No disclaimer, I'm just a geek, but maybe just not your average one.
Although I gamed in my earlier years and played all the Ultima RPGs (I through IX), I never got into the MMO part because dial-up Internet was insanely¬†expensive and I was simply too poor to join the bandwagon, so I became a geek in different ways.
I like learning about enterprise computing and storage systems, and then installing the latest Linux operating systems on them.
The¬†short version example of this:
In 2002 I acquired a Sun Microsystem E6500¬†from an EEE friend of mine that just didn‚Äôt want it in his basement anymore.¬†Living on a first floor apartment, I put it naturally where any other geek would have: in my walk-in closet.
At¬†this time, multi-core processing was just starting to peek its ugly head into the industry and this system offered up to 30 processors. I was stoked to see how this would compare against your average Intel P4 based Xeon processors.
It also offered a very unique approach to staggered JBOD based disk arrays using ZFS that used¬†Fibre Channel based LVD 15 krpm SCSI disks, which at the time was some of the fastest disks on the planet. While the industry was using 180 GB to 600 GB disks, I was running 36 GB disks because I could get them for dirt and/or free. So I installed about 1 TB of them across 4 controllers.
Solaris based UNIX was the intended operating system at the time, but had licensing fees associated with it that I just wasn't willing to pay, so I installed Gentoo using a BSD kernel.
All in all, my total investment was about $500 in various parts. At the time, if I had purchased all of it from eBay it would have cost about $2,500 on the cheap and $10,000 going through more certified refurbished channels. My budget was the least amount of money possible without exception.
After learning a ton about the hardware, systems, and performance differences between traditional computing offers at the time, I sold it to a software development firm as a "compile-farm-in-a-box" for $9,000 because of its unique Sun Hardware / Gentoo Linux / BSD kernel combination.
Ultimately, it felt like a win.
Since this small project, I've done many others, but mainly just on storage including: EMC Clarion's, HP MSA's, NetCell (raid cards), Fusion-IO before they even came to market, and worked on a Linux based network file system that held 5 pending patents, but expired just this last year.
In the last 2 months, I've participated in a BETA software test that leverages SSDs of your choice as an IOP caching mechanism applied to any block device, and I am currently looking to buy hardware to properly test out this software on a CephFS based storage subsystem that automatically replicates data across the cluster.
I just love this stuff and I love tinkering with it. It kinda makes me feel like a mad scientist when I get it all to work.