About The Clock

Early in 2001 I lived in a house in Home Park on the edge of Georgia Tech with an old friend from High School, Matt, and a friend of mine from the Intermezzo days, Wayne. After an undergraduate career of coffee house misanthropy and a few English classes that I happened to pass, I was probably the last person in the house that should have been put in charge of figuring out how to share the quite flaky DSL line accross a pile of Windows boxes. Looking back on it, Spliff the cat was probably better suited to the task, at least he had chewed on some ethernet cable before. I had recieved my first computer as a Christmas present in 1997. Our DSL provider back then was the now defunct Telocity, who offered up a static IP with their basic service. A static IP made it very easy to run a domain off of our meager DSL line. After a few troubles, mostly during the famed "battle with the fucking lamp", Clockwatching.net went live at 2:15 AM on March 15th, 2001.

The machine back then was Tenacious, the same Gateway Pentium 1 that I got halfway through college. We started off on RedHat 7.0, installed on a single 2Gb hard drive. Over the next few months we added a half dozen or so users, among them: Nick a new friend from the Tech Library and extended Intermezzo crowd, Leisure, an old friend of mine from Auburn, and Grant, a new friend from the extended Tech and Intermezzo crowd; although he's partial to another server the Clock owes a lot to, Angband. Saneesh and Iron Mike came onboard around the same time and helped me admin the whole mess as I had no idea what I was doing really.

Around 1997 my first introduction to the word "Linux" came from a man named Jeremy, who with his good friend Patrick owns a server named Procyon, now out in California. Take a second to check the whois record on that domain, yeah that's right, 1994. Around July of 2001 Procyon started to provide us with nameservice after I got in touch with Jer for the first time since I jump started his Ryder truck on his way out of Auburn. The only thing more surprising to me than my procyon account still working after nearly 5 years was that I still remembered the password. Jer and Patrick have since thrown a lot of hardware our way, primarily the current Clockwatching server Melchoir, and more then just a few odds and ends, and I can't thank them enough for that.

Also in July of 2001, Matt and I moved off to the land of no DSL, where the local loop was about 20,000 feet away, and cable internet cost more then our meager budget could then allow. We took good old Tenacious over to Saneesh's dad's house for a few weeks, and then over to Wayne and his new wife Lori's house, before finally settling it down into its still longest standing home at Saneesh and Iron Mike's house in mid-September. Also new was the hardware, an old Pentium Pro I purchased off of Mark for $60, and an extra harddrive Wilson threw our way, a whopping 13Gigs! The name of the new crate was Horatio, currently the only ex-Clock server without a job. Its still sitting forlorly in my closet, and that's a bit sad. Around the same time we switched off of RedHat and on to Slackware 8.0. Shortly afterwards we added Mark and Wilson to the Clockwatchers, as well as Leisure's old pal Nevada Dogma, and Saneesh's co-worker Erin.

In 2002 we added the Bob Board, at the time powered by the curmudgeonly Grey Matter, and started a long tradition of making fun of one another's taste in movies. We began to describe our HTML skills as Kung-Fu, most of the Clockwatcher's began to adopt their Clock account as their primary email. We added Spoon to the rolls, one of our more prolific users, as well as her friend Vroom, as well as Matt's now long-ex-girlfriend Cometa. We settled in.

Halfway through the year Matt and I moved to the Ghetto-Colo, a little 2-story, 2-bedroom just short of the Atlanta perimeter, and just under 4000ft from the local loop. We picked up a good ISP, Megapath, and with them 5 static IPs and no silly license agreements against running services on them. We expanded the greater Clockwatching network, brought Horatio back to my house, and put up DNS servers for the domains that we had started to add.

A few months passed and we moved the Clock from good old Horatio to the last machine before the current one, Orwell. We built Orwell out of a board that belonged to Grim that had seen the ugly side of a lightning strike, a pile of ram from Joshy, and a bunch of other stuff from... about a half a dozen people. Making the jump to 800Mhz from 200Mhz and a buttload of RAM from 192Mb was a noticeable difference. Somewhere around that time we Slacked it up to 8.1, as well as started running Joshy's webmail app, Vapormail.

2003 wandered in and added more users, changed the Bob Board to PHPBB, a switch I'm still getting flack for, and heralded in the Clock fund raiser for a Huge Honking Disk Array. After a lot of pressure from Nick and Wilson, I relented and stuck up a paypal button. The 13Gb drive the Clock had been running on for 2 years wasn't exactly cutting it what with well over 50 users by this time, so I decided a trio of 80Gb drives and RAID5 would better insure that we wouldn't have to bother with worrying about disk space for a while. I was more then a little surprised when we had nearly $250 in just under three weeks.

In the summer of 2003 I headed out to California to hang out with Jeremy and attend LinuxWorld as an exhibitor with LinuxQuestions.org. Not bad for having installed my first distro just 2+1/2 years earlier. While I was there, aside from getting drunk a lot, Patrick gave us Melchoir, and after a little mangling of steel with Leisure after getting home, we were able to successfully move the Clock over to its first "real" server.

Its a year later and we're still up and running, having moved into some solid bandwidth this past December thanks to Jack and the undisclosed location, some more parts from Patrick and Jer this past summer at LWE, which is turning into a fun little tradition for Saneesh and I, and most recently the first facelift for the main page since the second week of the Clock over three years ago.

Update: July 2005
Its been a year since the above, and we've since moved again from the undisclosed location to the Telx building in downtown Atlanta. The new home is part of my compensation for a contracting job that has had me buried lately. Melchoir was replaced a few months ago with Minnow, in order to get around Melchoir's odd ability to reboot randomly once a week or so since the early part of '05. Minnow immediately started presenting the same behaviour, and the opportunity for 24/7 access to the server and even more gobs and gobs of bandwidth became available, so I jumped at the chance to move. Strangely, due to the security at the undisclosed location, I couldn't actually pull Minnow from the building, so for the time being we're back on Melchoir... which has been eerily stable ever since the move, for a record of about two weeks now. Sadly, as far as locations go, it really doesn't get much better than this colo. No kidding... probably one of the hundred or so best places on the planet to have a server. With bandwidth no longer a consideration we might start turning our attention to world clock domination! First step, beat ICANN over the noodle until they approve my dot-clock TLD. Muwahahahaha!



Cheers,
Finegan

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