Paul Murphy

<p>Originally a Math/Physics graduate who couldn't cut it in his own field, Paul Murphy (a pseudonym) became an IT consultant specializing in Unix and related technologies after a stint working for a DARPA contractor programming in Fortran and APL. Since then he's worked in both systems management and consulting for a range of employers including KPMG, the government of Alberta, and his own firm. In those roles he's "been there and done that" for just about every aspect of systems management and operation.</p>

Latest Posts

ZFS/Flash and the climate debacle

ZFS/Flash and the climate debacle

One of the striking things about the Oracle presentations this week was the extent to which the new technologies our perception of what can be done within reasonable cost constraints. Five years ago it was possible to imagine storing data about every cubic kilometer of the earth's bio-sphere - but you couldn't actually do it at a supportable cost. Today you can - and there are lots of other projects that just weren't do-able even last year, but are now.

published January 29, 2010 by

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A business problem

A business problem

I'm in an unusual position here: I know I'm right, I just have no idea why - I know, almost as many "I"s as you find in a Obama speech, but this is an interesting problem and one a lot of IT and business managers confront every day: if you don't have quantitative data, how can you know you're right?

published January 8, 2010 by

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Predictions for 2010

Predictions for 2010

T'was the day after Christmas and all through the house there was.. well, nothing but doom, gloom, and a whole bunch of predictions for 2010 - many of which I hope will be be wrong.

published December 25, 2009 by

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The Hoffman files: counting votes in NY23

The Hoffman files: counting votes in NY23

For IT people what's the lesson from the NY District 23 electoral fiasco? When you buy a hammer, you find yourself compelled to use nails as fasteners - and if a couple of nails don't the do the job the tendency is to drive in a few more until the nail holes themselves weaken the structure to the point of collapse. When that happens, as it seems to have in NY 23, it typically isn't the process that's wrong, it isn't the people, and it certainly isn't the nails or the lumber - the fault ultimately comes back to the decision to buy a hammer.

published December 4, 2009 by

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Sympathy, and thanks, for Harry

Sympathy, and thanks, for Harry

Reading through the programmer's notes released as part of the Hadley leak had me squirming in sympathy with the writer(s). Data that's supposed to say one thing saying another, data with no referents, measures or provenance; bad code with magical jumps to right answers hard coded right in? been there - seen all that. What bothered me, however, was how this mess got so far out of hand: one mistake piled on another, one compromise after another, and another - why didn't this guy hang his employers out to dry years ago?

published November 27, 2009 by

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Educating IT decision makers

Educating IT decision makers

When you tell a user decision maker that thing X will work better for some job than thing Y, are you an educator or an advocate? Think you know? try it with specifics: "Linux is better than Windows for web services." Education or advocacy? that is indeed the question - and it's not just words words words - this kind of thing has real consequences, for your company, for your career - and for the technology you prefer.

published November 20, 2009 by

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Shopping at the second-hand server store

Shopping at the second-hand server store

Virtualization or not - you're still spending too much on hardware if you buy it new. Whether you need one server or a pallet load, it's all available at 15-20% of the original price, for equipment that is only 2 - 4 years old, made by your favorite manufacturers.

published November 17, 2009 by

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An interesting exchange on politics and IT

An interesting exchange on politics and IT

A reader's question about how I can recouncile right wing political views with the belief that the market has it generally wrong on technology had me reaching for my tulip (and Enron, and Google, and Bre-X) sales brochures -but then I realized that this was an opportunity to hype the organizational tools and structures that free users from IT arrogance.

published November 13, 2009 by

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The real pros and cons of server virtualization

The real pros and cons of server virtualization

PC style virtualization, derived from IBM's zVM ideas and now supported in both AMD and Intel hardware, is a revenant of data processing's failure to adapt to the age of digital computing - an expensive, user punishing, detour into 1920s management ideas in pursuit of that period's holy grail: 100% systems utilization.

published November 6, 2009 by

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