Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday's Meeting

Thanks to all who showed up at the North Texas MySQL Users Group Meeting on Monday night. We had two speakers, Pizza, and beer.

Benjamin Wood talked on the latest news on MySQL products and Robin Schumacher from Calpont discussed building high performance analytic databases.

And Basil won the drawing for the Amazon Kindle!

See you at the next meeting January 4th!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Books for your Holiday reading

Once again the holidays season is upon us and many of you will be looking for gifts. I would like to recommended the following.

For many years I felt the best overall MySQL book was The MySQL 5.0 Study Guide. It is still a very good book but it does not cover third party tools and is getting slightly dated. My new favorite MySQL book is MySQL Administrators Bible . It covers everything from installing and monitoring MySQL servers to tuning and scaling. This book is written in a clear, easy to read style and deserves to be on the bookshelf of any MySQL DBA. This will be one of those books that you will dog-ear pages and festoon with PostIt notes.

The next book is for those of you wanting to expand your PHP knowledge . I have been using PHP back when it was called Personal Home Page (and using it with a free database from tcx.se called MySQL) and have a habit of skimming every PHP book I see in bookstores (and databases, Linux, and a few others; My family knows this and avoid my book store trips). Particularly interesting for those in the MySQL world is the information under Workload-driven Performance Tuning. I started skimming this book and realized that there was a lot of good information inside the covers that made it worthy of purchase.

Please note that I get no kickbacks from Amazon and use their links as anyone in the world seem to have ubiquitous access to Amazon. And that I have met half the authors pairs for each book. I worked with Morgan Tocker and have met Sheeri Cabral at the last few Users Conferences. Nothing against John Coggeshall or Keith Murphy!

And lastly I recommend Fool for light riding. It is a re-telling of King Lear as written by the court fool. There is nothing in this book that will make your code run better or your server return data more efficiently but it a very funny read.

Friday, November 13, 2009

North Texas MySQL Meeting -- now with pizza!

At the next North Texas MySQL Users Group meeting we will be featuring pizza, soft drinks and beer. We will also have TWO presenters. Do if you are planning to be in Dallas on December 7th, please drop by!

Sun Microsystems will host the next Dallas MySQL User Group Meeting

When: Monday, December 7, 2009 | 6:00 to 8:00 pm

Where: Sun Microsystems, 7th Floor, 16000 Dallas Tollway, Dallas, TX

Map: http://bit.ly/ZnYoS

Are you interested in learning more about MySQL's new server release cycle and how it impacts the MySQL roadmap? Or are you looking to get the latest update on storage engines or development and administration tools? Are you investigating data warehousing and analytic solutions?

Then come join the North Texas MySQL Users Group, Benjamin Wood, Senior MySQL Systems Engineer, and Kathy Guzman, Senior Account Manager, from MySQL and Robin Schumacher, VP Products/Calpont for an interactive discussion on these MySQL hot topics and more. Pizza, beer, and soda and the opportunity to connect with other local MySQL Users provided!


* How MySQL's New Server Release Cycle works and what's next
* Storage Engine Update
* What's New with the MySQL Query Analyzer and MySQL Workbench
* Building High Performance Analytic Databases
* Q & A / Roundtable
* Beer/Soda/Pizza

Featured Speakers:

- Benjamin Wood is a Systems Engineer with the MySQL group of Sun Microsystems. He has spent the last 12 years working with database technologies, including 8 years as a production DBA.

- Robin Schumacher, VP Products/CalPont, will lead a discussion on building high performance analytic databases.

Learn more about thse North Texas MySQL Users Group »

Register now to reserve your spot! http://www.mysql.com//news-and-events/events/dallasmeetup.php

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oracle Express Edition first steps for MySQL DBAs

I have had a few MySQL DBAs ask about how to get started learning Oracle. I will admit that it has been on my to-do list for quite a while1. It never hurts to know more than one database system and a great deal of DBA help wanted ads mention Oracle. Someone once said that you must make sure your capabilities exceed your limitations2 and recently I have been feeling limited when others have started to talk about Oracle capabilities.

So what does it take for a MySQL DBA to get their hands on their own Oracle instance? I used my Ubuntu box to go to Oracle's web site to get the free Oracle XE software.

  1. Download and feed to package manager

  2. Add my account to dba group

  3. As root, /etc/init.d/oracle-xe configure to set passwords and ports

I pointed my web browser to http://127.0.01/apex and got the page you see in image with this blog. Now I need to find my copy of Hands-On Oracle Database 10g Express Edition for Linux.

1. I also have a stack of DB-2 and SQL Servers books that were picked up at Half Price Books to read through. I am always looking for better ways to express database concepts for MySql exams. Writing up something similar to this entry for DB2 and SQL Server is also on the list.

2. This quote has attributed to Bruce Lee and several others. And it always gota groan from my kids when I used it on them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Last night I was asked about index cardinality. One of the members of the North Texas MySQL Users Group was using phpMyadmin and noticed an element marked 'cardinality' and asked me what it meant. And I will admit I was stumped.

The manual says:

ANALYZE TABLE determines index cardinality (as displayed in the Cardinality column of SHOW INDEX output) by doing ten random dives to each of the index trees and updating index cardinality estimates accordingly. Because these are only estimates, repeated runs of ANALYZE TABLE may produce different numbers. This makes ANALYZE TABLE fast on InnoDB tables but not 100% accurate because it does not take all rows into account.

