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November 30, 2005

ALT-TAB to X11 in OS X Tiger is Fixed

I've been waiting for this for some time. When I upgraded to Tiger one of the first things I noticed is that when I used ALT-TAB to move through my applications, selecting X11 (and corresponding xTerm/emacs windows) activated the X11 application but didn't bring the window to the foreground. Really annoying, frustrating and a disturbance to my work.

I just noticed that on some recent update (I have no idea when or what was upgraded, but I'm on 10.4.3) my ALT-TAB to X11 is back with all windows coming to the foreground. Man that makes me a happy camper. I've been less than effective the past few months having to mouse click on the screen to activate those windows.

I want to say it's a small thing, but it really changes how much I get done if I my environment is not set up to work with my habits. Having to retrain myself to go to the mouse to change apps was a pretty big undertaking.

Posted by mike at 12:47 AM

November 29, 2005

The Most Relevant Kruckenberg

After years of being second to Pete, Google now says that I am the most relevant match for a search on "Kruckenberg". For a long time the first two results in a search for Kruckenberg were Pete's weblog and Pete's resume. Not that it mattered, but I wondered why a more active weblog, the book, Linux Magazine article etc wouldn't make me the most relevant Kruckenberg.

In an act of desparation I posted my resume a week ago, thinking that might be the key. Google doesn't put it in the top two links, but since then it appears that my relevancy has leap-frogged Pete.

I'm guessing a screenshot will be the only way to prove it in the long term as it's likely a fleeting moment.

Posted by mike at 5:36 PM

I Have an Unwanted Blogspot Weblog

Today in the process of making a comment on another blogspot weblog I ended up creating another weblog for myself over there. It's not that I wanted another weblog, I wanted to be able to make a comment and I guess it was worth going through the blogspot signup process. Rather than leave it empty, I put my first and last post up with a pointer here.

Doesn't it seem like if you are going to require a blogspot login to post comments that blogspot should allow me to create an account for just making a comment? Even better, I'm not required to create an account at all but just do something like type in a a number or word that appears in the image (which was also required).

I wanted kruckenberg.blogspot.com, but Pete seems to have already been through the same process.

Posted by mike at 12:50 AM

November 24, 2005

Sun Postgres and PostgreSQL

Poking around the Sun site tonight and stumbled into the announcement from last week about Sun's inclusion and support of PostgreSQL (or Sun Postgres) in Solaris 10. Yes, I know that throwing PostgreSQL and MySQL into the same sentence can get a person into trouble. I've had my fair share of confrontations . . .

There are a lot of questions raised by this. Right now I'm wondering about the support expertise:

Today Sun announced that it will be integrating the Postgres open source data base into the Solaris 10 OS and providing world-wide 24x7 support for customers who wish to develop and deploy open source database solutions into their enterprise environments.

I'm far removed from the PostgreSQL community, but the announcement from Postgresql.org seems to indicate that folks from Sun have been getting involved. Josh Berkus did a Q/A to answer some common questions and indicates that Sun has been working with the PostgreSQL Core Team and that PostgreSQL folks will be hired to provide the support where needed. The reality is that I'm not likely to see much of the details as this unfolds, but I'm curious about how Sun goes about structuring their process to bring in the needed expertise. I'm also curious about how it's being received in the PostgreSQL open source community. Who will Sun grab up to provide the support, and how much will they continue to add back to the PostgreSQL project?

As far as expertise . . . I once heard that the interview process to work at MySQL is 2-3 years, and that most folks who come on board are already experts in everything there is to know about MySQL because they've been involved in the community for many years. I've never had to call on MySQL AB for support, but I have heard some pretty awesome stories about getting code patches in 30 minutes. Will this be Sun's model?

The Sun Postgres site has more information.

Posted by mike at 11:35 PM

November 20, 2005

MySQL in December Linux Magazine

I haven't gotten my copy yet, but the December issue of Linux Magazine is focused on MySQL, including an interview with Mårten Mickos and an article by Jay and I on MySQL 5 features. Doesn't take long from the time I submitted the article to get it on the stands.

Our article specifically covers stored procedures, views and triggers, using the three new feature sets to solve a stock-monitoring problem. If you haven't seen or played with the new features in MySQL 5 this is a great chance to see some of them in action. If you're alread on board with version 5 this is a chance to brush up. If you're a 5 expert there's something to be said for seeing just how much Jay can stick in a query to get at a complex set of data. I'm always taken back by Jay's query crafting. It's rare that I use an INNER JOIN in the queries against the data I'm working with. Jay manages to get four of them into one of the examples.

The article is the first in a series, so look for more to come.

