The beautiful scenery of Sochi, the team spirit, and camaraderie of fans from around the world are just a few of our Modis colleague’s favorite aspects of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. Read on to find out her top five memories:

Well, I’ve finally adjusted to being back from a whirlwind of a trip – and it has sunk in how amazing of an experience it was. In terms of capturing my experience, I could go on for days (and my colleagues who have the misfortune of sitting beside me know) – I absolutely have.

I organized my trip to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games into a top 5 list.

5) The Olympic Spirit

The athletes, the sportsmanship, and the ability of people from all different backgrounds to come together. We heard stories of coaches lending skis to athletes, or people helping an elderly woman down from her seats. The spirit was one of
Amsterdam 2014 camaraderie, no matter what background you came from. It was a proud moment to meet people from all different countries cheering on athletes who are the best of the best!

4) The voyage to get there (Amsterdam & Moscow) and the reliability of fast food at 2am

Moscow (where everything is bigger than you can imagine) and Amsterdam were amazing cities to stop in on the way over. And the free Wi-Fi gave me a chance to send back photos to jealous family and friends… okay and to our own Recruiting Director Suzanne Muldoon(who was the most jealous of the group). There is something to be said about English touch screens in fast food chains on the other side of the world. After some long flights, and zero sleep – I’ve never been so happy to eat a burger.

Sochi Mountains

3) The weather and the view

There is something special when at the Olympic Winter Games I had to say “I wish I brought sandals!” The weather was outstanding. Wearing a dress walking around Sochi was certainly a highlight. Everywhere we went spectacular views accompanied us. The media hype surrounding all the trash in the streets, dogs roaming around and terrible conditions at the hotels wasn’t true.



Sochi View

2) Meeting athletes and discovering our local celebrity status

The athletes talked to us about the challenges that come with playing any sport and what they have learned through their experience. They were all friendly and humble and it was an absolute pleasure to meet some of the best athletes in the world! Whenever we wore our hockey jerseys, we would get stopped. Between husbands and wives, to groups of school children – they wanted a photo with us. After confirming numerous times that we weren’t famous – they still insisted they wanted a photo. It would take us 3-4 times as long to get anywhere due to the line up of Russians awaiting photos. Even the official IOC photographer stopped us and asked us why there was a line up. We had no idea! Somewhere in Russia there is a family that has a photo of us huddled around their baby.

1) USA vs Russia Hockey Game

What a game! Between chanting “shayba” (puck in Russian), cheering with the Russians behind us, and with the Americans beside us it was awesome. And I mean, how often is it you get to see a player shoot 6/8 shots in a shoot out! (the answer is never). Amazing atmosphere, amazing performances by both teams. It was just an awesome game and experience!

This trip is something I will never forget. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that will provide very special memories for years to come.

While social media was showing images of a distraught and run-down Sochi, our Modis Colleague paints a different picture from the trip of a lifetime! Here’s more from this exciting adventure:

On Thursday, we attended both the Men’s and Women’s Short Track Speed Skating. It is a very different feel than the long track and definitely had you on the edge of your seat. One wrong move by an athlete and they could wipe out, taking other competitors with them. After the speed skating, Bill and I went to the Team USA hockey game against Slovakia. We were in the first row on the glass behind the Team USA bench. Bill and I are season ticket holders for our local NHL team so seeing so many of our favorite players in person was amazing. 

On Friday morning we were exhausted, but mustered up the energy to visit the spa in our hotel. Word of advice, learn the word “lighter” in Russian before ever attempting a massage. My therapist ended our session 20 minutes early and I was never so thankful for a massage to end! That afternoon, we attended the first part of a vodka tasting. Thankfully we had to cut it short for our next event, as we tasted 3 samples in the first 15 minutes!

Canada vs Norway HockeyPlus, we were sporting our Team USA hockey jerseys and cheered them on to a win. Later that night, we were able to score tickets to the Canada vs. Norway hockey game. Canada won and seeing how stacked their lineup was, we knew they had a very good chance at gold.

That afternoon, we went to the NBC house, which is connected to the Team USA house. We were sitting on the outside deck when I realized we were right next to a former US Olympian!

Vladimir Putin OlympicsA short time later, we heard someone say that Vladimir Putin was coming to the Team USA house in 30 minutes. We saw them close off one side of the deck with a velvet rope and the security personnel started increasing. Putin met with the US Olympic Committee chairman and we were just 10 feet away from it all. I can honestly say that I had a glass of wine with Putin! After that we went to see the Men’s Figuring Skating final. Again we had great seats and it was nice to see an individual skating event.

On Saturday morning, Bill and I attended a function where we got to meet and skate with a former Olympic Gold medalist. She was extremely sweet, very approachable and quite down to earth. It was amazing to hear her inspirational story and how much her parents gave up so she could pursue her dream.

Saturday was our last day in Sochi and that evening was the highlight of our entire trip. Dressed in our Olympic Ice Hockey jerseys, we attended the Team USA men’s hockey game vs. Russia. I can honestly say it was the best sporting event I have attended in my entire life. It was a nail biter of a game and at multiple times I thought the outcome might be different. However in a tense shootout, Team USA pulled out a win and the crowd went crazy! Even though there were probably 50-75 Russia fans for every US fan, the Russians had great sportsmanship. The never taunted the other fans or called names. Even after the game they were high-fiving us and asking for pictures with Bill and me.

One of the most surprising things about the trip was how wonderful we were treated by the people of Russia. Many of them spoke English and they often went out of their way to make sure those from other countries felt safe and welcomed in their country. Sochi failed but not in the way it was advertised on social media. Sochi failed in not living up to fear and negative hype. The country was beautiful, the people were warm and inviting, the Olympic Winter Games and venues were top notch and we felt safe and protected. It was truly the trip of a lifetime and something we will tell our grandkids about one day!

