In this interview with Greg Coit, we talk about his position at RightScale as a Linux System Administrator, his passion for old steam trains, and we discuss our plans for becoming better ping-pong players!
Rashod: Hey everyone. This is Rashod here again at the firework coworking space in Old Town Eureka, and this is our Member Spotlight with one of our coworkers here, Greg. Greg how are you doing today?
Greg: I’m good. How are you doing?
R: I’m doing not to bad today. And it’s good to have you here.
G: Thank you.
R: And we usually start these interviews off with three sort of simple questions before we get into the nitty gritty of the interview. So why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself, like who you are, what you do, and how you ended up here in Humboldt County, if your not originally from here.
G: Sure. My name is Greg. I work for company called RightScale. I’ve been with them three years. I’m the Linux Systems administrator. We’re a cloud management platform and my job is to manage the servers that keep up our site.
R: Oh, OK. Awesome.
G: And we use RightScale to manage RightScale , so it’s kind of cool.
R: Nice. Where are you guys based out of?
G: Santa Barbara. Yeah, so I get to go down about three times a year. It’s a really great place to visit.
R: I was going to say, that must be nice.
G: Yeah, great weather, good food, it’s a really fun group of people- I like them a lot.
G: Yeah, it’s nice to go down and visit.
R: And are you originally from Humboldt County.
G: No, I moved here in ’87 to go to Humboldt (Humboldt State) and I’ve been here ever since. My 30 anniversary is coming up in January.
R: Wow, so you’re a Humboldtian.
G: Uh, yeah. Whether I want to be or not.
R: I’m getting to that point, too. Cool, and so you were telling me a little bit about the work you do, how about you kind of elaborate and tell me what your sort of work is like day-to-day.
G: Sure. So we’re a DevOps team. There’s eight of us. We’re spread around the globe. There’s two guys in Santa Barbara, there’s a guy now in Portland, me here, two guys in Salt Lake City, and two guys in Barcelona, Spain. They help us to work with our team that’s in Edenborough, which is really nice because of the time change. And they also cover basically our midnight to 9 am for on-call. So that most of the time, we don’t have to get up at 3 o’clock in the morning if something falls apart. So it’s a combination of reacting to issues, we have monitoring of course built in on all of our servers, a lot of developing of scripts that we use to provision and manage our instances. We do RightScale with RightScale, but we write code that interacts with the API to provision instances and do releases on all of the that stuff, so. We probably manage around 300-500 servers, maybe. We just switched over to Docker 7 months ago, it was a big company-wide initiative, and that actually helped us reduce the number of instances quite a bit that we manage. You know, there just were servers that just weren’t doing anything, so we’re able to say, well we’re going to combine containers on to that and we get 2 for 1, or 3 for 1, or in some cases 6 or 7 for one like in our Dev systems. We’re a Ruby shop primarily. The Ops team uses Bash and Ruby to do our stuff. So, you know, everyday is different. It’s programming and figuring out weird Ops issues, Linux issues, fixing servers that are falling over. We have to build our stuff to survive typical cloud instability. So, yeah.
R: Cool. And have you had maybe a unique working experience, being a part of a coworking space?
G: No. Really the only experience is occasionally- I was in Oakland one day- you know because I can work from anywhere right, which is actually pretty cool. I just got back form a five-week trip in Colorado and Northern New Mexico. It was awesome, and I worked most of the time. I spent a day a coworking space in Oakland, I’ve done a day at a coworking space in South Lake Tahoe, and that’s about it until here.
R: Nice. Have maybe had any experience working with other coworkers on any projects or anything?
R: Here, or maybe even elsewhere.
G: Well, lets see. I’ve got another buddy who works remotely, and he and I work from each other’s house once a week just to get ourselves out of the house. And he’s a PHP guy and so there’s not a lot of crossover, you know. We have a local Linux users group here that there’s an email list for. You know, people have Bash questions, or Linux questions, or whatever- they’ll ask him on that. You know, I haven’t been here long enough to really interact with anybody, but I’m really excited to see that somebody from GitHub is here. There’s not a ton of techies here.
R: In the area, generally.
G: Yeah, definitely not in the area, for sure. So it’s nice to meet another techie and kind of geek out a little bit.
R: Yeah totally. And I guess, what would be one of the biggest benefits about being in a coworking space you would say?
G: I love getting out of the house and all the distractions that are involved there. I’ve been a remote worker for probably six or seven years now and I think I’ve got it down pretty good, but there’s really something to say for a desk, a comfortable chair, a lap top, and that’s it. It’s real easy for me to focus in and get a lot of work done. That’s been really nice. It’s a comfortable space, very clean, and bright, and people are nice. And so there’s not a lot of distractions. Yeah, it’s great.
R: Awesome. And I guess just a little bit about yourself, do you have any hobbies or things you like to do in your free time?
G: Yeah, I’m a train nut. Specifically old steam trains. We’ve got a couple here in Humboldt County that are operated out at Fort Humboldt. But the trip that I took to Colorado and New Mexico was to volunteer for a railroad that was built in 1880. It’s a 64 mile line that was converted into a tourist train in 1970. But I spent a week restoring old freight cars and specifically a caboose. So I’m working on equipment that’s over 100 years old that’s really fun. That’s was a really an amazing group of people that I got to work with on that.
R: Yeah, that sounds really cool.
G: The train goes over a 10,000 ft pass. Steam powered. It’s pretty magical.
R: Yeah, that sounds amazing.
G: The Rockies are stunning and really mind blowing.
R: I could imagine. I haven’t been, but that sounds cool.
G: Highly recommend it.
R: Maybe sometime in the future. And do you have any closing statements about firework you’d like to share?
G: I’ve enjoyed it a lot. I will continue to come and be a part. And I’m going to practice and beat Mark at ping-pong. Actually there’s no way in hell I’m going to beat him in ping-pong. But I’m going to try.
R: The first thing is saying it out loud.
G: Yeah, right. It’s funny because we were playing, and there was something off about the way he was playing. I ask, “Are you holding back?” He says, “Well I want this to be fun.” Don’t hold back. Oh my god! I’ve never seen a ping-pong ball move that fast. It was amazing. Like, OK, wait a minute. Can I change my mind?
R: Be careful what you ask for.
R: That’s cool. Well, the more you come, the more you practice.
G: That’s right. Do you play?
R: You know, I play a little bit.
G: That’s my level right there.
R: Exactly. We’ll practice together.
G: Yeah I could use that because the guys in our Santa Barbara office have a table and we play all the time.
R: It’ll be a lot less discouraging playing me.
G: And vice versa, trust me.
R: Awesome. Well that about wraps it up with the interview with Greg. Thank you for scheduling time out your day to do this with us.
G: Of course. It was fun.
R: Yeah definitely. And if you listeners out there would like to learn more about firework and what we do, come check us out in Old Town Eureka or visit our website at firework.space. Until next time folks, take it easy.