with 'work' tag

an observer of his own legacy

one of the questionable habits i picked up in the run-up to the election is reading andrew sullivan’s blog at the atlantic. his thoughts about the recent interview with lame-duck president bush and how president bush seemed unable to take any responsibility for his own role for the failings of his presidency reminded me of monty’s thoughts on 5.1 being declared “generally available.”

work work work

was it really almost a year ago that i mentioned that my focus would be shifting from connector/odbc to libmysql? time certainly flies.

after what now seems much too long, i can say that we have carved out libmysql from the server source code, rebuilt its build system (using cmake), and are gearing up for an alpha release. the code is on launchpad, and it builds on all the platforms that the mysql server does. we have a build system set up that runs what scant tests we have on all of the platforms, and the big thing to work one before release is making more tests.

because this source is derived from the 6.0 server code, it has at least one big flaw that needs to get addressed — if you try to use utf-8, it uses the new 4-byte utf-8 supported in 6.0 even when talking to pre-6.0 servers, which then fails and falls back to latin1.

besides fixing that problem, our plan is to not make any large changes in connector/c (libmysql) for its first solo release. so the time from the first alpha release to the first “generally available” release should be small.

boring from another continent

blogging session

as celia wrote earlier, we are in riga, latvia for a meeting of the mysql developers. she is holed up in the hotel room working on a screenplay (or maybe in the atrium where the wifi is better), and i am in a presentation about blogging.

celia already posted pictures from our excursion day on sunday (the day we didn’t sit around in the meeting rooms at the hotel). i took some video which i will figure out how to deal with once we are back home.

need anything dampened?

drizzle is an interesting new development in the mysql landscape. brian aker, who came along to sun microsystems in the acquisition but is actually now part of sun labs, not the database group, has taken the mysql server and started to strip it down to the bare metal. he isn’t working alone, of course, but has picked up some contributors during the stealthy period before they announced it at oscon on tuesday.

if you were paying attention the other day, you may have dug around my launchpad code page and noticed that i had a branch of drizzle where i was applying some fixes to make it build on mac os x. that should be merged into the main tree soon, so that branch will soon be retired. i’m not sure what i might try to do next.

drizzle isn’t something i am working on officially, but i can’t help but try to push things into some directions that i think would be fruitful. i certainly feel like i have a better shot of shifting its inertia than that of the mysql server.

my mac essentials

whenever i see somebody’s list of essential mac applications, i am always a little surprised at how little overlap it has for me. now that i’ve mostly switched over the new macbook pro, here’s the list of applications that i have installed:

of the bundled software, i regularly use address book, ical, iphoto, itunes, mail (for my sun/mysql email), preview, safari, and terminal. and i use time machine, but i hope i don’t have to regularly use it.

bug tracking and code review

i was going to write some reactions to an observation that postgresql has no bug tracker and its discussion last week, but lost the spark and abandoned the post after a few days. but today i ran across a quote from linus torvalds that neatly sums up my thoughts:

We’ve always had some pending/unresolved issues, and I think that as our tracking gets better, there’s likely to be more of them. A number of bug-reports are either hard to reproduce (often including from the reporter) or end up without updates etc.

before there was a bug tracking system for mysql, there was a claim that all bugs were fixed in each release (or documented), and there has been a lot of pain in seeing how well that sort of claim stacks up against a actual growing repository of bug reports. if the postgresql project were to adopt a bug-tracking system, i am certain that they would find the same issue. before long, they would be planning bug triage days just like every other project with a bug-tracking system seems destined to do.

another good email from linus about these issues was pointed out by a coworker, but this part in particular caught my eye:

Same goes for “we should all just spend time looking at each others patches and trying to find bugs in them.” That’s not a solution, that’s a drug-induced dream you’re living in. And again, if I want to discuss dreams, I’d rather talk about my purple guy, and the bad things he does to the hedgehog that lives next door.

the procedure at mysql for code reviews is that either two other developers must review the patch, or one of an elite group of developers who are trusted to make single reviews. then the developer can push their changes into their team trees, taking care to have merged the changes correctly in anywhere from one to four versions (4.1 and up).

this is a huge amount of friction, and is one of the most significant problems causing pain for mysql development. two reviewers is just too high of a bar for most patches, and having the rule makes the reviews rote and less useful. there is also an unreasonable amount of distrust being displayed by this procedure, that says that developers can’t be trusted to ask for help when they are unsure, but should feel free to make the occasional mistake by pushing something that isn’t quite right.

i wonder if we could be taking better lessons from linux’s hierarchical development model, with the pulling of code up through lieutenants to a single main repository, rather than the existing model that involves every developer moving their own stones up the pyramid. it would require some developers (more senior ones, presumably) to spend more of their time doing code management as opposed to actual coding.

monty is not particularly happy with the state of development of his brainchild now. would he be happier if he were in a linus-like role of rolling up patches and managing releases?

i wish had the patience to write at less length and greater coherence about this.

connector/odbc 3.51.25 and 5.1.4

connector/odbc 3.51.25 and 5.1.4 were released today. the new 5.1 release has been deemed “generally available,” which is our really ridiculous term for a non-alpha/beta/rc release.

it was the day for the connectors team to do releases — previews of connector/openoffice.org and pdo_mysqlnd made it out before us, and i believe that a connector/net release is in the wings.

connector/odbc 5.1.3 (release candidate!)

yeah, it is all odbc, all the time here, it seems. that is just because i can’t write about the really exciting stuff. soon!

that is not to say that releasing mysql connector/odbc 5.1.3-rc is not a huge milestone! it took us a while to get there, but we finally have a unicode-aware odbc driver that is, in our opinions, production-ready. now we just need some community feedback to find out if we are right. there are a few minor issues we know about already, but the impact of those is generally small enough that the majority of folks should not have any problems.

connector/odbc 3.51.24

the march of progress continues, with the release of mysql connector/odbc 3.51.24. we are down to 33 bugs, most of which will not get fixed further 3.51 releases, but will be fixed in 5.1 or later. i think the two remaining issues we might fix in 3.51 are the crashes of the setup library on mac os x (which may just require a 10.5 build) and bug #12805.

