Screaming in the Cloud
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Great Managers Are Elastic with Courtney Wilburn
Episode Summary
Courtney Wilburn is the engineering manager of cloud SRE tooling at Elastic. She brings more than 15 years of experience to the role, having previously worked as a lead DevOps engineer at Wirecutter, a developer at O3 World, a programmer analyst at Wharton Business School, and a systems analyst at the University of Pennsylvania, among other positions.

Join Corey and Courtney as they talk about how great a service Wirecutter is but why it’s also sorta creepy at the same time; why it’s exciting to work at Elastic; Courtney’s experience being a Black woman in tech and how she’s forged her own path to get to where she is; how Courtney believes that Elastic is walking the walk when it comes to building a warm, inclusive work environment; what Courtney does as the engineering manager for cloud SRE tooling at Elastic; the lackluster logos of AWS products; the joys of building mechanical keyboards; and more.
Episode Show Notes and Transcript
About Courtney Wilburn
Courtney's journey began in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee, by hardware hacking on personal computers and lurking on Prince message boards. She loves finding unusual and efficient ways to solve problems (both human and technical alike), building tools, developing workflows, and building infrastructure almost as much as she enjoys finding ways to keep activists safe organizing online. When she’s away from her desk, she can be found running, hiking, or biking around Philadelphia, cooking, brewing beer, knitting, building keyboards, or singing karaoke duets with her wife.


Links Referenced

Transcript
Announcer: Hello, and welcome to Screaming in the Cloud with your host, Cloud Economist Corey Quinn. This weekly show features conversations with people doing interesting work in the world of cloud, thoughtful commentary on the state of the technical world, and ridiculous titles for which Corey refuses to apologize. This is Screaming in the Cloud.


Corey: In what you might be forgiven for mistaking for a blast from the past, today I want to talk about New Relic. They seem to be a relatively legacy monitoring company, and I would have agreed with that assessment up until relatively recently. But they did something a little out there: they reworked everything. They went open source, they made it so you can monitor your whole stack in one place and, most notably from my perspective, they simplified their pricing into something that is much more affordable for almost everyone. There's even a free tier with one user and 100 gigs per month, totally free. Check it out at newrelic.com.


Corey: nOps will help you reduce AWS costs 15 to 50 percent if you do what tells you. But some people do. For example, watch their webcast, how Uber reduced AWS costs 15 percent in 30 days; that is six figures in 30 days. Rather than a thing you might do, this is something that they actually did. Take a look at it. It's designed for DevOps teams. nOps helps quickly discover the root causes of cost and correlate that with infrastructure changes. Try it free for 30 days, go to nops.io/snark. That's N-O-P-S dot I-O, slash snark.


Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. I'm joined this week by Courtney Winburn, engineering manager of Cloud SRE tooling at Elastic. Courtney, welcome to the show.


Courtney: Thanks for having me. It's really good to be here.


Corey: So, you're a relatively recent hire at Elastic for Cloud SRE tooling, and I swear to you, when I first saw that title, I misread it as cloud SRE trolling, at which point it's, “Oh, what I'm doing actually had turned into a valid career path.” No, that's not what it says, and no, there is not an entire industry of people making fun of things, that I'm aware of yet.


Courtney: Yeah, no, there certainly isn’t, but that's not to say that there won't be in the future. I mean, I feel like there's certainly an avenue for trolling for sure. And certainly in my first few weeks, the amount of questions I had, I certainly felt like I was trolling. So. [laughs].


Corey: I hear you. So, we'll get to what you're currently doing in a bit, but first, what I find fascinating is that you worked at one of my favorite places in the world for a couple of years before you wound up going to Elastic, and that is the Wirecutter, a New York Times company.


Courtney: Yes.


Corey: Because, I don't know about you, but every time I want to buy something, and I don't necessarily want to, I don't know, buy 20 different spatulas and do a bake-off for six weeks, I go ahead to the Wirecutter and I pull up, what is the thing you recommend? Great, I'll go ahead and buy that. It's been my default thing to go to that has replaced Consumer Reports for this generation.


