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Podcast 034


Spolsky: Let's see if Jeff's in today...

Atwood: Hi Joel.

Spolsky: Hey Jeff.

Atwood: Another exciting episode of our podcast.

Spolsky: That's right. Only this one's not going to be so exciting.

Atwood: Boring. You're going to make this one boring?

Spolsky: You might as well. If you're a listener at home, just turn it off now.

Atwood: Save yourself!

Spolsky: Oh, I have something which we should talk about on today's podcast. We should have a section where we recommend gifts for geeks.

Atwood: You know, I've done that for the last 2 years on my blog, and I was kind of debating not doing it this year.

Spolsky: Well you can do it on the podcast and then you won't have to do it on the blog. Then that will solve that debate, if you were on the fence.

Atwood: OK. Did you want to start, since it's your topic?

Spolsky: We want people to listen to this show, and it's going to be awful, so let's do it towards the end.

Atwood: OK

Spolsky: It'll just be like a 'teaser'.

Atwood: A penalty for listening. (laughs)

Spolsky: (laughing) A penalty for listening to the whole thing! I swear to god I was listening to Twit, and they said HDMI cables are always a good gift.

Atwood: Are you serious?

Spolsky: If you know somebody, you know, it's a good gift if you know somebody that has their DVD player or their game, X-Box or something, plugged into the TV with one of those composite cables, like just a single...

Atwood: Right.

Spolsky: ...the one with the yellow RCA jack and nothing else, you might want to get them an HDMI cable.

Atwood: That's pretty exciting. You could also get them like an Ethernet cable.

Spolsky: Yeah. Cause they might not have that.

Atwood: Yeah, they might not have that. Cables, I think, make a great gift particularly for women in your life, I think.

Spolsky: (laughing) Forget jewelry and purses...

Atwood: (as if from experience) Oh they love cables, let me tell ya.

Spolsky: ...and handbags.

Atwood: Yeah, just get 'em like, pink cables, cause then it's for the ladies. That's the guideline I used for buying consumer products. If it's pink it's for women. That's how I know.

Spolsky: Yeah.

Atwood: Otherwise I have no idea.


Spolsky: You know what I like to do?  I go to Macys on the ground floor and you just look around at what people are looking at.  You find somebody in the demographic you want to buy a gift for and you follow them around and you see what they're ..

Atwood:Oh thats a good technique. Sort of like following people around.

Spolsky: Ya and if there's a particular handbag that they really like, you'd be like hmmm, ok I know nothing about handbags but this one caught your eye so I'm getting for my girlfriend.

Atwood:Thats a good technique.

Spolsky: What are we supposed to talk about today actually?

Atwood: Well I can mention something thats actually stack overflow news. So I wrote a blogpost about deciding to rent versus buy. It is essentially now decided we are going to buy.  Because I actually bought some stuff

Spolsky: Its like.  Well if you buy you get a new server delivered to your house that you can play with.

Atwood: Right.  So I'm actually really really excited about the server like probably a little too excited actually.  Cos its the first time I've ever built up like a real enterprise class RAID array, with the hardware and its going to be really fun I have all the drives sitting here, just waiting for the server to arrive.  So thats my christmas gift to myself. The gift of building your own server.

Spolsky: Wait, when you say build enterprise class RAID array. Exactly what are you talking about there?

Atwood: Well, this is going to be raid 10.

Spolsky: WOW

Atwood: Which is beyond RAID 5.

Spolsky: WOW.  Its like double RAID 5!

Atwood: Its like double RAID 5!  Actually I want to do a blog post about RAID because I'm kindof interested in all the differnt levels and when you would choose one above the other, but RAID 10 doesn't have some of the limitations of RAID 5. The disadvantage is it uses more drives and we're using 6 drives.  But drives are so cheap cos you just use you know commodity SATA drives.  I did buy the enterprise SATA drives the ones that are supposed to last longer

Spolsky: I thought with RAID 10 you have to have a power of four? No?

Atwood: No, I think its three.  I think it can be either three or six? I'm doing six.

Spolsky: Ok.

Atwood: There is a storage penalty.  If you only use three drives they have to be really big drives.

Spolsky: I thought RAID 10 was just mirroring plus.  Mirroring plus striping?

Atwood: I believe it is.  Its a combination of one and zero.  Thats why its 10.

Spolsky: Right

Atwood: Sometimes they call it Oh One. You know what I mean?

Spolsky: Ya.

