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January 30, 2006

Four Weeks without a Mobile Phone

Four weeks ago my cell phone (provided by Tufts) fell out of my car when running some errands. It took me a few days to notice that it wasn't in any of the usual places and trace back. As it was 2 years old I had no problem coming to terms with the fact that it was gone.

Today I finally got a replacement ordered. When it arrives I will have been without it for four weeks. A few reasons it's taken me so long to get it replaced:

Why I finally got around to replacing it:

How has it been without a mobile phone? As you can tell I don't use it a ton, or rely on it for critical communication . . . but it has been a pain. I've missed a few important calls because I didn't put the word out. I took a three day trip out west and had to borrow a cell phone, which didn't work so great because none of the numbers I needed were stored. It's also annoying to go places and not be reachable or able to reach others when plans might change on the fly. On the flip-side, it's kind of nice to leave work or home and feel just a tad bit more free. I guess not enough to push for a life without a cell phone.

I am looking forward to having the convenience back, perhaps this time I'll be more careful with it.

Posted by mike at 2:33 PM

January 26, 2006

More MySQL 5 in Linux Magazine

Got my copy of Linux Maqazine today. February includes the second in a series that started in December on MySQL 5 features. This month's article is MySQL 5: Stored Functions and Cursors, a look at using stored functions and cursors in building functionality for a stock-tracking application.

The MySQL article is followed by an article on DB4O, an open source object database (not represented in the open source database consortium) . I toyed with PostgreSQL back in the late 90s and recall it having some object orientation that was not easy to get my head around. Curious to see what DB4O is up to, I hadn't heard much about them until now and certainly hadn't seen details about using their object database. It's available in Java or C# source, which is an automatic minus for most LAMP developers.

Good to keep an open mind, right?

Posted by mike at 11:41 AM

January 25, 2006

No Screen Display on My 15" PowerBook

A few weeks ago my 15" PowerBook started acting strange. It would go to sleep faster than configured to, and waking it up became a 50-50 gamble, sometimes I'd have to do a reboot to get it to wake up. Last night it went further south. I cannot get anything to happen on the screen. It's clear that the machine is working because you can boot it up and hear the hard drive doing it's stuff to get booted up.

I dug around on the Apple, and many other helpful sites last night when a series of reboots didn't do anything. I found a lot of information about resetting PRAM and NVRAM but neither process did anything to change the (mis)behavior.

I stumbled into a few suggestions the explained screeen problems related to the laptop thinking there was an external monitor. When I got home tonight (spent the day in a non-laptop seminar) I hooked up an old monitor and sure enough, the video is being sent out the DVI. Efforts to switch that back resulted in the grey screen of death. It appears that any time the laptop attempts to use the laptop display the machine crashes. I don't think this is good. Attempts to "Discover" displays do not detect the laptop display.

For now I can work, and at least copy off the data to an external hard drive. Will call Apple tomorrow and get a ticket going.

Posted by mike at 9:53 PM

January 11, 2006

Video of MySQL Backup Presentation by Sheeri Kritzer at Boston MySQL Meetup

Update: The video is up on Google. You'll likely have better luck pulling it down from there, our little server can't quite keep up if too many people request it.

Finished the video production for Sheeri's MySQL backup presentation. It's a biggy, over 500mb. I exported in H.264 and MPEG-4 Quicktime because there were reports of not being able to see the video. I've attempted to export at lower quality and didn't notice any significant change in filesize.

I'll put a link to the Google vidio when Sheeri gets it put up, because my guess is the Kruckenberg machine won't do so well with this.

Posted by mike at 10:00 PM

January 9, 2006

Another Excellent Boston MySQL Meetup

Just got home from tonight's Boston MySQL Meetup. The subject was MySQL Backups. Sheeri did a great presentation and then it was opened up to the group to discuss various options. I counted 32 attendees at one point.

I was interested to hear one person's experience with backups on a terrabyte database of InnoDB tables. He indicated that in their work they've found the best performing backup is to lock the tables in MySQL and then use Winzip to archive the tables. Much better performance than mysqlcopy, mysqldump or InnoDB hot backup (they found the InnoDB tool to be the slowest option, to the point of unusability). That kind of insight is so valuable.

Replication was a hot topic, Sheeri touched on this as a backup option for certain scenarios and it got a lot of non-backup questions. Seems like a good topic for a future meetup.

I'm capturing the video right now, will post that shortly. Sheeri will post the slides too.

Posted by mike at 10:01 PM

Jay Pipes at MySQL AB

It's official, Jay Pipes (co-author of Pro MySQL) is now at MySQL (AB/Inc.) as the North America Community Relations Manager. Jay told me he'd applied for the job back when Kaj wrote about it, looks like a really cool position and exciting opportunity to be immersed in the open source community.

Congratulations. Looking forward to hearing about the adventures of a MySQL employee and to more great things from the community team.

