Archive for October, 2009

19 October, 2009

PgWest: Sunday

by gorthx

We arrived at the conference site to find that the XML Data Warehousing had been canceled, so I spent that session in the Hackers’ Lounge attempting to continue work on pg_proctab, while getting kicked off the commie college wireless.

In Lists and Recursions and Trees, Oh My!, David Fetter gave us some example of old kludges to get row numbers out of Pg – “Not only is it slow, but it’s wrong” – but you may not notice that subtle wrongness in huge data sets.  This really illustrated the value of testing your data.

After lunch, I went to Josh Berkus’s 5 steps to PostgreSQL Performance Tuning.

He gave us some rules of thumb for figuring out how much RAM & CPU you need, but also recommends hiring a hardware geek to design your system for you – because vendors lie. :)  Try hardware out before you purchase it, or definitely test them within the warranty period.  And, here’s another use case for pg_proctab (other than my own amusement):  capacity planning.

Tip:  Don’t use autovacuum for data warehousing applications, or where you have large number of writes happening at once.  Manually vacuum those.

(An additional tip from me:  if you’re using linux, try increasing the default readahead buffer from 1024K to at least 1M for an ~80% performance improvement.  See our [in]famous file systems talk for the graphs to back this up.)

Thanks for another wonderful conference experience, PgPeeps!  See you again soon!

19 October, 2009

PGWest: Saturday

by gorthx

This past weekend was the 3rd annual PgWest.  The conference moved up to Seattle this year, and I think it was the biggest it’s ever been.  As usual, there were more interesting talks scheduled than I had time to attend.  (This is the 21st century;  where’s my time machine?)

For my first tech conferences a few years ago, I only went to sessions that were meaningful for my job.  I’ve since had a much better time (and learned more) by choosing which sessions I’ll attend based on the following criteria, in this order:
1) topic interestingness
2) speaker interestingess
3) relevance to my job duties

(See Tips #1 and #2 in Skud’s recent Ten tips for tech conference attendees post.)

So, right out of the gate at PgWest, I’m in a python talk* – Adrian K’s (of LinuxFestNW fame) discussion on Dabo.  Dabo’s a python desktop framework;  I program primarily in Perl, and I’ve never touched a desktop app.  Adrian’s example project was a management system for a plant nursery, which I *do* understand, so I had a point of reference into the material (the methods & options used to track plants made sense to me).  I really wanted to talk to him more about this app, but never caught up with him.  (The hallway track felt kind of rushed for me this time.)  I got a good idea for form validation – if user tries to enter a blank value where one is not allowed, they get a pop-up immediately and the original text (if there was any) is put back in the field, forcing the user to accept the original input or enter something new before they can proceed to the next field.  This is a step up from giving the user the error message after they’ve submitted the form.

Next we were on to JD’s keynote, featuring the usual heckling of and by the podium.

Then Mark’s & my talk about pg_proctab, which ended with some live demos & some audience participation, the way I like it.

A bunch of us went to lunch at Honeyhole Sandwiches, where I tried the “Texas Tease” – BBQ chicken.  The sandwich was excellent.  I *highly* recommend the fries.

Scott Bailey’s Temporal Data talk was *packed*.  He talked about the “period” datatype, featured in both his own (Chronos) and Jeff Davis’s PgTemporal project.  You can do unions & intersects on time periods.  I am thinking this would be a useful datatype for searching large tables of log entries.

Based on Scott’s talk, I decided to go to Jeff’s “Not Just UNIQUE” talk, because he would be discussing this in a little more detail.  This meant I missed the session on backup & recovery.  (See comment above about more material than I can fit in my schedule.)

I spent the last session partly in the hackers’ lounge, working on some pg_proctab wrapper scripts with Mark.

Then it was off to the EDB-sponsored after-party, where I caught up with Lloyd Albin, who spoke at PDXPUG about a year ago.  He brought me up-to-date on the work he’s done on the project, including a twitter feed to let clients know of updates, which I think is really cool.

*Which I was late to, because we were installing the snacks in the Hackers’ Lounge (thanks, Mark!)

