Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Just the really good stuff

Filed under: — adam @ 12:29 pm

I’ve added a new category to the blog, for aggregating the things I’m proud of. These are pieces I’ve put a lot of work into, or which I think I have some good insight on. If you just want the highlights without all of the random links, look no further:

There’s also a feed:

I’ve been going back through the archives (and wow, there are a lot of archives!) and putting old stuff in there. I’ve gotten a lot of it, but not all of it.


The value of RAID0 for caching, paging, and temp

Filed under: — adam @ 9:50 am

I recently realized that I had a few extra drive bays in my desktop (with corresponding open SATA ports) and a few extra SATA drives lying around. So last night, I put them in and set them up as a RAID0 striped array.

I’d always avoided striping because of the instability concerns – if either drive goes bad, you lose the data on both of them. However, I’ve recently begun to feel the pinch in speed as my desktop has aged and I installed CS3. I maxed out the RAM a long time ago, and I’m not quite ready to replace it, although I certainly will in the next 6 months. So any little extra bit of speed I can get is welcome. A striped array has a significant speed advantage because the controller can read and write both disks simultaneously, roughly doubling your disk throughput. Also, you end up with one big disk that’s the size of the two put together.

While it is fragile if one of the drives goes, it performs much better. That makes it incredibly useful as a cache drive. I put the Windows paging file, all of my temp directories, and the CS3 cache and scratch files on it, as well as my browser caches. After not much testing, not surprisingly, I noticed an immediate speed boost across the board, and particularly in browsing directories with lots of photos in Bridge.

The setup was not very difficult, although there were some hiccups. I had to configure the bios to have the second sata controller (integrated into the motherboard) work in RAID mode, which took some fiddling. Then I had to switch the boot rom to it to boot into its firmware to actually configure the array, then switch the boot rom back to the other controller so I could boot my pre-existing Windows install (which is on a RAID1 mirrored array). After that, it was just a matter of installing the Windows driver for the RAID controller, formatting the new drive, and moving everything appropriate over to it.

Disks are pretty cheap. I highly recommend this configuration.

Tags: , ,


The first rule of community

I have a personal mailing list for my very close friends, to which I often send a few messages a day. If I stop for a day or two, it’s not a problem. If I stop for a long period of time (a week, a month) without telling someone, I have a strong belief that many of those people will check in to see what’s wrong. This is a major aspect of community for me, and it’s missing from every other piece of online interaction I’ve ever had, including this blog. Part of it has to do with the requirement that everyone on the mailing list is someone I’ve met in person and decided to include – I do not invite people whom I’ve never met physically, and I do not accept solicitations to join the list. But it’s a very strong driver for me, and it’s the reason I still maintain the list even in the presence of so many “better” ways to communicate.

There’s really only one rule for community as far as I’m concerned, and it’s this – in order to call some gathering of people a “community”, it is a requirement that if you’re a member of the community, and one day you stop showing up, people will come looking for you to see where you went.

Incidentally, this quality has been lacking from some real world organizations as well, and it’s become a very strong barometer for me to tell just how welcome I feel with any given group of people. If I left and didn’t come back, would anyone care enough to find out why? It’s a very visceral question, and perhaps a difficult one to ask. But I think it’s an important one, as we move into these so-called communities where all of our interaction is online, and fluid.

I quite enjoy my participation in a number of sites, flickr and ask metafilter among them. But I have no doubt that if I suddenly go away, not one other member will really care, with the probable exception of the people I know from offline. From time to time, they may wonder, “huh, haven’t seen Caviar in a while” (and the use of handles instead of names is probably a big contributor to this), but it’s unlikely that anyone will track me down to ask why, if they can even find out a way to reach me. They’ll probably just assume I found something better to do, or switched to a different site. And therein lies a big piece of the problem – the loose ties go both ways. That guy who disappeared may have just found something better to do, or switched to a different site, but maybe he died, or just didn’t feel welcome anymore. If we don’t have the presence to find out these reasons, or even the capacity to tell when such an event has occurred, are we really building a useful analogue to the binding offline communities that exist, or is it all just a convenient fiction?

I’ve blogged before about some of the problems with online communities, but I think this is a bigger point. That post focused more on how to get online communities to be more outward facing and less insular. This is more about how to get online communities to be more inclusive and meaningful. I must admit that I’m only at the beginning of an answer, but I welcome any ideas on the subject. I’ll avoid the temptation to suggest that we should probably meet for drinks to discuss it.

Tags: , , ,


Brilliant DMCA side effect

Crappy DRM company says the DMCA forces you to buy their technology instead of building your own because not buying their technology is a circumvention of an effective copyright tool.

The thing is, I think they’re right. I mean, it’s stupid, but then so is the DMCA.

There are some other provisions (which seem to not apply), but the crux of it is:

“No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that–

`(A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of
circumventing a technological measure that effectively
controls access to a work protected under this title;”

It explicitly does NOT say “copy the work”, it says “circumvent the technology”. “Circumvent” is not the word they were looking for.

In fact, now that I think about it, convincing someone that DRM is bad is also a violation, as that may be interpreted as offering a service that is primarily design for the purpose of circumventing technological protection. Crap.

(via boingboing.)

Tags: , ,


Circo Hazardous Sock Packaging

Filed under: — adam @ 2:27 pm

I happened to take my 6-month old to Target this weekend, and we bought him some socks. He was playing with the package and put them in his mouth, and managed to get the little hanger plastic piece out. There’s certainly enough to say about parental responsibility, and not letting the baby get into dangerous things, but until this little plastic piece disappeared (it turns out he dropped it on the floor), we didn’t even give a second thought to the idea that a pair of socks for a 6-12 month old might contain this kind of incredible choking hazard. I’m normally pretty paranoid about this. Didn’t these things used to go all the way across? Is this REALLY the place where Target wants to save a tenth of a cent of plastic? It seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

Be careful out there…

Circo Socks Hazardous Packaging

Circo Socks Hazardous Packaging

Circo Socks Hazardous Packaging

Circo Socks Hazardous Packaging

Tags: , , , ,

Powered by WordPress