Dave Stokes and I tracked down Sarah Novotny Sunday night at the early bird registration for OSCON 2012. We had a few moments to interview her about MySQL Connect and her recent endeavors. I hope you enjoy:
Keith Larson: Thank you for joining us today.
Sarah Novotny: I am glad to be here.
Keith Larson: First just a general question, What were your thoughts when you heard that Oracle was going to do MySQL Connect ?
Sarah Novotny: I was very excited about it. I didn't expect Oracle to give us our own space. Even thought JavaOne had gotten that . JavaOne has existed as it's own conference before, and with the O'Reilly Conference no longer happening, I didn't expect it and I was surprised. I know the first year after Oracle purchased MySQL, we had MySQL Sunday, which was great. We were told that this was such a big deal and it is really only a transition thing and with 140+ products nobody gets a big name like that. So when MySQL Connect came out I was very excited.
Keith Larson: Since we pulled you in as part of the MySQL Committee, what did you think of all the sessions that you saw or reviewed.
Sarah Novotny: The session looked very good. I always hope for more sessions and more opportunities to look through good sessions. That is one of the reasons I sit on conference committees, so I can learn about all the cool stuff people are working on. The sessions where pretty broadly varied and I was very excited to be able to also build some little story arcs within topics. So you could have a couple of replication sessions or a couple of backup sessions that all feed onto one another. So from story point, from the creation of the conference, there was some very interesting threads to follow through in order to get a really robust experience for people, both beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Keith Larson: So based on the story arcs you spoke of and saw, what type of session do you look forward to attending while your there?
Sarah Novotny: I am a total replication geek, because that is the way that you can maintain sanity within MySQL, making sure you have good replication. I love seeing all the way that people can replicate, really interesting architectures in order to meet the needs that they have for their application. So with the new replication features coming out in 5.6 it is very exciting. So the focus for me is MySQL 5.6 and the replication features in it.
Keith Larson: So I was going to ask what features do you look forward to the most in MySQL 5.6, I assume replication is it.
Sarah Novotny: Replication is a big one. There have been a lot of enhancements that have been a long time coming. We've seen them in the code tree and out there for integration to mainline someday and now we see them coming to fruition. So it is very exciting for me.
Keith Larson: You obviously travel a tremendous about of time and attend a lot of conferences. What would you recommend for people who attend this conference.
Sarah Novotny: I would recommend a couple of things. One, find that story that you want to learn at a conference. Maybe it is replication so you find three or four talks about that. Understanding what your goal is out of a conference is very important. Then making sure you have time to meet people,interact with people, ask questions, teach someone something, be able to have those interactions face to face with the community members that you know from blog posts or your support roles with Oracle. So, make sure that you make time to interact with people directly and always take advantage of the speakers. Most of the speakers who are up in front of an audience want to be engaging of the audience, you want to be understanding of what they need from your talk, and then how to engage with them to make a better talk next time.
Keith Larson: As a speaker at many events, you encourage the people to ask questions and ask questions afterwards.
Sarah Novotny: Absolutely, I actually have a couple of talks on giving presentations to technologists, to and by technologists. In those I often talk a lot about looking at the people that are engaged and even the disengaged ones. But not to spend to much time on the disengaged ones, they might have a sick kid and that is why they are texting and it has nothing to do with you. As an audience, being engaged with the speaker is part of your responsibility as well. Making sure you get what you need out of it, which could be asking questions afterwards or sending a note saying you liked it or that you didn't it, or I was interested in more things like this.
Keith Larson: So any additional tips you would give to people for handling the long hours at conferences, we typically have BOFs and after hour events as well so...
Sarah Novotny: I will give you my trick for surviving OSCON, which for me is like a ten day extravaganza . I start resting up the weekend up before. I make sure I get ten to twelve hours of sleep the two or three nights before OSCON. Then midweek I make sure I have night that I carve out time for myself. I put nothing on it. The other thing is, and this might sound absurd, but stay hydrated eat your vegetables. A salad will do wonders for your stamina in the middle of the week. It is very much just about taking care of your robot in that sense. Your brain might be willing and excited but if your body can't do it then your not going to enjoy it or even retain it. For the introverts among us, make sure you carve out quite time for you. It is important, otherwise I get way overloaded.
Keith Larson: So you have been very busy as of lately, we caught you after the big sale.
Sarah Novotny: I have, I have a couple of new exciting things yes. Blue Gecko was sold to datAvail which is very exciting. For me it is a very lovely , I founded it, I helped run it, I sold. It looks like a very nice little bow on the resume . We are making sure it is a smooth transition for the Blue Gecko internal staff as well as the external customers. We worked a long time to be able to sell this and yet still be able to maintain our culture.
Keith Larson: So are you going to go buy an island now?
Sarah Novotny: OH we will see... Terms have been undisclosed. (laughter) On a serious note, my day job which has been keeping me busy for the rest of my time, is of course Video Game Publishing. Which is going to be a lot of fun and really exciting. It is a big left turn for me but looks to be fun.
David Stokes: So if your Joe or Josephine DBA and trying to make the case to your boss to attend MySQL Connect. What is the killer argument as a boss that you would take from an employee to attend this show.
Sarah Novotny: I think what I would actually say is that this is a very important element of professional development for a few different reasons. One I get exposed to new content. Two I find additional resources that could include new people I meet that help me learn more about new content or websites or blogs I should read. Three, it gives me an opportunity to be an evangelist for my company. Four, I can recruit, trying to find a new DBA is harder than finding the Easter bunny. Everyone I know has changed jobs in the last year for reasonably large increases in salary so they are not going to jump again. It is like pulling hen's teeth.
David Stokes: Yes I have recruiters that offer money if I know anyone and I just don't.
Sarah Novotny: Yes I get that like four times a week and I just don't know anyone who is looking.
David Stokes: Anything else you want to add...
Sarah Novotny: Rock on ! I do want to say thank you to you guys for doing the community work that you do and pulling us all together.
Keith Larson & David Stokes: Oh no, thank you.