What can earthquakes teach gamers? It can teach them the value of securing their hard drives and eliminating as much computer vibration as possible.
Take a look at this awesome chart over on SeatGeek. These guys track the performance of their website which is hosted on Amazon AWS servers in Virginia. These servers were close to the epicenter of yesterday's magnitude 5.8 earthquake which shook the East Coast. What effect did this have on Amazon's servers? Quite an effect!
But, I hear you say, couldn't this be down to the increased web traffic following the earthquake as people hit Twitter (and yes, Twitter news travels faster than an earthquake's seismic waves ... fact) and news sites? Maybe, but if that was the case why didn't the latency persist for longer than the period of the earthquake?
Vibrations can have quite a significant effect on disk latency, and even small vibrations can have noticeable effects. Here is a video by Brendan Gregg of Sun's Fishworks team showing the effect that shouting at a rack of disks can have:
More details on this video can be found here.
And this is why gamers (and everyone else interested in getting as much performance as possible out of their systems) should secure their hard drives correctly and work on reducing as much vibration as possible when gaming (those using solid state drives don't need to worry about this). And it doesn't take an earthquake to hit for your system to be affected - missing screws, rattling caddies, uneven surfaces and knocking a PC around while in use can have a significant effect on performance.
So secure those drives people!