October is a month of many conferences


I just blogged about WhereCampPDX, and am enjoying a few days of quiet before heading out to Google for the Summer of Code Mentor’s summit this coming weekend.

I was so busy I didn’t have much time to blog about the PostgreSQL Conference West. It was great to see everyone, and I came away more sure than ever that PostgreSQL has the best developer and user community. We had so much fun, and I really enjoyed seeing the creative ways people are using PostgreSQL – for business (Proprietary to PostgreSQL), education (Visual Planner) and as a hobby (PL/LOLCODE).

WhereCampPDX was amazing! I had a couple fantastic conversations with Webb Sprague, a regular PostGIS presenter for PDXPUG and Portland PostgreSQL conferences. He’s interested in getting people together to talk about anthropology and tech, and how to better meet the needs of the people who will actually end up using disaster management software in a crisis. Look for a fabulous event from him this spring!

As far as GSOC, I’m hoping to take a lead role in this next year with Josh Berkus‘ help. He’s managed Summer of Code for at least two years, and has worked hard to match mentors and students, and we’ve ended up with several excellent contributions.

My plan for PostgreSQL is to start early on recruitment and project proposals, so that we have an excellent turnout next year. So, if you know of a project you want worked on, or know of students who would be good candidates – let’s get in touch now and start recruiting!

PostgreSQL Conference: Friday night dinner

taking shots
How to have fun, PostgreSQL-style

Those of you in town on Friday evening are welcome to join us at Paddy’s at 6pm for dinner:

Paddy’s Bar & Grill
65 SW Yamhill St
Portland, OR 97204

The reservation is under ‘Selena’, and we’ll be sitting in the front. The MAX runs directly in front of the restaurant.

Food is good – vegetarian-friendly, but not necessarily vegan or gluten-free. Those looking for those types of food options, let me know – there are actually excellent places nearby to eat, and you could join us a little later for socializing after a proper meal.

I’ll be directing those that want dinner at the Code Sprint over there – so I asked for 20 seats. Please comment or email me if you plan to attend, so that I can ask for more space if we fill up.

This isn’t a sponsored dinner – so we’ll all go dutch, unless a generous member of a company would like to sponsor us 🙂

I imagine several members of PDXPUG will be there. Can’t wait to see you all!

What I’m going to see at PostgreSQL Conference West

“I’d like to use my lifeline to figure out what to go to at PostgreSQL Conference West…”*

PostgreSQL Conference West is coming up this October 10-12, and the schedule was just published. Unfortunately, it’s a little tricky to navigate the list of talks on the site, so I decided to post my itinerary to help you if you’re looking for a guide!

So, I cheated a little and included some things that I won’t be able to see – but there’s really a lot of good stuff.

I’m so happy to see so many Portland locals presenting at this conference! All the Portlanders called out below are members of PDXPUG. Our next meeting is on October 16, 2008, 7pm at FreeGeek.

It shows how strong our community is that we were able to support two PostgreSQL-specific conferences (the earlier was PDXPUG day before OSCON) IN PORTLAND this year!!! Yay for us.

Here’s what I’ll be attending:

Continue reading

Filesystem I/O at the Linux Plumbers Conference

graph from software raid, RAID10, no partition table, ext3, read-write load

If you haven’t heard, the Linux Plumbers Conference is happening September 17-19, 2008 in Portland, OR. It’s a gathering designed to attract Linux developers – kernel hackers, tool developers and problem solvers.

A few of us that met through the Portland PostgreSQL User Group (PDXPUG) pitched an idea for a talk on filesystem performance. We wanted to examine performance conventional wisdom and put it to the test on some sweet new hardware, recently donated for performance testing Postgres. We’re asking questions like: Is RAID5 really the worst performing configuration for a database? How much does partition alignment really matter? Is there one Linux filesystem that a DBA should always choose for best performance under any load? Is adaptive readahead all that?

