Thursday, May 24, 2007

PGCon Day 4

So, black nail polish actually comes off in the shower with a bit of manual labor ...

Nikolay and I gave our talk in the morning. Everything went well, I thought. I got good feedback afterwards, plus a dozen people who were supposedly sorry to have missed it. :-)

Then I saw Neil Conway's talk "Stream Processing with PostgreSQL", which is pretty much the story of my life over the past half year, because their system wasn't yet available and we had to build our own. I hope they finish their product soon, so we all have something to play with.

Then I went to the PGCluster-II talk by Atsushi Mitani. This thing is not ready for production, because the write performance is terrible. I'm not sure I'm optimistic, but I think it's good that this architecture is at least tried out. In fact, I've heard other people being interested in similar things, so if you think shared storage clusters are worthwhile, check this out and help.

Finally, we had lightning talks, which showed a bunch of new little pieces of software, including an accounting package, a package manager for Windows, air traffic control using PostgreSQL, odbclink, pgAdmin III on a Windows CE mobile phone, and — shock — a new multimaster replication system. I think I forgot one.

After that we had a wrap-up session with a charity auction and lots of laugh. We made a group photo which should be available somewhere sometime soon.

Thanks to Dan and associates for organizing this. Thanks to all the sponsors for helping the conference and funding various meals. And thanks to everyone who came and said hi to me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

PGCon Day 3

It was actually my first day at the events yesterday, but the schedule calls it day 3 because there had already been two days of tutorials beforehand.

So, yesterday I went to these talks:

Great Steps in PostgreSQL History (Bruce Momjian)
A reconstruction of the first moonlanding using PostgreSQL. Never mind that. You had to have been there.

PostgreSQL-IE (Denise Guliato)
This is not Internet Explorer interfacing with PostgreSQL, but an image-handling extension to support content-based image retrieval, useful for example in medical applications to analyze images. Some of the details were over my head, but it seemed well thought out and appears to match and exceed in some regards what the commercial RDBMS vendors offer. With luck, this could be the next PostGIS-type success story

Execution plan optimization techniques (Tomas Kovarik and Julius Stroffek)
These guys showed up new ways to handle the search space in large joins, to replace (or work alongside) the current GEQO system. Such as using simulated annealing, if that rings a bell with anyone. What I took out of it is that we pretty much would need pluggable optimizers. It's interesting that in hallway conversations afterwards everyone I talked to pretty much spontaneously came up with a subset of the ideas presented in this talk. What we need now is some code.

PostgreSQL replication strategies (Emmanuel Cecchet)
Emmanuel is the author of Sequoia, so honestly I came here to see some Sequoia bashing from the audience. But really, this was a useful and pretty unbiased summary of available replication techniques. Unfortunately, we hear similar talks every hear — heck, I gave one two years ago — but make little progress on the actual code.

GIN in practice (Teodor Sigaev)
A very technical and insightful talk. Now I know what hstore is about. Where would we be without the indexing dream team?

There seemed to be a scheduling issue later in the day in that the dinner sponsored by EnterpriseDB already started while sessions were still in progress, which shortened the palaver and key-signing session considerably, but everyone got to voice their concerns about their non-favorite version control system or bug tracker once more, but I think most of it came down to needing more people to do the various work ahead of us.

The dinner itself didn't actually start nearly as early as announced. We got there about two hours late and nobody had gotten food yet. Bizarrely, about a dozen fellows including myself came home with their fingernails painted black. How do you get this stuff off anyway?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

PGCon Arrival

So I've been told that I must do some conference blogging. I got to Ottawa yesterday afternoon. The bus from the airport was only $1.90, not $2.60 as announced. Score. When I got to the pub where the registration was supposed to happen, there was nothing set up there. But luckily I recognized a face, so that I didn't have to feel completely lost. The conference bags, which arrived eventually, contained a handy container of screen cleaning solutions with a cloth — very good idea. As I left, someone had already paid for my beer. Score again. Whoever that was, thanks.

I must have hit the hay at around 19:00 EDT, after having been up for 22 hours, with 3 hours of sleep the night before. Of course the way to battle jetlag — I should know this — is not to go to sleep when you're tired but when the local bed time is. That would explain why I'm up at 5 in the morning writing blog now.

I managed to commit the final major XPath/XML-related patch before I left. And sure enough, the build farm is still green. I'd figured that Nikolay and Bruce wouldn't have let me stay if I had forgotten that. And after all we need to have something to talk about tomorrow.