15 October, 2009

PDX.pm meeting notes

by gorthx

Jeff (aka @duckyd) gave a presentation about CPAN Awesomeness at last night’s pdx.pm.

Slides are on github!  Your homework is to find them. :)  Here are some highlights.

There are over 16K modules on the CPAN as of 11 Oct 2009.  Wow.

Jeff’s recommended changes from the default cpan shell configuration:
– auto_commit 1
– prerequisites_policy follow
– build_requires_install_policy yes
– prefer_installer MB (Module::Build)
– change your make_install_make_command and mbuild_install_mbuild_command to include your sudo command.

Spend 10 minutes & give something back to CPAN every time you install a module:  Simply set up CPAN::Reporter!

Recommendations:
– make sure that you set cc_author to ‘no’.  (In the latest version, that’s the default.)
– set it to prompt you to edit/send the report if the tests fail.  This way you can judge if the failure is due to your own
boneheadedness.
– you can set the transport value to a file to run reports without sending them.
– for help:  perldoc CPAN::Reporter::Config

For automatic continuous testing, set up CPAN::Reporter::Smoker.  (Doesn’t actually install anything, justs runs tests.)

Recommendations:
– don’t run it as root;  you are the canary in the coal mine.
– create a dedicated user that has essentially no privs on your machine.
– run it on a separate Perl install (core modules only).
– this is a cool place to use that RAND option for prefer_installer in CPAN.

Another cool tip that I REALLY DIG because I have systems with multiple perls & users associated with them:
Set your shebang line to:

#!/usr/bin/env perl

13 October, 2009

My picks for PgWest

by gorthx

(I’ll be missing Friday’s tutorials.)

Saturday:
9am:  Jeff Davis:  PostgreSQL, Extensible to the Nth Degree.  Jeff’s talks usually melt my brain, and I like that.
10:15:  Conference Keynote.
11:30am:  Mark Wong: pg_proctab.  Turns out I’m giving this talk with Mark, even though my name’s not on the schedule.  I should probably show up.
1:45pm:  Scott Bailey:  Temporal Data or Magnus Hagander:  Secure PostgreSQL Deployment.  There will be a coin toss.
3:00pm:  Kevin Kempter:  Backup and Recovery.  There’s always something else to learn about this topic.
4:00pm:  Bill Karwin:  Practical Full-text Search.

Sunday:
9:00am:  Aaron Sheldon:  XML Data Warehousing.
10:15am:  David Fetter:  Lists and Recursion and Trees (Oh, My!)  I want to learn about Windowing functions, new with 8.4
11:15am:  Matt Smiley:  Basic Query Tuning Primer.  Another topic I could stand to learn more about.
1:30pm:  Tossup between David Wheeler:  pgTAP Unit Testing Best Practices and Josh Berkus:  5 Steps to PostgreSQL Performance.  I’ll probably go to Berkus’s talk because Wheeler is a sport about repeating his talks for PDXPUG.

Other fun stuff:

The Hacker lounge will be open for two days of geekery:  7:30 am – 4:30pm Saturday, and 9-4 on Sunday.
EnterpriseDB has stepped up to provide entertainment after the Saturday sessions.
I haven’t heard if there are Lightning Talks, but I have a couple of ideas for one.  You should too.

See you there!

8 October, 2009

Are you going to PgWest?

by gorthx

At a loss for what to do next weekend?  Grab your rain gear & head on up to Seattle for PgWest 2009.

There’ll be three days of talks & tutorials plus a hackers’ lounge.   After-party plans are nebulous at this time, but we are researching options.  (Psst–pub crawl!)

Come join the fun!

At a loss for what to do next weekend?  Grab your rain gear & head on up to Seattle for PgWest 2009: http://www.postgresqlconference.org/2009/west/.

Three days of talks & tutorials http://www.postgresqlconference.org/2009/west/schedule plus a hackers’ lounge.  http://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/Hackers%27_Lounge.   After-party plans are nebulous at this time.  (Psst–pub crawl!)

Come join the fun!