MySQL uses index cardinality estimates only in join optimization. If some join is not optimized in the right way, you can try using ANALYZE TABLE. In the few cases that ANALYZE TABLE does not produce values good enough for your particular tables, you can use FORCE INDEX with your queries to force the use of a particular index, or set the max_seeks_for_key system variable to ensure that MySQL prefers index lookups over table scans. See Section 5.1.3, “Server System Variables”, and Section B.5.6, “Optimizer-Related Issues”.

Clear, huh? Well not 100% for me so I went back to searching. Other finds on the net say that cardinality is a measure of how accurate an index is and that a UNIQUE index would have the highest cardinality. So the more unique the index entries are, the more higher the cardinality.

Which brings up another question: How often do you maintain your indexes? Whay clues tell you to do maintenance? Please share your recommendations!

BTW we will have pizza at the next meeting of the North Texas Users Group, so see you December 7 at 7PM at the Sun offices, 16000 Dallas Tollway in suite 700!

Friday, October 30, 2009

List of MySQL Certified Candidates -- Update

The list of MySQL Certified Candidates will pass into history at the end of November. The data was moved into Sun's system last July and what remains on the MySQL certification list is not aging well.

The Sun Certmanager has most of the same features but does not let us pull records for display on a web page. You can still get verification of your credentials for a third part, such as a job interview or customer, but it now requires having an email sent to the third party with the information on how they can view the information.

We will live the old information up for the coming month for those of you who wish to double check your data in the Sun system.

On behalf of the MySQL Certification Team, both past and present, we have enjoyed watching the list expand over time. It was a very valuable tool with many uses but sadly it now goes into history. And thank you to all of you listed there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Want to know how Yahoo does their capacity planning?

Every wonder how Google plans for growth? Well, if you are in the Dallas / Fort Worth area on Monday, November 2nd you can find out exactly how they do it!

Strategic MySQL Planning for Complexity & Growth (i.e. MySQL Scaling for Dummies) will be presented by Tommy Falgout at the North Texas MySQL Users Group Meeting

Sometimes a data driven website is a simple matter. Sometimes it only starts out that way. Membership records can grow from dozens to hundreds to thousands (or more). Performance or historic logs can grow astronomically. The ongoing need to coordinate different sets of data can lead to outrageously complex schema and duplicate data. How can you avoid those troubles? There are ways. Tommy Falgout will talk about designing your database for growth and performance before those challenges become bottlenecks on your website.


The next meeting of the North Texas MySQL Users group will be Monday, November 2nd at 7:00 PM (Daylight savings time change on Sunday the 1st).

Tommy Falgout is a Sr. Application Developer at Yahoo! He started his journey at Y! with a background in PHP & MySQL. Since then he has expanded his horizon by becoming a certified MySQL DBA, managing the Yahoo! Live Flash Video architecture, dabbling in Oracle, MSSQL, Java, Flash, Flex and the occasional Perl when noone's looking. He welcomes challenges, questions and not afraid to admit he owns a scooter. On the side, he is actively trying to get rid of 1000+ rubber duckies, left at his house from a prank, at duckiehunt.com.

The previously scheduled presentation will be on making good queries with JOINS, subqueries, and UNIONs will be moved to December. If you want to learn how to get your data from your database faster, more efficiently, and easier then this is the session for you.

We meet in the Sun offices, Suite 700, 16000 Dallas Tollway. All are welcome, beginners encouraged to attend!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Saying goodbye to the old certification lists, part 2

I did not mean to stir up a hornets nest!

I received a lot of feedback on the last blog entry on shutting down the old MySQL system and that included the lists of certified candidates. Yes, I know how valuable these lists are. But you might want to check this out ORACLE UNIVERSITY LAUNCHES CERTVIEW. I will see if I can get some details the next time we speak to the fine Oracle Certification folks.

The certification industry have started initiatives like the ITCC to allow you to have your certifications listed for viewing by a potential employers or the world at large. So do not worry that we are taking some draconian action and the knowledge of your accomplishments is being shoved into the great bit bucket in the sky. We just need a little time to transition from system to system (to system).

And feel free to ping us for updates at Certification@MySQL.com or by commenting below.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Saying goodbye to the list of Certified MySQL Users

The MySQL Certification: Listing of MySQL Certified Users has been a valuable resource for many years. I have a small stack of emails from people who were recruited for jobs after someone spotted their names on the lists. But the lists are going away.

The vast majority of MySQL Certification information is now part of Sun's certification system and has been since the end of July. Prometric exam results feed into that system and not the MySQL system. The lists of certified users pulls from the now out of date MySQL system. That means the data from the listings are not up to date. There is no easy way to cross-tie the information from Sun's systems into the MySQL web system. So please spread the word that the lists are going away, most likely by the end of the calendar year.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Teaching table design with EXPECT

The next meeting of the North Texas MySQL Users Group is next Monday and the presentation will be on designing database tables. This is part of a series for novices with MySQL and/or databases. Too often novices commit obvious sins like BIGINTs for any numeric storage field or indexing every column. EXPLAIN is a valuable tool in optimizing SELECT statements but too many DBAs do not discover it until well after they are stuck with a small, unruly group of badly designed tables.

