6 Posts authored by: thegreateebzies

I’ve heard a rumor you’re an IT professional. Okay, maybe it’s less a rumor than a well-established fact. You’re on THWACK, after all.


I’d never considered myself an IT pro until now. Even after a decade in the tech industry, the title didn’t feel like it fit. It wasn’t until a conversation last week with KMSigma about the difficulties of markup languages on our weekly digest email template that I had the epiphany—gosh dang it, I AM one of you nerds!


The timing of the realization ended up being perfect. This coming Friday, I drop the chains of corporate America and leave SolarWinds so I can focus on some personal projects.


Before I go, there are some departing thoughts I want to share with you. They’re lessons learned from ten years of “not” being an IT professional, three of which I was #blessed to spend with you and this incredible THWACK community.


One thing I’ve learned in IT, aside from “more than I ever wanted to know about HIPAA and GDPR,” is that we can consider ourselves kings, but the end user is ultimately the queen. Debates about sexism aside (we all know the queen is in charge), think about this.


In chess, the king is a great piece of wired hardware. It does the job, is pivotal to the whole operation, and nothing is going to work without it. But it’s not moving very far. Sounds like you, right? Me too.


The queen has far greater reach than the king but opens up a whole slew of problems when you start to move her about the board. Invading forces are limited in the ways they can get to the king if the queen is right there by his side. But if the queen decides to take a business trip to, let’s say, a conference in Las Vegas and starts to use the dirty public Wi-Fi… you get the picture.


However, if nobody builds your organization’s products, sells them, and supports the products sold, what’s left to create demand for we, the IT-people?


I’m not dissimilar from you. Instead of my end users being solely an internal team, I have to make sure I support what you need and want. And instead of infrastructure, my chess board is THWACK. It’s while I focus on you as a user that all other KPIs melt away. User engagement goes up. Community sentiment and satisfaction increases. The sales team on the third floor cuts back on Red Bull consumption.


It’s when we don’t focus on the end user that all things go to [redacted by our Content Review team].


When we follow the status quo, resist change, follow the path of least resistance, blindly adhere to that nagging boss (not calling DanielleH out), their nagging boss (not calling TiffanyNels out), and other internal pressure to make decisions contrary to the success of our end users and customers, we lose our grip on success. Our KPIs become the only thing we care about, and somehow, they still manage to collapse.


This is the moment I think about one of the happiest people I’ve ever met, Larry. I affectionately called him “Larr Bear.” Larry was a senior help desk analyst here and could be found roaming the halls at least once a day to mingle, chat, inquire, troubleshoot, and check back with his constituents. Did it take time away from his goals? Yes. But was he happier, and did he effectively change the way our helpdesk team functioned on a fundamental level? Absolutely.


There’s a story I’ve heard from time to time about a woman who took her child to see Mahatma Gandhi.


“Mahatma,” she said, “I don’t know what to do and I’ve come to seek your advice. My son won’t stop eating candy. The sugar turns him into a monster. He’ll cheat, he’ll lie, and he’ll steal to get more candy. It’s ruining our family, it’s ruining our relationships, and it’s ruining our reputation.”


Gandhi looked at the boy for a moment, then turned to the mother. “I see,” he said, pausing again to choose his words. Gandhi continued, “As much as I would like to help, there’s something I need to do first. Take your son home, wait two weeks, then come back to see me.”


The mother wasn’t sure why Gandhi gave her this advice, but she trusted he knew what he was doing. She took her boy home and continued to struggle with the child and his candy addiction. When two weeks has passed, she knew she would have to return to Gandhi and ask for help once again.


Gandhi recognized her immediately, walked over to the boy, got down on one knee, peered directly into his eyes, and said sternly, “Don’t eat sweets.” He then got up and turned to walk away.


“Mahatma,” the mother stammered, “this is a very serious situation, but you sent me home for two weeks just to have us come back so you could tell him to stop eating sweets?”


Gandhi looked back and paused for a moment. “I did. But two weeks ago, I was still eating sweets.”


Before they make me turn in my badge and laptop, and days before I send my final passive aggressive email correcting “THWACK” to be all-caps, let me leave you with this.


Be the change you want to have in your organization, set the tone for the morale you want to have around you, and don’t forget the reason we’re all here—our users. Everything else will fall into place.


Signed lovingly,


Ben Garves

*Former* Senior Product Manager, THWACK


For those looking to stay in touch, I will be turning my efforts to freelance web development ( and to my fitness startup, WODDITY ( May the fourth always be with you. Even on the 23rd of July.

In case you missed the announcements during THWACKcamp, our 2018 THWACK award winners are:


Innovation-ize-alyzer Award - rschroeder

Carmen Sandiego Award - CourtesyIT

The Domo-arigato Award - mesverrum

Zero to 100 - jeremymayfield

The SolarWinds Boomerang Award - jbiggley

Keeping it Real - rschroeder

I'm Going to Let You Finish, But... - mesverrum

Class Valedictorian - frankmuhlstadt

Monthly Mission Master - wfordham, ecklerwr1, cisherwood, dealton.lyman, jasonstak2079, steven.crabtree, femiodejide, doberhol, sierra1011



Thank you to everyone who participated in the nomination process, our esteemed judges, and all of the great contributors who have won our metric-based award.

