Cruft is, paraphrasing Wikipedia, hacker jargon for extraneous or low-quality things in general (but software code in particular). Cruft is redundant, old, or improperly made stuff which needs to be fixed, but tends to stick around, anyway, because it works, sorta. Cruft is sometimes said to be the tech equivalent of dust bunnies.
The LAN at gulker.com is now going on something like 17 years old. It started with modems and Appletalk under Mac OS 7 machines and has progressed ‘steadily’ since, moving up to Ethernet with net links over ISDN, DSL, and cable as time, circumstance and ISP whim, launch or bankruptcy have dictated.
The LAN currently powers the gulker.com World HQ, a purpose-built corner of a family-room remodel that happened about 10 years ago. The nice cherry and white-painted woodwork blends with the more traditional bookshelves et al. in the room that surrounds it, but was cleverly (then) built in collaboration with a very good craftsman named Chuck Carmona to provide wire runs, cable trays, keyboard drawers et al., all inconspicuously tucked into a design in part drawing inspiration from 150-year-old buildings I love in Hudson, Ohio.
But, ten years of good-enough ‘engineering,’ upgrading, experiments, badly-failed experiments, coffee-cups-into-the-keyboards (or party-night glasses of red wine into the router stack) have left us in a state of true and abiding cruft – these are actual, unstaged photos folks, and I’m not even showing the side of the LAN in the garage. The views here are an actual, as removed from (or still in) service Gigabit LAN that daily serves the denizens of gulker.com, mainly Linda and me, though many friends and others who pass our way stay long enough to merit an account on one of our workstations, or space to set up their laptop.
It has been this cruft that drove me, through many cumulative hours, largely immobile, in MRI machines, MSI ‘cones’ and strapped under a linear accelerator, to image how I might both improve the usability of World HQ (HW and SW aside) and then how to attack the cruft to get it done. After an initial success (the ‘Cheesy Crate‘) the cruft has made a strong comeback, slowing things to a re-do crawl on the right-hand side (and oldest) part of the LAN. Long day spent mano-to-mano with aging, unmarked Cat-5, power bricks from/to nowhere, real dust bunnies and more…