Using EXPLAIN is seen as a 'dark art' by too many and hopefully we can get the novices in North Texas off on the right foot. The meeting is free and starts at 7:00 PM in the Sun Offices, Suite 700, 16000 Dallas Tollway, in Dallas. All are welcome and please try to be a bit early as the downstairs door automatically lock at seven sharp.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What makes a MySQL Developer?

I would like to hear some opinions from the MySQL worldon what knowledge does it require to be a MySQL Developer?

Not the folks who write the MySQL server code but a developer who really knows their stuff when programming with MySQL? The MySQL 5.0 developer exams going under a review. The hands on exam for 5.1, which has been hindered by other chores, is also under construction. But I still have a fundamental question : What makes someone a MySQL Developer?

The course book from the MySQL for Developers class is very thick and filled with a lot of information. It covers a broad spectrum from basic SQL to query optimization. None of it is programming language specific (or covers approaches like using PDO versus mysqli in PHP). And the contents are all good things for anyone trying get data in or out of a MySQL database. But nothing in it says that factor [X] makes a good MySQL Developer.

So what do you look for when hiring a developer for a project that will require heavy MySQL server interaction?

Do you have them optimize queries or do you leave that for a DBA? How much do you value the use or understanding of stored procedures, triggers, or partitioning?

Employers and project managers: If you could use the MySQL Developer certification to screen applicants for a position, what do you want stressed on the exam? And what do you not want stressed?

What knowledge or skills makes the difference between a good and a great MySQL developer?

This is your chance to make your opinions known.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jackalopes and certification questions

Most folks do not know about Jackalopes. They are rabbits, usually Cotton Tails, with antlers from some sort of deer. The one pictured is from the Austin Museum of the Weird. Jackalopes, like unicorns, are fabled creatures may be based on real creatures with injuries, growths, or encounters with taxidermists with too much spare time. What does that have to do with MySQL Certification you ask?

I updating the MySQL Cluster DBA certification exam from the 5.1 to 7.0/7.1 product level. The current exam has not kept pace with the product and the question bank needs updates. The question bank has roughly 180 questions of which we use 130. The extra 50 are the questions that were either not fully developed or did not make it to the exam for a variety of reasons.

Of the 130 that are used, about ten percent are passed by all who take the exam. Roughly half of the questions are passed by at least seventy percent of the certification candidates. And 20% of the questions are getting very low correct rates.

So now I dig into those 20% to see if the questions are wrong, badly phrased, or if I have the question equivalent of a Jackalope. On occasion, despite the best efforts of all involved, a question that will slip through that is just the right mix of obscurity, mangled intention, and linguistic lethargy that combines to make a question that does not test or measure knowledge.

Sometime the questions can be salvaged. Other times they are replaced with new questions, hopefully concerning some stunning new feature in the cluster software. And hopefully we can vanish the Jackalopes from the MySQL exams.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pentaho Solutions: Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing with Pentaho and MySQL

I get several emails each week that are from folks who have the basics mechanics of being a DBA but are looking to learn how to manage data. They can administer a database server but want to know how to get more out of that data. I now have an excellent book for them to refer.

My copy of Pentaho Solutions: Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing with Pentaho and MySQL arrived last week. I need to disclose that I was originally hired by MySQL to replace one of this books authors, Roland Bouman. He told me a year ago that he was working on this book. And I have found that he is always investigating something interesting.

Now to buy a pair of those cheap terabyte disk drives and load up some data.

This book will end up being one of those tomes that DBAs will have dog-eared, stuffed with Post-Ittm notes, and kept within easy grabbing distance from their seat. Anyone interested in Business Intelligence, Data Warehouses, or who has a boss who wants 'more' from their data needs to get a copy of this book. This is one of the clearest, concise book on data warehousing and shows how to quickly get your data ready for deeper analysis. The book is not only a great introduction to the subject but clearly shows how to progress from the basics to advanced analysis.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cluster exam update, part II

I am going through all the MySQL Cluster 5.1 DBA exam questions to bring up up to date with the latest release of the software. Part of this is reading all the comments exam candidates have left for a question, looking at what percentage of folks answered it correctly, and then making sure that the questions is still valid.

MySQL Cluster has been rapidly evolving. It used to be impossible to use OPTIMIZE TABLES or create TEMPORARY tables with Cluster. But now both work and these two questions with high pass rates need to be removed.

Oddly some of the lowest percentage correct questions are some of the most generic questions. And these go into the pile to be updated.

The vast majority of the questions on the exam are generic and still are valid today. The goal is to have the exam updates ready to go by the end of the calendar year.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Updating the Cluster DBA Exam

It is time to update the MySQL Cluster exam. The current exam was written when the Cluster software was at version 5.1 and 7.0.5 is available for download. Reviewing the old exam questions shows some of them are badly dated.

But updating the exam requires more than simple edits of the questions. The MySQl 5.1 Cluster DBA Certification Study Guide is the book to use for studying for the exam. And having a study guide is a vital tool for those of us who prefer to self study for an exam. Sadly, some of the authors are no longer with Sun and I am sure those still around have minimal spare cycles in their schedule.

And it would be a waste of time if the revised exam is based on a version of software that is soon to be superseded. The Cluster product has evolved rapidly since it was introduced at a users conference years ago in Orlando and each release provides more features.

