Hard drive capacities: a 2008 retrospective

I wrote about buying a 320 GB drive back in 2008. Here’s a random snippet:

I wonder what the capacity of the drive I buy in 2009 will be? Will they have 30TB drives by then you reckon?

This was a typo, I meant to say 2019. Hey, that’s now!

We don’t have commercially available 30 TB drives today, but 10 to 12 TB drives are common. The bigger shift since then has been to SSDs, which now eclipse that 7200 RPM drive I bought back then.

2019 MacBook Pros

Apple announced their new line of MacBook Pros in the 13 and 15-inch sizes. No word of the mythical 16-inch the rumour mills were obsessed with a few short months ago.

Let’s address the concerns first. Their press release made no mention of the keyboard; an odd and elephant-in-room sized omission given the press coverage has even spilled over to mainstream publications now. The imitable Jim Dalrymple got a comment from Apple, emphasis added:

To address the problem, Apple said they changed the material in the keyboard’s butterfly mechanism that should substantially reduce issues that some users have seen.

This isn’t the redesign people with keyboard issues were asking for. The user-hostile bufferfly mechanism has fundamental durability and ergonomic issues inherient in its design. Warranty programmes address the symptoms but not the cause; they just need to be replaced. And nobody has delivered a compelling use for the touchbar, not even Apple.

I’m also unsure how useful a new 8-core CPU will be to a computer with a chassis that can’t thermally handle its current ones. I used my first-generation MacBook Pro on a cooling pad when docked at my desk; perhaps that will ultimately be the solution here as well.

On the plus side, is an overused phrase. At least Apple are hitting a cadence with Mac updates for the first time in a while; it was getting difficult as a long-term Mac fan to see a future for the ecosystem when even the main manufacturer seemingly didn’t care.

Here’s hoping the MacBook Pro was rushed out now so they can spend time at WWDC announcing the new Mac Pro. I’ve half-stepped out of the Mac ecosystem at this stage, but I still love macOS and want to see it continue to be a viable workstation.

When did you learn version control?

Speaking of podcasts, I listened to another one a few weeks ago where version control was discussed. It could have been CoreInt, or ATP again. Anyway the hosts asked each other when they learned it, and concluded they had to pick it up on the job.

I assumed I’d formally learned it somewhere, but realised it came later than I expected:

  • I did Software Design and Development and Information Processes and Technology for the HSC at the Australian International School in Singapore, which would have been a lot of abbreviations had I typed them as IPT as SDD for the HSC at the AIS. No version control.

  • Then I did a stint of computer science at UniSA. No version control.

  • Then when I went back to uni and became a biscuit at UTS to learn more of the information and business sides, we touched Subversion once, briefly, in a single subject.

The argument against learning VC is individual tools are constantly either in vogue or not, so it’s not valuable to teach a specific toolchain. I don’t buy that; there’s plenty you can learn about checking out code, branching, merging, and conflict resolution that would broadly apply to any reasonable tool. Most of the problem domain is people as well, so there are soft skills around collaboration that can be explored.

Checking out the NetBSD pkgsrc system with CVS was my first experience with VC, but my first commits were all with Subversion. I learned hg on my own time for personal projects, then reluctantly picked up Git long after the industry had spoken. One early company I worked at used Perforce, but I never touched it.

It was only when I started the last couple of jobs that I learned version control seriously, and I would still only classify my understanding as intermediate at best.

Luminary and the future of indie podcasting

Doc Searls ran a BloggerCon 2004 talk on Making Money:

How would you like it if, every time you got a phone call, you had to listen to an advertisement as well? Have you ever asked, How do I make money with my telephone? Or, What’s the business model of my telephone? Or, What’s the business model of my water cooler? My front porch? My patio?

The same conversation is now replaying a decade and a half later with podcasts, with the same confusion and mistakes Doc identified.

Ceding control to a centralised delivery mechanism

I was listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast gents discuss podcasting, this time in the context of Luminary. For those with lives outside the minutia of online broadcasting, Luminary is the latest attempt to create a closed podcast platform with exclusive content and a paid subscription model. They’re not the first; Spotify have made a similar play, and plenty before them.

Similar play… podcasts… aw man, that was good.

I share their concerns. Podcasts have been resilient thus far in attempts to host them away on the one platform. The Western world turns to YouTube for video; Facebook and Twitter have social networks stitched up. It would be a shame and a waste to let arguably one of the last bastions of independent production online fall into the hands of one distributor. The web was supposed to be better than this.

(And before the comparison is drawn, I don’t consider iTunes to be the same. At best it’s an aggregator with an index, but you can still produce, host, and distribute it wherever you want).

Veiled elitism

But then the discussing shifted, perhaps inevitably, to funding. I’d like to call attention to these points the ATP guys raised:

  • The threat that subscription-only platforms with exclusive content have to the definition of podcasting.

  • John Siracusa mentioned that all independent podcasters need are “studios and microphones”.

  • Marco Arment discussed that small podcasters have difficulty monetising, and thus far the best efforts of developers like himself to make them viable haven’t worked thus far.