Courtney: Oh yeah. No, I mean, it totally cut out the fat for a lot of the things that I was purchasing. When I first started there, I was like, “Oh, great. I can use this and it feels like I'm supporting my own workplace.” It was great. 


I went there again, yesterday, just looking for a new foam roller because I've been working out a lot lately. It’s one of those pandemics sort of shifts in trying to change your headspace because you're in the house a lot more. And I looked for a foam roller, and then I was like, “I know exactly where to go. I don't have to go anywhere else.”


Corey: Yeah. The problem I found is that, especially for things like home decor, whenever the Wirecutter recommends something, there's an entire swath of folks, at least in the circles that I hang out with, that will go directly to the Wirecutter and buy the thing that they recommend. So, there's now a disturbing, almost, monoculture of everyone I know has the same standing desk, they have the same monitor arm they have the same chair that is always way too expensive—but if it's between you in the ground, spend the money. Life tip there—and everyone has more or less the same equipment. And that's great for equipment, but then it’s, oh, everyone has the same couch. Everyone has the same wall hanging. Oh okay, this is getting a little weird.


Courtney: Right, right. I mean, I think the point is to pepper your life with some of these things and replace them, but more power to the people who walk into an empty home and just fill it with Wirecutter recommendations. I certainly would if I could, but the office chair pick, that was certainly a lifesaver, especially working from home. [laughs].


Corey: So, you went from a company that effectively is a household name, at least in the world that I live in. And then you've gone to Elastic which, love them or hate them, I don't think I know too many companies that aren't using Elasticsearch for something.


Courtney: That's true. That's true. I kind of like the fact that Elastic has that level of ubiquity in sites. I mean, even the Wirecutter used Elasticsearch. So, it's knowing that, especially as the amount of things that people are looking for online continues to increase, it doesn't seem like there's going to be any end to the use of Elasticsearch and people's applications of it. 


So, it's been an interesting ride, especially as I continue to learn the depths of the domain. I think, being on the other side of being a consumer of Elasticsearch while working at the Wirecutter, you interfaced with it, you don't really understand the—or you don't get a sense of the power of the product. And now, wow, as I continue to dig in and learn more, definitely impressed.


Corey: One of the things that I think is so impressive is that everyone in the world is either chasing Elastic, or building their own Elastic offering, or competing with Elastic, or using Elastic. Some people love the company, some people hate the company, some people like, “Oh, I love the product, I use it constantly.” “Oh, I hate the product, but I'm going to have full API compatibility with it.” And so on and so forth. And it's really, sort of, become the default/only answer for arbitrary searching of data. 


I was, sort of, in denial about that for a long time, until then I started seeing Elasticsearch showing up in what's running in our AWS environment here at the consultancy, and, “Yep, okay. If we're using it ourselves, then there's really no argument anymore.” It is incredibly pervasive because we make terrible technology selections and try and go off the beaten path wherever possible because I'm really bad at this. And all roads do, in fact, lead to Elastic. Because it makes sense. “Great. You're going to use DNS is a database. Great move there, but what are you going to search through the logs with?” “Oop, there we go—”


Courtney: There we go.


Corey: —“Elastic it is.”


Courtney: Yep. Oh, yeah. No, absolutely, absolutely. And the applications for what they're doing are endless. And it's good to be a part of this. It's really—specifically working in the cloud division, being a part of the cutting edge of the cutting edge. This is something that is a technology that is ubiquitous, but we're still finding novel ways to make it work for a variety of different use cases. It's been pretty awesome. I can't say more about how much I have enjoyed my time there so far.


Corey: Yeah. Before we go too far into this, I also want to thank you for—at the time we're recording this, I'm about to step out for parental leave, and you are a guest author for the newsletter one of the weeks that I'm out. First, thank you, I really appreciate—


Courtney: Oh, you’re welcome.


Corey: —being able to take time off.


Courtney: No problem. Really, congratulations on your upcoming leave. I'm sure your employees are going to be happy about that. [laughs].


