Thursday Oct 02, 2008

Cloning Jay Pipes

The MySQL Community Team is about to lose a valuable member. In a few weeks, Jay Pipes, Community Relations Manager for North America, is joining the Drizzle project, under a different organization within Sun, and he won't be much available for MySQL community matters anymore.

BoF - OSCON 2008

On one hand, I am glad for Jay. He has been craving for more technical work, and he happily jumped at the offer from the Drizzle team. On the other hand, I have now the hard task of finding a worthy replacement. It won't be easy. For several years we have taken Jay's presence for granted, and he has done incredibly remarkable things, like creating MySQL Forge (v1 and v2) and organizing two MySQL Users Conferences and two MySQL Camps.

So, here I am, shouting to the world my need for a new manager. What am I looking for? What makes a good Community Relations Manager? At the end of this post, you will find a more detailed and formal list of requirements, but here is my personal take. The ideal candidate should

  • Be a clone of Jay Pipes
  • live in North America (US or Canada);
  • be willing and able (valid passport) to travel domestically and abroad;
  • be a team player, a good communicator, already comfortable with some Open Source community;
  • speak and write English fluently;
  • have a deep technical knowledge about MySQL (a certification would be nice);
  • have a broad understanding of databases, open source, and community in general;
  • be a proficient blogger;
  • be able to work from home effectively;
  • have a relevant wealth of contacts in at least one social site (LinkedIn, Facebook, Xing, etc);
Nice to have:
  • author of a book on MySQL :)
  • author of articles on MySQL or databases in general;
  • experience as web developer;
  • experience of the world outside North America (time zones, foreign cultures and needs, foreign languages, exotic food)

If your fit the above description, please get in contact with me. I am leaving no address on purpose. Being able to find an unlisted email address is part of the skill set for that job!

Oh, and don't forget that you will have strong competition. Please read A glimpse and a hook before pressing the send button.

The official part starts here

Primary Responsibilities and Duties

  • Establish inroads into various MySQL and open source communities through:
    • Attending and speaking at open-source conferences
    • Blogging about MySQL and community topics
  • Initiate and maintain contacts (primarily in North America) with:
    • Developers who use or could use MySQL for projects
    • User groups and meetups in the open source ecosystem
    • Community leaders and advocates
  • Assist the program chair of the MySQL Conference and Expo in
    • Planning, reviewing, and administering the conference
  • Write articles for various MySQL web properties and other publications
  • Actively participate in mailing lists, forums, and other websites by:
    • Encouraging the growth of MySQL
    • Assisting others in MySQL technical issues
    • Vetting and reviewing open source projects which use MySQL
  • Develop and maintain in-house software such as PlanetMySQL and the MySQL Forge
  • Actively promote open source development practices internally and externally to Sun/MySQL
    • Blog and write articles about best practices in open source development models
    • Encourage openness and transparency of MySQL engineering roadmap and development practices

Required Knowledge and Skills

  • Experience speaking at conferences, user groups and functions on technical topics
  • Experience networking with community leaders and open source advocates in building and growing the MySQL and associated ecosystems
  • Deep technical knowledge of MySQL
  • Understanding of open source development practices
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Knowledge of at least 1 programming language

Preferred (Bonus) Knowledge and Skills

  • Knowledge of Bazaar and/or other source control systems
  • Knowledge of PHP/Perl/Python/Ruby
  • Knowledge of Spanish language

Friday Sep 19, 2008

A bunch of MySQL/Sun engineers at Software Freedom Day

About 250 MySQL/Sun engineers are meeting in Riga, Latvia, for the annual internal MySQL Developers Meeting. 250 sounds like a large number. And a group picture is quite impressive.

Software Freedom Day Today is Software Freedom Day, which is organized at the local university, and includes talks by Mark Callaghan (Google), Mårten Mickos (MySQL), Domas Mituzas (Wikimedia Foundation).

The full program also mentions free beer, which is an irresistible combination!

Tuesday Sep 16, 2008

Workshop and prize at Software Freedom Day

During MySQL/Sun developers meeting in Riga, Latvia, we will celebrate the Software Freedom Day in cooperation with the University of Latvia and other organizations.

One of the events taking place will be a workshop on MySQL optimization, held at the Linux Center computer lab at the University, under the supervision of Jay Pipes, one of the major experts in MySQL performance tuning.

The best performer at the workshop will be awarded a very appropriate prize. A copy of High Performance MySQL, second edition. Registrations for the workshop hare handled by the Linux Center.

During the workshop, there will be practical exercises of performance tuning, covering best practices and advanced features of MySQL.

Monday Sep 15, 2008

250 Sun/MySQL engineers at Software Freedom Day in Riga

The Software Freedom Day 2008 is approaching. The event will take place wherever you want. If you are interested, just register a team, gather a few friends, and start organizing that in your street, at a local pub, in your university, or wherever you see fit.

MySQL people are very conscious about open source, and we decided to participate to the event somehow. For starters, Sun is a sponsor, and that is a good sign that we care. But we need also to make our presence known. So the initial plan was that every Sun community would encourage its members to create a local Software Freedom Day team and participate.