While I agree with the first point, it’s worth remembering this isn’t the first time podcasting changed. It was originally envisaged by Dave Winer as a simple, RSS-powered delivery mechanism; no more, no less. You could include small audio snippets, videos, images, anything.

It was awesome. I started my own silly recordings back in 2003, then my own sporatic show in 2005 which I still do. I still have copies of all those early recordings I downloaded from other people’s feeds. Some were shows in the sense of radio, others were snippets recorded on the way to a train. They’re all valuable.

Whether intentional or not, there’s a whiff of elitism in the above prognostications which harm the community. You most definitely do not need a studio or a fancy microphone; heck recordings from your phone are sufficient if you have great ideas. I cannot overstate my belief in this; everyone has something interesting to say, and podcasting affords people a way to do so.

An ad-sponsored, network podcast show personality said a few years ago that all independent podcasters must meet minimum production quality standards, or people will tar the entire podcast medium with their amateur brush. This self-defeating attitude plays right into the hands of the larger companies trying to take this ecosystem for themselves, and needs to die in the dumpster fire it crawled out of.

It’s not all about the money

And finally, the bulk of any discussion about this medium inevitably gets given to thoughts about money-making potential. Not whether we can make production more accessible to more people, or how we can organise ourselves for better discoverability, or how independent hosting can work, but profit. This speaks volumes.

I wish it were easier to monetise for people who want to go down that route, but the measure of a podcast’s success isn’t whether it can make money. By tacitly or overtly claiming it is, we’ve already conceded defeat.


Australia lost, again

Early election results indicate Australia has elected in its right-wing Coalition again. The polls all indicated a wipeout, but they were howlingly wrong. As Joseph de Maistre opined, every nation gets the government it deserves.

I’ve threatened to stop talking about politics here a few times. But I’m truly done.

As I said on Twitter, it’s also time to do some soul searching. I moved back to Australia with family, but I’m increasingly not seeing a future for myself here. I think deep down I already knew it, but this is confirmation. Where to go next?

Bob Hawke

A Hawke’s Lager

Michael W. Lucas: Control your platform

I have but a few role models, and Michael W. Lucas is one of them. And I couldn’t have said it better myself:

To the Tumblr refugees: welcome!

Having been on the Internet for over thirty years, I have one piece of advice for creative folks working online:

Control Your Platform.

Don’t build a business around Facebook, Tumbler, G+, Geocities, MySpace, AltaVista, or any of these other third parties that claim to offer quick and easy results.

They all go away. Every one of them.

Build your own site. Use third parties to steer people to your site.

Third parties are the devil–useful devils, but devils.

Goodbye tanakasuka, my last RAIDZ-1 ZFS pool

I’m deconstructing my oldest personal ZFS pool after more than four years of flawless service. It was built with 4× 3 TB WD Blue drives for Clara’s and my Plex media backend, running on an HP Gen8 Microserver.

  pool: tanakasuka
 state: ONLINE
  scan: scrub repaired 0 in 17h57m with 0 errors on Thu May  9 10:59:20 2019
        NAME                      STATE     READ WRITE CKSUM
        tanakasuka                ONLINE       0     0     0
          raidz1-0                ONLINE       0     0     0
            diskid/DISK-BAY0.eli  ONLINE       0     0     0
            diskid/DISK-BAY1.eli  ONLINE       0     0     0
            diskid/DISK-BAY2.eli  ONLINE       0     0     0
            diskid/DISK-BAY3.eli  ONLINE       0     0     0

She’s being upgraded with 2× 10 TB HGST drives in a ZFS mirror, for a few reasons:

  • more capacity,
  • performance,
  • to free up two drive bays, and
  • because I trust mirrors over RAIDZ-1 for these larger drives.

Thanks FreeBSD, GELI, ZFS, Western Digital, and HP!

And for those wondering about the name, it’s a concatenation of Tanaka Asuka’s name from Hibike! Euphonium, everyone’s favourite bespekled tuba player. Kyoto Animation are known for their high production values and beautiful art, but their rendition of this series by Ayano Takeda and Nikki Asada was something else.

The official key visual above was drawn by Akaya Nagahama.

SE.RA.PH: Defeat 10 servants from the East

For those of your eleventh-houring the Fate/Extra CCC SE.RA.PH event in the English Fate/Grand Order, you may have been as confused as me as to the description of this Mission Reward:

Defeat 10 servants from the East

I was doing quests along the eastern arm on both sides, but not getting anywhere. Not to get all B.B. on you, but turns out, they’re referring to East as in East Asian. So you’re looking for servants like this.

I don’t like following guides; I think they detract from the sponteneousity and fun of the game. But perhaps I should cheat a little sometimes to save confusion.


Microsoft Linux or IBM Linux

XioNYC’s tweet, with appropriate news links added:

1980s: MS-DOS or PC-DOS
2020s: Microsoft Linux or IBM Linux

The only nitpick I had: PC DOS didn’t have a hyphen. It’s a common mistake given MS-DOS did have one. Perhaps that’s why FreeDOS eschew (gesundheit) the space entirely.