Tuesday Nov 04, 2008

MySQL University: Bazaar and Launchpad

This Thursday (November 6, 2008), Jay Pipes will guide you on a tour of Bazaar and Launchpad for beginners. Since Jay is located in Columbus, Ohio, this session will start later than usual, that is, at 17:00 UTC / 9:00am PDT / 12:00 EST / 17:00 BST / 18:00 CET.

Getting to know Bazaar and Launchpad is certainly interesting for most developers, but it's a "must-know" for anyone thinking of contributing code to MySQL, since MySQL development has been using Bazaar and Launchpad for quite a while now.

While I'm at it: 

On the eve of the Berlin Marathon a few weeks ago, I saw Santa Claus on skates, which reminded me that it was less than three months until Christmas. Now it's just two months, and there are only a few more MySQL University sessions left until 2008 will be history.

For those of you who've never heard the term before, MySQL University is an educational program for engineers from Sun/MySQL and the MySQL community. It's free and open to anyone. MySQL University focuses on MySQL internals and on Sun technology that can be used in connection with MySQL.

Here's the schedule for the rest of this year. As always, check out the schedule on the MySQL University Wiki page on MySQL Forge – there may be last-minute changes.

 Date Time
Topic Presenter
November 6 17:00 UTC / 9:00am PDT / 12:00 EST / 17:00 BST / 18:00 CET Tour
of Bazaar and Launchpad for Beginners
Jay Pipes
November 13
13:00 UTC / 14:00 BST / 15:00 CET MySQL and
MC Brown
November 20 13:00 UTC / 14:00 BST / 15:00 CET Using
memcached in MySQL deployments
MC Brown
December 4 13:00 UTC / 14:00 BST / 15:00 CET What's New in
MySQL Optimizer
Sergey Petrunia
December 11 13:00 UTC / 14:00 BST / 15:00 CET Random Query
Philip Stoev
December 18 13:00 UTC / 14:00 BST / 15:00 CET Developing MySQL on Solaris
Trond Norbye

Monday Oct 27, 2008

MySQL University Thu 30 Oct

MySQL UniversityThe next MySQL University session will take place this Thursday, 30th October. Giuseppe Maxia will get you up to speed with using MySQL Sandbox for quick and easy testing of MySQL.

This session will start at 15:00 Central European Time (14:00 UTC, 14:00 BST).

MySQL University is an educational program run virtually on the 'net. Sessions are open to anyone. MySQL University focuses on MySQL internals and on Sun technology that can be used in connection with MySQL, but we're open to hear your suggestions for other topics. Go to this page and fill in your suggestions!

We'll be using the Dimdim conferencing system for this session. Dimdim has integrated voice streaming and chat. To attend, you need a browser with a recent Flash plugin. You may register a Dimdim account but you don't have to.

The virtual meeting room will be opened about 15 minutes before the hour. Point your browser to this address: http://webmeeting.dimdim.com/portal/JoinForm.action?confKey=stefan@stefanhinz.org

Friday Oct 24, 2008

MySQL University Using Dimdim

After a series of tests, we've just conducted the first MySQL University session using a new conferencing system, Dimdim, and I thought I'd let you know how it went.

MySQL University is an educational program for engineers from Sun/MySQL and the MySQL community, Dimdim is the new conferencing system that we hope will be able to replace our old presentation system, and "we" isn't plurale majestatis but rather refers to the guys running the MySQL University program, the Sun Database Group documentation team.

I started the Dimdim session fifteen minutes before the hour, and when the two presenters arrived we did a sound check. Petr and David connected from Sun offices in Prague, Czechia, and California, respectively, and I was on a DSL line in my home office in Berlin, Germany. Sound quality was excellent, as if Petr and David were standing next to me. Other attendees confirmed that sound was great for them, too, and also reliable (very few drop-outs). Speaking of sound: Dimdim doesn't require you to use a telephone for the voice channel (although you could) – it's VoIP, straight over the Internet and out of your browser's Flash plugin. It's VoIP for presenters, too – all you have to do is allow Flash to access your microphone, and your voice can be heard. If you have a camera attached you could also video-stream your face, but we haven't tried this.

David sharing his desktop to demonstrate using MySQL with NetBeans

What worries me is that my own voice sounded like I was a chipmunk (or, as David put it, as if I had inhalated helium). The day before, in one of the many test sessions I ran, my voice was okay, but then I was sitting in the same room where my wireless access point is located. This time, I was sitting in a room next door, in an effort to reduce sounds from my children playing. Looks like connection quality is extremely important for Dimdim's VoIP, at least on the "active" side – just for listening it didn't make a difference when I was on a signal-wise low-quality wifi (at other test sessions we did). I'm not sure how this will work out for presenters who are on less-than-optimal Internet connections.

