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Displaying posts with tag: Sysadmin (reset)
Stop Doing Things That Don’t Work (a.k.a: Excel and Virtual Private Servers are Evil)

Note that I’m talking about using these tools in some kind of professional way, and more specifically, I’m talking about using Excel as a database, and using VPS hosting to host “professional” web sites. By “professional”, I mean something other than your personal blog, picture gallery, or other relatively inconsequential site.

Excel is not a database

Here’s the thing: Excel isn’t a database. Most people who don’t work in IT don’t seem to understand this, and they’re deathly afraid to actually communicate with anyone in IT, so they take matters into their own hands, and create problems so big that IT is forced to get involved, because at some point this spreadsheet becomes “critical” to some business function. Then IT gets even more bitter toward the non-IT folk, validating some of the reasons the non-IT folk went that route in the first place, and virtually guaranteeing that they won’t come to the IT …

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Generating Reports with Charts Using Python: ReportLab

I’ve been doing a little reporting project, and I’ve been searching around for quite some time for a good graphing and charting solution for general-purpose use. I had come across ReportLab before, but it just looked so huge and convoluted to me, given the simplicity of what I wanted at the time, that I moved on. This time was different.

This time I needed a lot of the capabilities of ReportLab. I needed to generate PDFs (this is not a web-based project), I needed to generate charts, and I wanted the reports I was generating to contain various types of text objects in addition to the charts and such.

I took the cliff-dive into the depths of the ReportLab documentation. I discovered three things:

  1. There is quite a lot of documentation
  2. ReportLab is quite a capable library
  3. The documentation actually defies the simplicity of the library.

It’s a decent bit easier than it …

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Clone a table in MySQL without killing your server

So, I recently ran into one of those situations where a customer complains that his MySQL database is slow, and “it worked great until about two weeks ago”. The first thing I look at in these situations is not the queries or any code, but the indexes. Once I determined that the indexes were almost nonsensical, I had a look at the queries themselves, which proved that the indexes were, in fact, nonsensical. Running the queries as written in the code, from a mysql shell, with EXPLAIN, I was able to further confirm that the indexes (most of them, anyway) were never used.

Easy right? Just reindex the table!

NOTE: I’m going to skip the talk about all of the database design issues on this gig and just go straight to solving the immediate problem at hand. Just know that I had nothing to do with the design.

But, supposing this table has 15 million rows and is running on a machine with 2GB of RAM and only …

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Open Source Days 2008 , Day 2

As I was already up since yesterday 0500 , it was dinner with Sven , Robin and some other conference visitors at a Turkish Buffet place , after which we headed to what seemed to be a great bar where they failed to serve us while waiting for over 10 minutes, so we moved on to another place. and then to be "early"

After walking around a bit in Copenhagen and looking for a bus stop to go to the university I managed to bump into Wim & Co who offered me a ride to the IT University. Where I was almost in time for the first talk by
Jan Wieck about Slony-I, A master to multiple slaves-replication system for PostgreSQL
Given my recent MySQL MultiMaster setups I was fairly interested where PostgreSQL is at today.

Jan started out with explaining where he used replication the most,
For backups and Specialized services so he could offload long running and intrusive reporting tools to an isiolated server.

While …

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A merger, migration, mysql, python, and more news

First, AddThis.com (where I was the director of IT) and Clearspring have merged! A side effect of that is that I’m now (happily, on purpose, by choice) a full-time consultant! I’ll have a web site up soonish. Until then, check back here for updates. If you’re a tech firm who needs help, and don’t mind remote workers, send mail to bkjones at Google’s mail service (.com).

Some folks thought I’d passed away due to the uncharacteristic lull in posting frequency on this blog. I’m very much alive — but working for a startup and maintaining a consulting business simultaneously is hard, especially when two large projects fall into your lap at the same time. So what have I been up to?