Atwood: I don't what to get too into the details right now because honestly I need to read up on it more.  I know its better than RAID 5 for sure.  Everything I've read indicates that RAID 10 is the way to go, it's the prefered solution.  And we can do it on the Lenova Think servers that we're getting.

Spolsky: OK, go RAID.  There's 0 which is where you just have two copies of everything, that gives you some protection and then there's 1 where you have striping which puts the first 4 bits of every byte on one drive and the next 4 bits on the other drive so you get better performance you get double the performance but at the risk that if one of them dies you lose everything. 10 is sort of a combination of both.  Where you get the performance and the striping benefits.

Atwood: Well that is true, from the little that I've read about it, what you've said is accurate  

Spolsky: Ok, good, cos that's all I know.

Atwood: Yes.

Spolsky: Ask me anything else and I just shut down. <Makes Robot-noise.> Like a little robot.

Atwood: We also, we found a provider that we think we like.  The advantage of this provider; I dont want to give any names yet because we're not 100% sure yet. There in Corvalis Oregan which is where Geoff Dalgas lives another member of the stackoverflow team.  See the advantage is if something horribly wrong happens, and I'm going to buy extra parts. One this that came out of the comments on that blog post was people say you've got to buy hot spares.

Spolsky: They can be cold.

Atwood: Well I'll have multiple hard drives.   Hard drives are cheap that's a no brainer to get those.  I think we're going to buy one extra, we're going to get two, one 2 U, like one really beefly server for the database.  I'm going to get another 1U, cos those are really cheap they're like 6 - 700 bucks, I mean for bare bones.  You add more memory.  Those are super cheap.  I'll get another 1U just to have around if we want to have like two web tiers or something like that or it can just be a hot spare, I'm not entirely sure yet.

Spolsky: It's fun to buy. Boxes.

Atwood:  Well you and I had talk about this and I think what really attracts me to this and you and I think alike on this is having control.

Spolsky:  It really is. Its all about the control.

Atwood: You really need control. Full control over the hardware.  Our host has done a great job.  I feel kind of mean doing this to crystaltech because they've been so nice to us and we get such a great rate with them, but I think as this business concern moves forward I need a fine level of control.  Just like I have a fine level of control over the code, right, that was the whole point of doing this versus just using some cms system.

Spolsky: uhmmm

Atwood: Same thing applies to the hardware .  i want a really find level of control, and I'm willing to accept the risk of something going wrong.

Spolsky: We could have used phpBB.

Atwood: [Laughs] Its just a bulliten Board with a skin.  A Stackoverflow skin. Its revolutionary.

Spolsk: [Laughs]

Atwood: So thats the one bit of Stack overflow news.

Spolsky:  Its all about the control.  You know I've just reread this week because I havent read it in so long?  George Orwells 1984.

Atwood: You reread 1984?  What prompted you to do this?

Spolsky: Its been a long time and its a classic.  The kind of book if you havent read it since, and I was thinking about when I read it 1984 was pretty far off, in fact I definitely remember being in the junior high school library reading that book. Sitting in the library in junior high.

Atwood:  Well my school career was such that we read 1984 in 1984.  Right.

Spolsky: Ohh

Atwood: Well it was the obvious thing to do.  The year was 1984 what do we do for english class?  Well you read George orwells 1984.

Spolsky:  But that doesn't follow, but OK.

Atwood: [Laughs]. What do you mean? Its the year that's on the book.

Spolsky: [Laughs] Ok.




Chris: Hi Jeff and Joel, my name is Chris and I've been a software developer for about 16 years. I've often said that the main job of a development manager is to insulate the developers from customers, users, managers, etc. However, I found that when I get to talk to customers and users, I learn a lot more about what applications are supposed to do, what problems I have, and what the real requirements are that I can't get from specs, etc. How important do you think it is for developers to actually have interactions with the customers, the users, and other stakeholders? Thanks.

Spolsky: This is the classic... there's a dillema. Because on the one hand people say, and on the other hand... and now we have a simple rhetorical task in front of us - to somehow coalesce these two ideas to somehow find a middle ground - to say, "You know, it's neither one or the other: there's a middle ground in there".

Atwood: [Laughs] No, I think it's always one or the other. You have to stop programming and just be fulltime customer-support. Programming is a waste of time.

Spolsky: Wait, ok, wait a minute, you were being ironic...



Last Modified: 2/19/2009 11:13 PM

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