The Hardware Behind “The Cloud”

I just read this New York Times article about the vast data centers that power the Internet “Cloud”. I realize this is a very boring topic for most people, but for nerds such as myself it’s really interesting read. I’ve always wondered what kind of hardware is behind the data centers that places like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo would have. We have a number of servers at our work that we maintain, but I simply cannot imagine having 45,000 servers in one data center, let alone multiple data centers as Google does.

Nerdery Links

  • Jeff Attwood, of Coding Horror, had a really good post about the default installation of WordPress not coming with any built in caching. If your WordPress site gets any decent traffic, you have to install some sort of caching plugin. In fact, Dreamhost 1-click installs come with wp-cache already installed. Thankfully, there is a Google Summer of Code project for adding caching capabilities to WordPress. Also, if you take a look at the article linked above, Jeff has updated his post to reflect some MySQL config params given to him by Matt Mullenwag, the creator of WordPress, which should help optimize the DB for WordPress.
  • The cause of Jeff’s post about WordPress is a new site he’s developing called Jeff is partnering with Joel, of Joel on Software fame, on this new venture. The purpose of the site is to be a place where people can ask programming related questions. Oh, and it’s free. Unlike Experts Exchange, which, if memory served me, used to partially free at some time, but then went totally pay-site and consequently totally blows. That site sucks because it gets linked too all the time when you google your question. However, when you try and see the A+ rated answer, or whatever it is now, it tells you that to see it you’ve got to pay. Hopefully Stack Overflow will be a really useful site and I can stop accidentally following links to Experts Exchange.
  • A little while ago, I read about a few new interesting updates to Amazon’s Grid services. Namely, adding elastic IPs, which is just programmatically reassigning IPs instead of doing it at a DNS level. They added some availability zones, but I wouldn’t be doing anything that would care where the data center was geographically, but perhaps it would matter to someone. And finally, they plan to add some persistent storage offerings for their EC2 platform. Normally, storage is handed off to their S3 service, but apparently you’ll be able to allocate large chunks of storage whenever you need to solely on the EC2 side of things.
  • How much ass has the Webkit team been kicking lately? Earlier this week they released CSS Reflections, a few days before that they came out with CSS Masks, and before that it was CSS Gradients. Reflections remind me of that Java Applet people used to have on their blogs, well before they were called blogs, where you would supply an image – almost always a water related image – and it would add a water flowing effect to the bottom of it. Ah, the day. I’m sure some neat stuff will come out of all this. Especially for products that directly use the Webkit engine. Safari usually has a lag time of a few months before it gets new Webkit goodies. All these recent additions make me think that you’ll need to use a lot less image-mojo to get the designery effects you desire in your designs. Well, as soon as all relevant browsers support them. What’s nice is that Webkit is offering these features to the W3C WG as potential future specs.

Anywho, that’s it for now. I just had a few links in my feed reader that I’ve been meaning to comment on. Have a nice day.

Fun Stuff Coming in MySQL 6

According to someone who is liveblogging The Future Of MySQL, MySQL 6, which is currently in alpha, will have some interesting new features that I’m pretty excited to see:

  • a non-blocking replacement of mysqldump for all engines – InnoDB isn’t blocking because it’s transactional, but MyISAM tables are blocking
  • a new default, transactional storage engine – replacing InnoDB as the default I assume?
  • foreignKeys will be in all storage engines – handy

Lots of neat stuff.

My Most Popular Shell Commands

The following command, well combined commands, will give you a list of your ten most used shell commands. Just nerdy, really.

$ history|awk '{a[$2]++} END{for(i in a){printf "%5d\t%s ",a[i],i}}'|sort -rn|head

82  grep
74  svn
68  cd
53  ls
31  top20
26  emacs
22  system
17  less
14  rm
13  su

Via James