Corey: Oh, getting rid of me. Oh, yeah. They've been trying to plan how to get rid of me for years. The ringleader of that is, of course, Mike, my business partner who just absolutely—like, he wants to absolutely seize power and write the newsletter himself, I'm sure. I'm kidding. He's written his own before, and it was not directly aligned with what he loved doing. I'm weird like that.


But in seriousness, there's a lot of really talented people that I get to work with, but this is the first time I've ever stepped away for more than a week or so during the offseason of, “All right, it's between Christmas and New Year's. No one is going to be doing any announcements here. Why run a newsletter issue at all?” I think I've taken three weeks off until this point over the last four years.


Courtney: Oh my god.


Corey: So, this is a new experience. I am taking multiple weeks in a row off. I'm turning off my access at the end of the week. And I will read the newsletter when it comes out and it hits my email between waking up or feeding. So, you know, when I wake up at two in the afternoon.


Courtney: You’re just being a consumer of it, just like everybody else, right?


Corey: Exactly. And we'll see what happens. And I look at this and, “Okay, great. Well—” again, the trick is, as I'm envisioning it now, it seemed impossible when I was first considering this idea because no one is going to be able to write sarcastically and snarky the way that I do, but they don't have to. Other people's material fits about as well as other people's shoes. 


I don't need to play those games. People can tell the stories of what they find interesting, and it's all subjective. I get angry emails sometimes from Amazon folks. “Why didn't you talk about my release?” Well, the answer is, “When I saw it, it didn't really seem that interesting to me. What did I miss?” No one is going to ever agree with everything you say, so I smile, I nod, and I made my peace with that.


Courtney: Yeah. I mean, I think I've definitely had to make my peace with people not agreeing with what I say [laughs] just generally. I feel like in order to blaze your own trail in this industry, especially as a Black woman, you kind of have to be used to not being a part of the in-crowd, sort of being a bit of an iconoclast. You can sit back and get a 10,000-foot view. I doubt my issue will be as snarky as the ones that I've read of yours in the past, but I hope that people will enjoy it nonetheless.


Corey: [laughs]. That's a piece I always wondered where I've given talks at conferences before on how to handle job interviews or salary negotiation, or how to be sarcastic and funny, and the problem with those talks and the reason I don't give them any more independently, without someone else on stage with me to share their experiences, is it's extremely unclear for me how much of what has worked for me has the unwritten prerequisite of, be a loudmouth white guy in tech. I mean my failure mode is apparently a board seat and a book deal somewhere. When I say, “I don't understand how this works?” The answer is, “Oh, the marketing is not great, and they should shore up the documentation.” Where no one ever questions, “Should I be here or not?” That's an incredible baked-in level of presumed competence that, frankly, I certainly don't deserve, but also that is not afforded to everyone.


Courtney: Oh, absolutely. It's most certainly not. I mean, I think I've at least walked into—you know, even before I was working in the industry, everywhere I was, there wasn't necessarily something that was tailored for me. I started my career path, generally, not doing tech stuff. So, you get a better understanding growing up how much of the world is tailored to you, and how much isn’t. 


And, you know, for me a lot isn’t, and so you just adjust. You make your own way, you figure it out, it can be easier growing up and having your lived experience knowing the world is not tailored for you. It can be easier in some ways, or at least for me, going into another job, an industry change because you know that that's not necessarily going to be tailored to you either. So, you can say, “Okay. I know who the intended audience is for this. How do I make them listen? How do I make them see me for me, even though this isn't built for me?”


Corey: Now, as of the time of this recording, you’ve spent a month or two as an engineering manager at Elastic. Is there an existing culture of hiring Black people in the abstract, and Black women specifically, into leadership roles? Is this a relatively recent change? Is this something that has been baked into the culture for a long time that they're getting right? Is this something new?


Courtney: I would say it's a bit of both, right. I think, generally, they've been able to, as a fully distributed company, been able to hire people from around the world. That being said, I think because they're in the tech industry, the tech industry is over-represented by white, straight dudes. And for that reason, I was the first Black person hired into engineering leadership in the company's history. So, I didn't know that until I started there, but I don't feel unwelcome. 