iodbc and mac os x problems

working with the iodbc driver manager on mac os x has been a frustration on two fronts.

first, the installer api functions provided by iodbc constantly set the configuration mode to ODBC_BOTH_DSN, which means you have to keep resetting it to the correct value after nearly every installer api call. this problem is platform-agnostic — the iodbc code is just plain wrong.

second, when called from the odbc administrator application on mac os x, any failures that the driver reports or passes through from the installer api in registering the driver are ignored, and the application instead uses a generic prompt for dsn configuration.

so even with the first problem fixed, the second problem has led to a lot of tail-chasing until i discovered that the odbc administrator application only obtains enough privileges to write to /Library/ODBC as a member of the admin group, not as the root user. because the connector/odbc installer was trying to be helpful in only creating the /Library/ODBC/*.ini files with root-writable permissions, it was running straight into the second problem.

this is all related to bug #31495 filed against mysql connector/odbc.

let the sun shine in

i completed all the paperwork to accept my new position at sun today. now i just need to drop it off at a ups dropbox or have ups pick it up. at least they didn’t ask me to fax anything.

for a hardware company trying to become a software company, you would think the process of “onboarding” would not involve writing your address on a half-dozen different forms.

i will be a “member of the technical staff 4 - software.”

yeah, they say that they are working on updating the titles and such for everyone.

connector/odbc 5.1.2

connector/odbc 5.1.2 was released today. this will probably be the last beta. we have gone back and triaged all of the bugs filed against connector/odbc, and have identified a few bugs that we have to fix before we will release a release candidate, but overall the trend of bugs is very encouraging. there are only a handful of bugs filed specifically against 5.1, and the total number of connector/odbc bugs is down to under 60.

new responsibility

while we start to wind up development of connector/odbc 5.1, i will also be taking on responsibility for libmysql, the c library that defines the client interface to mysql, and the mysql command-line utilities. there are about 120 active bugs in those areas right now, so the first task will be getting that down to a more manageable number.

after that, the field will open up for new development. i know that an asynchronous interface to libmysql is on some people’s wishlist, and there are other areas where i think that libmysql could be cleaned up in general.

but the idea that i think is the most exciting is to build a scripting language into the mysql command-line client, such as lua. this would allow us to rewrite many of the utility scripts and perhaps even other command-line clients (like mysqldump) in lua, so they would be easier to work with and more naturally cross-platform.

i should be careful to note that this does not mean that we are abandoning connector/odbc development (again). it is just that 5.1 has been a huge leap forward in closing most of the gaps in its functionality, and the remaining features are both not numerous and not that widely used.

some things to be excited about

still wrapping my head around this whole sun thing, but i have to say that i am a little excited about some of what i see in sun’s explanation of their benefit package. above and beyond what mysql offers now, there is matching on the 401(k), a stock purchase program, and charitable contribution matching. there is also a tuition reimbursement program.

it does look like i’ll be losing some days off, or at least the flexibility on them (more holidays, less vacation time).

and there is a new employee referral bonus. so if you want to work for sun (or as i suspect mårten will be referring to it, mysql), wait a few months and let me refer you!

what it means

wonton and celia check out the schedule

you may have heard that sun has agreed to acquire mysql. what does that mean for me? that i still really wish i wasn’t in orlando, and was at home with my wife and puppy.

connector/odbc 3.51.23

we usually try to avoid doing releases on friday, but we had been trying to release mysql connector/odbc 3.51.23 for a while now, and if it didn’t happen today, there was a good chance it wouldn’t happen for a few more weeks. this release just contains a few bug fixes, but we have gotten the bug count down to 60. one of the things i hope we can accomplish at our big orlando meeting is doing some triage on those remaining bugs.

connector/odbc 5.1.1 (beta!)

mysql connector/odbc 5.1.1-beta is available.

we didn’t implement all of the features in our original plan, but we decided to close out 5.1 to new features so that we could work on getting it to a production (GA) release as soon as possible.

5.1 has it’s share of bugs still, but we have tackled the most serious ones, and now that we are done with features (for the time being) we can focus on making the GA release shine.

now the race is on to see who gets out a 5.1 GA release first — the server or connector/odbc!

mac os x programming help needed

one of the features we had planned for mysql connector/odbc 5.1 is native setup libraries for the major platforms. we have the microsoft windows version going, and some code to get us going on linux/unix (using gtk instead of qt), but our gui team is too busy to get us started on a native mac os x version.

anyone want to pitch in by showing us how to get a basic dialog window to pop up based on a c library call? i think we will be able to customize it from there, but i am just unfamiliar enough with mac os x gui programming that i have a feeling it would take a long time for me to get that going.

connector/odbc 3.51.22

mysql connector/odbc 3.51.22 is available, still keeping to that mostly-monthly schedule. there has actually been an slight increase in the bug count to a little over 70. we went back through all of the bugs filed against the now-defunct 5.0 version, and that turned up some that still appeared in 3.51.

the next release of the 5.1 branch is still imminent. it has taken a little longer than planned to get the new windows setup library integrated.

a mountain so high

greg knauss wrote “wide vs. deep” to explain why he is not happy being management, and what he thinks the difference is between people well-suited to management and those that are not.

i don’t know if i agree with his explanation, but i think it is very important for organizations to realize that there cannot be only one career path that leads up through management. to mysql’s credit, the recent work that was done to standardize our job titles and the path up the ranks acknowledges this, and there is a non-management path for developers. i don’t think we are quite where we need to be in terms of divorcing technical leadership from resource management, but we are getting there.

and mysql is hiring for all sorts of positions.

but enough about me, what do you think of me?

in his infoworld blog, zack urlocker (vp products at mysql) passes on a good link about smaller software teams. and says very kind things about me, since he read the article after i posted it to our internal business-intelligence list. i used to report directly to zack, but i have managed to shoehorn in three other people between us on the orgchart since then.

that business-intelligence list is kind of a funny beast. it is mostly industry news (who bought who), with some interesting mentions of mysql in the press and blogs, and my ongoing implicit criticism of our development processes. it would make a pretty good blog. i should at least start posting the things i have been sending to the list.

