Saturday, January 19, 2013

A boy and his erector set

This week parts of my fifth erector set have been arriving. To the right here is a picture I found out there of my first set, which I dearly loved of everything Santa Claus ever brought me and with which I built all sorts of cool things. It was a pretty dangerous toy: if you put your finger into the gearing of the motor power take-off box, you'd get it seriously shredded.

You can't buy such a thing anymore, but the whole concept has been handily replaced by a different sort of erector set. I'm on my fourth, it's called parts for a computer.

Indeed, as soon as the last piece, the case, arrives next week, I'll assemble a new computer designed to replace my web server (eventually) and serve as a platform for me to cement my understanding of managing a professional data center using VMware vSphere to manage the virtual machines (VMs) I will create. Each VM is in fact a virtual computer host that behaves as if separate from its siblings. So, it's like one great big computer masquerading as several, separate ones. I'll also be using software called Chef to manage what ultimately populates any VM I create with software. It's more or less a tiny part of what I do at work.

For example, my brother has such a set-up in which he uses separate VMs to be 1) a PBX (telephone exchange system), 2) a network router, 3) and one or two other things at home.

My usage will be 1) my primary web server, 2) one or more applications running on Tomcat on separate VMs and 3) a set of MongoDB database replica nodes consumed by those applications.

Below, in conch-shell order beginning with the big, black power supply at top left: DVD drive, two 2Tb hard disks that will be put into a RAID 0 configuration (if VMware will support that), the motherboard, the CPU fan, the Intel i5-2500K quad core CPU clocked at a stock 3.3GHz, a scrap of metal to put over the connectors on the back plane, two 8Gb DIMM memory sticks, an orange SATA cable, two black SATA cables, a small package of screws and a utility knife (for opening packages or for my wrists if things don't go well—all depending).

Should be fun.


  1. You forgot to mention that if you insert your finger into a particular spot inside that black box in the corner, you could do almost as much damage as the gears of your original erector set.


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