Awesome Conferences

The Zipper Machine


As a system administrator I spend a lot of time thinking about infrastructure. Good, solid, infrastructure saves money, but is sometimes inflexible. On the other hand, flexibility makes infrastructure more useful and broadens its appeal.
I live near the Tappan Zee bridge which crosses the Hudson River (in NYC). The morning traffic is mostly westbound and the afternoon traffic is mostly eastbound. Rather than expanding the bridge they now use "the zipper machine" to move the boundary between the two sides. (the picture here is from's article about its use on I-95 near Richmond, VA)
Watching this machine work is a delight. I've been lucky enough to see it three times. It only takes 20 minutes to move a mile of barrier so seeing it in action has a low probability.
I have to imagine the person that first proposed creating this device was thought to be crazy. I suppose they had to fight their way through nay-sayers in their company until someone believed them. However, now that the machine exists it just seems like a natual thing to do.
Every time I see this machine I think it makes a great analogy for IT projects. The more audacious an IT project is, the more crazy it looks. After it is complete and people are benefitting from it everyone thinks it is obvious.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Ideas