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Mike Pirnat

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Google at the August ClePy Meeting

History Lesson (1997)
Originally uploaded by mikepirnat.

At tonight's (now yesterday's) ClePy meeting, special guest presenter Brian Fitzpatrick, Engineer Manager for Google's Chicago office, gave a talk entitled "Google, Bigtable, and Scalable Version Control." I'd heard a bit about how GFS and Bigtable work before at a previous Google talk, but it was very cool to see it applied as the back-end for Subversion.

That developed into an interesting discussion on what sorts of bottlenecks the big G has to worry about, which segued into a nifty bit of stuff on a storage/data transmission system that Google's working on to allow scientists to shove 100+TB data sets around--sort of a Drobo on steroids, with a cool padded metal container for shipping that totally looks like it's from a spy movie, because, when it comes down to it, you still can't beat FedEx for data throughput on a sufficiently large scale (unless you are blessed enough to have Internet2 piped directly to where you need it).

From there we got into an entertaining discussion on the pros and cons of distributed and centralized version control systems, had some philosophical disagreement between the two, and managed to work in a Car Talk joke, and got the scoop on some forthcoming goodness in SVN-land. Matt Wilson has some good notes on this, including a clever joke about distributed VCS. Fitz made some great points in defense of centralized VCS that are making me rethink the take-my-toys-and-go-play-by-myself approach I've taken to try to get some personal momentum on Shindig, and maybe even managed to shame me into starting to commit publicly. Then again, I am in such deep love with committing frequently that perhaps I'll find some middle path, using Bazaar for versioning things in between SVN commits. Or something. We'll see.

A bunch of us hung out afterward at the nearby Max & Erma's for drinks and continued chatter, and from what I could tell the conversations were all pretty interesting. (No notes from that as I was busy enjoying beer and talk.)

I really want to thank Brian for the engaging talk and discussions (and for picking up the tab at the bar), and Susan Loh for getting everything squared away on the Google side (including taking care of pizza and beverages for the meeting, logo swag, etc.). Hopefully we can be a destination for future tech talks.

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