I wasn't made to feel like I was an artifact in a museum, or everyone's looking at me or, “Oh, crap, I have to get this right or there'll never be another Black person in engineering leadership again.” I don't feel that way. I think they certainly have talked the talk. I think, when it comes to making sure that this is in a warm, inclusive environment for a wide variety of people, I think there is a good level of representation, just, sort of, in individual contributors. I think this is a step in the right direction in terms of them continuing to walk the walk when it comes to making sure that the representation in leadership is as reflective of the representation for individual contributors there.


Corey: There's an awful lot to admire about Elastic as a company. It's easy to drag any company when they take a misstep or offend someone's perceived sense of right and wrong, but from what you're saying, it sounds like they have an awful lot, even internally, that recommends them as a place to work.


Courtney: Right, right. They're fully distributed. I think so many people—I've really been welcomed with open arms by other Black folks that work at Elastic. And it's been an amazing experience. Just, so many people in so many different disciplines doing things that, I think to me, being someone who does engineering work or continually had done engineering work in the past, seeing Black people in marketing blows my mind, you know what I mean? [laughs]. Seeing Black people in sales, that blows my mind. But people from all areas of the company, just being in a community with each other, being encouraging to each other is really nice. And the fact that folks feel so welcoming, and really, truly also believe that what they're doing at the same time, and don't seem to be disheartened or down, it's been great.


Corey: You obviously were not brought in for optical purposes. You have an incredibly strong engineering and engineering leadership background. To that end, you are the engineering manager for Cloud SRE tooling. What does that team do? Where does it start? Where does it stop?


Courtney: The team that helps make tools for cloud engineers at Elastic. So, we're very much working on improving the suite of internally facing tools for Elastic engineers, to help them do their jobs better, specifically for SREs. So, we want to make sure that deployments run smoothly, and that they're able to do that, that people have tools at their disposal to make Cloud products even better, to ship better Elastic Cloud products.


Corey: So, someone could argue on some level then, that your team builds the tools that the cloud providers should, but haven't.


Courtney: Um—


Corey: Or is that too dark and cynical?


Courtney: That's a little too dark and cynical. I guess. I don't know. I mean, I think the use cases of our products are so specific. This is more of… how do we launch the Elastic Cloud product, and what do people need to launch the Elastic Cloud product? 


So, it's more to help the people that do that, do that better. We're not necessarily looking to each of those cloud providers, even though—because we launch in multiple clouds, we're not looking to them to provide those tools. This is so that folks at Elastic can launch Elastic into those clouds.


Corey: So, in previous jobs, were you working extensively with Elastic, or was that something that you had avoided, and then have to come up to speed on the technology stack itself in your new role?


Courtney: I was working with Elastic, but not very deeply. It was more of, like, at least for most of my career, Elasticsearch was the magical component that just kind of worked. And I think that's what makes it such a draw for so many other companies that use it, is that it just works. You can launch it locally, and it just kind of works. So, that was how I was using it in the past in my career: if we were embedding Elasticsearch into other sites, as long as you knew how to tune your indexes, it just kind of worked. 


It didn't make a difference if you couldn't leverage every single bit of Elasticsearch that you wanted to. It just—and so now I'm in the position of really having to learn the nuts and bolts of the architecture so that I can better serve the folks that I manage a bit better because I want to know what they're facing on the day-to-day. So, I did have to get up to speed. I wasn’t, like, totally behind the eight ball with this one, but I think just generally having experience as an engineer certainly helps. I definitely had to get a little bit past the magic and into what's in the hat.


Corey: Yeah. I think that everyone believes that, “Oh, you must be an expert at a company's product to wind up working there.” Not at all. When I started my own company, I vaguely knew some things about AWS, but I was certainly not deeply steeped in it.


Courtney: Have you been able to figure out who's responsible for all of the drawings for the products in AWS, though?


Corey: I have the distinct impression that, at least from what I've seen, that it feels like it's done by committee, in some respects. Because it is so flat, and I guess, devoid of personality. I’m sorry, are you referring to the diagrams that they use, or are you talking about their icons, or stencils, or—


Courtney: Their icons. The icons for the products. I—really indistinguishable. If I was going solely off of icons for some of their products, I would have no idea what each of them meant.


