Data Anxiety

Tempus fugit

#evolution of technology

About the Hype Cycle »

nosql:

via Steve Francia on the NoSQL hype cycle[1]:

Technology trigger

As Facebook, Twitter and others saw them as solutions to their massive scalability problem (and because they were using relational databases for things they shouldn’t have) people began to see NoSQL as a panacea.

Peak of inflated expectations

Unfortunately knowing when to use the technology requires actual experience with it, which never seems to catch up to the hype engine quickly enough, so the technology transforms into a panacea, i.e. better at everything and ready to displace all predecessors.

Trough of Disillusionment

Current technologies exist because they do something well. When a new technology emerges it will likely be good at a different thing, meaning the two will co-exist.

hype cycle

Generalizable! This is a much-loved favorite.

engineering:

This is a VT220 serial console (circa 1983) set up as a terminal for my Mac Pro (circa 2010), a nerdy dream I’ve had for a long time that I finally made a reality yesterday.
Some quick history: in the early days of office computers, it was rare that you would actually have one on your desk.  Instead there might be a central mainframe (running Unix) and everyone would have a terminal that connected to it over a long serial cable or modem connection. One computer, many users.
The terminal has a keyboard and monitor, but it’s not a full computer and worthless without the mainframe.  It’s more like a teletype machine, all it can do is display the text sent to it (like a paperless printer) and send text back.  It doesn’t have any knowledge of pixels or colors or graphics of any kind.
In modern times we don’t have mainframes anymore, but Unix is more prevalent than ever.  It runs on the servers delivering this page and the iPhone in your pocket. For developers and power users the command line has never gone away, but instead of a dedicated hardware serial console we have Terminal.app (with translucent backgrounds and anti-aliased fonts).  The software is just emulating the old hardware, though.  The protocols haven’t changed much in 30 years.  The Unix underpinnings of OS X still have all the stuff required to use a real serial terminal, it’s just no one actually does it (well, almost no one).
I’ve always thought those old terminals were beautiful, and I’m not the only one—there’s a Mac app called Cathode that does a convincingly wonderful job simulating vintage terminals, using OpenGL to degrade things into a nice analog haze.  But it’s not quite the same as the real thing…
Hardware terminals regularly crop up on eBay for around $100.  They’re actually still used in a lot of places (old warehouse systems, supermarkets, banks) and there are still companies that support and refurbish them.  Back at Vimeo we discovered one abandoned in a server closet when we moved into the office.  Finding one isn’t a problem, the main challenge is stringing together the right adapters to use an ancient serial port with modern USB.
[see content source for details omitted here]
Eventually I found this page, which explains the problem and how to fix it.  After adding a line in /etc/gettytab to manually set the terminal type to vt220-8bit everything works perfectly!  A real hardware terminal directly connected the old fashioned way, with no emulation.  Awesome.
If this is something you want to attempt yourself please drop me a line; I learned a lot about how terminals work over the last couple weeks and the final result is quite satisfying, a soft amber glow and one less window on my desktop.  It’s also a nice reminder that we didn’t get to where we are overnight, user interfaces and software development have been evolving in an unbroken chain for a long time and some of the old ideas are so solid that they persist 30 years later. Why not use the proper hardware?

engineering:

This is a VT220 serial console (circa 1983) set up as a terminal for my Mac Pro (circa 2010), a nerdy dream I’ve had for a long time that I finally made a reality yesterday.

Some quick history: in the early days of office computers, it was rare that you would actually have one on your desk. Instead there might be a central mainframe (running Unix) and everyone would have a terminal that connected to it over a long serial cable or modem connection. One computer, many users.

The terminal has a keyboard and monitor, but it’s not a full computer and worthless without the mainframe. It’s more like a teletype machine, all it can do is display the text sent to it (like a paperless printer) and send text back. It doesn’t have any knowledge of pixels or colors or graphics of any kind.

In modern times we don’t have mainframes anymore, but Unix is more prevalent than ever. It runs on the servers delivering this page and the iPhone in your pocket. For developers and power users the command line has never gone away, but instead of a dedicated hardware serial console we have Terminal.app (with translucent backgrounds and anti-aliased fonts). The software is just emulating the old hardware, though. The protocols haven’t changed much in 30 years. The Unix underpinnings of OS X still have all the stuff required to use a real serial terminal, it’s just no one actually does it (well, almost no one).

I’ve always thought those old terminals were beautiful, and I’m not the only one—there’s a Mac app called Cathode that does a convincingly wonderful job simulating vintage terminals, using OpenGL to degrade things into a nice analog haze. But it’s not quite the same as the real thing…

Hardware terminals regularly crop up on eBay for around $100. They’re actually still used in a lot of places (old warehouse systems, supermarkets, banks) and there are still companies that support and refurbish them. Back at Vimeo we discovered one abandoned in a server closet when we moved into the office. Finding one isn’t a problem, the main challenge is stringing together the right adapters to use an ancient serial port with modern USB.

[see content source for details omitted here]

Eventually I found this page, which explains the problem and how to fix it. After adding a line in /etc/gettytab to manually set the terminal type to vt220-8bit everything works perfectly! A real hardware terminal directly connected the old fashioned way, with no emulation. Awesome.

If this is something you want to attempt yourself please drop me a line; I learned a lot about how terminals work over the last couple weeks and the final result is quite satisfying, a soft amber glow and one less window on my desktop. It’s also a nice reminder that we didn’t get to where we are overnight, user interfaces and software development have been evolving in an unbroken chain for a long time and some of the old ideas are so solid that they persist 30 years later. Why not use the proper hardware?

20 Years Of Data Storage Visualized »

DASD

The beauty of DASD: Direct Access Storage Devices.

I used to model the performance of these critters, long ago. I used queuing theory, seek and search, actuator fly height. Ask Cutlerish. He knows.

IBM GPD San Jose

We considered the DASD innards rather beautiful. Nearly everyone had a disk or two hanging on the wall, shinier and more reflective than any mirror I’ve ever seen. Look how well-made they were. This image reminds me of precision machining work.

I still think that DASD are beautiful.

This is a graphical representation of PC growth rates.
It is sort of outsize, for greater emphasis maybe?

This is a graphical representation of PC growth rates.

It is sort of outsize, for greater emphasis maybe?

“The trouble with integers is that we have examined only the very small ones. Maybe all the exciting stuff happens at really big numbers, ones we can’t even begin to think about in any very definite way. Our brains have evolved to get us out of the rain, find where the berries are, and keep us from getting killed. Our brains did not evolve to help us grasp really large numbers or to look at things in a hundred thousand dimensions.”

– by Ronald Graham via quadportnick