Page 3 of 4

Rackspace Externship Retrospective

Spencer-headshot

I’m Spencer Martin, cellist, programmer, and now honorary Racker at the Racksburg offices. This last summer, I had the privilege of shadowing and learning from some of the smartest and most skilled programmers I’ve ever met. During my time at Rackspace, I was assigned to observe and work for two days with each of four different teams. I worked with a different team each week and was given a corresponding project for each team. My projects were educational in nature, and did not involve any Rackspace production code. Through my experiences at Rackspace, I’ve become a more experienced and well rounded programmer, and I’ve met a lot of tremendous people. Continue reading

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Racksburg is Getting Girls Interested in Tech – And You Can Too!

One thing I love about Rackspace Blacksburg (aka “Racksburg”) is how we support our local STEM community through both sponsorships as well as Racker volunteerism. But besides sponsoring (and teaching) classes on programming robotics or rocket science, there’s another lesser known need in the STEM community. If you look around most of today’s leading tech companies you’ll notice a pretty significant imbalance of women in tech jobs. Only 18% of today’s Computer Science grads are women (compared to 37% in the 1980s!).[1]  A problem you would think should be getting getting better in the 21st century, not worse.

STEM Diversity Movement Helps The American Tech Sectorblog-series-image
In a day where more and more tech companies are outsourcing critical Dev and Engineering jobs, even pushing congress for more H1B (overseas tech sector) workers — it’s more important than ever that we build up and make use of our own domestic, female, tech work force. A work force that actually helped create the computer industry in the first place back in the 40s.[2] Continue reading

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Racksburg Hosts Glance Mid-cycle Meeting

This week Racksburg is hosting the Glance Liberty mid-cycle meetup.

Rackspace_Cloud_Images_vert_clrThat sentence probably doesn’t make any sense without some background. “Glance” is the name of the OpenStack Image Service. “OpenStack” is the open-source cloud software project founded by Rackspace and NASA, and is the software used to run the Rackspace Next Generation public cloud. “Liberty” is the name of the twelfth OpenStack release. OpenStack works on a six month release cycle. Planning for the Liberty release began in May at the OpenStack Vancouver Summit, and the Liberty release will happen in October. So right now we’re in the middle of the Liberty release cycle. The teams working on the various OpenStack components are distributed throughout the world and hold weekly meetings on IRC, and while you can get a lot of work done on IRC, it’s helpful to have a face-to-face meeting in the middle of a release cycle to touch base about how well development is occurring and to discuss what needs to happen during the time remaining before the release date.

That’s what’s happening at Racksburg this week.

Attendees for the meeting are coming from as far away from Ireland. Companies represented include Rackspace, HP, IBM, Redhat, VMWare, and Johns Hopkins University.

The Glance project handles all virtual machine image cataloging, storage, and data transfer in an OpenStack cloud. It’s also the basis of the Rackspace Cloud Images product.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Turning It Up to Eleven

The very last song on last week’s Radio Ethiopia was a “power song”: it was the 2048th song played since the debut of Radio Ethiopia on K-RACK on October 3, 2012. So at this point I’ve broadcast exactly 2^11 songs over the internet from Racksburg. (Of course I keep track of this stuff, I’m a computer scientist!)

I know that you’re just dying to know what the other power songs were, so here we go. (The first show was a special Peter Tosh edition, so in one sense his songs are over-represented in the list, but on the other hand, they are very powerful songs, so what the heck.)

power artist title date
0 The Wailers “No Sympathy” 10-3-2012
1 The Wailers “Stop That Train” 10-3-2012
2 The Wailers “400 Years” 10-3-2012
3 Peter Tosh “Sinner Man” 10-3-2012
4 Peter Tosh “Arise Blackman” 10-3-2012
5 Augustus Pablo “Point Blank” 10-17-2012
6 Impact All Stars “Ordinary Version, Chapter 2” 10-24-2012
7 Burning Spear “Farther East of Jack” 11-28-2012
8 The Soul Syndicate “Great Stone” 2-6-2013
9 The Mighty Diamonds “Them Never Love Poor Marcus” 6-5-2013
10 Augustus Pablo “Kid Ralph” 2-16-2014
11 The Mighty Two “War” 7-15-2015

Rackers can listen to Radio Ethiopia (and other great shows) from the comfort and safety of their workstations, Tuesday through Friday. Wednesday is Racksburg Day.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Goodbye XML!

Goodbye-XML

If you’re a software developer working in the cloud, you’re probably aware that OpenStack (and the cloud industry in general) have moved away from supporting XML APIs. In fact, OpenStack has just eliminated XML support for the Compute v2 API in its latest “Kilo” release. In our quest at Rackspace to be as consistent as possible with upstream OpenStack, we are planning to follow suit. The last day of XML support in the Rackspace public cloud will be July 20, 2015.

But what about all the people who use XML?

There actually aren’t very many. In the Rackspace public cloud, only 0.2% of current Next Generation Cloud Servers API requests either pass XML in the request body or request XML responses.