Corey: I'm having one of my designers build out an entire series of custom icons for architectural diagrams, just because I'm so sick of the unimaginative things. Without a label, most of the ones that AWS provides are useless to me. I do not know what they are or what they look like. And if you just need the label, then I could put any arbitrary image there that I want, so why don't have something that at least is slightly more evocative or, failing that, has a personality. But again, this is the problem of big companies, where they're trying to serve as all customers. 


You can't really have a sense of humor about your offering as an enterprise-scale company because your customers most assuredly do not have a sense of humor about their own business. So, it's a difficult messaging line to walk, and I really do empathize with them. I'm very fortunate in that I'm a small enough company that I can still pick and choose who I work with, so if folks don't find my sense of humor appealing, great, we're probably not going to have a great engagement anyway. It's sort of—if having a snarky platypus as a mascot is a deal-breaker, I probably was not going to find success there anyway.


Courtney: Right, right. I mean, so to a certain extent, you're the product, right? Your personality is your company's product. Does that make sense?


Corey: Yeah, on some level. I'm trying to break that out a little bit from the consulting versus the media stuff that I do because I do live in fear of a bad take has the potential to wind up impacting ten people's livelihoods. And that's a heck of a responsibility. It's the reason I was so reluctant to begin hiring people, where, sure if I screw up and it's me, I can go find a job somewhere and I'll survive. But now, it's other people are depending on me to get this stuff right. And that becomes a heavy weight to carry, from time to time.


Courtney: Yeah, I mean, I certainly look at being an engineering manager in that way. I'm responsible for people's lives. I feel like generally in the field, though, of engineering management—I'm fortunate in that I'm getting—this is my second go at being a manager. I was a manager in my twenties, and because I was in my twenties, and my main priorities in my twenties were planning happy hours, I think I have a little bit more perspective about how to be responsible to people. But on the flip side of that, the bar is incredibly low. It really is. For how people feel responsible to other people, and how they live that, how they behave, is it whether or not they're responsible to other people, the bar is, like, underground. It's, [laughs] maybe the bar does not exist.


Corey: This episode is sponsored in part by our friends at Linode. You might be familiar with Linode; they've been around for almost 20 years. They offer Cloud in a way that makes sense rather than a way that is actively ridiculous by trying to throw everything at a wall and see what sticks. Their pricing winds up being a lot more transparent—not to mention lower—their performance kicks the crap out of most other things in this space, and—my personal favorite—whenever you call them for support, you'll get a human who's empowered to fix whatever it is that's giving you trouble. Visit linode.com/screaminginthecloud to learn more. That's linode.com/screaminginthecloud.


Corey: Yeah, on some level, it seems that, “Oh, I said something dumb, and half the company got fired? Well, those people were dumb enough to trust me. I guess they'll know better in the future.” It’s like, no, no, no. That is not they're failing, let's be very clear on this.


Courtney: Yeah. You're responsible for other people's lives… if you are, in any capacity for their lives or livelihood.


Corey: Management's hard. I mean, the reason I generally don't have direct reports, even now, and the reporting structure of rolls through my business partner is that my belief has always been that to manage people effectively, you've got to be extraordinarily promotional of them and what they do and help build them up. Whereas on the media side of what I do with the podcast and the newsletter, I have to be incredibly self-promotional. It's a weird expression of marketing. So, that means DevRel meets a bunch of other things. And I don't know that those two are necessarily congruent, at least as the way that I believe management should be done.


Courtney: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think a lot of being a good manager is turning around and highlighting what other people are doing, showcasing those people, lifting them up, building them up. I've been thinking about what my philosophy as a manager is if that makes a lot of sense. And I think that the closest thing that I've come to is having a trauma-informed approach [laughs] because I feel like working in this industry is very, very—especially for a large company, or companies at the scale of which I've been working up to this point, for lack of a better term, like, burnout or approaching burnout is a traumatic experience for people. 


