Author Archives: Brid O'Connell

DataStax Interview: Using Cassandra At SkillPages

Editor’s note:  This interview was first featured on the DataStax blog.  They chatted to George Ciubotaru, a software engineer and database administrator here at SkillPages, to hear more about how we use Apache Cassandra and DataStax Enterprise as part of the engineering behind SkillPages.  

DataStax: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today, George.  Give us an idea of what you guys do at SkillPages.

George:  SkillPages is a social utility that connects people with skills to the people who need them.  We cover all skills – from software engineering to plumbers, babysitters to entertainers and everything in between.  SkillPages now has over 7 million members from over 160 different countries and we’re currently growing at a rate of one new member every 3 seconds!  Best of all, registering your skills and finding skilled people is completely free.

DataStax: What type of technical infrastructure do you use to support your platform?

George: We began by using all Microsoft technologies, and still use Microsoft in a number of areas.  For example, our main development language is C#.  However, we’ve been pushing more into Linux with our usage of Cassandra, Hadoop, and Solr.

DataStax: Do you run your systems on premise or in the cloud?

George: Our production instances run the cloud; we use Amazon for that.  We do our development locally, however.

DataStax: So how did you come to start using Cassandra?

George: We’ve been a customer of DataStax for a while now and use both Cassandra and OpsCenter.  We started out using Microsoft SQL Server for our platform, but for our particular use case we needed a different approach to scale-out and I/O, which is why we arrived in the NoSQL world.

Our main use case for Cassandra is a graph; a social graph that we built.  While there are other NoSQL databases that specialize in graphs, we decided to use Cassandra instead.

DataStax: Why?

George: NoSQL databases like Neo4J only scale vertically and that limitation was too much for us.  We felt it wouldn’t scale like we needed.

We also looked into HBase, but in the end we chose Cassandra for its scalability and much easier method of deployment over something like HBase.  Cassandra was very easy to install, setup, and test against.

That ease of deployment along with continuous availability and scalability were the primary reasons we chose Cassandra. Other reasons were product maturity, the strong Cassandra community, and the support we get from DataStax.

DataStax: How have you deployed Cassandra today?

George: Right now we have clusters that span two different data centers.  One is a production cluster of 12 nodes and a second cluster is about to go into production that is 6 nodes, but is based on bigger boxes and SSD’s, with more RAM, etc., on Amazon.  In terms of data volume, we keep around 3 TB’s on the clusters.

We also distribute data among 3 Amazon availability zones.  We’ve already experienced one availability zone going down and we had no outage problems at all where Cassandra and our application were concerned.

DataStax: What advice would you give someone new to Cassandra?

George: I’ve found Cassandra very easy to explain, both in terms of the data model and how it operates. It’s very easy to learn in that respect.

The one thing someone should watch for if they’re coming from other databases like Microsoft SQL Server is that the management tools and utilities are not as advanced right now as they are in the RDBMS world. But, with each new release, tools like OpsCenter are getting there, which is nice to see.

DataStax: George, thanks for your time today.

George: Sure thing.

Skill Highlight – Film Maker

Editor’s note: This is a series highlighting just some of the fascinating skills on SkillPages.  Mihai Andrei is a film maker who loves his work so much he doesn’t consider it to be a job.  We caught up with Mihai to find out more about his skill and his advice for others starting out.

Hi Mihai, tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m a film maker and photographer originally from Romania.  Since 2011, I have been wondering if I could make it in London, and more specifically as a film maker in London.  So at the beginning of this year I made the move and started working under the new name London Video Stories.

How and when did you start film making?

My passion for film from an early age made me enrol at University in Romania where I studied Journalism and Image Production.  The real film making started when I decided to present a film as my final paper.  It was a short documentary I made that presented the unique discovery of some Sequoia fossils in Transylvania.  Coincidently, I was the one who made that discovery, because I was also a passionate amateur palaeontologist.

Is film making your full job or more of a hobby?

