:

Morning sessions will be at TechShop in Chandler, 249 E Chicago St, Chandler, AZ.

Afternoon sessions will be at GangplankHQ, 260 S Arizona Ave, Chandler, AZ.

 

Ordering information: Tickets for the morning session are $20. Afternoon session at Gangplank is free.

 

New Workshop Format for Code Sisters

The next Code Sisters Workshop is July 18th from 11 am to 5 pm, in the main space at Gangplank Chandler. Know a woman or teen who might like to learn how to code? Spread the word!

This month’s workshop will introduce a format designed to give participants more choice over what and how they learn. This format should also let our mentors make better use of their time and be more creative in customizing their training to the student.

We will have three different groups, each group with a different objective:

1) “Learn to Think Like a Programmer” – Basic programming concepts presented in a clear and direct way. You won’t even need a laptop for some of these. Hands on exercises and answers to your questions. This group is designed to teach the “whats” and “whys” of coding. For beginners or anyone who wants to reinforce their knowledge of basic concepts.

2) “Project Boot/Reboot” – Bring a project or consult with a mentor to pick a learning project that is right for you. Work on that passion project you’ve been putting off or try something new and fun that will advance your skills. If you want to finish up the snake game or the to do list from prior workshops, this is the place to be. Work on the “how to” of coding. Any level.

3) “Challenge Yourself” – Got dreams of getting a coding job or tackling a Hackathon? Test your skills under the guidance of our mentors. Find out what you know and what you don’t… There will be various types and levels of challenges available, ranging from easy to difficult.

What to bring – A laptop and a curious mind. Lunch is on your own – you can either bring your lunch or visit one of the downtown Chandler eateries. Optional – Bring a project of your own to work on. If you don’t have a project, bring your questions about programming and learning to code.

Who can participate? The workshop is intended to encourage women to learn to code. Men are welcome to participate, too, if sponsored/accompanied by a woman. Suggested minimum age is 14.

Super Organizing-Guru to the Rescue!

Location Queen Creek Library

Get Organized

Are your papers piling up? Does your inbox need an inbox? Is your office causing you stress? Join us for a FREE workshop that will help you clear the clutter, empty your inbox, conquer your paperwork and reduce your stress.

If your office is out of control – come to this workshop and learn how to achieve total tranquility in your home office.

Topics we will be discussing:
• Deciding the purpose of your home office
• Desk organization
• Filing systems
• Organizing “Snail” Mail
• Bill payment systems
• Organizing your emails

Please remember to register since seating is limited for this special workshop.
Registration Ends: 6/17/2015 at 2:00 PM

Presenter: Pam Fitzgibbons

Date: 6/17/2015
Start Time: 5:00 PM
End Time: 6:00 PM

Get Reel Documentary Film Series Summer 2015

The Get Reel documentary film series is back at the Downtown Chandler Public Library this summer. The free Get Reel documentary film series runs every Tuesday evening starting June 9th through August 11th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

Location:
Downtown Library (Copper Room on 2nd Floor)
22 South Delaware Street
Chandler, AZ 85255

Get Reel Documentary Film Series

“We are excited to screen 10 first-run documentary films this summer, with several being exclusive premieres before they are shown on PBS in prime-time this fall,” said Chandler Librarian Ted Liebler. “Our renovated Copper Room has been enhanced to truly optimize the film watching experience with upgraded audio & video equipment and controllable room lighting for a real cinema experience.”

The Get Reel film series is made possible by a partnership between Chandler Public Library and POV (Point of View), Public Television’s premier documentary series. Since 1988, POV has been the home for the world’s boldest contemporary filmmakers, celebrating intriguing personal stories that spark conversation and inspire action. It is produced by American Documentary, Inc.

“This year’s films feature strong individuals that viewers won’t easily forget,” said POV Executive Producer Chris White. “Intimate and urgent, these are the stories of our times. We are proud to present a slate of films that challenge, enlighten and inspire.”

The complete film schedule, including descriptions, is below:

June 9
The Overnighters (by Jesse Moss)
Desperate, broken men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local pastor risks everything to help them.

June 16
Cutie and the Boxer (by Zachary Heinzerling)
An Oscar®-nominated reflection on love, sacrifice and the creative spirit, this candid New York tale explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and artist Noriko Shinohara.

June 23
Tough Love (by Stephanie Wang-Breal)
This moving film accompanies two parents as they navigate the often-murky waters of the foster-care system, trying to reunite with their children and prove that they deserve second chances.

June 30
Art and Craft (directed by Sam Cullman & Jennifer Grausman; co-directed by Mark Becker)
The jig is up for art forger Mark Landis, who has donated his expertcopies to museums for 30 years. But stopping isn’t simple. This caper uncovers the universal in one man’s search for connection and respect.

July 7
Tea Time (by Maite Alberdi)
Tea Time visits with five well-heeled Chilean women who have met monthly for tea and pastries for 60 years, offering an intimate view of life’s joys and difficulties—and the enduring power of friendship.

July 14
Web Junkie (by Shosh Shlam and Hilla Medalia)
In China, Internet addiction has been declared a national health crisis. With extraordinary access, Web Junkie delves into the treatment regimen for teenagers in a three-month military-style rehab program.

July 21
The Storm Makers (by Guillaume Suon)
This chilling exposé of Cambodia’s human trafficking underworld weaves the story of a peasant girl sold into slavery at 16 with that of two traffickers who use deception to funnel a stream of poor and illiterate people across the country’s borders.

July 28
Beats of the Antonov (by Hajooj Kuka)
Beats of the Antonov explores how music binds a community in the war-ravaged Sudan region, where people celebrate their survival and battle to maintain their heritage, even as bombs drop all around them.

August 4
Neuland (by Anna Thommen)
Neuland (“New Territory”) immerses viewers in a Swiss integration class, where for two years adolescent immigrants struggle to learn a new language, prepare for employment and reveal their hopes and dreams.

August 11
Point and Shoot (By Marshall Curry)
Two-time Oscar® nominee Marshall Curry’s Point and Shoot rides shotgun with Matt VanDyke, who films his self-transformation from a timid 26-year-old to a motorcycle-driving rebel, fighting in the Libyan revolution.

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.