Our talk was accepted, so we’ve been furiously gathering data, and drawing interesting conclusions, ever since. Gabrielle Roth and I are presenting, using the results of extensive testing conducted by Mark Wong, a database benchmarking expert and author of pg_top. We’ll be sharing 6 different assumptions about filesystem performance, tested on five different filesystems, under five types of loads generated by fio, a benchmarking tool designed by kernel hacker Jens Axboe to test I/O.

Leaving US PostgreSQL Assoc. – what’s next for me?

A smiling pug
image credit to bugbunnybambam

A few weeks ago, I decided to resign from the United States PostgreSQL Association board. Shortly after, I left for a long vacation where I thought about what I wanted to do next – both professionally and in a volunteer capacity.

Looking back, I started volunteering for PostgreSQL two years ago. I’ve led PDXPUG, staffed many conference booths, given nearly a dozen talks and run conferences. Of the work I’ve done, I’ve been most surprised by the creation of the PUGS website and all the user groups that followed.

This may sound silly – but I was so incredibly proud to see user groups in Oklahoma, Toronto, Los Angeles and the D.C.-area (BWPUG) hold meetings, share their experiences and publish fantastic presentation slideshows. All while I was out of the country!

That’s a true sign of success to me: groups of people leading themselves and sharing their knowledge with each other. It’s open community, with minimal bureaucracy, and (I hope) maximum fun.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to make this next year’s volunteer work focused on a simple idea:

Enable people to connect and learn directly from each other.

So what you can expect from me over the next year is more of the same, but now with that end goal in mind: more PostgreSQL user groups (for as long as the postgresql.org folks would like me to stay), more ways to connect people directly to each other, more authentic community building through un-conferences, and more contributions – through code, testing and presenting of that work.

To give you an idea — here’s what I’m up to over the next couple of months:

  • Linux Plumber’s Conference, September 17-19 – with Gabrielle Roth, we’ll be presenting information about databases (PostgreSQL specifically) and filesystem performance using data gathered from the recently installed PostgreSQL performance lab.
  • PostgreSQL Conference West, October 10-12 – I’m not organizing this year, but I’m organizing a session on hacking PostgreSQL, led by some PostgreSQL hackers!
  • WhereCampPDX, October 17-19 – I’m helping organize this un-conference for geography-specific tech – practicioners, professionals, enthusiasts, artists! We’ve got some great ideas and hope to publish details in the next week about the awesome folks involved, the venue and the parties!

Hope to see you at these events!

I haven’t talked about my work much in this blog, and probably will continue not to do that much here – but I also wanted to share that I’ve taken a position with End Point Corporation, a fantastic company that works on open source software, and provides support for PostgreSQL. I’ll be focusing on PostgreSQL, and doing a little Perl development here and there.

PDXPUG Day on July 20 – Register now!

pgday 2007

photo courtesy of Dan Browning

Registration for PDXPUG Day on July 20, 2008 is open! Please sign up and let us know what size t-shirt you’d like. We’re requesting a $20 donation (by cash or check) at the door. All proceeds to to Software in the Public Interest, a 501(c)3 organization that is used to fund PostgreSQL advocacy.

Registration for OSCON is not required to attend.

Registering also gets you in the door at the Gotham Tavern, our after-party location close to the convention center!

Our line-up of talks includes:

PostgreSQL Unit Testing with pgTAP – David Wheeler
Inside the PostgreSQL Shared Buffer Cache – Greg Smith
Muldis D – Portable Databases At Full Power – Darren Duncan
A Streaming Database Talk – Rafael J. Fernández-Moctezuma
Using GLORP to connect Squeak Smalltalk to PostgreSQL – RandalSchwartz
Fighting Disease with PostgreSQL Full Text Search and JRuby on Rails – Mike Herrick
All Your GIS Are Belong to You – Abe Gillespie
What’s PgUS – Joshua Drake

Sign up today!

Drupal + PostgreSQL: review some patches, folks!

baseball bat
am i the girl, the bat or the heart? you decide!

I’ve been working on a site that uses Drupal for a few months now. And I’m living dangerously with CCK, Views and, as of last week, Organic Groups.