Posted by mike at 11:35 PM

House Rewiring Plan Underway

A few months back we decided that around the new year we'd have the kids (Jo and Ezra) move up to a bedroom on the 3rd floor. There is limited electrical (lighting and outlets) up there, so I figured we'd have a contractor come and run some new outlets and lights up there.

About the same time the bank came and inspected our home and demanded that we have the old knob and tube wiring that runs all over the basement ceiling replaced because it was a hazard.

Also about the same time my father, who is a retired electrician, came for a visit. When I described all the work he got pretty excited about helping out. We made a plan for him to come back for 12 days around Thanksgiving and tackle the project ourselves.

During the months leading up to this past week I read a great introductory book to learn as much as possible about electrical work, created a diagram with the plan for the basement and 3rd floor, made some monster shopping lists and even did some shopping to get some supplies ready for the big event.

I also spoke to the inspector of wiring in Malden and was granted a wiring permit to do the work. As a homeowner in Massachusetts I'm allowed to do wiring work in my home, but my dad was persistent in his push to get a permit and have our work inspected.

Dad arrived on Thursday and on Friday and Saturday he and I pulled a huge box full of old wiring off the basement ceiling and started putting in new circuits. I've mostly been replacing lights, pulling off the old fixture and wiring and putting up new boxes and running cable. Dad replaced a crazy run (BX -> box -> exposed cable -> conduit -> box) to the furnace that was in the way of several of the other things we were trying to do.

We have made things considerably more safe already, just getting rid of old, unused, wiring has made the ceiling look better. In a few cases we found live wiring that was exposed, but not serving any purpose.

The photo is my diagram for the 3rd floor, built using OmniGraffle. Work starts on the third floor tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 4:49 PM

November 19, 2005

Wireless, Battery Powered MySQL Cluster

Pictured here is an image of a wireless, battery powered MySQL cluster. Yes, it works. The setup is a 12" PowerBook and 15" PowerBook and a 15" iBook.

Why? Back in the spring (this post has been a long time coming) when I wrote about setting up, running and maintaining a MySQL cluster I didn't have 3 servers readily available. For part of the time I was on vacation in an area with unexpected extremely slow dialup so I started the work locally on my laptop.

Upon returning home there was too much momentum on my laptop to switch over to available servers so I commandeered two other laptops for the cluster. It turned out to be the right thing to do. As I continued working we experienced a power outage at our house. I took the photo to document the cluster running without any power, or any ethernet cables.

I don't recommend this for any serious use, but it was an interesting exercise to try, and the setup worked just as well as any for playing with the cluster storage engine. To simulate a machine loosing power I simply closed the lid. With one machine off I did some work in the database. After completing I brought the "sleeping" mac back online and lo and behold the data made it's way back onto that node.

Pretty cool . . . both the cluster engine and the unique setup.

Posted by mike at 12:08 AM

November 18, 2005

Will My Resume Increase My Google Ranking?

Every now and then I type "kruckenberg" into Google to see if the ranking has changed. For several years now the first two links have been to Pete's weblog and his resume. Oh how I'd love to be suprised and have something of mine show up first, so after a long while I'm finally getting around to posting my resume (which is a work in progress). Will it change things? Who knows . . . but it does feel good to have taken time to update the resume. Will come in handy when it's time to attach something to the grants I'm involved with.

Posted by mike at 12:00 AM

November 17, 2005

House of Pain Saves Sleepy Afternoon

This afternoon is being consumed by technical portions of a grant I've somehow been conned into writing. I was starting to lose coherence (too many late nights, large lunch) when I saw a new shared iTunes and was revived by House of Pain singing Jump Around. Apparently I've written about that very song before. Honestly, it's not my kind of music, but I can never pass it up when it comes across the shared playlist.

Somehow this doesn't seem like the right soundtrack for a person working on grant narration about enhancing medical education.

Posted by mike at 2:48 PM

November 16, 2005

Updating our Search Algorithm

Google recently updated it's search algorithm. I happened to be adding a new field to our search indexes (document copyright) and noticed a quick win for helping better ranking of search results in TUSK. So yes, we too have updated our search algorithm.

What was the quick win? People have been complaining for a long time that the search results from our content database are not ranked very well. Primarily that we rely on the full text indexing of DBIx::FullTextSearch which doesn't allow us to adjust document ranking based on other criteria. In many instances, content authors will take time to manually create a set of keywords that summarize the document. This list is stored elsewhere in our database and not indexed. My change pushes those keywords into the index and makes sure that if a search matches a keyword on a piece of content that the content is placed before one that was matched on full-text parsing alone.