While social media was showing images of a distraught and run-down Sochi, our Modis Colleague paints a different picture from the trip of a lifetime! Here’s more from this exciting adventure:

It is hard to believe just a couple of weeks ago my fiancé, Bill, and I were in Sochi, Russia, at the Olympic Winter Games. We were invited just 6 weeks prior and, with all the media hype, really debated whether we should make the journey. We are so thankful we made the right decision as our time in Russia turned out to be the trip of a lifetime!

On Sunday, February 9th, we flew out of St. Louis to JFK. Bill and I had a few hour layover and then an overnight flight to Moscow. We purposely went a day early so we could spend some time in Moscow. It was late afternoon when we got to our hotel and we were completely wiped out. However, knowing we only had a couple hours of daylight left, we made the 4-5 block walk to see the Kremlin, Red Square and Saint Basil’s Cathedral. The architecture was amazing, but Moscow is freezing! We made the trek back to our hotel for a quick shower and then off to dinner at Nobu. Yes, we had amazing sushi in Russia!

Rosa Khutor Village Sochi OlympicsOn Tuesday, we had a seamless flight and even saw the Olympic Torch just before touching down in Sochi. Once on the ground we headed to our hotel in Rosa Khutor. This village is about a 45-minute drive from the airport and the location for all of the alpine events. On the drive, it was amazing to see the military personnel standing guard along the highway. Once at our hotel we received our welcome packet and agenda for the week. I am happy to say that our hotel was very nice, our room was beautiful and the food was great.

That evening, we bundled up and took a gondola ride to see the Men’s Halfpipe. I’m very afraid of heights, but the views from the top were amazing! Once at the halfpipe venue I was amazed to see how different it is in person. On television, you just cannot grasp how enormous and steep the halfpipe is. We had amazing seats and really enjoyed our first event of the Olympic Winter Games.

Police officers Rosa Khutor VillageOn Wednesday, we spent the morning walking around the Rosa Khutor village. It is an adorable little ski village with cute shops, restaurants and hotels. Again, there were police and military personnel stationed everywhere. Bill even convinced me to get my picture with a couple of the friendlier looking police officers. Later that day we were bused down to the Olympic Park (called the Coastal Cluster). Like the airport, security is extremely tight getting in and throughout the park. On television, you cannot get an idea of how enormous the park actually is. From the security checkpoint, it is a 30-minute walk to most venues. All of the arenas were beautiful, clean and top notch!

That afternoon, we were first row at the starting line for the Men’s Long Track speed skating. I was surprised to see the arenas in Sochi held so few people. It made it a much more intimate venue and you really felt like part of the event. Even though the U.S. did not do as well as expected, we were able to get some great pictures of this very exciting sport.

That evening, we went to the Pairs Figure Skating final. This was my second favorite event of the entire trip. The pairs who won silver and gold were unbelievable. When the duo that won gold finished their skating they were in tears and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. It was fantastic!

Check back later this week for more from this trip of a lifetime!

Nvidia and IBM Partner to Make Supercomputing Faster

Nvidia announced a partnership with IBM this week, to develop an interconnect unit. The unit will be integrated into future graphics processing units, allowing GPUs and CPUs to share data five times faster than they are able to now. The fatter pipe connection will allow data flow at rates higher than 80 GB per second, compared to just 16 GB per second today.  The interconnect is scheduled for release sometime in 2016. GPUs serve to help CPUs get work done faster.  A GPU has a fast but small memory, whereas a CPU has a large but slow memory. Together, the two work to produce faster supercomputing power.

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U.S. Tech Giants Knew NSA Gathered Data

Rajesh De, the senior lawyer for the National Security Agency, said on Wednesday that United States technology companies such as Yahoo and Google were fully aware that the surveillance agency was collecting data. Not only were they aware – they provided full assistance in the legally mandated collection of data. Nearly all companies listed as participating in the program including: Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, AOL, and Apple claimed they didn’t know about the surveillance practice. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, said he called President Barack Obama last week to voice his concerns about the damage the government is doing to the future. De also said that the NSA is not allowed to search for Americans’ data from communications taken directly off the Internet.

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Have you been watching March Madness while at work? Tell us how you are keeping up with all the action for your chance to win great prizes. Like us on Facebook and share your advice

March Madness Streaming at WorkIt’s that time of year: Brackets are flying and March Madness is tipping off. With any major online event, employers are faced with the decision on how to handle streaming of content. While many are opting to throttle, block or ban content, others are simply not taking any action. Inc. recently referenced our survey of IT professionals across the continental United States regarding how their companies handled March Madness in 2012 and 2013 in their article discussing whether or not employers should allow employees to stream non-work content

According to our study, between 2012 and 2013, the number of IT professionals who reported throttling, banning or blocking content significantly decreased. In 2012, 65 percent reported some sort of action – ranging from banning March Madness video, throttling video feeds, or outright blocking content – while only 48 percent did in 2013. Some infer that the increase in streaming content on mobile devices may have lessened the burden on IT professionals to make preparations for March Madness as the percentage of those not making any changes nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013.

Location may also play a part in an employer’s decision on streaming content – those in the West tended to be much more relaxed with their regulations than the rest of the country. The Midwest were the most likely to make changes in preparation for an event like March Madness that might cause network burden.

March Madness is just one of many examples of non-work content that employers are forced to face: Black Friday, social media sites, and other sporting events were often noted as network interruptions in the survey. Thirty percent of those we surveyed in 2013 reported that their departments monitor employees who are violating content policies, and twenty-four percent reminded employees of the content streaming policy in advance of March Madness.

At Modis, we’re always tracking trends and hot topics in IT and staffing. Click through the presentation below for all the details of our March Madness survey: