Los Angeles, Seattle, and back

About 10 days ago a decision was made to send someone from our company to Los Angeles to take care of a variety of things, which is where I’ve been for about 9 days (in case you’d been wondering).

Nobis now has one more employee, a much more built-out footprint, and I’d like to say some great new connections (as well as affirming as many existing ones as possible while I was here, running through Mzima HQ looking well over the top of One Wilshire and Multipoint). And much as expected it’s been a pretty awesome time running around LA’s comedy clubs, wandering through random film sets, and eating at crazy outdoor rooftop sushi restaurants.

Takami Sushi in LA

Next week is Seattle, before venturing home (hey it’s <$100 ticket on Virgin from LAX, who could pass that up?). I’m pretty psyched about that, because I’m about the only one I know that loves rain. Provided no crazy problems, you’ll see me back in the corn fields again before the end of next week.

The Sundial

A subtle but important change happened to the one of our websites this past week that I’ve been getting asked about a lot. The most plain, but arguably, most important website we own finally had its brand image made, only a year late. nobisThe design itself is another credit to Gary‘s awesome work, the design itself tied in a mass of concepts I’d wanted to see the Nobis personality to convey… and a little bit by my fascination with ancient technology.

A lot of people have said- why not just make one of the more powerful companies like Ubiquity or DarkStar the parent? That’s definitely the way a lot of people do things, and would more importantly of been a lot less work. The problem comes in where the markets that Nobis caters to are just too way spread out. Targeting both a Fortune 500 and a kid that spends too much time playing World of Warcraft just doesn’t work in our eyes. But that didn’t mean there weren’t things we needed our base to show. The idea of the obscured sundial (and yes if you are one of the 1 in 5 that doesn’t see it, or one of the 1 in 10 I’ve talked to that somehow doesn’t even know what a sundial is or would look like, that’s what it is) has been just about my favorite icon long before this, and ties in a lot of ideas, but more important than this and any aesthetic appeal, is that it stays open to a lot of positive/relevant interpretation, as a good brand should.

Google and Gadgets

Like all of the people that work with me know, the thing I’m really crazy about is SEO. It’s kind of my thing in the company. Really, with the world constantly moving to the Internet, what better piece of knowledge is there than understanding how the search engines work?

After seeing Google’s Director of Development Kevin Willer speak at ISU a few weeks ago with Chad, I’ve been on even more of a focus on Google that usual. One thing that’s really struck my attention this past week was Stuntdubl‘s fantastic post recently on Google Hot Trends and Eliot Spitzer searches. How something this cool has existed for so long without me knowing I have no idea. More dorky / interesting to me than even the hot trends tool, is just looking at the public information they have on searches in general with Google Trends.

First, it seems natural to check the natural pulse of the Internet to look at how much searching has been done overall. We’ll call this our control.


Fantastic. Now you can use this information to find out things that matter. Like, when did it really become cool to rick roll a crowded place with one of those juke boxes that lets you download songs? The answer is actually quite a while ago now..

rick roll

Or, how about the demand for glittery “Hot Stuff” graphics and other myspace-related Internet pollutants.


You get the idea- give it a try.

In other news, EdibleHost.com, one of the bastard step grandkids of the Nobis company list; now has a really fantastic plugin for instantly checking out domain names in FireFox.or IE7. Go ahead and click on this to get it on your search list; and the next time you have a great .com idea, don’t just forget about it and write it off, find out if you could make it happen.

Back from New York

photo borrowed from flickrI’m back from my fact-finding mission to New York and New Jersey. Here’s what I’ve got:

– The Potomic River is great seasoning on the brilliant scent of Newark

– There’s nothing like a smooth Shlitz (not to be confused with Schmitts)

Barry White is best sung on street corners

– The path train = pro wrestling

– Someone should start rebuilding the world trade center.

– Spicy orange curry Thai soup is wonderful


Picture unrelated (but awesome).

Nobis in 2007

January 1st, 2007 – the first day of business operating as the Nobis Technology Group. DarkStar’s office in Dayton, Ohio had already long been packed up and brought to Bloomington, Illinois to join Ubiquity before anyone knew anything of what had happened. With a series of adjoined classrooms in what was once where my grandma went to high school, we found the ultimate plot for expanding all of Nobis’ fantastic ideas as our new corporate office. Right near our friends from Cybernautic Design (hey Chad- there’s your link), our expansion could now be met by simply opening the door to the next room (not to mention the price was right). Now unless you work for us.. here’s something you probably haven’t seen…

Hey, everyone needs to start somewhere.

pre-nobis 2007

pre-nobis 2007

Not much huh? Fresh paint, re-sanded floors.. we put up drywall to create our own rooms within the various classrooms. With just the effort of most of our off-site staff (people not working at the data centers), we took the former school library / office, turned ballet / tai kwon do school, into a real 24/7-staffed network operations center.

By Late Spring

Big Room

Customer service center, from behind the Ubiquity side of the office.