This could potentially be a big win for a very small amount of work, people have been complaining for a long time now and we've even started researching new search tools that would give us more flexibility.

Posted by mike at 11:28 AM

November 14, 2005

Standing Room Only at Boston MySQL Meetup

Tonight's MySQL meetup in Boston turned out to be quite an event. At one point early on I counted around 40, but people came in throughout the meeting so would guess somewhere shy of 50. The format was informal, everyone was given a chance to introduce themselves, say where they work, what they do and what they'd like to get out of future MySQL meetups. I wished I had brought my camera, but I rushed off this morning without it.

Sheeri did a great job of coordinating, fostering conversation and keeping the discussion on focus. There were two things during the evening that made me a bit nervous and are worthy of note for future meetings. First, perhaps I'm a bit hypersensitive to marketing, but I cringed when the conversation started to feel like a pitch. I appreciated Sheeri steering the conversation back to focus on the group when it started to go toward a sales pitch for MySQL and affiliated products. Second, there was a time or two where it seemed like the group was forcing MySQL on the non-MySQL folks in attendance. There are going to be people curious about MySQL that are using other databases and I think the group should be welcoming and understanding to folks coming from other viewpoints.

Between the introductions and the raffle there was a break to give people a chance to stretch and meet. I sat back and watched for a minute, cool to see people connecting. I found myself answering questions about conversion from MS SQLServer to MySQL and the MySQL licensing model (not an expert on either).

Everyone that came got something (I got a copy of MySQL in a Nutshell, which I've been aching to have on hand). An experienced MySQL user nabbed up the one copy of Pro MySQL that Apress sent and had me sign it. Always a strange experience because I'm still not sure I actually wrote that book . . . it's all a blur.

Thanks to Optaros (Stephe Walli) for the space, MySQL AB for the pizza, and Apress, O'Reilly and MySQL AB for the free t-shirts, books, mugs, caps, etc.

Next meeting is December 12th, same location and time. Someone from MySQL AB is coming to present and field questions on MySQL 5.0. Looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Posted by mike at 11:12 PM

Weekend in New Hampshire

Took the family up to New Hampshire for the three-day weekend (Veteran's Day on Friday). Friends had offered their vacation home in Madison, which is just a few miles south of Conway in the White Mountains and near Mt. Washington. We couldn't pass it up.

It was a great weekend, I found myself thinking seriously about an action plan to spend more time away from the bustle of normal life. The vacation house had a nice view of a small lake and was on located on a gravel road that was great for afternoon walks. North Conway is a classic, small New England town with a nice selection of shops (and an annoying outlet mall on the south side of town, but some like that). We rode the Conway Scenic Railroad and spent some time visiting the Hartmann Model Railroad Museum, which was pretty awesome.

I had a chance to observe my 4-year old with the new iPod Shuffle and decided that it's only something she'll have access to in the car and on trips. She wanted to have it on all the time. I keep the volume low, but it's just annoying to not be able to have normal conversation.

One other thing . . . I had a friend back in high school that listened to a lot of Queen. I never quite got them, but there was a Queen CD in the house that brought back a lot of memories and was good for some crazy dancing with the kids.

I wish we were still up there . . .

Posted by mike at 12:02 AM

November 11, 2005

Boston MySQL Meetup on November 14 will be Hopping

The first Boston MySQL meetup is just a few days away. There are 50 who have RVSPd "Yes", and another 21 who have RSVPd "Maybe". I guess it's good Sheeri (group organizer) found a larger space. We originally debated whether a room for 10-15 would be large enough. Apparently not.

If you aren't sure whether you should come, consider these points:

Hope to see you there, it's going to be a lot of fun.


Posted by mike at 7:58 AM

November 10, 2005

My 4-year-old has an iPod

For at least the last year my daughter has been asking for an iPod, and now she's got one. Crazy you say? Let me tell you how this came about.

Every morning I hang out with the kids, we get ready for the day by getting dressed, eating breakfast, feeding the cats, emptying the dishwasher etc. During this time, and often on the ride over to the train station, I turn on my iPod to listen. Inevitably the kids convince me to listen to either some of my music they like or something from one of their CDs or video soundtracks. When I'm finally off to work the fun goes with me, unless they ask nicely enough and convince me to leave the iPod behind. That has led to a lot of "Dad, can I get an iPod so I can listen when you take your iPod to work?"

When I found that audible.com had a deal where you sign up for 6 months and get a free iPod shuffle it seemed like a win-win. I had wanted to try audible for some time, but never had the motivation to pay the monthly fee. The shufffle arrived today, just in the nick of time for a road trip we're taking tomorrow up to a vacation home in the white mountains.

