Log Buffer #129: A Carnival of the Vanities for DBAs

Jan 2, 2009 / By David Edwards

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Welcome, readers, to the 129th edition of Log Buffer, the weekly review of database blogs. Welcome also to 2009, so fresh it still has that wonderful new year smell. Let’s take ‘er out on the road and see what she can do.

Starting with Oracle (and reaching back here a little into the holidays), Doug Burns had performance on his mind—to be precise, his own at UKOUG; and some performance-related blogs he’s found worthwhile. Doug’s recommendations themselves always perform well.

Tanel Poder was on the same road. In his item, Performance Visualization made easy, Tanel debuts his “Perfsheet 2.0 beta”, his Excel script for creating purty pictures from statspack output.

Chen Shapira (just a simple DBA on a complex production system) provides a retrospective of 2008 through the prism of inspiring people, those that she believes made her by their example a better DBA. I think this is a blog all of us should write for ourselves.

(Odd as it may seem, Chen did not mention Larry Ellison. Eye on Oracle’s Shayna Garlick, however, has that covered in her look back at some of Larry’s bon mots from 2008.)

Changing gears, Vivek Sharma offers his precaution on database freezes when SGA_TARGET is set to a high value.

From my somewhat non-technical perspective, “database freeze” sounds like something more likely to occur here in Pythian’s home city of Ottawa, rather than, say, our offices in Sydney, as the pics in Alex Gorbachev’s Happy New Year from Pythian Australia! demonstrate. Big showoff.

While I’m on the Pythian blog, I should mention also Augusto Bott’s advice to MySQL DBAs to mind the SQL_MODE when running ALTER TABLE.

Here’s a useful post on (you guessed it) performance. Using triggers for performance, to be precise, by Karlsson on databases and stuff: “Isn’t [it] so that a TRIGGER on a table will reduce performance, just as any FOREIGN KEYs will? Right? Nope, none of those statements is necessarily very true. Can [FOREIGN KEYS] increase performance? Yep.”

The same concern might point you in the direction of memcached, and if it does, Dups, the Arctic Dolphin, has some ideas on integrating memcached into MySQL queries.

Dups, in his capacity as a MySQL Community Relations Manager, will I’m sure be pleased by this item by SmugBlog’s Don McAskill: Great things afoot in the MySQL community. Don writes, “The MySQL community rocks.” Yeah, right on! Don focuses on Percona, XtraDB, Drizzle, SSD storage, InnoDB IO scalability challenges, and likes what he sees. An excellent conversation follows.

On tecosystems, Stephen O’Grady was keeping one eye on the road and one on the rear-view mirror, to get his view on MySQL: Now and Then. Stephen cites Jeremy Zawodny’s item The New MySQL Landscape, which I mentioned in LB#128.

From the SQL Server ‘sphere came some posts and conversation about LINQ. Kevin Kline asks if LINQ is enabling or entangling? He write, “I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how I feel about LINQ . . .  Ambivalence is the emotion that bubbles to the top most frequently. It’s pretty obvious to me that Transact-SQL is the red-headed step child within Microsoft’s overall ranking of languages.  . . .  Tools like LINQ and the entity framework most obviously help developers speed up development process, in effect encouraging even less planning and design than ever before. A recipe for disaster? Almost certainly.”

Greg Low responds with a question of his own: LINQ to SQL: Does it have much of a future? Every time I show people the TSQL code generated from some simple LINQ to SQL queries, I see two reactions. People with a developer background usually say I’m glad I didn’t have to write that. People with a database background say No-one should write that – it’s horrible code.

Andrew Kelly writes, “I heard someone state that LINQ . . . was going to rescue developers from having to know TSQL. Well if that’s true then who will rescue us from LINQ? LINQ . . . makes certain things easier by abstracting the underlying objects or code and providing a ‘simpler’ interface. That sounds great but as we have learned over and over again this comes at a price. The price here will ultimately be performance in the database.” The post is LINQ to the rescue.

Adam Machanic is in a giving mood: A Gift of Script for 2009: Who is Active, Redux makes available Adam’s improved monitoring script, which he says has become an indispensable part of his toolkit.

Over on the PostgreSQL side of the street, Josh Berkus of Database Soup has some thoughts on writing maintainable queries, provoked by his work with novice database users. He writes, “While I’m very glad to see that many web developers are discovering the power of complex queries, I’m not at all happy about how they write them,” and offers his standards and conventions. Naturally, his readers have a lot to say about it.

The Postgres Online Journal had enough to say to respond with a whole blog about it: SQL Coding Standards To Each His Own. “[Josh] is right that lots has been said about coding standards in other languages and even right out holy wars have been launched on the subject, but as far as SQL goes, not quite enough has been said on the subject for us to have a great war to end all wars.”

Last, Madhivanan says what I want to say, wonderfully, and in an idiom I have not mastered—Happy New Year. All the best!

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