Dearest THWACK,


My, how you’ve grown! If it wasn’t for the National Institutes of Health and US National Library of Medicine defining fifteen years as being ‘adolescence,’ I’d say you’ve grown into a fine adult.


I guess you’re just mature for your age. Check out this timeline, to see how much everything has changed!


From my perspective as your Product Manager, and as one of your loving adoptive guardians, maybe being an adolescent a few more years isn’t such a bad thing. It means you’re still growing and changing for the better. It means your greatest years are still ahead of you. Most importantly, it means you have countless lives you’re still going to touch.


I know I speak for the rest of your parents (DanielleH, wabbott, sonofagum, mrs.alterego) in saying we’re proud of you. So mighty damn proud.


I mention these people, because so much of who you are today can be traced back to their influence, their love, and their passion at making you successful.


Danielle has been fearless. She’s been your advocate from her first day at SolarWinds and will stay your biggest fan until long after this wild ride is over. There is nary a feature she hasn’t influenced, a day she hasn’t championed, and a night she hasn’t lost sleep over making you the best possible environment for all of your users.


Wendy is the envy of the entire parenting team. Her voice and her writing style has been the backbone of THWACK’s personality. Not a single one of your contests, missions, or special events have gone without the impact of her pen and her keyboard.


Rachel is single-handedly responsible for the growth of some of your most important and signature features. Her tenure at the helm of your tech kept the ship upright and plugging forward to true north.


Casey has been hiding in the shadows for far too long. When I say he’s responsible for every line of code written on THWACK since 2012, I MEAN he is responsible for every line of code written on THWACK since 2012.


Finally, the work of these six people and myself would be absolutely nothing if it wasn’t for the community.


What we do, we do for you.

What you do…actually, we can’t even begin to understand who or what you do it for.


You’ve penned 3,300 blog posts, spawned 8,200 ideas, authored 10,000 documents, asked and answered questions on 76,000 discussions, and created over 120,000 total pieces of content.


That wasn’t us. That was you. Every user. Every MVP. Thank you.




_stumpacmtix adatoleaLTeReGoantonis.athanasioubleearg13bluefunelemental byrona cahunt ChrystalT cnorborg CourtesyIT d09h damien.solodow dclick Deltona designerfx dodo123 ecklerwr1 solaradmin felixforbes Goliath jangliss jbiggley jeff.stewart jeremymayfield jeremyxmentzell Jfrazier jm_sysadmin jspeer KMSigma kpmarcin kurtrh m_roberts mcam mdriskell mesverrum michael.kent mikegale mprobus mrxinu netlogix nickzourdos njoylif pgaryga Radioteacher rbonn rharland2012 RichardLetts robertcbrowning rschroeder sacosgrove shuth silverbacksays skhan stuartwhyte superfly99 tallyrich tinmann0715 tomiannelli vispetto wluther zackm zennifer




Non-MVP Top 90 Leaderboard

abdhijasharma adam.rohde ttl cscoengineer ahutch43 mcbridea bharris birendrakc whitebd branfarm blsanner turkyman cabarnes cisherwood chinmaychavan goodzhere curtisi darragh.delaney idaman22 dealton.lyman derik.pfeffer xbod esther ethandicks gfsutherland gcp harmesh2287 HerrDoktor jkump jamison.jennings hart4design sparda963 jscott9074 DaHaole j_a_catlin jjohnson35 jiteshb joshyaf josh.haberman jkrause1 karthik.act kmillerusaf kforr74 kremerkm kthomason kdeal lhoyle prowessa mabernard mark.dangelo mark.healey mattoz rileymat mdhtbm miseri(cheat) unclehooch mtgilmore1 einsteinqrockefeller theflyingwombat familyofcrowes nglynn nowell femiodejide planglois pdbest.khatri RaviK yaquaholic rhether rj-smith rsoto ScottRich shale2001 shalinz skyblademonkey spaceman smoked_angus stevenstadel shuckyshark swapnil555 chad.every sqlrockstar cimware gmm1tb network defender wbrown wfordham wjcoats ZibaK

Happy cruising the THWACKillac this glorious Tuesday! I can’t believe it’s been an entire three months since the last time we chatted about how THWACK is growing.


Last week we wrapped up nine months of preparation for our epic annual virtual IT event, THWACKcamp 2017. If you haven’t checked out some of the amazing sessions the SolarWinds team put together, zip over there and take a peek. I personally thought the 7 Deadly Sins of Data Management session was phenomenal, and I’m not even a DBA.


