February 12, 2009

Windows 7 Impressions

I'll admit it. I still run Windows on a few machines--mostly because I have software that needs it (like flight planning or my scanner tools). And it's good on a notebook where drivers are tricky in Ubuntu at times.

But I've also been using Windows XP Professional on all my Windows boxes (one desktop, one laptop, and one HTPC) for a long time now. However, as of a couple days ago I'm running the Windows 7 Beta on my Thinkpad T61. And you know what?

I completely agree with the reviews I've seen. It's good. I basically never touched Vista (since it was teh suck) but Windows 7 is snappy, easier to use, and the transition from XP isn't that hard at all. Plus it has drivers for everything.

This definitely doesn't feel like a beta at all. In fact, it reminds me of the Windows NT 4.0 beta days. I ran the beta as my desktop operating system for quite some time and loved it.

For a long time I believed that nothing produced by Microsoft would displace Windows XP Professional, but I'm really starting to think they've got a starting chance. And if it's even a bit faster and leaner when the full release comes, that's all the better.

I just hope there's an in-place upgrade option for those of us using the beta. And I hope they're smart about the pricing--especially if they really want to get folks off of XP.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:01 AM

February 11, 2009

White House CTO? Bigger fish to fry first...

Over on the Sunlight Foundation blog, Ellen Miller asks White House: Where is the CTO?. Pardon my bluntness, Ellen, but what are you smoking? Don't you think there are higher priorities right now?

It seems to me that Obama and his administration have their hands more than full working on the economic problems we're facing along with rebuilding some of our important international relationships. I'm as much of a technology geek as the next guy, but it really won't bother me if the punt on the whole CTO thing for a few months while some of the bigger fish are fried.

I can't say quite why, but this call for immediate action on a CTO feels like a bit of headline grabbing and irresponsibility at the same time. Sure, they could come out and name a CTO tomorrow and I'd applaud the move. But I really hope they're keeping their priorities in check. Part of being a good leader is deciding what can wait and what cannot. Appointing a CTO can wait. Fixing our economy cannot.

Update: It looks like Kara has jumped on this too.

Posted by jzawodn at 07:01 AM

February 10, 2009

Playing With CouchDB: First Impressions

About a week ago, Nat posted Open Source NG Databases on O'Reilly Radar. That caught my interest because I'm playing with some "alternative" databases for some of our data at Craigslist. Don't get me wrong, MySQL is great. But MySQL isn't well suited to every use case out there either. (I'll talk more about this at the MySQL Conference.)

Meanwhile, I left a comment on that posting about CouchDB and have been playing with it a bit more since then--mostly loading in test data, figuring out the data footprint, performance, etc.

Overall, I'm impressed and encouraged. I agree with what Ben Bangert said. The simple API is great but the lack of a schema to worry about really makes my life simple in this application. I don't have any initial plans for views, but writing them in Javascript is an interesting idea. I can definitely appreciate the flexibility there. And having good replication built-in solves one of my big needs.

I'm sure my thinking will have evolve after I've loaded a few hundred million documents in, but so far I'm really liking it. The CPAN modules in Net::CouchDb do a pretty good job and get you up and running quickly. I had a knee-jerk response to tweak a few things there but quickly realize that they're far from being the bottleneck anyway.

It seems that without any tuning or fancy work, I can get about 75-100 inerts/sec on my desktop class Ubuntu box (Intel Core 2 Duo, 2.66GHz, 1GB RAM, single 80GB SATA disk). That's not bad for out-of-the-box performance. And doing the math on space used for a document set (after compaction), I'm seeing roughly ~3KB/doc. That's a bit more than I expected but really not bad at all.

I wonder if there's a future for gzip compression in CouchDB. Or maybe we should just use ZFS...

Posted by jzawodn at 10:58 AM