From inside the conference lounge

From the “Conference Lounge”

Server Lab / Old Office

The deployment lab, where hundreds of our servers were prepared for stocking at various facilities

Things kept on exponentially, and with DarkStar and a wide assortment of other old Ubiquity customers long online at the 3 new data centers in Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York, the announcement was finally made that all Ubiquity service offerings were available. It didn’t take long at all for some major clients to see the tactical advantages of consolidating with Ubiquity Server Solutions for all of their company infrastructure. With available classrooms running short and our 1st and 2nd shift staff starting to get a bit overcrowded, it was time to move up once more.

Graduating to a Big Company’s Office

Most hosting companies would never show you their tangible existence, be they 1-2 man shows (as 99% of them are) or corporate monstrosities. I can remember years ago when our support line rang to Clint’s cell, my cell, and to a few volunteers cells at all hours of the night. That in mind, we definitely weren’t ashamed of the old 24/7 NOC, but by August it had simply been outgrown. Everything was moved to our new offices a few blocks away at double the size (excuse the boring empty white walls- we’re working on that).

Nobis customer service center

The new 24/7 customer service center.

Stanley and Wendy

Office Drama.

Clint and Stan

Law firm ad pose.

If you want more, we’ve got a copy of Gallery2 running now on photos.ubiquityhosting.com. I have to thank to all of our awesome staff that have together made all of the great things we’ve done in 2007 happen. 2008 looks to be interesting, and I’ll hope to have a much nicer behind the scenes to add to this timeline next year.

Entrepreneurial Psychology

That title may sound smart, but I promise I can’t spell entrepreneurial without spell check.

Funny things happen when your business ideas all start working out. Oddly enough, a lot of people will warn you about them, but like most things in life, it’s tough to appreciate until you live it. And unfortunately achieving self-awareness over your own quirks doesn’t just prevent them from happening (boo).

As anyone whose found this blog probably knows, it’s linked to on ubiquityhosting.com – which is a little world busting with entrepreneurial ideas, and probably the largest reason for a more personal blog about my professional life to be here in the first place. As I see a lot of these cool websites take off, I’d like to pass on what words of wisdom that I constantly try to live down myself.

1. Time Management

It’s easy to get sucked into something you love doing when it really goes well. There’s nothing wrong with that in moderation – it’s a beautiful thing really – and I was lucky to be warned by more than a few wise people early on that it can quickly take over your life.

It’s not enough to manage a company – what’s important is managing a life. Telling yourself to stop working at a certain point isn’t all that difficult; and if where you’re at allows for it, hiring staff over getting greedy and trying to do everything yourself is a must. Being able to control your thoughts and stop pondering business ideas over that time you’re not working – that can be a little harder.

2. Other People in the Real World

I’ve been told by close friends that at the core of it all, I really haven’t changed since everything took off, and I hope that’s true. A lot of people I can still talk to exactly the same way as I could beforehand as well, but in many other cases it can get a little weird.

People’s actions tend to define their character. What I’ve lived first-hand is that you’re most likely to be characterized by what’s most unique about you… and I have to say, when I start up a conversation with any loose acquaintance, not a single person ever asks me about the last time I went Wakeboarding, or saw a good movie, or to watch a band play as people used to – at least not right away. People know other people that are doing that stuff, it’s old conversation; you can’t blame them, but it sure doesn’t make #1 any easier. Maybe that’s why Richard Branson has such absurdly interesting hobbies.

3. Dude- Take it Easy

To say that business is competitive is one of the most obvious statements I can think of. Most genuinely successful people I’ve observed possess certain qualities. Above all else- they go on unaffected. Most people that come to work for us I think are shocked at how close friends we are with so many of our competitors, and really, it comes down to this: there’s a big Internet out there. If you want to make money from it, there’s more than enough for everyone, and if you let one person put you up into a rage – you accomplish nothing but breaking focus on anything truly productive, and probably looking like a pretty big dxck to anybody that happens to stand witness in the process.

One Final Re-Invention

Since the formation of Nobis now almost a year ago, we set forth a plan to reinvent each of our brands, one at a time. With newnew darkstar site Ubiquity servers and hosting brand websites long up, the past few months of Nobis marketing were largely devoted to re-creating the world’s largest Ventrilo and Teamspeak hosting provider (which I have to say, the new DarkStar is more than a little bit better – nice work to Gary, Brett, and Gazzerro for putting up with my complaints through the development).

Now, even as one of the owners of Nobis- my role with DarkStar has still been extremely limited – I’ve never logged into a Ventrilo server, I’ve never played World of Warcraft, or understand half of the things that go on with our DarkStar staff – but what I do know, is that when a website with 10’s of thousands of already active customers finally decides to start reselling all Ubiquity services, it does effect my main job (Ubiquity) and my immediate staff just a little.

My Solution?

I’m going to Florida and the Carribbean for a few weeks. ( :

My Advice to the Ubiquity Team

I’ve sent you all some long emails, so have fun. I may blog once or twice while I’m down there since this might qualify as ‘not work’ by technicality, but no promises.