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working for anchor Archives - AWS Managed Services by Anchor

How to smack people in the face with your resume

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It’s hiring time again here at Anchor1 and that means we’ve been sifting resumes. Lots of them. We’d like to offer some advice. There’s no shortage of advice on what to put in a resume, how to format it, and how to highlight the most salient terms. All that still applies, but our advice is not about that. You don’t have much time to make an impression with your resume. Let’s make the seconds count by cutting the cruft from your resume and focusing on what matters. Short is good, shorter is better. We think this also applies to resumes: Keep your resume to 1 page. But, you might say, my career history is far too extensive to keep to a single page. That’s a nice problem to have, but…

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Hiring only the best

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Regular readers of this blog will know that we’re hiring – we’re always hiring, in fact, and we’re going to be talking about it more in the near future. Hiring good people is really hard, so a smart company is always ready to scoop up a great candidate when they crop up. Hiring is hard because there’s a lot of really good people out there, but not that many great people out there. The esteemed Joel Spolsky covered this at length over a decade ago in The Guerrilla Guide to Interviewing, but it comes down to this: We only want the very best and can’t afford to do otherwise. Here’s why… As a webhosting company, Anchor operates in a pretty unique space. We provide a level of support that goes…

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The dust settles on Anchor’s first Hackfest

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We’re currently in the process of beta-testing RADOS Gateway with a view to producing a viable product, it’s an S3-compatible cloud storage solution. We’ve done a good amount of smoketesting and turned up our fair share of buggy behaviour, but what it really needs is a good shakedown. Thus, Anchor’s first hackfest was held last Friday to show off what can be done with our deployment of RADOS Gateway, named Trove, and see if it really shines. We wanted to keep things fairly low key for a first-attempt hackfest, so we only invited a small number of staff and their geeky friends, and put together several programming teams. Hackfests are generally pretty freeform and light on restrictions, which is how we ran it. The rules: Build anything you want, though…

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Practical and hands-on hiring for sysadmins

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Hiring good staff is hard. As a company that revolves around employing Very Smart People, we know this very well. (And if you’re a Very Smart Person that can get stuff done, please get in touch) Plenty of companies have written about their hiring processes and the brilliant methods (“tricks” if you will) they’ve found for picking the best candidates and sifting out the rest. They’re a great read, but we think it’s really about finding what works best for you. We think Joel has a lot of great ideas, but we ignore the bits that are specific to hiring coders. We’d like to share some new stuff that we’ve been doing, including a very practical hiring test that we’re not aware anyone else is doing. We don’t honestly know…

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Office highlights: Ubiquitous Whiteboard Works

By | Company News, Technical | No Comments

We’re kicking off a new series of posts this week about Anchor’s offices and what makes it an awesome place to work. We’re not Google or Valve, but we’d like to think we rank pretty highly as a place you want to come to work every day. Anchor is an environment with minimal rules and restrictions, we just give you the best tools available to get the job done, however you see fit. One of the tools we provide is whiteboards. Whiteboards are a fantastic way to visualise problems, take notes, collaborate with coworkers, manage workflows, make world-domination plans, etc. It’s fair to say that we love whiteboards at Anchor. We’re up to 14 whiteboards now, which is roughly one for every two staff members. In addition to being excellent…

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Noop I/O scheduling with SSD storage

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Solid State Drives (SSDs) are not new in the server world, but they’re seen a somewhat limited takeup due to their high cost per gigabyte of storage. This has been changing as prices continue to drop, and we’re now at the point where SSDs represent a viable option for primary storage of high-value data that is read and written heavily. While SSDs are a drop-in replacement for traditional hard drives (HDDs) when it comes to servers, their behaviour and performance characteristics are fundamentally different. This means that the disk-access scheduling algorithms that we’ve developed over time, originally designed for rotational media, simply don’t work for SSDs. We recently observed some interesting behaviour as a result of changing disk access schedulers, which we thought we’d share with you here. The difference…

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The “chmod 777” trap: How and why to avoid it

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It can be a frustrating experience trying to get your web application to work. When the world seems to be working against you, and you get “permission denied” at every turn, it can be very tempting to break out the “chmod 777” — and give everyone on your server permission to write to your files. In case you’re not familiar with chmod, it’s a tool to specify access control on your files. The “7” refers to full read, write and execution privileges. The three sevens means that it applies to yourself, to other people in your group, and to everyone else on the server. While this approach does solve your immediate problem, it isn’t without its own drawbacks. They’re subtle drawbacks; you don’t notice them straight away, but given the…

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Extending Redis to scratch an itch

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Redis has become one of the most popular “noSQL” datastores in recent times, and for good reason. Customers love it because it’s fast and fills a niche, and we love it because it’s well behaved and easy to manage. In case you’re not familiar with Redis, it’s a key-value datastore (not a database in the classic sense). The entire dataset is always kept in memory, so it’s stupendously fast. Durability (saving the data to disk) is optional. Data in Redis is minimally structured; there’s a small set of data types, but there’s no schema as in a traditional relational database. Thanks to some peculiarities in the way Redis is implemented, it can offer atomic transactions that are difficult to achieve in normal database products. That’s not to say it’s perfect…

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Seven signs of a bad sysadmin

By | Company News, Technical | 3 Comments

The title for this post was originally going to be “things that will get you fired from Anchor”, but we realised they might be more generally applicable and actually more cerebral that they first appear. These aren’t just any old sysadmin WTFs. To be sure, some are serious “what ever made you think that could possibly be a good idea!?” material, but most are a bit more subtle and deep seated. Some of them are massively widespread and we’d be remiss to not acknowledge that it’s hard to fix – being sysadmin is suffering, and it can be an act of heroism to dig yourself out of someone else’s hole to get on top of things. Rebooting as an instinctive reaction to problems Sometimes it’s just so tempting to reboot…

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Naming your servers, Anchor-style

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If you’ve been an Anchor customer for a while, you’ve probably heard the names of a few of our servers. Since the company’s inception way back when, we’ve been using fun nautical-themed names for everything. That’s why our backup servers, being the disk-hogging monsters that they are, have names of great sea beasts like leviathan and cthulhu. This isn’t just us being silly, there’s sound logic behind it. Choosing good names for computers is covered by RFC 1178, it offers advice on things you should and shouldn’t do, and explains why. Even having been written over 20 years ago, the guidelines are as relevant as ever. It largely revolves around being clear, unambiguous, easy to remember and reducing the chance of mistakes in usage. This has served us very well…

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