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September 2006

Valley Boys Run MySQL


BusinessWeek August 16 issue cover feature is called "Valley Boys" describing the new breed of Web entrepreneurs.  The story features Kevin Rose's as well as other Web 2.0 startups such as FaceBook, HotOrNot, YouTube, SixApart, (whose name they mis-spell repeatedly), all of whom are running MySQL to scale their business without scaling their costs. 

The story describes how the dynamics have changed with regards to venture capital funding of startups in the last few years.  It used to be that to start a Web company required millions of dollars in expensive Sun servers and Oracle licenses.  Nowadays, the costs are dramatically lower; you just pick up some commodity Intel or Opteron boxes and download the LAMP stack and open source development tools.  Not surprisingly, most of the startups profiled have taken very little venture capital and own a larger share of the equity as a result.  How cool is that?

50 Marathons in 50 days


This is not about open source, but still, I found it quite inspiring.  On September 17, ultramarathon runner Dean Karnazes (sounds like Onassis), will embark on the ultimate endurance feat of running 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.  I met Karnazes last year when he was speaking at the Silicon Valley Marathon.  For a guy who is setting world records, he is incredibly humble.  He just happens to be able to run several hundred miles non-stop without sleep.  In fact, his record is 350 miles in 80 hours.  He's also won the Badwater Ultramarathon, arguably the toughest endurance run in the world: 135 miles through Death Valley over 3 mountain ranges where temperatures can exceed 130 Farenheit --hot enough to melt running shoes. 

So whenever I face a significant challenging, whether it's personal, work or athletic, I think about how a regular guy like Dean Karnazes can keep putting one foot in front of the other and accomplish great things. 

Guaranteed Hard Drive Recovery

Ok, there is no such thing. But here's the story...

Late one afternoon last week, I was preparing to review a presentation for a strategy meeting and I collided into a glass conference room door, dropping my laptop at the same time. (Visitors to our office will note that there are now dolphin stickers on the door.) Amazingly enough, my hard laptop continued to operate for another hour. As a slight precaution, I emailed myself the last file I was working on, in case things went wrong. As I drove home, I started to feel nauseous and my thinking was a bit cloudy.

When I got home, I realized that both me and my hard drive were suffering a mild concussion. The laptop would only boot part way, restarting mid-stream, even in safe mode. So I completed my work using my desktop machine and the file I had emailed to myself while holding an ice pack to my head.

The next day, I handed my laptop over to our IT gurus and they gave me a spare to use in the interim. Later in the day, it became apparent that there was no easy way to read from the hard drive, even when booted from CD. They could send out my hard drive for recovery, but the cost of that would likely be more than $2000. Since my last backup was about 8 weeks old (doh!) most of what I was going to lose was some power point presentations, budget files and a lot of email. (Some people would consider the loss of email is a good thing, and there are times when I would agree.)

It wasn't worth that much money, but I told them if there was a software solution that would enable us to recover some of the most recent data, then it would probably be worth a few hundred dollars.

They were able to locate a software package called RecoverSoft which does Emergency Hard Drive Recovery. The software can recover both PC and Mac hard drives. It comes on a bootable CD with its own graphical user interface and lets you recover files selectively. The software does a low-level read, copying sector by sector so it is a slow process and some files may be damaged beyond repair. Nonetheless, I was able to recover about 95% of the most recent files I needed.

Later, I wondered about the hard drive recovery and the value that it had for me. There is a moment in time when hard drive recovery is urgently needed and it's value is very high. (Optimal pricing point is when the laptop is sailing through the air.) However, there are actually few moments when you have a crisis and the value of recovery can diminish over time as you work around the loss of those files. On the other hand, for the vendor of the hard drive recovery software, there could be a larger opportunity to sell "guaranteed hard drive recovery" at the point of purchasing the computer. Likely many people would gladly pay $100 for the recovery software as a form of insurance before they have a hard drive loss and especially if they know that using an emergency recovery service after the fact can be very expensive.

MySQL European Customer Conference


MySQL will be hosting two separate one day European Customer Conferences in October.  This sounds like a long way away, but time moves quickly, so if you're in the UK, Germany or nearby, you may want to make plans to attend one of these events.  Think of these as one-day "mini-conferences" that jam the best of our technical presentations along with real world case studies and networking opportunities.  Last year's event in London sold out, so this year, make your plans early.

Topics to be covered include Detailed Technical Roadmap, High Availability Strategies, Using MySQL Cluster, Performance Tuning, Using MySQL in Web 2.0 applications and examples from customers and partners such as the BBC News, Neckermann, Unisys and more.