My 'virtual cluster', a Mac laptop with VirtualBox data nodes, is running a 6.0.x version and needs to be updated. I encourage those using any of the MySQL Study Guides to use the software with the examples in the book. Sometimes you can learn more by 'fat fingering' a command or finding something destined for the book's errata than reading the text alone.

But the first step is reviewing each question and determining if it requires updating. And, as the old adage goes, even the longest journey starts with the first step.

Monday, August 3, 2009

July was one of the best months for MySQL Certification

270 folks took MySQL Certification exams in July and 118 earned certifications. This is our best month outside of our annual Users Conference. For the fiscal year, MySQL Certifications were up 150.27% over the previous year.

Since the program inception, we had almost 8,000 exams taken and over 3,300 certifications. Not bad but it pales in comparison to Java exams and certifications.

Prometric is our new testing partner. Those of you with unexpired Pearson VUE vouchers can request a exchange by contacting Certification@sun.com with your Voucher ID number. And those of you wishing to sign up for the exams (they are part of the Sun 310-series at http://www.prometric.com/Sun/default.htm) need to contact you local Sun sales office to purchase a voucher.

And the North Texas MySQL Users Group meets tonight -- see http://www.northtexasmysql.org for details.

Monday, July 27, 2009

North Texas MySQL Meeting

The next meeting of the North Texas MySQL Users Group will be Monday, August 3rd 2009 at 7PM sharp. We will meet at the Sun Offices, Suite 700, 16000 Dallas Tollway, Dallas.

The presentation will be on MySQL Basics -- How to install and run a MySQL database. This is an introductory level talk but experienced folks are invited to contribute their insights also. We hope to have a series of talks for those just starting with MySQL so that later we can build demand for more advanced topics.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Prometric MySQL exam numbers; plus watch out for that giraffe on the road

Prometric is beginning to offer the MySQL Exams as part of the Sun catalog. Currently only the Associate and Developer exams are listed but the DBA 5.0 and cluster exams are on the way.

310-810DBA 5.0 I
310-811DBA 5.0 II
310-812Dev 5.0 I
310-813Dev 5.0 II
310-815Cluster DBA 5.1

I find myself working while on vacation this week. Originally I planned to give my younger son some 'seat time' so he can practice for his driving test. But he is resting after a frantic day driving the hills and valleys of the Fossil Rim Wildlife Park. Managing an unfamiliar vehicle on poor to bad roads while watching out for zebras, Emus, deer, and ostriches is not easy. There is something about teaching a person in their mid-teens to drive that points out how much experience at an activity brings proficiency. Many common tasks done over and over again become ingrained and automatic. Live avoiding animals in the road while driving or checking on data backups as a DBA. It is easy to forget all the little skills that need to be built to be able to handle a car or a database well.

That reminds me of the old joke about the DBA who asked the system admin is the systems were backed up every night. The sysadmin then walked over to the server rack and physically pushes the rack before answering 'yup'!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Meetup Mess for North Texas MySQL Users Group

The Meetup.com folks have created a lot of unnecessary confusion lately. Their rejection of sponsorship money from Sun and MySQL has caused many of their MySQL user groups to scramble. The North Texas MySQL Meetup became North Texas MySQL Users Group and we though all was done. Well, no. Meetup.com sent out 'do not let this group die' emails that caused a flurry a messages to flood my email.

The next meeting of the North Texas MySQL Users Group will Monday August 3rd (We are taking July off) at 7:00PM in Suite 700, 16000 Dallas Tollway, Dallas TX. The presentation will be MySQL Basics -- how to install, configure, and start using MySQL

So we will meet up without Meetup.com!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Texans - learn to tune your MySQL Servers

Brian Miezejewski will be presenting at the North Texas MySQL Users Group on June 1st on performance tuning on your system. Brian is a top-level tuning guru and this is your chance to get an expert to examine your system.

So on your system, run the following:

mysqladmin -u -p va >varis.txt

Then during your peak usage time (if possible):

mysqladmin -u -p ex -i 15 -r >stats.txt

Let it run for 10 minutes before hitting ctrl-c to kill it. Bring in the varis.txt and the stats.txt files for tuning and review.

Meeting: June 1st
7:00 PM
Sun Offices
Suite 700
16000 Dallas Tollway


Changing Testing Partners from Pearson VUE to Prometric

As part of integration with Sun Learning, MySQL Certification will be moving from using Pearson VUE to Prometric as our testing partner. July 31st, 2009 will be the last day that candidates will be able to take exams or use MySQl exam vouchers at a Pearson VUE test center. Those with outstanding exam vouchers that they can not use by July 31st, 2009 should contact certification@sun.com for an exchange.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cluster presentation -- Richardson, Texas

The kind folks at The Dallas PHP/MySQL Users Group have asked me to repeat my 'MySQL Cluster -- a gentle introduction' presentation tonight at their meeting. This was after sitting through the original performance where I talked about how to set up complete cluster on a laptop. The presentation has been updated to reference Cluster 7.0 and the demo will work now that I have static IP addresses figured out with Virtualbox. So you know where to be if you are in the DFW Metroples and are not watching American Idol tonight.