So, how do you head that off? What signs do you look for? If someone's approaching burnout how do you help someone recover from burnout? Because not everyone can afford to take time off and not work for six months in order to recover. So, how do you do that? How do you keep those people happy, and alive, and aware, and still working toward whatever goals that you set? 


So, thinking about that in terms of being trauma-aware or, and thinking about the things that people have encountered, either projects not going the way that they wanted to, or getting passed up for opportunities that they felt belonged to them, and what that can do to someone, and how I can be a person to help them heal, but still keeping them happy and productive at the same time.


Corey: That's the hard part from my perspective, is figuring out how to balance all these competing objectives and things that need to get done in certain orders and certain priorities: saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. How do you prioritize? I didn't realize how much of management was juggling.


Courtney: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It's juggling on a unicycle while music is playing right. It's a lot, but I like it. I certainly was not equipped for it in my twenties. I'm glad that I had a chance to take another stab at it this late in the game.


Corey: Yeah. One other thing that I noticed in your biography that just absolutely resonates with me is, oh, great. You have the same horrible, obnoxious, expensive hobby that I do. Namely, building mechanical keyboards.


Courtney: Yes.


Corey: Tell me a little bit about that.


Courtney: I like throwing money out the window, setting it on fire,k I don't know. I think it actually—seriously though, it actually has been a fun way for me to pick up new skills, or at least it started that way. Now it's just sort of me dumping money into a dumpster and collecting switches and all these sorts of things—


Corey: Yep.


Courtney: —and an outlet for me to have a series of projects in varying degrees of completion.


Corey: Mm-hm. Yeah, it's like, “How many ErgoDoxes have you built?” “Two and a half.” “Well, tell me more about that half.” “I’d really rather not.”


Courtney: [laughs], yeah.


Corey: Yeah, it’s—like the pile of switches, like, “Oh, are those the loud ones or the quiet ones?” “Well, technically, those are the weighted Zealios that have a slightly different model—” Yeah, going down that entire ridiculous rabbit hole. And the worst part of all of that is that now that we're all working remotely, you don't get the payoff from all of this, which is annoying the living hell out of people in the open-plan office next to you.


Courtney: Oh, I've made up for that by annoying the [00:26:26 liver] out of my wife who works from home right now because of the pandemic. She's working a floor below me and every time things get a little too loud with the typing, she shouts, “Dear diary,” [laughs] up toward me because she can hear everything clicking. And it’s like, “Oh, I must be on a roll here.” So, yeah. I mean, it's absolutely an annoying habit. But it really is a way for me to just have fun. And I get to play with things, and keycaps with different colors, and I learned a lot about keycap profiles. That was something that was completely foreign to me. I was just like, “A keyboard is a keyboard.”


Corey: Oh yeah. The SAs quite a bit, but my hands do get tired.


Courtney: Oh, yeah. No, the SAs are nice. It certainly reminds me of, I remember, my mom worked in the la—she was a quality control chemist for most of her career and had this really old calculator that weighed maybe, I don't know, 55, 60 pounds—because, you know, it was a calculator from the 60s—and the keycaps, they definitely, I'm guessing they're probably SA profile, but just to be able to do simple math on it, how hard you had to press the keys, at least for my six- or seven-year-old fingers, it was like the equivalent of running a hammer on these just to—you know, eight plus eight. Okay, let's wait 30 minutes to get the answer. And it's funny how much of that stuff has come full circle. I would probably kill to have the—


Corey: Oh it has. It’s a hipster keyboard, let's not kid ourselves.


Courtney: Oh, yeah.


Corey: But it's such a nice departure from our day-to-day work lives of making the lights on the screen form different patterns which, from a very literalist perspective, is what our jobs entirely are. And that's, “Oh yeah, this is something real in the world I can point at and say I built that.” Or in more common cases, “There's that thing I tried to build, failed, and it's sitting there just taunting me with disappointment in the corner for months on end until I clean it up.”


Courtney: Yeah, no, absolutely. I’m going to be like, “Oh, look at those cold solder joints. Oh, I messed this up. [sighs] oh, I'm going to have to buy another PCB. How much does that cost again? [sighs]. Oh, right.” 


