Joe Stump on data, APIs, and why location is up for grabs

Joe Stump on data, APIs, and why location is up for grabs

The SimpleGEO CTO and former Digg architect discusses NoSQL and location's future

I recently had a long conversation with Joe Stump, CTO of SimpleGeo, about location, geodata, and the NoSQL movement. Stump, who was formerly lead architect at Digg, had a lot to say. Here’s the highlights, you can find the full interview elsewhere on Radar.

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Four short links: 17 March 2010

Four short links: 17 March 2010

MySQL, MySociety, NoSQL DB, and NoSQL Conference Notes

  1. Common MySQL Queries — a useful reference.
  2. MySociety’s Next 12 Months — two new projects, FixMyTransport and “Project Fosbury”. The latter is a more general tool to help people organise their own campaigns for change.
  3. riak — scalable key-value store with JSON interface. (via joshua on Delicious)
  4. Notes from NoSQL Live Boston — full of juicy nuggets of info from the NoSQL conference.
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MySQL migration and risk management

MySQL migration and risk management

Database expert Ronald Bradford on the pros and cons of migrating from Oracle to MySQL

Ronald Bradford has been guiding DBAs through key aspects of database integration for years. In this Q&A, he discusses the pros and cons of migrating from Oracle to MySQL (hint: it's not just about cost savings). He also weighs in on how Oracle's acquisition of Sun will shape the future of MySQL and its community.

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Four short links: 11 January 2010 Four short links: 11 January 2010

Four short links: 11 January 2010

Top for MySQL, Project Surprises, and Two Odd Little Programming Languages

  1. mytop — a MySQL top implementation to show you why your server is so damn slow right now.
  2. What Could Kill Elegant High-Value Participatory Project?The problem was not that the system was buggy or hard to use, but that it disrupted staff expectations and behavior. It introduced new challenges for staff [...]. Rather than adapt to these challenges, they removed the system. [...] No librarian would get rid of all the Harry Potter books because they are “too popular.” No museum would stop offering an educational program that was “too successful.” These are familiar challenges that come with the job and are seen to have benefit. But if tagging creates a line or people spend too much time giving you feedback? Staff at Haarlem Oost likely felt comfortable removing the tagging shelves because they didn’t see the tagging as a patron requirement, nor the maintenance of the shelves as part of their job.
  3. Gremlina Turing-complete, graph-based programming language developed in Java 1.6+ for key/value-pair multi-relational graphs known as property graphs. Graph structures underly a lot of interesting data (citations, social networks, maps) and this is a sign that we’re inching towards better systems for working with those graphs. (via Hacker News)
  4. Anic — programming language based on stream and latches. I still can’t figure out whether it’s an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke that was released too soon, because the claim of “easier than *sh” is a bold one given the double-backslash and double-square-bracket-heavy syntax of the language. Important because it’s built to be parallelised, and we’re in transition pain right now between well-understood predictable languages for single CPUs (with hacks like pthreads for scaling) and experimental languages for multiple CPUs.
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Four short links: 26 October 2009

Four short links: 26 October 2009

Data Exploration, Evidence-Based Coding, API to the English Language, Dual Licensing

  1. Toiling in the Data Mines — Tom Armitage describes the process that Berg calls “material exploration”. Programmers very rarely talk about what their work feels like to do, and that’s a shame. Material explorations are something I’ve really only done since I’ve joined BERG, and both times have felt very similar – in that they were very, very different to writing production code for an understood product. They demand code to be used as a sculpting tool, rather than as an engineering material, and I wanted to explain the knock-on effects of that: not just in terms of what I do, and the kind of code that’s appropriate for that, but also in terms of how I feel as I work on these explorations. Even if the section on the code itself feels foreign, I hope that the explanation of what it feels like is understandable.
  2. Bits of Evidence — Slides for a talk, “What we actually know about software development and why we believe it is true”. (via Simon Willison)
  3. Wordnik API — definitions, frequencies, examples APIs. See the announcement from the Web 2.0 Summit.
  4. The Peculiar Institution of Dual Licensing — Brian Aker eloquently describes why he feels that dual licensing is anti-open source. Brian obviously has considerable experience informing this opinion–his years as Director of Technology for MySQL.
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Four short links: 5 October 2009

Four short links: 5 October 2009

Bozo Cloud Talk, Annotation Fail(ish), Python MySQL Slash, and Infinite Books

  1. Brown Cloud Marketing — advertorial “interviewing” GM of a company offering “DNS in the cloud”. This might be a worthwhile service, but the way he markets it (by saying open source is “freeware” and the market leader is “legacy”) reveals a rich vein of bozo. Freeware legacy DNS is the internet’s dirty little secret (actually, it’s the reason we have a functioning DNS), Nominum software was written 100 percent from the ground up, and by having software with source code that is not open for everybody to look at, it is inherently more secure. (security through obscurity is equating clothing with being naked yet blind). The Internet kindly did the poor man’s homework: screenshot of a cross-site scripting vulnerability in their customer portal, a Nominum security advisory from 2008, and the Nominum web server is running Linux, Apache, and PHP (all legacy freeware yet apparently not the Internet’s dirty little secret). (via Bert Hubert and Securosis)
  2. Public Annotations on Healthcare Bill — using technology from SharedBook, Congressman Culberson hoped to get citizens marking up the healthcare bill. They’re using the software but many are just commenting on page 1–turning the hosted annotation platform into a forum with an odd user interface. It’s a UI challenge: designing a way to let focused people comment on specific things, while also permitting impatient unfocused people to comment on the general topic. It’s like asking for a SmartCar that seats 80. See also OpenCongress and their annotation system which also has hundreds of comments on the first few lines of the bill (including 39 on the one line “111th Congress”–apparently more contentious than you’d think!).
  3. MyConnPy — pure-Python MySQL client library, useful because it requires no C compilation to install (and thus can work on systems without C compilers installed, e.g. mobile). (via Simon Willison)
  4. The Infinite Book — design concept for an ebook reader (not a product you can buy yet). Sexy. (via Gizmodo)
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Four short links: 24 September 2009