Remember, we’re only talking about XML usage with the Next Generation Cloud Servers (Compute v2) API. You’re perfectly free to use XML in any other context you like, for example, as a data interchange format for messages sent among your fleet of cloud servers. We’re not making a moral judgement about XML usage, we’re just saying that you’ll no longer be able to pass it in a request body or ask for it as a response format when you communicate with the Rackspace Next Generation Cloud Servers API.

Dang! I’m using XML … what can I do?

If you’re using an SDK …

If you are using a cloud software development kit (SDK), please update it. The latest version should be able to communicate with all OpenStack clouds using the supported JSON serialization format.

If you’re using a custom script …

If you are using a custom script without an SDK, you’ll have to change your script to process JSON instead of XML. We strongly recommend, however, that you change your script to use one of the many available SDKs for various programming languages. The advantage to using an SDK is that it will expose a well-defined interface to your script, thereby making your script easier to maintain. You can find a list of SDKs that you can use to connect to the Rackspace cloud our developers’ website:

https://developer.rackspace.com/sdks/

If you like to do it by hand …

If you prefer to do things by hand, you’ll need to modify your scripts so that instead of sending XML, they’ll send JSON request bodies. The correct format for JSON requests can be found in the Compute API documentation. Be sure that your scripts specify “Content-type: application/json” in the request header.

You’ll also need to change your scripts to parse JSON responses. Again, the response format you can expect can be found in the Compute API documentation. Make sure that your request either contains no “Accept” header, or that it explicitly specifies “Accept: application/json” in the request header.

How easy a transition this will be depends upon what scripting language you are using. Some languages (Python, for example) handle JSON serialization/deserialization much more easily than others. If you need to do a major rewrite of your scripts, we strongly recommend considering using an SDK instead of a “raw” language … it will make upgrades much easier on you.

Could I be using XML without knowing it?

I’ve spoken with a few customers who were making XML requests without knowing it. In some cases, this is because they were using an older version of an SDK that still used XML. The most recent versions of currently maintained OpenStack SDKs don’t use XML, so an upgrade will fix this problem.

Goodbye XML!

In conclusion, mark July 20, 2015 on your calendar as the last day of XML support for the Rackspace Cloud Servers API. If you have questions or comments about this transition, feel free to post a comment in the Compute Feedback Forum.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Racksburg Fitness Challenge!

The Racksburg Rackers are competitive (so are most Rackers) so sports and challenges are a fun way to trick us into being healthy. The Wellness committee capitalized on this and issued our first challenge: Walk to Mordor.

Teams of 5 collectively had to walk from the Shire to Mordor, following Frodo and Sam’s journey. Key points along the challenge were Rivendell, Lothlorien, Rauros Falls and of course Mt. Doom. This was 1779 miles. The competition started on Summer solstice and concluded 60 days later when team Frodo completed the challenge.

Our second office wide walking challenge is currently in progress and is known as the “Gold Rush”. Teams of 5 Rackers are working together to cover the 2,841 miles from the Blacksburg office to the San Francisco office.

Our first point of interest is passing Lexington Kentucky – where teams were challenged to get pictures with horses; below are my teams photos.

Here is the badge teams who completed the Walk to Mordor challenge got:

IMG_2230-crop3000-publish2

Here is my team, More Cowbell, and our horse pictures to symbolize reaching Louisville:

20150522_121223 20150522_121125

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Giving a talk? Come prepared, technically & mentally.

The affable Cory House recently posted a blog article about the technical issues he had delivering the keynote at last year’s CodeStock conference.  I was at that keynote and remember the poise and calm he exhibited while dealing with multiple technical issues that were out of his control.  Despite the projector going out multiple times, he stayed on topic and continued the talk through the long reboots.  Reading his blog post I realized something: Your deck should help your talk, but it should not *be* your talk.  Cory understood this and was able to forge ahead despite not having a deck for a good quarter of his talk.
If your talk is on a technical subject then I can understand that you have a relatively high reliance on your laptop and projector. (Most of my talks are code related.)  However if you’re waiting for a laptop to reboot, you should still be able to speak to the subject for a few minutes and not leave the audience looking at their phones.  If your talk is more abstract, e.g. dev culture, like Cory’s was, then you should be able to deliver most of your talk without the deck.  Believe it or not, people did this all the time before PowerPoint was invented, and I don’t recall seeing many PowerPoint presentations in the last thousand Ted talks I’ve viewed on YouTube.  For my two most recent talks, my deck had almost no text at all.  My talk on cloud computing I delivered to the local IEEE was just pictures and screen caps, and once I started talking I even stopped using the deck and ended up skipping the last 10 slides.  The deck for my Enigma talk had little text, however was still very critical to the flow of the talk: it showed helpful diagrams on how the Enigma and Bombe work, and contained a lot of notes I needed to keep the talk on track.  But, if necessary, I could have delivered the talk with just a white board.  It’s important to understand your subject material in a way that you can explain it to the audience without notes, or just to someone you’re having drinks with.  If you’re at a conference and your badge has that “speaker” ribbon across the bottom, people will constantly ask you what you’re speaking on.  If you’re enthusiastic about the subject, that enthusiasm will infect the audience and they will leave the event both encouraged and impressed.

