Back in the connected world

After two days of chag and a day of Shabbos, I’m back online again. That three day respite was great, even if it meant that I had 200 new messages in my Inbox.

We hosted a wonderful seder on the first night, enjoyed a relaxing first day of chag (and an impromptu lunch with a few friends), followed by a delicious (for the body and brain) second seder at Andrea and Aryeh’s that went until 2:30 in the morning. We slept in on Friday, had lunch with Rob & Lamelle, took a nap, and went to dinner at Cheryl’s house. Saturday felt like a normal Shabbos, except that Kiddush consisted of matzah and vegetables instead of the usual cookies, crackers and chummus.

It’s hard to believe, but Pesach is almost halfway over already!

Pesach Kashering

On the day before Erev Pesach, we kashered the kitchen and searched the house for chametz. Hannah came over to help clean the kitchen and cover the countertops with contact paper:

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Here we are “discovering” some challah and setting it aside for the next morning:

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No-Boil Baked Ziti

We did some good work getting rid of chametz this past Shabbos. Here’s a recipe we made which turned out to be very yummy.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Bake Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 8

1 26 oz jar pasta sauce

1 1/2 cups water

15 oz ricotta

1/4 cup grated parmesan

2 cups shredded mozzerella

8 oz uncooked ziti

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Combine sauce and water.

Stir in ricotta, parmesan, and 1 cup mozzerella.

Add uncooked ziti.

Spoon ziti mixture into 13×9″ baking dish.

Cover with foil and bake 55 minutes.

Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzerella.

Bake uncovered for 5 minutes.

(recipe courtesy MIT’s Deutsche Haus)

The Counting of the Homer

homer-simpson.jpg This year, count the Omer with Homer!

The Homer Calendar is an interactive guide to counting the omer, with Homer Simpson. The site has printable calendars for each of the seven weeks of the omer, along with a 1-page calendar showing all 49 days of the count. The site also features background on the omer ritual, a slide show on Jewish life in the Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield, links to other Jewish Simpsons sites and more.

(From a spam message that I actually found useful)

MySQL Users Conference 2003

mysql.png The MySQL Users Conference 2003 is running from April 10 – 12 in San Jose, CA. I was nearby in Sunnyvale for work on Tuesday & Wednesday this week, so I stuck around a day longer than my usual LAX-SJC travel schedule to catch the beginning of the conference.

Thanks to Zak for all of his hard work organizing the show. The first day was great; I’m sorry I’ll be missing the rest of it.

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The State of the Dolphin Address

David Axmark and and Monty Widenius, creators of MySQL (and co-founders of MySQL AB) kicked off the event with “The State of the Dolphin Address.”

The first 15 minutes of the presentation was all bragging — they listed off some big customers (such as Yahoo! and Slashdot), awards they had won, and some notable events in the lifetime of the product and company. Axmark takes great pride in the fact that Oracle introduced a MySQL migration kit in 2001.

Speaking a little bit about MySQL AB, Axmark indicated that they now have 12 full time engineers working on the server, and dozens of customer support folks. They’ve been making money via commercial licenses (for companies that don’t want to GPL their code), and also from selling support, training, certification and consulting. The recently-introduced MySQL Certification program costs $200 (with a $50 discount until this fall).

As a product, MySQL has a variety of features. Aside from supporting “an extended subset” of the ANSI SQL89 standard, they support ACID transactions, User Defined Functions (unfortunately not the same thing as Stored Procedures), and a handful of SQL extensions (such as SELECT … LIMIT). Client interfaces are available in over a dozen programming languages and operating systems.

It also provides about 5 different storage engines (MyISAM, InnoDB, Hash/InMemory, BerkeleyDB, etc.) which allow different tradeoffs depending on the application needs. For example, if you need fast row-level locking, you should pick the InnoDB, and recoginize that there will be some extra overhead on inserts.

Axmark also bragged a bit about the eWeek benchmarking tests which compared MySQL, Oracle9i, and a handful of other relational databases using JDBC drivers in a web server environment on Microsoft Windows. The MySQL performance curve (in terms of web pages per second and latency) matched Oracle’s and outperformed all others.

Lastly, the two co-founders gave a high-level overview of the various server versions (3.23, 4.0, 4.1, 5.0) and some new interesting features coming soon.

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Schmoozing

After the keynote, I grabbed coffee and a pastry and chatted a bit in the hallway with Rasmus and Zak. Zak introduced me to Sascha (the one from Utah) and Monty. No business cards, just a few handshakes.

Someone (not the person in the picture) asked Rasmus a question about using the PHP mail() function to send hundreds of thousands of messages.

I was tickled to see Brad from Zend; I saw him in Israel just a couple of weeks earlier.

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Using MySQL Replication in Large Scales

I stepped into Jeremy‘s standing-room only talk on “Using MySQL Replication in Large Scales.”

Being a MySQL novice, I didn’t understand much of the talk. It’s always a neat experience to surround yourself in a technical environment where everyone around you knows more than you do. A good way to pick up a bunch of ideas. There were ton of questions posed by the audience during the talk; it’s rare to see this high of a level of interaction with an audience this large.

Aesthetic note: Jeremy finally switched his slide colors from white-on-blue to the more boring (but easy to read) black-on-white.

Lunch

Lunch was pretty good. Lots of vegetarian options. I sat at a table full of Yahoos and Brian Aker. It started to rain, so we all scrambled inside. We went to hear the talk about Lufthansa Systems porting MySQL to NetWare. Novell is desperate to remain relevant, and it looks like they’re trying to embrace Open Source as a way to stay alive.

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A Guided Tour of the MySQL Source Code

Monty and Zak’s talk on A Guided Tour of the MySQL Source Code was a great introduction to a codebase I’ve never read before. The 5.0 source code became available via BitKeeper just a few days ago.

Unfortunately, the talk was plagued by technical difficulties. The LCD projector just wouldn’t cooperate with the laptop. Zak had a copy of the presentation on a floppy disk, but nobody else in the room had a laptop that could read it. Bummer.

Mmmm… Quinoa

quinoa.jpg Jeff at work bumped into me in the hallway and asked if cous cous could be eaten on Pesach. He was bummed to find out that it’s made from semolina, so it’s a no-go.

I tipped him off to quinoa, which he had never heard of. It’s yummy, similar in size to cous cous, and it’s kosher l’Pesach, too!

Pesach is right around the corner. We’re going to be busy kashering the house on Sunday.