Posted by mike at 10:51 PM

November 8, 2005

Meeting with Apple

Last week I had a chance to meet (along with the Tufts Director of Academic Technology) with Apple to do a 2-hour brainstorming session about what we're doing at Tufts, what Apple is doing and if there are intersections worth exploring.

There really isn't much I can say except that Tufts President Larry Bacow has been in touch with Steve Jobs, and that there are a lot of intersections. The meeting was a lively conversation about a handful of different topics and there were more action items than I've seen from a meeting in a long time. The higher ed Apple person for this region is quite a guy, very impressed with his insights.

Oh, and I got to fiddle with the video iPod. It probably wasn't so good for me as I was already thinking it was something I might justify buying. Now I can't stop thinking about it and am having a hard time resisting the urge to make the lunchtime trip to the Apple store and get one. The primary thing that's stopping me is that one year I bought a G3 tower in November only to see a new, better and cheaper PowerMac released a little more than one month later.

Posted by mike at 8:46 PM

MySQL Proposals Done in the Nick of Time

As much as I wanted to get the competitive advantage and put my proposal ideas in early, there was no chance to work on them until tonight after having wound down some work on another project. The flight home from DC was the perfect time to relax with some music and a mysql> prompt. I almost convinced myself it wasn't worth putting anything in, but then I had this idea and ended up putting in two. I do tend to enjoy conferences a bit more when I don't have to speak and can just soak it all in.

I am thankful for EST's 3 hour advantage over PST. I was on a flight that didn't get to Boston until 12:30am, but still had time to submit the completed proposals before the midnight deadline.

I'll wait to see if either of the ideas are chosen by the selection committee before making any comments about what was in my mind tonight. It may really be just a bunch of rubble. There's definitely one I'm more excited about, but is kind of a wild idea.

Posted by mike at 1:02 AM

November 6, 2005

In Washington, DC for AAMC

Today I travelled to Washington, DC to attend one day of the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) annual meeting. I had a chance to bump which ended up putting me in DC at 10:30 instead of 6:30. Still not sure if that was a great idea. I got a free ticket for later use and my later flight was 1st class, but it didn't give me time to sit down with my manager (who's also at AAMC) to look over some slides for a presentation we're doing on Monday.

As I look at the schedule, it's almost certain I won't actually get to see any of DC. Meetings start at 7am and go until 4pm, have to be on the shuttle to the airport at 6:30pm. Perhaps 2 hours is enough time to go to the Dupont Circle area and have dinner (have two recommendations).

The meetings I'm here for are centered around some collaboration work we're doing on virtual patients with a few other schools. Perhaps I'll write about that later.

Note: To complicate things further, today is the deadline for the MySQL User's Conference call for papers. I have several ideas that I've been working on, need to get them in.

Posted by mike at 11:19 PM

November 3, 2005

Strange Coincidence at Tonight's Boston PHP Group Meeting

Tonight I attended the Boston PHP group's monthly meeting. The primary reason I went is because the group meets at the Optaro office, which has been offered to the MySQL group for our first meeting in two weeks.

There was a pretty good group there to see Stephen Walli present on open source business model. Some fresh (at least to me) ideas about open source thinking. After the presentation there was a drawing for some O'Reilly stuff and I ended up getting a copy of Open Sources 2.0, which has a chapter by Stephen. I also had a chance to promote the upcoming MySQL user group meeting and had a few folks express interest in it.

The strange coincidence is that after the meeting I went to the Orange line to ride home. A man who was at the meeting came up and started talking to be about the MySQL meetup. He seemed familiar (more so than just having seen him at the meeting). After talking for a minute I realized he looked a lot like the man across the street. Turns out it was Brian, my neighbor. Also turns out it was the first PHP meetup he'd gone to as well. What are the odds that you go to a group for the first time and of the 20 people in the room one of them is your neighbor? We had a great conversation on the train and short walk home.

The PHP meetup has gotten me even more excited for our MySQL group meeting. If you live in greater Boston (or perhaps even the larger New England area) and can make it to North Station on November 14th please do so.

Posted by mike at 10:43 PM

November 2, 2005

Boston MySQL Meetup November 14

The first meeting of the Boston MySQL meetup group is scheduled for November 14th. The MySQL folks have put us in touch with the folks at Optaros who are willing to let the group meet in their office. Looking forward to meeting some other MySQL users in the area. Directions are on the Optaros site. Meetup starts at 7pm.

Thanks to Sheeri for stepping up as the meetup coordinator and getting this going.

Posted by mike at 2:30 PM