However, on September 20, the designated day, 250 Sun/MySQL engineers will be in Riga, Latvia, in the middle of our annual developers meeting.

Not a problem. Since we're there, we can celebrate abroad. We have a culture of working from home and while traveling, so an event away from home does not scare us. We got in contact with the local communities, and organized a team in cooperation with

And probably more people who may have joined the effort since we started.

It's a Latvian event, with a distinct international flavor. We will gladly provide the speakers necessary to the event, and the locals will inject their enthusiasm. In the evening, a buffet will combine free software and free beer in a well tested combination.

A special thanks to Leo Trukšāns and Michael Dexter for showing us the way through Latvian open source paths. To Georg Richter for scouting the paths in Riga, and to Lenz Grimmer, for gluing all the above together.

Monday Aug 11, 2008

OpenSolaris booklets

opensolaris books

At OSCON, Sun had a huge booth. I mentioned that before, and I was part of the show. During booth opening hours, members of all Sun communities (Open Solaris, Glassfish, OpenJDK, MySQL) addressed the audience with technical presentations.

I was very impressed by these two booklets that were given away to whomever wanted them. They are short, well written, with the sort of practical information that a beginner wants to find immediately.

It's nice to hold them, but books are heavy, especially if you are traveling 6,000 miles with hand luggage only. So it's very nice to find them in the OpenSolaris site.

That's something that we should consider for MySQL as well. Better than giving away T-shirts and stuffed dolphins. Spreading knowledge is more helpful.

Wednesday Jul 16, 2008

Sun open booth at OSCON

Sun open source

Going to OSCON? Sun Microsystems is a sponsor, and has a large booth area, all dedicated to you.

It is an unusual way of using open space. We welcome all visitors and encourage them to participate in our activities. There are presentations at almost any time, given by the makers of the open source products you use. And you can have a chance to chat with the very people who are shaping the open source world.

The booth talks include presentations and live demos on MySQL, OpenJDK, Glassfish, OpenSolaris, JCP, mobile and embedded technologies, and more.

The "more" part is up to you. Just drop by and ask for a demo on your favorite product. Chances are that an expert on that very topic is nearby, to answer all your questions.

Our booth is your booth. Come to see us.

Bring a friend.

Monday Jun 02, 2008

Funny moments at Rome University presentation

There were some funny moments during the conference at Rome University.
Before Marten's arrival, we built an impressive heap of fluff dolphins on the desk.

For convenience, Marten used my laptop (an Apple MacBook) for his presentation, and he remarked about "open source enthusiasts who use closed source software". Mac OSX is, indeed, not open source, but it is the friendlier closed source operating system around. And since I am not a zealot, but I use what is best for me, I can cope withApple. My Mac has all the applications I am used to in Linux, with more pleasant graphics, media, and networking features. This is my personal opinion, and YMMV. Back to the topic.

After the presentation, there was a Q&A session. When Marten said he was ready to take questions, I addressed the audience in Italian, saying that we could take questions in Italian and translate them. Marten added immediately "and we can take questions in Swedish and Finnish at no extra charge".
We gave one fluff dolphin to everyone who asked a question. The audience appreciated it. The questions were frequent and spontaneous, and the extra dolphins were a welcome bonus.
When it was my turn to speak, on the subject of "MySQL Community How To", I started with this remark: "we have shown you the commercial dolphins. One for each question. Now brace yourselves for the open source strategy!" I grabbed two handfuls of dolphins, and threw them at the audience. I had their full attention, and they asked many questions, without further promise of dolphins.
One of the questions was "what is the reason for participating to a open source project? Why should I contribute?" And my provocative answer, which would perhaps deserve a full article to expand, was "mainly, participation in OS projects is for selfish reasons. I have an itch to scratch, and I want to ease it. If your application does 99% of what I need and I know how to do the missing 1%, by writing a patch I am solving my problem, and by submitting my patch for future releases I am making sure that I don't have to recompile the application in future releases. Thus, by looking after my interests, I am doing good to the community."
The reality is much more complex than that, but my answer pleased the audience, and I feel that it is not far from the truth.
Summing up, in addition to having a fruitful day with customers, press, and academic institutions, we had some fun as well.

Thursday May 29, 2008

At ease in the Aquarium

As announced by Eduardo, I have started playing with The Aquarium.
That does not mean that I sleep with the fishes, but that I am playing along with the group. And besides, dolphins are not fishes, but nonetheless they should be at ease in an aquarium.

This blogging is part of MySQL integration in Sun. Slowly but surely we are becoming aware of our surroundings and we are engaging the rest of the Sun communities.

We are learning.

Wednesday May 21, 2008

Open Source in Rome with Marten Mickos

Marten Mickos will visit Rome on May 30th. He will meet the press and customers in the morning, and will be the main guest at a conference hosted at La Sapienza, Rome well known University.

Here is a raw translation of the official announcement.

Marten Mickos, for seven years MySQL CEO, now Senior Database Group VP in Sun, will be in Rome on May 30th, 2008, at the Computer Sciences Department of "La Sapienza" University, to meet all - developers, technologists, decision makers, bloggers, influencers - who care for Open Source Databases.

