Agile project management tools

Wow, talk about an industry that’s overcrowded with look-alike me-too products. Online agile project management tools are a dime a dozen, which makes me think that they are probably all very similar and probably don’t solve most people’s needs. I’ve observed that when this is true, nearly-indistinguishable tools get reinvented, until the burden of evaluating the options is greater than the burden of just building yet another one, thus perpetuating the cycle.

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Why building a free service can be a disservice

Like many others, I don’t think that RSS is dead. It’s my favorite way to keep up with highly valuable content on the Web. So I’m in the market for a replacement for Google Reader, along with millions of others. As I’ve evaluated options, I’ve had to eliminate some of them because I’m not sure they’re serious about what they’re doing. This post is about my thought process and why I think entrepreneurs should challenge themselves to get serious, and signal that intent, by not building free services.

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What's the lesson from daily deals sites?

I found myself in a, ahem, lively discussion with someone recently. It started when I said “there was always something wrong about the daily deals businesses (i.e. Groupon), but I’m sure they’ll teach us what’s really needed.” Turns out this person ran a local daily-deals site. Oops. My feeling is that anytime something doesn’t take root and grow into a lasting business, there’s a lesson to learn. Early social-networking sites weren’t quite a match with needs.

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The difference between concurrency and parallelism

This confuses lots of people, including most recently Todd Hoff of HighScalability fame, who wrote in last week’s summary post, Have to say, this distinction has never made sense to me: Concurrency is not parallelism: concurrency is the composition of independently executing processes, while parallelism is the simultaneous execution of (possibly related) computations. Concurrency is about dealing with lots of things at once. Parallelism is about doing lots of things at once.

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What TokuDB might mean for MongoDB

Last week Tokutek announced that they’re open-sourcing their TokuDB storage engine for MySQL. If you’re not familiar with TokuDB, it’s an ACID-compliant storage engine with a high-performance index technology known as fractal tree indexing. Fractal trees have a number of nice characteristics, but perhaps the most interesting is that they deliver consistently high performance under varying conditions, such as when data grows much larger than memory or is updated frequently. B-tree indexes tend to get fragmented over time, and exhibit a performance cliff when data doesn’t fit in memory anymore.

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MySQL's release process works

Years ago I complained bitterly about MySQL’s backwards development and release model, which made guinea pigs out of the paying customers. I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it’s been fixed for years. And it’s really fixed right in my opinion – much better than what I proposed. Congratulations, and thanks, to the MySQL team for superhuman software engineering, release engineering, documentation, bug triage and analysis, and doing a million things right – in other words, making a damn good database, which is hard.

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Introduction to VividCortex

We’re ironing out a kink that’s preventing Planet MySQL from aggregating VividCortex’s blog feed, so while that’s in progress, I’ll post a quick note on what we’re up to at VividCortex, for the Planet MySQL readers. VividCortex is a monitoring and analysis product for MySQL, provided as Software-As-A-Service, with agents that run in your systems and report back to our APIs. The agents are super-efficient and non-obtrusive (you’ve probably noticed my posts about Go recently).

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Model-view-controller considered harmful

In 2001 I created a PHP 4 web application framework from scratch as the backbone of a sophisticated application. Back then frameworks weren’t cool. Smarty templates were the hotness. My framework had URL routing, templates with a capable templating syntax similar to mustache, loosely coupled and tightly cohesive object-oriented design, an elegant way to access the database without dumbing it down, and nicely separated business logic and presentation layers – among many other nice things you find in good frameworks.

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Two upcoming Go-related talks I'm giving

I’m scheduled to talk about Go a couple times in the upcoming weeks. The first is May 4th in Arlington at A Day Of I’ll be a participant in a panel titled Add To Your Programming Toolkit: Languages You Should Know About (Erlang, Clojure, R, Go, etc…). I’m talking about Go, naturally. The second May 7th is at my local technology guild, the Neon Guild. I’m going to be giving a “gentle introduction” to Go.

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Using AdBlock to clean up the UI on sites I use a lot

I use LinkedIn a lot. I also use various Google properties a lot. Both of them have a bunch of distracting and annoying UI features that just get in my way. I know Google and LinkedIn have a vested interest in catching my attention and trying to get me to use their products in the ways that will make them the most money, but as a user, I don’t care what they want.

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Percona Live MySQL Conference in a few weeks!

