Michael J. Radwin

Tales of a software engineer who keeps kosher and hates the web.

Monthly Archives April 2003

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.


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.



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.


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 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.


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.

OSCON 2003 registration

hornbill.gif It looks like the O’Reilly folks have finally posted the abstract for my One Year of PHP at Yahoo! talk I’ll be giving this summer in Portland, Oregon.

I filled out the speaker registration page today and picked some tutorials to attend. Here’s what I’ll be going to:

- Tutorial

Session ID: 3959

Title: Introduction to XSLT

Date: 07/07/2003

Time: 8:45am to 12:15pm

Location: Columbia

- Tutorial

Session ID: 4149

Title: Designing and Creating Great Shared Libraries

Date: 07/07/2003

Time: 1:45pm to 5:15pm

Location: Willamette

- Tutorial

Session ID: 3982

Title: Building Data Warehouses with MySQL

Date: 07/08/2003

Time: 8:45am to 12:15pm

Location: Salon H

On Monday afternoon I’ll probably bounce back and forth between Theodore Ts’o’s “Designing and Creating Great Shared Libraries” and Bradley M. Kuhn’s “The GNU General Public License for Developers and Businesspeople.”

Instead of registering for something on Tuesday afternoon, I think I’ll explore Portland. I’ve never been there before.

Early Bird registration is now open (through May 23rd) at http://conferences.oreillynet.com/os2003/

Hebcal by Voice is going away

Got this email from Tellme today:

Date: Thu,  3 Apr 2003 01:10:11 -0800 (PST)

From: Tellme Studio <developer@tellme.com>

To: michael@...

Subject: Tellme Studio program change

VoiceXML Developer,

Tellme has made many investments in VoiceXML over the past four years.

One of these investments was in the Extensions program, with the goal

of making VoiceXML a more utilized public standard. Now with VoiceXML

well on its way to standardization in the W3C and with hundreds of

thousands of VoiceXML applications in production,  it is clear that

investment has paid off. It is time for us to retire the Extensions

program and invest in other areas. As of Wednesday, April 9th we will

no longer host Extensions on 1-800-555-TELL or

http://studio.tellme.com. Developers can continue to build VoiceXML

applications on Tellme Studio.

Thank you for your individual contribution in making VoiceXML the most

widely-used and successful voice standard in the world.

The Tellme Development Team

Damn, that sucks.

Photos from Israel

We’re back home. A few pictures from Israel that you might enjoy:


Taken on Ben Yehudah Street, a pedestrian-only promenade in Jerusalem. Business has been very slow the past 2.5 years.


Due to the threat of Iraqi chemical weapons, Israeli citizens have been issued gas masks. When you arrive at the Tel Aviv airport tourists can purchase one from the Post Office. Eerie. Here is a close-up of the piles of gas masks.


Ariella is checking her email from Daniel & Miriam’s computer. Their computer room doubles as their sealed room. All of our friends have one room of their apartment ready in case of biological or chemical attack.


We did lots of schmoozing and eating with our friends. Here’s a photo taken at David & Laura’s on Saturday Night as we were watching a tape of West Wing episodes.

More Israel Photos are in our Y! Photos album.