Key topics will be the open source model, the present state and the future of MySQL.

Marten will speak at a 20 minutes keynote, and then will be available for Q&A. For open source enthusiasts, there will be a session of deep insight on why MySQL is useful in Web 2.0 applications and how to participate to MySQL community.

Entrance is free and unrestricted. Please spread the news to all the ones who you think should be interested.

16:30MySQL: the Present and the Future
Marten Mickos, Sun Senior VP Database Group
17:30From Zero to Infinity. Unlimited scalability of MySQL in web 2.0
Ivan Zoratti, Systems Engineering Manager EMEA
18:00MySQL: a community that gets you involved.
Giuseppe Maxia, MySQL Community Team Lead

When: May 30th, 2008, at 16:30

Where: Department of Computer Sciences, University "La Sapienza" of Rome.
via Salaria 113 - 00198 Roma

Thursday May 15, 2008

Speaking at the Italian Free Software Conference

I am speaking at the Italian Free Software Conference, an event with the aim of considering the state of the art of Free Software in Italy.

The conference is held in Trento, Italy, sponsored by public institutions, the local university, and private industries.
My session is about MySQL as open database, which is a philosophical walkthrough of how MySQL has become successful, why Sun has bought it, what is in store for the future.

Thursday May 08, 2008

Who's the geek?

An article on PostgreSQL online gives a quick assessment of the difference between MySQL and PostgreSQL.

PostgreSQL people look like a gang of geeks and Martin Mickos looks polished

Who's the geek in this picture? :-)

Tuesday May 06, 2008

Friendly encounters at CommunityOne

Close encounter of the sun Communities in San Francisco.

Josh Berkus and yours truly enjoyng the company friendly environment.

Monday May 05, 2008

Slides from Creative Programming talk

Thanks to all the attendees to the session on creative programming with MySQL at CommunityOne.
As announced, the slides are online.
3.5M (PDF)

Thursday May 01, 2008

Creative programming with MySQL

Programming databases is tricky. If you need the basic access only, any programming language can do. But when you want to get some advanced feature, you face difficult choices. If you are lucky, the feature you are looking for is available in a library compatible with your language of choice. But usually it happens that you are writing in Java, and your life-saving routine is only available in Perl, or you are writing in PHP and striving for features that are buried deep into a Java class.
Hard choices.
But it does not have to be that way. Sometimes, you can develop closer to the server, in such a way that any client, using any programming language, can access your extended routine.
MySQL, although not as equipped with built-in features like some competitors, is nonetheless particularly suited for such this kind of creative programming. Using the different engines available by default, you can combine features creatively.

For example, you can combine Federated tables and triggers to create conditional code. You can execute different triggers for the same event on the same table, depending on which federated table you call, or you can create cascaded triggers for one table.
A recent addition to MySQL flexibility is MySQL Proxy, a friendly helper that sits between client and server and allow you to change behavior or create new features on the fly.
This topic is quite vast, and I could speak for hours about that. As it happens, I will be speaking on this topic for one hour at CommunityOne. If you are around, come along, at 12:25, Esplanade 307.

Wednesday Apr 30, 2008

Yet another $2.5m of MySQL starts blogging at Sun

Hello, Sun!

I am one of the 400 employees who, on January 16, 2008, awoke at the thundering words of Marten Mickos and Jonathan Schwartz, announcing that MySQL had been acquired by Sun for $1b. Theoretically, or arithmetically, I should be worth $2.5m, and so handle with care. :)

Who am I?

I am a database enthusiast, with a reputation in several open source places. I am known in the Perl and MySQL communities, and you may have seen me around during some conferences, talking about unusual hacks or making jokes in heavily accented English.

I have another, historical blog, actually, with the same name, The Data Charmer, which has become my middle name.

My current job is MySQL Community Team Lead, but until January 2008 I was a QA Developer with community links. The jump did not happen by chance. Community and QA are strictly related. I am an open source enthusiast because of the quality of my favorite open source products. It's my job to broaden the MySQL community by showing what I do, not by trumpeting announcements. When I recommend something, it's because I have tried it out, and it worked for me.

I love experimenting, and I often come up with unusual ideas to bend the stiff applications to more flexible needs. Someone calls this approach creative programming, someone prefers the term hacking. The bottom line is that I stretch my favorite tools to the limits, and I get results that, to the untrained eye, look like magic. I usually don't contradict the believers, unless they ask for the manual page where the trick is explained. Then I have to admit that most of what I did is an harmonious combination of simple elements that were initially designed for some other purpose.

Before joining MySQL, I was "in the family" for several years. I was working as a database consultant and I contributed to the community from outside. Now, I do the same from the inside. Growing the community is my task, and I have three dedicated fellows in my team, who share the burden of managing a worldwide community spread across all continents.

Europe has the lion share, since I and my boss, Kaj Arnö, live in that continent. The astute reader will have noticed that there is nobody covering Latin America and Africa, and also Russia is largely neglected. We know it. We are making plans.

For now, that was an introduction. Hello, Sun, here we come! More on MySQL in my next posts.


Giuseppe Maxia


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