Thrum

Snoring tends to be a problem for everyone but the snorer, which is why I generally sleep in a separate room from Reiko and the boy. All in all, this setup works quite well. On the days when I work well past midnight there is little chance of me waking people as I enter the room and climb into bed. Also, by not subjecting people to the sound of my snoring, the family can wake up in a much better mood than if I’ve been disturbing their sleep for much of the night. As there are three bedrooms in the house, I’ve decided to sleep in the “spare” that exists in the event Reiko and I have another child or invite someone to stay with us for a while. Also in this room are the servers and hard drives that power 10Centuries and the robust home network infrastructure. This means that every night I am lulled go sleep by the thrum of spinning hard dives and the occasional whine of a processor fan.

It’s like music to my ears.

In the late 90’s I was renting a basement on the east side of Hamilton1 and, as one would expect, I had a trio of computers running 24-hours every day. This was at a time well before the average person could afford solid state storage, so there was always the sound of multiple hard drives powering up and down depending on what was happening, power supply fans, processor fans, and large case fans. An endless cacophony of noise that would drive my parents to complain. However, I had always found the sound to be incredibly soothing.

Read/write heads inside a hard drive are mounted on the end of actuator arms that make a high-pitched sound as they moved from place to place across the disk. The 80mm case fans in the 90s could be made variable depending on the ambient temperature inside the box, so these would occasionally spin up or slowdown. If I were listening to a CD, the drive would spin up every time it finished the last track. These sounds, as ridiculous as it may seem, calm me in ways that meditation CDs simply cannot.

Laying alone in the spare room less than three meters from two servers, a 72TB NAS, a UPS, and some networking equipment is the perfect finish to any day of the week. The responsibilities and expectations from family2 near and far, as well as those from colleagues and clients, completely slip away when I’m in the room, laying on my bed, and just listening to the thrum of spinning hardware. I worry that this luxury will not be possible in the future if all storage is flash-based but, until that happens, I’ll enjoy every moment of this modern rhythmic hum.


  1. Not too far from where my father and I lived for seven years before he remarried, as chance had it.

  2. I include Nozomi as family. Her canine genetics do not bother me in the least.