We spent last weekend in the Bay Area for Gil and Becky’s wedding. On Sunday, I started coming down with a cold and was feeling miserable. It was late at night and I didn’t feel like going out to the drugstore to get a decongestant.
My mom remembered that during a trip to Europe last year she started getting a cold and picked up a nasal spray in the airport just before her flight home. The medicine had probably expired, but I was welcome to try it:
I tried to read the label, but everything was in German. Rhinospray sensitiv bei Schnupfen. Wirkstoff: Tramazolinhydrochlorid… I needed to know: how many times should I spray? How often? Are there any dangerous side-effects?
Alas, I don’t speak German, yet I really needed to clear my nose. So I gave it a shot. And viola! Like magic, I was breathing clear again. I no longer cared what the active ingredient was; it could’ve been arsenic and I’d still use it again.
Today, I learned from netdoktor.de that the Wirksamer Bestandteil (active ingredient?) is Tramazolin.
Whatever that is.
So I’ve been granted the lovely honor of being a guest author on my brother-in-law Michael’s blog. I’m so excited, and there are so very many things that I could talk about. But I think I’m going to talk about what was on my mind this morning at work (I work at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, which is just boring enough to provide me with plenty of opportunity for thought problems…).
Draft Wesley K. Clark for President in 2004!!
Why? OK, well, the Democrats don’t really have anyone. Let’s be honest. We’ve got Dennis Kucinich, who looks like a character actor from a terrible B movie. We’ve got John Edwards–TV psychic or South Carolinian Senator? John Kerry–looks like a bloodhound. Carol Moseley Braun–let’s get serious. Howard Dean–flash in the pan, soup du jour, flavor of the month. He won’t last. Joe Lieberman–right, because everyone wants a President who puts them to sleep with the very sound of his voice. Anyway, you get the point. It’s been belabored by others, so I don’t really need to elaborate any more…
And then you have Wesley Clark. Let’s see…Rhodes Scholar, graduated number one in his class at West Point, winner of the Purple Heart and the Medal of Freedom, Supreme Commander of NATO forces Europe, serious about national security, pro-choice, pro-environment, distinguished, brilliant, an Ike for the aughts. But truth be told, he’s got no money, no name recognition, and no organization, so in all likelihood Clark on the ballot will be as VP (Dean and Clark? ugh. Kerry and Clark? has a nice ring to it…).
But he’s my man for ’04. He can give to the Democratic Party the moral vision and clarity of purpose to raise the party out of its ideological quagmire. He isn’t a dove, and isn’t a hawk. He wasn’t opposed to the war in Iraq, but was opposed to our brazen hegemonic stupidity in acting outside of NATO and the UN(Check out his article in the Washington Monthly from September 2002).
Sadly, he could run in ’08, but Hillary’s got that one all sewn up…though Bill Frist will spank her in a general election. She’s the kind of candidate for whom the party faithful will love to vote. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
Anyway, that’s my thought for the morning.
Oh, one other, actually. This is a book recommendation: Bystanders to Genocide: Why the United States Let the Rwandan Tragedy Happen by Samantha Power. She’s brilliant, insightful, thoughtful, and brazen. Witness one of my favorite quotes from the book…”We have a foreign policy based on our amoral economic interests run by amateurs who want to stand for something
Last night I saw the premiere of Banzai, a mock Japanese game show of sorts where the contestants do a bunch of wacky things and the audience is supposed to bet on the outcome.
I imagine that if you’re drunk it makes for a very entertaining experience.
Jeremy Zawodny spoke Friday
morning about MySQL
I’m still just waking up, so here are some abbreviated notes.
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON *.* TO, but think seriously about delegating privileges to
to know the magic incantation)
have as many readers as writers. MyISAM tends to work fine when you’ve
got 90-95% readers and just a few writers (or vice-versa) but you can
run into lock contention when there are lots of both. InnoDB doesn’t
fix locking problems; it actually introduces some problems of its own.
ALTER TABLEis slow. Requires an exclusive
write lock on the entire table, all queries will back up until it
finishes. Plan ahead.
power in the world and it won’t matter if it’s waiting on a slow disk.
Low seek times are more important than high transfer rates. RAID can
help. If you have time, benchmark different disk combinations
(suggested a tool called Bonnie++).