I found this sharp moderation module (Modr8) last week, and then quickly realized that I wanted to be able to provide this moderation tool any conferences that wanted it! Enter the Organic Groups.

I’m using PostgreSQL for the back-end database, and so I’m used to being a second-class database citizen in Druplandia. This means that I frequently have to patch modules so that they use SEQUENCE instead of AUTO_INCREMENT, or get rid of the (8) after an INT type. So, when Organic Groups and the og_modr8 modules caused this bug to rear up, and I suddenly had a full-scale “blogs running backwards” problem on my hands, I wasn’t surprised.

Thank goodness for Brenda Wallace’s patch, which fixed everything up a short while later. What got me, however, was that the problem has had a fix (although not Brenda’s ultimate patch) for over a year, but it hasn’t been added to core. Particularly when the problem causes nodes to be presented out of order, site-wide.

Apparently there’s a shortage of PostgreSQL reviewers in the Drupal community.

Fortunately, if you’d like to help get patches applied to core, there’s a page of Patches To Be Reviewed, and a few people are trying to add a postgresql tag to bugs. If you’re a Drupaler and use PostgreSQL, please take a few minutes to review a patch.

Call for proposals for PDXPUG PgDay, due June 20, 2008

pgday 2007
(Photo from PgDay 2007)

Please submit a talk! The call will be open for 2 weeks and proposals are due June 20th. Follow the link for details on submitting.


PDXPUG PgDay will be on July 20, 2008. This is a one-day conference happening the day before OSCON at the Oregon Convention Center.

We are inviting anyone who has something interesting to share about PostgreSQL to send us a proposal!

We’d like to have at least one 1.5 hour tutorial and up to five 45-minute talks.

We welcome talks in any of the following areas:

* Case studies involving interesting and innovative uses of PostgreSQL from an application developer, PostgreSQL developer or administrative user perspective
* Converting from other databases to PostgreSQL
* Howtos for database administration tasks (partitioning, backups, replication, writing stored procedures)
* Practical advice on configuration, monitoring and database management

PgCon 2008 – big announcements, community conversations

PgCon was a very exciting conference, with a lot of people from Europe, Asia, Australia and South America traveling to be part of it. I read that 175 people attended, and based on how crowded both parties were, it’s not hard to believe!

The biggest announcement for me was that the PostgreSQL Europe is finally a non-profit organization! I made a slide for my lightning talk with Magnus, Gabriele, Jean-Paul and Andreas on it:

PgEU announced

I got a ton of great feedback about the User Groupalooza slides. I also enjoyed meeting Jean-Paul Argudo, a fellow Drupaler.

There were a bunch of community-focused conversations, some focused inward on developers, some looking out to the rest of the world from inside Pg, and others from the outside looking in:

All the talks were recorded, so I look forward to listening to them again – without the distraction of Twitter! 🙂

A couple talks I thought were really great for web developers were:

  • Magnus Hagander’s search.postgresql.org talk gave some great examples and code showing how to use PostgreSQL’s tsearch capabilities with a PHP-based website.
  • Clark Evan’s talk on HTSQL, a REST-ful web inteface application. It looks pretty cool and I’m interested in trying it out. They are using it for medical records report generation and have even given the ability to generate queries to the end users.

Thanks so much to Dan who got me to the conference this year! I learned a lot, and really enjoyed meeting so many people that I’ve only communicated with over email for the past three years.

PgCon Lightning talk: User Groupalooza

I gave a Lightning talk today about PostgreSQL User Groups. I wasn’t able to get through ALL my slides – but I only had to rush through the last three. (click on the cat below to download – 5MB)

splash for user group talk

Lightning talks are some of my favorite sessions. I got to announce the incorporation of PostgreSQL-EU! We had a talk about DBIx::Cache (which you should all check out!), a cool open source lab in Japan that Hiroshi Saito works for (only for Japanese, but very cool), Gavin Roy talked about Staplr and a new benchmarking tool called Playr that was just released on Thursday, and six more talks! We hope to publish the rest of the slides shortly.