Some people drool over hardware specs, They will talk animatedly about drives and CPUs and such.
I'm not one of these. In fact, I'm not really good with hardware at all. Discussions like the above leave me fairly bored. Elegant algorithms, and elegant expressions of algorithms, are things that interest and occasionally delight me. But not machine specs, and the like.
Now that might surprise some in a person who has made his living with computers for about 25 years. But it's always been so. I recall at one stage of my career working on some machines that I had never seen, and I wouldn't have known what they looked like if I fell over them. They lived in the data centre or computer room or whatever it was called back then, and all I needed to know was how to drive them from my terminal. I knew some basics about the hardware, but nothing terribly specific.
Perhaps this comes from the fact that I have never been very well coordinated physically (possibly a function of my bad vision, but possibly just genetic - it's been so from before high school), and so I tend to fumble things a lot. That doesn't matter too much when you can undo your typing in an editor, say, but it matters a lot when you're carrying things or plugging them in. I once saw someone drop a DASD pack, a rather expensive storage item back then for big iron machines, and maybe that too has frightened me a bit of getting too involved with hardware.
Anyway, I think it's probably a sort of Mars/Venus thing.
These thoughts have absolutely nothing to do with Postgres, except in the sense that they tell you something about why I spend my time working on it rather than on stuff closer to the metal.
All this popped into my head while I was wrestling with hardware, of course. I'm converting an oldish laptop to be dual boot, and moving data from an old 100Gb drive to a new 320Gb drive. In the course of exploring the wonders of Windows file systems and cloning them, I must have swapped the old and new drives in and out half a dozen times, dropping screws along the way, and finding them again.
The process is almost complete. I finally got it all working with a nice little package called SystemRescueCD which appears to do the job quite nicely. In particular, there's a package included there called FSArchiver which seems to work very nicely. Soon I will have my daughter happily dual booting this laptop. (And no, a virtual Windows machine would not have done - some of the software needs to work direct with the hardware.)
It's interesting you are posting this, I always thought of myself as a software guy as well until I recently took a graduate course in architecture. <br />
Seeing the algorithms and design that goes into the internals of a modern CPU really seemed pretty neat since it is designed in a similar fashion as software with more tradeoffs to be considered, power, heat, etc... It really changed my opinion from thinking "I am a software guy", to "I am a logical guy and enjoy algorithms".<br />
With that said, I find talking specs and wrangling hardware pretty boring as well, so I agree with you entirely there.
SystemRescueCD is a nice toolkit for work like this. The additional layer I've started using on top of it lately is the Clonezilla CD. Similar set of tools, but it makes it really easy to backup everything on a hard drives with a few menu selections, including things like the partition table and boot sector which are easy to miss when using low-level tools. All the systems that pass through here from family members and the like now get a Clonezilla backup thrown onto a big USB hard drive while they're on the bench.
Interesting. I have always considered myself a software person even as a young child. So when people ask what I graduated in and I say Mechanical Engineering. They are completely shocked.<br />
Even in Mech E, I avoided machine shop and technical drawing as much as I could but was enchanted by feedback loops and control systems which seemed to abstract away all that hardware stuff.
I used to be more interested in hardware, but maybe that's because hardware used to get in the way more than it does now.<br />
If just editing a file and compiling software takes a long time, that's frustrating and leaves you plenty of time to think about how great it would be to have better hardware.<br />
Now, the hardware rarely gets in my way for more than a minute or so. Am I on a quad core or a dual core? I'll probably notice, but it's not really standing between me and my software designs any more.