As Grafana Labs continues to grow, we’d like you to get to know the team members who are building the cool stuff you’re using. Check out the latest of our Friday team profiles.
Name: Ronald McCollam
Current location/time zone: I live in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. Which makes my time zone Eastern Time.
What do you do at Grafana Labs? I’m a Solutions Engineer, meaning that I work with people to help them understand the products that Grafana Labs makes and collaborate with them to figure out the best way to monitor their environments. That can involve anything from walking through how Grafana, Prometheus, and Graphite fit together up through helping them design monitoring architectures for high availability and collecting metrics at massive scale.
It’s honestly the best job! I get to do all the fun parts of design and architecture, build out proof-of-concept tools and environments, but always get to understand new problems and experience new uses of our technology. It’s never boring!
What open source projects do you contribute to? I’m not a full-time developer, so for the most part people don’t want me writing production code. :) But I do contribute here and there when I can! Usually it’s documentation (I think I made a PR to the Grafana docs in my first couple of weeks here) but occasionally I manage to find something I can help out with.
I also hack on small electronics projects for fun and release the code (and circuit diagrams) for those. Recently I’ve built a sensor that sends me a text when my clothes dryer stops running, a “Magic 8 Ball” that shows customizable rude messages, and a robot that spells out tweets on a Ouija board.
I’m bad at updating, but I usually put these things up on GitHub or Hackaday.io.
What are your GitHub and Twitter handles? I’m mccollam on GitHub and @RonaldMcCollam on Twitter (though I rarely use that, preferring Mastodon where I’m @firstname.lastname@example.org). I’m also ronaldmccollam on Hackaday, and my vanity site is (you guessed it) https://ronaldmccollam.com.
What do you like to do in your free time? I tinker! I get bored easily – once I start to understand how something works, it’s no longer mysterious and interesting, so I have to go off and find something new to play with. (That’s part of why I like my job so much!) You can see a few of my recent projects on the links above.
I’ve also recently started scuba diving, which combines exploring new places with an almost endless capacity for buying and modifying gear, so it’s something I hope to be doing for quite a while.
Aside from that, I have a rich social life, so if I’m not taking something apart to figure out how it works, I’m probably off at a museum or a party or a show with a friend or three!
What’s your favorite new gadget or tech toy? The latest tech I’ve gotten into is a bunch of Ubiquiti networking equipment. It’s almost certainly overkill for what I do but it’s a lot of fun to play with (and exposes a lot of data that I can pull in to Grafana!). I do a lot of homebrew IoT and home automation so having networking gear that lets me segment that stuff off more easily is nice.
Favorite ice cream flavor? I never know what flavor I’m going to order until I panic when I get to the front of the line at the shop. But chocolate peanut butter is always a safe option!
What’s the last thing you binge-watched? The Expanse. I’m a sucker for a good space opera.
What superhero powers do you wish you had (or do you have!)? The superpower that I wish I had is the ability to punch people in the face over the Internet when they really deserve it, but the superpower that I actually have is a sense of humor so dry that it can absorb up to five times its weight in liquid.