The presentation in PDF format is available on NorthTexasMySQL.org

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

DataBox from ReportMill

Last night at the North Texas MySQL Users Group meeting, Jeff Martin from ReportMill.com showed off their DataBox tool.

This is a Java based tool for developing rich Internet applications. It has the hooks to create MySQL databases and link the data to applications. Jeff demonstrated creating tables from scratch, importing files into a database, and then using that data in a full function application that took a very shot time to create. It is much faster than compatible frameworks and features a rich set of Java enhancements for effects.

So if you quickly need to get from raw data to full application, check out DataBox.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

305 exams taken at the UC, new crop of DBAs and Developers on the loose!

Over 300 exams were taken at the 2009 MySQL Users Conference. Many more DBAs were certified this year then last and the Developer cert was not as popular.

We had problems with network bandwidth (Thanks to Patrick at O'Reilly for getting us more as soon as he could) and some software glitches with the new software. Some folks asked to take their exam at a location with better bandwidth and their results are still trickling in to the Certification Team.

The new 5.1 DBA exam was offered and the general review is that it is a much more realistic test of a DBA's skills than the older version. There were a few edits that did not make it into the system that cause some confusion but those taking the exam carried on bravely.

Thanks for all who made the journey to the Magnolia room, especially those who made it through the 1,200 teenagers who showed up for the conference after ours!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cert Exams finished at the UC

Around 300 certification exam were given this year at the MySQL Users Conference! That is 50% more than last year. Much of that is due to having the exams online. But the biggest part is from the dedication of Ricky Ho who not only did a fantastic job keeping the exams running smoothly but will spend most of the next week printing up certificates and getting them in the postal system.

Last chance for $25 UC certifications

Today is the final day to take a MyQL Certification exam at the Users Conference. Save money with the special $25 price from the regular $200.

Are you new to MySQL -- try the associate exam? It is designed for those with 6 weeks to 6 months of experience with MySQL.

Or do you consider yourself at Guru level but do not have your Cluster DBA cert? Today is your chance to prove your skill.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day two winding to an end

The penultimate day of UC exams is slowly coming to an end. A fresh crop of Developer, DBA, and Cluster DBAs certifications have been earned in the eighty plus exams taken today. Tomorrow is the last day for the deeply discounted price of $25 for the examinations. Your Certification Team will be ready at eight tomorrow!

Certification first day - 110 exams

110 exams delivered on the first day of the UC! That was despite Wifi Saturation. O'Reilly has provided a few more 'hard line' to help fight the problem.

Exams are in the Magnolia room (opposite the Hyatt registration desk, jut past the escalators) from 8:00 AM to 3:00PM. And the cost is still $25!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Certification at the UC start

Your intrepid MySQL Cart Team opened the doors thirty minutes early to the Magnolia room and Robert Bochenski was the first one to start an exam this morning. Exams are $25 and we will be letting folks into until 3:00PM. Some come by and take a certification exam.

And at 1PM, I am hosting a 30 minute Certification Q&A session about current exams, future exams, and anything else you want to cover.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cert Team at the UC

Ricky Ho and I are busy at the UC ... pulling our hair out. There are no certification exams on Monday but we found all sorts of network glitches. The Hyatt had some network ports blocked that just happened to be the ones we use for online exams. And the Sun Remote Lab Data Center had a glitch over the weekend that kept the virtual images from starting.

The picture is from Kai Voigt's tutorial on DBA certification. The room is full and I pop n and out between 'hair pulling' sessions. The attendees are asking good questions and I am sure we will have some new certified DBAs by the end of the conference.

Monday, April 6, 2009

MySQL Certification in first quarter of 2009

The first quarter of 2009 was very good for MySQL Certifications. 496 Exams taken and 208 certifications earned. But in regards to the current economic problems, how does this compare?

1st three months of each year

Not too badly, as it turns out!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

MySQL Certification Exams at the Users Conference

There will be big changes for those taking certification exams at the MySQL Users Conference. Once again we are offering $25 MySQL exams which is a big discount from the regular $200 price.

Last year we ran the exams as a drop-in service and it was well received. So we will continue to run it as a drop-in service. No need for an appointment. We will be in the Magnolia Room from 8:30 AM to about 4:00 PM but will not let anyone start an exam later than 3:00PM.

Be sure to bring your WiFi enabled laptop! Last year we killed a lot of trees and got a big workout printing thousands of exams and moving them around. This year the exams will be online. We will be reserving some hard lines for those taking the hands-on DBA 5.1 exam as they need to connect to the virtual servers in Colorado (that is if the O'Reilly folks can get the network gear) but everyone else will be using the wireless connections. Last year the wireless was heavily saturated at lunch and break times but the O'Reilly folks say that is a thing of the past (but please note this as a warning that the wisest of the exam takers will plan their exam times not to overlap major breaks and lunch).

What exams are offered? The Associate exam, the 5.1 Cluster DBA exam, the 5.0 DBA exams (both I and II), the 5.0 Developer exams (both I and II), and the new DBA 5.1 hands-on exam. We will not have study guides on hands so plan accordingly. And Kai Voight is presenting a DBA Certification tutorial on Monday and I highly recommend it to those taking any of our exams.

I had hope to offer the new 5.1 Developer exam but it is still being incubated.

If you have never taken a MySQL exam before, please go to http://www.pearsonvue.com/mysql and create an account. We hand the exam records off the information you enter there and not having and account will slow down processing for your exam. So take it easy on the MySQL Certification Team and your results will be sped to you.