Four short links: 24 September 2009

Historic Cartography, MySQL Futures, Timewarping GDB, Open Source Werewolves

  1. Milestones in the History of Thematic CartographyThis resource provides a comprehensive view of the history of cartography, with examples of maps created throughout the ages and background information about the contexts within which those maps, visualizations and map making technologies were created. Explore each time period, click on the images and stories found throughout each time line, and read more about the history of creating thematic maps as a means of visualizing data. (via Titine on Delicious)
  2. Interview with Larry Ellison (Infoworld) — Asked about MySQL, “No, we’re not going to spin it off,” even if asked to by the EU, Ellison said. Lots of detail and interesting tidbits in this interview. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
  3. GDB and Reverse DebuggingGDB version 7.0 (due September 2009) will be the first public release of gdb to support reverse debugging (the ability to make the program being debugged step and continue in reverse). (via Hacker News)
  4. A New Self-Definition for FOSSThere was this clamour in the past to get companies to open source their products. This has stopped, because all the software that got open source sucked. It’s just not very interesting to have a closed source program get open sourced. It doesn’t help anyone, because the way closed source software is created in a very different way than open source software. The result is a software base that just does not engage people in a way to make it a valid piece of software for further development. I don’t agree entirely with this quoted piece, but there’s a lot to what he says. Open source is not a silver bullet–hell, most people don’t even know what the werewolf is. Open sourcing doesn’t magically make developers appear, open sourcing doesn’t magically make a market appear. Your closed source problems still exist after you open source because it’s. not. about. you. It’s about the users and their comfort, abilities, and freedoms. (via Simon Willison)
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OSCON: The saga of MySQL

At OSCON in 2006, I followed sessions that discussed how open source companies would fare when big corporations come in. Back then there were only a handful of examples of big companies purchasing small open source companies. Three years later, we've witnessed MySQL AB get swallowed by Sun, only to have Sun be swallowed by Oracle. Now there are…

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Four short links: 18 May 2009

Four short links: 18 May 2009

Scientists, Scammers, Satellites, and Safe Havens

  1. Scientists Without Borders — “Mobilizing Science, Improving Lives”. mobilize and coordinate science-based activities that improve quality of life in the developing world. The research community, aid agencies, NGOs, public-private partnerships, and a wide variety of other institutions are already promoting areas such as global health, agricultural progress, and environmental well-being, but current communication gaps restrict their power. Organizations and individuals do not always know about one another’s endeavors, needs, or availability, which limits the ability to forge meaningful connections and harness resources. This situation is especially striking in light of the growing realization that integrated rather than focused approaches are crucial for addressing key challenges such as extreme poverty and the glaring health problems that accompany it. See also Geeks Without Borders, but is there anyone running a program that sends geeks into the field where they’re needed? I know a lot of open source folks who have been volunteering around the world in poor nations, but I haven’t found a site that coordinates this. Can anyone point me to such a thing?
  2. The Psychology of Being Scammed — UK government report into the psychology of scammers’ victims. Lots of insights into successful scams (parallels drawn to finance or startups left as exercise to reader) and some counter-intuitive findings like Scam victims often have better than average background knowledge in the area of the scam content. For example, it seems that people with experience of playing legitimate prize draws and lotteries are more likely to fall for a scam in this area than people with less knowledge and experience in this field. This also applies to those with some knowledge of investments. Such knowledge can increase rather than decrease the risk of becoming a victim. (via Mind Hacks)
  3. GPS Accuracy Could Start Dropping In 2010 (Tidbits) — the Air Force has had difficulty launching new satellites. The GAO has calculated – using reliability curves for each operational satellite – that the probability of keeping a 24-satellite constellation in orbit drops below 95 percent in 2010, and could drop as low as 80 percent in 2011 and 2012. (via geowanking)
  4. Open Database Alliance — an attempt to provide a safe home for MySQL given the Oracle acquisition of Sun. [...] a vendor-neutral consortium designed to become the industry hub for the MySQL open source database, including MySQL and derivative code, binaries, training, support, and other enhancements for the MySQL community and partner ecosystem. The Open Database Alliance will comprise a collection of companies working together to provide the software, support and services for MariaDB, an enterprise-grade, community-developed branch of MySQL.
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Missed Twitter Questions from Jonathan Schwartz Interview at Web 2.0 Expo

In the Jonathan Schwartz interview at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco yesterday, I screwed up. After learning we weren't set up for audience Q&A with microphones, I thought, "well then, I'll just suggest to the audience that they twitter questions @timoreilly, and I'll check my phone during the interview." I kept checking, but no questions. Bummer. Not…

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