Oh, no.  I don’t think of it as a job of any kind.  I’d say I make a living out of it but I also live to make it.  In the last few years I’ve worked with a wide range of clients, including Louis Vuitton and various international film festivals.  I enjoy the challenge of helping them tell their story while reaching out to their target market.

Any advice for people starting out with film making or trying to make it in the industry?

I think there’s no secret recipe.  Besides a strong background in cinematography, editing, writing & directing, what you have to do is persevere, fail and persevere again.  Begin with a network and keep on building it.

Is your business generated online or is it more word of mouth?

Since opening my own film studio back in Romania in 2008, I have seen that advertising and new leads are made both online and by word of mouth.

How has your skill developed over the years?

Working in both B2B and B2C has made me more cautious and selective.  I’d say overall I’ve learned not to be in a constant rush.  I can’t say the same for my editing skills however.  My style is generally fast-paced and very pushy. You really have to keep a vigilant eye while looking at my videos!

Where does your inspiration come from?

Ah, inspiration, that undefined thing.  For me, it comes from a very special person whose motto is ‘never stop wondering’.  Inspiration for me is synonymous with curiosity.  I try to capture the outlet of feelings through film and photography.  I believe that every video tells a story about people, inspiration & creativity.

Apart from film making, what new skills would you like to learn?

I’m constantly trying to develop my photography skills.  I have worked many years as a studio and event photographer and still feel that I need to know more.  Of course, photography helps me a lot in prepping my films so that’s also very useful.

Mihai Andrei, Film Maker

Film Makers from around the world

There over 45,000 film related skilled people on SkillPages for you to choose from.  Search SkillPages for film makers near you!

Send us Your Story

Have you a fascinating or uncommon skill with an extraordinary story that needs to be told? Email us!

Top Opportunities This Week – UK

Editor’s note: Every day over 100,000 skilled people are presented with new opportunities on SkillPages. This post highlights some of the top opportunities recently added in the UK.

Wanted: Special Effects Artist

Special Effects Artist – London

Kieran wants a special fx make up artist to transform him into Voldemort (from Harry Potter) for his Halloween costume.  Think you have the skills to take on this scary opportunity? Apply here.

Opera Singer – Surrey

Put your opera singing skills to use at a wedding this Christmas in Surrey.  James wants your voice to make his big day a special one.  Apply now for all the details.

Jewellery Designer – London

Mary is looking for a self-employed, experienced jeweller in London or the East Anglian region. You will be working with precious jewels and must have an eye for designing and making your own pieces of jewellery.  Contact Mary now to grab this great opportunity.

Mountain Leader – Wales

Do you love getting out in the fresh air for a hike?  Mark needs help to supervise an expedition in the Black Mountains.  It’s a 2 day hike starting next Monday October 8th.  The group consists of 12-15 students and 3 staff. If this sounds like your ideal couple of days then send Mark a message now.

Costume Designer – London

Samantha is on the look out for a highly skilled costume designer who wishes to show off their talent in many elaborate and interesting ways.  Projects will be for theatrical costumes within a budget.  No restrictions on creative – any materials, any technique.  Interested?  Apply now with some sample work.

Search all opportunities on SkillPages to find one that matches your skills!

Skill Highlight: Environmental Researcher

Editor’s note: This is a series highlighting just some of the fascinating skills on SkillPages. Cassidy Rankine is an environmental researcher using SkillPages to connect with scientists around the globe to help in his research.  We chatted with Cassidy to find out more about his skill, overturning Brazilian legislation and his advice for getting noticed on-line.

Cassidy Rankine - Environmental Researcher

Hi Cassidy, tell us a bit about yourself.

Although I’m based out of the University of Alberta in Canada, I work in Central and South America pioneering a new field in environmental monitoring.  We are using advanced sensor networks in order to better understand how the climate is changing tropical ecosystems in impoverished regions of Mesoamerica.