And I am supposed to talk on Tuesday in the Magnolia room (where we have the exams) on MySQL Certification. If you have questions or want to help plot the future, please be there.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

DBA 5.1 Exam Contents, Part 3 of 3

The optional section of the MySQL 5.1 DBA exam is a series of ten tasks and the candidate has to complete at least five of them. The five mandatory tasks are tests of core MySQL skills and the optional section is a test of other skills a candidate may have acquired.

All of these tasks can be completed in many different ways. For instance the first mandatory task includes removing three accounts. This can be done in one or more SQL statements. The candidate is graded on IF they accomplished the task and not the method used to accomplish the task.
The Optional Tasks

  1. Copy a database

  2. Create a fulltext search

  3. Create a view to select certain data from a table

  4. Alter a table

  5. Update a compressed table

  6. Create a recurring event

  7. Update a global variable

  8. Use the INFORMATION_SCHEMA data in views to return instance information

  9. Import a CSV file

  10. Partition or repartition a table

Once again, do at least five of these optional tasks. It is suggested that a candidate do more that just in case the task is a little more complex or has a subtle twist not apparent at first site.

What the heck does that mean? For instance, one early tested created an event following the information from the help command on the mysql command line client. But it was not a recurring event, just a one time event. That was a simple mistake but costly.

Next up: Getting ready for exams at the User Conference! Yes, there are short cuts to make your testing experience EASIER at the UC.

Monday, March 30, 2009

DBA 5.1 exam contents, Part 2 of 3

The MyQl 5.1 DAB exam is series of tasks. The material was divided into a mandatory section and an optional section. The mandatory section is a test of core MySQL DBA skills and you must pass all five. The option section, to be detailed in the next post, is made up of ten tasks and the candidate must past at least five of them. This may sound simple but try cramming a full day of DBA work into two hours and you will have a good idea of what taking this new exam is like.

The Mandatory Tasks

  1. Account maintenance

    • Add, delete and modify accounts using the mysql database.

    • Assign privileges for a user on a table and column basis.

    • Reset passwords

    • Locate 'anonymous' accounts (where password AND user are both = '')

  2. Index management

    • Add, modify, and delete indexes.

  3. MyIsam table maintenance

    • Check MyIsam tables for problems and fix them.

  4. InnoDB table maintenance

    • Know how to restore an InnoDB table from a backup.
    • Use the binary log to recover lost data

  5. Backups

    • Be able to backup up entire databases or explicit tables.

    • Know options for separating data and SQL.

    • Be able to use options to drop tables, drop databases, save stored routines or triggers, and save files to specific locations.

This new exam is very straight forward but requires the candidate to demonstrate their skill. Next posting will cover the option section.

Monday, March 23, 2009

DBA 5.1 Exam Contents, Part 1 of 3

The MySQL DBA 5.1 Certification Exam is a big change from previous exams.

  1. No multiple choice, true/false questions
  2. Must be able to use MySQL
  3. You are given the answers (in most cases) and must change the database to meet expectations
  4. No study guide

The exam is divided into two sections -- mandatory and optional tasks. The mandatory tasks are core knowledge that every DBA should be able to perform even under heavy pressure, early in the morning, while suffering from sleep deprivation, or with a Dilbert style PHB looking over your shoulder. The optional tasks cover many different facets of MySQL.

Exam candidates will get their own MySQL instance with which to do their assignments. When they have completed all they can or time runs out, the instance is checked to see how well the DBA certification candidate was able to shape MySQL to what was desired. No more will you have to remember if the -p switch is for the port, password, or something else that begins with the letter 'p'.

Right now hands-on or performance based tests are on the bleeding edge of technology for testing companies (Pearson Vue, Prometric, Kryterion, etc.) are looking for robust and secure ways to offer these exams. So the DBA 5.1 Exam will have only limited availability until the exam vendors can support us. But the exam will be at the April MySQL Users Conference and part of MySQL for Database Administrator Classes.

If you are studying the MySQL 5.0 DBA material and are ready to take an exam, please do so! We will not be expiring these certifications and they are still a good judge of your knowledge of MySQL.

So why change the format at this time? How many times have you heard that a certification is not worth the paper it is written on? Funny the same folks do not say the same thing about car drivers licenses or pilot licenses. The reason is that for those certification there is a major component of hands-on testing. The folks who earn the MySQl DBA 5.1 Certification can really administer a database.

Employers will know that a job candidate with a MySQL 5.1 Certification has proven their proficiency with a real database under demanding circumstances. This certification is earned by hard work and not rote memorization.

I will miss the study guides and have found both editions to be valuable references. MySQl Certification will no longer have a hand in the process of creating the study guides and the previous authors are extremely busy. And with hands-on exams we can tell you want you need to do to pass the exam and that you will see in parts 2 and 3 of this blog.

How to become a better MySQL Developer

How do you get better with MySQL if you are in a small shop (or you are the shop)? Reading the code of other folks only goes so far if you can not ask them about the details. The more advanced books on MySQL are great but sometimes your environment does not allow you to follow their examples. Time and experience will help eventually but what if you need or want to get better in a hurry?