expensive parts

friendly note: do not go to the apple store at the glendale galleria, at least for a month or two. between the ongoing construction in the parking structure which makes it a bear to get in and out of, and the super-small space the apple store is in while they remodel their usual location, it is not a particularly pleasant experience. luckily, they called my name about ten minutes after my appointment was scheduled. the store was jam-packed, especially for the middle of wednesday afternoon.

the genius made a quick verdict of fried logic board for the mac mini. when he looked up the price to repair it, it came up as $612. which is just barely less than a new mac mini would be. now it is up to my boss (or his boss, or his boss, or his boss, or maybe someone else) to decide if replacing the computer is an acceptable expense.

after giving me the bad news on the computer, the genius hooked up the monitor that i thought had a fried power supply, and it turns out that it works just fine. whew!

we grabbed a late lunch at the oinkster in eagle rock after leaving the apple store (and i dragged celia out of the pet store next door). their bbq pork sandwich is so tasty. and so is the ube shake.

connector/odbc 3.51.21

after eight releases, we have gone from over 150 open bugs to under 70 bugs.

one of the really old bugs we are still looking at is how identifiers that are reserved words (or have non-alphanumeric characters) are handled from ado. as far as we can tell, the driver is doing everything correctly, and it is ado that is failing to properly quote the identifiers, but we have gotten some developers at microsoft involved in tracking the problem from that end.

just today there was a new bug filed about using the driver with visual basic 6, which was itself released in 1998. i am going to have to build a vm image with that installed so i can do some testing.

the next release of the new 5.1 branch should be out later this week. we will probably limit the scope of new features we are going to implement in 5.1 so that we can get unicode support and the other already-implemented features out there as a beta (and then production/ga) release sooner.

hardly working

lazy sunday by the neckar

this is the mysql developers working hard at our developer conference in heidelberg, germany.

okay, not really. this is just a shot of a park on the shores of the neckar river in heidelberg, germany, taken while we were on a boat back from our day-off excursion to the german raptor research centre.

the whole set of photos has more of heidelberg, and some of the birds from the research centre. but no shots of any developers. you will have to wait for the oktoberfest pictures for those.

my wife celia also posted her pictures from heidelberg and pictures from oktoberfest.

connector/odbc 3.51.20 and 5.1.0

another month, another release of connector/odbc 3.51. there’s not a lot of bug fixes in this one, but we did manage to get the bug count under 80 bugs.

the reason there were fewer bug fixes in the release of 3.51.20 (other than there being fewer bugs to fix) was that we have been hard at work on connector/odbc 5.1.0, which builds on the 3.51 foundation to bring new functionality like unicode and descriptor support. there are more features planned, and you can see the release announcement for details. i hope that we’ll be able to keep on releasing new versions of 3.51 and 5.1 on a monthly basis.

connector/odbc 5.0 has met the same fate as the aborted 3.52 and 3.53 releases. it was an ambitious ground-up rewrite of the driver, but once we had put renewed efforts into getting the 3.51 code into better shape, it became clear that doing the same for a completely different code-base made little sense. we are going to be cherry-picking some of the 5.0 code for some of the new features.

i am sorry that we have been secretive about what was up with the future of 5.0, but we decided it was better to not talk about what was happening until we were confident about the decision to kill it.

connector/odbc 3.51.19

we managed to let a pretty significant regression sneak through in 3.51.18, so we’ve turned out a quick release of mysql connector/odbc 3.51.19. sorry for the hassle.

connector/odbc 3.51.18

we were able to get out this month’s connector/odbc release a little earlier in the month than usual. one reason we made the release earlier was to get a replacement for last month’s 3.51.17 out there, because that release had an unfortunate bug that caused problems when working with many odbc applications, like microsoft access.

we were also able to get under 90 bugs by fixing a number of other bugs, and working through more of the old bugs and figuring out that they were either already solved or otherwise no longer relevant.

the other reason to get this out earlier in the month has to do with a project that should see some more daylight by the end of the month. more on that when the time comes.

connector/odbc 3.51.17

another month, another mysql connector/odbc release. it has almost become a trend. we only chipped it down to about 124 bugs this time, about a half-dozen less than last time. but we’re going back and re-evaluating some the open bugs now.

we didn’t manage to get windows x64 packaged up this time, but we might slip out a 3.51.17 package for that platform before the next full release. part of the problem in getting it together in time for this release was that odbc on win64 appears rather half-baked, and we couldn’t find much in the way of applications to test with it.

now i’m hip-deep in making sure that the way we calculate the various column lengths that you can retrieve from odbc are correct. in many cases they are not, but the msdn odbc documentation is wonderfully imprecise on what lengths are meant to be returned for many of these. and it sometimes appears to contradict some of the ibm db2 odbc documentation.

connector/odbc 3.51.16

it’s another month, so time for another connector/odbc release.

there’s already three bug fixes that have been committed to the repository for the next release, and the changes to support building on windows x64 should land soon.

we’re down to about 130 open bugs, about 20 less than the last release. some of those were newly fixed, and some were closed because they duplicated earlier problems that had already been fixed. this release does close another bug that is nearly three years old.

one of the things i hope to get fixed for the next release is being able to specify the default character set for the connection. you can’t do this now, so when developers try to use a different default character set like big5, problems show up in how parameters are escaped. this shouldn’t be hard to do, but it will involve adding another widget to our gui configuration, which i haven’t really had to do very much with up until now.

rambling about work

sorry for things being so boring around here. i’ve been grinding away at bugs at work. after gaining some ground on bugs in connector/odbc, i’m being reassigned to help out with some server bugs again, at least part-time.

fixing bugs in c/odbc is an adventure. the code base bears the scars of several different developers of varying levels of cleverness and somewhat conflicting coding styles. but now that the test suite is in shape, it is easier (and safer) to do some more mechanical transformations to undo some of the damage.

one problem with tackling bugs in an odbc driver is that a lot of the reports involve third-party applications like microsoft access or crystal reports, or development tools like delphi that we don’t have as much expertise in. the initial reports often don’t include all of the information we need to be able to reproduce the bug.

