Today I realized that a quest I set out on long ago was achieved, and I don’t know how happy I am about it. As I look around my house, I see but one laptop running. The wife has a little Netbook, and you might count the Wii or evne the AT&T U-Verse cable boxes as computers, but when it comes down to it, the only thing I need is my 15″ laptop.
Back when I got into computers, I was cobbling together every little piece of funky hardware I could to build a pseudo-production network inside my house. I had an old AMD 5×86-133 based box that served as my firewall and router. I had a little AMD 900 with redundant cheap IDE disks that was my server. I ran Debian GNU/Linux on them because thats what all the smartest people I knew recommended, and it was incredible because it let me do everything I wanted to do my way, without making me do anything to get it working. Even though I had just a 56kbit modem connection, I used squid and heavy tuning to make it the best web browsing experience possible.. for.. me.
Oh sure, at work I had servers to play with and I definitely enjoyed work. But the autonomy of doing this my way, and learning new things, was what really made it a passion.
One of the most amazing things that came out of that exercise was the realization that while I had the most amazing modem based home network ever, I wasn’t always aware of what was going on. Sometimes I’d wonder, what the heck is going on?
Then I moved the little 5 port switch from behind the desk, to on top of the desk. Instantly, I felt better. I enjoyed watching the two little ports that my server and workstation were on blink themselves silly, almost solid, when I was copying a file over the network. And the constant little twinkles just made me feel good that my network was busy, useful, and active.
But what about the internet connection? What was it doing? I found the answer to this one in one of those great hacks that just makes you smile. tleds. This little program simply hooked into Linux’s networking stack and made the TX and RX functions on my modem force the keyboard LED’s on my server to blink. Now, my server actually didn’t have a keyboard before this, but I grabbed an old one from the closet, plugged it in, and concealed all but the keyboard LED’s so that it just blinked.
Why do these blinking lights make us feel better? I don’t know. But thats one thing lost in the cloud. No blinking lights. No feedback that its doing something.
Maybe somebody should make a ‘cloudleds’ command that blinks your keybaord when your cloud instances send and receive.