But despite my assertions above, having your technical ducks in a row is your responsibility as a speaker.  Here’s some suggestions in addition to Cory’s:

  • Bring an adapter.  Last year at CodeStock, I did a lightening talk on password hashing.  The projector in the small room only had a VGA cable attached to it, which most modern laptops don’t have anymore.  Luckily the audience was only 4 people, so I was able to give the presentation directly off my laptop.
  • Bring a long cable.  I always bring a long HDMI cable. The twenty-five feet HDMI cable from Amazon is only $15.
  • Have your deck, and any other files you need, on a USB drive.  If your computer dies (or is stolen), there’s usually a plethora of other laptops you can grab to do a presentation, but that only works if you have the deck. Don’t rely on cloud accounts to retrieve a deck.
  • Try not to rely on Internet access at all if possible. In this age of SaaS I know that’s not always possible, but I’ve seen many talks go off the rails because of a lack of reliable Internet access.
  • Don’t ever rely on the venue’s Internet connection.  If your talk absolutely requires Internet, you should count on using a cellular hot spot.  I attended at least two talks last year where the talk was saved by a generous audience member volunteering their cellular hot spot to the speaker.  Two years ago at the Dev-Link conference the Internet became highly unreliable for several hours because a single user was sucking up 50 Mbps with a torrent.  Counting on a good Internet connection for your presentation without a contingency plan is probably the biggest and most common risk taken by presenters.
  • Lastly, don’t forget the power supply to your laptop. I’ve done this before. You can usually find someone with a similar laptop that can loan you a power supply.  Another solution is to go to the hotel desk and tell them you left a laptop power supply in the room on your last trip.  Most hotels that cater to business travelers have huge bins full of cell phone and laptop power supplies that were left in rooms over the years.  They will usually be happy to get rid of one or two.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Using the Cloud Office Control Panel API from PowerShell

Many don’t know that the Cloud Office Control Panel also has a REST API.  You can find the API documentation here.   Most of the functionality available in the web control panel is also available in the REST API.  In this blog post I’m going to walk through some PowerShell code that accesses the API.

In previous versions of PowerShell, users had to rely on the .NET framework and other secondary resources to use a REST API. However, v3 of Powershell includes a new cmdlet called Invoke-RestMethod.  There were some limitations in v3 specific to how you set headers, but v4 of PowerShell allows you to have full control over your request.  Be sure you’re using PowerShell v4 to run the examples below.

Of course the first thing we have to worry about is auth.  The REST API requires an X-Api-Signature header, which is compiled by the Get-XApiSignature function. That function requires your api key, secret, and the value of the User-Agent header.

The next file, ListDomains.ps1, gets the XApiSignature header value, builds a hash for all the headers, and then makes the call to Invoke-RestMethod to retrieve a list of domains from the API.  Invoke-RestMethod also parses the body of the response into an object (similar to how web-api works and is a huge time-saver!)  This allows us to pipe the result directly into Format-Table to display the list of domains in a readable format.

In part two we’ll get fancy and create a mailbox.

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Racksburg loves potlucks

Racksburg has a monthly potluck group called OMNOMNOM or Noms for short. Inspired by the office-wide cooking competitions held occasionally throughout the year, a group formed to make potlucks a more regular event. The group is open to anyone who loves to eat and cook. Often the group is the test subject for new or modified recipes created just for the event. Generally the group shares recipes by email after the event, then picks the theme for the following month; June will be the one year anniversary of the group!

There have been themes such as chocolate (yes chocolate can be savory), soup & salad, finger foods, Irish foods, food on a stick, vegetarian, and most recently: a seafood boil! What better way to celebrate spring than eating outside in the nice weather.
Below is the group enjoying our seafood. Thanks Tweeks!

123456

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

The Racksburg Equilibrium

 

As I commit my changes to our team github repository, my droopy eyes tell me its time for my coffee. I pause the streaming music, remove my headphones and walk towards the closest of the four fueling stations in our office.  I can hear my teammates discuss colorful kibana graphs that fill up our team television monitors. A teammate expresses his preference for the dashing framework, which sparks an animated banter of technical discussions. I pour myself a generous cup of coffee and look outside to see a little yellow airplane land at the Virginia Tech Airport. Warm sun, clear sky, lush greens, beautiful mountains, summer definitely is close. Walking back to my cube, I see my teammates have dispersed from the dashboard discussion, some back to building awesome Rackspace Cloud Office apps and others off for a Ping-Pong break. High on caffeine, I get back to figuring out my next chef recipe.

RCB_STEMlunchHawaii

Racksburg (Rackspace + Blacksburg) gives you the platform to build awesomeness and at the same time provides ample benefits to balance work with your personal interests. Local gym memberships, bring your dog to work everyday, family outings, summer cookouts, holiday parties, community service, technical conferences, hackathons, tech talks, stem outreach programs are just some of the opportunities here that help you grow both professionally and personally.

This diverse and open work culture is precisely the reason why I love being part of Racksburg. If you want to experience the same make sure to check out our  job openings.

 

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2017 Racksburg

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