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Published: 03 May 2015 23:25

About me

Inspired by the format found at The Setup, here is an update to the 2013 “About me” entry:

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is James MacMahon. I graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Computer Engineering program in April 2010. I worked at IBM from October 2010 until March 2015 on Testarossa, an optimizing compiler. I now work at Primate Labs developing Geekbench and wearing many hats :)

I’ve been writing software for most of my life, starting at 12 programming games like pong and asteroids with C and Allegro on Windows.

I experiment with technology constantly.

I’m also an avid gamer.

What hardware do you use?

My daily driver is tal, the Samsung ARM Chromebook (XE303C12) running stock Debian off of a 16 GB Micro SD card (this is going to change very soon). My old daily driver fischer was donated.

My main file server is still capablanca. alekhine was moved off-site and is now a remote file server. The details for these file servers are still mostly the same as the last About me entry, except alekhine’s Debian has been updated to Jessie.

My only Windows computers are botvinnik and morphy. karpov was donated.

My two Raspberry Pis were donated.

smyslov still exists and is currently, as always, dutifully humming along.

And what software?

Same old at home:

But Primate Labs uses Mac OS for development, so:

I’m still getting used to the new OS.

What would be your dream setup?

I think a lot about better file system organization, and how to structure backups. I have no good answer yet, except that you shouldn’t let it get as bad as mine :)

I wrote that in November of 2013, and file disorganization is still a major issue, as is the manual backup process I have that doesn’t work. My setup creates many levels of data redundancy and I have over the years been able to survive hard drive disk failures without losing a single file. However, I lost files recently due to an errant dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda that should have been performed on the Chromebook (and would have zeroed out a usb drive) but instead was performed on my desktop workstation (destroying the hard drive). I had not backed to capablanca for a week or two, so I lost a week or two of work (although I’ll never know exactly what I lost). This is not acceptable - any automatic incremental backup scheme that backed up to capablanca would have saved those files.

Apart from that, my dream setup remains roughly the same. I would still like to see ECC ram everywhere. I still try and think of my computers as terminals that manipulate the same repository of data in a sane and structured way. But, my current vein of thinking is ‘less is more’. I’m not dreaming of the full 20U rack anymore unless it’s not a maintenance nightmare, both physically and how it plugs into my personal digital ecosystem.