Mahlon Smith

Staff Software Engineer at Ravn

Portland, OR

How does this work?

I'm a technology enthusiast with over 20 years of experience, who prides himself on being a generalist. I value environmental variety and surround myself with talented, funny, intelligent people. I straddle a programming / administration fence. I deal in networking, storage systems, databases, Ruby, C, Perl, Lua, Javascript, et al. I scale things out. I seek performance, security, and maintainability through simplicity. I believe in tests for software, and redundancy/failover for hardware. I've been involved with multi-million dollar purchases, and have helped startups that can't afford to buy ink cartridges. I consider dabbling with Blender and Arduino a really good time. I make stuff, including mistakes, and avoid making them again later.

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Work experience

Jan 2021 - Present


Staff Software Engineer

Building modern communications platforms for active Service Members.


Oct 2005 - Jan 2021


Senior Technologist

LAIKA is a commercial animation studio that produces full length motion features. I've been involved with Coraline, Paranorman, The BoxTrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings, and Missing Link as of this update. In my time at LAIKA, I was largely responsible for the design and setup of the majority of the current IT technology environment. I currently work with the Director of Technology to keep our systems current and running smoothly. Many things have changed at LAIKA over my tenure, and at one time or another I've worn a lot of hats. I managed the Information Systems group (programmers) for three years, writing software in Ruby, C, Perl, and Javascript. I designed and implemented our Asterisk phone system, DNS/DHCP, systems monitoring, internal IT tools for user and host management, intranet/wiki systems, PostgreSQL database cluster, mercurial code repositories, OpenLDAP environment, and LAN/WAN network architecture -- from VLAN design to VPN to security cameras and wireless. I write RFPs, evaluate storage subsystems, manage render farms, participate in vendor relations, and maintain and deeply integrate 3rd party toolchains. We've built data centers from the ground up, spend money when it makes sense to, and happily invent our own things otherwise. All of this is across two geographic locations in the greater Portland metropolitan area, supporting an artist crew of 400-600. I write lots of code and juggle lots of tech so others can just worry about making some enjoyable animation. Occasionally, people use us as case studies - some of the ones I was involved with: - Digium, on our Asterisk setup. - TimescaleDB, on our long term data collection and trending. - RabbitMQ, on our internal messaging systems.


2004 - 2005

Six Apart

Core Programmer, LiveJournal

Part of a small team of Perl and C developers working on the and ScrapBook code bases. My primary projects: - Atom XML protocol integration - Post-via-email gateway, including PGP signing/secure posting - Rich Text interface - UI design for new LJ and Scrapbook themes - Voice Posting via Asterisk and Gizmo VOIP (Gizmo became Google Voice) - Captcha challenges - Challenge/Response secure logins - SQL schema design - Office phone system and local network LiveJournal was purchased by SixApart (the creators of TypePad), and I stayed on as a remote worker, commuting to San Fransisco frequently.

2001 - 2005

Spime Solutions Group


Spime was a hosting and small office support startup, equipping organizations with servers and networks for their various needs. Planned and built heterogeneous networks, implemented automated backup, and configured domain hosting machines along with a custom graphical front end for customer ease of management. Installed intrusion detection and firewall rulesets together with automatic alerts and network reporting. Provided upgrades and training where required.


2003 - 2004

Danga Interactive

Research and Development

Danga was the idea incubator for LiveJournal, and related support projects.


2001 - 2003

Centerspan Communications

Systems Administrator III

One of two total System Administrators in the Operations department at CenterSpan. In charge of maintaining all elements of the production environment, including upgrades and maintenance for about 60 Solaris, Linux, and FreeBSD backend servers, Cisco 3600 routers and PIX 515 firewalls, and constant changes and installations of the CenterSpan product, CStarOne. Managed user logins across the staging and production environments and VPN access to the corporate network. Created a "dashboard-like" web based visualization tool that provided near real time information on many elements of the CStarOne peer network. This dashboard quickly became the standard at CenterSpan for CStarOne status and trending, used by developers and executives alike.

1998 - 2001


System Administrator

Provided full administration and support for all of the InternetCDS servers, both internal machines for employee use, and servers used by over 16,000 customers -- for every type of internet services expected of an ISP. (Email, Newsgroups, Web hosting, et al.) Responsibilities included the construction of new machines, software setup and maintenance, networking design and implementation, repair, and continual upgrades. Used Perl programming daily -- writing extremely varied scripts to automate administration tasks and provide a better quality of service for customers. Handled abuse issues (CDS customers exploiting other internet users).

1995 - 1998


Graphics Technician

Assisted customers with both PC and Macintosh computers for their print on demand needs. Typeset and edited/proofed documents headed for production. Helped maintain network connectivity, performed troubleshooting and repair of problematic computers. Used Canon 700 series digital copiers along with the Colorbus Cyclone print queue, powered by a Silicon Graphics Indy.


1997 - 1998

Southern Oregon University

Computer Science

1995 - 1997

Portland State University

Computer Science

1995 - 1996

Portland Community College

Graphic Design

1994 - 1995

Art Institute of Seattle

Graphic Design

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