Posted by mike at 4:59 PM

January 3, 2006

Mitch Pirtle, Joomla!, and Boston PHP Meetup

Swung by the Boston PHP meetup tonight to listen to Mitch Pirtle, Joomla! core developer, present about the Joomla! open source content management system. Mitch is a good speaker, and conveyed a sense of excitement for the project. His presentation followed the description pretty closely:

Mitch Pirtle, Joomla! core developer, will demonstrate how simply and quickly one can get Joomla! up and running, and then delve into the deeper mysteries of the CMS that promises a simple interface with powerful features. Covering templates, components, modules and mambots, you will learn additional tricks and tips to get the most out of your Joomla! site. Additonal coverage will center on third party developers and business strategies.

A final topic is how to organize open source projects, and common pitfalls and challenges. There are many open source projects that fall prey to poor planning and organization, and you have a variety of resources to pull from to ensure your project doesn't get lost to
politics or bad practices.

There was a fair amount of back and forth during the presentation, good questions and answers. I took a number of items away from the presentation:

I seem to vaguely remember the creation of Joomla! about a year ago. For many years the application was named Mambo. The story appears to be that the core developers (including Mitch) of Mambo were booted by the rights holder after many years of working on the software. With a lot of legal advice they forked the existing software and created Joomla!

Mitch is also a fellow Apress author (although I didn't realize that until I got home and started poking around).

Next month's Boston PHP meetup is about Ajax . . . looks like it will be pretty good.

Posted by mike at 10:40 PM

OSCON Call for Participation Open

The O'Reilly Open Source Convention call for participation is now open. I didn't go last year, and I regret it. Hopefully this year will be different and I'll be there to experience all that open source goodness.

Posted by mike at 5:06 PM

January 1, 2006

mysql> Says Happy New Year (and more)

As it's New Year's Day (for Gregorian folks), I got to thinking about MySQL and how it might wish folks Happy New Year. Perhaps someday MySQL will be a bit more like HAL and be capable of doing these things on it's own, for now it takes some work on the command-line client prompt to get a response:

mysql> SELECT DAYOFYEAR(NOW()) as 'Day of Year';
+-------------+
| Day of Year |
+-------------+
|           1 |
+-------------+
1 row in set (0.26 sec)

And there you have it, MySQL telling you it's New Year's Day! Not terribly exciting, it's obvious the MySQL doesn't know that day number 1 might be something special to some users. MySQL needs to be a little more concious of culture, perhaps allowing this kind of more direct question:

mysql> SELECT ISNEWYEARSDAY();
+-----------------+
| ISNEWYEARSDAY() |
+-----------------+
|               1 |
+-----------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Getting closer, but let's think about when you walk down the street in a friendly mood on a special holiday. If interactions with passers-by were strictly boolean there wouldn't be much of a holiday feeling in the air now would there. If every passer by asked "Is it New Years Day?" and you said "Yes" there certainly would be a knowledge of the fact that it is a holiday, but where is the friendliness?

When it comes to special days, MySQL really needs to be able to be more expressive. Let's take it up a notch and ask it to give us an English greeting:

mysql> SELECT GREETING() as 'Greeting';
+----------------+
| Greeting       |
+----------------+
| Happy New Year! |
+----------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Yes, that is better. You still have to say "Give me a Greeting," but at least it says something respectable. Let's change the date around a bit and see what else it will tell us (I did this by changing the date on my computer).

On December, 26th:

mysql> SELECT NOW() as Date, GREETING() as 'Greeting';
+---------------------+-------------------------+
| Date                | Greeting                |
+---------------------+-------------------------+
| 2005-12-26 16:10:12 | Good Boxing Day to You. |
+---------------------+-------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Now that's getting better, let's try February 14th:

mysql> SELECT NOW() as Date, GREETING() as 'Greeting';
+---------------------+-------------------------------------------+
| Date                | Greeting                                  |
+---------------------+-------------------------------------------+
| 2006-02-14 16:11:43 | Love is in the Air...Happy Valentines Day |
+---------------------+-------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.10 sec)

Oh, and even a little extra there.

Now, there are a lot of holidays, and MySQL will need to be localized for various cultures. However holiday-packad a culture is, there will be days where there's just nothing special to announce and as much as MySQL will want to have a pleasant greeting, it will have to say something else, as it does here on January 3rd:

mysql> SELECT NOW() as Date, GREETING() as 'Greeting';
+---------------------+------------------------------------+
| Date                | Greeting                           |
+---------------------+------------------------------------+
| 2006-01-03 16:14:25 | Just an ordinary day, get to work! |
+---------------------+------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

Next . . . getting MySQL to be friendly without being prompted, and to speak, but not attempt to take over like HAL.

(source for the GREETING() function coming soon, when it's not a holiday where the family is putting pressure on to come have dinner)

Posted by mike at 3:19 PM