Help Me Make This Blog More Accessible

Dear Reader,

Hi! I probably don’t know you, but I’d like to make this blog better for you. If you’re disabled—for example, perhaps you use a screen reader, a special device, or have other needs that I might not anticipate, I’d really love your feedback on what I can do to make my content easier for you to read and enjoy.


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What Does The Universal Scalability Law Reveal About MySQL?

In the last couple of weeks, there have been a few blog posts about benchmarks comparing the performance of various versions of MySQL and variants such as MariaDB. There’s also been some analysis of the results using formal models such as Neil Gunther’s Universal Scalability Law.

What can the Universal Scalability Law (USL) teach us about the performance characteristics of these systems, as revealed by the benchmarks? To find out, I’ll examine one particular benchmark, MariaDB 10.1 and MySQL 5.7 performance on commodity hardware.


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What it's Like

At Velocity/OSCON 2015 in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago, the conference committee approached me to ask if I’d be up for doing an Ignite talk. It was rather last-minute and I had only hours to prepare. I said yes and then tried to think of a topic. I turned to Twitter and asked, if you could have me talk for 5 minutes on any topic, what would it be? A couple of people responded that they wanted to know what founding a company was like, so I sat down in the speaker lounge at the RAI and started trying to figure out what it’s like to be a founder/CEO.

You’d think I’d know after three years, but truthfully, it’s still hard to really know what I feel.


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Setting Thresholds With Quantiles

I was talking with someone the other day about a visualization I remembered seeing some years ago, that could help set a reasonable value for a threshold on a metric. As I’ve written, thresholds are basically a broken way to monitor systems, but if you’re going to use them, I think there are simple things you can do to avoid making threshold values completely arbitrary.

I couldn’t find the place I’d seen the visualization (if you know prior art for the below, please comment!) so I decided to just blog about it. Suppose you start off with a time series:

time series

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Don't Miss PGConfSV, Silicon Valley's Newest PostgreSQL Conference

If you haven’t heard about PGConfSV yet, it’s a conference for the Silicon Valley PostgreSQL community and beyond, featuring leading PostgreSQL performance and scalability experts. It’s happening November 17-18 at the South San Francisco Conference Center. I encourage everyone in the area to attend, since this is likely to be the best Postgres conference held thus far in the Silicon Valley.

I also urge you to buy your tickets before they sell out! Of course, the earlier you buy, the more you save, too. (Use SeeMeSpeak for a 20% discount).

Convention Center

I’ll be at the conference along with some of my colleagues. I’m pretty excited about this for a few reasons. Allow me to ‘splain why?

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The Case For Tagging In Time Series Data

A while ago I wrote a blog post about time series database requirements that has been amazingly popular. Somewhere close to a dozen companies have told me they’ve built custom in-house time series databases, and that blog post was the first draft of a design document for it.

One of the things I said in the post was that I had no use for the “tagging” functionality I’ve seen in time series databases such as OpenTSDB. I’ve since reconsidered, although I think the functionality I now want is a bit different.


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Personality Assessments

Over the last couple of years I have increasingly studied and used personality tests for personal and professional uses, both for myself and for others. I’ve seen a variety of benefits, but these assessments are not without drawbacks, and not all assessments are created equal.


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How to Organize a Tech Conference

Running a conference is hard work, and lots of things need to come together in just the right way to make it a great experience for everyone. This blog post is a collection of the most important things I’ve seen conference organizers get wrong (with the best intentions). It’s not comprehensive, but I hope it will help point out “low-hanging fruit” for interested people. Hopefully you’ll be able to avoid some of the mistakes as a result.


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Why I Don't Give Personal Tech Support

I don’t give personal, one-to-one technical support for open source software I’ve created. This may seem obvious to some of you, but to many people it is not obvious. What do I mean by personal tech support? I mean I don’t use private email or other means to answer questions about software I’ve created. I don’t troubleshoot bugs or answer how-to questions. The reasons are simple: I don’t have time to solve everyone’s issues.

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Baron Schwartz Left Percona

A number of people have commented to me over the last few years that when they search for me on Google, it suggests that they might want to search for “Baron Schwartz left Percona.” This is a top suggestion when I search for myself, too.


Since people are searching for it, maybe I should explain it.

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An Outline for a Book on InnoDB

Years ago I pursued my interest in InnoDB’s architecture and design, and became impressed with its sophistication. Another way to say it is that InnoDB is complicated, as are all MVCC databases. However, InnoDB manages to hide the bulk of its complexity entirely from most users.


I decided to at least outline a book on InnoDB. After researching it for a while, it became clear that it would need to be a series of books in multiple volumes, with somewhere between 1000 and 2000 pages total.

At one time I actually understood a lot of this material, but I have forgotten most of it now.

