Archive | March 15, 2003

A new $400 server

So, we need a spare machine as a file and print server to let us straddle the transition of existing machines and make an on-disk backup of essential systems. (Current backup strategy is CD-Rs, ZIP disks, and duplicated spindles). The problem is that the machine with all of the hard disk space to store the backups is also the one getting the overhaul (including a DAT tape backup) so we can make the industrial-strength backups that we need. So, Steve and I hit the web, scouting OEM sites for a cheap, simple server. It needs a CPU, a NIC and a hard disk. Most everything else is optional.

So, here’s what we ended up with:

  • Biostar M7VKQ w/Duron 1300 CPU, integrated sound, video and NIC, $96 at Tom’s Computer Warehouse
  • Generic case with 300W power supply
  • Generic CD-R (56x), floppy, 256 Mb RAM
  • 100 Gb 7200 RPM Maxtor HD on sale at the local big box for $89

Total damages, with shipping $400. We’ll dig a 14″ VGA monitor, keyboard and mouse out of the cellar for the time needed to set it up, and then operate it remotely after that. Quite a good deal!

Nature abhors a vacuum….

… and your stuff always expands infinitely to fill your space. A few years ago, when Steve and I assembled my last desktop tower development workstation (Athlon Thunderbird 800, 512 Mb RAM – woo-hoo!), we installed a 40 Gb boot disk and striped two 30 Gb drives on the built-in Highpoint RAID controller (KT7-RAID motherboard, for those of you into those things). So who’s ever going to need that much space?

After several years of faithful service, the machine is getting re-assigned as a file and intranet server. Re-deployed and re-tasked, as the PHB in me would like to say. And I have to clean up the mess. And what a mess it is. With an infinite amount of disk space, you hardly ever have to clean up after yourself :). I’m a faily well-organized guy, so lots of the software is just where it should be. My 4-CD collection of movie trailers and their backups, my Install directory, with all the files I’ve installed on the machines. Backups of those machines which have gone before us.

But some of the little junk is amazing. The Install directory was 11 gigabytes in size. Something’s wrong there. It turned out that I had full RTM ISOs of VFP 7, VFP 8, Mandrake 8.1, RedHat 7.3 and 8.0 and lots of other treasured little goodies lying around. Figuring out what to burn to CD for posterity and what to dump is going to take a while…

Who said?

“There are only twenty-three problems in computing and we solve them again and again.”

I heard the quote from Larry Barnes, then of the “Bob and Larry Show” at the local Microsoft office, now with Accenture, last I checked. He didn’t claim the quote as original and I, as well as he, may have paraphrased it. Does anyone know the original source?

It does certainly ring true. I have coded the linked lists, the tree traversal, the parent-child-grandchild, the move-the-program-pointer and pop-the-stack, etcetera, etcetera. There only only a finite catalog of problem patterns and we solve them over and over again. But I would like to give the original author some credit. Any leads?

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.