Sometimes the “least connections” algorithm can make things worse.
Often a simple “round-robin” algorithm works just great.
lower value will force idle connections to disconnect. Sometimes this
can improve overall efficiency.
each of N clusters of servers). Instead of a single “users” table, you
have 4 different tables (“users_abcdefg”, “users_hijklmn”,
“users_opqrstu”, “users_vwxyz”) and the application needs to look at the
first letter of the key to figure out which table to query.
use 4.x, not 3.23. Also, it’s not as flexible as other software.
Zawodny also inserted a small Yahoo! advertisement in his slides; Yahoo! is hiring engineers. His
incentive is twofold. (1) Smart folks tend to go to OSCON, so it’s a
targeted audience, and (2) if you send him (or me) your resume we can
get the employee referral bonus if you end up getting hired.
I don’t have time to read most of the Apache mailing lists, but I do keep an eye on the low-traffic cvs commit list.
There’s been a lot of discussion over the past month or so about the upcoming 1.3.28 release, and even a couple of dates proposed. The most recent message suggests that we’ll see a 1.3.28 release next week.
Taking a look at the CHANGES file, there’s not too much that I really need in this release. The past year has been pretty slow for Apache 1.3 development, in large part because folks are starting to move to 2.0.
XML Hasn’t Cured Our Ills or Saved the World (slides).
The talk centered around five things Ray thinks we do wrong with XML:
You have to aks yourself if it’s really necessary. Is it just for
parsers, then there probably is a simpler solution
“legitimate” task, why not use XML for other things, too?
(i.e. configuration data)
the parser) would be sufficiently complex, maybe using an XML parser
would be easier?
moderates DTD repositories? Registries on xml.com and xml.org contain
outdataed information, and UDDI is too business-centric.
3 pages of Google results to eventually find RecipeML
openened up the XML formats for Office 2003. Compare to open formats
image file format transformations by reducing an N * M problem
to N + M).
books/tools/software/training/services when customers think that XML is
“easy”? Vested interest in making it complicated.
In conclusion, Ray mused that no one technology is (yet) a universal solution and XML is no different when it comes data formats. His charge to the audience: just think about XML before using (or not using) it. Self-described experts don’t necessarily have all the answers.
I stuck around for local software guy Phil Tomson’s Ruby for Perl Programmers talk. This session was more technical, with the first code example showing up on the 4th slide.
Phil’s slides are online, so I won’t attempt to replicate them here.
Something listed as a “gotcha” actually seems to be a feature to me. Since all variables hold references to objects, you have to explicitly call
.dup to clone an object. It’s more Java-like than Perl, but it probably ends up being higher performance since you only make copies when you explicitly want them.
Yukihiro Matsumoto spoke about The Power and Philosophy of Ruby on Thursday morning. The talk was all philosophy, no code. Very entertaining.
We started off by discussing natural languages and the Tower of Babel, with a comparison of Japanese and its use of ideograms versus English. Matsumoto said that he was heavily influenced by the science fiction novel Babel-17. In some part, the power of the “super-language” in this book inspired him to create the Ruby programming language.
He spoke about the importance of choosing good names; those that are short and well-chosen usually convey meaning very easily. He also spoke about the importance of the machine making it easier for humans (Moore’s Law, evolution of programming languages to higher-level concepts). He feels it’s important for programming languages to cause the programmer as little stress as possible, and pointed out that one metric of a good programming language is that the programmer still has time to go out and have fun.
However, Matsumoto made it clear that simplicity is not a goal of Ruby. After all, human thoughts are not simple, and programs are essentially complex things. Rather, the design adheres to the principle of least surprise. If some aspect of the language meets your expectation, then it’s achieving its goal. Succinctness is highly valued because Matsumoto believes it leads to productivity and efficiency.
In Ruby, like in Perl, There’s More Than One Way To Do It, but the language can encourage one way. For example, Ruby does allow global variables, but you have to put a $ character before globals. Since too many $ are considered ugly, it discourages use of globals. “Dangerous” methods in Ruby have a ! in their name, for example
sort!. The “dangerous” methods might be faster, but they have side-effects, and the ! character reminds you to be careful.