Techno Savior

This is the first part in my series on 5 life lessons that I learned from Labor Day weekend in 2005, while volunteering with efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

On that Monday and Tuesday I served in a temporary data center for a 6,000 person shelter that had been setup at the River Centre in Baton Rouge, LA.  As a computer guru and web application developer, I knew that a few technology tweaks could make this data processing much more useful.  It was frustrating to be there and know that something better could be done.

Then on the drive back to Illinois on Wednesday, we were listening to a Steel on Steel podcast and they were talking about how technology could possibly solve our oil shortage.  I was like, “Yeah… technology can solve any problem.”

Then, suddenly, I realized what I was saying.  I really did tend to think that technology can fix any problem.  Technology is amazing.  It can solve starvation, resource scarcity, data analysis, recovery from natural disasters, etc.  It can literally save people.  Or can it?   Can technology fix all our problems?  I sure tend to think it can if we can just wrap our minds around a solution.

I realized that much of the time I look to technology to fix us, instead of God.  The world’s core problems can only be solved by God.  My deepest problems can only be made right by God’s miraculous touch.

If I don’t watch myself, I start to worship technology, rather than the one who created order to our world and gave us the left and right parts of our brains in order to develop and apply technology to our worlds.

Lord, help me to rely only on you and realize daily that technology is something you created for us to use to glorify you.

How do you tend to worship technology?  What else do you worship instead of God?  Politics?  Wealth?

Distributed Storage on Your Desktops

So, wouldn’t it be cool if your organization didn’t just have a few centralized file servers and backup solutions?  What if you could have racks of servers distributed throughout your entire organization that could act as redundant storage for your file servers and backup servers?  And wouldn’t it be awesome if you could have all this without increasing your current hardware budget?  Or even decrease it?  Impossible you say?  Well, maybe not.

You probably already have several distributed servers in your organization.  But, instead of calling them servers, you probably call them desktops.  But, what’s the difference between a server and a desktop?  What’s the difference between a client and service?  Can’t we start to blend the lines between these?

It’d be like implementing Grid computing into your organization.  Or similar to RAID, which used to mean redundant array of inexpensive disk. Why not a redundant network of inexpensive storage servers?  Most modern desktops have an under-utilized CPU, network connection, and hard drive.  Why not make them useful?

It’d be like P2P in the organization, but it’d have lots of extra features like permissions, levels of redundancy, dynamic network topography mapping, distribution of data, search features, fault tolerance, version history, etc.

It’s like taking RAID, ZFS, a distributed file system, drive mirroring, backup software, data integrity, and a search engine and packaging it all into a desktop client that acts as a P2P server.  It’d ideally be integrated into common directory services like LDAP, Active Directory, and Open Directory.

I doubt this is an original idea.  In fact I seem to remember talking about this general concept (probably involving ZFS) with a coworker a couple months back.

What do you think?  Could it work?
Does anything like this exist already?
What other features would be useful?

5 Lessons from Katrina

At the beginning of this year I tried to post a series of blogs about what I learned in 2007.  I never did get past the first post, because I quickly realized that I didn’t really grasp yet what I’d learned in 2007.  It’s often hard to look at your recent past and fully understand what you’re in the process of learning.

But, tonight I was reminded of a huge thing I learned during Labor Day weekend in 2005.  That was the weekend following disaster in the Gulf Coast, known as Hurricane Katrina.  As I was thinking about this one lesson that I learned that particular weekend, I realized that there were some other lessons I learned that weekend.  And each of these were really huge, significant lessons that have shaped my life since then.

So, this is an introduction to 5 key lessons that I learned from the weekend after Hurricane Katrina.  Read about my 5 lessons here over the next few days:

  1. Techno Savior
  2. A Little Less Action, and a Lot More Talk
  3. Pray Tell What?
  4. It’s Safer Driving from the Back Seat
  5. Shouldn’t This Be Less Fun?

One of the habits that I want to develop is documenting my life lessons and glimpses of when I’m certain God showed me something.  These lessons from this one weekend are just that.

How do you remember when you learn a life lesson?  How far after an experience do you typically need to be to understand what that experience has taught you?