Application Programming Interface. Um, Please Explain.

We worked on an infographic recently launched on the Rackspace blog that illustrates what an API is, how it’s used and how quickly the use of API’s has grown. Now, you might be thinking, what is an API? Well, welcome to my world – the world of acronyms. API stands for application programming interface. The trend and the reason why it’s so easy for us to use the web – when a company launches their application (like Facebook), they usually expose their code. Why? Well, so others can develop things to work with that code – to make “calls.” So all those games you play on Facebook, um, they used an API to develop. Take a look to learn more.


Rackspace® — API Adoption And The Open Cloud: What Is An API? [Infographic]
Rackspace® — API Adoption And The Open Cloud: What Is An API? [Infographic]

Gruene and Austin, Texas

One of the great things about living in San Antonio is that there are various towns within an hour’s drive surrounding our big city. With family in Austin, we frequently take a day’s trip to Austin, even to just eat at a local favorite. We kicked off June with a weekend in Vegas so I can’t include that on my monthly round up but I can comment on our trip to Austin and my team trip to Gruene, Texas.

Gruene, Texas

Gruene, Texas

Gruene, Texas (Photo credit: Austin Appraiser)

Team outings are a must for Rackspace. Our department lead planned a team outing in lovely Gruene, Texas.  With part of our team in Austin, Gruene was a great, midpoint for everyone to meet. As a child, my parents would take us to the Gristmill in Gruene as a treat on a family weekend. I hadn’t been since then and wow, this little town was bustling. There were all sorts of stores and restaurants. You could do some wine tasting or have a beer at the old pub. The vintage stores had some amazing, one of a kind things – stuff you see on those TV shows. We did a scavenger hunt so we had to walk around and learn the town. And, the river was right there so after some wine tasting (or a beer), you could grab a tube and float down the river. Although it was a very hot day, it was definitely an enjoyable time. I am definitely going back with my family and will probably bring the grandparents along.

Austin, Texas

Austin Texas Lake Front

Austin Texas Lake Front (Photo credit: StuSeeger)

Many people like to compare Austin to San Antonio – some say one is better than the other. I think it’s comparing apples to oranges and rather than compare the two, I think they compliment each other. The great thing about these two cities is that they are only an hour drive between so whichever city you live in, it’s easy to visit the other. My brother and his family live in Austin so we often take a drive up to visit, especially now that they have a little one. This last drive up to Austin was for my dad and brother’s birthday (land on the same day). We met up at Kerbey Lane (my favorite!) for breakfast and headed down to Zilker park afterwards. Although I love Barton Springs, I have to say Brackenridge is way better than Zilker – in more ways than one. You have to pay for parking and the kid’s train was such a bummer – it had no shade and was far from scenic. So San Antonians, be very thankful of Brackenridge park and make sure you spend some time there to full appreciate what we have.

July is already a busy month – already working on my next post!

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Bartels or Bartelses? TinyPrints Knows.

This is our fourth year sending holiday cards and all four years I’ve used TinyPrints. This year I was reminded why I always choose them to do my holiday cards.

I placed my order on Tuesday night. Wednesday morning I received a call from a Phoenix, Arizona location. I answered and it was a rep from TinyPrints. My initial thought for the phone call was that maybe they have to verify my credit card information. The rep goes on to talk about my order and how on my return address labels, it said ‘The Bartels.’ She asked if it was referring to my family (more than one) and I said ‘yes.’ What could she be getting at?

She went on to say that the proper plural form would be ‘The Bartelses’ but she recommended saying ‘The Bartels Family’ since the ‘es’ looks a little funny. She asked if I wanted to have it updated.

I had her change the name and she went on to complete my order.

Wow. I’ve always liked using their service because:

  1. They have tons of unique designs from lots of designers.
  2. They have an amazing web interface, from the initial search to customizing your order.
  3. They have great customer service.

They always say that a designer reviews each piece and I can attest to that.

I prefer to do my cards online to save time but still want the feeling of dealing with my own personal designer. TinyPrints gives me that.

To top it off, after I wrote this post, I received a personal, hand written card from Lorien (the lady I spoke to from Phoenix) thanking me for my business.

Here’s our 2011 Holiday Card. Happy Holidays!

Careless Whisper in Full Force at Rackspace

I am sitting at my desk with my head deep in the weeds and all of a sudden I hear the start of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” by a saxophonist. I stood up to see what was going on, along with everyone else around me. Rackers slowly stopped doing what they were doing, stood up and searched for the origin of this music. From afar, I see a shirtless man jamming on the saxophone. Was he a Racker? Was it someone’s birthday? He slowly started making his way through the office and as he continued, more Rackers started following. It was like the scene of when Forrest Gump grew his following by running and not stopping. Nobody knew why they were following but they were sure there was a purpose.

