Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Year End Summary

It’s been almost a year since I started blogging. Sam Buchanan, who has been blogging since 2001, tried to get me started a couple times years ago, but I didn’t really think I had anything to write about, or maybe I thought that nobody would read what I wrote, or maybe I wouldn’t admit that I didn’t really know what  blog was, so I never started. My boss finally convinced me to start writing, and this blog is the result. I’m probably late to the party, as the trend seems to be shifted toward micro-blogs or Tweets. I’m a fan of well written, original thoughts in the longer blog format though, so that’s what I’ve tried to present here on this blog.

Here’s a short summary of the interesting posts from the first year.

Security related posts include a post on protecting yourself from your own applications.  It’s a concept that we’ve used for years that unbeknownst to me is closely related to Biba and BLP. Hopefully I’ve recorded the essence. I also wrote some thoughts on de-provisioning as related to security, and a bit on the recent shift toward applications as the target of Internet hacks.

System management posts include thoughts on minimally configuring systems, on ad hoc versus structured system management, and a proof of concept that we did a few years ago on self provisioning servers. I got thoroughly annoyed by the bloggers who ranted on about ISP’s that didn’t patch their DNS’s overnight, making no allowance for a reasonable test/QA cycle, so I wrote some thoughts on rapid patching versus availability.

Availability posts outlined essential transitions to higher availability, touched MTTR and MTBF and availability when humans are included, and availability versus complexity. I also wrote a series of posts on estimating the availability of redundant and non-redundant systems. (The availability related posts seem to catch more search engine referrals than anything else on the blog).

Other possibly interesting posts might be the one on scaling our on-line instructional management system to over 14 million page views per day. For some people, that’s a small system. For us, it’s our largest application by far, touching almost all students and faculty in the state. We also started calculating the rough cost of running certain database queries and feeding the data back to the application developers, figuring that optimization effort should be tied somehow to operational costs.

Non-nerdy posts include a couple posts on energy use for wall warts and game consoles, a couple posts on privacy in a security camera and database infested world, and my initial post and a follow up post on my annoyance at having to be tethered to a bulky computer or notebook.

And finally, a nostalgia post generated a bit of interest among the been-around-the-block readers.

It’s been interesting.

Michael Janke

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