Virtualization In Meatspace

by Shawn Powers

Computer virtualization is all the rage these days. Heck, in the video I shot last week, I installed about 12 Linux distributions on a VM, because it made recording a lot simpler. (If you're wondering, only 9 made the cut, the others gave me fits) Server virtualization is allowing for more efficient use of high end hardware, and even SAN disks are creating virtual (yet real) storage drives for multiple systems at the same time.

And here's where I wax philosophic for a bit. We see the same trend in our own lives. The devices we thought would save us time, are in fact making us busier and busier. Think about it, palm pilots organized our lives, so now we can fit more things into our lives. Cell phones allow us to communicate while we're off doing... you guessed it, more stuff. Just like the giant servers in the closet virtualizing away slices of their time, we're doing the same in our lives.

Right now, I'm at a teen Bible Camp for a week, where I'm a speaker. While I'm here, the staff is taking advantage of my geekiness, and I'm fixing some computer issues. I also have a laptop with me, on which, in my "free time", I'm editing articles for the September issue of Linux Journal, and writing this very post. I also have a VPN set up, so I can manage an entire network of Macintosh and Linux desktops sitting in a school 350 miles away. If you add my office phone that is forwarded to my cellphone, and my home phone which is just a Skype-In number -- I'm busy and yet available about 26 hours of the day.

So while I think, as technologists, we are becoming better and better at multitasking, I don't think we'll ever get all the extra free time we imagine is bound to happen as we streamline our lives. Any space that we clear away, we'll just fill up with another "virtual server" that will use our idle CPU cycles. Here's the deal: schedule fun. Plan for downtime. Don't leave blanks in your calendar, scribble the spots out.

And with that, I'm going to go for a walk by the lake. Unfortunately, I'll have my cellphone, in case anyone needs to reach me. :)

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