this can be frustrating both for us and the reporters — we just don’t have enough people looking at c/odbc bugs to play around with every application to figure out exactly how to reproduce bugs that are reported, and often the problem seems blindingly obvious when you’re the one who runs across it. i think that most of the time we get it under control, but there have been a few times when this frustration has taken things in the wrong direction.

connector/odbc 3.51.15

this time it only took two months since the last release — mysql connector/odbc 3.51.15 is now available. there aren’t a lot of bugs fixed in this release, compared to the 150 or so open bugs, but it is nice when you get to close a bug that is nearly three years old.

i’m not sure when the next release will happen, but i already have one patch pending.

angry programming

mysql doesn’t have quite the number of fancy internal applications that you might suspect, and i got frustrated when the company started to roll out a system of monthly time-off reports based on emailing around an excel spreadsheet. (to add icing to that cake, they kept sending out the excel sheet with password protection!)

last friday, i spent an afternoon cooking up this little proof-of-concept application that tracked the same information as the spreadsheet, but in tasty web format, with some ajax goodness (courtesy of prototype).

as it turns out, there was an official company tool for doing this that was in the works, but they hadn’t bothered to let anyone know it was imminent. i’m told it is sox-compliant and configurable six ways to sunday. i haven’t seen it yet.

so my meager efforts did not go to waste, i just spent another half hour to make this a standalone demo (rather than tying into our internal personnel database). perhaps someone else can find some use for it, or take some inspiration from it.

here’s the simple workflow for the application:

  1. employee clicks on days they took off in a month.
  2. employee clicks button to get month approved, which sends email to boss.
  3. boss reads email and follows link to view the report online.
  4. boss clicks the button to approve the report, which sends mail to the employee and the finance department.
  5. the finance department does whatever it does with the data. the employee can no longer change it.

obviously that’s not quite all you would want for a fully-functional application, but it is most of the way there. i think it’s already better than the system that involved emailing an excel spreadsheet around.

jobs at mysql

mysql has quite a few open job listings. some positions of note: web developer, support engineer, maintenance developer, qa engineer, and performance architect. all of these positions are available world-wide, so you get to work from home. some of the other jobs from the full list are location-specific.

if you mention that i referred you for some of these positions and are then hired, i get some sort of referral bonus.

another connector/odbc release — finally

a mere seventeen months since the last release, we finally managed to release version 3.51.14 of connector/odbc. while much of the development energy around connector/odbc is going into the rewrite from scratch, there’s a few of us that have been working on getting the old workhorse of 3.51 back into shape and releasable.

kent from the build team has constructed a new build tool that lets him crank out builds (and test them) on too many platforms, bogdan and tonci (and others) from the support team have really dug in and solved some annoying problems our customers have run across, and georg and i have been getting into the code and cleaning up some of the other issues. there were also a number of fixes from peter that had simply not been released yet.

there will probably be some embarrassing problems with this new release, but now we finally have the tools at hand to do a release without breaking the back of any one person, and we are getting more organized and disciplined about how we fix the bugs that remain.

backcountry programming

i’m back to doing some work on connector/odbc, fixing bugs in the “stable” version (otherwise known as 3.51.x). we have another project going that is a ground-up rewrite of the driver, but i’m not really involved with that.

the state of the stable version of the driver is pretty sad. i keep running into pockets of code that are truly frightening. my first big foray was a bug i reported when i was trying to get the test suite to run, and it basically entailed throwing out a function that made no sense and replacing it with code that has such niceties as comments.

as i’ve started into the catalog functions, starting from this ancient bug, i’m finding even more frightening (and untested) code.

my general goal is to leave things cleaner than i’ve found them, doing things as incrementally as i can. we’re going to be building out a richer test suite, which will be a tremendous help, both in getting the “stable” version of the driver into better shape, and proving the capabilities of the rewrite.

i know it has been a long time since the last connector/odbc 3.51 release — kent, one of the build team members, is working on scripting the building, testing, and packaging so that we can crank out builds more consistently and reliably. unfortunately, a lot of the magic incantations were lost as people moved on to other work or other companies. the days of connector/odbc being the neglected stepchild of mysql products may be coming to an end.

being known for being you

mike kruckenberg shared his observations from watching mysql source code commits, and jay pipes commented about this commit from antony curtis which had him excited. now that’s how open source is supposed to work, at least in part.

i replied to a later version of that commit to our internal developer list (and antony), pointing out that with just a little effort the comment would be more useful to people outside of the development team. “plugin server variables” doesn’t really do it justice, and “WL 2936” is useful to people who can access our internal task tracking tool, but does no good to people like mike.

the other reason it is good to engage the community like this is because it is very healthy for your own future. being able to point to the work i had done on open source and the networking that came from that have both been key factors in getting jobs for me. i’m sure it will be useful next time i am looking, too.

joining activerecord with mysql 5

dhh committed a patch for activerecord to make it work with mysql 5 that was subsequently reverted because it broke things on postgres and sqlite.

obviously we’d like ruby on rails to work with mysql 5, but because there was no test case committed along with either of these changes, i don’t really know the root cause of the problem. dhh claims it is the changes that made mysql conform to the standard sql join syntax, but i can’t evaluate that because i can’t reproduce the problem.

any activerecord gurus want to point me in the right direction?

better out-of-the-box mysql support for ruby on rails

activerecord now supports mysql 4.1 (and later) out of the box whether you are using new or old-style passwords, because they applied my patch for handling the related protocol changes correctly.

