Who are those guys?

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by Guest, Feb 9, 2001.

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    Guest Guest

    Who are those guys?

    It's hard to believe that QRZ.COM is now entering it's 9th year
    of operation and we're very happy to have made it this far.
    It's a fact that most new business fail within the first 18
    months and once they've made it past 2 years there's some
    chance of survival.

    Having exceeded the expectations of some, some folks are
    wondering, "Who is QRZ.COM, Where are they located,
    How many employees do they have, and What's their data processing
    center like?". This article will shed some light on the very
    guts of our worldwide amateur radio operations center and
    what makes it tick.

    Our Headquarters:


    Imagine a 15 story glass office building, the kind you see in many
    urban areas, complete with a large parking garage and a tree-lined
    grassy campus whose centerpiece includes a stone and masonry
    water fountain where the local birds love to gather during the
    warm summer season. Out in front, a communications van sits near
    an open utility cabinet while technicians busily connect high
    speed fiber optic internet cables and dig the trenches that have
    been responsible for the numerous traffic detours in recent weeks.

    The fiber cables run underground where, after entering the
    building, make their way up to the 7th floor where the bulk of the
    equipment is located in a 12,000 square foot network operations and
    data center. Staffed by full time engineers and backed up with a
    100 kW diesel generator (outside), the building has been built to
    withstand an atomic blast, or perhaps a rolling blackout or two.

    The building's location, right next door to the championship golf
    course where they hold the Phoenix Open and across the street from
    a modern executive airport make it the perfect place for a
    successful dot-com company to do business.

    From my house in north Scottsdale, AZ, I can almost see the site
    which is barely 5 miles away. It's currently occupied by the
    Prudential Insurance Company. I mention them because they they are
    about the size of operation that many of our customers seem to
    equate us with. Hmmm. I guess we must be pretty good at putting our
    best face forward.

    Back at the ranch, the QRZ facilities are a bit more modest. In
    our 8 years of operation we've grown from a one man operation to a
    one man, one wife, and several volunteer enterprise. Our
    physical presence is largely contained in a 2 foot by 6 foot
    closet in the back the house (my house).

    The main QRZ server is a 500MHZ Dell PIII Dual CPU system with 512
    MB of RAM and three 9GB Disk drives. We also have a backup server, a
    Sparcstation 10 with two 50 Mhz CPU's and 256 MB of ram. It
    doesn't get used very much. Next, there are my personal
    workstations, a 167 Mhz Sun Ultra-1 and a 900 Mhz Compaq PC. I run
    the Solaris (UNIX) operating system on all of the machines except
    for the Compaq on which I run Windows ME. Besides having better
    graphics than the Sun, the Compaq is the machine that I use to
    create and test the software that goes on the QRZ CDROM. The CDROM
    itself is created on the Ultra-1 under UNIX.

    All of the machines are wired into a 10/100 Mbit local area
    network that is connected to a Cisco 2501 Router and a full
    time T1 network line that goes direct to the internet backbone
    through my provider, Cable and Wireless Inc.. At first
    they had doubts about bringing a T1 line into a residence
    location, but, I wrote them the check and that made them do it.


    Our Staff


    We have no full time employees. Every single person on our
    roster (including the founder) have real, paying non-ham-related
    jobs that support them and their families. People have at times
    asked why we don't publish a telephone number for QRZ. Well, who
    is going to answer it? Any of our editors would tell you that,
    based on the amount and type of email they get, that nobody
    would take the job if offered.

    Our distinguished staff includes:

    Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ, founder. Duties: website design,
    software engineering, network engineering, CDROM production,
    hardware installation and repair, editorial management, advertising
    sales, bookkeeping, writing, apologizing, chief pilot, paramedic,
    mercenary. Fred wrote and maintains all of the software that
    runs the website and database, as well as the CDROM.

    Brigitte Lloyd, administrative assistant. Duties: shipping and
    handling, order tracking, CDROM sales.

    Mark Krotz, N7MK, volunteer editor. Duties: answering email
    sent to editor@qrz.com, monitoring swap listings, censoring
    biography listings, fixing messed up user accounts, listening to
    petty complaints, breaking up fights, and badly deciphering
    Chinese and Korean emails.

    Steve Thompson, N7TX, volunteer editor. Same as Mark. See

    Willie Peloquin, N8WP, volunteer editor. Manages front-page
    articles, luckily not responsible for editor@qrz.com email.

    David Mason II, KB7ISR, trivia editor (volunteer). Manages
    our trivia database.

    Larry O'Toole, K3LBP, clubs editor (volunteer). Keeps our
    club listing pages up to date.

    Manfred Meier, DF6EX, QSL Database Manager (volunteer).
    Maintains the QSL database.

    Please take note of the word volunteer in most of the titles
    above. That means that these people do not get paid. They do it
    for you, for us, and for the hobby. If you're not satisfied with
    their service then perhaps you should apply for a refund.

    So what's the most difficult part of the job? Without a doubt it's
    answering the daily email that comes in for the
    &quot;editor&quot;. We're talking at least 100 emails per day
    here. Our hard working editors have learned to be patient and to
    take nothing for granted when trying to assess user capabilities.
    It's not a particularly thankful task, especially when handling
    complaints. Naturally, there are people who don't bother reading
    the directions before they complain, and there are others who think
    that we exist only to please them. Sometimes I remind them that
    our money-back guarantee applies. For some reason, they don't
    think it's funny.

    Just about the time that we get totally frustrated and remind a
    user that everything works fine, "IF ONLY THEY WOULD FOLLOW THE
    DIRECTIONS...", he or she writes us back with humble thanks and
    mentions that it's their 90th birthday and this is their first
    computer. That makes us feel like jerks. Sometimes, it helps us
    to keep our cool by assuming that everybody is 90 years old but,
    it's clear that some of our users abuse this assumption. It's only
    human nature that most of the email that we receive is the result
    of a problem or complaint of some kind. Although rare, we do get
    messages of praise, which we treasure and share amongst each
    other for encouragement.

    We've been often confused as belonging to the ARRL, and of being a
    branch of the FCC. We try and manage over 1 million callsigns and
    yet when someone notices that the FCC has posted their new upgrade
    and we don't show it yet, we catch hell. Never mind that it's been
    less than 24 hours and the FCC hasn't posted the new data to their
    FTP site yet. Frankly, it's hard for me to get excited about a
    single inaccurate listing. Sure, I'll do what I can to help the
    user out, but, it's not a four alarm fire. Some users even demand
    that we call them on the telephone to set the record straight. For
    some reason, they never suggest that we call collect.

    And then we get those thoughtful little emails that say: "Hello.
    My email address has changed to user@hotmail.com", and nothing
    else. Our batting average at guessing the callsign that goes with
    such messages remains at .000. Others, when replying to an
    earlier email, leave out all of the previous context. We've
    received messages like "OK, then, please help me fix that." and
    nothing else. They assume that we remember the previous email.
    Here's a news flash: we don't save old emails. We smile while
    thoughtfully clicking on the DELETE key.

    Or how about the one that said "I GIVE UP". Nothing else, just "I
    GIVE UP". Our response: " Okay, thanks. It will be easier for
    both of us that way."....

    Such is the story of the mega-monolithic corporation known as
    QRZ.COM. Please don't tell our competitors that we wrote this and
    subsequently broke our cover. We really are big, all knowing,
    and powerful.



    -fred, AA7BQ

    P.S. I met Bill Gates once.
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