I did not begin writing. Although it is incomplete, outdated, and in some cases wrong, I share the outline here in case anyone is interested. It might be of particular interest to someone who thinks it’s an easy task to write a new database.

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New O'Reilly Book, Anomaly Detection For Monitoring

Together with Preetam Jinka, I’m writing a book for O’Reilly called Anomaly Detection for Monitoring (working title).

I’d like your help with this. Would you please comment, tweet, or email me examples of anomaly detection used for monitoring; and monitoring problems that frustrate you, which you think anomaly detection might help solve?

Thanks in advance.


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Surprising Database Bottlenecks You'll Never See Coming

I’ve been invited to speak at a joint meeting of the Austin MySQL meetup and the Austin Data Geeks meetup on Monday, July 27, 2015. This is a real treat for me. I have not spent much time in this area but whenever I have I’ve loved it. And the community is large and highly engaged at lots of levels. Here’s the summary of the event:

… your database’s performance is a lot less important to your business than the way you structure your engineering team. The interesting thing is that a lot of the most serious team, communication, and process bottlenecks in your business (the ones that make you miss ship deadlines, crash the site, and lose your best team members after repeated all-nighters) are actually driven by database issues, but not the way you think they are.

The topic may seem like a bit of a departure for me. I’ll be talking about organizational optimization, not mutex contention or query optimization. What gives?


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Staying Sharp While Exercising

In my last blog post I explained how to reclaim your mornings and make them the most productive time of day. In this one I’ll explain how exercise makes my mornings better, and how I avoid feeling sluggish after overdoing it.


Before I start, though, I am not a doctor, and by reading the following you agree you’re doing it at your own risk.

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Boost Your Productivity In Three Easy Steps

If you’re like a lot of knowledge workers, you might feel that you spend your time unproductively. You seem to “do stuff” all day long but then feel that you’ve done nothing but “stuff” at the end of the day.

How can you change this? I’ve found three things that work for me to not only stay focused and achieve my objectives, but also help me feel better about myself. You see, although on a less focused day I might not feel very productive, it’s not that I’ve failed to achieve anything (though I might have achieved fewer of my most valuable goals). It’s that I’ve worked with an unclear mind, and later cannot remember exactly what I did during the day. This leads directly to self-doubt and self-criticism.


Solving this problem is fairly simple for me and results in terrific productivity, as well as a great sense of satisfaction and progress at the end of the day.

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What Makes A Database Mature?

Many database vendors would like me to take a look at their products and consider adopting them for all sorts of purposes. Often they’re pitching something quite new and unproven as a replacement for mature, boring technology I’m using happily.

I would consider a new and unproven technology, and I often have. As I’ve written previously, though, a real evaluation takes a lot of effort, and that makes most evaluations non-starters.

Perhaps the most important thing I’m considering is whether the product is mature. There are different levels of maturity, naturally, but I want to understand whether it’s mature enough for me to take a look at it. And in that spirit, it’s worth understanding what makes a database mature.


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History Repeats: MySQL, MongoDB, Percona, and Open Source

History is repeating again. MongoDB is breaking out of the niche into the mainstream, performance and instrumentation are terrible in specific cases, MongoDB isn’t able to fix all the problems alone, and an ecosystem is growing.


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What I Look For In A Conference Proposal

I’ve written a few times before about how to write a good conference proposal. I’ve been on the committee of various conferences many times. It’s surprising how few people actually can write good proposals. Somehow it’s also suprisingly hard to explain what makes a good one, so I’m going to give this another try.


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Beware Of The Only Correct Way To Do It

Everyone who’s been successful at creating something remarkable, and scaling it, likely has developed into a repeatable process. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have scaled it, and you’d never have heard of it. (There are lots of geniuses you’ve never heard of who’ve created remarkable results at an individual level.)

A lot of times they’ll go through several iterations of massive success with this, then write some books, found a consulting company, go on the speaking circuit, and so on. And almost always, they seem to demand rigid adherence to specific sacred-cow principles that must remain inviolate.

You should be really skeptical of anything that smells like this. Sacred cows make the best steaks, and here’s why.


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A Standing Desk On The Cheap

Everyone loves (or mocks) a good standing desk, but most of us don’t love the price. Adjustable sit/stand desks and bolt-on apparatus I’ve seen cost up to $1000 to $5000. I have a feeling if you get something on the cheap end of that scale, you probably will regret it. There are less expensive ones that just sit on your desk, but they seem like abominations I would hate to use.

As an alternative I won’t regret because it’s cheap and minimalistic, I’ve been using a simple but effective adjustable laptop holder for a few years. It’s easy to place on a desktop or counter. At this point there are a few of them at work and one at home. I keep recommending them to friends so I might as well just post it here too.

Furinno Adjustable Laptop Stand

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