(it’s not quite out-of-the-box yet — the fix will appear in the next major release of rails, i guess. it’s fixed in their repository.)

now if only the upstream developer would show signs of life, and get that fixed. i’d complain about that more, but there’s a lot of windows around here.

don’t bother paddling upstream

so turns out that the ruby on rails developers had already added 4.1 authentication support for their bundled version of ruby/mysql, but they’ve found the upstream maintainer as unresponsive as i have. their implementation wasn’t quite complete, so i’ve submitted a patch to round it out.

the version included with ruby on rails doesn’t include the test suite, though.

more ruby/mysql love

i’ve updated my patch for new-style mysql authentication for ruby/mysql, with a new test case for the change_user method (and support for same with new authentication).

i’ve even tested this against a 4.0 server, so i’m pretty sure i didn’t break anything.

new-style mysql authentication in pure ruby

ruby has two modules for connecting to mysql. one is called mysql/ruby and is built in top of the standard libmysqlclient c library. the other is called ruby/mysql and is pure ruby. the problem with the latter is that it is a from-scratch implementation of the mysql network protocol, and the authentication handshake changed in mysql 4.1.

but here is a patch to add support for new-style mysql authentication to ruby/mysql. it should also deal with the other protocol changes that came along at the same time. it doesn’t do anything to expose server-side prepared statements.

it is only lightly tested. in particular, i haven’t tried to connect to a pre-4.1 version of the server. it should still work, but it is entirely possible i screwed it up. i’m also still just learning ruby, so there are some ugly bits.

i think having more from-scratch implementations of the protocol is a good thing. there’s at least five — the server code itself (and client library), connector/j, connector/net, ruby/mysql, and Net::MySQL (perl). once we have these all collected into an integration test suite, the server developers will get much better feedback when they go off the reservation with the protocol.

where should i be lurking?

trying to find places where people talk about using python, ruby, and php with mysql has been a bit of a challenge.

the problem on the php side is that php forum on forums.mysql.com is so filled with pre-beginner-level questions that it’s barely worth it for me to spend my time digging through it.

for python, the python forum on forums.mysql.com is nearly a ghost town. the forums for the mysql-python project seem slightly active, but the sourceforge forum interface is just bad. (not that any web-based forum isn’t starting from a bad place.) the db-sig mail archives also have some interesting discussions.

for ruby, the ruby forum on forums.mysql.com is even quieter than the python one, and i haven’t found anywhere else.

another thing i’ll take a look at is apr_dbd_mysql, which is not part of the main apr-util repository because of licensing issues (ugh).

where else should i be looking?

more technobabble

working on the mysql bugs system filled the transition from me working on falcon to joining the connectors team, where i’ll be focusing on the connectivity for scripting languages.

my initial focus will be on python, ruby, and php. i haven’t figured out exactly what it is that i’ll be doing, but a likely candidate for my first big task will be building out the test suites for these so that they can eventually become part of our build verification process.

…and they never check out

right on schedule, i’m done with the pressing changes we wanted to make to the mysql bugs system. the most visible things (to non-mysql employees) are probably just the cleanup of the layout of the bug pages themselves, and the new public tagging interface. (with the requisite ajax-y goodness.)

under the hood, i’ve taken a machete to some of the more egregious bits of code. that’s not to say there isn’t a lot more that could be cleaned up, but it’s a start. now that i’ve cleaned up the bug reporting and editing forms, they’re ripe for merging.

based on the priorities set by the developement management team, i did less of the cleanup of the main bugs schema than i had originally planned, but things are in a state now that it should be easier to tackle those in the future.

my plan is to release this code publicly, but one of the things i need to do first is transition it out of bitkeeper and into another revision control system. probably bzr, but i really wish it supported per-file commit messages.

tasty dogfood

part of my focus for the next couple of weeks will be on rolling out some improvements to the mysql bugs system. the first step in doing that was to upgrade from mysql 4.1 to the latest mysql 5.1 beta, which turned out to be entirely painless.

the next step is going to be some database normalization and code refactoring. but because there are some other people who have written ad-hoc tools against the existing schema, i’ll be hiding the schema changes behind some views.

the first big schema change will be moving the categories from a bunch of hard-coded strings in the source code (and a varchar(32) field) to a table organized using the nested set model. that’s something i’ve been wanting to do for years.

i’m not wearing pants

just a few days before reports surfaced that hp would be cutting back on telecommuting, mysql was cited in an article about great teams because we operate without a headquarters. (not quite true, except relative to most companies.)

working from home is great for me, but i can understand how a boss with control issues couldn’t stomach it.

how i work

dave rosenberg has been doing a series of “how i work” interviews and asked for more submissions. here is mine.

what is your role? i believe my title is still maintenance engineer, but i’m now actually a proper server developer at mysql. right now i’m doing some falcon-related work, but i hope to get back to working on pluggable authentication and authorization soon.

what is your computer setup? my desktop is a mac mini (powerpc), hooked up to a 20" apple cinema display. my development box, which runs headless and i just access with ssh, is an amd64 running ubuntu. i also have a 12" powerbook that i use when on the road (which isn’t often). my plan is to replace the mac mini and powerbook with a new macbook pro at some point down the line. this site also runs off a colo server.

what desktop software applications do you use daily? when i am working, i’m always running safari, terminal, itunes (plus synergy classic), colloquy (irc client), and the stickies application. i also have antirsi running to remind me to take breaks. i use mutt, running on my colo server, for all of my email.

what websites do you visit every day? i have my own rss aggregator that i use for reading various news feeds, and it has a blo.gs-based sidebar that lets me know when the various weblogs i am interested in get updated. i read planet apache, planet php, planet perl, planet mysql, and planet intertwingly regularly.

what mobile device or cell phone do you use? i have a motorola razr, and i sync my address book over bluetooth. i recently started using bluephoneelite, which lets me send sms from my computer, and also pops up caller information when i get a call on my cell.

do you use im? i went back to using ichat after dabbling with adium, but now that my fiancée celia is working from my couch, i haven’t even had a need to keep ichat running.

do you use a voip phone? every once in a while i’ll fire up sjphone to use the company’s internal voip network, and i’ll fire up skype once in a while.

do you have a personal organization/time management theory? not really. i use the stickies application to keep track of what i’ve done this week, and my short to-do list for work. my incoming email gets sorted into three folders: personal, work, and the mysql mailing lists (i’m subscribed to all of them). i try to keep the personal and work inbox to under thirty messages (generally successfully — they currently have nine and ten, respecitively), and i flush out the mailing list inbox regularly. we have a couple of monthly calendars on the fridge to keep track of upcoming events.

anything else? the whole cult of “gettings things done” creeps me out.

pictures from the mysql users conference

david axmark taking a picture i just took a few pictures, and only the three that i’ve tagged were worth sharing.

but i like that i caught david in the act of doing what he seemingly does the most at conferences — taking a picture.

the conference was great, or at least the day of it that i attended was. it’s still on-going, and you can check out planet mysql for ongoing coverage.

slides from my talks at the mysql users conference 2006

short and simple: “embedding mysql” and “practical i18n with php and mysql.”

the i18n talk seemed to go over pretty well, and i only ran a few minutes short. the embedding talk is yet to come, and will run really, really short.

i would recommend the scale out panel instead.

no oscon for me

the o’reilly open source conference 2006 schedule is out, and i’m not on it. (i got my rejection letter yesterday.) here’s the talk i had proposed:

“22 Small Features in MySQL”

Did you know the mysql command-line client could save you from accidently nuking whole tables with errant DELETE statements? What about how the ability to change data being loaded using the LODA DATA statement that was added in MySQL 5.0?