So, yeah, it's been so much fun. And I actually have another insanely expensive PCB coming in the mail in November that I'm getting—I'm like, I can't dress my dog up for Halloween and take him trick-or-treating this year, so at least I have this keyboard coming, and that can be the equivalent of a Halloween costume in my mind.


Corey: So, here's the $64,000 question. What is your current keyboard?


Courtney: My current keyboard is a—I use the Laser SA keys from I think MiTo, and it's on the GH60 right now. And those switches are MX CHERRY Browns. So.


Corey: Yeah, those aren't super noisy, so—


Courtney: No. Not super noise.


Corey: —I don’t what your wife is complaining about, now? If they want noise, yeah, here we go. My next project, when I decided to get really fun about this is—I don't even care what the key switches are going to be, but I want to wire in an Arduino or microcontroller of some sort, and a mini-speaker so it plays a sound on every keypress because I don't care what the click is I want it to make a beep, or a boop, or something incredibly annoying, or spark off, “Surfin’ Birds” so it’s, “Bird’s the word” for 30 seconds with every keypress and see how long it takes someone to come in and use that keyboard to beat me to death in my chair.


Courtney: I mean, my keyboard isn't loud, but it certainly makes—I think the edges of the keycaps make enough of noise to be annoying when I'm really on a roll. But I definitely think if I did that, I would absolutely not make it through the week, or maybe through the day if it was making any noise. I would love to make a soundboard though; get a small PCB and make a soundboard that does the, like, air horn, the, “Bier bier bier bieer,” and a couple other fun things, there's definitely—it would be a nice little stress release at the end of the day, just, “Bier bier bier bieer.” Or, you know, make a short loop, some beats, but have some fun keys and fun switches on it instead.


Corey: Yeah. That's a fun hobby, I enjoy playing around with it. And for better or worse, it's not the end of days type of hobby, where it's, “Oh, great. This new thing came out and it cost me $20,000.” You can get started in this space for 50 bucks. It's not something that has an incredibly high barrier to entry. It lets me play with my hands and fool myself for a little while into believing that I'm making a physical change in the world.


Courtney: Yeah. No, I definitely feel like I've done something. I mean, last year was really strange in that we had to have several appliances replaced in our house at the same time, including the hot water heater. And this was just as I was really starting to get into some advanced—more advanced soldering types of things, and the plumber who was putting in the water heater was like, “I have to solder this new pipe this lead pipe into the water heater that goes into your basement.” And I was like, “Did you say soldering?” And that's when I learned how soldering really works. [laughs]. When you're having to do that to solder copper pipes into someone's home for a hot water heater. And I was like, “Ah. What I'm doing is child's play compared to the actual real world application of soldering.” But he was kind enough to let me run the torch a little bit. So, that was fun.


Corey: [laughs]. It's nice to have something that's a little bit less staring at a screen, especially in this era of lockdown. But it can be more than a hobby and into the territory of problem if you're not careful. So, I've sort of gotten out of it for a little bit. So, I think that's probably a good point to wind up leaving it. If people want to hear more about what you have to say, where can they find you?


Courtney: I get saucy on Twitter and other forms of social media @cjwilburn. I'm active on [00:31:59 unintelligible]. I'm not as snarky and fun as you are, but I certainly will give an opinion or two about anything, or if you want to hear a lot about anything related to Prince and his music, another place to look at that as well.


Corey: You are my new go-to for that.


Courtney: Oh, awesome. Well, I may end up getting on your nerves. I talk about Prince, maybe as much as you talk about the Cloud. [laughs].


Corey: Excellent. You know, we all need things to focus on and I think that's as valid of a topic as any other. Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. I appreciate it.


Courtney: It was my pleasure.


Corey: Courtney Wilburn, engineering manager at Elastic for Cloud SRE tooling. I'm Cloud Economist Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice, whereas if you hated this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice along with a comment that you angrily type out, and then tell me what kind of keyboard you used to type it.


Announcer: This has been this week’s episode of Screaming in the Cloud. You can also find more Corey at ScreamingintheCloud.com, or wherever fine snark is sold.


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