The MySQL Developer Techniques class is a new offering from MySQL Training is designed to 'want to utilize advanced SQL features to create queries that will result in better results and improved performance of their database queries'. I can guarantee that the curriculum crew have put a lot of effort into developing this class to make sure you really get the best value for your money.

This is a three day class lead by an instructor and includes many hands-on labs. I get emails from folks who have passed the Developer Certification but are seeking better performance out of their databases and themselves. So if you are looking to improve your skills, I highly recommend this course.

Friday, March 13, 2009

DBA 5.1 Exam

The first public offering of the MySQL DBA 5.1 Exam was given in Atlanta this week. After completing the week long MySQL for Database Administrators, an intrepid group agreed to be 'guinea pigs' and take the daunting exam.

The photo shows the test candidates working hard. Thanks to instructor Ian Wrigley and the students for taking up the challenge of this initial exam offering.

Previous MySQL exams are multiple choice while the DBA 5.1 exam is a performance based test. This means they had to login to a virtual server, administer several databases, and fix problems on a running MySQL instance.

Look for more updates on the DBA 5.1 exams (and others) here soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Elance Cites Surging Demand for MySQL Experts

Elance Cites Surging Demand for MySQL Experts is an interesting article for several reasons. For many years advocating Open Source products was seen in many circles of management as akin to promotion of some sort of social anarchy. But now they see the cost savings, the performance gains, and the flexibility that a product like MySQL can provide.

Check out the jobs Elance has for MySQL talent.

DFW MySQL Users!

Monday night at seven will be the next meeting of North Texas MySQL Meetup. This meeting will not be MySQL-centric but will discuss creating Facebooks apps and using the MySQL Quiz as an example. The address is suite 700, 16000 Dallas Tollway. Please RSVP at the website so we we know to keep an eye out stragglers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Open Source Events in the DFW Area

February 2009 has been a very busy time for presentations on Open Source Software in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. Yahoo's Tommy Falgout presented at the recent DallasPHP.Org meeting on Scaling MySQL. You can find his presentation at http://www.dallasphp.org and I highly recommend their meetings as an excellent.

Next up is the Dallas OpenSolaris/Dallas Sun Users Group(DSUG)and they are offering the ultimate geek-bait! Free Pizza!

Meetings Held the Third Thursday of Every Month
Next Session: Thurs Feb 19th (6:30PM Pizza, 7:00PM Program)
Topic: Open Source Roundtable - share your Open Source experiences with the group
Speaker: Jim McGuinness will kick off the discussion with updates on MySQL, Glassfish and Openoffice
Location: Dallas Sun Office, Mansion Conference Room
16000 North Dallas Parkway, Suite 700

Register here:

Sponsor - Wisemen Consultants

And on the first Monday in March, the North Texas MySQL Meetup will cover 'Creating Facebook Apps' (http://www.meetup.com/texasmysql/) and all are welcome.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Facebook app creation: A look at the MySQL Quiz. part II

To those of you having a hard time finding the MySQLQuiz, please give the folks at Facebook a little more time to get it into their search. Sorry, I should have submitted a few days before the previous post to make sure that the MySQL Quiz was easy to find.

In the previous post, a very simple Facebook application was shown.

The next part of the MySQL Quiz application was to randomly pick unique questions from the database of quiz questions.

The first step was to get the number of questions in a rapidly expanding database. I will keep the PHP fairly simple :

$result = mysql_query("SELECT count(*) FROM fb.quiz");

$row = mysql_fetch_array($result);

$randomMax = $row[0];

Next was creating an array to hold the randomly picked, unique id numbers. The quiz uses $nbrQuestions (currently five) questions.

$randomNbrs = array();

$randomCounter = 0;

while ($randomCounter < $NbrQuestions) {

$newRandom = rand(1,$randomMax);

if (!in_array($newRandom,$randomNbrs)) {





Displaying the the questions from the unique id number should be routine stuff and is omitted. The rest of the app was fairly straight forward PHP.

There is a lot of good stuff in the Facebook documentation and I hope to be able to dive in further.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Facebook app creation: A look at the MySQL Quiz. part I

The Facebook juggernaut is an interesting environment for application developers. It is well documented for the most part and supports all the popular development languages. So I created a quick app to help promote MySQL certification and gave it the name MySQLQuiz.

The first step in app development is at the bottom of every Facebook page. That is where you will find the 'Developers' link. The documentation here is very good and you will be be able to quickly obtain the application's API Key and the applications 'secret'. Each app is going to have unique values for these.

The examples I will give are in PHP and using the supplied PHP library. I was able to get all this running on a test server.

The bare bones was

require_once 'facebook.php';
$appapikey = "yourappapikeyhere";
$appsecret = "yourappsecrethere";
$facebook = new Facebook($appapikey, $appsecret);
$user_id = $facebook->require_login();

echo "Hello world!";


So after I got the bare minimum out of the way, I started going deeper into the documentation. Facebook has their own markup language FBML (think of it like pre-coded libraries for some interesting tools). These tags start with <fb: provide a lot of functionality for very little coding. You will see on the MySQLQuiz application a series of tabs that link to various MySQL pages.
<fb:tab-item href='http://www.mysql.com/certification' title='MySQL Certification' selected='true' />
<fb:tab-item href='http://www.mysql.com/certification/selftest/core/index.php' title='Sample Certification Questions' />
<tb:tab-item href='http://www.mysql.com/training' title='MySQL Classes' />

The above is probably enough to make a few of you go investigate Facebook app programming. My next post will include some more on the MySQLQuiz (how to randomly pick unique items from a database) and how the answers appear on the MySQLquiz.