In this session, we'll look at these and twenty (or more) small features of MySQL and its supporting programs. Some are old classics, and some are new additions to MySQL that you might not have noticed behind all the big new features.

oh well. after the upcoming mysql users conference, i think i’m doing with conference speaking. i just don’t enjoy it any more.

one month to go

mysql users conference 2006 the mysql users conference 2006 is only a month away. i’m just going to be dropping in for one day to give two talks — “embedding mysql” and “practical i18n with php and mysql.”

there is also a great lineup of other speakers, tutorials, and keynotes. i’m going to miss the keynote by mark shuttleworth, but i am looking forward to the keynote by the founder of rightnow.

see the live show

i’ll be giving a talk about the latest mysql features at the southern california linux expo next month (out near lax), and then giving at least one talk (on embedded mysql) at the mysql users conference 2006 in april up in the bay area.

early admission for both conferences is still available. scale4x is $50 until january 16 (or less if you get your hands on a promotional code), the mysql users conference is $945 until march 6 (with various discounts available, like the 15% o’reilly conference alumni discount).

2005 in review: work edition

there are only a few hours left in my work year, so i did a little crunching to see what i accomplished this year. since i started the year with a new position on the maintenance team, there is really one major metric — how many bugs that were assigned to me are now closed. as of this instant, that’s 224. it will go up by another few when some additional fixes are documented. here is the search to see all of the server bugs i have closed. “server bugs” includes bugs in the command-line clients.

that works out very close to one bug per working day. whew!

of course, i’m just one step in the process. sergei golubchik is listed as the reviewer on over 300 of the bugs that were closed this year!

α-bits

hot on the heels of the mysql 5.0 production release, the first mysql 5.1 alpha release is out. the major new features in the alpha are partitioning and the beginnings of the new plugin api (allowing for some cool full-text possibilities now, and even more to come in 5.1 and later versions). here’s the full announcement.

rain or shine

it’s almost as hard to get motivated to work on rainy days as it is on really nice days, although for fairly different reasons. i just want to crawl under the covers. wake me up when it is sunny again.

numbers singly

the “generally available” (or production-ready) version of mysql 5.0 was officially released today, and kai voigt, one of the mysql trainers, has posted a sudoku solver written as an sql stored procedure. the solver was actually written by per-erik marten, the main implementor of mysql’s stored procedure support.

it’s probably not the best showcase of stored procedures, but it is a nifty little hack.

you’re allowed to hate me, i do

i still have three weeks of vacation time to use between now and the end of the year. i can roll over a week of that to next year (which would actually add to the additional seven days i have banked from previous years).

i could take the week after my birthday off to wallow.

i could take every friday off.

i could take the last week of the year off and go home again.

i could take the days of the library docent training off.

such are the travails of an ascetic lifestyle with a turgid budget.

i need to fix this painful unwillingness of mine to do interesting things on my own.

i can’t believe that anyone still reads all this angsty bullshit.

i can’t believe i’m still writing all this angsty bullshit.

just one of the ways i haven’t gotten past being a teenager, i guess.

stupid and contagious.

because it is always a good idea to have one that is up-to-date, here’s my unabridged résumé.

if i were sending this out, the abridged (one-page) version would cut out the work experience prior to knowledge adventure, the whole honors and awards section, and all of the published works and presentations before 2003, if not that whole section. but that does remind me, i could probably add some of the articles i wrote for mysql’s developer zone to the unabridged version.

i can’t believe the experience at homepage.com only lasted fifteen months. and in not too long, my job with mysql will be the one i’ve stuck with the longest.

i spent my day hammering kittens porting mysql to sco openserver 6 today, a subject of some controversy.

i would not have mentioned it, except that it gave me another excuse to link to that page from everything can be beaten by chancre scolex (jhonen vasquez) and crab scrambly (brad canby). i’d buy a print of that page in a heartbeat.

esquivalience

the new yorker explains esquivalience, a non-word from the new oxford american dictionary. it’s definition there: “the willful avoidance of one’s official responsibilities; the shirking of duties.”

it is too bad that it is not a real word, because that pretty perfectly captures how i spend vast stretches of my time.

i want to write more about this, but work beckons.

ninety minutes

here’s how i spent ninety minutes of work today: having been asked to look at a timing related bug, i came to the conclusion that writing a good test case really required i implement an an old feature request for a sleep() function. ninety minutes later, the code is written, approved by brian aker, and pushed to the main 5.0 tree.

and it’s the first function i’ve ever added to mysql. oh yeah, and i ate dinner while i was waiting for brian to review my patch.

i’ve also got the test case written for the other bug. but there’s some question as to what the standards-defined behavior really is — from my reading of the sql:2003 spec, it’s implementation-defined. apparently our standards gurus (now on vacation) left other impressions.

we’ll probably work it out so you can get either behavior depending on what function you call to get the current timestamp.

update: thirty minutes later, paul dubois has documented the new sleep() function. i love it when a plan comes together.

mark nottingham’s rumination on who is really taking the risk in a business is good food for thought.

it’s an interesting idea to feed into my ongoing deliberations about my current employment, what sort of opportunities i may be forsaking for the opportunity i have, and the relative risks and payoffs of those.

joel spolsky’s latest article on “hitting the high notes” is a good one, beating the drum on how a small team of really great programmers can do so much more than an army of mediocre ones.

