Learning Lessons

I’ve learned one of the most valuables lesson of my internship this week, and it’s definitely the most counter-intuitive one so far. It was also the most vexing.

The most annoying lessons that we learn in our life are never new pieces of knowledge, gifted to us by beautiful books or articulate articles. Nor are they the cascading of connections and clicks as assorted bits of information leap together and join up. No, these lessons are ones which take a long time to learn and make us feel very embarrassed for a good while afterwards. They are not the creation of new knowledge, instead they are the destruction of misconceptions. This week my misconception was the necessity of updates.

It doesn’t exist. Updates are a swindle and a lie. If a system is working, don’t change it. Don’t, for example, command all your nodes to update their most vital piece of software when there is absolutely no need for it. I really recommend that if you think that your machines do need some shiny new software, please find a good reason for updating it, and then make sure you test it. Please note that neither shiny or new are good reasons for updating software.

I updated docker to 1:1.7.0-1. This docker version doesn’t allow you to run containers on arm architectures. It’s a pretty big set back. After I realised that the guys at Arch Linux don’t archive previous software versions, and then taking a few moments to deal with this, I spent a decent portion of Monday becoming familiar with the PKGBUILD process and achieving a working docker v1.6.

A fixed docker 1.7.1 was released the day after.

The rest of this week ended up being devoted to creating the first (a scoop! The first!) ARM docker Hadoop image and dockerfile, after I first picked up some knowledge on hadoop, and spent Wednesday at Jeremy’s memory management conference. There were lots of very smart people there, but I missed some of the more interesting talks I’d hoped to make. The speakers will hopefully upload their notes soon enough though. I’ve sometimes noticed that Lecturer’s seem to be disappointed by the depth they have to limit themselves to when teaching, but that upper limit didn’t exist here. I imagine that as a researcher it can sometimes feel like there are very few people who understand or appreciate what you are doing, and the gathering of like minds must be a breath of fresh air.

I’m not sure I’ll have such a luxury when I hope to present the Pi 2 cloud at Glasgow’s Explorathon in September. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but we hope to have a stand there.

I’ll leave you now with this preview of next week’s blog post.

bristol board

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