Thursday, April 1, 2010

InnoDB Plugin Doc

The InnoDB Plugin manual is now available on the MySQL web site.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More on Single-Action UIs

In my post Deconstructing the iPod Shuffle UI, I talked a bit about the notion of a limited UI where you really only do one thing -- in that case, click the button on the headphones.

Every now and then, I rediscover the infrared remote that goes with my iMac, and realize that for many mundane tasks, the remote does everything I need. (Mira lets me assign different actions for the remote button for specific applications. Candelair works around a Snow Leopard issue with Mira.)

For example, with a new album in a photo library, you might want to Next-Next-Next through each photo, and if one is particularly bad, trash it; if one is particularly good, mark it with a high rank or a coloured label; otherwise, leave it as-is and proceed to the next one. The up/down/left/right/play buttons on the remote can accomodate those actions comfortably. All the photo software offers keyboard shortcuts for these actions, that can be assigned to the remote buttons. So this brain-intensive task can be accomplished while sitting back and taking in the view on a large screen.

One thing had been bothering me about the UI for the iPod Touch. If I'm listening to music with the screen turned off, say in the car or the office, and I'm interrupted (want to stop the music suddenly) or annoyed (want to immediately skip to the next song), normally this requires turning on the screen (Home button or power button), and unlocking the iPod by swiping before the music controls are available. I should have realized Apple would bring the "single-action UI" to the rescue. Instead of unlocking the whole unit, once it is powered on in a locked state, 2 more presses of the Home button bring up music controls that let you pause or skip without unlocking. It's almost iPod Shuffle-like. Now if only there were a way to assign star ratings without unlocking.

Many other day-to-day activities could benefit from this same kind of UI, in particular with the remote. You've got a lot of objects to consider or evaluate, and a limited number of actions for each one, including a default of "do nothing at all". Someone could play through a set of songs and give high / medium / low rating to each one, or trash it. A programmer could scroll through a list of bugs or functional specs, and for each one indicate "closed", "waiting for more information", "this does not apply to me", etc. That may be the way of the future, where carpal tunnel and hunched shoulders are just a distant memory.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Leopard upgrade

I finally upgraded the main iMac to Snow Leopard. For the first time ever, an upgrade actually resulted in more free space, an extra 6 GB worth. The main features that I notice are fairly minor -- the ability to view stacks on the dock using a normal icon instead of the smashed-together icons of the apps in the folder; the ability to have the time announced every 15, 30, or 60 minutes by the computer voice.

I didn't notice any increase in speed, but maybe that's because Adblock in Safari went away until I installed a new version of that extension. Also I made the mistake of enabling Spotlight in hopes of getting "search entire message" working again in Although I think I've turned Spotlight off again, I'm always suspicious that it might still be active when I hear the drive whirring when I think the system should be idle.

My only real software incompatibility was with MediaWiki (the software that powers Wikipedia). It wouldn't run after the upgrade, because the newer PHP with Snow Leopard resulted in syntax errors in the MediaWiki PHP code. I upgraded MySQL because I was running an old PowerPC-based version via emulation. But I hadn't exported the wiki data, so I had to fall back to the older MySQL. When I updated the MediaWiki code to get past the PHP errors, I discovered that upgrading from such an old codebase meant running an upgrade script to change around the MySQL tables, and this script is also in PHP. And for some reason, the PHP script can't connect to the database. Since so many things needed to be updated at once, the cause could be related to PHP, or MySQL, or maybe that I had installed them by a different method before (the Marc Liyanage "entropy" packages). For example, after installing the latest MySQL through the official installer, mysqld now restarts when I kill it, which I don't think was the case previously.

Update 1

The Canon scanner software with my Pixma MX330 all-in-one printer refuses to start after the Snow Leopard upgrade. I can still scan using a dialog that opens up within Print & Fax preference pane for the printer, but only with barebones options. The recommended troubleshooting from Apple (reset the printing system, remove and re-add the printer) doesn't work. The latest software from Canon, supposed to be Snow Leopard-compatible, also doesn't help.

The problem with MediaWiki boiled down to a config setting for PHP that needed to be applied or reapplied after going to Snow Leopard, 3 instances in /etc/php.ini of the path to mysql.sock:
mysql.default_socket = /tmp/mysql.sock
mysqli.default_socket = /tmp/mysql.sock

This particular item was difficult to track down. Most of the advice that I found re: Snow Leopard upgrades was to make sure this setting was in place:
mysql.default_port = 3306

Once the socket path was set up, it was a simple matter to run update.php and upgrade the MediaWiki schema, dump and re-import the data from the old PPC installation of MySQL to the native Intel version, and start the wiki going again. Thanks to Chris Jones of Oracle and Johannes Schluter, ah, also now of Oracle, for the help. It was getting a bit embarrassing, when I wanted to look up something that was on the wiki, having to read through the mysqldump file!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

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I'm Max Webster there.

Ten Years Gone

I've been pretty quiet lately, because I'm in a transitional period. After 10 years on documentation for Oracle Database and other enterprise server products, I'm switching to the InnoDB group that already works with MySQL. New development environments, new customers, it's an exciting time!

A decade seems to be the right timeframe for me. It was 10 years at IBM before that. Check back in 2019, I'm sure there'll be something new then too.