throwing modesty aside, i think i’m on the productive/good/whatever side of the 10:1 ratio. it would be great if i weren’t totally sick of computers and programming and all this crap i am apparently quite good at.

i am reminded of my national merit scholarship essay, and what a crock it was then, and especially now. my life is bowling balls all the way down.

potter at the gym

this morning at the gym, i noticed that the people on both sides of me when i was on the elliptical machine were reading the latest harry potter book. (i’m sure the girl on my left was, and am less certain about the guy on my right.)

i don’t understand how people can read while exercising. i can barely concentrate on music. my mind just tends to wander rather freely.

build times

something i measured a week or two ago is how long it took to build mysql 5.0 on my new development box (on linux). mainly i was measuring to see if it mattered whether i redirected the output to /dev/null, a file, or just let it fly by on the terminal window. it turns out that didn’t make a different at all. doing a full ./BUILD/compile-amd64-debug-max on my machine, with a populated ccache, takes about seven minutes (without ccache, it takes a little over fifteen minutes). just doing the configuration part (the -c flag to the build script) takes a minute and a half.

i have to admit i was a little disappointed by these times, i was hoping for faster. but then i compile on some of our regular build machines, and i am happy. some of those are painfully slow.

e= mc²

obviously my furious pace of work-related blogging tapered off pretty quickly. i’ve still been fighting the good fight against bugs (two swatted today).

something i’ve always been very flexible on is coding style, so i haven’t had much trouble adapting to the coding style for the mysql server, although my brace-placement reflexes need some re-training. one rule it has that i haven’t run across before is how assignment is handled, with the equal sign next to the variable name, like so:

lower_case_table_names= arg;

this makes it easy to use basic search tools (like grep or vim’s / command) to find where assignments to a particular variable happen, without also getting hits at equality tests, which should always have a space between the variable name and ==.

compiling mysql 5.0 from the development tree on ubuntu linux

i started setting up my new development machine today. it’s an amd64, and so far i’ve installed ubuntu linux on it. the installation was totally painless. to be able to compile mysql 5.0 from the bitkeeper source tree, i had to install automake1.8, autoconf, libtool, gcc, g++, ccache (not a requirement, but nice), bison, gawk (mawk doesn’t work), libncurses5-dev, and libssl-dev. and those pulled in various dependencies thanks to the magic of apt-get.

one new bug fixed today, and two old bugs re-fixed. (mostly — still waiting for the build and test for one of them.)

i fought the bugs, and the bugs won

no bugs fixed today. i spent almost the entire day chasing a single bug that has turned out to be like one of those loose threads on a sweater that you shouldn’t pull.

on the bright side, my new machine arrived so i have something to play with tomorrow.

(and i’m so close to ordering a mac mini. i think apple is going to do very well with that machine.)

just another manic monday

today was another of those one-bug days (but i also spent a fair amount of time on web-related tasks). that one bug took a long time to solve because it only showed up on qnx, and i had to do battle with our qnx build machine to get it to build at all for me. i eventually tracked it down to a shell issue where libtool would have one of its variables get corrupted with the default shell (ksh). i’m not sure why our regular builds on that platform don’t encounter the same problem.

but dealing with the bug did remind that i should probably ask for an okay to purchase vmware for my new box (arrives tomorrow!), so i can run multiple operating systems on it without having to reboot all the time. that would let me run platforms like qnx and solaris locally, which would probably be handy.

i spent a lot of time today waiting for compiles and tests to run. my new machine is scheduled to be delivered on tuesday, and i hope it will be (a lot) faster than the machine i’m currently using. i’m also not using ccache yet, which should be a big help. i don’t know why i haven’t just installed ccache on my current development machine. i guess i’m dumb.

six bugs today, which gives a total of nineteen for the week. i don’t mean to over-sell that number, though — lots of the bugs have been very minor, basically cosmetic, problems. i think my largest patch has been about ten lines of new code. but the best patch is the one that replaced about sixteen lines of code with two.

as wide as a river and harder to cross

apple made just the announcement i was hoping they would, and have dropped the price of cinema displays. still pondering selling my imac and getting a 20" cinema display to hook up to my laptop and new desktop machine.

one of the reasons i want a cinema display is for the extra horizontal working space. extra vertical space doesn’t do much for me, but being able to position a couple of terminal windows side by side, or better yet, a couple of terminal windows next to a web browser or my mail client (which is really just mutt in a big terminal window), is great. i’m still playing around with different setups for having different windows for coding and testing. maybe i’ll have more to say about that when i find a setup i like.

my coworker stewart wrote about how he organizes his working bitkeeper trees, and did some analysis of how much diskspace each clone takes up. what he hasn’t stumbled upon is how you can change bitkeeper to default to always checking out read-only copies of the files instead of read-write copies (which is how the mysql trees are configured by default). in BitKeeper/etc/config, you can add a line like [jimw:]checkout:get to default to read-only files. if you look in the mysql-4.1 tree, you’ll see that serg (the lucky guy who has gotten to approve most of my bug fixes), arjen, and nick (a former coworker) have configured their default to read-only. another advantage to using get by default (instead of edit) is that bk citool is considerably faster, since it doesn’t have to check all those writable files to see if they’ve been modified.

i only fixed one bug today, but i pushed a whole bunch of my approved bug fixes into the tree.

i also spent a little time polishing the mysql bugs database a little. now that i have to use it every day, i have a more active interest in making it better. (and for all of its flaws, i still like it quite a bit. the interface is nice and lean in comparison to so many other bug databases that i’ve seen or worked with.)

ducks in a row

while i wait for my super-cool new development machine, i’ve been using one of our spare servers in uppsala, sweden. surprisingly, network lag hasn’t been an issue at all.

one of the routines i’ve been working out is how to use bitkeeper effectively to maintain trees for each of the bugs i’m working on. bitkeeper’s “branching” is quite a bit different from cvs. a branch is just a clone of another repository. so i have a pristine version of each mysql version in directories like mysql-4.1-clean, and a little shell function (which is just a wrapper around bk clone -l) that allows me to quickly create a new tree named something like mysql-4.1-7451. then i do what i need to do in that tree and create a changeset for the fix. when it is approved, i pull the changes from that tree (and other trees with approved bug fixes) into the -clean tree, push that to the main repository, and get rid of the bug-fixing trees.