How and when did you get interested in environmental research?

Even from an early age I was curious about everything and how it worked, so it was a natural progression to take interest in grade school science classes.  Going into actual scientific research happened towards the end of my university biology degree after I spent a summer at a marine science center and found my love for biological field work.  So I stuck with it into a graduate degree and now I travel all over for amazing field work opportunities in the tropics!

Is this your full job or more of a hobby?

Environmental research is my full-time job and my passion, but it is not a far stretch from my hobbies like skateboarding, snowboarding, camping and travel which are outdoors anyway.

How has SkillPages helped in your work?

I have used SkillPages to connect with some remote sensing scientists, a relatively small but quickly growing global community.  These connections allowed me to address a problem I otherwise could not have solved on my own.  Our goal is to make environmental data more accessible to the public and to researchers across vast distances and people need to utilize social networking technology more and more to bridge these distances.

What is your favourite part of the research?

The places I get to travel to, the people I work with and the positive outcomes of a successful project.  I spend 3-4 months of each year overseas working with researchers in Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil and Australia for field work, and even more places for scientific conferences. Having colleagues and co-workers who are also passionate about what they do makes everything you accomplish more rewarding as a team and never makes for a boring work week. Last year we overturned Brazilian legislation to cut down 16,000 ha of tropical dry forest using our team’s data.  It’s outcomes like this that make all the work we do worth it.

Cassidy Rankine - Environmental Researcher

What advice would you give to someone considering a similar path?

Take GIS courses – it’s by far the most useful skill to have in environmental research, either with an institution or on your own, there are great tutorials now for GIS software, but nothing beats the mentor ship of someone who has been doing this for years.  If you are in an undergraduate degree, then go for any field school courses or chances you can get, it’s so great to apply your textbook knowledge to the real world.  If not in university then get engaged with researchers.  Graduate students are always looking for assistance for field excursions and data collection, volunteer to get a good start and see if you like it.

Any tips on getting yourself and your research noticed on-line?

Videos of your work – very short clips to engage people in your research have been shown to be very effective.  Start a blog – anything to get your work out there is great.  We have an onslaught of pseudo-science in the media these days, misinformation is rampant and very few scientists use social media effectively.  Get networking, use tools such as SkillPages to connect with others who already have the on-line followers to promote your work.  If it’s outstanding research it will speak for itself, but not until someone notices it.

– Cassidy Rankine, Environmental Researcher

Send us Your Story

Have you a fascinating or uncommon skill with an extraordinary story that needs to be told? Email us!

Top Opportunities This Week – US

Editor’s note: Every day over 100,000 skilled people are presented with new opportunities on SkillPages. This post highlights some of the top opportunities recently added in the US.

Hairstylist Wanted

Hairstylist – San Francisco, CA

Hairstylists are needed for un upcoming fashion event that will take place at the Faitmont Hotel in San Francisco, on October 9th.  This is a great opportunity to expose your skills – contact Yekaroma today for all the details.

Photographer – Overland Park, KS

Michelle needs some family photos done, but with a twist.  Something along the lines of an old fashion or western costumes themed photo shoot.  If you like to have fun with your photography contact Michelle now with your portfolio.

Pattern-maker – Orlando FL

We love the idea of bringing two passions together and this is the perfect example for a fashion designing, scuba diving fanatic!  Sergio is looking for a senior pattern-maker to work on the development of new scuba diving products.  Experience in a manufacturing environment is required and an interest in scuba diving is a plus.  If this is your dream job – apply today!

Technical Lead – Santa Clara, CA

Corinne has an exciting opportunity for a technical lead with an interest in fashion.  Her vision is to bring personal styling services to anyone, anywhere.  Collaborative attitude with an entrepreneurial spirit is essential for this start-up environment.  Apply now to show your interest.

Fusion Drummer – Apopka, FL

Groovesum is a three-piece fusion jazz band brought together by Daniel Merchant.  He lives for music and wants someone equally passionate to join the band as their drummer.   Apply now to secure an audition.