And you can find the MySQLQuiz on Facebook by under the `Just For Fun` Applications

Thursday, January 29, 2009

North Texas MySQL Meetup Feb 2nd

Join the North Texas MySQL Meetup on Monday February 2nd at 7:00PM as Said Syed will host an open Forum type discussion on Virtualizing MySQL.

Sun Office
16000 Dallas Pkwy
Suite 700
Dallas, TX 75248

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A MySQL Cluster in your hand

The MySQL Cluster product seems to intimidate a lot of folks with its complexity. The North Texas MySQL Meetup had a presentation at the January meeting titled 'A Gentle Introduction to MySQL Cluster' where a cluster was setup on a single laptop. The presentation was full of information that needs to be shared to encourage others to try out this valuable piece of software.

The following covers how to set up a cluster on a single computer. The cluster will consist of two data nodes, a SQL node, and a management node. In this case the SQL node and the management node will be on one system. The data nodes will be virtual systems running on the same host. This is not the optimal performance configuration but it will let those new to MySQL Cluster try out the product with a minimal investment in equipment and time.

You will need two free software products -- Virtualbox and MySQl Cluster. You will also need a CDROM/DVD/ISO-image of your favorite supported operating system. In this example Virtualbox was installed on a MacBook and a copy of the Ubuntu desktop ISO was downloaded.

The latest MySQL Cluster binaries is 6.3 as this is written. For those of you not used to Cluster, the version number is out of sync with the MySQL Server GA release number so do not panic that 5.1 was just GA-ed and now 6.3 is on the loose.

The MacBook's IP is in the examples while '103 and '104 are the virtual systems.

Install Virtualbox and then install at least two virtual systems. These two system will be the data nodes. In the example below, Ubuntu was installed, the virtual images were set to use the host's network card, and the software updates for Ubuntu where installed.

A new directory was created, /var/lib/mysql-cluster, and ownership was set to user mysql. Then the MySQL Cluster software binaries were downloaded. The software was installed in /usr/local and the instructions for installing a binary were followed.

Now repeat all that for the second data node and modify the following for your /etc/my.cnf

my.cnf for data node




Install the MySql Cluster software on your SQL node, in this case the MacBook. Create a directory owned by mysql named /var/lib/mysql-cluster. Grab your favorite my.cnf from a previous installation or use one of the examples from the support-files directory and add the following.

my.cnf excerpt for SQL node







You need put the following in you /var/lib/mysql-cluster and match it to your network addresses.

















On the SQL/Management node, run ndb_mgmd and then open a new terminal window to run ndb_mgm. On each of the data nodes, run ndbd --initial (you can drop the --initial after the first successful start) then start mysqld with mysqld_safe --user=mysql&. Back to the SQL Node and start mysqld just like you did on the data nodes. In your window where you left ndb_mgm running, enter show and you should see something like

bash-3.2$ /usr/local/mysql/bin/ndb
-- NDB Cluster -- Management Client --
ndb_mgm> show
Connected to Management Server at:
Cluster Configuration
[ndbd(NDB)] 2 node(s)
id=2 @ (mysql-5.1.30 ndb-6.3.20, Nodegroup: 0, Master)
id=3 @ (mysql-5.1.30 ndb-6.3.20, Nodegroup: 1)

[ndb_mgmd(MGM)] 1 node(s)
id=1 @ (mysql-5.1.30 ndb-6.3.20)

[mysqld(API)] 4 node(s)
id=4 @ (mysql-5.1.30 ndb-6.3.20)
id=5 @ (mysql-5.1.30 ndb-6.3.20)
id=6 @ (mysql-5.1.30 ndb-6.3.20)
id=7 (not connected, accepting connect from any host)


Note that in this case Node #2 is the Master data node and in Nodegroup #0 while Node #3 is in Nodegroup #1. There are lots of good articles online on MySQL Cluster but I really recommend the MySQl 5.1 Cluster Certification Guide as a reference book.

So do not be afraid of the configuration complexity or worry that you need several computer systems with corresponding network gear. Give MySQL Cluster a try!

Monday, January 5, 2009

2008 certification results, 2009 news

2008 was a good year for MySQL Certification. 1,986 folks took exams which is a 14.6% gain over 2007. 736 candidates earned certifications and that is a 14.4% gain. The biggest gains were in Associate (up 300%) and DBA (up 35%) certifications. Oddly the Developer cert was down 40%.

So what happens in 2009?

The DBA and Developer exams are both changing format to performance based tests. Candidates will be tested on a virtual server and provided with a list of tasks that need to be accomplished. The DBA exam is actually in alpha est and about to go to beta. This testing is being done on two sets of virtual environments which provide their own qualities. The Linux environment is probably closer to what most DBA's working environment but the Windows version allows the candidate more control over the system. More news here later in the month.

Computer certifications will take a big leap forward with the ITCC. The ITCC allows the companies that certify a common platform to promote certification, crack down on test cheat companies, and provide a location that will list all your certifications from member organizations.

I hope you all have a great year!