Later that day, snippets of the video started popping up on the interwebs. I really thought it was a Racker that was dared to do this. I went to the source and found out that he wasn’t a Racker. A Racker actually asked him to pay Rackspace a visit. He thought Rackers could use a few laughs on a Monday.

This is what makes Rackspace a special place to work. Putting a smile on someone’s face doesn’t take a lot of work, just some thoughtfulness and that’s what Rackspace is about. This is also why customers love us.

Book Review: The Happiness Project

I finally got to finishing The Happiness Project. There was a time when I always had my head in a book. Now my head is in the computer reading countless articles about a countless amount of things. I was excited to focus in and read a book about something I am passionate about.

How did I choose The Happiness Project?

I was in the break-room one day at Rackspace and a co-worker asked me how my son was doing. My reply was “He’s a really happy baby.” And he reply’s back with “Well you know happiness is 50% heredity.” When I asked him where he got that statistic, he said he was reading The Happiness Project. I wanted to know more so as soon as I got back to my desk, I googled it. I found the website and saw that the author, Gretchen Rubin, had cultivated a community around The Happiness Project. Lots of followers were starting their own Happiness Project. Before I could get involved, I had to read the book.

The Approach

The author is married, the mother of two, lives in Manhattan and is a lawyer turned writer. I feel that in order to enjoy the book and relate to her approach, you had to have at least one thing in common with her. The reason being is that it’s her project and she takes on these resolutions that relate to her lifestyle. I’m not saying you wouldn’t enjoy reading it but honestly, if I wasn’t a mother, I’m not sure I would have lasted the entire book. I was struggling through her “starting a collection” chapter because I just don’t understand collections.

Each chapter is a month and each month she takes on a new set of resolutions related to a particular subject. She does reference a lot of material she did research on and comments from her blog which made the chapters more engaging.

What was my motivation?

I am generally a happy person but we all have room for improvement right? There were two main things I wanted to get out of it:

  1. Be more positive during the tough times. We’re all faced with challenges in our life and we all respond to them differently. I think you’re level of happiness is an indicator on how you’ll react to those challenges.
  2. I wanted to figure out more ways I could help others be happier; And in order to make others happy, you have to be happy yourself.

 

The book is very realistic in that the author doesn’t suggest you go out of your comfort zone to be happy. It’s about maximizing on the little things you can do within your comfort zone to create happier lives. For example, just changing the way you word things can mean the world of a difference to someone.

Here are some quotes I highlighted from the book:

“The days are long, but the years are short.”
“Happy people remember happy events better, and depressed people remember sad events better. ”

“You’re only happy as your least happy child. ”

“People who have fun are 20 times as likely to feel happy. ”

“Real life-shaking catastrophes can provide insights into happiness that you couldn’t have any other way, but the more you know about what happiness really means for you before you come to that point, the better equipped you’ll be to handle it.”

“Knowing what you admire in others is a wonderful mirror into your deepest, as yet unborn, self. ”

“It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. ”

“The things that go wrong often make the best memories. ”

“Laughter is more than just a pleasurable activity. It can boost immunity and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. It increases people’s tolerance for pain. It’s a source of social bonding, and it helps to reduce conflicts and cushion social stress within relationships.”

What did I get out of it?

I think the biggest thing I got out of this is realizing that I know what makes me happy, it’s a matter of making it a commitment to do these things that are important to me. Here’s my first draft laundry list:

  • Remember others on their special day (Birthdays, Anniversaries) – Too often I let these days fly by.
  • Express to my husband how much he means to me – Always in my head but not always told.
  • Exercise – This is always a challenge because I’ve always been an athlete and I think I have to do 2 hours everyday when in reality, I am going to continue to let myself down. If I make it a point to simply stretch everyday, I will feel better.
  • Eat Healthy – I am pretty good at this but I could cut out small things.
  • Work with the youth – My #1 favorite hobby outside of family and work.
  • Take a day off to spend with my son more often – I am fortunate to have an awesome job and can take a day off here and there. I should take advantage of this and not worry about the work as it will always be there!
  • Don’t complain about the complainers – To hear people complain is exhausting but how am I making it better complaining about the complainer?

 

I hope to join a Happiness Project group and get started on it soon.

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