Search all opportunities on SkillPages to find one that matches your skills!

Top Opportunities This Week – UK

Editor’s note: Every day over 100,000 skilled people are presented with new opportunities on SkillPages. This post highlights some of the top opportunities recently added in the UK.

Photographer – London

Samantha is in search of a photographer that can help her produce extremely creative and inspirational works of art.  You need to have access to a studio or a range of good locations and be willing to put in the time for storyline photography.  Contact Samantha today to chat more about this interesting opportunity.

Dressmaker – Huddersfield

Are you a whiz with a sewing machine?  Emma needs 4 bridesmaid dresses and she’s having trouble finding exactly what she wants in the shops.  So now she’s looking into getting them made.  Contact Emma today to see exactly what she’s looking for.

Web Developer – London

Izzy needs someone to build and integrate a web application of a virtual clothing store to a WordPress website.  If this sounds like your area of expertise apply now with a quote.

Cake Decorator – Birmingham

This sounds like a dream job – making and decorating cakes!  Sid is looking for an experienced and enthusiastic cake decorator for his busy patisserie in Birmingham.  You will be baking and decorating cakes to a high standard but also working with the team creating new and exciting cakes.  Apply now to grab this sweet opportunity.

Ukulele Teacher – London

Jennifer is looking for someone to teach people how to play the ukulele!  Preferably you’ll be accessible to central, north and east London.  Contact Jennifer now to show your interest.

Search all opportunities on SkillPages to find one that matches your skills!

Top Opportunities This Week – US

Editor’s note: Every day over 100,000 skilled people are presented with new opportunities on SkillPages. This post highlights some of the top opportunities recently added in the US.

Illustrator – Alabama

Terry has a book ready to be published and now needs an illustrator to make the whole process complete.  The book ‘How Bees Came To Make Chili’ needs some cute characters to make it into a story to remember!  Contact Terry now with samples of your work.

Actor – Concord, CA

Looking for that big break?  Kenneth is casting for a young male actor for a new indie film developed by Au Pictures.  And as the film is set in the Philippines that’s where the filming will take place –  bonus!  Apply now for all the details.

Graphic Artist – Florida

Are you an artist with a passion for games?  Maiesha is on the look out for someone that fits this bill.  You’ll need to be able to create real life looking avatars as well as scenery and other items for a new game app.  Get in contact with Maiesha with some current examples of your work.

Singing Teacher – New York, NY

Gloria is need of a new singing teacher in Manhattan.  The student has already had some singing lessons in the past so it won’t be a completely fresh start.  Apply here if you want to snap up this opportunity!

Tattoo Artist – Hinesville, GA

Hard Knox Tattoos are looking for experienced professional tattoo artists to join their growing family.  If you have a strong, consistent and varied portfolio they want to hear from you.  Apply today with samples of your work, especially any custom designs!

Search all opportunities on SkillPages to find one that matches your skills!

Top US Opportunities This Week

Editor’s note: Every day over 100,000 skilled people are presented with new opportunities on SkillPages. This post highlights some of the top opportunities recently added in the US.

Figure Skater  Wanted

Comedy Singer/Host- Phoenix, AZ

Do you know some funny songs?  If so, you might be interested in joining Rubber Ducky Producktions.  They’re looking for comedy-singers for a new musical comedy group.   Additionally, if you’re not so much of a singer, they also need hosts for the show.  Sound like a laugh?  Contact Tommy for all the details.

Videographer – Spring Hill, TN

Neil is looking for a videographer to work with him on promotional music videos for various artists.  You need to be comfortable with filming, editing, and creating music videos.  And, in addition to payment you will be entitled to royalties.  Apply now and tell Neil why you would be perfect for this!

Figure Skater – Port Washington, NY

Is it your dream to turn figure skating into a paid job?  Port Washington Skating School needs skating instructors to start straight away to teach the basics.  Grab this opportunity by contacting Kirstian today!

