Not quite knowing what you are doing

I retweet a lot of stuff I find interesting, but sometimes there’s something that really sticks with me which deserves more than a retweet. Here’s one of them:

Work is most fulfilling when you’re at the comfortable, exciting edge of not quite knowing what you are doing.


It reminds me of the advice to Be the Worst, where musicians found that the “worst” person in an orchestra would kind of automatically adapt and play up to the level of his peers. Thrust yourself into situations where you’re “at the comfortable, exciting edge of not quite knowing what you’re doing,” surrounded by people above your level, and you’ll have a hard time not growing.

Half a Petabyte in 4U

OK, so first up, I flat up lied; it’s only 480TB. But that’s how storage marketing goes, right?

I just caught mention of Dell’s MD3060e Dense Enclosure, an insane 4U storage enclosure that accommodates 60x 3.5″ hard drives. (Five trays of 12 disks each.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-16 at 11.39.02 PM

Here’s one on eBay, with 60x 4TB disks for a mere $38,999.

I also learned in the past week about shingled magnetic recording, a new technology for spinning magnetic disks that allows much greater density, at the cost of some stranger semantics on how data is written. It’s how Seagate already has an 8TB drive on the market, at an oddly low price.

I’ve also been playing around with ZFS (on Linux) lately. I’m building a file server with 3x 6TB drives (RAIDz1, akin to RAID 5), and 2x 512GB SSDs for cache/ZIL. I have a lot of kinks to work out still, but the idea is that ‘popular’ content will get auto-cached on the SSDs, backed by magnetic storage. A modest bit of SSD space is set aside for ZIL, where writes forcing a sync can be written to SSD and then later written to spinning disks. I suspect that the “SSD as cache in front of slower magnetic storage” paradigm will grow in popularity until SSDs become cheap enough that magnetic storage is entirely obsolete. Things like shingled drives would seem to make that even more important.

I feel like this would be a really exciting combination to play around with, if only I had the money and the need for almost a half-petabyte of storage.

‘coding’ and ‘hacker’ make the State of the Union

Twitter user @benmschmidt tweeted last night a list of words that have never appeared in a State of the Union address before:

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 11.19.04 AM

It’s case-sensitive, so things like “internet” (previously spelled as a proper noun in official transcripts) and “Understand” (surely used before, but maybe not at the start of a sentence) are probably erroneous. (And it’s also been suggested that “healthcare” has always been used as two words.)

But it’s exciting to see that the words “coding” and “hacker” make an appearance in a State of the Union address. (Plus reference to eBay, Tesla, and Instagram. I’m hoping “CVS” was not a reference to the version control system.)

The appearance of “lesbian”, “bisexual”, and “transgender” in the address also seems like a sign of progress.