this means that each bug fix is independent, and i can push any of them up the tree at any time. (bitkeeper doesn’t let you selectively push changesets from one repository to another.) i have seven bug-fix trees in my working directory right now with patches waiting to get approved.

only three bugs fixed today. i fixed another bug, but when running the fix by the man (because he happened to be around, and the fix just seemed way too easy to be true), he pointed out that it was already fixed in the 5.0 tree. in the same way. oops!

still on pace

five bugs fixed, one marked can’t-repeat.

and too much time wasted spent doing builds with a too new version of automake. ah, the bleeding edge. it cuts so good. (if you are compiling mysql 5.0 from the bk tree, you want automake 1.8, and not 1.9. or so i’ve been led to believe.)

and i ordered my new development machine (and an msdn subscription so i can do windows-y things.) more on those when they arrive.

the year of reunions

i’m supposed to have drinks with one group of old coworkers next week, a different group of old coworkers is having a get-together a few days after that, my ten-year college reunion is in april, and there’s other reunions in the works. so it is the year of reunions.

one fun thing is that when people ask me what i do, i can now tell them i’m a maintenance engineer. i don’t know about you, but the first thing i think when i hear that title is janitor. which is also sort of accurate, if you put “code” in front of it.

i fixed four bugs today. that puts me on a pace for fixing approximately 750 bugs this year. but i guess it may be a little early in the year to make projections like that.

new job

after the first of the year, i’ll be starting my new job. but as seems to be the trend these days, it’s not a new job with a new company, just a new job with the same company.

i’m getting out of doing web development, at least for my day job. that’s why mysql ab is hiring a webmaster (which isn’t exactly the job i have now, but it basically the person who will take on the biggest chunk of what i was doing).

what i’m going to be doing is joining the development team, with my initial focus being maintenance programming for the server. i’m going back to my roots, and getting my hands dirty with “real” programming again. and i don’t think there’s any better way to learn the ins-and-outs of a system than chasing down bugs. just fixing the bug in how CREATE TABLE ... SELECT statements were logged for replication gave me a good reason to get up-to-speed on several aspects of how things work under the hood.

this article by rands about the type of employee who has gotten locked into a role goes part of the way in explaining why i’m moving on from my current position. even if trying to become irreplaceable by being the only one who knows how to do something is not your goal, it is easy for that to happen by default if you’re in the same position for too long. so i hope that shaking things up will be good for the company as a whole, and not just for own own mental health.

one thing i’ll likely do early in the new year is get a new machine for doing development. i’m thinking of a athlon64 shuttle system, which i can get pretty loaded within my annual work computer budget. i may also upgrade my desktop (which is a personal machine) so that i can use the monitor with the development box when necessary (although it would run headless most of the time, and i doubt i’ll spring for a kvm or anything fancy like that). instead of actually getting a new desktop machine, one possibility is just selling the 17" imac and getting an apple cinema display and using that with my laptop (and the development machine).

(the fact that said development machine would likely be powerful enough to run world of warcraft well is entirely coincidental.)

enemies of carlotta is a mailing list manager in the style of ezmlm, but written in python by lars wirzenius. one problem with it is that it is written as a pretty monolithic application, as opposed to ezmlm’s series of commands that are run for a few different addresses. but there’s some interesting design decisions made. it doesn’t implement digests yet.

one of my biggest annoyances with ezmlm these days is that the digest generation is not character-encoding aware. so for a list like the mysql japanese list, the digests, particularly the plain-text one, look like garbage. this is more frustrating because i spent a fair amount of time making sure the web-based archive got the encoding issues right.

the mysql lists are set up so that both mime-encoded and plain-text digests are generated, using a dummy list and some judicious symlinks. when we took over the maxdb lists from sap, the existing lists only had a plain-text format, and the subscribers clamored for that when we only had the mime-encoded versions available.

three out of four ain’t bad

mysql 4.1.8 is out and it includes a fix for the bug that had been plaguing blo.gs. it also contains a fix i made for another bug.

i now have code in linux, mysql, and php. if only my patch to apache had been accepted, i’d have code in the whole LAMP stack. (the CookieDomain configuration setting was finally added about two years later, but not using my patch.)

jobs at mysql ab: webmaster.

more later.

another planet

planet mysql collects the blogs of various mysql employees and community members. (well, the only community members included right now are ex-employees.)

the eff is looking to hire a webmaster.

this livejournal from the spouse of an electronic arts employee raises the too-many-working-hours issue that i’ve mentioned before. it is an interesting (and ugly) dynamic in the games industry (and internet startups, in my experience) that allows companies to get just-out-of-college employees to work absurd hours.

sxip is looking for a lead web developer.

mysql users conference call for papers extended

the conference website doesn’t reflect the new date yet, but the call for papers for the mysql users conference is being extended until november 15. so you have a second chance if you missed the initial call for papers, and are just hearing about it now. the speaker notification date isn’t changing. we just came to our senses and realized we didn’t need three whole weeks to make decisions on which sessions and tutorials to accept.

with the way things are going, we may have so many great talks that i don’t need to do one.

eventum

i have been terribly remiss in not mentioning eventum before. it’s the issue-tracking tool that the mysql support team uses, and it is also used for task-tracking by a growing number of groups within the company. we liked it so much, we hired the author, bought out the software, and got it released under the gpl.

mysql users conference 2005 call for papers now open

submit your proposal now and beat the rush. (proposals are due on november 1, the conference is in april 2005 in santa clara.)

how dell got soul (via evhead) is an interesting profile of how dell re-examined its corporate culture when its growth decelerated a few years ago. key paragraph:

“I realized that we had created a culture of stock price, a culture of financial performance, and a culture of ‘what's in it for me?’ throughout our employee base,” says [Kevin] Rollins, who this year became Dell's chief executive officer. “There had to be something more in this institution that we loved and enjoyed than just making money or just having a stock price that went up.”