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Welcome to MikeLev.in (was ShankServer.org)

Welcome to MikeLev.in. It used to be ShankServer.org until I decided to unify all my sites. If the name invokes images of a concealed server being slipped from under a shirt to shank someone, then you’ve got the right idea. With cloud computing and micro-servers upon us, the days of the old school sysadmin are numbered. It’s time to train to become the new kind of information technology professional replacing them, and THAT’S the value proposition of this site. Add a little sysadmin and netadmin to your repertoire using these tiny, unbelievably useful and scalable micro-servers.

As the cloud data-centers roll in, it’s far too easy to lose touch with the all-important hardware and fall victim to abstraction. Abstracting away the underlying hardware may make application development easier in the short term, but it also slaps a set of vendor handcuffs on you. Your cloud provider is a new platform allegiance as sure as Microsoft, Sun or Apple are. That’s a shame, because the very same forces driving down the price of computing clouds is also driving down the price AND SIZE of full-fledged physical servers that can be under your direct control. The advent of the cloud should be an opportunity to escape these dependencies–not swap them for new ones.

This site takes that other approach, and focuses on the tiny new low-power breed of micro-servers that look no different from a tiny wall-wart power supply. They fit into the palm of your hand and cost about $100. It’s based on the premise that you will be more skilled and powerful as an application developer if you control the hardware directly with the power of “root”. So by forcing you to deal with sysadmin and netadmin issues you would not otherwise need to, all the underlying hardware parts seem much less intimidating, and dramatic new horizons open in your career.

There’s being programmer-technical, where you know a thing or two about software. Then there’s being hardware / network technical, where you’re a glorified auto mechanic. Then there’s knowing both, which truly opens the door to cross creative boundaries others haven’t crossed yet. Most importantly, you will know what it takes to build a system from scratch, harden it, and replicate that environment wherever you want–and that includes on the cloud. As a result, the value is in you and your ability to build scalable systems from scratch, and not on some specific, nuanced stack of vendor dependencies right at the moment you should be breaking them.

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