ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Ant Farm —

Around 6am on Tuesday, the machine started crashing. It crashed a half-dozen times this year, increasing in frequency, but this was the big one, and the box stopped successfully checking the filesystems properly. They simply couldn’t be fixed and the machine would no longer reboot.

This box does a lot, so I couldn’t just leave it down, so off I went to CompUSA, bought about $600 worth of future server, built it, and had it all back within a day. Mail works, websites work, but my galleries are down and will probably need a rebuild. On the other hand, this is a much faster machine and the disk space has tripled to over a terabyte.

This machine is an ant farm.

It’s existed in one form or another for about 11 years. It has been a bunch of stuff, starting from a Sun 3/280 to a Sun 3/60 to a few Linux and FreeBSD boxes. At one time it cost money to be able to use it for user accounts. Now you have to have either helped me with things or be related to me. Most people have drifted away to other places for their work since web space and bandwidth have become so cheap. But a few stay around.

There’s the website for my brother’s gardening business. (If you live in Dutchess County, NY, he’ll kick your landscape’s ass.) There’s my my longest and closest friend’s weblog about not writing. There’s an ultrafiltration company run by my ex-girlfriend’s parents. In fact, the ex-girlfriend has an account here too.

That’s not counting all the other websites on here: my Psygnosis tribute page,, and a few sites that I absolutely refuse to explain.

Some people still send me a few dollars every year to keep things up. Others don’t pay at all. A lot of the free accounts were people who gave me assistance when I ran a short-lived ISP in 1995. I said “you get free accounts for helping me”. Talk about backing the right horse!

When the machine has gone down, they come out of the woodwork. The ant farm has it’s side opened, and you can see all the little lives and activities that are still occuring on this box, even after a decade and so many moves. Little businesses, weblogs, music libraries, photos and mail, passing by. The mails that come in, asking what’s up with the broken machine, range from meekly curious to humorously snide. Some are friends I would never call friends now. Some get phone calls from me every week. It really does range like that.

Naturally, I have archives going back to the beginning, snapshots of this machine as it travelled between hardware, gained users, lost sites, and so on. I’m keeping the history close to me nowadays; I’ve gotten a lot better at that.

All of these incarnations, all of these lives are on this little place that isn’t a place, this little collection of heated and spinning metal that I keep running, year after year, probably until I myself stop running. It’s interesting how that all has worked out.

So things are back to normal now, in fact, some bits are running better than they ever have thanks to the improved hardware and space, and the art farm’s sides are closed up again… until next time.

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  1. Dexter D says:

    That rocks, like an antfarm it’s interresting to see how things get moved around, tunnels get dug. Data, carried into various storage holes. But unlike an antfarm, when the colony get’s crushed the ant’s don’t attack the queen. People are weird that way, we can learn alot from ants.

    And I’m also really tired.

    Very inspiring there sketch, ant queen.

  2. Lazlo says:

    For some reason the black background and the “ant farm” blogpost title has inspired my brain to assault me with the imagined sound of Spinal Tap singing “Sex Farm” with the lyrics changed to “Ant Farm”. Debating whether to blame Jason or exhaustion…yup, more fun to blame you, Jason. No offense, but please make the music stop!