Apr 27 2007

Bright shiny objects

Published by at 8:23 am under General

My friend, Michael Farnum, wonders “Why do blinking lights look better behind glass??”  I think the answer is “It covers up all the unsightly mess.”  I think it’s really that simple.  If you’re looking through smoked glass, which most entertainment centers I’ve seen have, you can’t see the equipment, with all it’s warts, all you can see is the blinking lights.  None of the scratches or the conflicting colors of the equipment can be seen, just the lights.

I think the glass gives you a sense of abstraction from the equipment. 
Even though you know the tangle of network cables and wall warts (aka
power supplies) are back there, you can’t see them.  It makes it all
look much better from the outside.  More importantly for Michael, at
least in my opinion, is not the fact that he feels better about the
networking equipment but rather the impression it’s going to give his
customers when they walk into his office.  After all, which makes you
feel better about your consultant: a rack of neatly organized equipment
behind a pane of glass or a stack of networking equipment in the corner?

Late last year I had a chance to go down to visit Symantec’s offices in Santa Monica, CA.  I got a chance to talk to several of their engineers, but before hand the very nice PR lady took me into the interview room.  She made a big deal of slowly drawing back to curtain to reveal rack after rack of the computers Symantec is using in their malware research.  I was unimpressed, since as server rooms go, it was fair size, but much smaller than several I’ve worked in before.  She was disappointed, because most of the press people she normally works with are very impressed, never having seen a server room and all the pretty blinking lights before.  She hadn’t realized that I’m a security professional first, a blogger second, so this wasn’t just something I was familiar with, it was something I dealt with on a daily basis.

I don’t think the glass makes the equipment look any better, I think it just covers up mess that is your networking equipment.  I’ve seen too many network rooms where you open the rack and cables come spilling out.  I guess I’m more of a cynic than Michael; I think the glass is just a cover for the mess.  I know the mess is under there, which ruins the effect of pretty lights for me.

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