remember when romance was analog?
I miss the days when romance was analog.
Courtship used to involve risk and effort: phone calls on landlines where guys had to run the risk of your father picking up the phone, and having to be grilled by him for a few minutes after having delivered some sort of polite salutation, often akin to “Good evening, sir, may I please speak to your daughter?”
With the advent of pagers, we managed to find a way around that. One’s suitor would page you first and ask if it was convenient to call. In this way, you could wait by the phone and take the call and he could by-pass the gate keepers: your father/ mother/ protective older brother.
But even though it was a direct means of reaching the girl you fancied, paging still involved effort. All that memorization of pager numbers. All that repetitive dictation to operators who weren’t all that fluent in English. Not only did they have to listen to thousands of lovesick teenage boys spill their guts to the object of their desire, but they sometimes got the message garbled, and often in embarrassing ways (a pre-cursor to auto correct?).
There was also “pager speak”, little short-cuts we developed to pack more meaning into a message that allowed only a limited number of characters. 143 meant “I Love You”. Go figure. And let’s not forget JAPAN (Just Always Pray At Night) and ITALY (I Trust And Love You).
Then there was the trusty fax machine. I had an admirer who used to fax me drawings and handwritten love letters. How can I forget the thrill of seeing those illicit messages slowly unfurl as the machine regurgitated thermal paper from the slot. He once made a drawing of me in a Chun Li outfit, complete with two buns on either side of my head. He had drawn my body like man’s, but with huge boobs and an overly taught ass. A teenage-boy fantasy.
In the same era came mixtapes. There is nothing more romantic than a mixtape. It involves not only thought, but time. You had to first and foremost own copies of the songs you wanted to include, then you had to really think about the order of which you wanted them arranged on the mix tape.
Unlike a burned CD which involves dragging files into a window on a computer screen and clicking on “burn”, a mixtape involved actually listening to a song in its entire duration as you recorded it from cassette A to cassette B, or from a CD. Plus, there was a very precise way of pressing the “pause” button very softly after the song had ended. Press that button heavy-handedly and unwanted noise would register on the recording.
A good mix-tape maker also knew just how much silence to include in between each song, like rests in a symphony. An especially zealous suitor would include recorded messages of his voice in between each song.
Then there was the final, crucial step: packaging. Writing the song list in teeny, tiny penmanship on the free stickers that came with blank cassettes, and of course, thinking of an appropriate title for your lovingly made compilation and writing it decoratively on the insert. Let your creativity run wild!
My most memorable one came from my first love. He took me to the prom and had made a mixtape especially for the occasion to play on the car stereo during the drive to the venue. When he brought me home, he kissed me and gave me the mix-tape to keep. I must have played it a thousand times, from side A to side B. With the same mix-tape, we slow-danced to “Always With Me, Always With You” by Joe Satriani in my living room.
When the relationship ended in a bitter break-up, I smashed the cassette into a million pieces with a hammer. But I still remember every song that was on it. Such was the power of a mix-tape.
Courtship nowadays involves all-too-direct text messages, and impersonal, all-too-convenient chat boxes. Youtube links to music videos have replaced the mixtape. It’s just a matter of copy and paste. How easy, how effortless, how un-risky. How blah.
I miss the days of analog romance.
My Philosophy On Alerting
I wrote some stuff while I was at Google about writing clean alerts and keeping an oncall rotation sane; after some cleanup they’ve allowed me to make it public. Of course, this represents my opinions and not Google’s (or Tumblr’s, for that matter.)
Check out My Philosophy On Alerting.
When you are auditing or writing alerting rules, consider these things to keep your oncall rotation happier:
- Pages should be urgent, important, actionable, and real.
- They should represent either ongoing or imminent problems with your service.
- Err on the side of removing noisy alerts – over-monitoring is a harder problem to solve than under-monitoring.
- You should almost always be able to classify the problem into one of: availability & basic functionality; latency; correctness (completeness, freshness and durability of data); and feature-specific problems.
- Symptoms are a better way to capture more problems more comprehensively and robustly with less effort.
- Include cause-based information in symptom-based pages or on dashboards, but avoid alerting directly on causes.
- The further up your serving stack you go, the more distinct problems you catch in a single rule. But don’t go so far you can’t sufficiently distinguish what’s going on.