There were twelve people in this session, including presenters and host. I asked them where they were from, and it turned out they were from all over Europe and North America (see screen shot). One participant was from Japan. Since no one was reporting anything but minor problems, this indicates that Dimdim works well in many places on this planet.

Petr and David showed some slides. Currently you can share PowerPoint and PDF. It's quick for both presenters and audience, and the user interface for presenters is functional and slick. They also shared their desktops to demo NetBeans – desktop sharing requires a browser plugin that's available only for Windows and Mac OS X, but the Dimdim folks claim that they're working on a Linux version, too. Desktop sharing is kind of slow, but as long as presenters keep in mind that redrawing on the receiving end takes some time I think it's good enough. For presenters, it's a bit of a challenge to arrange their windows in a way that they can still see the Dimdim chat sidebar (so they can see questions), and also they should use only a small part of their screen because otherwise the audience will have to scroll in the shared-desktop area in order to see everything. From what I know Petr and David used a resolution of 1280x1024, and they demoed in the upper left two thirds of their screens. I could see everything they did in my full-screen browser window without having to scroll.

Now for some bad news:

  • "Active" voice stopped working for me after a few minutes. I noticed when Petr rudely ignored and interrupted my talking, but it turned out that Flash had stopped capturing my voice. Being the host, I couldn't just restart my browser, or the meeting would have ended surprisingly for everyone. (I still have to find out if that's really the case or if I'm just paranoid.)
  • Recording has severe limitations. For one thing, not everything is recorded. According to Dimdim, audio and video of the presenter is recorded, and so is the chat log. The shared area is recorded only for presentation slides. Shared-desktop sessions and whiteboard scribblings aren't recorded. What's worse, you can only record one presenter. Had I recorded Petr, the recording would have stopped after assigning the presenter status to David. Restarting recording would have resulted in Petr's recording being overwritten by David's. Lame. So I resorted to just recording David's part of the presentation. After the session had ended, I received an email with a link to the chat log. And that was it. No link to the voice recording. Maybe the session wasn't ended properly (see next bullet item) and thus some trigger on Dimdim's side didn't fire, I don't know. I've reported the problem to the Dimdim folks.
  • Firefox froze after I clicked "end meeting". This has happened before, and I suspect it's due to Flash doing bad things to my browser. Nothing major, though, since it only happens when the session is over, anyway, and thanks to Firefox' excellent crash recovery it's back with its previously opened tabs within seconds.
  • I'm on Linux (for this particular session, on 32-bit Linux). Multimedia applications often favor Mac OS X and Windows to an extent that Linux users can only hope that things will work at all for them. Not so Dimdim – they've done a remarkably good job for Linux users. Still, there's that feeling that things are less smooth and reliable on Linux, but I guess the Dimdim folks can only do so much about it, since most of the issues will likely have to be resolved by the makers of Flash.
To conclude, I'm quite happy with how this session went. I'm curious to see if things will work out similarly well for other presenters, particularly if they're on Linux. Time will tell.

Tuesday Oct 21, 2008

MySQL University Thu 23 Oct

Update to tomorrow's MySQL University session: Petr will start presenting how to use NetBeans for writing PHP. David will continue showing how to use it with MySQL. To set expectations correctly, we've renamed the MySQL University to Working with PHP and MySQL in NetBeans.

Petr Pisl from the NetBeans team will be David Van Couvering's co-presenter for the MySQL University session this Thursday (see the announcement I posted yesterday). While David will focus on NetBeans with MySQL, Petr will demonstrate what NetBeans can do for PHP programmers, a species that uses MySQL all the time. Thanks for joining in, Petr!

In his recent blog post Petr is pointing out that we'll have limited capacity for this session – only 20 attendees may enter the (virtual) meeting room, including David, Petr, and myself. This is a limitation of the free version of Dimdim – if this conferencing service meets our MySQL University needs, we'll buy a Pro license that will allow for 40 or 60 participants. (And if we find that many people couldn't attend this session we'll repeat it.)

Remember this session starts at 9:00am Pacific time (18:00 CET or 17:00 BST). The virtual doors will be open a few minutes earlier on Thursday, 23rd October.


mysqlf is a common typo on the #docs IRC channel of the MySQL documentation team. It shows a high (some might say, dangerous) degree of identification with MySQL. Trying to pronounce it will probably result in tongue injuries.


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