I’m really looking forward to Percona Live this year. I will be there, along with Kyle Redinger, my co-founder at VividCortex. I feel that this year the conference has come full circle. 2007 was my first year at the conference, and it was amazing. This year is tremendously exciting for me because it feels like we’re back on the 2007 trajectory. Those were the golden days. Things were a little sad in 2010 and 2011 as the MySQL community tried to figure out the new landscape and O’Reilly decided to stop running the event, but then in 2012 we all said “we’re back!” with the exception of Oracle, who instead arranged MySQL Connect, as part of Oracle Open World.

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New translations of High Performance MySQL

High Performance MySQL, 3rd Edition has been selling very well. It’s translated into many languages. O’Reilly sends me a hard-copy of the translations, and I have a whole section on my bookshelf dedicated to them. It’s really satisfying to look at it. Today I’m happy to announce that we’re moving forward with a new batch of translations. Demand has been so strong that we want to make the book accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

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A review of Republic Wireless's cellphone service

I’ve been trying out Republic Wireless, a startup that offers very inexpensive wireless service: $19 for unlimited talk, text, and data. In a nutshell: they resell Sprint’s network, and you agree to connect to wifi as much as possible; they use the Internet instead of the cell network when you’re on wifi. I thought for $19/month it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. After several months, my experience has been that it isn’t worth using at all, no matter how cheap it is.

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Building MySQL Database Applications with Go

Last night at the Golang-DC meetup I spoke about building (MySQL) database applications with Go. The meetup was well attended and people were very enthusiastic about Go. I spent a few minutes talking about Go in general, how VividCortex uses Go (we’ve built our agents, API servers, and all backend processes with Go), why we like it, some of the nice things it enables like making it easy to build very resilient programs, and then I gave the presentation, which I’ve embedded below.

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WordPress and MySQL's strict mode

I really don’t like running my database in “I Love Garbage” mode, so I set the following SQL_MODE: STRICT_TRANS_TABLES,ERROR_FOR_DIVISION_BY_ZERO, NO_AUTO_CREATE_USER,NO_AUTO_VALUE_ON_ZERO, NO_ENGINE_SUBSTITUTION,NO_ZERO_DATE, NO_ZERO_IN_DATE,ONLY_FULL_GROUP_BY Guess what WordPress does with that? It doesn’t install. If you set the SQL_MODE to empty and install WordPress, then restore the SQL_MODE, WordPress will run, but if you try to create a post you’ll see an error page that says “You are not allowed to edit this post.” This problem was reported to WordPress at least 7 years ago.

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Crash injection for writing resilient software

I am currently finishing some features to make a program highly resilient to occasional crashing bugs. A particular function was found to crash on queries of the form WHERE x IN(NULL), and that crashed the entire program. Now we have a framework for intelligently recovering from arbitrary crashes. I will write more on this in the future, because I think it’s a very interesting thing to share. In this episode, I want to focus on a related topic: how do you test a program that is supposed to be resilient to bugs you can’t predict?

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The right way to do social

The technology industry moves incredibly fast, from one bubble to another. Web 2.0. Online auctions. (Remember when the Internet was filled with hundreds of eBay clones?) Social. Mobile. Location-based. Big Data. Whatever. I don’t think anyone will call me insightful for observing that the general idea of “social” had a peak in its hype cycle some time ago. I’d say three years ago was really the peak. At some point, lots of people were excited about applying social-ness to everything.

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Adaptive Fault Detection food fight

I was a guest on the Food Fight Show last week, along with a bevy of really smart people asking and answering tough questions on fault detection. We didn’t talk a lot about MySQL, but given that VividCortex is focusing on MySQL initially, pretty much all of my experience with zero-threshold, zero-configuration fault detection is MySQL-based. It’s a fun conversation with a lot of insights into the industry, what’s wrong with current monitoring tools, and where monitoring is going.

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Playing matchmaker for job seekers and recruiters

One of the most rewarding things you can do is help someone get a great job or hire a great person for the position they need to fill. I have traveled a lot, written books, done a bunch of consulting, and spoken widely on MySQL, other databases, open source, and so forth. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people, some I’d call good friends, and many of them are leading large organizations.

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Upcoming events of interest for MySQLers

Here is a collection of upcoming events that are interesting to me as a MySQL user (in some cases because I’m speaking). I think some of them are must-see events. I am sure I am missing a lot of events, but some of these are only publicized in specific channels, and I wanted to mention them here to help spread the word. Upcoming Meetups This coming Thursday, Charlottesville’s Neon Guild tech group will co-host a Meetup with a noted Kanban expert.

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