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Cox Crow

Asking the Stupid Questions Since 1971
 Monday, December 02, 2002

GPS Etch-a-Sketch

Amsterdam RealTime: maps of Amsterdam drawn by observing GPS signals.

2:52:49 PM # Google It!

Payphone Near You?

The Payphone Project collects payphone news and numbers. Is there one near you?

2:47:42 PM # Google It!

You have exceeded the storage limit on your mailbox

I'll hazard a guess that 90% of all corporate e-mail sent is crap, consisting of one-line appendages to massively forwarded posts. Two incremental improvements to existing MUAs could alleviate this situation tremendously:

  1. selective saving of sent mail
  2. selective quotation in replies

(On the other hand, since some companies have no idea how to use e-mail effectively, those all-inclusive messages do help to bring one up to speed.)

But the problem I'm concerned with at the moment, because it affects me, is the problem of storage. Now, you could say that storage is not a problem: disk is cheap. However, if purchases are not a solution, and you have to store and backup mail for 185,000 employees, you cap the size of the user's mailbox. What do you do to prevent the quota from being reached?

Do you delete the mail? This has the advantage of removing documents that may become embarassing, unless someone else has stored them in his CYA file. But then you lose a valuable historical record.

Do you move the messages to your local hard disk? The advantage here is that you can devote a larger percentage of that cheap disk space to your mail. But what happens if that disk dies? The probability of an end-user's disk being backed up is effectively nil; that's one reason why mail was centralized in the first place: to make it cheaper and easier to recover from a failure.

Do you extend the quota as the need for space grows over time?

What do you do with paper files? You store them at Iron Mountain for n number of years. Are they automatically shredded? Do you arrange for more space to store those records over time? Why not do that with electronic records? Too much work?

Assume that all of your employees use e-mail. Suppose you allow all 185,000 employees to maintain mailboxes of 150MB or less. If all maximize their quota, you must manage 26.46TB of data. Daunting, no? Since usage patterns vary, not everyone will use all 150MB; however, given enough time, and enough junk mail from HR, everyone will. Time is the enemy here, not space.

One reason for quotas, other than for capacity planning, is to ensure that no single user will prevent other users from using the system. Put broadly, this is the only reason for quotas: to allow time for the system to grow in response to demand. Looking at usage patterns, time is also our ally. Most messages are read and filed once, never to be seen again. The need for them is potential. When that potential is realized, how quickly must the need be met?

Commented on by Brian St. Pierre

1:48:32 PM # Google It!
categories: Dear Microsoft, Messaging, System Administration

Thanks for the Tabloids

When I launch AIM, it presents a splash page with links to stuff AOL TimeWarner sites, like CNN. I consider it my fix of tabloid fair. Today's headlines:

I'm thankful that I only read about these things. [knock on wood]

8:22:32 AM # Google It!
categories: Sadness