Well, as part of the now-public merger between the company I worked for and the new company, …

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Sustained IO on EBS == No Bueno

I have a small EC2 instance running with a 25GB EBS volume attached. It has a database on it that I need to manipulate by doing things like dropping indexes and creating new ones. This is on rather large (multi-GB, millions of rows) tables. After running one DROP INDEX operation that ran all day without finishing, I killed it and tried to see what was going on. Here’s the results of the first 10 minutes of testing:

-bash-3.2# dd if=/dev/zero of=/vol/128.txt bs=128k count=1000
1000+0 records in
1000+0 records out
131072000 bytes (131 MB) copied, 0.818328 seconds, 160 MB/s

This looks great. I’d love to get 160MB/s all the time. But wait! There’s more!

-bash-3.2# dd if=/dev/zero of=/vol/128.txt bs=128k count=100000
dd: writing `/vol/128.txt': No space left on device
86729+0 records in
86728+0 records out
11367641088 bytes (11 GB) copied, 268.191 seconds, 42.4 MB/s

Ok, well… that’s completely miserable. Let’s …

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More Adventures in Amazon EC2 (and EBS)

Short Version: You can find a fantastic video here about bundling customized AMIs and registering them with Amazon so that you can launch as many instances of your new AMI as you want. The video is so good that I don’t bother writing out the steps to do the bundling (it would be pretty darn long). These are some notes about launching an AMI, customizing it, and mounting an EBS volume to it (the video linked above doesn’t cover EBS). Also, check out the ElasticFox tool which is a very good GUI for doing simple EC2 operations. Nice if you’re just getting started or doing some simple tests.

There are two ways you can go about creating a custom machine image (AMI) for use with Amazon EC2: You can create an image locally by dd’ing to a file, mounting it with “-o loop” creating a filesystem on it, …

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PyWorks Conference Schedule Posted

Hi all,

The schedule for PyWorks has been posted! I’m really excited about three things:

1) there are some really cool talks that I’m looking forward to attending. There are a couple of sysadmin-related talks, AppEngine, TurboGears, Django, and an area I’ve been especially slow to move into: testing (I know, shame on me). There’s lots more so be sure to check it out.

2) the conference scheduling process is over

3) I get to meet a lot of people face-to-face that I’ve worked with in the past on Python Magazine developing articles, or interacted with on IRC, etc. One thing I like about conferences surrounding open source technologies is you get to thank people face-to-face for the sweat they poured into some of the tools I use regularly. Mark Ramm, Kevin Dangoor, Michael Foord, Brandon Rhodes, and a collection of Python Magazine authors …

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Why I Don’t Write Book Reviews

I have a lot of interaction with publishing types. I write a lot, and I edit some, and I do tech reviews and stuff for some publishers, and I co-authored a book, and I’ve worked on two magazines, and a newspaper, and I’m generally fascinated by the technical book market and stuff like that. I’m also someone who is lucky enough that his job is also his hobby. I work in technology, and am always doing something technology related at home in my spare time. Needless to say, I read tons upon tons of technical books.

I almost never post book reviews, in spite of the fact that I read all of these books. Why? Well, to be honest, I couldn’t tell you. It just hasn’t occurred to me to write a book review. Could be because I don’t really value book reviews too much myself I guess. I mean, if there’s a really obvious consensus across a huge number of reviews, I might be swayed. But in general, I find that book reviews are too often the …

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Next week, meet me in Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich or Prague!

I am traveling to Europe next week to brief major prospects in Germany (Daimler, MAN) as well as to attend to administrative matters at Pythian Europe in Prague and would love to meet any readers of this blog during this trip!

I’m especially interested in meeting:

  • DBAs, Applications Administrators and Systems Administrators,
  • Potential customers (IT Directors, DBA Managers, Supply Managers for IT), and
  • Potential partners (IT product of service companies that could partner with Pythian to delight our mutual customers)

Here is my itinerary:

  • Sunday, August: Frankfurt,
  • Monday, August 4: Stuttgart,
  • Tuesday, August 5: Munich, and
  • Wednesday, August 6 through Saturday, August 9: Prague, Czech Republic.

Please reach out to me using vallee@pythian.com if you would like to meet!

Showing entries 31 to 40 of 68
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