The event grew with vengeance this year, and helped us with momentum to make some really great updates to THWACK. If you’re active on here, you’ve probably noticed some of the changes roll out over the last couple of months, including @mentions in our live chat and a prettified (technical word) chat embed.


Leaps Forward this Quarter:

  • Site facelift to match the gorgeous refreshed SolarWinds brand.
  • Optimized navigation to simplify your life and make things easier to find.
  • Missions have been de-coupled from blog posts, enabling us to (soon!) do much more exciting activities like Easter egg hunts, quiz games, etc.. The sky is the limit.…the cloud is. Whatever.
  • Blog updates! While we gave a facelift to the ever-so-famous Geek Speak blog, you may have also noticed an exciting new blog called Monitoring Central. It connects with IT Pros on trends and events in the IT industry.
  • Automated store rewards. WHAT? Yes. We can now give away store items to people for participating in any activity you normally receive points for. In fact, any THWACKcamp 2017attendee from the US, UK, Germany, and Canada is in the process of receiving swag bags for attending!


All in all, a pretty solid quarter. As always, a tremendous shout out to Danielle, Wendy, and all of the amazing SolarWinds team members who made THWACKcamp 2017 such an epic event.


We’d also like to publically humiliate our latest team member, Brett Holzhauer, as our latest baby penguin.


Much love, THWACKnation.


The second quarter was the greatest of fun, my THWACKalite friends! It’s your friendly THWACK product manager, back with your next quarterly update on what’s new, what’s blue, and cooking.


You may have noticed DanielleH, wabbott, and lindsey.serrano have started an exciting process of adding the coolest of unique swag to the THWACK store, in the form of an Erlenmeyer flask water bottle, a thumping new Bluetooth speaker, and what we’re lovingly starting to call a ‘THWAmmock’. Because, you know, puns! Act fast, supplies are flying off our digital shelves.


Half-Steps Back:

  • We had a short period of time where y’all were collecting your magnificent THWACK points at a rate faster than Bunchball could track them. The pain points have been identified and resolved.


Leaps Forward:

  • We’re excited to announce we've completed our upgrade to the latest and greatest community platform. Things went off without a hitch and THWACK was only down for ~6 hours.
  • Is something going on with SolarWinds Lab? You may have noticed a new nav icon and a design refresh. Our beloved IT Pro talk show has received some makeup, including new page skins, a sweet new logo, and a rocking new intro segment. Haven’t watched an episode before? You should check us out on the 16th!
  • Slow chant: THWACKcamp! THWACKcamp! THWACKcamp! We’re in the throes of prepping for THWACKcamp 2017, and it’s going to be our biggest, baddest event in THWACK history. Not counting the great Network Performance Monitor Riots of 1862. Registration started August 1st.


It’s been a wild quarter, and there are some amazing things about to happen in the coming months. DanielleH just won’t let me tell you about them. Something about “surprise”. Thanks for being loyal friends and family on here. In the words of the great William THWACKspeare: “To THWACK, or not to THWACK. That is the question.”







Oh, and, as always, here's a picture of lindsey.serrano before her morning coffee:


Hello, fellow THWACKians!


If we haven’t met, my name is Ben " thegreateebzies" Garves, and I’m the Product Manager working with the amazing DanielleH, wabbott, and lindsey.serrano to take THWACK to the next level.


I want to take the time each quarter to share with you some of the leaps forward (and half-steps backward) we’re taking to grow THWACK into one of the greatest online communities on the lightweb. Let’s face it. We can’t compete with some of the things on the darkweb.


Half-Steps Back:

  • You may have noticed our leaderboards have been all over the place. We first started experiencing leaderboard discrepancies in November of 2016 and eventually pushed out partner vendor to scrap their entire infrastructure and rebuild our leaderboards from scratch. I can happily report leaderboards are now perfectly synced. Just remember, points showing in your lifetime point balance may take up to 30 minutes to update on your leaderboard.
  • We had a super fun unplanned system outage on April 26th. Let’s just say there was a drought at the server farm in Phoenix.


Leaps Forward:

  • “Remove from cart” added to the THWACK store. Previously, items would need to be manually removed. Now, you have the ability to cancel an item before completing your purchase.
  • Free Tools and Trials redesign. We went wild and did a responsive redesign of a slightly outdated Free Tools and Trials page. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here.
  • SWUG redesign. Hello modernization! We’ve also redesigned our SolarWinds User Group pages to provide you with much more information on everything from joining, hosting, and requesting a SWUG near you, to sharing your experience. You can take a quick peek here.
  • We’ve made some tweaks to our chat for SolarWinds Lab and THWACKcamp 2017 that provides for a more sound and stable environment.


One more quick note. We will be discontinuing point awards for document downloads. It’s been widely debated here, but preventing users from gaming these downloads will help us make sure we’re giving the best possible experience to the users who work so hard for their points. Whelp, that’s it for this quarter! See everyone in three months for another update!


(P.S. As always, here’s an adorable picture. Of a wabbott.)




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