Architect – Chesterfield, VA

Debbie has drawn out her dream home and now needs an experienced architect to make her ideas come to life.  If you can make her drawings into construction ready plans – apply here!

DJ – Phoenix, AZ

Are you an experienced DJ with your own equipment?  Spin Doctor DJs are looking for new recruits for weddings, school dances and private parties.  You must have a good knowledge of all types of music.  Events start in the next few weeks so apply now!

Search all opportunities on SkillPages to find one that matches your skills!

“SkillPages Is Full Of Talented People”

Editor’s note: This is part of a series highlighting member stories on SkillPages.  Gus is a film director using SkillPages to find the various skills he needs depending on what type of film he’s shooting.

Never Knowing What Skill I Need Next

Film making is a truly collaborative process.  So many different skills are required depending on the type of film you’re shooting, both behind and in front of the camera.  My latest film is a surreal darts comedy called Double Top.  It prominently features one character who sketches throughout, offering a parallel commentary on the action and the characters.  As the sketches were going to be an integral part of the film I was keen to get a skilled illustrator involved at the very early stages of pre-production.

A friend recommended SkillPages, I signed up and posted an opportunity.  Pretty soon I started to get replies from potential applicants.  Many of them included links to their portfolios and examples of their work.  This was just what I needed to narrow down a shortlist of artists who had styles that fitted my vision.

Finding The Perfect Candidate

After some emailing back and forth with a few potential applicants, to get a feel for their personalities, I invited a select few to rehearsals.  I asked them to create ‘live’ sketches of the actors as we worked on scenes.  Before long I found the perfect candidate – Zoe Delautre, a French artist living in London.  Zoe really got the spirit of what I was trying to do and became a regular participant at rehearsals, producing scores of sketches and working through various ideas and styles.  Some of these drawings appear onscreen in the film, while others became an invaluable part of the development process.  I was very impressed with Zoe’s ability to interpret my requests and the work she produced was exceptional, showcasing a variety of styles and a deep understanding of the collaborative and creative process.

Filming went extremely well and Double Top is now in post-production.  I hope to start submitting it to festivals this autumn.  I’m really grateful that SkillPages was able to connect me to a brilliantly talented artist for such a key role.  I will definitely be coming back to SkillPages again when recruiting for future projects.  You never know what type of skills you’re going to need next and SkillPages is full of talented people.

– Gus Alvarez, Film Director

Top Opportunities This Week – US

Editor’s note: Every day over 100,000 skilled people are presented with new opportunities on SkillPages. This post highlights some of the top opportunities recently added in the US.

Game Designers & Developers – Houston, TX

Any PlayStation fans out there?  Wolf Game Studios have 2 very exciting projects coming up and need help from both game designers and developers.  And yes, you will be working on a new game for PlayStation 3 and other consoles.  Not a bad opportunity right?  If you’re interested get in contact now.

Pattern Maker – MA

William is looking for a pattern maker to help him bring his ideas to life.  He needs someone who is experienced working with denim and can easily create a pattern ready for production. Up for the challenge?  Apply here!

Artist – San Antonio, TX

Consider yourself a skilled artist?  Deanna is looking for someone to recreate two pictures into hand drawn masterpieces.  If this is your area of expertise send on some work examples to Deanna today.

Crisis Intervention Volunteer – Bristol, VA

The Crisis Centre in Bristol is in need of new volunteers to work on the phones.  If you’re willing to give some time to a very worthy cause, and think you can help people in crisis, send Della a message today to see how you can get involved.

Horse Groom – Walden, NY

If you love horses you’re going to love this opportunity!  Helen needs help looking after her 25 horses!!  And experience isn’t essential as she’s willing to train people with a love for these great animals.  If you’re interested in helping out at Helen’s fun and friendly farm apply now!

Search all opportunities on SkillPages to find one that matches your skills!